Book Five: The Possibility Garden

Jenken Mizlek has been in the right place at the right time just a little too often lately. A street gang is out to get him for spoiling their fun; they’d just caught a woman when he came along and interfered with their plans for her. After a chance encounter with a rich playboy that landed the playboy in jail Jenken finds himself wanted for questioning, probably under chemical stimulation of the brain, by the head of security for the most ruthless commercial organization in the planetary system. He’s on the run from the scandal media, and possibly from the law as well, after taking a wild ride in an antique ground vehicle millions have viewed in the tank. He’s sleeping with a gorgeous celebrity look-alike his girlfriend hates, in a very tiny bed, after fending off the amorous advances of her mother. He’s being pressured to become a part of the most important social experiment in the history of his race. And an alien plant has gone to a great deal of trouble to look him up to study him.

But all this may pale in light of the latest predicament Jenken finds himself in. Two feuding, insanely rich, insanely jealous, brothers both have designs on an innocent woman of Jenken’s acquaintance. One of them is more vindictive than any street gang. And Jenken is standing squarely in the way of his ambitions.

Machja Dajomm’s career as an artist is just taking off. Her work is selling. She’s winning awards and making a name for herself, independent of those of her prominent artist parents. And then, when it’s barely begun, her success is overshadowed by her encounter with a rich playboy who confuses her for a woman he once loved. He follows her until she reports him for stalking. He ends up in jail. The city, and the world as a whole, are about to be quarantined because of an outbreak of epidemic disease. And if Machja doesn’t withdraw her complaint against him he could be stuck in quarantine indefinitely. When the scandal media gets hold of the story Machja becomes the woman Frivollen Jeft flipped out over, the woman who holds his immediate future in her hands.

The security department which protects the playboy thinks Machja is part of a deliberate plot to entrap him. If not deliberately, then she’s being used by his enemies. But very few sentients knew Machja would be at the big art festival to run into him there. If she was used someone had to have been spying closely upon her to learn her plans. They may be spying on her still.

About the only sentient Machja trusts is a “skinny legs” kid, a friend of her crazy mother and her crazy sister. She’s just met him at the festival. She’s known him a total of about two centiyears.

(Isn’t that a kick in the head, that she’d find herself trusting an off worlder she’s just met, a male off worlder at that, while distrusting even her closest friends, fellow sons and daughters of Mother Raja, all.)

And if she really is being spied upon and used, how scary is that? Who knows what the spies could do to her and when? What’s worse, the only place Machja can think of to go to be safe is the jungle commune where her mother and sister and their friends run naked all day long.

Swee, Machja’s older sister, is a member of Primal Living, the social experiment based upon the theories of social philosopher, Dilven Morasik, better known as Atavis. She lives in the Preserve, the jungle commune in which the experiment is being conducted. Young as she is, Swee’s the leading herbal medicine practitioner, nutritionist and midwife for the isolate, self-sufficient community. Her fellow members rely upon her. It’s a lot of responsibility. But it’s a very rewarding life.

Things are changing in the experiment, though. Recently the commune has come into a lot closer contact with the outside world. First there was the visit from Jenken, the off worlder some members are touting for membership. Then there were the poachers who invaded the Preserve looking for a rare species of serpent. There’s the alien plant who has come, uninvited, to look in on the experiment. And now two rich brothers claim to have met Swee at some alien inquiry. Both want to remove her from the Preserve to use her to who knows what ends. The only way Swee can see to stop them from invading and hopelessly compromising the experiment is for her to say good bye to her home and the sentients she loves forever.

That’s one possibility. As the alien visitor would convey the thought, life is a possibility garden.