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Shawne: An Alien's Quest

1.A Conflict of Needs

Shawne and I usually enjoyed our arguments, but this was different. She sat beside me on the deck of the house pond, calm as a cracker, an adult with a determined calm about her.

She was my human daughter—all right, my adopted human daughter—the child Tandra, Orram, and I had raised from age two, the new soul that had bonded to the off-beat lights in my glance from the first moment she ran into my arms and toyed with the mossy edges of my pressure plates and stole a stray plume that came loose with the quick yank of her baby hand. How could I disappoint her now, twenty-some-odd Earth-years later?

"Please, Conn. I want you to show me where you grew legs. I want to experience your native planet."

"Forget it, Shawne. We just got home.

"I have to go there, Conn. I have to figure out what life is all about."

"Well, you won't figure out anything on Ellason. It's a dark place, Luv, a difficult place to survive."

"I need to talk to Haralahn, the philosopher," she said.

"I’m sorry, Shawne. I don't think it can happen."

"Varok can do without us for a while. We've recorded our reports about our trip to Earth. We’ll find a reason the council can’t refuse."

Shawne had that look in her eye, that unique human look that said, 'Forget you're an elll, Conn. Give it to me straight, soul to soul. No funny business.' I avoided the yearning in her eyes--or was it some kind of pain? Something needed was missing, something my fatherly-like love couldn't give her.

Varok's auroral light flooded the pool loft and brushed Shawne's hair with gold, as we sat dangling our brown and green legs in the water. It was good to be home again--listening to the pleasant murmur of Tandra's voice downstairs at the hearth, feeling the warmth of Orram's latest soup concoction settle in our bellies--good to be home with my life companions, my family.

We were more than a school. Shawne--the lovely young woman we had raised here on Varok--knew nothing about wild schooling ellls. Those of us ellls who made Varok our home were more or less civilized.

My daughter deserved the closest thing to a soul dump I could manage. I didn't want to go back to Ellason and face--what? Myself, I suppose, the wild part of my nature, the part that could run free when water is huge and clear and alive with soft bio-lights.

I didn't need to bother her with the uncomfortable part--growing up as a loner in a schooling culture, ignoring schooling pressures to go off alone and study Varokian languages and Earth biology. My dim memories of Ellason sat too heavily on my psyche. That's why I left.

"It's a dangerous place, Shawne, a wild place. Your going there would be like dropping the Easter bunny into the middle of a jungle."

"So why is Ellason the center of religious thought in this solar system? Even Earth scholars read Haralahn."

I heard Stringer come into the pool loft. My offspring--Lanoll's and my chosen egg, whom Shawne had named when she was only half a Jovian year old, now grown into an accomplished student of Ellason's history--pushed Shawne into the pond and sat down next to me. "Sounds like we're going to Ellason," he said.