The Faded Sun Kesrith Author:C.J. Cherryh They were the mri, the People, and Kesrith was their home. — Outsiders, the tsi'mri (literally, "not people") believed them to be a warrior species, because outsiders rarely, if ever, met the scholar or child-raiser castes, only members of the Kel caste...and the Kel were warriors of exceptional ability. — For centuries the Kel had hired themselve... more »s out as mercenaries to the regul -- tsi'mri merchants native to another planet -- to help protect one regul company's business interests against the ambitions of another. True, it meant that mri fought mri; yet it had been good for the People, this testing of the Kel of a certain service against the Kel of a rival service in proper and traditional combat. Such trials-at-arms refined the strength of the entire mri race, eliminating the weak, the unfit, and giving due honor to the strong.
But for the last forty years, the mri had served all regul combined against all humans... a bitter struggle completely without honor. While the Kel were professionals who took pride in meeting the challenge of one-to-one combat, humans were mass fighters, incapable of understanding any form of warfare except their own: total destruction.
Mri had died by the thousands, for honor's sake, valiantly trying to win the hopelesss war. Now, on Kesrith, there were only thirteen of them left, and they had just learned that after so many years of fighting, so many Kel deaths, the regul had surrendered Kesrith for the sake of their own lives -- and their precious material possessions.
To Niun, youngest of the remaining mri, the very idea of surrender was unendurable. He was a full-fledged member of the Kel, and the fact that his elders had never permitted him to fight offworld was a source of gnawing frustration. His skill was great in all the areas a mri warrior must master: he knew mathematics; he could sing the name-chants of the People from memory; he spoke four languages fluently; above all, he was expert in the use of weapons. Wasted accomplishments now. He was being robbed of his Kel birthright because the regul, whose language had no word for courage, had asked the humans for peace.
For him, peace on human terms simply could not exist. As the last of the Kel, Niun was prepared to confront his enemies alone, be they human or regul. And as fate would have it, his private war would bring about the only peace the mri could ever accept...« less