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become known. But the journey here had lasted longer than the three days it had taken to come
from Vizinken. So much had changed, and though looking back, it had all happened so fast, as
we had gone through it, pushing, planning, hoping, it had seemed so agonisingly slow. A
government had fallen, careers of powerful and dangerous men had been destroyed, and a
mixture of subversion, clever planning and no small amount of sheer good luck had slowly and
profoundly changed the hearts and minds of an entire nation.
In reality, less change had been needed than we d feared. The mood for reform, for justice
had been there already after such a long repression. So many families had lost too much, too
many individuals had their freedoms destroyed, that the first cracks which appeared in the
impenetrable wall of government control, had been eagerly ripped apart by many desperate
hands. Even Kregan, so cautious at first, had been amazed how quickly the efforts of carefully
placed telepaths in  suggesting legal changes or media reports to the right people, had been
seized upon. Paranormals had not been the only group the government had tried to quell, and we
weren t the only ones to benefit from new laws, new rights, new liberties. There were new
opportunities in the south, where a canny and open-minded local governor welcomed our kind. I
was the first refugee from the mountain refuge to actually leave the north. I wouldn t be the last.
Paranormal doctors were in demand in Tsikeni, so I d had a pick of positions and I d
accepted a job in a paranormal clinic. Paranormal professionals and tradespeople of any kind
could name their own price. This city had opened its arms to a newly liberated and enfranchised
population, eager to rebuild their lives now they d won their rights, their families, and dignity
back from those who d so cruelly stolen it. The new government flung money at Tsikeni to
encourage paranormals to stay away from the capital, and the city used it to build houses and
infrastructure.
As the veecle took me from the rollo station to the inn which would be my temporary
accommodation for a few days, I saw new blocks of apartments going up everywhere, new
offices, academies, built with Weadenisi foreign aid, to train a new paranormal workforce,
clinics, workshops, and schools. The whole place seemed a massive construction site. Here and
there, I saw my kind, still marked with the tattoos that were no longer compulsory, working
alongside their  normal colleagues, with no naksen shake or dazed eyes. I d had a little time to
become used to it, but it still gave me a warm glow every time I saw it.
I started work the day after I arrived in Tsikeni, and quickly found that the job offered me the
structure and purpose to my life that I d lost when my talent had emerged. The clinic was
understaffed and overworked, but everyone there was determined to give it their all. There wasn t
one of us there to mark time. We wanted to be there, we wanted to help, and we believed in what
we did. It was what I thought I d had under Kregan, and now had for real.
Before travelling south, I d spent a little time in Vizinken brushing up my general clinical
skills with the help of my older paranormal colleagues like Dede and those few normal doctors
prepared to work with us. It wasn t that the medical profession as a whole were prejudiced
against us, but paranormals as a group loathed normal doctors for enforcing the hated naksen
dosages, and their general lack of sympathy with the problems that had brought. Paranormals
turned to their own wherever possible. For that, I couldn t blame them.
The challenge for anyone working with them was enormous, though. Years of mandatory
drugging, neglect through poor services, the debilitation of poverty, had left a huge health deficit.
It was perhaps only simple justice that one of the things which had changed sentiment towards
our kind had been Kanar, that old warhorse, releasing a damning report on the devastating effect
of naksen upon those forced to use it. Other reports about the widespread naksen thievery and the
links to organised crime, gave weight to his highly vocal and eventually successful campaign for
the drug s use to be banned. I found it amusing a former pariah had become our chief champion
and spokesperson, and that Kanar s witty, cutting commentary was now an institution on the
news skims. He d been almost as effective as all our telepaths put together.
A week after my arrival, I found a room through the clinic, in a house with four other
paranormals, all students. I could have afforded an apartment all on my own but, as Kir had after
prison, I found the prospect of solitary existence unappealing. Beside, the house was nicer than
any of the new apartments larger and friendlier. It reminded me a little of being at university,
with the same unconventional routines and easy attitudes to life.
I soon realised, though, that years in Vizinken hadn t quite prepared me for the open-
mindedness of Tsikeni. My first morning there, over breakfast, Laei, one of my new housemates
said quite casually,  If you want a social life here, Jodi, the clubs are the way to go. I can get you
an intro anytime you like. You like men?
I stared at him.  Er.... No one had ever asked me that. Not so bluntly, or even at all. It
wasn t done in the environment I grew up in, or had lived in.
Eril, a young architecture student and minor telekinetic, poked his friend.  Manners. Just
because you like taking it up the back passage. Gosh, hasn t he gone a funny colour. Laei
smirked at my discomfort.
The heat in my face refused to subside.  Er...yes, I like men. But I 
 Hey, this isn t Vizinken. Deevs don t have to slink around any more. I'm the Children of
Marra s worst nightmare a paranormal deev on the loose. And proud of it.
 A voting paranormal deev, Eril reminded him.
 And proud of that too.
 Uh. Me too, I guess. I grinned in relief.  I don t think I ve ever admitted that as a free man
before.
 Get used to it, Jodi. We're not taking any shit from anyone any more.
Everywhere I went in Tsikeni, I found that same determination to be self-sufficient, not
dependent on a distrusted government or the normals who largely still feared us. The throwing
off of shackles, real and regulatory, had had a profound effect on attitudes at all levels.
Paranormals clamoured to be part of the local governance as much as the local economy, while
the Marranite status quo, always less powerful in this liberal city, was challenged by a militant
and vocal population of the loathed  deevs and a resurgent Spiritist movement. Even I, so
sceptical, allowed myself to be talked into attending a greeting circle by one of our medics, and at
last, when I had a real choice, Hermi s wish that I found solace in this strange religion without
gods, came to pass.
He was gently amused when I admitted this via one of our many viewcom conversations. He
and I exchanged messages at least once a day, as I did with Dede, but he was even busier than I
was. Wrangling a new world order took up a lot of time. I missed Hermi though. Even Jeyle,
since she and I had worked so closely together as the plans came together.
Kir...I more than missed. He was in the thick of it, and worked on matters I dared not enquire
into. Kir, Hermi, and a very small group of other paranormals were the secret, true powerbrokers
of this country. It was a situation we all fervently hoped would not need to be maintained forever,
once organic change gained full momentum.
I didn t miss the mountain though. If anyone tried to make me return or lock me up again
 they would find the new breed of paranormals had remarkably few scruples about using their
powers to defend themselves. Repression had given the will to ensure no one ever again turned us
into helpless victims. We had teeth and wouldn t be afraid to bite next time.
~~~
 That s the last one, Jodi, Kuminei said as she took the chart. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]