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survived the cleansing and our ancestors made good Tehkohn of them."
"But she is so different& "
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"She is. But I wonder how much the differences matter. We will let her show us. Through her we will
learn more of what her kind can do more of what the Garkohn might use them for."
Jeh flashed white assent, then bent and lifted Alanna. She moaned as though in pain. Her pain was
almost at an end though, if she proved tractable. Jeh and Cheah would treat her kindly. Kindness was
best. She might be a valuable hostage someday. Meanwhile, it would be interesting to watch her
change to help her change. I would take part in her re-education myself. And I would see to it that if
she was ever returned to her people, she would greet them as an emissary of the Tehkohn. She would
speak to her parents for me and against Natahk.
For the first time in two years, Alanna lay on her own bed at the Mission colony and slid uncomfortably
into a meklah dream. She had intended to use these moments of privacy to think, to plan a way to thwart
Natahk and Gehl. They both knew of her marriage. The fact that they kept it secret indicated that they
planned to use the information to control her somehow. Natahk could make her a pawn of the Garkohn
whenever he chose. And as soon as he realized that she was undoing his work, bringing the Tehkohn
and the Missionaries together in peace rather than in war, he would begin to apply pressure. Thus,
Alanna's first moves had to be direct and sweeping. She had to give the Missionaries a hard push so that
if she was silenced or killed or abducted again, the Missionaries would go on along the path that she had
pointed out to them. To guide them, though, she had to become one of them again or as much one of
them as she had ever been. Now, ironically, her renewed meklah addiction helped her slip back into the
ways of her Missionary past. Meklah dreams had their uses.
Meklah dreams came to people who allowed themselves to reach the second stage of meklah
withdrawal the stage of remembering. The first stage was hunger, uncomplicated, but intense, and
distinctly, hunger for one of the many meklah products of the valley. Another ripe sweet meklah fruit or
tea made from the leaves of the meklah tree or bread made from the unripe fruit dried and ground to
flour or . But the list was endless. Meklah was the staple of the valley. Even meat and fish were
seasoned with it. The Garkohn fermented it to make a kind of wine. No one had trouble getting enough
of it. The tree was an evergreen that grew wild all over the valley. People were not even conscious of
being addicted unless they left the valley went into the mountains where the tree did not grow. Or
unless they simply chose not to eat.
Fine sweat appeared on Alanna's forehead. She felt almost sick with hunger. The meklah was
demanding. She was tempted to try to eat something that did not contain the meklah just to relieve her
hunger a little. But she knew better. Eating anything other than meklah now would start her vomiting
and bring her into full withdrawal. The time for her to risk that would come, certainly, but it had not
come yet. Best to wait now and let the memories come as she knew they would.
She closed her eyes, let her thoughts drift into the past. It was not so much remembering as reliving.
Only time was distorted so that she could experience the events of days, of months, in only minutes. In
her mind, she returned to Earth.
There, she met a woman, small and slender with hair that was long and very black like Alanna's hair,
and with eyes as narrow as Kohn eyes. And there was a man, as lean and tall as Alanna was now. His
coloring was dark brown, almost black, contrasting strangely with the very fair skin of the woman.
Alanna stood between them, her eyes only slightly narrowed, her skin a smooth medium brown.
They protected each other, these two, and together, they protected the child they had created. Even in the
end when the Clayarks came to loot and kill, the man and woman held them off long enough for the
child to escape.
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