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Authors: Julian May

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The Nonborn King

BOOK: The Nonborn King
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May, Julian - Exiles 3 - The Noborn King

The Galactic Milieu and the Pliocene Exile

THE GREAT INTERVENTION OF 2013 OPENED HUMANITYS WAY to the stars By the year 2110, when the action of the first volume in this saga began, Earthlings were fully accepted members of a benevolent confederation of planet colonizers, the Coadunate Galactic Milieu, who shared high technology and the capability of performing advanced mental operations known as metafunctions. The latter, which include telepathy, psychokinesis, and many other powers, had lurked in the human gene pool from time immemorial, but only rarely were manifest

The five founding races of the Milieu had observed humanity's development for tens of thousands of years After some debate, they decided to admit Earthlings to the Milieu "in advance of their psychosocial maturation" because of the vast metapsychic potential of humanity, which might eventually exceed that of any other race With the help of nonhumans, people from Earth colonized more than 700 new planets that had already been surveyed and found suitable

Earthlings also learned how to speed the development of their metapsychic powers through special training and genetic engineering However, even though the number of humans with operant metafunctions increased with each generation, in 2110 the majority of the population was still "normal", that is possessing metafunctions that were either meager to the point of nullity or else latent, unusable because of psychological barriers or other factors Most of the day-to-day socioeconomic activities of the Human Polity of the Milieu were earned on by "normals", but human metapsychics did occupy privileged positions in government, in the sciences, and in other areas where high mental powers were valuable to the Milieu as a whole

At only one period between the Great Intervention and 2110 did it seem that the admission of humanity to the Milieu had been a mistake This was in 2083, during the brief Metapsychic Rebellion Instigated by a small group of Earth-based humans, this attempted coup narrowly missed destroying the entire Milieu organization The Rebellion was suppressed by loyalist metapsychic humans and steps were taken to insure that such a disaster never would occur again A certain number of battered rebel survivors did manage to evade retribution by passing through a unique kind of escape hatch, a one-way time gate leading into Earth's Pliocene Epoch, six million years in the past

The time-gate was discovered in 2034, during the heady years of the scientific knowledge-explosion subsequent to the Great Intervention But since the time-warp opened only backward (anything attempting to return became six million years old and usually crumbled to dust), and since it had a fixed focus (a point in France's Rhone River Valley), its discoverer sadly concluded that it was a useless oddity without practical application

After the time-gate discoverer's death in 2041, his widow, Angelique Guderian, learned that her husband had been mistaken

The Intervention had seemed to open a Golden Age for humanity, giving it unlimited lebensraum, energy sufficiency, and membership in a splendid galaxy-wide civilization But even Golden Ages have their misfits in this case, humans who were temperamentally unsuited to the rather structured social environment of the Milieu As Madame Guderian was to discover, there were fair numbers of these, and they were willing to pay handsomely to be transported to a simpler world without rules Geologists and paleonlologists knew that the Pliocene was an idyllic period, just before the dawn of rational life on our planet Romantics and rugged individualists from almost all of Earth's ethnic groups eventually discovered Madame's "underground railroad" to the Pliocene, which operated out of a quaint French inn located outside the metropolitan center of Lyon

From 2041 until 2106, the rejuvenated Madame Guderian transported clients from Old Earth to "Exile," a presumed natural paradise six million years younger After suffering belated qualms of conscience about the fate of the time-travelers, Madame herself passed into the Pliocene and operation of her inn was taken over by the Milieu, which had found the time-warp to be a convenient glory hole for dissidents By 2110, nearly 100,000 time-farers had vanished into an unknown destiny

On 25 August 2110, eight persons, making up that week's "Group Green," were transported to Exile Richard Voorhees, a grounded starship captain, Felice Landry, a disturbed eighteen-year-old athlete whose violent temperament and latent mindpowers had made her an outcast, Claude Majewski, a recently widowed elderly paleontologist. Sister Amerie Roccaro, a physician and burnt-out priest, Bryan Grenfell. an anthropologist following his lover. Mercy Lamballe, who had preceded him through the gate, Elizabeth Orme, a Grand Master metapsychic who had lost her stupendous mental powers after a brain trauma, Stem Oleson, a misfit planet-crust driller who dreamt of life in a simpler world, and Alken Drum, an engaging young crook who, like Felice, possessed considerable latent metapsychic power

Group Green discovered, as other time-travelers had before them, that idyllic Pliocene Europe was under the control of a group of maverick humanoids from another galaxy The exotics were also exiled, having been driven from their home because of their barbarous battle-religion

The dominant exotic faction, the Tanu, were tall and handsome In spite of a thousand-year sojourn on Earth, there were still less than 20,000 of them because their reproduction was inhibited by solar radiation Since their plasm was compatible with that of humanity, they had for nearly seventy years utilized the time-travelers in breeding, holding Pliocene humanity in benevolent serfdom

Antagonistic to the Tanu and outnumbering them by at least four to one were their ancient foes, the Firvulag Often called the Little People, these exotics were mostly of short stature, although there were plenty of human-sized and even gigantic individuals among them They reproduced quite well on Pliocene Earth

Tanu and Firvulag actually constituted a dimorphic race, the former metapsychicaily latent, and the latter possessed of operant metafunctions, mostly limited in power The Tanu, with their higher technology, had long ago developed mindamplifiers, collars called golden lores, which raised their latent mind-powers up to operancy Firvulag did not require torcs to exercise their metafunctions Certain of their great heroes were the mental equals of the Tanu in aggressive action, but most Firvulag were weaker

For most of the thousand years that Tanu and Firvulag resided on Earth (which they called the Many-Colored Land), they were fairly evenly matched in the ritual wars fought as part of their battle-religion The greater finesse and technology of the Tanu tended to counterbalance the superior numbers of the cruder Firvulag But the advent of time-traveling humanity tipped the scales in favor of the taller exotics Not only did Tanu-human hybrids turn out to have unusual physical and mental strength, but humans also enhanced the rather decadent science establishment of the Tanu by injecting the expertise of the greatly advanced Galactic Milieu It had been strictly forbidden for time-travelers to carry sophisticated weaponry back to the Pliocene, and the Tanu were very conservative in the types of military hardware that they permitted their human slaves to build Nevertheless, it was human ingenuity that eventually gave the Tanu almost complete ascendency over their Firvulag foes (who never mated with humans and generally despised them)

Most of the enslaved time-travelers actually lived a pretty good life under their Tanu overlords All rough work was done by ramapithecines, small apes who wore simple torcs compelling obedience and who were, ironically, part of the direct hommid line that would climax in Homo sapiens six million years in the future Humans who occupied positions of trust or engaged in vital pursuits under the Tanu wore gray torcs These did not amplify the mind, but did allow telepatmc communication with the Tanu, who were also able to administer punishment or reward through the device If psychological testing showed that an arriving tune-traveler possessed significant latent metafunctions. the lucky person was given a silver torc This was a genuine amplifier similar to die golden collars worn by the exotic race, but having control circuits Silver-torc humans were accepted as conditional citizens of the Many-Colored Land Rarely, and only if they proved themselves, the silvers might be granted golden torcs and full freedom.

The expanded torc technology, developed from the original golden devices worn by the Tanu, was the fruit of a single misfit genius, Euseblo Gomez-Nolan, a human psychobiologist who was eventually granted gold and who rose to become the President of the Coercer Guild, one of the five metapsychic quasi clans that formed me basis for Tanu society Under the sobriquet of Lord Gomnol, Gomez-Nolan played a manipulative role in the power politics of the Many-Colored Land until he fatally overreached himself

The overall destiny of both the Tanu and the Firvulag was subtly guided by a mysterious woman who belonged to neither race but served as guardian to both This was Brede the Shipspouse With her mate, the Ship, a gigantic rational organism of mtergalactic travel, she had originally brought the exotics to Pliocene Earth Brede could foresee the future, although not perfectly , and she came to know that the destinies of Tanu, Firvulag, and time-traveling humanity were inextricably united A pivotal point in thisJOint destiny was reached with the arrival of the eight members of Group Green at the Tanu reception center. Castle Gateway

It was Tanu custom to test all arriving time-travelers immediately for metapsychic latency Latents, and those with unusual talents of other kinds, were sent south to the Tanu capital of Munah. located on the Aven (Balearic) Peninsula in the nearly empty saline basin of the Mediterranean Normal humans were shared out among the Tanu cities, taking their places in the working or (in the case of presentable women) breeding pools Presorted caravans, escorted by gray-torc human troops, normally left Castle Gateway each week

Group Green proved to be anything but typical when examined by the Tanu overseers in residence. Lord Creyn and Lady Epone

Most notable was Elizabeth Onne The tnp through the timegate had restored her to metapsychic operancy, a fact which Creyn was instantly aware of Elizabeth's awesome power of farsensmg and redaction (mind-alteration) were convalescent. but when she recovered, it was evident that she would be far superior to any Tanu having those particular powers Creyn predicted that a "wonderful life" lay ahead for Elizabeth m the Many-Colored Land She herself was not so sure The Milieu had expressly forbidden the time-travel of any operant metapsychics, since such persons would be in a position to exercise unfair mental domination over normal humans in a primitive environment mat lacked the mental restraints of the Milieu's "Unity." Elizabeth was a totally nonaggressive personality as well as a self-centered one, and the only way she found to defend herself from what she regarded as a temptation to hubris was flight, either physical or mental.

A second member of Group Green, the recidivist youth Aiken Drum, was found to possess powerful latencies. He was collared with a silver torc and promised that if he behaved himself (a dubious prospect) he would enjoy special privileges after being trained in Muriah. Aiken's friend, the huge exdriller Stein Oleson, tried to escape from imprisonment in the castle, killing several guards with his Viking axe. Stein was subdued with a controlling gray torc and was earmarked, because of his heroic physique, to become a kind of gladiator in Muriah.

Richard Voorhees, the disgraced starship captain, also tried to escape. He stumbled into the chamber of the Tanu coercer Lady Epone, who brain-burned him and consigned him to a prison dormitory where other "normals" awaited the departure of the weekly caravan to Epone's city of Finiah, situated far northeast of the castle, on the River Rhine The anthropologist Bryan Grenfell had no metapsychic latencies, but Creyn was nevertheless impressed by his professional credentials. It seemed the Tanu had a certain urgent need for a cultural anthropologist! Bryan was also destined for Muriah and accepted the prospect with equanimity, since he expected to find his beloved Mercy Lamballe in the capital.

Claude Majewski. the old paleonlologist, and the female priest Sister Amerie were tested and showed no latencies. But when Lady Epone attempted to test the girl Felice Landry, the little athlete seemed to go into hysterics. Her agitation made an accurate mental calibration impossible. Felice perpetrated this charade because she knew very well that she possessed very strong latent mind-powers; but she had no intention of being subjugated by a lore, especially after she discovered that both she and Sister Amerie were to be used as brood stock by the Tanu. In a private moment with the nun, Felice grimly resolved to "take" the entire Tanu race. Ludicrous though this vow of revenge seemed at the time, Sister Amerie felt no inclination to doubt Felice's ability to carry out her threat.

When caravans left Castle Gateway that evening. Group Green had been split in half. Bound northward for Finiah with a sizable group of normals were Felice, Sisler Amerie, Claude, and the still groggy Richard. Six gray-lore soldiers and Lady Epone conducted the train, which rode horselike Pliocene beasts called chalikos. Also in this group were Basil, a mountainclimbing former don; Yoshimitsu and Tatsuji, who wore samurai garb reflecting their heritage; and one Dougal, who had been driven half-mad by the unwelcome attentions of Lady Epone.

The southbound caravan was much smaller. Led by Creyn with a minimum two-guard escort, it consisted of the unforced Elizabeth and Bryan, Aiken Drum in his silver collar, unconscious Stein wearing a gray torc, and two other latent humans who had been gifted with silver: Sukey Davies, a former juvenile officer from a colonial satellite, and Raimo Hakkinen, a glum Finno-Canadian forester.

The caravan heading for Muriah look ship at the River Rhone and made a fairly uneventful trip south. Creyn proved to be a tolerant overlord, deeply sympathetic to Elizabeth. Aiken Drum and Raimo became buddies and co-conspiralors, and Aiken discovered that the latencies inside his brain were unfolding at a wondrous pace that boded all kinds of fun and games. Stein recovered from wounds inflicted during the fracas at the castle. and he and Sukey pledged themselves to each other after she entered his mind and helped lo heal a severe psychic trauma. In the riverside city of Darask, Elizabeth helped a human goldtorc woman, Estella-Sirone, give birth to twins, one Tanu and one Firvuiag. And when the party eventually arrived in Muriah, they were greeted by a triumphal procession of magnificent Tanu chivalry, all clad in glowing, multicolored glass armorThe welcome was primarily for Elizabeth, who was soon to discover herself a pawn between several scheming factions at the Tanu court.

BOOK: The Nonborn King
7.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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