Golva's Ascent " is a sequel to "Warfriends" (Asimov's, Dec 2010), which is itself a sequel (after 44 years!) to my Ace Double The Tree Lord of Imeten. I followed "Golva's Ascent" with two more sequels that bring the series to a close, "Warlord" (Asimov's, April-May 2013) and "Bogdavi's Dream" (in inventory). For more information on The Tree Lord of Imeten, see the ninth installment of my literary memoir When I Was Writing. Readers who prefer the convenience of an ereader can purchase When I Was Writing for the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook.
They didn’t know he understood their language. They thought he was just another speechless creature-- a large cat in the semantic categories that shaped their thinking. He could have spoken to them in their own language when they captured him. He had known he could save himself if he let them see he could speak. He had been afraid they would kill him on the spot. But he had been brave. He had swallowed the words swelling in his mouth. He had pressed his tail flat against his leg, so it wouldn’t betray his feelings.
The two humans eyeing him through the metal gate in front of his stall looked like they might be a male and a female. The probably-male was taller, with bigger shoulders. The probably-female looked slighter and seemed to have broader hips. Golva had only seen two humans in his life but they had displayed the same differences.
“He raises questions,” the slighter one said.
“He’s got claws like a carnivore. But he doesn’t look particularly strong. And I gather he wasn’t very fast.”
“He didn’t put up much of a fight. They were going to shoot him on the spot but he just stood there. Backed up against the barn. Watching them.”
“He let them throw the net over him?”
“Will decided to get a net. He says the thing didn’t do a thing when he moved in on it.”
“Like it knew what the rifles were?”
“It can’t be the thing that builds the towers.”
“But it could be something that recognizes weapons. The creatures that build the towers could have something that looks like a rifle.”
Golva knew he wasn’t thinking clearly. His head had felt strange ever since he had come near the top of the plateau. There was something wrong with his breathing, too. He had to think very carefully before he did anything.
The tall one was named Detterman. Golva had heard his three captors say they were going to call Detterman when they dragged him into the barn. Detterman seemed to be called Amel, too. One of them had called him Amel when he had hurried through the barn door. They called the woman Leza and Doctor Sanvil. Doctor sounded like it might be a title, the way they said it. The language they were speaking was called English. The humans had hundreds of languages, according to the things he had been taught, but the humans on the plateau spoke English.
“Have you tried feeding it?” Doctor Leza Sanvil said.
“You think it needs meat?”
“That seems like the best place to start. It would have to be something native, of course. I’ll see what I can trap.”
“We could just kill it, Leza.”
“I recommend we give it a little observation time first. It’s obviously wandered up from down below. We may as well see what we can learn.”
Golva was lying on the dirt with his head resting on his forepaws. He was doing his best not to look at them like he was listening and understanding.
They weren’t going to kill him right away. He wouldn’t have to reveal he was a talker just so he could tell them he couldn’t eat their food.
But what would they do when they did learn he was a talker? Would they torture him? Would he have to tell them things that would endanger everyone he had left behind in the forest? He had felt adventurous and daring when he had slipped away from his friends and kin. He had launched a hunting song at the sun when he had looked down on the forest from the edge of the great plateau. No itiji had ever stood where he was standing.
Now he just felt lonely.
And very young.
Copyright 2011 by Tom Purdom. All rights reserved. This document may be printed out and archived for personal use. All other use is strictly prohibited.
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