Acorna’s Search

Acorna’s Search by Anne McCaffrey Read Free Book Online

Book: Acorna’s Search by Anne McCaffrey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anne McCaffrey
terraforming process begins. A very aggressive plant, given the stimulation inherent in terraformation, is likely to totally dominate all plant life on the planet once the process is complete.”
    “Yes,” Acorna said. “I can see where that might happen. I can hardly bear to contemplate the results for Vhiliinyar if such a plant is left in its original carnivorous state. In the meantime, we thank you for the repellent. It will be useful for us as we explore our sector.”
    “Tell us how it works,” the aagroni said. “My associates worked hard to produce it for you.”
    “Very well, we’ll keep in touch,” Acorna said.
    “Keep in touch with us, too,” Neeva said. “We’re a bit closer to you than base camp if you should have any other trouble.”
    “Thank you, Mother-sister,” Acorna said, and with an affectionate embrace, took leave of her aunt and the Balakiire ’s crew to return to the pilot seat of her own crew’s flitter.
    They arrived at the weed-ridden site once more at twilight, but this time set down a bit further away from the plant life. RK permitted his fur to be powdered with the aagroni ’s repellent and did not even try to lick it off. The others made camp once more, using a fire pellet to make a nice open fire. It lent a homey touch to what should have been a homey place, but seemed instead to be hostile to their very existence.
    RK snuggled against Maati’s side as she fell asleep under one of the thermal blankets. Thariinye also slept. Acorna and Aari had resolved to stay awake. They didn’t speak. Instead they sat together listening to the hiss and snap of the fire, and the sounds of the leaves of the carnivorous plants rubbing together—in anticipation of another chance to eat a cat, no doubt. For a long time, Acorna simply sat enjoying the fire’s light and the sight of Aari’s profile, outlined by the fire and the phosphorescence of the leaves. Then her head slowly drooped, finding a place to rest on Aari’s shoulder. Finally, despite her best efforts, her eyes closed and sleep took her…
    Together they sat quietly on the ledge overlooking the waterfall, watching the waters rush from the mountains to give life to the valley below. He nibbled a few strands of ginger grass, a worried frown creasing his noble brow just around his horn. The white of his star-clad skin was startling in the night, and she longed for the day when her own red-and-golden coloring would soak in the starlight until it, too, was as white as his. Her sister Neeva was already on her first mission.
    (You know how I feel about you, Ferilii, but they may not allow us to be together. Your parents disapprove of my work.)
    (But you devise weapons for our defense, Vaanye. Not weapons at all really—barriers to intrusion. And my parents loathe the idea of intrusion.)
    (So do most of our people. I suppose they think that if they just ask hostile aliens nicely to please go away, that will be enough to send them fleeing to their homes. But I have seen things in my travels, Ferilii. Horrible things, sometimes. And I don’t want them to touch our world, ever, even if my work means that I am myself alienated from our world because of it.)
    The silence stretched out before them as the moon rose above the waterfall, its rays elongating on the great lake that filled the basin at its bottom, gilding the ice of the mountain tops with pearl.
    Her heart swelled with courage and love and she reached for his hand, and found it.
    (We should wake the others now, love,) Aari’s thoughts brushed her mind as softly as a flick of RK’s tail. (They should take over the watch. We are exhausted. We need to sleep.)
    (Oh! I slept. Aari, I saw my father. I mean, I was my mother. I mean they came to me here. I saw them in my dream.)
    His hand stroked her mane back from where her curls had tumbled and tangled with her horn. (Did you, love? That’s good. They must have come here when they were young and courting. It

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