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Judgment at Proteus
by Timothy Zahn
Series: Quadrail #5
Fifth and last in the Quadrail / Frank Compton space opera series about Frank Compton and Bayta and their battle to prevent a galactic takeover.
Frank is so naughty — I love it — he reckons getting Doug and Ty used to table scraps and it not being appreciated is just one more reason to do it.
Zahn is not loathe to spring traps, create setups, and twist things around. I want to go back to the beginning of the series and read it all the way through in one sitting!
More dead bodies. More traps. More tricky shifting out from under. And very unexpected assignments when Proteus Station assigns Frank to investigate Tech Yleli’s murder. The one Frank is accused of murdering.
Nothing is as it seems on Proteus Station. Earth and its Humans are seen as a vastly useful resource for the Shonkla-raa and Terese’s pregnancy is part of a larger, much more nefarious plan. Then there’s the Modhri and Shonkla-raa with their own twisted history and it’s enough to terrify the Modhri! And Frank when he discovers that the Shonkla-raa tonal controls can freeze his own allies.
Still. that Shonkla-raa ability has a useful side effect much to Minnario’s dismay. A discovery that forces the Modhri to acknowledge the Melding’s and Frank’s usefulness.
It’s one betrayal after another in this installment and from some of the most unexpected sources. Yet these experiences also result in some of the most unexpected turnarounds.
I so regret that this series has ended…wahhh…
It’s been four weeks since Frank killed Muzzfor and Frank has been summoned to Proteus Station to give his account of the battle to its direction and santras. A good destination to learn more about the Shonkla-raa and their connection to the group mind, the Modhri.
Frank’s arrest for murder on Proteus Station sets it all rolling with cross, double-cross, and triple-cross. Genetic experimentation on Filiaelians, Humans, anyone. Even the group mind is concerned enough to form an unholy alliance.
Frank Compton is a former Westali agent and now works for the Spiders to counter the Modhri, a parasite hidden within specially engineered coral — a group mind. One scratch and the Modhri will make its home within your mind. Controlling you without your knowledge. Easily spread from mind to mind.
Bayta is half-human, half-Chahwyn and represents the Chahwyn, the race of Spiders who operate the train that serves the universe. She is Frank’s companion, partner, and liaison between him and the Spiders. Sam and Carl are the Spider defenders assigned to “protect” Frank.
Terese German is a Human whose rape-caused pregnancy is causing such physical distress that two Filiaelians, Dr. Aronobal and Logra Emikai (a Filiaelian and former cop), have agreed to escort her to Proteus Station where Terese has the best chance of overcoming her genetic disorders.
Minnario chu-Dettak is a crippled Nemut, a lawyer, and one of the passengers aboard the super-express train where Frank and Bayta fought the Shonkla-raa. The Filiaelian Proteus Station has a universe-renowned reputation of medical care and Minnario has suddenly received an invitation to avail himself of that care. Damned handy when Frank is charged with murder as soon as he enters Proteus Station!
Chinzro Hchchu is the assistant director of Proteus Station and he’s really got it in for Frank. Doug and Ty are the Doberman-like guards assigned to accompany Frank while on Proteus Station and prevent his escape or exploration of unacceptable portions of the station. Usantra Dr. Wandek is a Filiaelian in charge of Terese’s case, a friend of Muzzfor, AND the judge at Frank’s trial. Hmmmm, I see a conflict of interest here… Osantra Riijkhan has an offer of employment for Frank in return for Earth’s safety and a warning Isantra Yleli is the murdered, unlamented Yleli’s kinsman. Blue One, a.k.a., Isantra Kordiss, is another Shonkla-raa.
Senior Ambassador ChoDar is the second Modhri ally and offers safe travel. Karak Fayr commands the Belldic commando squad. Larry Cecil Hardin is an excessively wealthy industrialist. Bruce McMicking is Hardin’s chief enforcement officer at Hardin Industries. Euro Union Security Service Agent Ackerley Morse is one of the new Modhri and he hates Frank. His new ally.
The Abomination, a.k.a., the Melding, are modified walkers, modified coral; they run off a different telepathic frequency. Which you’d think would help! Frank wants to know if the Modhri can Meld with others as they’re doing with Morse. Rebekah Beach, Domino Pattern, is with the Melding now. And she is so excited to talk girl stuff with Terese.
The Shonkla-raa is a genetically altered sub-race of Filiaelians who claim they created and can control the Modhri. They’re making a comeback, eager to reclaim their former glory. Walkers are the people under the control of the group mind(s).
The Cover and Title
Eerie, the way the glowing red indentions in the side of this massive space station seem like eyes watching the approach of Frank and Bayta’s shuttle.
The title is where it ends, with a Judgment at Proteus.