Monthly Archives: May 2013

It was, and It wasn’t

Another contest entry for Chuck Wendig’s weekly challenge.  It don’t think it turned out as good as the last one.  But I tried.  If you want to learn more about it here the linky. My d20 gave me Empath as my power. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/05/24/flash-fiction-challenge-must-contain-psychic-powers/

 

It was, and It wasn’t

 

I knew everything there was to know about Hoc. One day ten years ago when he was a day over thirty-one years old he broke into an illegal testing facility for one of many, many governments. The glass windows shattered under his barrage of bullets. The lights flashing at the end of his rifle. Tiny sparks bouncing off all the equipment in a shattered array like the night sky stars. Tanks lined up against the far wall the liquid shimmering silver. Bright LEDs brightened them showing human-shaped figures floating in them.

He lifted his gun a light flashed on above the barrel. The light swept back and forth lightening up the sterile lab equipment. He spoke urgently into his headset. “All clear.”

His men burst around the edges filling into the room. They knocked over equipment. They downloaded files. They freed the people in the tubes.

Hoc opened my tube and I fell wet, and naked in his arms. My eyes fluttered open looking into his single eye and a connection was made. I knew him. I kept feeling everything he felt: his disappointment, his desire, and his cool regard. Not a man to trifle with. I smiled. “I feel you.”

He blinked his eye. “Get survival blankets on them. They’ll freeze.”

“Won’t the official demand we remove the data?” One man motioned with his hand toward the naked bodies being covered with glossy, metallic blankets.

My weight shifted as Hoc pulled a gun on the man. “I don’t give a fucking shit. These are people. People who have nothing to do with anything.” He spit on the ground. “People who are test subjects. We aren’t going plugging them with holes to satisfy a motherfucking spreadsheet. You got that?”

Echoes of ‘yes sir’ filled my newly cleared ears.

Hoc slide his pistol back into its holster. “Get these people in the transport.” His head jerked back and forth above mine. “Only five alive, we can manage it. Quick step, men.”

I remembered little of the journey back to the transport. I was cold. My skin felt as if it would shake off from how hard I shivered. I wanted to ask what he meant to do with me. Fear lanced my heart, and I knew it was from him. My body tumbled to the ground as an ear shattering crack surrounded me. My hands slapped over my ears.

Silence then, the scent of copper in the air. I looked up. Hoc was covered in dark speckles. My head swiveled around me. People in sterile white and blue gear from in the boot tracked snow. A few wet bodies in the same gear as Hoc sat motionlessly. And a couple squirmed as groans began. Two pale, silver wrapped bodies lay still.

“Shit.” Hoc slammed another clip into his gun. “Someone sent out an alert.”

Air whistled past my ears as the snowy landscape blurred. My stomach slammed into his shoulder. He took off running as I was jarred with each leaping step. My fingers dug into his arm as my breath came out in white puffs.

“Civilians and wounded in the front. Guns ready, guard the back.” Hoc emotions hit me in a wave. Elations, joy, worry, and fear all jumbled together. The intensity of the whirlwind inside seemed all the more potent to the calm on the outside.

My head bounced as muzzles flashed before my eyes. Shouts and screams pierced the air. Figures in black and white fell down with splashes of crimson. I put my free hand over my eyes as I whimpered. Too much was happening too fast.

From beside me an echoing whimper. Another pale creature like myself flopped over a mercenaries shoulder like a sack. We looked at one another. He mouthed to me. “Do they know what we are?”

“I don’t know.” I mouthed back.

I had known thirty-two since we were children before the tubes. He and I were the only survivors of the original test subjects. The rest had joined the project later.

A loud steady droning grew louder, and louder. I struggled against Hoc trying to free myself. A casual shrug sent me falling onto a hard surface as the droning throbbed in my ears. The other men climbed into loud machine. Two more naked people dropped beside me. Gloved hands dragged us across the floor, metal catching on my delicate skin as I felt it tearing. All of it adding to the noise.

“Get around them, defensive perimeter.” Hoc’s voice cut through it all.

My stomach lurched as peered between the legs of the men. I could see the ground getting further away. I strangled a cry in my throat as a heavy, thick material was thrown on me. I felt my shivering lessen, and I grew tired. I could feel Hoc’s emotions. The strongest was relief.

“All clear, Sergent.” As we flew into a larger craft. The vehicle stopped and they jumped out. All except Hoc.

He kneeled beside me. He stripped off a glove and held back of his fingers to my forehead. “Good, no fever.” He moved and checked the other two. “Fuck.” He motioned at thirty-two. “His dead.” He checked the final one a small boy.

“Don’t hurt…” The boy’s words cut off with a cry.

“I won’t hurt a hair on your head. You, or the pretty lady here.” Hoc scratched his chin. “I’m not sure I can report you as survivors, but you can come live at our base. You’ll have food, clothes, and a place to live. You’ll be safe.”

“Why?” I could feel him. He feared us. His eyes told me he was not soft hearted.

He turned to me. His eye flashed blue for a moment allowing me to see the network of wires in it. “I know what’s it like to be someone’s lab rat.”

“Do you know what we are?”

“Do I need to?”

“We are Empaths. But, we don’t work right. We only bond with one person. We are failed experiments.” I motioned to the boy. “He hasn’t even manifested yet. And I bonded to you.”

He didn’t say anything for a long time. “Doesn’t matter. I’m the boss you’re going to stay with us. End of fucking story.”

It was, and it wasn’t. That is the nature of things.

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Planet of Jirth, Part 14

The return home was a slow. I felt anxious to return home, but it gave me time to make a plan. Of all Einlari and other peoples I was only given freedom of movement. From what I could gather the Jirth wouldn’t destroy anything, they would uproot everyone and make them leave it all behind. I’d announce I planned to get community and calm them. While I visited I’d gather what I could have of every culture and preserve it. The recording device and image grabber would be invaluable in saving my people’s various cultures.

They took me to the Einlari and had dragged every administer to an open field. All of them either afraid or angry as I stepped onto the podium the Jirth brought. “Administers!” I waited for their eyes look my way. “Hear me out.”

A young one I didn’t recognize, I knew many of them personally, shouted. “Why should we? You are with those creatures.”

I lowered my head in acknowledgement. “I am. However, I went with them before I realized what was happening. They came, they intrigued me, and I left.” I waved back at the Jirth. “They are going to enslave everyone, we have no choice, and we have no way of stopping them.”

A buzzing of anger rose up, and I let it. To convince them I needed passion to ignite their hearts. An older woman marched up the podium pushing stray strands out of her face. “And, why should we trust you? Why should we believe you?”

I considered her. A strange detachment came over me, but I shook it off. “Perhaps you should not. I went with Jirth the first day I met them. They told me everyone else was terrified of them. I went with them, because they represented mystery. The journey since then opened my horizons. I know, and see more than I ever have.” The woman’s wrinkled brow furrowed. “And regardless of my actions Jirth would still enslave everyone. I gained respect, and power to help us.”

Many of them surged forward to stand closer to the podium. Shouts of ‘what?’ ‘how?’ and other similar questions filled my ears. I sliced my hand through the air. They fell silent. “Most of it is too hard to explain, but I have a high rank with the Jirth that allows me great freedom. And, I have the ability to live many lifetimes. I’ll do what I can to free us.”

A tall man I knew stepped forward. The black sharp brows above the dark eyes pierced me, First Administer Francas. “Rilas. You are free why do you care for our plight, and what can you really do?” He pointed at the Jirth. “I don’t even understand what they are.”

“They come from the stars, they fly on ships that traverse the sky instead of water.” I smiled at the incredulous look on his face. “I’ve been in one, I’ve travelled the sky, I assure you it is real. I am not free, only more free than you. My plan is to get more people promoted to my rank, but it might be difficult. There is a group much like the administer’s who govern sky people who make laws can be petitioned.”

Francas seemed to absorb the news. He trained me as a youth. He seemed to never age to me. His hair as black as it had been in my twenties, but lines had sprung up across his face. “It won’t be easy, will it?”

He spoke as if I was the only there. Pain lanced my heart as I realized he is a man I could have loved once. “No. I fear it may be generations before we are free.”

“What do you need?” I wondered if he might be a Mental himself. He seemed to take in this knowledge with alacrity.

“While I do what I can to free us, I want to preserve our culture. They won’t allow art, music, or anything like it. I’m going to go to every settlement and gather up what I can to save as most as I can. You need to return to your districts, and tell them gather what they can in some central locations. Anything someone wants to preserve should be there as well. I’ll save everything.”

Francas gave me a curt nod. “It will be done. I have faith in you, Rilas. I’ll make sure they listen to your orders.” He waved the rest after him. I stood at the podium watching the last bit of my old life fade.

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Planet of Jirth, Part 13

The return to the deary, soggy Jinara was uneventful. At kept quiet and I had nothing to say. Priest of Jirth met us at the landing. “Is Teacher of Einlari now of Go On Don?” It asked.

At bowed. “We have confirmed her abilities. It may be years before her training is done, but I have returned her to you.”

Priest of Jirth skin flushed as it shifted positions. “Jirth is happy to return the Teacher of Einlari to her homeworld.”

A feeling of doubt, and suspicion flowed over me. I realized it didn’t come from me, but from the Priest of Jirth. Why would it be suspicious of At or me? Until I knew more, I decided to ignore it. “Thank you for your warm welcome. When are we leaving for the homeworld?” I had come to care for At and Jiirra, but I longed for the company of my own people.

Priest of Jirth blinked several times. “Jirth ship leaves as soon as you board.” It lifted the three pronged fingers at a small transport craft on the other side of the field. “Teacher of Einlari luggage is being moved now.”

The sudden move surprised me. The Jirth never seemed to move with any speed. “Oh…” I trailed off before I smiled. “I’m glad.”

At brushed my arm. He transferred his feelings to me, full of worry, and anger. “I’ll shall miss you Rilas.”

I turned and wrapped my arms around him. Even after these long months it felt strange to hug something rail thin, and furry. “I’ll miss you to At. I promise to use the communication device you gave me whenever I find the time.” I lifted my head to look in his warm brown eyes. “Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten Jiirra either.”

He stepped away with a nose wiggle. His powerful mental voice boomed in my skull. “Be careful the Jirth are up to something.” He spoke out loud. “I’ll see you later, Rilas.” At twisted to look at the Priest of Jirth. “And, thank you for allowing me her company for these past few months.” He bowed, then stepped back up the ramp into the ship.

Priest of Jirth signaled for me to follow. In silence we made our way to the ship. I focused my mind. Unlike my friends in Go On Don I couldn’t read minds. However, being empath allowed me to feel emotions. Priest of Jirth felt anxious, fearful, suspicious, and worried. The question I had was why? I’ll admit I was not happy to serve as the vessel who would enslave my people. Neither had I truly fought against it either. The only time I threatened to make it difficult, because Priest of Jirth tried to block my desire to train as a Mental.

I mulled on it as we got into the transport vessel. I settled into a chair. The strange smooth movements of the Jirth struck me again. Priest of Jirth body did not bend as it sat down. “Priest of Jirth, what do you want me not to know?”

The brown spots darkened as all of its skin flushed to a deep red. A touch of fear filled me, because I’d never seen its skin turn such a color. “What did the Go On Don tell you about Jirth colonization?”

“Nothing.” Not completely true, but they didn’t tell me anything but vague warnings to be careful. Remembering how little they told me put me in an annoyed frame of mind.

It brushed the fringe of hair on top of its elongated head. “Why did they tell you nothing?”

“They said the Go On Don must be careful about involving themselves in politics. Especially in delicate matters such as this one.” Whenever I asked they all said the same thing. Viirra, the one I judged to be the least cautious, said the same. “They did say there was more to this than you have let on.”

Jirth forbade me to say more. I serve Jirth. All Jirth must choose the greater good. Einlari are Jirth now, they must serve.” The doctrine was the same last time I talked the Priest of Jirth. I should have felt relieved that we were going to be included in Jirth society as normal. Instead my concern increased.

I swallowed the lump in my throat. “What do you mean we must serve? Serve how?”

“I did not know who you would serve until today.” Priest of Jirth skin paled a bit to almost normal color. “Einlari will serve as labor to build a great space station, and resort for travellers and traders.”

“Laborers.” The word echoed over and over in my head. Something about it seemed important. “Wait, isn’t that class of people in Jirth who have only work. They can’t create art, make music, be educated, or anything but physical labor.”

Priest of Jirth dropped its head. “I am sorry, Teacher of Einlari. You are correct.”

A rage bubbled inside me. Too late for me to go the Intergalactic Council. They either lied, or kept the knowledge from me. My people would be treated almost like animals, and everything that made our people what they are would be gone. The feeling went cold and dormant. Patience, I counciled myself, patience.

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Are you Hungry?

Author Note: Don’t panic, there will still be the usual update on Thursday.  This is is for a writing contest that Chuck Wendig is doing.  Linky   The contest is to use the random fantasy character generator and then write a flash fiction ~1000 words about it.

“A well-fed wastrel is being assaulted and pursued by mysterious, demonic spirits.”  is the one I picked out of my five options.  Hope you enjoy ‘Are you Hungry?’

 

Are you Hungry?

 

A rotund man in bright yellow robe ambled down a rain washed street. He rubbed his belly, his nostrils flared as he smelled the air. He muttered under his breath in a sing song voice. “Get some pie for my aching belly, get some ale for my parched throat.” A crunching sound caused him to pause. He blinked twice. A nervous glance over his shoulder before bolting down the street his robe flying behind him exposing his grotesquely large, hairy legs.

The sprint didn’t last long as he came to crawl by a tavern with a battered sign of an ale mug. A rail thin man leaned out the door. “Gervin, I haven’t seen you run like that ever, ole’ boy. Anything a matter?”

Gervin head whipped back and forth. A pudgy hand wiped a gallon of sweat off his brow. “No, no, of course not. What would trouble me, eh Marky?” He let out a brittle laugh with a plastered smile on his cherub’s face. “I worried you’d run out of the your wife’s delicious, sumptuous shepard’s pie.”

Marky looked down rubbing his neck. “Gervin, I don’t mind feeding ya, you’re such a likable fellow. But, you still haven’t paid down your tab from last month.”

Holding his hands against his chest, Gervin’s blue eyes went huge. “You know I’m good for it, Marky. I pay ya once I get some work.”

“You’re a wizard, Gervin, is it so hard to get work?” Marky motioned to his expensive silk robe. “I mean, look at what you’re wearing.”

A bit of his lip, Gervin peered at the ground, rubbing his shoe in the dirt. “My master doesn’t pay me for the work. I’m a poor apprentice.” A loud thunk followed by a crackle caused Gervin to jump in the air. “I’ll settle my tab.” He bolted inside knocking Marky to the side. He looked outside his face drained of all color.

With a scowl Marky gave Gervin a not-so-gentle shove. “What’s gotten into you? Never mind, I got work to do.” He stomped off.

Gervin took a few careful steps back before turning around and bustling over to the worn counter. “Gerta!” He bellowed in a jovial tone. “Get me an ale and a pie would you, my sweet.”

The sour faced woman thumped an ale down, and a generous slice of pie in front of him. “Didn’t Marky tell you to settled your tab?” She snapped hands on her hips.

“He said I could worry about it tomorrow. I’ve had a rough day.” His face molded into a look of distress. “I’ll pay for a room tonight.” He dug into the dirty pouch at his side pulling out some coins dropping them on the counter.

“That man is an idiot.” She snatched up the coins with a glare.

He glumbed down his food, and swilled his ale with vigor. Every sound caused him to look over his shoulder, apprehension filled his face. He stumbled into the small closet with a cloth curtain. His face planted into the rough fabric cot with a sore.

A dark presence haunted him in his dreams. A glowing red demon with horns, and a booming laugh. It chased him, and consumed him in his dreams. He woke up with a scream tumbling off the narrow pallet to the ale soaked floor beneath it. The curtain hung eschew as the a red shadowy form stood in the doorway swirling with energy. “Gervin, Gervin, aren’t you hungry?”

A scream tore from his throat as scrabbled against the wall. His heart thumped rapidly in his ears.

“Gervin, Gervin, won’t you get something to eat?” The figure let out another laugh before fading.

Gervin continued to rattle out a shaky breath until the entire red form faded. He tiptoed out looking around. Moonlight came in from the small window above the bar. The dumpy interior was still, and empty. A sudden hunger filled him gnawing at him from the inside. Before he knew it, he had taken a quick journey into the kitchen. The crackling noise filled the air for a moment. He seized up, eyes flashing around, but he saw no demon. A string of sausages hung from the ceiling, he grasped at them, choking them down. A fierce joy filled him. He reached into his pouch drew at a few coins, and stared at them. He slipped them back into his pocket.

A yawn followed by a belch. “Getting tired again I am. I’ll head back home.” On his way out the back door he grabbed a mug, and poured himself an ale for the road.

As he walked the crackling echoed around him making him rush. The mocking voice whispered in his ear. “Gervin, Gervin, why won’t you eat?” It asked over and over.

Once he reached his master’s battered, white tower he turned, threw the mug, and shouted. “I’m not hungry.” He fumbled with the latch, leapt inside, and pressed his back against the door letting out a long, relieved sigh.

A man in a flowing white robe stood at the bottom of the stairs.

Gervin let out a high pitched whine. “Master, oh please save me. There is a demon stalking me.”

Master shook his head. “No, there is not Gervin.”

“I swear to you, Master, I saw it.” He dropped onto his pudgy knees, hands clasped together.

The master took a step back making a warding sign in front of him. “Your gluttony, drinking, and selfishness have brought it to you, Gervin.” His hands moved up and down as fire filled his hands. He held them out toward Gervin, as the flames poured over his apprentice. “You are the demon.”

 

 

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Planet of Jirth, Part 12

 

I learned the price of life far longer than nature intended. I could probably live a good eight hundred years longer than I already had. However, I would alter my ability to have children. The computer wasn’t certain of course, but most likely I would only be fertile toward the very end of my life. Any child I had would only know me for a few short years before I died. “I’m not certain I’m fertile now, I am over forty.”

The computer responded as it always seemed to. “You are. If you were to do through this procedure it would alter you to a slightly younger state.”

I pondered that information. I never intended to have children. No man had ever interested me. Some I found to be attractive, but for anything long term they didn’t suit. Maybe in a few hundred years I would meet someone. Would I condemn a child to not even knowing its mother? A fear gripped my heart. “Would I pass on my long life?”

“There is a high chance. There is also a high chance it would only pass on to female offspring. Male offspring likely will age normally, or fail to be born.” The computer told me.

I sat on my bed. It seemed worse. By choosing this life, I would also be choosing any child I bore into it. On top of it, I would never have a son. Not that I particularly wanted a son, but it still seemed important to note.

Other costs ones that actually bothered me more. The report claimed I would emotionally shut down a touch, until I was able to have children again. I wouldn’t lose all emotion, but it might be harder to empathize with others and to feel the way I did now. The idea of it terrified me. “How high is the chance I’ll shut down all my emotions?”

“Quite low.”

That was something at least. The years I had left to live mocked me. Twenty years to live and thrive before death came for me. I would have been content with it before the Jirth, now it didn’t seem to be enough. Very few, if any of my people would be Mentals. And, none would be as powerful as me. For now I was their only protection. There would be no one to protect them if not for me.

The other problem remained. What if I gained the time to help them, but lost the emotions to care? I didn’t want to abandon my people. The agony of indecision hovered as I couldn’t make up my mind.

“Computer. How would I be able to free my people from slavery?” I never knew why I decided to ask a soulless machine.

“Most races do not like slavery. However, it is not forbidden by Intergalatic Law and therefore few would think to interfere. Go On Don arrangement to search your people for other potentials. Otherwise your people will likely linger as subservient race for quite some time.” The cold hard facts made my body feel chilled.

It did decide me. Even if I became unfeeling, or I grew to not care. I at least would have a reason to not have my people lanquish in sertivide to the Jirth. I climbed up onto the bed, and worked my way into a deep trance. In my mind I opened doorways to parts of myself; I would walk into them and turn a wheel until it felt right. How long I opened the doors, and turned dials I couldn’t tell you, I can’t even tell you how many. When my eyes opened, I looked at the date and time clock. Twenty-nine hours had passed. My stomach burned with hunger.

As I stood up I felt younger than I had in years. I glanced in the mirror and stepped back in surprise. Many of the wrinkles had lessened, but not disappeared. The blush of vitality and youth touched my cheeks.  My deep blue eyes sparkled. “Computer can you can me, and tell me if the procedure worked.”

“Scanning.”

A few minutes later it chimed. “The procedure seems to fully integrated.” I ran out of the room to tell At, and Viirra my excitement bubbling over.

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Planet of Jirth, Part 11

The testing itself is boring, I stood up in a scanner, and left to get the results. The next few days I occupied myself talking to Viirra and At. The thought never far from my mind.

Rilas, why are you so concerned with it?” At asked his black eyes gleaming.

Viirra looked at At. “A woman is allowed her own council, don’t you think At? Feminine mystery and all.” The way she tried to deflect At’s interest was admirable.

He cocked his head at her, while scratching at the base of his antler. “Feminine mystery. I don’t think Runnil women do such a thing.” His black nose twitched. “Definitely not.”

“Well, Pirfectia, and Einlari women do.” With a covert smile she pulled on the strands of her hair. At always reacted to it.

He started to twitch. “Viirra, I do not like seeing you pull on your hair. Torturing yourself in such a manner.”

“I told you before, At, it does not hurt me. Runnil must have very delicate hair.” She let out a small laugh.

Her protector began to pace back and forth. A long string of clicks, and clacks emanated from him. The translator stuttered over the words. “Beloved. The hive trouble. Intergalatic Council contact.”

Viirra narrowed her eyes. She responded back mentally as the back wave of emotion hit me.  Every part of it filled with fear. “Can I hold both of you. I need to send out a call, I can’t do it alone.”

With hesitation I reached out to her. Her strange limp hands closed around mine. At followed suit. Energy felt as if it was being sucked out of me. The urge to throw her off grew great. I struggled to hold it back. A searing pain began to fill my head. I almost let go to clutch my head. The pain began to fade as Viirra let go of me. “Thank you.”

I shook myself up for a moment to get a hold my barrings. “Is everything alright?”

“I’m not certain. The hive is fine, but I think perhaps the current Mother is dying.” Never before had I seen Viirra so unsettled. She shifted to gaze to stare at the Kircurk.

At pulled himself up straight. “Are you going to have to take over the hive? “

“No.” Viirra shook herself off. “She gave me the all clear. Still, Pirfectia do not grow sick easily. I sent for a medics to arrive there as well. The hive already lost the true rulers, it would be worse if Pirfectia died off as well.”

I couldn’t quite follow the conversation. Some of it I knew, about the Pirfectia running the colonies for the Kircurk. What I did not know is how the they figured who go what colony. And I didn’t really know anything about the Kircurk or the Pirfecta culture outside my limited experience. Part of me desired to know, but I didn’t want to over do it.

Kircurk took a couple of quick strides over to Viirra. The chitin arms pulled her up into an embrace. Another slew of clicks filled the air. “Beloved mother safe hive protected lack worry.”

I felt my eyes bulge out of my head. Perhaps my translating couldn’t manage to translate, but it seemed to me as if the creature calling her beloved. “Are you, with it?” I motioned at Kircuk unable to stop myself.

Viirra slipped out it’s grasp. “Not in the usual sense. We aren’t lovers.” A short explosion of laughter before she continued on. “But, they love the Mother of every generation. The top males protected her, and one chosen as a mate. As the next Mother, I have a chosen protecter. Nothing more or less. A cultural term to say I am his chosen is all. He cares for me, and I him.”

As unfair as it might be, I felt a certain relief about it. The idea of a bug and a something that seemed like an Einlari in a relationship was too far outside my comfort zone. “It must be nice to have someone care about in your life.”

A sadness filled her eyes. “You can always find someone, Rilas.” The sorrow faded. “There is one benefit to all this.”

“What’s that?” I said.

“You’ve probably forgotten about those results you were waiting for.” She said with a mischievous glint in her eyes.

I chuckle a bit, because it was true. I opened my mouth to reply when a chime went off in the handheld computer in my pocket. The results had finished compiling. I shot out of my chair. “I have to go.” I rushed out the room at top speed to review them.

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Planet of Jirth, Part 10

At hovered over me the next few weeks, but I shooed him whenever he interfered too much. My learning moved at a much quicker pace without his presence.

On my way back to the testing machine I ran into Viirra. I spoke to her mind to mind. Viirra, why do you think At seems to throw my training off?”

She tugged at her pale pink hair as I could feel her mind considering. “I’m not certain. His mind is vast perhaps it distracts you enough to slow down your progress.” She switched to speaking. “Why are you going to the testing facility?”

At first I didn’t want to tell her. At would have had a fit if he knew. On the other hand I might be taking too much of a risk. Viirra seemed to me the type who cared for the convention. I felt it made her a good person to measure one’s actions against. “I spent the last night in a trance. I think I can now access the ability to lengthen my life. From my reading the testing machine can a sample of my DNA, and map my abilities to give me an idea of the cost of doing so.”

“There is only one thing I feel obligated to ask.” The tendrils of her mind linked to me. “Why do you want to live longer?”

The question was reasonable. A had a lot of nebulous reasons, but maybe I needed to talk them out. “Can we go somewhere and talk? My life has been altered so much; I think I need to clear my head a bit.”

A motion with her fingers as we strode down the hallway to the lounge. She settled on one as the chitin covered guardian kneeled beside her chair. I sat across. “I have several reasons.” Among the Go On Don pleasantries aren’t as observed. I suspect they spent too much time in each other heads for it. “The reason that sticks with me is that I finally know what is out there. I know things I couldn’t even have conceived of. I need another lifetime to even start to understand how it all fits together.”

As Viirra’s tendrils still touched my mind, she absorbed the information in a minute or two. “I feel your desire is genuine. And, I acknowledge it. Do you believe this is enough? Everyone you know and love will most likely die. Things you found comfortable and familiar will fade. The culture of your people will twist, and change.”

“Do you think your point is relevant to me, Viirra?” I tightened the connection between her mind and mine. She let out a gasp.

The images of how everyone I loved, my family at least, had died. I never loved a man, or was loved in return. I had accepted it, but the scars remained. Everything about my life had already changed, shredded to pieces by the Jirth.  And, likely my people would change before my eyes in a normal life, because of them.

Viirra shook of my grasp a touch. “Still, you must have other reasons.” She didn’t ask, because she could feel them floating around my head.

“I worry for my people, Viirra.” The words came out a bit raw filled with emotion. I didn’t trust the Jirth. “What are they going to do them? I’m the only one who has these powers, as far as I know. From the records I know my powers are strong, and from At I know the Jirth Mentals are rare. If I live long enough to protect them, it will be worth it.”

“You don’t feel as if you owe the Jirth? They did introduce to this world allowed you to access your powers. Without them you would have been as ignorant as the day they found you.” I pushed my hurt aside. I knew she didn’t ask to harm me. She needed to oppose my desires, and pluck at my secret shames.

My thoughts travelled for a while. “In a way, I do. But, they didn’t take me to do me any favors. In fact, they didn’t really give much of a choice. They showed up, dazzled me, and dragged me away. A few hour times passed from when I met them, until I left. They took advantage of me to meet their own ends.” Inside my core my resolve hardened. “I’ll not let them do the same to the Einlari or the other people of my homeworld.”

A smile broke across her face. “How did you ever get so strong, Rilas?”

“A mistake of the divine.” I stood up. “I’m going to go take the test now.”

Viirra smiled. “I’ll be around if you need anything, Rilas. Do not fear.”

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Filed under Amon, Rilas and Jirth, Story Chains