By Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Anne McCaffrey
Acorna, the "unicorn girl" has made peace along with her Linyaari prior, and aboard the interplanetary salvage vessel Condor she is ultimately loose. yet dread overtakes her while a misery sign summons Acorna and her partners to a close-by planet. For one of the myraid wonders of this global of sentient crops and intoxicating perfumes are unmistakable symptoms that everythng Acorna holds pricey is in danger. A promise of world-shattering devastation is within the celestial winds-and forthcoming disaster on the claws of the cold-blooded insectile race that seeks to get rid of all Linyaari and human lifestyles from the galaxy...the Khleevi!
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He was standing ankle-deep in the ordure of the hog yard—right in the heart of it—the very animals nosing around him and giving rise to one of the rawest and most unpleasant odors I’d ever encountered. I watched him watching me for a moment—he was grinning now, something sardonic and judgmental settling into his eyes—and then I raised my voice to be heard over the engine and the guttural vocalizations of the animals. “I wonder if you might—” I began, but he cut me off with a sharp stabbing laugh.
The lights dimmed. The conductor rose from the pit, his arms elevated over the score. And then, at the last minute, Olgivanna drifted gracefully down the center aisle, a moving shadow against the backdrop of the stage. The usher stood aside, the curtain rising now, the audience stirring, and here was her seat, and she barely had time to register the unremarkable figure beside her before the music began and the dancers appeared and she realized with a jolt that he was there, right there, one seat over from her.
And everywhere the lurching farm dogs, errant geese, disoriented hogs and suicidal cows, one obstacle after another looming up in my field of vision till I began to freeze at every curve and junction. I must have passed a hundred farm wagons. A thousand fields. Trees beyond counting. I clung to the wheel and gritted my teeth. Three days earlier I’d celebrated my twenty-fifth birthday—alone, on the overnight train from Grand Central to Chicago’s Union Station, a commemorative telegram from my father in my suitcase alongside my finger-worn copies of the Wendingen edition and the Wasmuth portfolio and several new articles of clothing I felt I might find useful in the hinterlands, denim trousers and casual shirts and the like.
Acorna's World by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Anne McCaffrey