4.9 An End To Charity

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When Alex approached the jam of people at an exit gate, there was no need for electric displays of his power. Albinos took one look at the sick child in his arms, and fled in terror, screaming.

No one saw the irony of fearing a frail, undeveloped child, instead of the gigantic and massively powerful Yeresunsa who carried him. They reacted as though Thomas would eat their children. Never mind the fact that Alex had killed slaves by accident, whereas Thomas had never killed any innocent bystanders.

"Thomas!" Margo sidestepped past empty rows of seats, looking concerned. A few alien friends came with her, including Kessa and Weptolyso.

"Someone has to make sure he gets his injections," Margo told Alex. "I think that had better be me."

Thomas tugged weakly at Alex's mantle. "My medicine is not important," he wheezed.

Alex gazed at Margo. She ought to stay underground, protected by the Alashani Yeresunsa.

She planted her hands on her hips. "I don't want you to be relaxing on some alien beach, while I'm stuck in a cave for the rest of my life. I have to come with you. Someone has to take care of Thomas, and you can't trust an Alashani to do it."

Alex figured that he might die screaming in a Torth prison. The last thing he wanted to do was expose Margo to that fate ... yet he felt his resolve crumble.

He would have neither the time nor the inclination to watch over Thomas twenty-four hours per day. And Margo's skills as a nurse might be useful. So he nodded, while inwardly kicking himself for letting his heart override his brain.

"Flen," Margo said, as the warrior approached. "Will you show me where Thomas's NAI-12 case is?"

Flen had no interest in their exchange. He glared at Thomas with murder in his eyes, although he was careful to stand beyond the boy's telepathy range. "What did Migyatel foresee?"

Thomas was barely audible. "Nothing that can happen."

Margo and Cherise both looked intrigued by that, but Flen bristled with fury.

Alex pulled Thomas up higher, away from questions. He figured Thomas would be forthcoming once he got away from rage-fueled, unreasonable Alashani warriors. Whatever Migyatel's final vision had been, it must be something that would trigger the Alashani towards murder.

"What did she see?" Flen demanded. "Answer, rekveh."

"Nothing important," Thomas said.

The way Thomas deflected that question ... even Alex began to imagine the worst, although he tried to destroy the worries cavorting through his mind.

But Thomas would never get suckered in by lies. Of all the people on this dark planet, Thomas was the least likely to believe a false prophet.

What if Migyatel could truly see the future?

What if Alex was, in fact, destined to lead the Alashani to some sort of light and glory?

He would fail, of course. He could not protect countless millions of people, along with Thomas—whom they hated—and the rest of his friends. No one could. If the fate of the Alashani civilization rested in his clumsy, incompetent hands, then they were doomed.

Jinishta and her big, welcoming family. Everyone in the underworld. Doomed.

"No." Thomas focused on Alex, laboring to breathe. "Migyatel was wrong. She must have been."

Alex almost sagged in relief. Destroy the Torth Empire? Bring freedom to the galaxy? Ha. He felt like a self-absorbed idiot for believing the hype, even for a second. The messiah treatment was warping him.

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