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Volume 6202


  For Kathy M.
 My most helpful critic
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Contents and Foreword

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Two New Chapters Featured Every Week
Foreword iii
http://www.erbzine.com/mag62/6202.html

I. Dreamings 1
II. Meridum 9
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III. Battersea 18
IV. Ashtar 26

V. Rescue 35
VI. Companions 44

VII. Aranda 51
VIII. Sanaca 59

IX. Strategy 64
X. Disaster 70

XI. Captured 78
XII. Honour 87

XIII. Reinforcements 98
XIV. Solitude 106

XV. Choices 114
XVI. Homecoming 121

Epilogue: From the Journals of the Terran 128


DJ Howell Introduction
Meet Jer'ok

 FOREWORD

YOUR EDITORS ARE PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THIS, THE FIRST AUTHORIZED TERRAN PRINTING OF ONE OF THE TALES OF JER'OK-TA OF THE ARANDA, THE LEGENDARY FIGURE FROM THE MYTHOS OF THE GEMINI SYSTEM.

THE TALES OF JER'OK, SOMETIMES KNOWN AS LORD OF TWO WORLDS, HAVE BEEN TRANSLITERATED FROM THE TAE BY A TERRAN CONFEDERAL WHOSE IDENTITY IS HELD SECRET BY ORDER OF THE CONFEDERATION.  IT IS KNOWN, HOWEVER, THAT THIS TERRAN WAS ONCE THOUGHT LOST IN THE GEMINI SYSTEM WHILE IN CONFEDERATION SERVICE.  IT IS BELIEVED CONTACT WAS THEN MADE WITH A HIGH-RANKING OFFICER OF THE GEMINI GALACTIC SERVICE, DIYALAN COMMAND.  IN THE COURSE OF SUBSEQUENT YEARS A COMPANIONSHIP IS SAID TO HAVE ENDURED BETWEEN THOSE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE TERRAN AND GEMINI SYSTEMS.  AS A RESULT, NUMEROUS TALES FROM THE LEGEND OF JER'OK HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO THE  TERRAN AUDIENCE.

THE AUTHENTICATED TALES OF JER'OK ARE NARRATED IN A STYLE QUAINTLY ARCHAIC TO THE MODERN TERRAN EAR, PRESUMABLY BECAUSE TRANSLITERATED AS DIRECTLY AS THE TWO LANGUAGES PERMIT.  FOR ANY WHO REMAIN UNFAMILIAR WITH THE NEWEST MEMBER OF THE CONFEDERATION, GEMINI IS A BINARY SOLAR SYSTEM ASSOCIATED WITH THE LAGOON NEBULA.  THERE ARE THREE CLASS M PLANETS, ALL INHABITED BY VARIETIES OF HUMANKIND (HOMO SAPIENS TRANSOLARI).  HUMANKIND ARE INDIGENOUS TO BOTH CHIMUR AND ARES AND WERE INTRODUCED CENTURIES AGO ON ASHTAR.  ANY STANDARD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GALACTIC HISTORY WILL PROVIDE ADDITIONAL DATA FOR THE INTERESTED READER.

JER'OK-TA OF THE ARANDA REMAINS A SHADOWY FIGURE IN GEMINI LITERATURE.  IF, AS SOME ASSERT, JER'OK IS THE PSEUDONYM OF AN ACTUAL PERSONAGE, HIS TRUE IDENTITY HAS NEVER BEEN REVEALED.  HIS HISTORICITY REMAINS IN DOUBT AMONG SERIOUS SCHOLARS, BOTH OF GEMINI AND ELSEWHERE IN THE GALAXY.

TO DATE THE FULL LEGEND OF JER'OK-TA HAS NOT BEEN COMPILED, AND NO CHRONOLOGY OF THE SALIENT EVENTS OF HIS LIFE HAS BEEN RELIABLY ESTABLISHED.  THERE IS SOME SUSPICION THAT MANY EXPLOITS OF LESSER HEROES MAY BE MISTAKENLY ATTRIBUTED TO THE JER'OK CANON.  NEVERTHELESS, THERE IS SOME CONSENSUS AMONG SCHOLARS:  JER'OK WAS BORN OF NOBLE CHIMURIAN PARENTS SOMEHOW MAROONED ON ASHTAR'S LARGEST CONTINENT.  SOME STUDENTS CLAIM HIS FATHER WAS TUATHAN AND PERHAPS EVEN OF THE HOUSE OF THE HIGH KING.  THE INFANT JER'OK WAS ORPHANED ON ASHTAR.  THERE ARE HINTS OF MURDER AND EVEN TREASON BY A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY IN THE DEATHS OF THEN-LORD AND LADY "CHARWICK".
 

JER'OK'S OWN FIRST TWENTY YEARS ARE SHROUDED IN MYSTERY.  AGAIN ACCORDING TO SCHOLARLY CONSENSUS, HE WAS FOSTERED BY A BAND OF ARANDA, THE PROHOMINID "HUNTERFOLK" (PSEUDOHOMO SYLVATI, TENTATIVE) WHOSE EXISTENCE IS WELL DOCUMENTED AND WHOSE PALEOANTHROPOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE HAS BECOME THE RECENT SUBJECT OF MANY POPULAR WORKS OF VARYING QUALITY.

WHATEVER MAY HAVE OCCURRED DURING JER'OK'S INFANCY AND YOUTH, ALL THE VERSIONS OF THE LEGEND BRING HIM TO CHIMUR IN THE COMPANY OF GUY LOCKE, AN OFFICER IN THE SAME SERVICE AS OUR NARRATOR OF THE TALES.  THROUGH THE EFFORTS OF THIS LOCKE, WHOSE HISTORICITY HAS BEEN TENTATIVELY ESTABLISHED, JER'OK EVENTUALLY SUCCEEDED TO THE VENERABLE CHARWICK BARONY OF TUATHA.  HIS MARRIAGE TO THE ARENE, AMBER LAXTON, CONNECTS THE JER'OK LEGEND WITH THAT OF THE FOLK-HERO, BLANE LAXTON, SAID TO BE THE FATHER OF AMBER.  LAXTON IS KNOWN TO HAVE MET HIS DEATH ON ASHTAR, APTLY KNOWN IN POPULAR PARLANCE AS THE PRIMEVAL PLANET.  THE SOLE KNOWN ISSUE OF THE MARRIAGE OF JER'OK AND AMBER IS BEST KNOWN AS BLANE OR SOMETIMES GAREL, SOMETHING OF A LEGENDARY FIGURE HIMSELF.

JER'OK'S "CIVILIZED" ALTER EGO IS KNOWN IN THE LEGEND AS LEEDE SOUTHERLY, LORD CHARWICK.  SOME CLAIM HE WAS BELATEDLY NAMED A PRINCE OF THE HUA, AT ONCE INDICATIVE OF HIS HIGH BIRTH AND OF HIS PROFOUND ALIENATION FROM HUMANKIND.  IN THE TRADITION OF THE ANCIENT HEROES OF CLASSICAL TERRAN LITERATURE, JER'OK'S GREAT AND UNIQUE STRENGTHS AND HIS FATAL FLAW STEM FROM THE SAME SOURCE:  THE SHADOWY EVENTS OF HIS FORMATIVE YEARS.

AT LEAST ACCORDING TO TRADITION, JER'OK FREQUENTLY SERVED THE HIGH KING ON SENSITIVE MISSIONS FOR WHICH HIS UNIQUE PERSONALITY WAS IDEALLY SUITED.  UNFORTUNATELY, THAT PERSONALITY ALSO CAUSED MORE THAN ONE ESTRANGEMENT WITH THE THRONE OF CHIMUR.  THERE ARE NUMEROUS REFERENCES TO PROLONGED DISAPPEARANCES.  THERE ARE EVEN HINTS OF TREASON, NOT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS LINEAGE.

IT IS UNIVERSALLY HELD THAT JER'OK ONCE STOOD TRIAL FOR HIS LIFE, APPARENTLY AS A RESULT OF SOME BETRAYAL, POSSIBLY BY AMBER BUT MORE LIKELY BY LOCKE OR THE HIGH KING HIMSELF.  THE GOVERNMENT OF CHIMUR IS NOTABLY RETICENT WHEN APPROACHED WITH EVEN THE MOST SERIOUS ENQUIRIES ATTEMPTING TO VERIFY OR REFUTE THE EXISTENCE OF ANY ACTUAL PEER WHO MIGHT BE ASSOCIATED WITH THE JER'OK LEGEND.

EVENTUALLY JER'OK DISAPPEARED INTO THE UNEXPLORED JUNGLES OF ASHTAR.  TRADITION HOLDS THAT HE MAY STILL LIVE, AN IMMORTAL, BUT CERTAIN OF THE RECOGNIZED SCHOLARS HOLD THAT HE WAS SACRIFICED TO THE GODS OF DALON.  (SEE DALON SUBTITLE UNDER ASHTAR ENTRIES IN STANDARD ENCYCLOPEDIAS OF THE GEMINI SYSTEM.)  THERE IS EVEN LESS AGREEMENT ON THE FATE OF AMBER.
 

REAL OR LEGEND, THE ULTIMATE FATE OF JER'OK-TA CANNOT NOW BE DEFINITELY ESTABLISHED, IN PART BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF ANY ACCEPTABLE CHRONOLOGY PLACING HIM IN GEMINI HISTORY.  UNTIL SUCH TIME AS HERETOFORE-UNDISCOVERED MANUSCRIPTS ARE REVEALED AND AUTHENTICATED, THE NUMEROUS GAPS IN THE LEGEND – OR LIFE – OF JER'OK MUST REMAINED UNFILLED EXCEPT THROUGH THE QUESTIONABLE CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE MORE TRIVIAL POPULAR WORKS OF ROMANTIC FICTION.  IN ONE SENSE THESE GAPS AND, INDEED, THE ULTIMATE FATE OF THE PRINCIPALS ARE INCIDENTAL TO THE LEGEND OF JER'OK-TA, FOR THE TRUE ESSENCE OF THE LEGEND LIES IN THE STRENGTH OF THIS FERAL MAN'S CHARACTER AND IN THE BOND OF LOVE THAT UNITES THIS LATTER-DAY WILD MAN WITH HIS TRUE "MATE.”

IN THIS ADVENTURE FROM THE LEGEND OF THE LORD OF TWO WORLDS, THE BEAST-MAN FINDS HIS LIFE ON CHIMUR AS LEEDE SOUTHERLY UNBEARABLE, SO SOON UPON HIS LEAVING ASHTAR.  EVEN HIS LOVE FOR AMBER CANNOT KEEP THE JER’OK FROM EMERGING DANGEROUSLY UPON PROVOCATION.  HE MUST RETURN TO HIS HOME PLANET.  THERE HE IS ULTIMATELY FACED WITH A CHOICE BETWEEN PLANETS AND BETWEEN BEING LORD OF ASHTAR AND LORD CHARWICK OF CHIMUR.


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