Wanes were from centuries ago. Persecuted and slaughtered, they were evil beings who could walk in the air, move things without touch, and set you ablaze with thought. Jaylon believed them to be no more than horror stories to frighten the young until things started moving on their own in the Paramounts’ lounge. Assigned to watch and discover how the trick was done, the last warning Jaylon received before leaving his quarters was to beware of the Paramount women who teased and then reported military for breaches in conduct for the fun of seeing them punished. He should have taken heed for a far different reason. To begin Tieanna seemed to say things innocently without knowing she divulged secrets the Paramount command hid from the military. Instead, the more he let his attraction to her pull him in, the farther she led him down a dangerous path that would earn him a far harsher punishment than the whip or demotion, branding him not only as a Wane, but even worse, a Bastard of Ran.
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“Meeting closed, dismissed,” the governor said. He quickly amended the order when Jaylon was the first to turn to go. “You stay, trooper.”
Governor Edwrin loosened his collar as he leaned back in his chair. The man was not nearly as pompously formal in private. The change didn’t mean Jaylon cared for or trusted him more. Even informal, he was offensively condescending.
“At rest, trooper.” He waited while Jaylon spread his feet and clasped his hands behind his back. “I want to know what you’re seeing, in your words.”
“I don’t know what you mean…sir.”
“The people, damn it, what do you see in their faces?”
“Fear and curiosity primarily while it’s happening,” Jaylon answered truthfully. “A restlessness when it isn’t. Some of your people appear to have difficulty sleeping. There’s a lot of movement during the night, although much of it does not reach into the lounge, and they exhibit shortness with one another.”
“Go on,” he urged when Jaylon paused.
“I don’t see anything malicious in the incidents. Only two were directed at a specific person, without intent to injure.”
“Didn’t you say you saw fear in some of the faces?”
“From not knowing what’s doing it, not of injury, a condition which would disappear as soon as you release the information on how it’s being done,” he stated, baiting the man.
The governor’s eyes dropped. “Such a disclosure would alert the culprit to the fact we do know.”
Certain they didn’t, Jaylon baited further and said, “Surely knowing how gives you a clue as to who it is by the knowledge they’d need to accomplish it.”
“We have some of the most brilliant minds in the universe on this ship. I can name you ten who are as good in one field as they are in another.”
Jaylon could say the same for more than ten in the trooper’s section. He held the thought and asked, “Why is it being done?”
“Have you ever heard of the Air Dancers?”
One corner of Jaylon’s mouth lifted in reaction. “The Wane King was centuries ago and a fairy tale,” he commented dryly, holding back his opinion of a mythical race of people with the power of making things dance in the air with their thoughts.
“Horror story,” he corrected.
On the verge of saying if any of it was true, the horror was in what was done to those people, Jaylon wisely held his tongue yet again.
“They were the essence of evil,” the governor went on, “using charades and theatrics to control ignorant peasants. If they had not been destroyed, our world would have been far different than it is.”
As far as Jaylon was concerned not much could be worse. Their world didn’t exist anymore. What survivors there were lived on ships with a rigid caste system, the lower classes being controlled by the higher, with fear between castes and within castes, with little to see in the future. Even if they were going to another planet, as Tieann’s words implied, not orbiting their own war devastated one, he didn’t see the Wane King could have done any more damage.
“From the marker you left in the book, I could see you hadn’t gotten far enough to read of the atrocities those witches committed.”
The comment let Jaylon know what had happened to the book they’d never returned to him. He finished the second Tri Ed Tieann sent to him, the one he suspected the governor didn’t have knowledge of since it was delivered during one of the times the guard-eye was out. From it he knew more of the history of the Wane King followers. They had been accused of some atrocities, while the real horrors had been committed against them, not by them.
“Sacrifices and torture,” the governor went on.
The Wanes did not make or advocate sacrifices, human or animal, and the only torture had been done to them. Jaylon, however, did not argue the points made by the governor.
“When they attempted their revolution, any who opposed them were murdered by the thousands, men, women, and children.”
They were murdered by the thousands, again a correction Jaylon did not bother to make. He asked instead, “What do fables have to do with what happened in the lounge?”
“We believe an attempt to revive the Wane King cult is being made, using the sciences to produce false claims of supernatural powers.”
The corner of Jaylon’s mouth twitched again. They didn’t know how it was being done any more than they knew who.
“Greed, trooper, and a desire for power are behind this. We must stop it before whoever it is gets a foothold and more lives are lost because of an ancient religion based on fear and superstition.”
According to the legends he’d read, and heard all his life, it wasn’t a religion. In the simplest terms, it was a race. Though there were many who had adopted their philosophy, they had not possessed the special abilities legend attributed to the Wanes.
“We cannot have this spread to the lower classes; why you have been ordered not to discuss anything you see and why I confiscated the book Tri Ed Tieann so carelessly gave to you. Why she chose that particular volume for a trooper is beyond me. I can think of any number of subjects more appropriate.”
Jaylon didn’t ask appropriate in what way. He knew he wouldn’t like the answer. “She didn’t choose it,” he told him. “It happened to be the nearest to hand when the subject of a trade came up.” Not a lie, it was the top book when she insisted he take at least one of the two.
“Have you made any other trades?”
“No, sir,” he said, not a lie, either. The others had traded; he had not, and the second book had been a gift.
“Good. I believe it’s better if the classes do not inter-relate on any level. They are simply incapable of understanding one another. Any contact can only lead to problems such as occurred on your second night.”
While the problem had been occurring, Jaylon would have agreed without a second thought. He would have believed a Paramount could not have anything in common with anyone in the military, or any other lower class, or have any degree of regard for anyone they considered inferior. Since the assignment he saw things differently. Them, as individuals.
Larion Wills, a multi-genre author, also writes under the name of Larriane Wills. From science fiction to western romances she holds up to her tag of ‘two names, one author, thousands of stories.’
Born in Oklahoma, but raised in Arizona she feels a native to the state and has settled in the high desert country. In a quiet, rural area with a family who tolerates her writer’s single-mindedness, she presents us with a series of unique westerns while still producing contemporary romances, many laced with paranormal settings, all with strong characterizations and suspenseful plots, capable of dragging you into a story in a genre you thought before you didn’t care for. Under her pen of Larriane she writes science fiction and fantasy. At her website, http://www.larriane.com , you can keep abreast of releases under both pen names, keep up with new releases through various publishers, and she invites you to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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