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His birth mother had also given him a gene that was far too dangerous to be passed on—on that, he agreed with the Genetics Board. Luckily Wif had been born before the problem was recognized and was not even a carrier, but Roi had no other children of his own.

But he had another heritage as well, one with which he was even less comfortable. His father had left him in charge of the Inner Council of R’il’noids that effectively ruled the Confederation. Not the planets that made up the Confederation, he grumbled to himself; in fact he as the regent of the Confederation had no voice at all in the laws of Central, where the Councils met and he lived. Now and then Council duties included fieldwork when the specialties of individual Council members were needed, and in truth he’d been eager to get away when the government of a distant planet thought (wrongly) that others were making it the target of biological warfare. Wif, the other medical expert, had already been away from Central, and Derry’s specialty of xenotelepathy and Kaia’s of communications had been needed in the field while Roi was gone, leaving Roi’s older brother Zhaim in charge without the steadying influence of the others.

Roi had never expected a disaster like this.

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