Authors: Alysia S. Knight
Alysia S. Knight
By Alysia S. Knight
Published by Heart Dreams Press
Copyright © 2016 Alysia S. Knight
ISBN 13: 978-1-942000-14-3
ISBN: 10: 1-942000-14-6
Cover design: by Kelli Ann Morgan @
All rights reserved. No part of this book may reproduced in any format or in any medium without written permission.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, place and events are product of the author’s imagination. Any similarities to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments or events are purely coincidental.
The views expressed within this work are the sole responsibility of the author and do not represent Heart Dreams Press or any of its affiliates.
In a world where everyone has psychic talents, every child is tested at puberty, carefully screened to help guide them into the field that would coincide with their natural strength and interest. Degrees of talents normally range from low to average, but every once in a while one will spike off the charts, these special few usually become Guardians, protectors of the people.
For nearly a century, Guardians have protected from natural disasters, accidents and when evil arises. Now the Guardians face their strongest foe, a Guardian strength talent who is gathering a force of other strong, corrupt talents to help him wipe out the governing council and the Guardians so they can take over the world, turning it into a place where the strongest talents rule and the weaker would be subjected to serve them.
“There’s the transport.” The loud cheer echoed over the throaty rumble of engines across the tarmac.
Rori stepped to the huge hangar doors in time to see the enormous slope-transport carrying sixty-two Ag-techs lumber into view around the last curve of the steep-sided canyon that led to the mountain terraces. Mud squished from tires taller than a man.
The collective sigh from the people gathered in the bay did nothing to alleviate Rori’s anxiety. If anything it rose as she strode across the rain drenched pavement through the open doors. Alarm skittered across her nerves though she picked up the tendrils of relief coming from the people on the transport. She tried to believe it was their nervousness which had her worried but couldn’t.
Her gaze shot to the waterlogged mountain side. The week-long rain had finally stopped but moisture hung heavy in the air and dripped from the thick foliage. For once the jungle’s beauty did not reach her. She pushed out with her abilities, silly because she could not pick up emotions from the hillside. Still, within her, something didn’t feel right.
Rori sensed the ground shift. Her gaze dropped back to the transport, its movement slow, laborious. She looked back to the hillside. She had no talent for elements, but again, she seemed to feel the ground groan as it pulled apart.
“Sound the alarm.” Her voice was hushed, but she knew Matti could hear her, just as she knew he’d followed her out.
“What?” The comm-specialist turned his attention from the transport to her.
The noise of the vehicle drowned out all sound but inside her head. Rori tuned to the sucking noise of mud and rock.
“Sound the alarm.” This time she yelled it over her shoulder as she broke into a run. Rori barely covered twenty meters before she caught the first rumbling movement. She willed her mind to hold back the hillside. Aware again it wasn’t her talent but she couldn’t get the image of sixty-two men and women, all friends, out of her mind. She forced the will from within her mind outward to hold back the now visible landslide.
Gasps of terror broke behind her, mingling with the shrill sound of the alarm. Inside Rori felt something rip free much like the landslide. Energy built within her, rolling forward, gaining as it went, directed through her outstretched hand forming a barrier between the mountain and the transport.
Rori cried out as a kilo-ton of rocks, mud and trees slammed against the mental-shield. Her knees buckled out from under her. She dropped to the ground, but she didn’t break her focus.
Around her, she was aware of people screaming. Rescue teams gathered. Matti called her name. She ignored him.
“Raebent hues,” Kinton, the rescue captain and her supervisor, burst out. “Rori’s holding that thing up.”
“Rori can’t shield,” someone objected. “And nobody can do that.”
“Well, she is. And she’s drawing energy in from all around her to do it. Get some med-techs and high energy talents to her now. We’ve got to keep her up or those people aren’t going to make it.”
Pain arced across Rori’s forehead. She yearned to pull away from it, but Kinton’s words echoed in her mind. ‘
Those people aren’t going to make it.’
Rori felt the terror of the people on the transport, locked onto it and pushed more of her life force out. Still the slide pressed down, overflowing the sides of the shield.
Brown ooze slid over the back section of the transport. The wheels spun in the mud. The mammoth machine skidded to the side.
Rori groaned, feeling her hold weaken. The landslide crept its way down the hill. Tears filled her eyes blurring everything as she tried to keep the mountain back. Inside she fought for more energy. She felt the thread of power start to unravel in her mind. She pictured Ambery and Huson who lived next to her with their little two-year-old daughter. They were both on the transport.
Clawing deep down, Rori pulled more energy. Rising up on her knees, she reached out with her other hand toward the transport and willed it to her. Wheels spun without traction. Two-thirds of the vehicle was now covered in the mud. Rori wanted to cry but her mouth was too dry. Everything drained out of her. Pain crushed down, bowing her back.
Her vision began to fade when she felt the first tendrils of power enter her body, then around her she felt energy begin to pour in. She drank it in greedily, letting it course through her body and refocused it outward as more filled her. In her mind, she could almost make out the rope of power connecting her to the transport and pulled on it with all her might. The machine slogged forward.
At the end of the tarmac, teams of men with tow cables ran forward, hooking the huge loaders and tractors to the nose of the transport. As soon as the men were clear the heavy machinery pulled. Centimeter by centimeter, the vehicle edged forward and then with a loud slurping noise, it pulled free.
The cheer went up but Rori didn’t notice as the shield collapsed. The landslide crushed its way down filling the mouth of the canyon where the transport had been a moment earlier.
Jattin Straye sank wearily into his large desk chair and took a moment to close his eyes and give thanks. It had taken all night for him and every other high level and several mid-level talents, working to capacity, siphoning off access energy, but Rori’s levels were back to the normal range, at least normal for an extremely high level talent.
She was resting peacefully under heavy sedation. Chief Medic Therodor decided not to wake her until her mind had a chance to heal completely. Jattin knew by completely, they meant backing down to her previous levels. He also knew it wasn’t going to happen. Aurora was at her normal level.
He opened his eyes and looked at the picture on his desk. Rori was ten, a thin, gangly girl always on the go. He remembered well that summer. He’d taken a leave from being head of The Guardians to try to repair the rift between him and his son, Roake, and his wife, Belise. It hadn’t worked that way.
There was an immediate kinship between him and Rori that went past grandfather and granddaughter. It was the meeting of two high level talents, though Rori was too young to have developed her talent yet. Looking back, he knew it was a mistake to mention having Rori tested and trained. His son had blown up, yelling that the Guardians were all that was important to him, and he wasn’t going to have that for Rori.
Jattin had to admit, for a long time it was true. After his wife died, it was what kept him going. He didn’t know how to explain to his son the need to keep everyone else safe, so they didn’t have to go through the terrible loss as he had or the guilt of not being there to save his wife. Well, that was in the past.
He leaned forward and called up a comm-link. After a second, a familiar face appeared. “Jattin.” The thin chiseled face of his old friend, Manning Hiymm, grinned at him. “I thought life in an Ag-complex was supposed to be relaxing. You look worn out. Age catching up?”
“It was a long night.”
“Problems?” The face turned serious.
“Nothing for you to worry about, it’s all handled now. What I’m calling for is I have a new Guardian for you.”
“Right.” Manning grinned, then as if picking up that he was serious, Manning leaned toward the screen. “Jattin?”
“I’m serious,” Jattin assured him.
Pleasure lit the face of the man who had replaced him as commander of the Guardians. “Name?” He placed his hands over the keyboard.
“Aurora Straye,” Jattin announced and waited for the reaction. It wasn’t long in coming.
“Aurora, Rori? Your Rori?”
“But you said Rori was a class four seeker and a class two empath. That’s not nearly high enough to be a Guardian even if she is your granddaughter.”
“You better watch this,” Jattin said simply as he called up the recording. “Luckily, this was captured by a surveillance recording yesterday afternoon.” Jattin stopped talking as the image of the transport appeared in the mouth of the canyon. There was no need to explain as the mudslide rushed toward the vehicle and crashed into an invisible barrier.
“That’s impossible.” The hushed words came over the link.
“Keep watching,” Jattin returned unnecessarily as the transport seemed to be drawn forward, its wheels spinning uselessly, unable to get traction.
“That’s impossible.” The words repeated, twice more before Jattin ended the recording. “You’re saying your granddaughter did that? How many helped her?”
“She did it on her own for the first couple minutes until they could get other talents there to feed energy to her. Still she did it on her own.”
“I can’t believe that. I’ve never seen anyone do that. Why didn’t you call me sooner?”
“I had to wait until they got her stable.”
“Stable.” Manning cut in. “She burned out?” Disappointment echoed in his voice.
Jattin knew it was because burnouts often never fully recovered all their abilities. “No, she was running hot. Anyone who could, has been tapping her all night. Her levels are now stable just extremely high. They’re not going down.” There was certainty in his voice.
“So what are we looking at?”
“I honestly can’t tell you because she hasn’t regained consciousness yet. And true, what she did on the tarmac was empathy pumped with an adrenaline reaction. But where her levels are, she’s a great promise as a Guardian, even if it only ends up her empathy’s that high. She could calm a crowd or ease masses in a disaster.”
“That much pain is hard on a person.”
“Yes. But the main problem will be training. She hasn’t had extensive talent training, just as a basic search and rescuer. But think of the possibility as a locator, if her seeker talent is strengthened or if she can shield.” Excitement pushed back the weariness in him. “I always knew Rori was stronger than testing showed.”
“You sure it isn’t wishful thinking?” Manning interjected in. “It may be her levels will drop back off.”
“They won’t. I’ve been thinking about this all night, and I think I figured it out.” He looked to the picture on his desk. It was the key. “I came to visit when Rori was ten.”
“I remember. The only vacation you ever took while Guardian Commander.”
Jattin nodded. “I wanted to make amends with my son. To say our relationship was strained is putting it mildly. But Rori and I bonded immediately. We spent a lot of time together. I swear I started to pick up fissures of strong talent in her, though she was too young for it to be showing up. I made the mistake of mentioning it to her parents. Roake and Belise went ballistic. Roake blamed the Guardians for the split with his mother, and in some respects it was true. But Marella was an Ag-tech and wanted to pursue that. I couldn’t hold her back.”
“And he couldn’t forgive you any more than you can forgive yourself for not being able to save her,” Manning finished. “Jattin, I’m aware of what happened, but what does that have to do with this?”
“I think Rori knew of the fight, either heard or sensed it. Knew it was centered on her and being a fledgling empath, and being raised with both parents showing distain for strong talents, she either consciously or subconsciously hid or tamped down her talent to ease her parents and the rift between us.”
“What you’re suggesting. I’ve never heard of before.” Manning was quiet a minute. “But, it does make sense, if she was strong enough.”
“As you said, if she was strong enough. When she was faced with the disaster yesterday, it tore through the, for want of a better word, shield she’d built around her talent, and all that repressed energy burst out,” Jattin said, satisfied in his logic.
“So what do you think we are truly looking at?”
“As I said before, her empathy to comfort is high. I think that fed her seeker ability. She senses distress. But I also think she will have shield ability. It too may be linked to empathy and a need to protect. On a Guardian team, it would be incredibly useful. She’d have to be trained though.” Frustration heightened Jattin’s voice before he could temper it.
“You will always be a Guardian Commander.” His friend chuckled, his own pleasure at the possibility of a new Guardian rising.
“It’s such a waste though. I knew I sensed her right all those years ago. She should’ve been raised and trained properly to it. At least, she’s been rescue trained instead of as an Ag-tech. That would have been a total waste.”
“She’s had rescue training?” Manning asked to clarify.
“Yes, top level certification. The youngest Rescue-tech they’ve ever had, and their chief is good, a solid mid-range talent, who’s an excellent instructor.”
“Interesting,” Manning paused obviously thinking. He was still thoughtful when he started speaking again. “I have a young team that went through training together, and because they worked so well, they were kept together instead of splitting them with the other teams. They’ve only been operating just over a year but have a good success rate. Their leader is a very strong multi-talent. He may be the strongest ever. You might remember him since you oversaw his initial training.”
“Keyen,” Jattin stated firmly.
“But they had a full team?”
“No. Chall couldn’t take the stress. She lost it a couple times and had to be pulled right after they started. I know you had concerns about her years ago. Another team member also couldn’t take it and quit a couple months ago.”