Light years away, and in the hours just before lights on, Kala sat up in her bed, grasped her stomach and screamed out in sheer pain. Henessa was up and at her side in seconds, worried she tried to get Kala to move her hands so it could be examined.
When Kala finally looked down at the area of her abdomen that yielded the most pain she saw nothing. There was no blood, no… dagger? Why was she believing she had a dagger wound? Her mind raced as she looked up into her friends eyes, wishing she could hear her right now. Shaking, she tried to speak, “I… think it was a bad dream Nessa. I…believed a Ven had struck me with a sharp object. A sneaky kind of attack, from behind.”
Henessa reached up and pushed a hair from the side of her face, “Kala, that does sound like something the Ven would do. If we were on a regular floor and section, I’d be worried the one in holding was playing with your mind. But we’re not and even with their best technology, they can’t get through Blackout Corners and the field over a holding cell. I’m sorry about the dream.”
Still shaky, Kala nodded and rolled her hands to her lap, still clutching her listening stone. She studied the clarity and could see her own hand through it, yet when the lights hit it during the day, she often noticed some of the most beautiful rainbows. She allowed her mind to wander there until she felt calm again, then she looked up at her friend. “It’s not long until we report for our new tasks. I should shower. I’m sure it will help calm me further.”
Still concerned, Henessa moved from Kala’s bed and smiled softly, “Not a bad idea. I have a few reports I can get a jump on. “It was too close to ‘lights up’ that it would have made no sense to go back to bed at this time. That and she was still very much concerned about her friend. When she looked at Kala she often thought of her as younger than her years, with so much more to learn. The private tutoring she’d been getting with her abilities had brought her far from where she was when she got here, but Kala still had much to see. It wouldn’t be long before she did, since they were only days away from the training ship meeting with the fleet. Henessa hoped that isn’t what triggered Kala’s nightmare. She knew, if that thought triggered it, Kala was in for more than she could handle, because the reality of war is worse than her simple nightmare.
Kala hung her uniform on the inside of the shared bathroom door and closed it behind her. She then slipped off her bed clothing and stepped into the shower. The cold grey floor sent a chill up her but she closed her eyes a quick moment and remembered how to think past the physical. Then she started the shower. As the water began to run over her, she heard the timer notify her it had begun to tick down. It would only be a few minutes before the water would shut off automatically, so quickly she began to wash and rinse and when she had just a moment left, she just stood there, letting the water envelop her and relax her. Her body focused on the cascading water and her muscles began to calm from the horrible dream. She ran her hand through her hair and closed her eyes again as the water washed down her face. She then heard the two minute notice from the timer and she began to make sure she had prepared for the day. Once she stepped from the shower, she quickly dressed in her uniform. When she left the bathroom she found Henessa trying to work on reports at her desk.
“Hey, breakfast is already waiting on us, if you’re up for it.” Henessa looked up as Kala started to towel off her long hair. For a moment she let her gaze meet her friend’s, wondering what was going on behind those green eyes. “Merx and Phil were up early so they made some kind of significant breakfast. Evidently there was even discussion of a delivery service.” Henessa chuckled at that idea.
Kala raised her eye brows and smiled, “Delivery service? For… five? Well, three since the two of them would be cooking and delivering.” This thoroughly amused Kala to consider. Quickly she weaved a braid tight to her head and tucked it under. After checking the mirror to assure she was well over the collar of her uniform, she waited patiently for Henessa to throw a robe on and join her. The two walked into the common area where Merx and Phil had set the table up for a small feast. “This … is beautiful.” Kala smiled at her friends and took the seat Phil pulled out for her.
Merx had left a note for Henessa at one of the seats. As Kala watched Henessa sit down at her place and read it, she saw Henessa’s face turn a lovely shade of crimson. Kala busied herself with making a plate of food and trying not to watch the two dote on each other. The conversation she had with Henessa the night before about Merx left her thinking about her own lack of emotional connection of that nature. She wished, for her friend’s sake, things were different. Here, on the training ship, this kind of behavior was not only frowned upon but punished. Thus far, it was only the cadets who knew about the nature of the relationship between the two. Outside of blackout corners, they needed to be secretive. Once they were on a duty assignment, if they were given the same ship, they would be able to engage in slightly more open activities, when they were given off time. All of this bothered Kala on various levels. In her mind, when two hearts came together, no one and nothing should stand in the way.
Everyone finished their breakfast in enjoyable conversation about the day to come. Once breakfast was cleaned up, most of the cadets returned to their quarters to prepare for their day. Kala, already in uniform, couldn’t see reason to return so she made her way to the holding cells on the levels below. She focused her mind again, seeking an inner calm and personal peace, but she found it a struggle. Now that she was alone on the lift, the images from her nightmare continued to surface. She repeatedly shook her head to dismiss them, until something hit her. She saw the slightest hint of a man’s features in the reflection of the dagger and she realized she was dreaming about Yatrell. Her heart sank. The lift stopped and she stepped, just outside of the door. It softly whooshed closed and she took a deep, cleansing breath. She had to force the images out of her mind, again. She had to force the concern she felt just barely creeping up, out of her mind and heart. She had to find her calm before she faced the Ven woman again. She wouldn’t let a bad dream influence how she addressed the prisoner.
Kala took on the most professional appearance she could and stepped toward the guard’s desk inside of the holding area. She focused and sensed the security still heavily assigned to the prisoner, she began to set her mind to the task at hand. Taking the last steps up to the guards desk she took a deep breath and spoke up, “I’m here to see the prisoner.” She heard her own voice crack as she spoke.
The tall, intimidating guard chuckled, “You’re one of Palrion’s cadets right?” He grinned down at her petite form. “Eh, you’re almost the same size as the prisoner… that is saying something.” He chuckled again.
Kala shook the nervousness from herself, finally, and spoke up in a more firm tone, “Yes, I am. I’m actually his most promising student. Now, I’m here to see the Ven.” She hoped that the tone was forceful and yet respectful and she really hoped she didn’t over step her bounds.
Surprised a bit he nodded, “Your teacher is already here. He came down to stare at the Ven woman about thirty or so ago.” He gestured toward the check in process and once Kala had scanned her thumb he walked her back to the holding area.
When they stepped into the room where the interrogation would normally take place, she saw the lieutenant sitting across the table from Greshna. The Ven woman was eating casually and Palrion was simply watching in silence. Gently Kala projected to Palrion, <Lieutenant. Is everything well?>
Pulled from his thoughts he looked back at Kala, “Hu, yea… I’m fine.” He then looked at the guard and dismissed him before gesturing that Kala should join them. Once she found a chair and was seated at the table with them, he spoke, “Our … friend… was telling me about her trip here. Actually, she was speaking specifically about the food she enjoyed on her trip here.”
Curiously, Kala looked at Greshna who was finishing the meal. “Are you well rested?” Kala’s voice was calm and controlled, but her concern for her teacher was evident.
Greshna looked up at the cadet and smiled sweetly, then projected, <Yes, dear. I’m well> and she spoke to the Lieutenant, “How do you eat this slop? Your people have no understanding of the finer things.”
Confused by this choice, she turned to her teacher and gently projected again, <May I make a request of my superior officer?> Palrion barely looked at her and nodded. She projected into his mind again, <Would you please retrieve me a drink of water and one for yourself.>
Lost in his own thoughts, Kala repeated her request and finally, he looked at her in acknowledgement. As if without his own drive, he stood and walked from the room to get the water for them.
When Kala was alone with Greshna she found herself fighting the anger in the moment. What had she done to her teacher? Why was he behaving this way? As reasonably as possible, Kala turned to the Ven and calmly spoke out loud. “I’m glad that you are well rested. It appears as if my teacher requires more of it himself.”
Greshna smiled, “Naturally. Many people do after extending their telepathic abilities.” The prisoner looked at Kala for just a moment before speaking again, “But you haven’t over extended yours in quite a time. Even with links built across light years. You break all conventional thoughts about people like us. None reach past a dampening field without technology and even with the right technology they are often injured doing so, but not you. You do this with ease.”
Kala felt her face warm slightly, “We are here to speak about you. What brought you to Xenonian space?”
Greshna nodded, “I’m a scout. One of many trained by the Ven, from near birth.”
Kala’s mind raced a moment, trying to figure out what the implications of that statement were, and then she felt the Ven enter her mind and stir up the nightmare again. Kala pushed at the woman, telepathically, trying to remove the Ven from her mind. Even as she did she saw the images around Yatrell again. She saw the crumbling buildings, the walk he took and smiled inwardly when she realized he reached out to her. She then looked at the woman with heated anger, realizing she was still in her mind. <Get out of my head.>
<You shouldn’t leave your barriers down. You’re still very young at this and that was a horrible thing to be connected to.> Greshna’s voice was soft, concern and deceptively sweet. <Who is he that you are so worried after him?>
Softly, <He’s a dear friend, a mentor.>
Greshna almost whispered in Kala’s mind, <A would be lover?>
Kala winced at the thought, <No. No such thing. I am worried he was hurt, as I would any of my friends. > The images continued to surface in her mind and both women watched as the events replayed again and again.
<Yet, he is your enemy. He is Dentonian?> Greshna’s tone remained sweet, and her voice concerning. Then the images of the Ven who attacked Yatrell surfaced clearly and Greshna paused. There was great pain in the Ven male’s face. His eyes were distant and his features began to become contorted. When it appeared as if the man began to convulse, Greshna seemed to turn from the images.
Kala could feel the shift from the woman and took the moment to finally push her back to her own mind,<Yes, he is. That doesn’t change that he’s taught me much about my ability.>
Greshna looked at the young woman, her tone less deceptive, “Yes, yes, well that’s how things are when you’re unique.”
Hearing her speak out loud instead of telepathically gave Kala a reason to pause. Carefully she erected telepathic blocks around herself and studied the woman for several long moments. Sensing Greshna’s emotions and trying to sort out which was which, Kala spoke up in a controlled tone, “You know the Ven male who cowardly attacked my friend, don’t you?”
Greshna leaped onto the table and lunged for Kala’s throat. When physical contact was made, Kala felt a new sensation wash over her. Both women were knocked to the ground by the sheer force of the action and Kala struggled against her attacker. Desperately finding it harder to breath, she attempted to pry the Ven’s fingers from her neck. In response, Greshna only dug harder and began to tear flesh. Kala tried to get her legs up around the Ven woman, but was met with a hard knee to the stomach. Already finding breathing difficult, Kala gasped from the impact. As the two struggled, a well placed energy beam focused on the Ven, knocked her unconscious. Surprised, Kala removed the fingers and felt trickles of blood slowly warm the sides of her neck. With effort, Kala slid from under the woman’s body and looked up at her teacher.
Standing over her, weapon drawn and still trained on the Ven, Lieutenant Palrion lets his eyes meet Kala’s, “This is why I didn’t want you left alone with her.”
Before Kala could respond, she felt consciousness leave her.
Days passed and Kala opened her eyes to a small crowd of people full of concern for her. She sensed their excitement when her eyes fluttered and the anticipation when she opened them and squinted from the adjustment to the bright room. She also sensed the worry when she attempted to sit up, so she stopped and projected to everyone that could hear, <Where – I mean, why am I here? What happened?> Her eyes wandered from Lieutenant Dak Palrion to Cadet Henessa Sar and to another cadet she hadn’t met, then to the nurses who were recording everything in detail.
One of the nurses picked up a small wired looking item and hooked it to the head of Kala’s bed. The item rested just above where Kala’s head laid. When she turned it on a blue light glowed and zipped from one end to the other, creating a circle. Kala felt the room go silent around her, as the directed dampening field was activated. Disconcerted she just looked at the nurse and down at herself. Being without part of herself, her empathy and telepathy, was never comfortable.
Lieutenant Palrion placed a hand on her shoulder and guided her back to a laying down position before he spoke out loud, “You’re here because you fell unconscious after the attack by the Ven female. The doctors have indicated your injuries were minor, compared to where it would have gone, had I not walked back in when I did.” He looked at the nurse who was most closely hovering over Kala and requested she and the other nurses leave the area and seal it for privacy. The nurse attempted to protest but finally agreed to do so, in a limited timeframe. Once a force field engaged around her bed and the people in it, Lieutenant Palrion continued, “Kala the injuries were not the reason you fell unconscious. Something else happened during that fight. Do you recall me telling you that you have more potential than any psionic I’ve encountered before you?”
Carefully, Kala squeaked out, “Y…yes.” Her throat was dry and horse. Before she could ask for anything, Henessa was already standing next to her with some water to drink. She helped prop Kala up enough to take a sip then helped her lay back down again. Kala’s mind began to clear from the initial fog of waking up. Her mind felt sore. She dismissed it for the moment.
“You continue to prove me correct on that reading, Kala. At some point during the fight, you initiated something touch telepaths are able to do. You opened a direct telepathic connection to her mind.” Dak spoke gently to his pupil but looked at her friend and the other man carefully as he spoke. “If you learn how to use that, all you would need is to touch the person you’re interrogating and you’d be able to find all of the answers you want.”
Kala rubbed her head while she considered what her teacher was saying. As she did, images, thoughts and emotions began to surface. Most were not her own. Many of the associated faces she saw with her mind’s eye were not Xenonian, but Ven. The images and thoughts moved so quickly she couldn’t make sense of them so, she simply looked up at her teacher and said, “I should try to learn how to do that.”
Dak and Henessa smiled down upon her and Lieutenant Palrion spoke to her, “I want to introduce you to someone who is going to be assigned to teach you how to master this new skill. This is, shortly, Private First Class Maddux. He is a touch telepath and as such, more trusted than most telepathic psionics. He will teach you what you need to know.”
Kala nodded, and then realized that Maddux wasn’t on the training ship with her. “Wait, he… was … what ship was he on?”
Cadet Sar placed her hand on Kala’s arm, “He was on the other training vessel. He didn’t require Blackout Corners to ‘restrain’ his abilities, so he trained with ‘normal’ cadets. He’s been assigned to the same ship we have.”
Kala’s face scrunched up, “Same ship we’ve been assigned to?” She searched the faces of the people above her. “We’re on our assigned vessel?”
Lieutenant Palrion nodded, “Yes. You’re at your duty assignment.”
Henessa smirked slightly, “And reporting for duty damaged isn’t going to make a good first impression to the Captain. Although, she does seem like a reasonable captain. Our duty assignment and on the job training positions will be handed to us in ceremony in the next few days. For you, it will come when you’re able to stand and move again.”
Feeling bewildered she looked up at every one, “How long have I been unconscious?”
“A few days.” The new voice came from the man who stood just a bit smaller than Henessa. His broad shoulders and stout frame made him look rather intimidating. His voice was deep and carried solid tone of confidence, even just in those three words.
Kala was taken aback by this information. How could she…where was her things? What about the rest of her training? Her thoughts mingled with the thoughts of someone else. Her mind raced, even with the dampening field around her head. Her sad green eyes must have spoke volumes because Palrion and Henessa exchanged looks before the Lieutenant spoke to her again, “Kala, I’ve put in a request to be assigned to your ship for further training purposes. I, like Maddux here, do not pose their expected threat. I am confident, under the premise of being able to further contain your abilities as well as, Cadets Sar, Crex and Tol, my request should be approved. Assuming so, there is much more that we’ll sort out. Until then, you need to rest. We will be back to check on you. Your telepathic action over exerted the reaches of your psionic lobe. Your mind has been active, even while you weren’t. Rest and recover so we can resume our lessons.”
She nodded and looked at her friend, comforted to know that both Phil and Merx was with them. She reached for Henessa’s hand briefly. “Nessa, are my things here?”
She smiled, “Yes. From one Blackout Corners to another. All of your stuff, even your most prized possession, is here.” Henessa squeezed her hand. “We are all together in the same resting quarters. I need to get back. The duty cycle will begin again shortly and I was asked to catalog the most essential weapons for our small team.” Henessa Sar looked to PFC Maddux and Lieutenant Palrion then back to Kala, before releasing Kala’s hand.
Kala nodded and let go of her friend’s hand. As she did, the field around the bed dropped and the privacy was gone as a nurse reentered the room to check on her. Then a thought crossed her mind, “What happened to Greshna?”
“The Ven prisoner?” When Kala nodded to Lieutenant Palrion he explained, “She’s being dealt with. They have moved her to a tighter security holding cell on the flag ship, Reverence. The same we are on. You and your friends have received the best possible assignment. There are those who train for years in various stations and never reach the Reverence. For you, this is your first duty station, and we’ll make sure you are strong enough to live up to its name, Private.”
Kala slightly smiled being given her rank, but closed her eyes and let the thoughts whirl as her friends left and the doctor and nurses began prodding her and asking questions. She answered what she could. Without effort, she knew that the doctor had very limited experience with psionics, let alone psionics like herself. Not that telepathy was uncommon about the psionic minority, but it was the most untrusted. Many who have this psionic ability are more acutely aware of Xenonian society’s opinion of the ability and the people who possess it. Kala and others like her know the discomfort even a basic emapath can generate, but a telepath is almost feared and hated. To most, the idea of their thoughts being heard and their privacy invaded in that manner, is horrific. To Kala, she always did her best to avoid hearing thoughts from others, until her recent lifestyle change. She struggled to learn how not to use her abilities from childhood. She vaguely remembered her mother holding her close, when she realized that Kala was empathic. She recalled her mother being worried after her and about the possibility of more. Her vague memory of her mother included the fear Kala’s empathy would force them from their home and the family to whom the debt was owed. This became Kala’s struggle and she maintained her minimal impression of empathy until she was sold. Sold! Where was her new master? She shook her head gently knowing she could consider that later. The doctor and his team of prodding nurses finished their current round of ‘find the problem’ and left her to rest.
Once she was alone on the bed, her heart tugged at her, and she felt lonely. Curling up on her side, she shoved a hand under her pillow and smiled when she felt a smooth hard object. She clutched it and even with the dampening field in place, Kala’s mind searched out Henessa’s. She simply projected thanks to her friend and returned to her own mind so as not to disturb her assignment further. Then as the images continued to run through her mind, she focused inward, trying to sort out the images and thoughts she was seeing, hearing and feeling left with her from the Ven.
As Kala sorted through Greshna’s thoughts, she realized she was attacked for calling the woman’s brother a coward. She learned, by watching what had been retained from the connection, that Greshna and Gardesh were more than scouts. They were scientific Turaant Level Ven. The two were seeking to reclaim a decades old experiment, on enemy children. The experiment had been trying to initiate exceptional telepathic and multiple psionic abilities. The Ven goal was to learn how to do it on “lesser beings” so they could replicate it on their own. The volunteers were children kidnapped from their parents at, or in some cases, before birth. Greshna was one of the people assigned to tend the children while the older scientists experimented on one or two of them. Unfortunately to the Ven, their experiment was interrupted by a single Xenonian ship. The children were retaken and few were left alive after the experiment was ended. Greshna and her twin brother Gardesh were then given the task of finding the children of most promise.
Kala’s heart started to race as she compared that knowledge to her own history. It didn’t take much to connect the dots. She was told, by her previous master, that it was her ship that freed Kala and many other species children from the clutches of a Ven lab. Her master also explained that she, then took the children home, or at least to their home worlds, ships and hopefully to their families. Some, unfortunately, didn’t survive the trip. From what Kala had been told, she knew for sure a Dentonian, a Xentau and another Xenonian child made it into their people’s arms. Her master never followed up with the other children, so Kala didn’t know what came of them. Kala’s mother, in the despair of having lost Kala before birth, sold everything they owned and was trying to get on a ship to look for her child when the previous master finally located her to return Kala to her mother. Kala’s mother was unable to care for her now, but was gleefully happy about having her daughter back. After conversation her previous master had taken pity upon the woman and child and offered them a warm bed, food and all the things needed, as long as they served the house of Andor as slaves.
Kala knew, Greshna was looking for her. Thankfully nothing she could pull from Greshna’s memories indicated she knew that Kala was one of ‘the children of promise’. This was reassuring.
Remaining on her side, clutching the listening stone she reached out. She telepathically reached beyond the confines of the ship, beyond the fleet and further into space, seeking a mind familiar and comforting. With some great effort, she did find Yatrell. Her heart ached the moment she linked with him. She realized he was still unconscious from the events she was connected to him through. She tried to listen to his mind, but it raced like hers. His thoughts and emotions were badly fragmented. His disjointed connections were hard to identify and his thoughts were ever violent and angry. The activity was comforting to her, but the lack of full awareness and the lack of coherent thoughts distressed her. She moved about in his mind for some time, hoping something would come to her that could help him. Then she was caught off guard from the sound of his voice around her. <Why are you here?>
Gently and tenderly she projected back to him, <To see if you are well. You are my friend.>
At first his mind curled back and angrily he projected, <I am not friend of a Xenonian.> His voice seemed to surround her completely. The angry tone, scared Kala and he felt comfortable with this.
<You are a very dear friend of this Xenonian. Yatrell, it’s Kala. We’ve spoken many times in the last two years. You are one of my dearest and most trusted friends and the impression I got from you, is that was mutual.> Kala stood in the darkest recesses of Yatrell’s mind, hoping his confusion didn’t turn on her.
His voice became almost gentle, a tone she rarely, if ever, heard from him, <Kala? The girl from Xenonia?>
In the same gentle tone, <I’m happy you’re here. I know you can help me. These around me don’t know what happened. You do though, don’t you?>
Sadly, Kala knew all too well, <Yes, Yatrell. I know how Gardesh stabbed you and how you attacked him telepathically and I know this happened several days ago. I also know, my friend, that you’re injured, physically and telepathically.>
<Yes, a dagger. He cut an organ inside and skewered another… I think.> Yatrell’s voice started to sound lost, confused and uncertain of where he was going. His mind raced again and he fell silent around her.
The silence concerned Kala more so this time and she reached further into his mind, <Yatrell, my friend, please don’t leave. We can work together to sort this out for you. Maybe we can talk? Maybe together, we can find the telepathic damage the doctors don’t. Maybe we can figure out how to mend it or how to help the doctors do so.>
Suddenly, as if her mind’s eye could see him, he appeared before her. <Yes, let’s see what we can do. I know few others understand. None of my crew get it. Too much pain, distrust and more. Please, Kala, help me. I don’t want to succumb to that Ven. He doesn’t deserve victory.>
Kala’s ‘image’ reached for and took his visual hand, <I’m here Yatrell. I’ll stay here to help you, by whatever means possible.>
His image smiled briefly, then it flickered and just a moment before it disappeared she heard, <I trust you Kala. I know you’ll help.>
Kala sat there in the full silence, not even confusion was present now. Without a doubt, she knew they had done something to his body. She whispered, <I promise to return daily, Yatrell. We’ll learn what’s wrong and how to fix this.> She returned to her own mind and looked up to see a new face sitting by her bed. Kala resisted the urge to reach for the woman telepathically, as she wasn’t supposed to have the stone in the first place. “Hello?”
The woman smiled at her, warmly, “Hello, Private. How are you feeling?” The woman was on a chair but it was clear by her uniform she held rank, awards and her stature was clearly that of a woman in command. The dark salt and pepper hair was tucked back tightly and above the collar of her uniform. The woman folded her hands on her lap and patiently waited for Kala to respond.
“I…am… tired, but ok.” Kala’s voice shook a little, still thirsty, but she dared not say such.
“I’m Captain Tangl. As Captain on the Reverence I’m also the Fleet Commander.” She smiled warmly, “I wanted to check on my new Private with promise. You seem to have stirred up a bit of concern from many others, trying to do your job on the training ship.”
“You put yourself in harm’s way. Palrion said there was an ongoing telepathic attack he was enduring and that you protected him from it.” Kala nodded, slightly. “I appreciate that kind of willingness from my team. Shows your fiber. The core of who you are. This … situation… is a minor setback.” She gestured to the medical bed. “Have you given thought as to where you’d like to be assigned? Security perhaps?”
Kala laid on the bed in silence for a moment then looked back at the Captain, “I’d like to learn everything you can possibly teach me.”
This impressed the Captain. She knew the young woman couldn’t hear her thoughts with the dampening field in place and yet the girl knew the best approach without question. “Everything, hu? Well, the teams that will be departing the ship for various attack or scouting missions, need a medic. Would you be up for starting there? You could begin training for it, even before you leave the medical bed. Once you’ve learned that we can evaluate where the need is for your daily assignment. Does that sound agreeable?” Kala nodded, but her face clearly showed concern. “What is it Private?”
“If I’m not behaving impolite, Captain, why are you here? Why are you offering to use and train me in this manner?”
“Your teammates, teacher and evidently a Senator, believe you have much potential. I only came down here to see it for myself. You have the right attitude, even for one who was only a slave not long ago. You may have no house, Kala but you have many who see something in you that isn’t common. In war, even among those of the same crew, ‘out for yourself’ is the most common attitude. They have told me that you aren’t that way. It’s refreshing because those who are close to you have taken on a similar disposition. Now, Doctor Ze said you need your rest. As such, I’ll take my leave from you. Keep in mind though, Private, I will be watching you closely and we’ll find the best fit for you possible on the Reverence.” At that, the captain stood and walked away in a simple, fluid motion.
As soon as the captain was gone, Kala’s mind returned to Yatrell and to sorting the images she saw from Greshna. Although she had begun to put some of the information together, she had taken on quite a bit and she knew there was still much to be sorted. She could do that while she waited for whatever it was given to Yatrell’s comatose mind to wear off. Then she felt a prick to her skin and she looked up to see a nurse and within moments, drifted into sleep again.
When Kala woke the next morning, she was greeted by the doctor’s smiling face. She looked up at him, slightly confused but she tried to sit up anyway. He quickly assisted her and once she was comfortable he began, “I understand you are to begin training as a field medic?” She nodded in confirmation, “Good to hear it. I’ve got some reading tablets for you to review. We’ll begin discussing things after you’ve had time to eat.”
Very softly, Kala’s voice crept from her throat, “Th…Thank you doctor.” She took the reading material and started to search through it, looking for information on the telepathic mind. She was happy to find many whole sections among her reading material dedicated there to. The doctor set up a tray table next to her with food, water and the rest of her information tablets, commenting on how excited he was to see her zeal for the subject. She smiled and returned her focus to her studies. The doctor left her for now and this began a cycle.
Every morning for two weeks she would study the data tablets. Each afternoon she would question the doctor relentlessly and then meditate. During what appeared to be meditation sessions, she was reaching out to and linking with Yatrell’s damaged mind. Together with what she was learning, he also found steps toward recovery. At the end of her meditation sessions, she had dinner and returned to her studies, more determined to learn specific information that would help her best friend. Most of her studies remained focused on the psionic lobe and the damage that can come to it. Much of what she learned was trial and error as the limited information came from a select few doctors interested in helping psionics and their specific needs. Even with the occasional theory or set back, Kala still persisted in learning everything she could and focused on helping Yatrell with what she learned.
Then she was released to her quarters. The captain visited her briefly to make sure she had fully recovered and to see if she recalled anything from the touch telepathic exchange. Kala shared the less sensitive information, including that Greshna and her twin brother were part of a Ven experiment and they were tasked with locating the children that got away before the experiment was complete. She did omit the fact she was one of those children. The captain was very pleased with the information obtained and asked her if she was willing to try that again, intentionally and with training first. Kala considered the experience carefully and realized the more she could learn from Greshna the more she could learn about herself, so she agreed. After discussion, the captain and Kala decided that a couple more weeks of training specifically on the touch telepathy would be valuable. Once that was settled the captain went on about her day and Kala returned to her visibly meditative state.
This time when she reached out to him, something felt different. Gently she projected into his mind, <Yatrell? Can you hear me? Are you well?> Her thoughts seemed to echo and the silence was incredibly uncomfortable. She focused all of her energy on this link and upon hearing him.
<You are strong.> His voice echoed around her, encompassing the silence as if it were never there. <You made our connection stronger… You’ve come a long way.>
She smiled and worked to generate a visual image for his mind’s eye and she smiled, <I have come only this far because of your help. How are you?>
<I’m getting better, thanks to you.> His visual image appeared in front of her and he reached for her perceived hand. <I’m grateful for everything you’ve done to help me.>
Kala’s smile only grew wider, <You are dear to me. I’m not capable of allowing you to remain injured when I can help… I’m happy you’re so much stronger now.>
His perceived image moved closer to hers and he reached up and gently touched her face and looked into the Kala’s eyes and smiled warmly, <You have become more than I thought possible. You are more to me, than anyone has ever been. You’ve done more than anyone else has. I don’t have the words to thank you, Kala.>
Even in the mind’s eye she could feel her face warm and her pulse quicken while he spoke. <I’ve only done what a friend should for another.>
His image cradled her face and enjoyed her presence, < I hope one day I will actually see this face, actually touch your skin. I am looking forward to being near the woman who fought to keep my mind together and taught me more than I thought possible.>
Kala could feel herself warm more, <Y…Yatr… Yatrell, I’m happy you’re healthy and can wake soon.> She tried to change the subject. This isn’t where she saw things going, although part of her enjoyed every moment of his words and wished his touch was real.
<Kala, please just relax. I wish we were on Dentonia. I could show you some amazing sights and some beautiful night skies.> His eyes didn’t leave hers as he spoke, and he didn’t remove his hand from her perceived face.
<That sounds beautiful.>
<None of it as beautiful as you are.> Yatrell heard the words fall so easily from his mouth. Words he had used for other women, but not women who truly cared about him nor women who he cared about. Wait, he cares about …
In that moment, Kala froze. She was nervous and shaken and uncomfortable and not at all certain where to go next. <I … I should get back. I’m needed. I have to prepare.>
Drawing his hand back he didn’t remove his eyes from hers, <Prepare? For what?>
<I’m also a touch telepath. I can draw information from a person by simple skin to skin contact. I’ve been asked to speak to Greshna again, on my terms.>
<The Ven woman who hospitalized you?> Yatrell started to sound concerned.
<Yes. Well, it was more the over exertion of my new ability that put me in the hospital but the doctors don’t fully understand that and those of us who do, are keeping it quiet.>
<Are you sure this is something you’re ready to do?>
She shook her perceived head, <No, Konair, I’m not.> Her heart froze, she skipped a breath and realized what she just said. Her konair… her hearts half and joy. Him? Quickly trying to act as if it didn’t just slip from her mouth she continued, <I will be. I’ve a touch telepath to teach me and Lt Palrion is trying to obtain a transfer to the Reverence as well.>
Yatrell frowned at the prospect she would end up in the medical bed or worse, but he understood that during war, risks had to be taken. <You’ll keep in contact with me before you go in? And when you’re done with your interaction?>
She felt a real smile cross her lips as her perceived face lit up from his concern, <Yes. If you wish it, I will.>
<Good. I look forward to it. If anyone can handle the Ven, I no longer doubt you’re the person to do it.> He felt a shift to his body and looked at her with his perceived form. <Kala, I think I need to go now. So do you. Please, return soon. I’ve been missing you in the silence.>
<I’ll be back often, until you no longer need me, I promise.>
Yatrell simply smiled at the thought and his perceived body faded and then hers did as well. Soon they were both alone in their own minds again.
She opened her eyes and looked around the room. Her roommate was sitting across the room, grinning like a cat. Innocently and confused she smiled back at Henessa, “What? What did I do?”
“You weren’t meditating, that’s what. The stone is clutched tightly in your palm and you kept smiling and at times mumbling. You weren’t meditating.” Henessa looked at her friend and added, “Oh and you blushed, rather deeply.”
Kala’s gaze moved to the stone and her mind went back through the conversation and she fumbled her next words, “Right. I… I mean I…” She sighed.
“So, how’s Yatrell?”
Kala’s face turned a deep shade of red and her pulse quickened again, “He’s better than a month ago.”
“Judging by the expression on your face, he’s a lot healthier. His mind is back to where it should be and I’d bet he’s been rather grateful for your help?”
Confused Kala looked up at her, wondering if she had been able to break past her psionic blocks and read her mind and the link. “You… hu?”
Henessa laughed, “It was a lucky guess based on your reaction to everything. Seriously, I’m really glad that you two were able to figure out the mysteries that resulted in his psionic lobe’s extensive damage.”
Relieved Kala nodded, “Me too. What we couldn’t repair telepathically, his doctor should be able to find or he can direct him.”
“That’s good to hear. Now, I’m getting ready. I have an official date tonight.” Henessa stood and walked into their bathroom. Kala watched her and just grinned.
While Henessa was preparing to leave, Kala took her medical study materials into her room and sprawled them out on the bed, submerging herself in the research. Soon, hours had passed, Henessa and Merx were returning from their date and Kala realized sleep was looming. She cleared her things and stretched out. Before long she was asleep.
Her touch telepathy practice began the following morning. The challenge Kala faced was being able to get past Maddux’s tricky hiding methods. He knew ways of deceiving her mind into thinking there was no actual connection. Even as she came to expect this, he was still effective. Soon, he changed his approach. Instead of challenging her to find the answers on her own, Maddux told her how to do it herself. This applied to all aspects of her touch telepathy lessons in the short time frame they had to work with. By the end of the two week window, she had made significant progress to the point of slightly better than modest control. Naturally this was still concerning, however Kala already had significant knowledge about other forms of telepathic manipulation, protection, and aggressive tactics. This left them reason to believe and hope that she was remotely prepared to face a Turaant Level Ven.
When the day came to finally greet Greshna with the information she obtained from the moments they were in contact, Kala woke early. She contacted Yatrell as agreed, but only spoke to him briefly. She dressed in her uniform and prepared herself. When her door chime finally rang, she was at a personal calm unlike she was normally able to obtain.
Lieutenant Commander Dak Palrion stepped into her quarters and instantly knew she was mentally ready for what was to come. He smiled briefly and then the seriousness of what was coming sank in, “Are you ready Private?”
“Yes, Sir.” Kala stood at near attention, looking at her teacher, mentor and friend. “I’m ready for whatever she thinks she has.”
“Good. The captain wants a full report in a few hours so, we should go.” Lieutenant Commander Palrion walked out of the room with Kala paced behind him.
They walked the length of the hallway. She noted the difference between the training vessel and the Reverence. The lighting seemed to be built into the walls, unlike what was on the training vessel. It reminded her of what was called track lighting in that it was the full length of a section between security bulkheads. Each security designed bulkhead was barely noticed as it traced from floor to ceiling. Each section could be closed off with force fields. At the end of the hall, the lift doors opened silently for them and when they had stepped in. Palrion only gave a voice command, and the lift descended into the deepest recesses of the massive ship.
Just before the lift doors opened, Lieutenant Commander Palrion ordered the lift to pause. He shoved his hand in his pocket and turned to Kala. “I have something that we know will help you through this process. Keep it tucked under your uniform and no one will even know it’s there.” Kala looked at him confused, until he lifted a long leather cord from his pocket with a smooth, flat and oval version of her listening rock. She smiled, thanked him and allowed him to secure it to her. She then tucked it into her uniform. Once the Lieutenant Commander was certain she still appeared in uniform he ordered the doors to open.
Together they stepped out into a similar design as on the Training vessel. The path between the lift and the security room was a walk way that could move but had been shut off. Kala could tell, when it moved, it moved away from the lift. Looking up at the walls, which were just slightly further apart than two people walking side by side, there were multiple lasers emitters on either side. The emitters were at varying points and heights. Above the door of the lift was the equipment for a relocator.
Taking a deep breath, Private Kala stepped forward and walked into the security facility. Here the cells were lining the walls, ten deep on either side. Force fields held the prisoners in. Some were Xenonian, others were from a variety of other species. All of them qualified as prisoners of war and what was done with them would be up to the captain. That wasn’t her concern right now. Only one prisoner was her concern and she was in the maximum level security cell. After noting two security people departing for shift change, she glanced at Lieutenant Commander Palrion before continuing. The private approached the security desk and a large fat older woman pulled herself from the chair and wobbled over to the counter. “Whatdoya want?”
Kala looked at the older woman’s rank and demeanor and relaxed her blocks just to listen before selecting how to respond. “I’m here to see the Turaant Level Ven in confinement.” She kept her tone even and her confidence clear but not over baring.
Lieutenant Commander Palrion stood next to Kala and reviewed the woman’s rank. “Private First Class?” Her age and rank comparison took him by surprise. “Drop the dampening field when she enters the cell. Replace the field when she exits.”
“Idonna care whata rank you are. Imma not letting that Ven into my mind.” The older woman leaned heavily on the desk and just stared at them. “Imma not sure the girl should be in the room with a Turaant.”
“She’s the reason we know the Ven is a Turaant.” Palrion’s voice was annoyed. “This is a direct order.” He looked at Kala, “Private stand before the far cell.” Then he turned to the Private First Class behind the counter and waited for Kala to be in place. Then in his most authoritative voice, “Drop the shield and let her enter the cell. Raise the shield and drop the dampening field once she’s in.”
“Imma filein a formal complaint. She ain’t ready. She’s too small to deal with ‘em people.” The woman then complied with the Lieutenant Commander’s orders. She then acknowledged two more security members enter the room. As they checked in, she intentionally ignored Palrion and focused on the team members instead, bringing them up to date with her opinion of the situation.
Kala waited for the force field holding the prisoner to drop then stepped inside and quickly it raised again. When she felt the dampening field also drop she sat across from Greshna and projected, calmly, <Hello again.>
The Ven woman leaned back on the slab that was called a bed, “What would you like girl?”
Kala projected again, <You read me easily. Are you out of practice now?>
Greshna just stared at Kala for several minutes before finally speaking again, “No. I didn’t know you were a touch telepath, but anything you think you know will not be clarified here.”
Kala nodded gently, “Of course not. I wouldn’t expect it to be.” Kala adjusted her telepathic barriers to become deceptively open. She designed the perception to lead Greshna to only hear what Kala wished for her to hear. Kala had some difficulty but it was an important skill taught to her by PFC Maddux.
“Then why are you here?”
Kala projected, <Simply to inform you of what we know because of that contact and what I’ve shared with the captain. She has informed our senate who now believe you to be an exceptional captive and would like us to deliver you to one of our prison planets. Evidently there is some special means of dealing with Turaant Level Ven that I’m unaware of.>
Greshna remained silent.
Kala projected, <We know your rank. We know about the ‘children of promise’ and we are aware of your actual mission.>
Greshna remained silent.
Kala continued, <We have spoken to the Xenonian Captain who broke up the research all those years ago. We are aware of the original goal and how they went about rescuing numerous children involved in your research. We also know where they are.> Kala watched for a reaction but wasn’t surprised when she didn’t receive one.
Greshna listened as Kala spoke, options running through her mind. Memories of the experiments and the children she cared for then surfaced clearly and then she stared into Kala’s eyes and leaned forward. <You’re a projective telepath, an empath and a touch telepath? Have you any other abilities green eyes?>
Kala shifted in her seat, not enjoying the change of emotion she was sensing. “No.”
Hearing Kala’s voice out loud gave Greshna reason to smirk, “How old are you girl?”
Kala’s voice was calm and her tone was controlled, <My age is irrelevant to this conversation.>
“You already know, don’t you?” Greshna stared into Kala’s eyes, searching past her telepathic manipulation and finding the heart of the matter, inside her psyche. “Yesssa. You do know. You know no one here will ever understand you, don’t you child?”
Kala did her best to remain unphased by the comments, <I am a welcomed part of this unit, thank you.>
Greshna continued to push, <You hid yourself all of your life… well, until a few years ago. Then you met another. A chance conversation. Didn’t it surprise you that you could reach across the universe with your mind?> She stood up and walked over to where Kala was sitting, <Only a child of promise could do that. You’re not any child of promise though. Your age puts you about the same as my green eyes. It puts you the same as the most unique and susceptible.>
It was Kala’s turn to remain silent.
Greshna looked at the young Xenonian woman before her, “If I am correct, and you’ve confirmed enough for me to believe it, you may have many more abilities yet unleashed. I can help you find them. I can help you harness them and hone them to perfection.”
Kala again, remained silent.
<Is he a child of promise too?>
Sharply Kala snapped, “No. He’s just a Dentonian who happened to hear my projected thoughts. There is nothing unique about him.”
Greshna’s smirk widened into a smile, deceptively, “No, of course there isn’t.” Debating on her next approach she watched Kala’s reactions, carefully before she projected, <You know that my brother is badly injured don’t you?>
<Kala you have the knowledge to save him. As do I. I need to be with my brother.>
“You need to remain in your cell.” Kala stood and moved around the Ven woman and toward the force shield and stopped.
<Kala of Xenonia you are a child of promise. I know I can prove it. You were subliminally programmed to respond to my commands.>
Kala turned on her heal and stared into the smaller woman’s eyes and nearly growled,”I’ll do no such thing! I am Xenonian.”
Greshna projected, <Tural’shurl.> Kala stood straight up and looked at her, expressionless. Greshna smiled. <Now, little green eyes, let’s get off this disgusting ship of inferiors.>
Kala nodded and stood next to the shield again, her hand waved to get the attention of the security woman. When the shield was dropped, both Greshna and Kala stepped through. Kala walked next to the prisoner until they reached the security desk, “We are departing Reverence now.” Kala then walked toward the door. The two security members who out ranked the desk clerk, moved in Kala’s path. Kala stopped and looked up at the curiously and in silence.
Greshna moved swiftly and disarmed one of the men, then used their weapon to kill them both. Satisfied with her success, she turned to Kala and nodded toward the door again.
Lieutenant Commander Palrion quickly moved in the path of the Ven, grabbing her by the shoulders he shoved her against the nearest bulkhead and growled, “I don’t know what you did to her but you had better release your hold on my student, now!”
The security woman meandered toward Kala and raised her weapon, “Stop right there missy!”
Kala turned, still with expressionless features, “Stop where? You are not my master.” Kala looked at the raised weapon and back to Greshna who was pinned at the wall. “You sir, release my caretaker.”
Greshna grinned as Kala spoke and she spit in Palrion’s eyes. “You heard the child, release me.” The Ven invaded the Xenonian’s mind and fiercely attacked him, creating levels of pain that stemmed from intense to excruciating. Palrion had no choice but to release her as he doubled over in pain. When she was standing on her own again she turned to Kala, “Now, do the same thing I did to him, with that one. We must secure our escape.”
Kala nodded and turned to the security woman and invaded her mind. She relentlessly attacked the older woman. The security woman stumbled, tears streaming down her face and eventually she passed out from the pain Kala inflicted. Kala turned calmly to Greshna and awaited other orders.
“Let’s move to the shuttles.” Greshna led the way and Kala followed closely onto the lift. Once the lift neared the shuttle level the alarms rang to red alert and the shuttle was shut down. Greshna simply looked for an escape hatch and found a way to climb the walls to the hatch just above door height, on the back of the lift. When she was safely outside she turned and leaned back into the lift slightly reaching for Kala, “Now, child, try to climb up here.”
Kala made several efforts to jump and then to mimic Greshna’s climbing pattern, but she simply wasn’t able. As they heard the noise of the security teams moving into place, Greshna became more impatient. “Caretaker, master, I cannot climb like you. How will I be safe?”
“Do you trust me child?”
“You are my caretaker. That means you tend to my needs. I must trust you. I cannot do for myself.” Kala’s voice was still emotionless and her words almost automated.
“Good. I know they will not harm you because they need you, Kala. I will release you from this hold and you will return to them, until I can retrieve you. Only one last request, distract them until my departure is complete.”
“Yes, caretaker. As you command I will do.”
Greshna nodded and left the lift, running for the shuttles. She heard the noise of the security as they poured into the lift, only to find Kala standing there. She heard the cries of the security team as Kala subdued them, painfully. Gresha made it to a nearby shuttle and quickly decoded their security entrance. Climbing on the shuttle she projected to Kala, <Rel’Toul.> Then she moved to the pilot’s chair and began to enter commands.
The captain’s voice was heard over the shuttle’s communication’s channel, “Get off my shuttle or we will be forced to shut it down remotely.”
“Captain, I’ve already over ridden the lock out code, the shut down system and the self destruct. Your only other option is to destroy me, after I leave this shuttle bay.” The smaller ship lifted off of the deck and maneuvered for a shielded exit. “You might want to drop that.” Several security teams entered the shuttle bay as she spoke. Some entered on a higher level and began to open fire while others came in the same door Greshna did. “Actually, if you can still hear me Captain, this way will be more fun. How many are on a security team? How many will die if I do this my way? Hum….. This will be pleasurable.” She raised the shuttle’s shields. Then Greshna heard the Captain’s voice calling for her security teams to pull out of the shuttle bay. Without hesitation security moved from the room, fast. Smirking she targeted the side of the ship that held part of the shield in place. Instead of firing with the limited weaponry of the small shuttle, she moved at full force toward the wall. As she felt the impact of the wall against the shields of the Xenonian vessel she was thrown forward briefly. Then she was in open space, surrounded by the Xenonian fleet. Without concern for location or proximity to other vessels, she set course for the Ven Empire and jumped into the fastest light jump the ship could handle.