Authors: Julian May
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Science Fiction, #Adventure, #High Tech, #Science Fiction; American
May, Julian - Exiles 4 - The Adversary
The Adversary Julian May
SYNOPSIS THE GALACTIC MILIEU AND THE PLIOCENE EXILE
The Great Intervention of 2013 opened humanity's way to the stars. By the year 2110, when the action of the first volume in this saga began, Earthlings were fully accepted members of a benevolent confederation of planet colonizers, the Coadunate Galactic Milieu, who shared high technology and the capability of performing advanced mental operations known as metafunctions. Genes for the five principal metapsychic abilities - farsensing, coercion, creativity, psychokinesis, and redaction, or healing-had been part of human heredity from time immemorial; but the mental powers were at first only rarely manifest, remaining mostly latent until evolutionary pressure resulted in increasing numbers of operant human metapsychics, being born late in the twentieth century.
The five founding races of the Galactic Milieu had observed the slow metapsychic development of humanity for tens of thousands of years. But it was not until a small group of beleaguered pioneer operants broadcast a desperate telepathic appeal that the Milieu finally intervened in Earthly affairs. After some debate, the galactic confederation decided to admit Earthlings into the Milieu "in advance of their psychosocial maturation" because of the vast mental potential of humanity, which might eventually exceed that of any other race.
In the hectic years following the Great Intervention, the mundane problems of humanity seemed all but solved. Poverty, disease, and ignorance were wiped out. With the help of the nonhumans, people from Earth colonized more than 700 new planets that had already been surveyed and found suitable.
Earthlings also learned how to speed the development of their metapsychic powers through special training and genetic engineering. However, even though the number of humans with operant metafunctions increased with each generation, in 2110 the majority of the population was still "normal"-that is, possessing metafunctions that were either meagre to the point of nullity or else latent, unusable because of psychological barriers or other factors. Most of the day-to-day socioeconomic activities of the Human Polity of the Milieu were carried on by "normals," but human metapsychics did occupy privileged positions in government, in the sciences, and in other areas where high mental powers were valuable to the Milieu as a whole.
At only one period between the Great Intervention and 2110 did it seem that the admission of humanity to the Milieu had been a mistake: This was in 2083, during the brief Metapsychic Rebellion. Instigated by a group of Earth-based humans led by Marc Remillard, this attempted coup narrowly missed destroying the entire Milieu organization. The Rebellion was suppressed by loyalist humans, who included Marc's own brother, Jack, and steps were taken to insure that such a disaster never would occur again.
A hundred or so battered survivors of the Rebellion managed to evade retribution by following Marc Remillard through a unique escape hatch: a one-way time-gate leading into Earth's Pliocene Epoch, six million years in the past. Eventually the Rebels settled on Ocala Island, in a part of North America that would one day be called Florida. Well equipped with sophisticated Milieu gadgetry, they lived in isolation for twenty-seven years while their leader made a futile search of the Pliocene galaxy with his artificially enhanced farsenses, seeking another planet inhabited by metapsychics with high technology. Marc Remillard never gave up his dream of human domination of the galaxy-not even when his old allies despaired and their children openly opposed the plan.
In the Galactic Milieu, six million years into the future, the crushing of the Metapsychic Rebellion signalled the start of a new Golden Age for humanity. Human metapsychics achieved Unity-assimilation into a near-mystical mental fellowship of the Galactic Mind. Nonmetas on the planet Earth and its hundreds of interstellar colonies enjoyed unlimited lebensraum, energy sufficiency, the challenge of settling and exploiting new worlds, and citizenship in a splendid galaxy-wide civilization.
But even Golden Ages have their misfits: in this case, humans who, for one reason or another, were temperamentally unsuited to the rather structured social environment of the Milieu. These malcontents chose to exile themselves by passing through the time-gate that led to an Earth six million years younger.
The time-gate was discovered in 2034, during the heady years of the scientific knowledge explosion subsequent to the Great Intervention. But since the time-warp opened only backward (anything attempting to return became six million years old and usually crumbled to dust), and since it had a fixed focus (a point in France's Rhone River Valley), its discoverer concluded that it was a useless oddity without practical application.
After the death of the time-gate discoverer in 2041, his widow, Madame Angelique Guderian, learned that her husband had been mistaken. The fair numbers of malcontents in the developing Human Polity of the Milieu were willing to pay handsomely to be transported to a simpler world without rules. Geologists and paleontologists knew that the Pliocene Epoch was an idyllic period just before the dawn of rational life on our planet.
Romantics and rugged individualists from almost all of Earth's ethnic groups eventually discovered Madame's "underground railroad" to the Pliocene, which operated out of a quaint French inn located outside the metropolitan centre of Lyon.
From 2041 until 2106, the rejuvenated Madame Guderian transported clients from the Milieu to the Pliocene Exile, a presumed natural paradise. After suffering belated qualms of conscience about the fate of the time-travellers, Madame herself passed into the Pliocene, and operation of her clandestine service was taken over by the Human Polity in a quasi-official manner: The time-gate was a convenient glory hole for dissidents.
By 2110, when the gate into the Pliocene Exile had been operating for nearly seventy years, some 100,000 human timefarers had passed through it into an unknown destiny.
On 25 August 2110, eight persons, making up that week's "Group Green," were transported to Exile. These three women and five men would play key roles in a drama that would affect not only the Pliocene world, but ultimately that of the Milieu itself.
Group Green discovered, as other time-travellers had before them, that the natural paradise of Pliocene Europe was under the control of a humanoid race from the Duat Galaxy, a starwhirl many millions of light years away from our own part of the universe. The exotics were also exiled, having been driven from their home because of their barbarous battle-religion.
The dominant exotic faction, the Tanu, were tall and handsome. In spite of a thousand-year sojourn on Earth, there were still less than 20,000 of them because their reproduction was inhibited by solar radiation. Antagonistic to the Tanu and outnumbering them by at least four to one were their ancient foes, the Firvulag. Often called the Little People, these exotics were mostly of short stature, although there were plenty of human-sized and even gigantic individuals among them. They reproduced quite well on Earth but were short-lived compared to the Tanu.
Tanu and Firvulag constituted a dimorphic race-the former metapsychically latent, and the latter possessed of operant metafunctions, mostly limited in power. The Tanu, with their higher technology, had long ago developed mind-amplifying devices, called golden torcs, that raised them to operancy. Use of the torcs had its price, however: A certain percentage of Tanu children proved incompatible with it and died of the "black-torc" syndrome, in spite of the efforts of the grieving adults. These black-torc tragedies exacerbated the already serious problem of low birthrate among the Tanu.
The Firvulag, tougher and cruder than their resplendent kin, did not require torcs in order to exercise their metafunctions.
The leaders and great heroes among the Little People were the mental equals of the Tanu; but most Firvulag were weaker.
Stubborn and conservative, for most of their stay on Earth they had resisted the notion of acting in metaconcert-that is, using a multimind operational mode. The Tanu had experimented with this technique, although they never attained the efficiency achieved by metapsychics in the Galactic Milieu.
For most of the thousand years that Tanu and Firvulag resided on Pliocene Earth (which they called the Many-Coloured Land), they were fairly evenly matched in the ritual wars fought as part of their battle-religion. The greater finesse and technology of the Tanu tended to counterbalance the superior numbers of the ferociously obstinate Firvulag. The advent of time-travelling humanity was to change the situation drastically.
Early on, the Tanu gained control of the fixed-focus time-gate and took prisoner all the newly arrived humans, enslaving them.
The astounding discovery was made that human germ plasm was compatible with that of the Tanu. The meaning behind this paradox was immaterial to the Tanu; they were delighted to be able to use their human slaves in breeding, since Tanu-human hybrids tended to have unusual physical and mental strength.
The time-travellers also proved to be a valuable technological resource, enhancing the rather decadent science establishment of the Tanu by injecting the expertise of the greatly advanced Galactic Milieu. It had been strictly forbidden for time-travellers to carry sophisticated weaponry back to the Pliocene (a restriction that was often honoured in the breach), and the Tanu were conservative in the type of military hardware that they permitted their human serfs to build. Nevertheless, it was human ingenuity that eventually gave the Tanu almost complete ascendency over the Firvulag-who never mated with humans and generally despised them.
Most of the enslaved time-travellers actually lived quite well under the benevolent overlordship of the Tanu. Rough work was done by small ramapithecine apes who were, ironically, part of the direct hominid line that would climax in Homo sapiens six million years in the future. The ramas wore tiny grey torcs that compelled obedience; they had been used in largely abortive breeding experiments by the Tanu prior to the arrival of timetravelling humans.
Certain human slaves were also fitted with the collarlike torcs.
Those who occupied positions of trust or were engaged in vital pursuits wore grey torcs similar to those fitted to the ramas.
These did not amplify the mind, but did allow telepathic communication with the Tanu, who were also able to administer punishment or reward through the device. Luckier humans, who showed evidence of metapsychic latencies when tested, were given silver torcs. These were similar to the golden collars worn by the Tanu, making latent metafaculties operant. The silver torcs contained control circuits, however, and disobedience brought swift and excruciating punishment. Silver-torc humans were accepted as conditional citizens of the Tanu kingdom, and under certain circumstances the silvers might be granted golden torcs and full freedom. For humans as well as for Tanu the torcs were potentially hazardous. Occasionally an incompatible human torc wearer would be driven insane or killed outright by the device. Pathological reactions were especially likely among humans without significant metapsychic latencies.
The eight members of Group Green were to be mind-tested by Tanu overlords immediately upon their arrival in the Pliocene, as were all time-travellers. Five of them were "normal," that is, possessing latencies far below the threshold of potential operancy. These were Claude Majewski, an elderly paleontologist; Sister Amerie Roccaro, a physician and burnt-out priest; Stein Oleson, a herculean planet-crust driller; Richard Voorhees, a disgraced starship captain; and Bryan Grenfell, an anthropologist who had followed his lover, Mercy Lamballe, into the Pliocene.
The other three members of Group Green were anything but "normal." Aiken Drum, a charming young criminal, showed very strong latencies and was fitted with a silver torc. Felice Landry, a disturbed young athlete, knew that she also possessed extremely powerful latent metafaculties; but for reasons of her own, she refused to cooperate with the Tanu overlords and was able to postpone being tested.
The eighth and most unusual member of Group Green was Elizabeth Orme. In the Milieu, she had been a fully operant Grand Master metapsychics, an honoured teacher. Through a brain trauma she had apparently lost her awesome powers of farsensing and redaction and reverted to the "normal" state. In despair at having been shut out of the metapsychic Unity she had rejoiced in, Elizabeth elected to pass into the Pliocene.
There she would be among others like herself, since no operants were allowed to undertake time-travel.
To her horror, Elizabeth discovered that the shock of temporal translation had begun the restoration of her lost powers. Convalescent, at first terrified and then consumed with rage at the irony of her situation, Elizabeth heard the Tanu overlord Creyn tell her that a "wonderful life" awaited her in the Many-Coloured Land. As the only torcless operant, she would be considered a unique treasure: The Tanu King himself would be her consort ...
That evening, two caravans set out from the Tanu Castle Gateway. Group Green had been split in half. Bound north for the city of Finiah on the Proto-Rhine was a sizeable mob of normal humans destined to become ordinary slaves and brood stock. These included Claude, Sister Amerie, Richard, and Felice-who had confided to her friends that she planned not only to escape, but also to "take" the entire Tanu race!
The southbound caravan was much smaller. En route to the Tanu capital of Muriah in the Mediterranean Basin were the Tanu overlord Creyn, Elizabeth, Aiken Drum, two other silvertorced humans named Sukey Davies and Raimo Hakkinen, the gigantic driller Stein, who had been fitted with a grey torc in preparation for life as a gladiator, and the untorced anthropologist Bryan Grenfell, whose expertise was strangely valued by the Tanu and who looked forward to finding his lost lover somewhere in Muriah.
The caravan bound for Finiah was soon involved in a prisoner revolt, engineered by the erstwhile professional athlete, Felice.
Abnormally strong, with powerful coercive latencies that let her mind-control animals, Felice had smuggled a small steel dagger past the searchers at Castle Gateway. Working with Richard, the starship captain, and two men named Yoshimitsu and Tatsuji who were costumed as samurai, Felice engineered the killing of the female overlord Epone as well as the entire prisoner escort of grey-torc human troops.