“I think,” a quiet, penetrating voice said, “you ought to look at this.”

Christiana looked up, irritation flaring. Did Mother Amalthea never consider it incumbent on her to announce herself to the servants and be escorted in?

Well – had she ever and what did it matter now anyway, knowing what they both knew? It was not disrespect on Mother Amalthea’s part, she was above such trivialities, it was simply the way things were. The problem was that in the minutes before she had entered and spoken, Christiana had been growing more and more tense and had not been able to avoid jumping at the sound of her voice.

It wasn’t Mother Amalthea’s fault, it was his.

Christiana glanced at the young man lounging in the chair near the window. Through her irritation she felt again the powerful attraction that was in itself repellent. She did not like him but in the end she intended him to inherit everything, despite Mother Amalthea’s displeasure that she was unable to find a suitable girl. There were no such girls in the family, certainly not Lexis’s daughter, and anyone from outside would be unthinkable. She saw the logic of Mother Amalthea’s preference, of course, but it could not be helped.


Extract 1

The moonlight had shifted slightly and touched Josh’s cheek with silver. Josh sighed.

“Sometimes I wish you hadn’t told me about him.”

“Would that be better than knowing why you feel like this?”

There was a pause and then the dark head moved negatively.

“No. I ought to know why but sometimes I can’t bear it. He’s my other half!”

Ethan sighed. Try as he might he could never really appreciate how that must feel, knowing part of you was missing, never feeling completely whole.

“The sky is red,” said Josh.

Ferrous dust – or a red sun, wondered Ethan.

“He’s so tired.” Josh sounded lost and his voice began to shake. “And they’re hurting him. They’re driving him...!”

“Don’t!” Don’t, because you’re knifing us both.

“He’s my brother, my...”

Where a word should have been was only a wide and aching space. My what? Josh tried to make the concept form.

I don’t know him and yet I do. Locked away inside him is the person he might be but when I enter him there’s nothing there. Nothing to find. Where are you, my brother? Don’t you know me? I’m you.

Stop it! Stop hurting him! STOP!!

“They’re hurting him!” Josh moaned. “Oh, God!”

“Don’t. Let him go.” For your sanity. For mine.

“I can’t! It’s always worse after a dream. I can’t pull away as easily as when I go and find him myself.”

Find him myself? Ethan felt his scalp prickle. “Josh, are you telling me it isn’t just dreams any more?”


Josh raised his face, tears glistening like diamonds. “It’s... it’s... I haven’t been able to do it for long. I just tried it one night. Tried...,” he winced at the effort to find the right term. “... reaching. Reaching for him. And he was there.” His voice dropped. “Only he’s not.”


Extract 2

There had been a day, which, on looking back, had been the turning point of Te’iret’s life. Until then Te’iret had had no idea that hie was in any way different from the norm. Che’aya, with their strong sense of corporate identity, were not given to such concepts anyway so it had never even occurred to hiem to wonder if the way hie lived was not quite usual. But that day, the day on which hie had looked at i’agr and seen birds, had given on the first clue of all. It was some time before hie understood the exact significance of that incident but when hie did, hie knew hie could never forget it.

Hie had lived here, at the place hie knew only as the Seminary, since the day hie had completed fourteen planetrounds of life and had ceased, therefore, to be in Infant in the care of hies parents and become a Child ready for education. The transition had been painless, adhering to normal conventions. Just as hies parents had been content to see one go, hie had been equally as content to leave them. Hie was ready, no baby anymore; hie needed instruction not nursing.

One day one’s maternal parent had taken one to the assignment centre and, after the usual physical and mental assessments hie had been brought here, a Seminary no different from the thousands of others.


Or so hie had believed.



“Sir?” The second officer’s name was Sawyer, Edmund Berkeley Sawyer, to his eternal disgust and to his relief always called Tom.

Gerard turned to him. “Yes, Tom?”

Tom looked as if he were totally disorientated. “You’re gonna say I’m crazy,” he said. He looked almost desperately at his control console, pressed a few keys, stared in disbelief at the result on his screen and then back at Gerard with pleading in his eyes. “It is crazy.”

“Okay, you’re crazy,” Gerard said. “So now, tell me, what’s wrong?”

“I know everything’s working, it was working before and I’ve never known anything to break down while we’re in hyperspace. And anyway why would anything break down?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, could you get to the point?”

“Well it’s all silent. There’s none of the usual buzz of communications. There’s no reaction from GC. In fact, I can’t get hold of anybody at all.”

Gerard turned. Indeed the silence around them was unusual. Normally, when they re-entered Sol space their communications systems was cluttered by a general chat that had to be filtered so as to let through only communications between them and GC on Earth. He hadn’t noticed the absence and it seemed that nobody else had either.

“You say you can’t contact GC?”

“No one’s answering, Sir.”

“Let’s have a look.”

Gerard stuck an earpiece in his ear. The silence was deafening. It was as if they were still in hyperspace.

“And yet we’ve left hyperspace,” he said slowly, turning to the observation screen to confirm what he was saying.

The Earth shone below them, too far away to make out the continents, but the travellers knew its appearance by heart. You couldn’t mistake the planet.

“Okay, let’s get into orbit as usual and go round. Perhaps there’s a power cut in Rima, but we’ll get someone elsewhere.”


The Antares went into orbit.

Tom took a deep breath. “Just a minute, I’m really going mad. Where’s the moon?”

“Heck, on the other side,” said Mel. “Obviously.”

“No, it’s got to be on this side,” protested Tom. “I checked. It’s on the chart, look, but it isn’t here. We arrived bang on the right coordinates, so it should be here, to our right. But it isn’t.”



Extract 1

Lieutenant-Commander Julian Layton read the introduction.

“So we have two outsiders seconded on to us,” he commented. “That’s going to change things a bit.”

“Oh?” said 1st Officer Solveig Bergen, coming across the room.

Julian read down the list of names.

“Dr Axel Bauden,” Solveig said with a whistle. “Head of .... ye Gods, we’re getting a real boffin. God! Look at his qualifications! He’s a professor really. Here, there’s his picture. Wow! That’s a university professor?”

“Not so boffin looking, is he? How old is he? Thirty four? That’s all?”

“It says here that he’s physically handicapped.”

Julian gaped at her. “You mean they’re giving us – the ISA are taking on – someone who’s physically handicapped? You’re joking! They wouldn’t!”

“He has got qualifications as long as your arm.”

“Yeah, but even so. How on Earth are we supposed to deal with that? This is an ISA Intersidereal flight, on a military project, for God’s sake!”

Solveig shrugged her shoulders. “No doubt we’ll be briefed. They’re arriving in a couple of weeks.’

“Bloody hell, I thought I’d seen everything,” Julian sighed.

The Comm bleeped and Commander Adrianna Menders’s grim face appeared.

“Julian, I’ve just received notice of a special cargo of telematic and such like equipment that’s arriving next week for the lab. Okay, we were expecting that, but some of the pieces and the instructions that go with them are to do with infrastructure already in place, and I can’t see why the changes are being made. For security reasons, I need to know why.”

“Give me an example,” said Julian.

“All, and I mean all, door operating systems, lift systems, or anything of that sort that operate on a level above 1.40m height are to be fitted with an electronic receiver pre-programmed with a specific signal for operation at distance. The devices will come with the instructions for fitting them. And that’s just an example. Who’s this Dr Bauden The guy

“You haven’t seen the project’s personnel list?”

“Not yet.”

“He’s been seconded from the University of Canberra to deal with the telematics.”

“God, a university boff. No sense of practicality, I suppose.”

“Well actually,” Julian said thoughtfully. “I think he probably has. Above 1.40 m you say.” He held out his hand at what he judged to be that level. “Hold you hand out there, Solveig, while I sit down ... yes, and above it would present a problem.”

“What are you on about, Julian?”


“Well, Adrianna, for your information, and this will really make your day, I reckon, this Dr Bauden is in a wheelchair.”


Extract 2

Laclan accompanied him to the grid and watched him step into it. An instant later the energy field came to life. The lights curled round the sticks and went up them, round Axel’s hands and then up his arms before heading off to the wheel and back again. Axel looked at Lachlan watching him anxiously. This time Vassily was wearing the holospex and the gloves connected to the computers and to Axel.

“So far, it’s okay,” said Axel. And then it wasn’t.

They all saw the lights play round the back of his skull and saw him waver.

“Oh God, I feel so sick,” Axel gasped as the lines shot up to the corners of the wheel and back down again, crisscrossing to such an extent that the whole space appeared to be filling up. He watched the lines with a mixture of fascination and fear. The nausea was almost too strong to control and he leaned forward uncontrollably. And yet, he was unable to vomit. He leaned on the sticks, his senses buffeted by the conflicting emotions he was in.

And then he saw it. He gave a small cry. There in front of him was an entrance. Obviously an entrance.

I can’t open it! he thought in panic. I can’t reach out! “Help me!” the words came out strangled. It was waiting for him to do something and he couldn’t. “I can’t!” he gasped. “I can’t do it!”

It didn’t understand him. It thought it had given him the keys. It couldn’t understand why he wasn’t using them.

He swayed.


Extract 1

Stuart Brenna sat down and surveyed the various people round the table.

“So,” he said. “What’ve we got then?”

“Hard to say,” Dr Matthew Causton said. “They’ve obviously been hibo for some time. I don’t know if they’d set a time but our approach obviously set off the dehibe procedure.”6

“Probably programmed to do so,” Stuart commented. “As ours did that time.” He couldn’t help glancing at Andres Reinstat.

“Anyway,” Matthew continued. “We’ve set up a monitoring team.”

“And sealed off the armaments store,” Ari Calder said.

“They’re going to get a shock,” Stuart said. A long time ago he would have said it with grim pleasure

A long time ago. But now after so many years, all he could feel was relief that they’d at last met another ship, and concern for its occupants.

Andres pushed an electronic pad across the table. “Pity we can’t read it,” he said. “It needs recharging.”

Stuart picked it up. “Have they got the energy?”

Matt shook his head. “We need it to bring them out of hibernation safely.”

Stuart nodded. “We’ll see what we can do afterwards. By which time of course, we probably won’t need it, we’ll be able to speak to them.”

“If they’ll speak to us,” commented Ari.

“No choice, have they? Once they realise that all that’s gone for ever and that we’re all in the same position, do you honestly think they’ll keep up hostilities?” Andres asked.


Ari shrugged. “I think we’ve had enough proof that the human species is capable of debility.”


Extract 2

There was total silence in the Comm centre when they arrived. The faces of all those who were now working on the rehabilitation of all communication systems were pale and grim. They looked as though they had shed some tears.

“See this,” Andes said, and ran the recording through. Elias noticed a slight hesitation in his movements. “These are their communications with Earth and back about us.”

“They’ve got the Orion’s records now, I see,” Stuart said. “So now they know who we are. Oh, and there are the Cargo people.”

“We didn’t talk about them, just the ship.”

“No, they must have got the ship’s reference from the markings that are still on its walls. Easy to look it up.”


 “What I don’t like are these instructions,” Andres clicked a few pages on.

“So that’s why they wanted a run own on our family status now,” Stuart pulled at his lip. “Which I haven’t given them yet.”

“And there’s this.” Andres clicked to another page.

It contained a series of stills from the film taken during the visit by Commander Mann and his seconds. The pictures showed them in various groups, or individually, with a series of codes under each picture.

Andres pointed to one and looked up at Elias. ‘If that doesn’t speak for itself, I don’t know what does.”

Stuart groaned. “Oh God, I told you to be discreet. I was hoping they’d think Tahl and you were a couple, the way you work closely together. I mean, there’s that one there. You look really pally.”

“We are pally,” said Andres. “But we didn’t know they were filming, then.”

“It might mean nothing,” Stuart said.

“Might it?” Andres clicked rapidly. “This is doc on society down there.”

They watched.

“I didn’t fight for that,” Tahlea whispered. “They’ve really regressed. It’s worse than before.”

“Or we’ve progressed,” Stuart said. “And I think we have progressed.


“But that’s not all,” Andres said. “I downloaded the end of the war. I wanted to know what happened, how it happened.” He paused. “I wish I hadn’t,” he whispered.