gaian consortium 06 - zhore deception

gaian consortium 06 - zhore deception by Christine Pope Read Free Book Online

Book: gaian consortium 06 - zhore deception by Christine Pope Read Free Book Online
Authors: Christine Pope
counselee to be left alone with a Ministry official.
    “But the concept of sayara is failing us now. Indeed, it is sayara itself that causes some of the problem, for in some cases it seems to circumvent the very act of conception, rather than aid it. Because of that, we can no longer rely solely on the elusiveness of that emotional bond to dictate who we pair with, who we can conceive our children with. We must put it aside and focus on the practical.”
    This was — it was beyond blasphemy. It was a negation of everything the Zhore held dear. To lie down with a woman who did not share the sayara bond with him? He had heard the Gaians practiced such things, removing completely from the equation of conception any sort of emotional intimacy. He had merely thought it another of their oddities. Certainly he had never considered that he might one day be put in a similar situation.
    “And so you expect me to be…what, exactly? A stud who will service as many females as necessary, like a bull rezhar? ”
    Rozhara winced at the harsh words. Jalzhin, however, did not flinch. But his counselor’s voice was calm enough as she said,
    “That sounds quite dreadful, Zhandar, and far worse than what Jalzhin actually intends. Please let him speak.”
    The agent from the Ministry tugged at his robes, making a minute adjustment that wasn’t necessary. “I believe the process will not be nearly as painful as you anticipate. As I had begun to tell you, our scientists have been working on what you might refer to as an acceptable alternative.”
    “‘Acceptable alternative’?” Zhandar repeated, not bothering to hide the disdain in his voice. “I wasn’t aware there was a way you could find an alternative to the need to have an all-encompassing emotional connection to someone.”
    Perhaps Jalzhin smiled within his hood. Of course Zhandar couldn’t see the other man’s face, but something about his stance seemed to alter subtly, as if he was pleased by Zhandar’s remark, even though he hadn’t intended it to be anything other than sarcastic.
    “What you, Zhandar, see as a sort of mystical bond — what all our people see as such a thing — is in reality only a series of chemical reactions within the brain and body. After much study, we were able to successfully replicate those reactions in the laboratory. We now have the means to artificially create the sayara bond.”
    This was getting worse and worse. So that was all his connection to Elzhair had ever been — chemicals and pheromones, and nothing more? Zhandar refused to believe that. He would not believe that.
    “And so you think you will administer this drug to me, and present me with a woman who has taken the same drug, and we will bond immediately and produce many children for Zhoraan?”
    “That is rather a callous way to phrase it,” Jalzhin replied. “But yes, in so many words.”
    “And if I refuse?”
    Rozhara shook her head, saying, “I know how difficult this must be to hear, Zhandar, how it challenges beliefs you’ve held all your life. But you must look past your pain. Do you want Zhoraan to dwindle into the dark, to become nothing? We have not sought to make the galaxy ours, not the way the Gaians have, but at the same time, we have a stake in its future. I would like to believe that we make it a better place by being among its citizens. All that will go away — not in our generation, perhaps, or even the one after it. But that day will come if we do not do something. If I were still of an age to bear children, I would be offering myself. But that time is past for me. It is not, however, past for you.”
    For just the briefest second, right before she tamped it down immediately, Zhandar could feel a pulse of emotion coming from Rozhara — frustration, regret. And laid over all that, annoyance with him, for what she saw as his selfishness. In that moment, he wondered whether she had done a bit more than simply submitting reports about him, and had actually

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