To Offer Sanctuary

Characters: Huka NPCs

Peyula entered the low-roofed, dome-like chamber, and padded softly across to the large, round cushion at one end, where the hukanapenape of her tribe rested. The deep greens of the old queen’s fur were starting to fade, but her yellow eyes were still bright and alert.

“Mother,” she said. “You are aware of the situation, but we wished to speak with you eye to eye, to understand what we should do.”

The elderly Huka, Nefeyeboto, who had been queen of her tribe and was still mother to most of it, nodded. “The war with the Shadows did not touch us here. Yet I feel that this may be just as dangerous to us; maybe the most dangerous time since aliens first came to our world.”

She moved to one side of the cushion, allowing her visitor to lie and be comfortable as they talked. “Are the human speakers here now?”

“Yes, Mother. There are six of them, and they have asked us for sanctuary.”

“Sanctuary.” Nefeyeboto’s tall ears drooped. “I still cannot comprehend this, that the human speakers are divided against themselves. Do they not see the waste?”

“Of course the humans have different ways,” Peyula said, “but you are right. It is a great waste. The human speakers who are here have told me that the others — ‘Psi-Cops,’ they are called — are hunting them. They will get to Rolui soon.

“When they do, they will capture or perhaps even kill these humans. This is what our visitors tell, and all the ukapono who have heard the story say it is the truth.”

“But if we offer them sanctuary –”

“These Psi-Cops will demand we surrender the human speakers to them. If we refuse, they will try to take them anyway. Our own speakers — our own people — could be hurt.”

Nefeyeboto’s ears flattened against her head. “They would dare? Have these Psi-Cops no respect at all?”

Peyula shook her head. “They respect no law but their own.” She stirred uncomfortably on the cushion, remembering what she had just learned. “The human speakers opened their minds to me. Many of them have suffered greatly at the hands of these Psi-Cops. One of their kind, not long ago, immolated himself rather than go back to the bondage the Psi-Cop tribe created.”

The elderly Huka saw what Peyula had seen, and hissed. “We cannot permit this. Tell all the speakers, and tell the people. We will protect these human speakers who have come to us. They will have the sanctuary they seek. From now, they are a part of our speaker tribe.”

The younger Huka gathered herself and sprang off the cushion, landing lightly on her hind feet. “It will be so, Mother,” she said. “Where may we offer them living space?”

“Take them to the Speakers’ house in Uvew,” she said. “There is room to spare there, and they may learn the way of our Speakers, if they wish.”

Peyula nodded and began to leave. At the doorway, she paused as her mother’s last message formed in her mind.

Speak to me often, Peyula. Whatever happens, I want to know as it happens.

It will be so, Mother.

Copyright (c) 2003 Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.


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