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8 The Reprobate

8 The Reprobate

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8 The Reprobate

Länge:
382 Seiten
6 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Jan 16, 2013
ISBN:
9781301225873
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

In this eighth installment of the Flight of the Armada series, the separate factions of Thuringi continue to work toward reuniting. The Lost Crew works on building a ship to leave Thelan, Crown Prince Erich returns with the crown to the fleet, where he and Glendon Garin help Hartin Medina end a political problem. Stuart faces attacks by the Ossili, the disdain of Earthian scientists who do not accept his highly advanced flight theories, and a personal crisis no one foresees. Yjarnnah grows up on Senga under Queen Oriel’s watchful guidance. Darien and his D’tai confederate Urgyl Fresh create chaos for Stellar Council worlds, using the Shargassi’s distraction of distant concerns to Thuringa’s advantage. Maranta Shanaugh’s spirit, merged with boy genius Marshall Sheridan, experiences the trials of childhood and tests his limits. Sandan’s romantic interest in Carrol grows.

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Jan 16, 2013
ISBN:
9781301225873
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Jay Michael Jones is the author of the Science Fantasy Romance series "Flight of the Armada", a series which has been evolving for the better part of 40 years. Jay has also published a Young Adult novel "Mr. Nice Guy", Southern Humor Fiction "A Chatterstrip at the End of Civilization" and the based-on-a-true-fable tale "The Biggest Little Fan of the Red Ball Express". This proud parent of three holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater, and also is collects anything and everything to do with goats. Yes, goats.


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8 The Reprobate - Jay Michael Jones

The Flight of the Armada

Book 8: The Reprobate

Jay Michael Jones

Copyright 2013 by Jay Michael Jones

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Table of Contents

Chapter 76: Lost and Found

Chapter 77: Déjà vu

Chapter 78: The King’s Apprentice

Chapter 79: Not With My Daughter

Chapter 80: The Quiet One

Chapter 81: Self-portrait

Chapter 82: Cold Blooded

Chapter 83: The Dark Brother’s Secret

Chapter 84: Little Goats

Chapter 85: The Reprobate

Chapter 86: Fair Haired Lad

Chapter 87: Holding

Glossary

Character list

Other Books in the Series

Chapter 76: Lost and Found

The world of Thelan hosted thousands of lakes rather than true oceans. One in particular served as the main reservoir for the capital city of Sarenchia, Thelan. Since they were freed from slavery on Gharadee by the Thelan, the Lost Crew of the Solenil adapted to the customs and rhythm of their current living situation. It was not home but it was pleasant enough for the Thuringi warriors of the Lost Crew.

As long as they wore Thelan apparel and were careful where they traveled, the Thuringi could enjoy the scenic peace of the quiet countryside. Where they lived, the guest house’s back garden gate opened to a private lakeside road along the reservoir. Gareth, the Trapis brothers Ford and Kyne, Guinn and Than could walk along the shores if there was cloud cover, if it was nighttime or if they ducked under the cover of foliage if a ship passed overhead. There was no sense in risking an offworld visitor reporting their presence. The Thelan were a generous people but none of the Thuringi wanted to cause trouble for their benefactors.

It was the rainy season in Sarenchia, Thelan and puddles of water dotted the dirt trail around the lake. Little houses sat just off the trail, heavily surrounded by ivy and trees. Decorative fences with little gates opened out onto the trail.

Than tested his ability to jump over the puddles, egged on by Gareth and Ford. Gareth doubted his own stout legs could even attempt some of the leaps, but he did not mind goading Than into stretching his longer limbs to try. Than jumped gracefully over them all until he came upon a real challenge. It was at least twelve lengths across, surrounded by another length of mud. Than took a running start. As his foot pushed off, it slipped in the mud, disturbing his attempt to the point that he landed a good length away from the other side of the puddle. This created a large splash and soaked the playful Thuringi’s breeches with a coat of brown water.

A tinkling little laugh came from the bushes near a house gate. A woman with her hand over her mouth chuckled at his misfortune. She wore a stylish Thelan outfit and held a colorful parasol to shield her from any rain which might come from the increasingly cloudy sky.

Well, it was bath time anyway, Than told her in Thelan, and she laughed even more. The other four went around the puddle, slipping a little on the mud as they did so, and chuckling at Than’s appearance.

You look like a dallah caught in a downpour, Ford laughed. It even got up into your hair. To Than’s dismay, most of his waist-length braid of bright blonde hair was brown splattered.

Poor man, come to the porch and I will offer you a towel for the excess, the woman offered, and Than trudged out of the puddle and thanked her, flicking muddy water at his friends.

I’ll catch up to you, he told them in Thelan, and went to the porch. The other Thuringi strolled on, still laughing over his unceremonious splash.

The little cottage was nearly swamped by creeping ivy and braced on both sides by massive hedges. Only the wide roof-covered porch was free of foliage and the banister railing all around the edge showed evidence of someone tediously trimming back the leafy growth. Than waited on the expanse of weathered wood steps. The woman returned from the house interior with a towel and held it out. He took it and sopped at himself. Thank you very much; I’m sorry this is ruining your towel, he told her in Thelan.

That’s quite all right, she answered. But please, I heard you speak Thuringi. Please do so. I can understand a little, and it sounds so pretty to the ear.

Oh. Well, thank you again, Than told her in Thuringi. Ever on the lookout for an attractive woman, Than was not disappointed by his benefactress. Thelan women ran to the slim to the full-figured, and this one owned a pleasant mixture of curves. Her dark hair was cut to just brush the tops of her shoulders, parted in the middle and fitting her head like a helmet. It was very pleasing to the eye, especially Than’s. She did not meet his gaze. Well, that was no surprise. In many cultures only the bold ever looked someone right in the eye at first meeting, and perhaps this Thelan lady was one of those not so bold.

I’m sorry I laughed, she told him. I overheard your wager with your friends and the next thing I knew there was a splash. It was simply amusing.

I know; I don’t blame you. It’s quite funny to me, as well, he assured her, and stopped at the sound of thunder. Oh my, he muttered. It sounds like— The hesitant then increasing rushing sound was the rain he suspected, moving eastward onto shore from the lake. He leaped onto the porch as the rain fell heavily. The day brought forth a sort of fog from the soil as the rain pelted down on it, and the surface of the lake danced with the force of the drops. That is a beautiful sight, the way the rain strikes the lake water, Than said conversationally to the woman.

Yes, water is a beauty in and of itself, she agreed in shaky but correct Thuringi.

Than suddenly laughed. My good fellows enjoyed themselves so much when I got covered in puddle water, but now it seems they will be soaked to the skin. They haven’t made it back here, and it’s still quite a way to go to home! he told her, and she laughed with him.

You speak very good Thuringi. I am Alaine Doneau, she said, and held out her hand.

Than Moran, at your service. He shook her hand politely.

Moran. What an interesting name. I don’t recall ever having met any Morans before. It was at that moment Than realized why she did not look him in the eye, why Moran was such a strange name to a Thelan, and why she thought he spoke Thuringi well. Her eyes looked blankly in the general direction of his voice and her hands casually reached out for guidance to a chair on the porch. Do sit down for a bit, Master Moran. I do so enjoy company, and especially enjoy hearing someone speak Thuringi as well as you. Where did you learn to become so fluent? Are you a soldier or a trader? She sat in a chair, and gestured to one beside her. Than sat down carefully, wondering if the webbed seating would break through with his bulk. It was stronger than it appeared, and he found he could sit normally in it.

Um, I’m a soldier, he explained. What is your craft?

I am a proofreader for the Stellar Council, she said with a perfectly straight face, before smiling and shaking her head. No, no. I am a weaver.

Did you make this chair?

No, but I did make the comforter on it. The blanket that lay on the back of the chair was a colorful one with broad horizontal stripes.

It’s very nice. You must be very sought-after for your wares.

She replied in Thelan rather than school-screen Thuringi. That’s kind of you to say but it is errant, I’m afraid. There are many manufactured comforters with more imaginative designs; mine is more of a pity purchase. That’s not what my loved ones will admit to me but I know the truth. The rain let up and the sizzling sound it made as it struck the ground was no more.

How long have you been without sight? Can something be done? Than asked gently.

I was struck by lightning when I was a youth, and my sight was permanently taken. The doctors said I was lucky it was just my sight; it could have been my thought process or my speech or hearing, or anything. I could have died outright. They’re right, you know, and I can’t complain. But it does put a hamper on my ability to make a contribution to society. She smiled as the rain fell again. Ah, but I believe your luckless friends are in for another go. They laughed together.

Well what goes around comes around, as my squad leader sometimes says, Than said. That’s their reward for mocking me.

Do you practice Thuringi with each other? she asked. It’s sounds so natural.

It is, Than said.

Oh. She hesitated, then reached out a hand and carefully reached in the direction of his head. She felt the braided hair and smooth cheek and chin, and said Oh again. I must seem terribly stupid.

No, I just must speak Thelan better than I thought, Than told her.

You do; you have a gift for mimicry. Can you read Thelan? Alaine asked.

Only a little. I know all the letters in order, however. It’s not much but it’s a start, I suppose, Than was rewarded with a smile from her.

You’d best beware, she warned him. I’m notorious for asking people to read for me. If you’ve any ability at all, I will petition you until you give in or give up. And then your voice will give out.

Alaine? Who is here? An elderly woman came to the door and looked out onto the porch. Oh my! A Thuringi!"

Than quickly stood. Yes, madam. Your kinsman was kind enough to invite me out of the rain for its duration. I was taking a stroll, you see, and discovered a puddle with my boots.

The elderly woman looked amused at his state of disarray. A very memorable discovery, I can tell, she observed, and then grew more serious. It is common knowledge that Thuringi were on Thelan and are supposedly on an outpost somewhere, but nothing is specific. You should be careful, officer, and tuck your braid beneath your shirt. If a foreign visitor were to happen across you, your exact whereabouts would endanger us all.

Yes, madam, you are quite right, Than agreed, and did as she instructed. Perhaps I should be on my way, then. Thank you again for the towel and the shelter, Lady Alaine. He put the towel in her hands, and she took it.

Oh, must you go? It gets so dreadfully lonely out here, she sighed. Not that I disregard your company, Nana, she said to the older woman, and turned back to Than. But it is nice to have visitors once in a while.

Well, since you already know I am here, perhaps I might be allowed to return? If my appearance is more native and less obviously foreign, of course.

That would be pleasant, the elder agreed. The rain died down, but as Than strode down the little paved path to the gate the cold sizzle of the rain began again. Than laughed and turned back to the house.

What goes around, comes around! he chuckled, and sprinted down the muddy path toward home.

Were his eyes really yellow, Nana? Was his braid as long as my arm? Alaine asked.

Yes and yes, at least that long. Here, come inside before the wind changes and you get as soaked as your new friend.

Are those foreign visitors in our area, Nana?

Dearest, I have no idea but I assume they must be. Just the same I’d hate to see one of those happy lads get captured again or worse, spark a war between us and the Shargassi for harboring them.

Than made it home to the Seven’s guest house with a minimal amount of rainfall on him. The other five Thuringi were toweling off their hair as he came in. They all laughed at each other’s states of disarray. That evening after dinner, Than oiled his boots and told the group about the blind girl Alaine Doneau.

No wonder she didn’t run the minute she saw your face, Ton quipped.

Than went to visit the next ‘Sunday’, and met the rest of the family. Very typically Thelan, the members of the Doneau family were in different disciplines within the same business, in their case the textile business. They owned a pair of racing gakkis and dedicated one room in their house to their wine collection. One of Alaine’s brothers served in the military and the other tested vehicles as a hobby. They were eager to meet one of their fabled Thuringi guests. Bot Doneau, the military brother, promised to let Than know about everything he heard that could be of importance to their cause. The Thelan were just as concerned about the wormholes in flux as the Thuringi. Squads were busy trying to chart the new courses and discover what was happening to the old, and why.

You know, I think it’s sad that she can’t see the beauty of her own world or even see the things she crafts. And to have to have someone read to her must be so frustrating, Dannar remarked one evening when Than brought Alaine’s name up again. He did not do such on purpose, but they could all see his growing fondness and concern for his new friend. Suppose she wanted to skip ahead or is interested in only certain points? Word!

On Earth, the blind can read and write, Gareth said as he poured a glass of luket for himself.

Oh, and what is the tag line of this joke? Ford asked. Or did you mean, they are read to? Word, nearly every Known World has programs that read text aloud.

It is not a joke, Gareth said, and noted they all looked at him in disbelief. A chap named Braille created a method of raised dots on paper that allowed the blind to feel, rather than see, letters and words and numbers. It is the same principal, only using a different medium. They can actively read text albeit a special text and print their own words.

Could we do that for her? Than asked with excitement. How difficult an achievement is it? When could we start? We all know Thelan letters and a few words.

We we we? Gareth laughed. I will say this, Than: your enthusiasm for the subject knows no limit! All right, let me finish eating and we’ll sit down and I’ll explain the principal. It will be up to you to work out the rest. It isn’t hard, really, just time-consuming and a matter of concentration. True to his word, he explained the principle of the six raised-dot arrangement to Than later, and Than caught on to the concept quickly. There were only twenty-four letters in the Thelan alphabet, and Than drew up a chart to help keep track of the patterns for them. Gareth then showed them all how he guessed the dots were created. It is pure conjecture, I admit, he explained. The paper cannot be punctured, only embossed and it must be strong and firm enough to hold the shapes. Thus, the die must be shallow enough to do the job. As with any project, he sketched out his ideas and worked on it for the next few hours, while Than completed his Thelan alphabet.

You know, Gareth, Berryl said thoughtfully as she rocked little Duncan, the Thelan have gone above and beyond aid to us. Perhaps this is some sort of alignment that might help untold sightless Thelans gain an even larger measure of independence than before. I’ll ask the Porteaus but I don’t believe they have any method of privately directed reading for their blind. We never did because there were so few cases, and the tasks of the afflicted were adjusted to accommodate the handicap.

If it might help repay our debt to the Thelan, then I’ll make certain this works, Gareth murmured as he erased a noticed incorrect mark on a schematic and replaced it with the right one.

After tinkering around with it on and off for a few days, Gareth finally came up with a little die of adjustable ball bearings in a tray made from thin scrap metal that fit in a longer tray that adjusted to accommodate a movable sheet of thick paper. Once Than had his alphabet set and Gareth tested the punch to his satisfaction, Than laboriously spelled out the alphabet. With the help of Palatin and an inspirational bottle of wine, they came up with a chart listing the alphabet in a vertical row down one side of the paper, and vertically listing a corresponding word of ordinary usage beginning with each letter.

Oh, don’t worry, I won’t give you a word that will embarrass you in front of your lady friend, Palatin promised somewhere around the third glass of wine. Her brother Bot is one of my military cohorts, and her other brother is just daring enough to exact revenge on me in an unnerving fashion. Palatin was very interested in the whole idea of Braille. It hasn’t occurred to us to come up with anything. There’s probably an entire underground of blind on Thelan, but their families support them without complaint and no one really pays much thought about their independence. We have computer programs to read and print for us, but nothing has been made for hand-written letters or for reading for long stretches at a time. What you have is our basic alphabet but we also take into account nearly fifty variants: blends, compounds, inflections, regional dialect. But this is a good foundation. I’m certain the blind will embrace it even if no one else does.

Than took his chart and printing paraphernalia to the Doneau’s house one Thuringi Sundays-off, after he was proficient with the patterns and at using the embosser. I have a gift for you, Alaine, he said as he carried it up the path to their house from the lake trail.

You needn’t have done that, she said from her seat on the porch chair. But come, let’s go out to the garden. The rest of the family is having tea, and they said if you came by you should join us. I hoped you might come, she added shyly.

Of course I came, one could time me by my loyalty, Than told her. Take my arm. Now tell me where I am to go and I’ll take us there. She did, and they went around the side of the house through an arch cut in a thick hedge. Before him stretched a carefully manicured garden with ornate fountains and imposing statues as centerpieces. A table and matching chairs were permanently in place on the wide side porch for the serving of lina tea. He would have never guessed this grand expanse existed beside the little cottage by the lake. Does every home in Thelan have a garden? Than asked curiously as they approached the table.

Every home I ever saw, Bot said. Big or small, grand or humble, if there’s lina tea there’s a garden somewhere nearby. Whatever are you toting, Than?

It is a gift Gareth and I created for Alaine, Than explained. It will help her read and write handwritten notes. At their mixed looks of disbelief and astonishment in a satisfying array, he guided Alaine to a chair and put the printing items on the table. He put the paper down before her and gently guided her fingers to feel the raised bumps. For every letter in the Thelan alphabet, there is a corresponding representation from a variation of up to six little raised dots. If you learn the pattern of each letter and remember how the patterns go, then you can feel the letters as easily as if a sighted person might read them. For the sake of your sighted family, I also wrote out it all on the paper so that they might help you and learn to read it as well.

How does this work, again? Alaine’s father asked, fascinated. They all crowded in around Alaine and Than. Than showed them the page and explained the principle, then picked up the metal die and tray. While he demonstrated to Alaine, he explained how to set it all up. Gareth had an especially difficult time trying to figure out how to make it flexible enough to change the letters without losing track of where one was writing. I must say, I learned a few new words myself, listening to him create a few adjectives of his own. Bot and his brother laughed. We’ll continue to try to streamline the process. It only does the basic letters but it’s a start.

You made this yourself? Alaine’s mother asked in awe.

I wish I could claim it, but I cannot. Gareth said it comes from – from a world he scouted once, and a man named Braille invented it. We just adapted it for Thelan and what we had on hand.

I could communicate with you, Alaine said to her family, and stopped her tracing suddenly to sit back and think on the possibilities. You could all learn this, and we could exchange notes and letters. I wouldn’t have to keep pestering Nana all the time for letters from Bot. Why, I could … I could… oh, Than, I could just kiss you!

All right, Than agreed immediately with a grin and offered her his cheek, and she kissed it. The family laughed and clapped.

Is it hard to learn? her mother inquired.

No harder than learning to read print. Detecting the bumps, though; that is a challenge, Than admitted. It takes concentration and no small amount of sensitivity. But it’s possible for anyone. Are there very many sightless people on Thelan?

Not enough that would make them a measurably powerful category, but there are a number of them, the father said. He looked over the alphabet paper with interest and felt the letters gingerly. This is wonderful. We once experimented with raised letters but it was far too confusing, all the swirls and lines seemed to feel just like another, and computers were always used for communication and seemed to do it easier. But with this, it’s a set pattern without flourish, cleaner of line and clear of concept. One could write anywhere without having to drag along a computer.

It’s on the order of the Intergalactic Sarndt Code, Bot pointed out.

Yes, quite a bit, Than agreed. Gareth mentioned the Earth devised something called a Morse Code, which was their version of the Sarndt Code that could be broadcast over airwaves when voices could not. Than thought Earth was going to be far too advanced a civilization for the Stellar Council to contain, if all of the galaxy’s great inventions pooled together had already been created in similar kind by Earthians. He turned his thoughts back to Alaine. Feel this letter for instance. Now draw your fingers over and you will find that it is the first letter in the word, wine. Not hard to tell which Porteau helped me spell that one is it? he joked. They chuckled and agreed it had to have been Palatin.

Alaine quickly memorized the first four letters of the alphabet and could pick them out in the words spelled out in the second column. The family was so excited the lina tea grew cold. No one noticed until Seager, her other daredevil brother, idly picked up his cup and swallowed a mouthful. He went to heat up their pot, and Nana squeezed Than’s shoulders.

I wasn’t certain about you when I first saw you, all mud-splattered and disheveled, she told him, but I’m glad I didn’t scold you away.

He stayed with the Doneaus all afternoon and well into the evening. He realized at sunset that he had to get back to the guesthouse. Alaine walked with him to what he first assumed was the front of the house, which faced the lake. It turned out to be the back of the house, after all: the front of the house was an impressive sight of tall columns and large glass-paned windows. The back of the house looked like a little cottage, and a canopy of branches overhead was actually leafy vines clinging to the brick walls of the house and the roof.

He told Alaine of his impressions and added, I don’t suppose I can see things as well as I thought, either, if I can’t even distinguish between vines and branches.

Father likes it that way, Alaine explained. His family has been on this property for generations, while some of the houses around the lake have only recently been built. He says they are pretentious to build their homes facing the lake so everyone boating can see their grandeur. The new people suppose we only have a bit of a home to call our own. We don’t care what they think. Bot says we are more like the Porteaus in that regard.

The Porteaus are good people, among the best I ever knew, Than told her. And so are you. He stopped at the little path leading to the lake path gate.

Me? What makes me a good person? Than kissed her without reply. Oh, she said, and returned the affection. You are the good one, bringing hope to a blind woman, she said.

As long as it pleases you, Than said, and kissed her again. Good-night, Alaine; I’ll see you next ginta to check on your reading progress. He stroked her cheek and went on his way. She stood listening to his footfalls until she could hear them no more.

Oh, she told herself fretfully, I still haven’t felt what he looks like! It was simple curiosity. What mattered to her most was what was in his heart, and she already knew she liked that.

Than returned the next Sundays-off to discover the entire family was learning Braille. He brought them something else: while Than introduced the Doneaus to Braille, Gareth and the crew perfected a better way to print it. It all came down to a stylus that transposed the punched letters so the writer/puncher could spell the words out as they might be read, and the paper would have that exact image on its sheet. It had not been easy, but when they all heard how enthusiastic the Doneaus were, the task took precedence every evening after they came in for dinner. Giving back to the Thelans was worth giving up free time, to the Thuringi.

The Doneaus welcomed Than into their home as if he belonged there, and Alaine welcomed him most of all. She was proud to prove she memorized the entire alphabet, and could read simple words her family punched out at random for her.

After all, she laughed excitedly, what else do I have to do with my time?

Nana was quite proficient with Braille as well. She wanted her independence if her sight failed her in her old age, as much as she wanted to help her granddaughter to be independent. They took Than on a tour of the house and showed him the doors to rooms, and dressers upon which they affixed tiny halved balls in the proper order, to tell her where they led or what it contained.

We started to use large balls, but the size only confused her. Then we realized size doesn’t matter to the sightless. The answer was to get them to the size she is used to, Bot explained. We had visitors over who noticed it, and we had to explain the whole thing to them. As it turns out, one of them had someone in their family who could benefit from this. They’re eager to know more, so we made them a learning sheet as you did.

What all did you explain? Than asked while trying not to sound as concerned as he was. They understood.

Oh, we told them we heard a very clever fellow came up with it, that’s all, Seager assured him. Somehow, nearly everything odd or unusual but practical and useful, is attributed right away with a Thuringi, mostly Directive Four. Now that the Gharadee have been caught at their game, they talk freely about you all. I suspect they still hope to find your leader and put him back to work. It may backfire on them, however. Other worlds were curious to know where Gharadee got so many clever ideas at once, and now they know. They are rapidly losing the integrity of their name, not that it was very solid in the first place.

Comfortably-aged homes like the centuries-old Chalae were as much a part of Sarenchia, Thelan as any public building or park. The ornate front gate with its slender black-metal fencing directly faced the wide flight park street, with another busy thoroughfare stretching along the front of the stately Porteau residence. The wide front steps and multi-columned portico had a perfect view of countless victory celebrations, the marble frontage providing a grand backdrop for city visitors to use for photographs. The splendor of the grand structure was often imitated but never quite duplicated around the Thelan world.

The street from the flight park was lined with trees whose branches formed a canopy of leaves over the entire roadway. The leaves let in enough sunlight between

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