Sunday, 23 June 2013

Peace Child, The Prophecy, The Z Zone Four

She held her breath as he latched on to her nipple. There was always a sharp pain as the milk came down and it was matched each time by a sensation of shrinking in her womb. Six weeks now after the birth, she was still bleeding. Every time she fed him, she bled more.
‘It’s  natural,’ said Narisja. ‘Whenever He sucks at your breast, your womb will shrink. He will make you slimmer’
It felt as if he were biting her. She imagined that there were huge teeth inside that tiny mouth. They only came out when he wanted milk. The rest of the time they lay hidden behind the innocent gums.
The pain lasted a few seconds. Then the other pain would start. The dull ache in her womb, which minutes later would be relieved as a fresh spurt of blood trickled into the pad she wore between her legs.
Then she could relax. It made her feel sleepy as the small child sucked slowly at her breasts. Sometimes, she thought of when Gabrizan had touched her there. She had loved that too. Now, though, that seemed wrong.
These are for the baby, she thought. These were never meant for you.
The child patted her breasts as he fed. It felt right. Every now and then, he stopped. Then he would start again. The Mother knew instinctively exactly when to move him from one side to the next.
‘You are doing well,’ Narisja said. ‘The Child is gaining weight rapidly. And look how his cheeks are filling out.’
But the Mother could see the worry in the old woman’s eyes.
The Mother looked at her child. She couldn’t love him. She enjoyed feeding him, but that was all. It was Saratina who patted him afterwards, and cooed at him and made the funny grunting noise, which were her only words and which he seemed to love.
All the Mother could see was blackness. He was a parasite, feeding off her, taking away her life. He had forced her to live here, to abandon the life where everything was right, where everything should have been wonderful.
She was glad, though, that she was still the Mother, the Queen Bee, the most important member of the hive. She allowed Narisja and Saratina to serve her every need. They brought her food and drink. The old woman made her drink gallons of the cave water.
‘You must take in so much fluid,’ she said. ‘The baby is taking most of yours.’
The regime of the nightly porterbeer continued.
‘He needs the iron as much as you,’ said Narisja. ‘You need it still. You must be strong for the sake of the Peace Child.’
The baby always slept well after she had drunk the porterbeer, and that allowed her to sleep for five or six hours at night.
The two other women dressed him and changed his nappies. The Mother watched, glad that she did not have to handle the stinking mess. The baby squirmed and yelled as the women pulled his clothes on to him.
How can anyone love that? the Mother asked herself. It’s not a child. It’s just a demanding lump of flesh, a food processor.
She stopped caring about her own appearance. She would never have washed if Narisja had not made her. The older woman also made her clean her teeth, often having to force her mouth open and brush them herself.
‘You’ll lose your teeth if you don’t take care of them,’ she said to the Mother. ‘The child has taken a lot of your calcium.’
It was Saratina who stroked the Mother’s hair and brushed it a hundred times morning and night.
The Mother just turned her face to the black wall of the cave, and that was all she saw: blackness going on forever. She could not see a future for herself and her child. She could not even recognise that she had a child.
She did see, though, that Narisja and Saratina were becoming more and more concerned about her and the Child.
‘She won’t touch Him unless we make her,’ said the old woman. ‘She almost seems afraid of Him.’
Saratina grunted sympathetically. She bent over the Child’s crib and stroked his cheek.
‘Even the Peace Child needs mother love,’ said Narisja. ‘What can we do?’
Saratina just shook her head and looked sadly at the sleeping baby.
Narisja sighed.
The Mother listened. They were right. The baby did need mother love. But I just can’t move towards him, she thought. I am frozen.
The baby carried on gaining weight and he looked healthy enough. The Mother also seemed to be thriving. Her figure was trim again and she was less pale than she had been straight after the birth. Yet there was something not quite right. She seemed to be in a dream.
Ben-Menriah continued to come every week. He loved to play with the Child.
‘You will be a fine story-teller,’ he said. ‘You carry the stories of the world in your soul.’
He was happy to throw the Child over his shoulder and pat his back after he had been fed. The baby would give a loud burp, often puking the last of his milk over the Wiseman’s shoulder.
Narisja would fetch him a cloth and wipe his tunic.
‘Your clothes will be ruined,’ she said.
But Ben-Mariah would only laugh. ‘What do a few soiled garments matter when I’m holding the fulfilment of a prophecy in my arms? Besides, baby spittle smells sweet and soon washes out.’
Then, when the babe was settled and asleep again, Ben-Mariah would continue with his tales. The Mother listened. There was a little comfort in them, but they lacked the excitement they had brought her earlier. Then always, before he went away, there was the whispered conversation in the entrance to the cave.
‘So there’s no improvement?’ he asked.
‘No, she still does not seem interested in the Boy,’ said Narisja.
Ben-Mariah would shake his head sadly. ‘Her soul is sick,’ he said. ‘We must find the story which will cure it, if the Boy is to grow strongly.’
She heard every word that they said about her, but she did not give anything away. She continued to stare blankly at the cave wall.
The Mother finished the feed, and handed the baby over to Saratina, who burped him, changed his nappy, rubbed noses with him and giggled at him and then laid him in his cot. She bent over and made her cooing, grunting little noises at him, just as she did every time she laid him down. Suddenly she cried out. Even the Mother was alarmed, and wondered whether the Child was hurt.
Saratina rushed over to her and grabbed her arm. She had to follow her to the crib. Saratina was pointing excitedly at the baby, squeaking and clapping her fists together.
‘What is it Saratina?’ asked the Mother. ‘What’s the matter? What’s happened?’
‘Mmm!’ insisted Saratina.
The Mother looked into the cot. Kaleem was lying on his back, his feet and arms kicking in the air. His deep blue eyes were looking into hers. For a second she saw his father and then she saw something of her own father. The baby smiled and giggled.
Something changed in her.
‘Does the Peace Child have a name now?’ asked Narisja.
‘Yes,’ replied the Mother. ‘He is my Kaleem,’ she said, stroking his cheek. ‘My precious child’
She took him out of his cot and held him close.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Prophecy, At the Citadel, Chapter Five

‘It’s a big step,’ said Razjosh. ‘It would be a big step anyway, but it’s even bigger now that we are going against the wishes of the Council of Ministries. That has never happened before.’
They were in Kaleem’s room. A robot was packing the strange Zandrian clothes that had quickly been made for him in the few hours since Razjosh and Chief Makisson had come to a decision: Operation Peace Child should begin in earnest.
Is there any choice? thought Kaleem. This was what he had been trained for. It was the only way they could fight the disease.
‘You do have the choice. You can refuse,’ Razjosh continued. ‘After all, you could go public on this. The Council of Ministries would surely be on your side,’ he added dryly.
No, thought Kaleem. It’s too late now. We have to do this thing.
‘We’d better go,’ mumbled Kaleem. His voice came out high and squeaky.
‘If you’re sure,’ said Razjosh. ‘There’s just one more thing we shall have to teach you before we go.’
Not more, thought Kaleem. What else could I possibly learn?
‘We shall have to teach you how to cope with interrogation,’ continued Razjosh.
Kaleem felt slightly sick. It had been great thinking that he was about to be some sort of ambassador, a bringer of peace. Now it sounded as if he was going to pretend to be something he wasn’t and gather information about other people. He could get into a lot of trouble if he was found out.
‘Just in case,’ said Razjosh. ‘Hopefully you won’t need it.’
Kaleem swallowed hard. He watched dataserve’s screen flickering rapidly. All of the Peace Child files were being transferred to a portable machine, which would fit into his belt. This was going to stay with him all of the time. This information would not be entrusted to the Supercraft’s dataserve. Once he was safely installed on Zandra, he would be able to transfer all of the information on to the Zandrian dataserve which would be given him.
‘I wish we could go now!’ said Kaleem.
The dataserve stopped whirring and then announced that the transfer of files was complete. Razjosh handed Kaleem the belt. Kaleem fastened it around his waist and then pulled the Zandrian tunic over it so that it did not show.
‘Packing complete,’ announced the robot.
‘Let’s go and meet the others then,’ said Razjosh.
So this was it. This was really it.
Sandi and Danielle were already sitting in the lounge near the main entrance to the Citadel when they arrived there. There were two rough-looking men there as well. Kaleem could see straight away that they were Z Zoners, despite the normal Citadel clothing. Their hair was grey.
‘Menjit Crossman, Abel Stansted,’ said Razjosh, ‘Kaleem Malkendy, Peace Child. I think you already know the others.’
Menjit, the taller of the two men, was frowning. ‘We don’t really understand why we’re going to Zandra,’ he said. ‘or why you’ve asked us to navigate.’
Abel Crossman was staring at Kaleem.
I bet he thinks my hair’s funny or something, thought Kaleem. He stared back at the man. He really should not complain about Kaleem’s hair. He looked more different from a normal Terrestran than Kaleem did. His back was bent and his skin all dry and leathery. In some ways he looked just like someone who was about to go through switch-off. But he moved like somebody who was about thirty and very fit.
‘We have to take the Peace Child to the Zandrians. We need him to negotiate about a possible cure for this illness which has made so many people die too young,’ replied Razjosh.
The two Z Zoners looked at each other. Abel shrugged and Menjit shook his head.
‘Dying young’s nothing in the Z Zone,’ said Menjit. ‘It happens all the time. Mainly because people starve.’
‘If you do this thing, we shall see to it that you get a free pardon, that you’re allowed back into normal society,’ said Razjosh.
Menjit and Abel exchanged a glance. Abel shook his head.
‘Do you really think that will be any good to us?’ Menjit said. ‘It’s actually too late. We’ve been too long in the Zone.’
‘So why have you come?’  asked Razjosh.
Menjit looked at Abel again. Then he looked back at Razjosh.
‘What you’re doing seems important,’ he said.
‘And we especially like the fact,’ said Abel, ‘that you’re doing it without proper permission. Welcome to the Z Zone!’ He was grinning now.
Kaleem’s stomach had started to churn again.
Abel stopped smiling suddenly.
‘There is just one little problem, though,’ he said.   ‘We’ve only driven one Supercraft before, and it wasn’t quite as clever as this baby.’
Kaleem noticed that Razjosh had gone pale.
‘Are you going to be able to get us there?’ asked the Elder.
‘We’ll manage,’ said Menjit. ‘Living in the Z Zone is good training for anything. Though I don’t suppose it’ll be exactly a smooth ride.’
Abel was grinning again.
‘Should be a bit of a white-knuckle trip,’ he said. ‘You’ll all have to hold on tight.’
‘Okay,’ said Razjosh. ‘Let’s get on to the transporter and get over to the space port. Chief Makisson has given me the codes that will let us into the building and into the Supercraft itself. ‘
They all picked up their luggage, ready to get into the transporter when the dataserve screen in the reception area suddenly lit up.
‘Message for Kaleem Malkendy,’ said the electronic voice.
Kaleem caught Razjosh’s eye. Could they afford this delay? Who could be trying to contact him now?
Razjosh nodded.
‘Receive,’ said Kaleem.
It was Oxton again. He was grinning widely.
‘Major breakthrough,’ he said.
Before he could add any more another face had appeared on the screen. Kaleem gasped as he recognised his mother.
‘You’re going, then,’ said Maria. ‘You’re really going to go and be a Peace Child now. Good. Good. You know that’s what you’re there for, don’t you? You know it’s part of the Prophecy? I wish I could come with you, but they wouldn’t let me.’
Well, of course they wouldn’t.  She was talking fairly normally now, but she still didn’t look completely well. Her face was thin and grey and there were still dark circles around her eyes.
‘You’re going to pull down the tower,’ she said. ‘You’re going to be the Peace Child who pulls down the tower.’
Kaleem felt himself going hot.
‘Are you, …. Are you feeling better?’ he stammered. He was aware that everyone was staring at him.
‘Yes,’ said Maria. ‘Yes, I am. It’s as if a cloud has suddenly gone. But I’m still a bit tired. But there is one thing I want to tell you first. My real name is Marijam. And our surname’s Kennedy. I’ll tell you more soon. But I’m really tired now. I have to go now.’
Oxton’s face reappeared on the screen. Kaleem could not believe what he had just heard. Could it really be that she was the daughter of the Head of Education, that young woman who had disappeared all those years ago.
‘It’s like a miracle, isn’t it?’ he said. ‘Don’t worry. We’ll look after her. She’s making great progress. She really is.’
Razjosh cleared his throat. ‘Well, I think we now know who your grandfather is, even if we don’t know who your father is. This could be helpful,’ he said. ‘But we have to go now. We really have to go.’
‘Sure,’ said Oxton. ‘Good luck with everything.’
Kaleem didn’t know what to think or feel. There was a large lump in his throat. In one way he was relieved that his mother had made such a breakthrough before they went. He wished he could have gone and seen her, especially as it now seemed she was going to tell him what he really wanted to know. He just been given some amazing news and there was absolutely no time to sit and take it all in.
And of course, he was scared. Scared about this journey, and scared about what would happen at the end of it.
Menjit and Abel were whispering excitedly.
‘I think it is, you know,’ Kaleem heard Abel say quietly.
Razjosh cleared his throat again.
‘Just who was that lady?’ said Abel, now out loud.
The doors to the reception area swished open. The transporter was purring and ready to go.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Prophecy, At the Citadel, Chapter Four

Kaleem  could not concentrate on the verb patterns of advanced Flemo-french. They weren’t really particularly difficult. It was just that Razjosh was taking so long. When would he let him know about the outcome of the Council meeting? Something was definitely brewing, coming to a head. Both Razjosh and Chief Makisson were so tense at the moment. Elders were supposed to be in charge, weren’t they? They were supposed to know what they were doing. They just didn’t seem to. And both of their faces looked grey and strained.
No, it was no good. He couldn’t concentrate to-day.  The screen just flickered meaninglessly.
‘Close down files,’ he commanded.
Gentle wind chime tones were now coming out of the sound system. The room was intelligent: its dataserves had worked out exactly what he needed - almost. The lights were beginning to dim.
Actually, thought Kaleem, this is not what I want. I just need some exercise now
He began to jog, out through his door and along the corridors towards the exercise centre. Already his head was beginning to clear.
I can’t help it, he thought, I can’t just sit there all the time. I’ll go nuts.
He bounded along the narrow corridor. Occasionally, when he was sure no-one was looking, jumping up at the walls on the sides of the corridors. He tried to jump higher each time. As he landed for the seventh time, he collided with someone.
‘Well, I’m glad to see that someone has some energy left,’ said a voice which Kaleem recognised straight away. It was Razjosh.
Kaleem scarcely recognised what he saw, though. He had seen the Elder look serious and worried before, but now he looked totally defeated. He seemed his age, and greyer than ever.
‘No good?’ asked Kaleem.
Razjosh shook his head.
Now what? thought Kaleem.  He had been scared and excited at the same time about leaving Terrestra. He ought to have been relieved. But he wasn’t.
There was no expression at all on the Elder’s face. Kaleem was so used to him being in charge, always knowing what to do.
‘Can we go back to your room and see what you have been doing?’ asked Razjosh.
Razjosh normally did not ask questions unless he wanted to know something. He usually told you what to do.
‘I’ve worked on all the verb patterns,’ said Kaleem a few minutes later when they were sitting in his room. ‘I’m scoring about 75% in the tests.’
‘Not bad, not bad,’ mumbled Razjosh. He seemed to be staring out beyond Kaleem.
‘I think I’ve got the cultural components buttoned down as well’, added Kaleem.
Razjosh just nodded his head.
‘I mean that is one of the languages they use on Zandra, isn’t it?’ asked Kaleem.
The Elder did not reply.
‘Do you think we’ll ever be able to get there?’ asked Kaleem.
Still the old man was silent.
‘What will happen then?’ continued Kaleem.
Razjosh just shook his head and pursed his lips.
Razjosh’s personal communicator buzzed suddenly. Kaleem could not make out what was being said to Razjosh.
‘I think it is better that we meet with Chief Makisson as well,’ said Razjosh. ‘Twenty minutes? And be careful. Don’t wear your official clothes.’ He ended the communication rather abruptly, without even bothering to say goodbye. ‘Come on,’ he said to Kaleem. ‘We have business to attend to. Someone important is coming to see us.’
Ten minutes later, they were with the Chief. Apparently the Head of Health was coming to see them.
‘Will she be safe?’ asked Makisson. ‘Will anyone have seen her?’
‘She’s usually really very careful,’ replied Razjosh. ‘I think I know what she is going to say. I thought it best that she came in person, rather than risk even the secure communication network.’
‘Yes,’ said Makisson. ‘It’s all very difficult right now, but we are bound for the moment to remain within the law. Even though we know that the Heads of Ministries have not chosen wisely.’
‘I think we may have to go against the rules,’ said Razjosh.
Kaleem noticed that Razjosh’s face was slightly flushed  and his eyes were suddenly very bright. His own stomach was beginning to churn again. Chief Makisson  said nothing. He just sat with his hand over his mouth, tapping the side of his cheek with his finger. He was frowning.
The door swished open. A tall young woman, dressed in a plain grey ripon tunic, swept into the room. Kaleem couldn’t help gasping loudly. She had the Terrestran, cave-induced pale skin all right. But her hair was all wrong. Kaleem had never seen anything like it. It was a bright, rusty red.
‘No-one saw you?’ asked Makisson.
The woman shook her head.
‘Your journey wasn’t too unpleasant?’ asked Razjosh.
She shook her head again and grinned.
‘Forgive me,’ said Razjosh. ‘How rude of me. I should introduce you.’ He beckoned Kaleem over to him. ‘Let me present Kaleem Malkendy, rising Peace Child. Sandi Depra, Head of Health.’
Sandi grinned at Kaleem.
‘Hey, I like it,’ she said. ‘So, I’m not the only one with funny hair. Well, I guess a Peace Child has to be special.’ She turned to face the two Elders. ‘I think the mission should go ahead. And I’m volunteering to go. It is just a little bit to do with my ministry, after all.’
The two Elders remained silent.
‘I’m sure there’s a good few others as well. I even voted against the mission. Ponty Davidson actually was telling people that he had managed to Spy-trap most of the dataserves. He’s been threatening all sorts of stuff to people who stood against him.’
‘Spy-trap?’ asked Makisson. ‘How is that still possible? The controls on our secure machines would never allow it.’
‘Ah, he’s a clever man,’ said Sandi. ‘He’s managed to build some very sophisticated programmes.’
The two Elders were still looking at each other as if they could not believe what they had just heard.
‘There must be others,’ said Sandi. ‘After all, some people even voted for you going.’
Still, there was no word from the two Elders.
‘Why is he so against it?’ asked Sandi.
Razjosh cleared his throat. ‘The usual Terrestran problem,’ he said.
Makisson turned towards Sandi.
‘You’d better stay in the Citadel for now,’ he said. ‘Show Miz Depra to one of the guest suites,’ he said to the room robot.
‘Have you contacted the Medical Centre about your mother yet today?’ Razjosh asked Kaleem. ‘Perhaps you should do that now. Chief Makisson and I have a few things to discuss.’
‘Ah,’ said Sandi. ‘They want us out of the way. Big men’s talk.’
Kaleem felt a bit embarrassed to hear someone speak like that in front of the Elders.  But they didn’t seem to have noticed what she had said.
‘See you later, then, Funny Head Mark 2,’ she said as they left the Chief’s room.
Kaleem had hardly been back in his room two minutes, when the communicator buzzed. Well, he had been dreading contacting the medical centre anyway. He always preferred it when they contacted him, took him by surprise. So, he had come the long way back and dawdled all the way at that. He was quite glad to be distracted by a message.
‘Receive!’ he commanded. Sandi’s face was grinning at him from the main dataserve screen
‘Hey Funny Head,’ she said. ‘Can we meet? I’ll fade out with boredom if I have to stay in my room. I have to have people around me.’
Well, it would nicely stop him from having to find out - or not find out which was more likely - anything about his mother.
‘Sure,’ he said, and suggested they met in the Stella Bar - a small nectar bar which had a display of the night sky on the ceiling.
‘I thought it would be good to swap notes about what it feels like having this outrageous hair,’ she said tugging at a sleek red strand. ‘And theories about how it happened.’
Well, that would be good. No-one had ever given him any clue before - apart from that slightly clumsy attempt by Maggie Johnstone, which had ended up with her being suspended and him being called a throw-back.
In the end there was very little time. Sandi had hardly sat down when her personal communicator went. Kaleem could just make out that it was another young woman, a bit like Sandi.
‘Well, you’d better get your butt over here. And double fast ,’ she said. ‘I don’t think they really believe me, you know. We’re in the Stella Bar….,’ She paused and frowned.  ‘Oh, you’ll think of something. Go on, be bold.’
She snapped the communicator off.
‘Danielle Thomas. Head of Science.  She went with Razjosh to Zandra. By rights I should have gone. But they were afraid about people not trusting a freak. I ask you. It’s only here I’d look like a freak. They have blondies and red-heads still on Zandra. But come on, tell me, how much trouble has it been to you?’
Kaleem told her all about the incident with Maggie Johnstone, Stuart Davidson and Erik Svenson.
‘Well, throw-back, yes I suppose that’s one idea. But who knows? I think it was having to put up with this funny hair that made me so determined to make it. To show them all. That was what drove me to being Head of Medicine. Perhaps it’ll help you to become a good Peace Child.’
Being different was a qualification for being a Peace Child, was it? Maybe he’d rather not be a Peace Child then.
There was an awkward silence between them. Sandi stared at the entrance to the bar. After a few moments her face lit up.
‘Hey, here comes Danielle,’ she said. ‘Perhaps she’ll have some ideas.’
Kaleem liked Danielle. She seemed more responsible and quieter than Sandi. She smiled warmly at Kaleem.
‘Razjosh told me so much about you,’ she said. ‘He really thinks highly of you, you know. I’m so glad we can meet at last. I’m sure we’ll be able to work well together.’
Kaleem found himself blushing. It was obvious that the two young women had a lot to talk about, though. Soon, he was just listening to them and not taking part at all in the conversation. It seemed a bit awkward as well that Sandi had just asked Danielle to come here, without permission from the Elders. He ought not to be part of this.
And besides, he couldn’t put it off any longer. He must contact the medical centre. He mumbled his excuses and left.
Even before he was back in his own room, his personal communicator informed him that the medical centre was trying to communicate with him.
‘Refer to ’serve in room,’ he mumbled. That would delay the communication another few minutes. His stomach began churning again.
Oxton’s cheerful face was already filling the main screen when he walked into his room.
‘Hi there,’ he called after Kaleem had completed the connection. ‘She’s talking more today, and she has eaten a little extra. I think we are turning the corner.’
‘Won’t she come and speak to me?’ asked Kaleem. Was she after all getting back to normal?
‘I’m afraid we haven’t got quite that far,’ said Oxton. ‘She won’t face a dataserve camera. But she does still keep talking about that tower. Are you sure you don’t know something about it?’
Kaleem wished he could tell Oxton what he did know. But he just didn’t dare. He shrugged and shook his head.
‘So, just what has she been saying, then?’ he asked.
‘The mother has done her duty. And something about a tower. No-one can quite make out what she means. But it seems quite serious to her.’
Kaleem felt himself going hot. It seemed that his mother was making him out to be something really special. Surely it was just a part of her illness, though?
‘Hey, cheer up,’ said Oxton. ‘Don’t worry about it. At least now she’s watching less of those old movie clips. She’s seeing a mind specialist tomorrow.’
A mind specialist? This was serious. Oh, yes, a few people on Terrestra did need the help of the mind doctors. Physical health had been perfect, before the disease arrived, but there had been one or two people who could not cope with the perfection expected in every other aspect of life on Terrestra. And even though the mind doctors helped, if people knew you had been to one, you were no longer respected. It was a bit like being a throw back with funny-coloured hair.
‘Does she really have to?’ he asked.
‘Don’t worry, don’t worry,’ said Oxton. ‘No-one apart from you, and perhaps Razjosh and the folks here at the Health Centre will ever know. And we’ve done some more research - looked at some more archives about coma patients in the past and it seems this is common. There is often an imbalance in the mind after weeks of being in a coma. The mind has had time to get down to some real deep-seated stuff.’
The dataserve warned Kaleem that there was another urgent message waiting.
‘Okay,’ said Oxton. ‘I’d better get out of the way. Really, try not to worry.’
Razjosh was waiting to speak to him.
‘Come quickly to Chief Makisson’s room,’ he said. ‘There’s a transporter waiting outside for you.’
It must be urgent, thought Kaleem as he got into the small indoor transporter. I could have walked there in ten minutes.
Two minutes later, he was once more sitting in the Chief Elder’s room. Sandi Depra and Danielle Thomas were there as well. Sandi was now looking serious and Kaleem thought that Danielle looked a little pale. The main screen of Chief Makisson’s dataserve was split into five. Four men and one woman, dressed in ministry tunics, were looking out at them.
‘It seems,’ said Razjosh, ‘that quite a few people, after all, think that we should go.’
‘It will have to be done in secret and against all democracy,’ said Makisson.
‘We really do need a Peace Child,’ said Sandi.
‘We are here to help,’ said one of the voices from the dataserve.
‘Well, are you ready to be a Peace Child for real?’ asked Razjosh.
Kaleem noticed him exchange a glance with Makisson. The Chief Elder nodded.
This is it, thought Kaleem. This is really it.