Laura, the innocent child, is snatched from her family and thrust into a new community of people so unlike her that she fears she will never adjust to their ways and become one of them.
After traveling through unlimited space for an indeterminable length of time, she and her parents have come to a new place to plant a seed colony-a project made necessary by over-population in their Home World.
Before they can get the New Place established, her mother is abducted. her father is killed and she is lost in the forest.
Rescued by the peaceful Fumalsets and renamed Nu-Del, she learns that Ram, evil head of the Dumeasets, plans to terminate the Fumalsets. Living in the underworld. he crawls to the surface only to slaughter the males and steal the females so they can bear children for him and his diggers.
Sel, first mate of Cordac, adops Nu-Del as her child. in spite of his disapproval. As Nu-Del adapts to the ways of the Fumalsets. she becomes increasingly aware that in order to save the Fumalsets from Ram, she may he forced to use her special gifts, the forbidden gift her mother has warned he not to use.
When Nu-Del enters just-comming-of age. the silent voice of Ram enters into her thoughts. She must make a diecision. Will the young girl choose to become the savior of ther new band--a band she fears will never turly accept her as its own?
“The voices will go away, Laura.”
For several days following her first visit to the new site, the noises pushed into her mind. Not really voices, at all, just thoughts, different from the ones emitted by her group. She kept silent about them until she could stand it no longer and told her mother who dismissed them as if in doing so they would cease.
They didn’t. Instead, they became more invasive, pushing into her thoughts throughout the day, coming, at first, in small spurts with long quiet spells between, seeming far away.
Now they burst in almost constantly, so close she felt she could reach out and touch them. She wanted them gone.
If they weren’t coming from her group, where were they coming from? This thought annoyed her, because her small group of settlers was the only one on this planted. Maybe someone was playing a trick on her, thinking in a language she had not yet learned. Was this possible? But the noises were not words They feelings, emotions, concepts and she didn't know how she understand what she heard.
Generally, she was able to block invasive thoughts. Not these. No matter what she did, the erratic noise crashed in and thundered through her mind like tiny boulders rumbling around inside her head, sometimes smashing against each other with such a force it made her head ache.
At other times, the sound quietly rolled around, stirring up soft clods of thoughts, so foreign, so alien she could not make sense of them.
When the sounds had broken through two years ago, and she became aware she could understand the thoughts of those around her, she questioned her mother.
"It’s a gift few receive, Laura-- a gift not to be abused," her mother explained "You must take care not to intrude into the thoughts of others. What is in their minds is private.”
Laura tried to obey, but at times, the noises flowed into her head like feathers on a gentle breeze and she knew what was in the minds of those around her. She tried to force them back by thinking hard about something else, something scary. Like the time a big ugly animal somehow made it through the security field and Mr. Freeman had to put it to sleep with his stun gun. It had taken all four of the men to carry it back into the forest. That was scary because the animal could have killed someone. But thinking about it did not silence the voices.
“Your grandmother had the gift,” her mother told her.
Laura couldn’t remember her grandmother. In fact, she couldn’t recall much about her Home World at all—lots of people and big buildings and the land that curved upward as darkness seeped in on one side and light slowly faded away on the other, all without a horizon like here on this new world. She’d been too young and it seemed so long ago.
She inwardly complained, “If this is a gift I cannot use, what good is it?” And she decided it was more like a curse—these noises that pushed right past her defenses into her mind.
This morning she had helped Mrs. Sykes plant grape vines, hoping that keeping busy would offer some relief, but the headache would not go away.
She liked Mrs. Sykes who taught her which plants were dangerous, and which ones could be eaten if you got hungry enough, and a few that could be used as medicine to aid in relieving aches, healing cuts, and comforting upset stomachs. But she didn’t need plants to heal her; her father was a doctor. She dismissed the knowledge as not that important.
The noises continued to scratch away in her mind with an uneasy urgency. Thinking maybe a walk would help, she told Mrs. Freeman where she was going and skipped into the field adjacent to their new site.