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A Matter of Honor - A Terran Empire novel

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111 pages
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Ajouté le : 08 décembre 2010
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Matter of Honor, by Ann Wilson This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org ** This is a COPYRIGHTED Project Gutenberg eBook, Details Below ** ** Please follow the copyright guidelines in this file. ** Title: A Matter of Honor A Terran Empire novel Author: Ann Wilson Release Date: June 9, 2008 [EBook #25741] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK A MATTER OF HONOR *** Produced by Al Haines This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence. A MATTER OF HONOR A Terran Empire novel by Ann Wilson Copyright (C) 1992 by Ann Wilson CONTENTS I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X I Irschcha, 2569 CE Chaos take those Imperial schools anyway! It was all their fault, Thark growled to himself, increasing his pace as the sleek lines of his ship came into view. Not even the prospect of flying the Prowler lightened his mood this time. The Chaos-loving schools had done too much! They were fine for the unTalented, like humans and now Traiti, but they had probably precipitated a disaster here on Irschcha. Their damnable stress on Imperial rather than planetary allegiance was to blame; it had deprived him of the strongest Talent to appear in many years, Corina Losinj—and it would cost Corina her life soon, if it hadn't already. He was practically running toward his small ship now, dignity forgotten in the need for haste. "Dammit all to hell!" he burst out, the human curse seeming oddly appropriate under the circumstances. If the Terran Empire hadn't discovered Irschcha for another century, or if Chear hadn't chosen to affiliate with it, none of this would have had to happen. As Thark neared the ship, he forced his thoughts and emotions under control, away from such useless speculations. He was High Adept of the White Order now, not Chear, and it was up to him to correct Chear's error. His calm voice did not betray his feelings when he returned the salute of the gray-kilted Sanctioner standing at the foot of the boarding ramp. "Greetings, Master Thark," the Sanctioner said. "Greetings, Underofficer Jamar. What is Prowler's status?" "Senior Adepts Valla and Kainor are already on board, as is the rest of my squad. The ship is ready for takeoff." "Excellent," Thark said. "Then we leave immediately. We have no time to waste." He hurried up the ramp into the ship. Jamar followed, stopping to raise the ramp and close the lock. Thark went on to the cockpit and secured himself in the pilot's seat, scanning his instrumentation. He was an accomplished pilot, and rather to his surprise he found that the pre-liftoff routine did ease his mood, even under such unpleasant circumstances. His ears went forward in satisfaction. Jamar had surpassed himself; the only thing left was to alert his crew and passengers for immediate takeoff. He did so, then fed full power to the null-gravs. There was no need to wait for clearance; this was a private field, one of his prerogatives as High Adept, and the Prowler, as his ship, had an automatic clearance superseding any other in this system save an Imperial Navy ship. As soon as they were a safe ten diameters out from Irschcha he activated the hyperdrive, then unstrapped himself and rose. Prowler's course to Rendavi, the Crusade leaders' rendezvous, had been fed into the navigation computer several days ago and been updated automatically every hour since. He started to leave the cockpit. Once the transition into hyperspace had been made, there was no need for a pilot until it was time to out-transition and land. Still—at the moment, he really didn't feel like talking to his lieutenants. He returned to the controls and sat down, staring into the blank viewscreen and visualizing the morning's unexpected, perhaps disastrous, developments. Perhaps if he had handled things differently… He had spent most of the week arranging things so he would be free all day today, knowing such things would not be possible for much longer. The weather had cooperated almost as if it were intelligent and sensed the importance of this meeting. Although it was still early spring, the day was a brilliant one, the temperature a comfortable fifteen degrees. He had taken advantage of that, deciding to have Corina's final lesson out on the sundeck. He took several seating cushions outside and arranged them so the sun would warm them, yet not glare into his or Corina's eyes. Then he leaned back on one set of the cushions to wait for her. Relaxing almost totally, he watched a small cloud drifting in the clear green sky. The sun's gentle warmth on his fur was thoroughly enjoyable. It was indeed a pleasant change, he mused, to be able to relish such a day with no duties to interfere. His position as High Adept made such luxuries all too rare. Corina's lessons were a self-imposed duty, one he was pleased he had assumed. He was looking forward to her initiation into the White Order, and the fact that he had trained her himself would make that doubly enjoyable. It was fortunate that Corina was available to the Order at all. Her Talent had been deeply latent, not developing until quite late. Because of that, she had been missed by the Order's usual pre-school testing. That, Thark thought, still bitter, was one of the few things the Empire's very presence had not changed. Although the examiner had believed she had sensed something, Corina had been unable to receive even the simplest thoughts, and had not had even a trace of mental screen. She had been seventeen, close to eighteen years old by the new Imperial Standard measure, when she had found herself beginning to pick up thoughts. She had gone, naturally enough, to a local Order chapter for help and possible training. The chapter had reported it to him, knowing he would be interested; when Talent appeared so late it was almost always minimal, usually only telepathy and a weak mind-screen, and the tester had been astonished at Corina's strength. Thark had been surprised himself when he scanned her. It was then that he had decided to take her as his private student. Four years' training had brought out her potential, the power he had sensed she should be able to control, when they met. It would be formally recognized soon, when she was
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