The golden-skinned mri warrior Niun was heavily sedated and had been for some time. Teams of scientists and physicians, intent on studying an alien species, preferred having him drug-dazed – totally helpless in a place that echoed with hostile voices.
Niun and his sister Melein, who slept in the next room, were enemies of humanity. Even though the war against the mri had ended, even though these two were all that remained of a proud and ancient race, their captors could not forget or forgive. Instead, they carried out their tests and experiments with cold efficiency, and waited while the government decided what to do with the rare "specimens."
One human felt differently and was struggling to make a decision of his own. Sten Duncan came to visit Niun and Melein every day. He was immeasurably grateful for their continued survival, yet painfully aware that the mri would rather have died than exist as they were. Sadly, Duncan would remember this brother and sister as he had first known them: he had crossed a world with them and their fierce dusei – bearlike, semi-sentient creatures devoted to the mri. Together they had endured many hardships... and the horror of seeing an entire mri population wiped out in a single act of treachery.
So now, seeing Niun, a warrior, and Melein, she'pan – rightful Mother of the mri – completely at the mercy of enemies, Sten Duncan resolved to help them regain their freedom. At any cost.
The cost was great, and Melein especially resented Duncan's decision on her behalf. Still, she was the rightful Mother of the People – and she would use teh opportunity a human had given her to the People's advantage. They had a ship, they had the ancient mri relics, and somewhere across the universe they would find the mri's legendary homeworld: Kutath. If mri still lived there, Melein, she'pan would claim them. And if not – if she and Niun were the last, it was fitting that they die on Kutath.
As for Sten Duncan – well, he was non-mri and couldn't be trusted. He was unlikely to survive the dangerous voyage ahead... unless he proved his heart.
Once again the author of Brother of Earth and The Faded Sun: Kesrith pits alien against alien – in a stunning, superbly detailed new novel guaranteed to capture your imagination!
C. J. Cherryh (born 1942) is the pen name of Carolyn Janice Cherry, a multiple-award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer. She currently resides in Spokane County, Washington.
Cherryh is pronounced ”Cherry”. The author appended a silent ”h” to her real name because her first editor felt that ”Cherry” sounded too much like a romance writer.
The asteroid 77185 Cherryh has been named in her honour.