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It is difficult growing up in the shadow of heroes revered throughout the galaxy. But that is the lot of young Khorii—daughter of the legendary Acorna and her lifemate, Aari—who must now follow her own destiny through a fantastic universe of wonders and perils.
Khorii became a hero in her own right as she fought to save the universe from a mysterious, deadly plague that not even the healing powers of the Linyaari could stop.
Now, confined with the rest of the survivors on Paloduro, the home planet of the disease, it seems as if the danger may be fading, and Khorii and her friends may be able to stem the tide of death and disease . . . until ominous signs indicate that the perpetrators are near and that the epidemic is only beginning. As old enemies reemerge and a shocking family secret is revealed, Khorii must unlock the malevolent mysteries of the deadly pestilence with the aid of her android "brother" before their unknown foes complete their covert mission to cripple the entire star system.
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About the Author
Anne McCaffrey, a multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner, was one of the world's most beloved and bestselling science fiction and fantasy writers. She is known for her hugely successful Dragonriders of Pern books, as well as the fantasy series that she cowrote with Elizabeth A. Scarborough that began with Acorna: The Unicorn Girl.
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is the author of Channeling Cleopatra and the Nebula Award-winning The Healer's War, as well as more than twenty science fiction and fantasy novels. She lives in the Puget Sound area of Washington State.
Read an Excerpt
Second WaveAcorna's Children
By Anne McCaffrey
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Anne McCaffrey
All right reserved.
The scream awakened Khorii from a deep and well-earned sleep. Swinging her feet out of bed, she stood for a moment, disoriented, trying to determine the source. Had she dreamed it? But, no, there it was again. Childish, high-pitched, feminine, and--invasive. It was in Khorii's mind as well as in her ears.
She ran for the door to her room and tripped over the cat.
"Khiindi Kaat, please move," she said to the smallish, fluffy, gray-striped cat who gave her an offended look. After all, she had assaulted him just when he was setting about on his errand of mercy to see what was making his friend Sesseli scream like that. If only these stupid bipeds didn't find it necessary to put doors in one's way.
Khorii lifted him with her hoof and moved him to one side so she could open the door.
Finally! Khiindi thought.
He sprinted out ahead of her down the hall to the dormitory room occupied by their young friend, the charming six-going-on-seven-year-old Sesseli, an orphan from Maganos Moonbase.
Khorii yanked open Sesseli's door and ran in, expecting to find the child injured at the very least. Possibly worse. Instead, Sesseli was standing at herrain-streaked window, which overlooked the former town square of the mostly deserted city of Corazon. Khorii thought at first that perhaps a thunderclap or a particularly close bolt of lightning had frightened the child. But in that case, wouldn't she be backing away from the window instead of crowding close to it? Besides, the soundproofing in the dormitory was excellent, and Khorii herself hadn't heard any thunder. The monsoon outside sounded like nothing more than the patter of rain on her own window.
"What is it, Sess?" she asked, using thought-talk so as not to startle the child further. Khorii was an expert at thought-talk--all adult members of the Linyaari were. Khorii's whole home planet routinely communicated that way. Sesseli, though human rather than Linyaari, was herself a telepath with telekinetic abilities. Like Khorii and Khiindi, she was a member of the very young crew of the Mana, a supply ship whose crew and former owners had all died in the recent space plague with the exception of Jaya, the captain-in-training.
The captain now in charge, former astronavigation instructor Asha Bates, was right behind Khorii, entering the room so fast she stepped on Khiindi's tail. With a yowl that made Sesseli jump, Khiindi hop-ped on the bed, out of the way of clumsy feet, and from there was scooped up by Sesseli, who buried her face in his fur.
"It moved," the child said. "It moved all by itself. I didn't make it, honest."
"What moved, sweetie?" Captain Bates asked, stepping around Khorii to join Sesseli at the window.
"That. The marker," she said, pointing. The former city square had become the final resting place for masses of the plague victims, each huge grave marked by a plascrete stone with the pictures of each dead face--or if the face was too far gone to be identifiable, some other identifying object--a ring, a watch, an amulet or scrap of clothing. The names of those who could be identified before burial were also attached. For fear of the horrible disease that had swept the galaxy, these dead could never be given more individual burials, but at least any surviving descendants who showed up later would be able to learn the fate of their relatives or friends. It was the best the children and mostly elderly adults remaining in Corazon, as in other stricken areas, could do for the less fortunate.
"It is probably just the rain, Sesseli," Khorii said, trying to reassure her. "It got muddy enough around the marker to loosen its moorings and it slipped." "Or could it have been looters?" Captain Bates asked. "Maybe they were messing around there and destabilized the stone, so it shifted as the ground settled or something. That could have been what you saw, pet."
"Unless there's another telekinetic around here we don't know about," Hap Hellstrom said from behind Khorii. Like the others, Hap was part of the Mana's crew. All of them except Jaya had boarded the stranded supply ship while it orbited Maganos Moonbase, forbidden by the school's administrators from landing. The school on the moonbase and all the students and teachers as well as the moonbase's managers, Khorii's human grandfathers, Calum Baird and Declan Giloglie, and their wives, were fine. The rescue party from Khorii's home planet, Vhiliinyar, had, with her help, scoured the moonbase and its nearest world, Kezdet, eradicating all traces of the plague, which had not yet become entrenched there.
Paloduro, the planet of which Corazon was the chief city, was where the plague had seemed to originate. It had been cleansed by Khorii's parents before they became so exhausted they contracted a mutant form of the illness, which made them carriers. They had returned to Vhiliinyar with their human friend Captain Becker, his feline first mate, Roadkill, suspected sire of Khiindi, and his android first mate Maak, creator-father of Khorii's android friend, tutor, protector, adopted brother, and often her main source of annoyance, Elviiz.
Elviiz, who had appeared in the doorway beside Hap at the same time as Jaya, said, "I will go there now and determine the validity of Captain Bates's hypothesis." He didn't always talk like that but just after he recharged, he always seemed to express himself in that annoyingly I-can-store-and-process-gigabillions-more-bits-of-information-gigabillions-of-times-faster-than-any-of-you-mere-human-gits way.
But in this case he was making himself useful, so Khorii didn't mind. She sat on the bed and pulled Sesseli and Khiindi into her lap, then she laid her horn against Sesseli's fluffy blond head. The short golden spiraling horn in the middle of her forehead allowed Khorii and other Linyaari to heal trauma, pain, injury, and illness to a degree that seemed miraculous to most humans.
Excerpted from Second Wave by Anne McCaffrey Copyright © 2006 by Anne McCaffrey. Excerpted by permission.
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