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Forbidden Knowledge:  The Gap into Vision

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Forbidden Knowledge: The Gap into Vision

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Author: Stephen R. Donaldson
Publisher: Del Rey / Ballantine, 1991
Series: The Gap Cycle: Book 2
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Space Opera
First Contact
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(54 reads / 25 ratings)


Author of The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, one of the most acclaimed fantasy series of all time, master storyteller Stephen R. Donaldson returns with the second book in his long-awaited new science fiction series--a story about dark passions, perilous alliances, and dubious heroism set in a stunningly imagined future.

Beautiful, brilliant, and dangerous, Morn Hyland is an ex-police officer for the United Mining Companies--and the target of two ruthless, powerful men. One is the charismatic ore-pirate Nick Succorso, who sees Morn as booty wrested from his vicious rival, Angus Thermopyle. thermopyle once made the mistake of underestimating Morn and now he's about to pay the ultimate price. Both men think they can possess her, but Morn is no one's trophy--and no one's pawn.

Meanwhile, withing the borders of Forbidden Space, wait the Amnioin, an alien race capable of horrific atrocities. The Amnion want something unspeakable from humanity--and they will go to unthinkable lengths to get it.

In Forbidden Knowledge, Stephen R. Donaldson spins a galaxy-wide web of intrigue, deception, and betrayal that tightens with inexorable strength around characters and readers alike.



Morn Hyland didn't open her mouth from the moment when Nick Succorso grabbed her arm and steered her through the chaos in Mallorys to the time when he and his people brought her to the docks where his frigate, Captain's Fancy, was berthed. His grip was hard, so hard it made her forearm numb and her fingers tingle, and the trip was a form of flight; frightened, almost desperate. She was running with all her courage away from Angus even though Nick never moved faster than a brisk walk. Nevertheless she clung to the zone implant control in her pocket, kept both fists buried in the pockets of her shipsuit to mask the fact that she was concealing something, and let Nick's grasp guide her.

The passages and corridors were strangely empty. Security had cleared them in case Angus' arrest turned into a fight. The boots of Nick's crew struck echoes off the decking: the knot of men and women protecting Morn from Station intervention moved as if they were followed by a suggestion of thunder, metallic and ominous; as if Angus and the crowd in Mallorys were after her. Her heart strained against her lungs, filling her with pressure. If anybody stopped her now, she would have no defense against a charge which carried the death penalty. But she fixed her gaze straight ahead of her, kept her mouth shut, clenched her fists in her pockets; let Nick's people sweep her along.

Then they reached the docks. Beyond the clutter of tracks and cables between the gantries lay Nick's ship. She missed her footing on a power line and couldn't use her hands to catch herself; but Nick hauled her up again, kept her going. Here the danger of being stopped was gravest. Station Security was everywhere, guarding the docks as well as the cargo inspectors, dock-engine drivers, stevedores, and crane operators. If Nick's deal with Security fell apart--

But nobody made any move to stop her, or the people protecting her. The station-side lock stood open; Captain's Fancy remained shut until one of Nick's crew keyed it.

Nick took Morn inside, nearly drove her through the airlocks with the force of his grip.

After the expanse of the docks, she had the sensation that she was entering a small space--almost that she was being cornered. The frigate's lighting seemed dim and cloying compared to the arc lamps outside. She'd done everything she could think of to get away from Angus: she'd committed herself to this when she accepted the zone implant control. But now she caught her first glimpse of the place she was escaping to, the constricted passages of an unknown ship, and she nearly balked.

Captain's Fancy was a trap: she recognized that. For a moment the knowledge that she was going aboard another ship, another ship, where there was little hope and certainly no help, came close to seizing her muscles, paralyzing her like a spasm.

Then all Nick's people were aboard; and she had no time for paralysis. The airlock cycled closed. Nick Succorso took hold of her by the shoulders: he was about to put his arms around her. This was what he'd rescued her for--to possess her. The first crisis of her new life was upon her, when she was so full of alarm that she wanted to strike at him, drive his touch away.

Nevertheless she had the presence of mind to stop him by saying, "No heavy g."

Morally more than physically, Morn Hyland was exhausted to the core of her bones. Under the circumstances, perhaps the best that could be said about her was that she was half insane from rape and gap-sickness, from horror and panic and Angus' manipulation of her zone implant. During her weeks with him, she'd done and experienced things which would have sent her into caterwauling nightmares if she'd had the strength to dream. And then, despite everything, she'd saved his life. To all appearances, she'd been conquered by the desperate vulnerability which made the victims of terrorists fall in love with them.

Appearances were deceptive, however. She hadn't fallen in love: she'd made a deal. The price was that she was here, aboard Nick's ship, at his mercy. The recompense was that she had the control to her zone implant in her pocket.

Saving Angus may have been the only cold-bloodedly crazy act of her relatively young life.

But if she'd lost her mind, she was still only half insane. No one who was totally mad could have come through that ordeal with the presence of mind to protest to Nick Succorso, "Please. No heavy g. Not without warning me."

She may have been cornered, but she wasn't beaten.

Her gambit succeeded. He stopped, stared at her oddly. She could see that he was suspicious. He wanted her. He also wanted to know what was going on. And he needed to get his ship away from Com-Mine.

"What's the matter?" he demanded. "You sick or something?"

"I'm too weak. He--" She managed a shrug as eloquent as Angus' name. "I need time to recover."

Then she forced her mind blank, as she'd done so often with Angus, so that her visceral abhorrence of any male contact wouldn't make her do anything foolish--like kneeing Nick in the groin when he embraced her.

He was accustomed to women who dropped dead with pleasure when he took them. He wouldn't have been amused by the truth of how she felt about him.

He also wouldn't have been amused by the real reason she dreaded heavy g.

That was the key to her gap-sickness, the trigger which made her truly and helplessly insane. It had caused her to wreck Starmaster, to attempt a total self-destruct, even though Starmaster's captain was her father and much of the crew was family; even though Starmaster was a UMCP destroyer which had just watched Angus Thermopyle slaughter an entire mining camp.

Gap-sickness was the sole justification of any kind for the zone implant Angus had placed in her brain--or for the zone implant control she now held. And that control was her only secret; her only defense when she went aboard Captain's Fancy. She would have tried to kill anybody who took it away from her.

To deflect his suspicions, she was prepared to tell Nick as much about Starmaster as he wished, even though the ship was entirely classified and Morn herself was a cop. As a last resort, she would tell him how Starmaster died. But she would never tell him that Angus had given her a zone implant--and then let her have the control.


She was a cop: that was the problem. She was a cop--and "unauthorized use" of a zone implant was the single worst crime she could commit, short of treason. The fact that she was helping Angus Thermopyle by hiding the control to her own zone implant only made matters worse. She'd dedicated her life to fighting men like him and Nick Succorso, to fighting evils like piracy and the unauthorized use of zone implants.

But she knew what the control could do for her. Angus had taught her that, inadvertently but well. It had become more important than her oath as a UMC cop, more precious than her honor. She would never give it up.

Rather than betray the truth about herself, she did her best to go blank so that she wouldn't react as if Nick were Angus when he kissed her.

Fortunately her ploy worked. He had more immediate exigencies to consider. And, after all, the idea that Angus had left her sick and damaged was plausible. Nick released her suddenly and wheeled away.

Over his shoulder, he told his second, "Assign her a cabin. Get her food. Cat if she wants it. God knows what that bastard did to her."

As Nick strode away, Morn heard him say, "We're leaving. Now." He had hunger in his voice and a livid flush in the scars under his eyes. "Security doesn't want us to hang around. That's part of the deal."

Morn knew what his hunger meant. But now she would have a little time to get ready for it.

Inside her shipsuit she was sweating so fearfully that she reeked of it.

Nick's second, a woman named Mikka Vasaczk, was in a hurry. Maybe she was eager to get to the bridge herself. Or maybe she knew she was being supplanted and didn't like it. Whatever the reason, she was brusque and quick.

That suited Morn.

Riding the soft pressure of hydraulics, they took the lift down--"down" would become "up" as soon as Captain's Fancy undocked and engaged her own internal-g spin--to the cabin deck which wrapped around the ship's holds, engines, data banks, and scan- and armament-drivers. Captain's Fancy was luxurious by any standards, and she had more than one cabin for passengers. Mikka Vasaczk guided Morn to the nearest of these, ushered her inside, showed her how to code the lock and key the intercom. Then the second demanded, not quite politely, "You want anything?"

Morn wanted so many things that her desire left her weak. With an effort, she replied, "I'm all right. I just need sleep. And safety."

Mikka had assertive hips; she moved like she knew how to use them in a variety of ways. The way she cocked them now suggested a threat.

"Don't count on it." She grunted sardonically. "None of us is safe while you're aboard."

"You'd better be careful. Nick has better sense than you think."

Without waiting for a reply, she left. The door swept shut behind her automatically.

Morn felt like weeping. She felt like curling herself into a ball and cowering in the corner. But she had no time for tears and cowardice. Her bare survival was in doubt. If she couldn't find a way to defend herself now, she would never get another chance.

First she tapped a code into the keypad of the lock, not because that would keep people out--the ship's computer could override her instructions whenever Nick wished--but because it would slow them down; it would warn her when somebody was about to enter.

Then she took out the control to her zone implant.

That small black box was her doom. It showed how much Angus had cost her, how deep the damage he'd done her ran. Her ruin was so profound that she was willing to turn her back on her father and the UMCP and every ideal she'd held worthy--and turn her back, too, on rescue by Com-Mine Security, which would have led to every form of help and comfort the UMCP had at its command, as well as to Angus' execution--for the sake of control over her own zone implant.

Copyright © 1991 by Stephen R. Donaldson


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