When bad people are chasing you, life is dangerous. When
good people are chasing you, life is awkward. But when
you are chasing yourself, the most simple facts of existence
become disturbing, destabilizing, and a source of
unending waking confusion.
So it was with Flinx, who in searching for the history
of himself, found that he was once again treading upon
the hallowed, mystic soil of the spherical blue-white
womb among the stars that had given birth to his whole
species. Only, the soil he was treading presently was
being treated by those around him with something other
than veneration, and a means of sourcing the information
he hoped to uncover was still to be found.
Tacrica was a beautiful place in which to be discouraged.
Sensitive to his frustration, Pip had been acting
fidgety for days. An iridescent flutter of pleated pink-and-
blue wings and lethal, diamond-backed body, she
would rise from his shoulder to dart aimlessly about his
head and neck before settling restlessly back down into
her customary position of repose. As active as she was
colorful, the mature female minidrag was the only thing
he was presently wearing.
His nudity did not excite comment because every one
of the other sun and water worshipers strolling or lying
about on the seashore was similarly unclothed. In the
human beach culture of 554 a.a., the superfluity of wearing
clothing into the sea or along its edge had long been
recognized. Protective sprays blocked harmful UV rays
without damaging the skin, and frivolous, transitory
painted highlights decorated bodies both attractive and
past their prime. It was these often elaborate anatomical
decorations that were the focus of admiring attention,
and not the commonplace nakedness that framed them.
Flinx flaunted no such artificial enhancements, unless
one counted the Alaspinian minidrag coiled around his
neck and left shoulder. Such contemporary cultural accoutrements
were as alien to him as the primeval grains
of sand beneath his feet. Culturally as well as historically,
he was an utter and complete stranger here. Nor was he
comfortable among the throngs of people. With its still
unsettled steppes and unexplored reaches, Moth, where
he had grown up, was far more familiar to him. He was
more at home in the jungles of Alaspin, or among the
blind Sumacrea of Longtunnel, or even in the aggressive
world-girdling rain forest of Midworld. Anyplace but
here. Anywhere but Earth.
Yet it was to Earth he had finally come for a second
time, in search of himself. All roads led to Terra, it was
said, and it was as true for him as for anyone else. Beyond
Earth, the United Church had placed a moral imperative
lock, an elaborate Edict, on all information
about the Meliorares, the society of renegade eugenicists
responsible for whatever bastard mutation he had become.
Travels and adventures elsewhere had left him
with hints as to their doings, with fragmentary bits and
pieces of knowledge that tantalized without satisfying. If
he was ever going to unravel the ultimate secrets of his
heritage, it was here.
Even so, he had been reluctant to come. Not because
he was fearful of what he might find: He had long since
matured beyond such fears. But because it was dangerous.
Not only did he want to learn all the details of his
origins: so did others. Because of contacts he had been
compelled to make, the United Church was now aware
of him as an individual instead of merely as an overlooked
statistic in the scientific record. As high-ranking
an official as thranx Counselor Second Druvenmaquez
had taken a personal interest in the red-haired, bright-eyed
young man Flinx had become. The novice beach-goer
smiled to himself. He had left the irascible, elderly
thranx on Midworld, slipping away quietly when the science
counselor had been occupied elsewhere. When he
eventually discovered that the singular young human
had taken surreptitious flight, the venerable thranx would
be irked. He would have to be satisfied with what little
he had already learned, because neither his people nor
anyone else would be able to track Flinx's ship, theTeacher
, through space-plus.
Ever cautious, Flinx had decided for the moment to
hew to the hoary principle that the best place to hide was
in plain sight. What better place to do that than on one of
the Commonwealth's twin world centers of government
and religion, where he had come looking for information
years ago? It was where he needed to be anyway, if he
was ever going to find out the truth about himself. In addition
to his burgeoning curiosity, there had come upon
him in the past year a new sense of urgency. With the
onset of full adulthood looming over him, he could feel
himself changing, in slow and sometimes not-so-subtle
ways. Each month, it seemed, brought a new revelation.
He could not define all the changes, could not quarantine
and assess every one of them, but their periodic nebulosity
rendered them no less real. Something was happening
to him, inside him. The self he had known since
infancy was becoming something else.
He was scared. With no one to talk to, no one to confide
in save a highly empathetic but nonsapient flying snake,
he could look only to himself for answers--answers he
had always wished for but had never been able to acquire.
It was for those reasons he had taken the risk of coming
back to Earth. If he was going to find what he needed to
know, it lay buried somewhere deep within the immense
volume of sheer accumulated knowledge that was one of
the homeworld's greatest treasures.
But if he was home
, as every human who came to
Earth was supposed to be, then why did he feel so much
like an alien? It bothered him now even more than it had
when last he had visited here some five years ago.
He tried to wean himself from the troubling chain of
thought. Belaboring the accumulated neuroses of twenty
years would solve nothing. He was here on a fact-finding
mission; nothing more, nothing less. It was important to
focus his attention and efforts, not only in hopes of securing
the information he sought, but in order to avoid
the attention of the authorities. With the exception of the
thranx Druvenmaquez and his underlings, who were
specifically looking for him, what other agencies and individuals
might also be interested in one Philip Lynx he
did not know. It did not matter. Until he left the home-world,
a little healthy paranoia would help to preserve
him--but not if he allowed his thoughts to float aimlessly,
adrift in a distraught sea of incomplete memories
and internal conflicts.
Of course, he might well secure answers to all the
questions that tormented him by the simple expedient of
turning himself in. Druvenmaquez or a specialist in some
other relevant bureau would gladly take the plunge into
the secrets of him. But once committed to such research,
he would not be allowed to leave whenever it might
please him. Guinea pigs had no bill of rights. Revealing
himself might also expose him to the scrutiny of those he
wished to avoid--the great trading houses, other private
concerns, the possible remnants of certain heretical and
outlawed societies, and others. Becoming a potentially
profitable lab subject carried with it dangers of its own--
a long, healthy, and happy future not necessarily being
Somehow he had to discover himself by himself, without
alerting to his presence the very authorities who
might help alleviate his seemingly illimitable anxieties.
And he had to do it quickly, before the changes he was
experiencing threatened to overwhelm him.
For one thing, the unpredictable, skull-pounding headaches
he had suffered from since childhood--the ones that
caused blinding flashes of light behind his eyes--were
growing worse, in intensity if not frequency. When and if
it occurred, would he be able to tell the difference between
a common headache and a cerebral hemorrhage? Would
he be able to deal with the physical as well as the mental
consequences of the changes he was undergoing? He
needed answers to all the old questions about himself, as
well as to the new ones, and he needed them soon.
Of all the billions of humans on all the settled worlds
scattered across the vast length and breadth of the Commonwealth,
no one could claim that "nobody understands
me" with the depth of veracity of a tall young
redhead named Philip Lynx, who was called Flinx.
Excerpted from Reunion by Alan Dean Foster. Copyright © 2002 by Alan Dean Foster. Excerpted by permission of Del Rey, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.