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The Dark Edge


Taken by Force


Hidden from View


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SIORETH: A FIRST ENCOUNTER

Lassinda and Estelle entered a room draped all around with soft hangings. Rich fabrics festooned the ceiling, black velvets covered the walls, thick floss-mats lay upon the floor. At the back of the room was someone reclining on a couch, half hidden behind a screen of pink muslin.

'One other thing you need to know about Sioreth,' Estelle whispered behind her hand. 'She's a parapsych.'

They approached the screen. Now Lassinda could see more clearly through the muslin -- could see the enormous size of the woman on the couch. Sioreth was a fleshy behemoth, shapeless and hugely overweight. Her loose gown of gauzy green hung around her like a tent.

Apart from her sheer size, her other striking feature was her hair. Straight and long and silvery blonde, it was spangled with hundreds of shining stars.

Estelle moved the screen aside. Sioreth had her eyes closed, but she wasn't asleep.

'That's you, isn't it, Estelle,' she said.

'Yes, it's me. And this is Lassinda Lusk. A newcomer to the Uds.'

'Wait.' Sioreth clapped one hand across her eyes, stirred her limbs and began to lever herself upwards. The process took a whole minute, by the end of which she was temporarily exhausted. She sat on the side of the couch, puffing and panting.

'Perception of the eyes -- not to be trusted,' she said. 'Only the mind's vision. The psychic sense.'

With one hand still covering her eyes, she stretched the other hand out towards Lassinda.

'Take my hand and touch it against your forehead,' she said. Estelle nodded. Sioreth's hand was smooth and pudgy, like the hand of an infant gigantically magnified. Lassinda took it and guided it towards her forehead. She stood in front of Sioreth, submitting to psychic examination.

'Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.' Sioreth inhaled slowly and deeply. Then let the breath out in little spurts, as if tasting and savouring.

'Ah, yes,' she said at last. 'Very positive. A very sympathetic aura.'

She opened her eyes. She had green eyes, tiny living specks in a vast flat expanse of face.

'A Si-genotype,' she said. 'Just as I thought.'

She studied Lassinda's apricot-coloured skin and honey-gold hair, her softly rounded shoulders and full firm breasts.

'You're a parapsych,' said Lassinda wonderingly. 'I only ever met one parapsych before.'

'Was she like me?'

Lassinda shook her head.

'There are parapsychs and parapschs,' said Sioreth. 'Some natural, some trained. I'm a natural.'

'She was trained,' said Lassinda. 'She wasn't very friendly to me.'

'Exactly.' Sioreth wafted a hand dismissively. 'Mere training can never substitute for true psychic intuition. Whereas my intuition is giving very positive responses on you.'

Estelle stepped forward. 'That's excellent, Sioreth. Because we were going to ask -- can she stay in your spare back room?'

Sioreth blinked her small green eyes. Then with a massive quaking and wobbling of flesh, she rose up from the side of the couch.

'My spare back room --' she lifted her arms up high above her head '--is the very place she must stay!'

Slowly, heavily, she began to twirl around. Her light gauzy gown floated out in all directions, her huge feet pounded over the floor. Around and around, rotating across the room, kicking floss-mats aside, seemingly lost in her own momentum. But gradually she decelerated and came to a stop, standing beside a curtained interior doorway. With a grandiose gesture, she lowered her arms and drew back the curtain.

'Here is your place, Lassinda Lusk!'

Estelle gave Lassinda an encouraging smile. 'I'm sure the two of you will get on very well together.'

'Well?' Sioreth cried. 'We are born complementaries, Lassinda and I. She is body and I am soul. In her, the perfection of physical beauty. In me, the perfection of spiritual transcendence. How could we fail to get on well together?'

 

 
   
   
   
 

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Richard Harland.