Into darkness, p.14
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       Into Darkness, p.14

           Patricia Scholes
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S’ar watched Tadessa head for the dining hall, puzzled. Her sister, who always acted a little strangely, being raised by her Krindarwee father, seemed genuinely afraid. But of what? She had heard the stories, how she and her father had fought off Blades while living in the streets. Then the scar on her cheek, more evidence of her fearlessness, testified to her courage in not only confronting the assassins that had invaded their home, but her evil uncle who had been possessed by a Moloch.

  Once S’ar had asked Tadessa why she refused corrective surgery to get rid of the scar. The answer, even now, made no sense. “I earned this scar,” she said. “It’s a visible reminder of my purpose,” whatever that meant.

  More than frightened, though, S’ar noticed that Tadessa looked lost, almost as lost as when she first arrived in the Upper Third Level, which was about as far from the streets as a person could manage. It surprised her that the A’nden heiress had asked for her personally. S’ar, with no idea what to expect, arrived with her parents, who already knew Former Commissioner Del A’nden. S’ar had never met the man.

  After introductions and a light lunch, their parents shooed the two girls into Tadessa playroom/study to get to know each other.

  “I’m your sister,” the little girl said, even though they had already been introduced. “Our daddy was Snake. We have different mamas.”

  “You knew my parents, my real parents?”

  “Yes. I wish you could have met them. They’re wonderful people.” She paused. “I need to keep reminding myself that Daddy’s dead. It’s hard to imagine, and even harder to accept.” A few tears escaped before the girl gained control.

  “What’s my mother like?” S’ar asked in a hurry to sidetrack the sorrow.

  “She’s big, with a heart that’s even bigger. You look a lot like your mama. I look more like our daddy.” Then she put in S’ar’s mind a picture of her mother.

  No one had ever communicated with her in this way. She stared, open-mouthed, at her new sister. “How did you know about me?”

  “They talked about you, how your mother was snatched from the Village by Blades and tortured, and how, two tendays later, our father found Berita in the care of Sann’s Health Center, still too badly injured to go home. But you were adopted out. They never figured out how to find you, and thought you lost to your people forever.”

  “But I’m not lost,” S’ar was pleased to say with pride. “I see Grandmother Zilla every tenday because I’m going through my Time. We tried the Discipline, but …”

  “… it doesn’t work on the Krindarwee,” the girls said in unison.

  They laughed together, breaking the barrier between them.

  “What did my mother name me?”

  “Tadessa, the same name they gave me. It just means ‘The Promise of Khaadi,’ nothing more. You would have been the Promise if you hadn’t been taken away.”

  “What do you mean, ‘the Promise’?”

  “I was born, you also, I think, to solve three problems. We are to share our lore with our people, and anyone else who wants to learn. We’re to free the slaves in Sector One, and we’re to get rid of the Zocassari.”

  “What are those?”

  “You call them Molochs.”

  S’ar shuddered. “No one can do that.”

  “I can, and I did, before we moved here.” She touched her cheek where the new, pink scar curved just under her cheekbone. “My mama’s brother sent a group of assassins to our other place to kill Mama and Daddy Del, and to abduct me. The Zocassari that controlled my uncle wanted to possess me. That’s not possible, because of who I am, but it didn’t know that.” She paused, probably remembering the incident, that even though related in such a matter-of-fact tone must have been traumatic. “I couldn’t stand the thought of my uncle under that thing’s control, so I removed all the threads binding it to him.”

  “He died.” S’ar knew what always happened when a Discipline Master tried to release someone from a Moloch. “They all do.”

  “They wouldn’t have to, but Uncle Jem wanted that monster more than he wanted to be free. Kirimina, one of his assassins, was also possessed, and she didn’t die when I release her.”

  You can’t do that, S’ar almost said aloud. As she examined the girl’s expression and her surface thoughts, she realized that her half-sister not only claimed to do such an amazing feat, she actually accomplished it. That was her first example of Tadessa’s strangeness. Even though she had been seeing Grandmother Zilla for a couple of mooncycles, she never really came to know any of the Krindarwee. If they were all like Tadessa, she came from a bizarre people group. S’ar preferred to be Nevian, like her adoptive parents.

  From that moment on, she took it upon herself to help Tadessa become as Nevian as possible. To her delight, the girl learned quickly. By the time she entered the women’s academy, where elite young ladies attended school, Tadessa could pass, culturally, as Nevian as anyone else, at least most of the time. However, an aura of strangeness never quite disappeared. Tadessa looked at the world in a very un-Nevian way.

  Maybe it was that un-Nevian approach to life that caused the fear her little sister experienced right now. Maybe she felt a threat no one else seemed to see. S’ar knew that Tadessa was extraordinarily perceptive, more so than anyone else she had ever met. One thing she knew for certain, Tadessa was not the sort of person to imagine a threat. So she entered the dining hall with more than a little trepidation.



  a reason for avoidance

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