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Authors: Viola Grace

Tags: #Romance, #Science Fiction, #Space Opera

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BOOK: Hunting a Soul
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She leaned further back in the bed and scowled. “Fine.”

A chirp in the doorway brought Canevor to attention. “You didn’t mention you had a Yaluthu.”

A small purple creature with bright golden eyes and a black beak hopped over to her and jumped up and down at the side of her bed.

“I don’t. The only one I have met is Fixit. He calmed me down.” That was an understatement. By the time they arrived at Balen, Fixit had been exhausted and Leadra was barely hanging on. It had taken its toll on both of them.

“Well, this one wants to be with you. Can I lift him before he hurts himself?”

The little beast was hopping up and down frantically.

“Um, sure.” Leadra watched the little creature bound up the bed, and she oofed when it smacked into her chest. “Hello, short stuff.”

It chuckled and rubbed against her, cuddling with determination.

Canevor chuckled. “Another few hundred years and healers will be obsolete. Well, on Balen, anyway.”

The easing of pressure on her soul was what was helping Leadra. She stroked the purple fur and let the creature share the pain that had haunted her every day for the last three years.

He took her pain and simply went around it, burrowing against her until she smiled. “Thanks, Krix. I accept your offer of companionship.”

His little heart was pounding against his ribs, and she pressed her forehead to his. Her breathing slowed and her stress level faded.

Canevor checked her vitals and smiled, “It seems that a meal will conclude his work. I will have my assistant get you something. We have a few Resicorans here, and the enzyme treatments will open your options when it comes to eating.”

She nodded and scooted until she was sitting upright in the bed. Krix was pouring a lot of energy into her and she wanted to make sure that she took it seriously. It took a few minutes, but he finally curled up in the crook of her arm and fell asleep.

Her food arrived, but it was Veera carrying it. Leadra smiled in welcome. “Hello again.”

“You are looking better. Fixit is still all tuckered out. His youngest seems to have found you; have you determined his name?”

“Krix. His name is Krix.” Leadra ran one finger across his fluffy head.

“It’s a solid name. I included some seeds on the tray, just in case.”

Veera settled the tray on Leadra’s lap.

Leadra stroked Krix’s chin and when he opened sleepy eyes, she held seeds to him and let him nibble them off her fingers.

Veera sighed in relief. “You picked a good one, Krix.”

He blinked sleepy eyes and kept eating until all the seeds were gone.

Leadra held the water cup to him, and once he was tucked and dozing again, she ate her own meal.

“Having a Yaluthu is a serious matter. He will literally kill himself to save you, draining his body and mind to keep you safe. I am relieved beyond words that you fed him first.”

Leadra nodded. “I understand. He is trying to impress upon me that while my goal is honourable, he wants me to make a plan for afterward. That hasn’t occurred to me before.”

Veera winced. “I have made an effort to stay out of your mind, but I would like you to see a counsellor.”

Leadra nodded. “It might not be a bad idea. Krix is helping, but it is a lot to ask of a purple fluff ball.”

“Well, your first tutor is on her way. Zeyan is a Soul Keeper and her talents seem to be in line with yours. She will help you work on your skills and determine what you can and cannot do.”

“When will she arrive?”

“In two days. That will give you the chance to recover from your situation and have your first meeting with Nedo, the counsellor who is the best match for you. He is over at the Guard base, so you will have to travel to and from for your appointments.”

“I don’t know how to drive any of the vehicles around here.”

“I have assigned you a transporter. Don’t worry, he is very safe.” Veera smiled.

“Oh, good. I would hate to be out with a dangerous one.” She curled her lips.

“You have no idea how delighted I am to see sarcasm emerging. It seems your own soul is waking up, just a little.”

Leadra took a personal inventory and knew that Veera was right. Misery fed and piled onto itself, but Krix had begun to chip away at it. She had a companion who accepted her broken and damaged. It was enough to bring tears to her eyes.

She sobbed, and Veera simply sat next to her, waiting out the storm.

She apologized for her lack of control.

“No apology is necessary. If you can cry for yourself, you can feel sympathy for others. I would be more concerned if you merely sat there.” Veera smiled and got to her feet. “Rest, recover, and when you are released, come for tea.”

“How will I know when I am to go to the counsellor?”

“Your driver will come find you. He is very good.” Veera left the medical centre with her robes swaying as she walked.

Leadra could hear a cry outside the door and recognized Fixit’s welcome sound. Apparently, he was up from his nap.

Krix wiggled in her embrace and he started to snore gently. He was a definite reminder that she was no longer alone. She fought off tears when she realised that she really needed that reminder.

 

Recovery with a Yaluthu at her side was rapid, and in one day, she went from incredibly exhausted to fighting fit.

To her surprise, a young girl with brilliantly striped yellow skin came to her and offered her escort to her quarters.

“Thank you.”

“Zeeba. My name is Zeeba.”

“Thank you, Zeeba. My name is Leadra; you can call me Lee.” She got to her feet and lifted Krix in her arm.

“This way, Novice Lee.” Zeeba took her free hand and tugged her along.

“Have you been here long?”

“Two years. I was born here. I age at four times the normal rate for my mother’s species, but the doctors say I am stable.” She repeated her diagnosis with direct charm.

“That is good, isn’t it?”

“It is very good. I have hopes of being a healer myself one day.”

They entered a common area, and Leadra was surprised by the number of children running around and out to the gardens.

“Why are there so many children? No offense.”

Zeeba sighed. “The Raiders were trying to breed more and more talents, so the Citadel and Sector Guard on Balen went out and brought home those who had been experimented on. That meant a lot of women who were going to have babies.”

Leadra backed quickly away from the topic. Some of the children looked even older than Zeeba, so there must have been some tampering involved.

Zeeba led her up the steps and to the fifth floor of the building. “You need shielded quarters so that your mind won’t open up when you sleep.”

That was sound logic. “I guess that medical is shielded?”

“Definitely. Can you imagine training empaths dealing with all that pain?”

“Uh, no, I can see how that would be horrible.”

“It would. Here is your room. You can key it to your palm print for now and your psychic print later.” Zeeba smiled and waited.

“Are you coming in with me?”

“Yup. You need to learn how things work. The other four talents from Resicor needed the same information yesterday, so I will wait until you can run everything from the wardrobe to the com system.”

Bemused, Leadra let her in and the tour and tutorial began. Leadra had to admit she was glad of the instruction. All Krix wanted to do was check out his stairs to both his bed and hers.

“Is the Yaluthu bed a standard thing?”

“No, but they are common enough that there are always spares in the quartermaster’s office.”

Leadra ordered a snack, made some tea and demonstrated working knowledge of all the features in her bathroom. The final item was the com unit, and just as she was getting the hang of using call codes and attaching them to people, there was a knock on her door.

Zeeba bounced out of her chair and pressed a panel that displayed a large, grim-looking man with spots surrounding his features and running into the heavy leather of his tunic. She bounced up and down. “It’s N’ran.”

She opened the door, and the grim features shifted into a soft smile. “Hello, Zeeba. Is Novice Leadra here?”

Zeeba nodded. “She is, but she hasn’t changed yet. Can you wait for her?”

N’ran smiled, his brilliant purple eyes sparkled. “Only for three minutes. You had better dress your dolly.”

Zeeba frowned. “Then, you had better stay outside.”

She closed the door in his face and turned to Leadra. “We need to hurry.”

Krix bounced up and down as Zeeba pulled out a dark bodysuit and white robes.

“Put these on as fast as you can. N’ran doesn’t like to wait, and he would leave without you if he could.”

Leadra grabbed the clothing and headed into the bathroom to change. She peeled out of the baggy suit before removing the dome suit. It felt good to wear something else, something that fit but didn’t cut her off from the world around them.

The suit was deep red, and it had patches on the sides that accentuated her waist. When she slipped on the robes, it covered the details on the suit, but she still knew what was under them.

She flipped her long hair down her back and headed out into the main room. Zeeba clapped excitedly and opened the door again. “She’s ready.”

Krix hopped over and Leadra scooped him up. She nodded at her driver. “I am ready.”

He looked her over and smiled at Krix. “Then come with me, Novice Leadra.”

Leadra made sure that Zeeba exited with them, and she closed the door to her quarters. N’ran lifted Zeeba on his shoulder, and they walked down the stairs as a group with Zeeba.

He released her on the main floor, and she ran off. N’ran finally looked Leadra in the eyes. “Are you ready?”

She held on to Krix and he chortled softly. “I suppose so.”

“Then come this way.”

He gestured to a path out through the gardens, and she followed along.

The trip to the Guard base was exhilarating, and her first therapy session was a trip through hell. She definitely had had better days.

 

Chapter Three

 

 

N’ran kept throwing her concerned looks, but he didn’t ask if she was all right. On their way back to the Citadel, he took her down every crevice and canyon that he could think of.

Every time she thought she had herself under control, she burst out in tears again. Krix had been ordered to stay in the back seat while she took some time to grieve, but he was fretting.

Finally, her eyes were dry and her face was puffy but she felt empty.

Krix must have felt the shift in her thoughts, because he bounded up and over the seats into her arms.

She sighed in relief.

“So, was that an exercise in self-torture?”

Leadra shook her head. “I hadn’t grieved for my family yet, so he got me started.”

“How long has it been?”

She swallowed, “Just over three years.”

“How did they die?”

She rubbed Krix. “That is complicated, but they were all murdered.”

He went silent.

She swallowed again. “It is the reason I went into training.”

“We all have our reasons. Some are societal, some are personal, but we all answered the call to make ourselves more and better when the time came. In the end, it isn’t why we came that is important; it is the fact that we did it. You chose to do more and to be something more. That counts for a lot.”

Leadra looked at him, and she felt a small smile on her lips. “Thank you. That helps.”

He grinned. “Good. Now, what kind of training are you taking?”

“Um, they have a specialist arriving tomorrow.”

“For the psychic side. What are they doing for your defense and battle training?”

She tilted her head. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

“Mention it to Veera. She will schedule someone if she hasn’t already.”

Leadra stroked Krix until they arrived at the Citadel. She felt better. Lighter.

“Do you have someone to eat with?” N’ran asked her casually.

“Just Krix. He is pretty good company.”

“May I join you two?”

She blinked. “Please. I am not really sure what to eat, so I am going to have to figure out what will and won’t work.”

“Ah, culinary adventure, everyone’s favourite time at the Citadel. Allow me to help out.”

Krix squirmed to get down, and so she placed him on the floor, watching him waddle happily to play with a rainbow of other Yaluthu.

“He will come back when you have food or if you need him. You two are bonded now.”

She chuckled. “I know. I was just worried about him getting run over by one of the kids.”

“They know to keep an eye out for the little ones. Come on, after a day like today, you need some fortification.”

He coaxed her toward the food court and helped her find the foods that were close to what she was used to and easy for her to digest. The colour coding next to the platters helped.

Once she had her food and some seeds for Krix, she headed to a table that was out of the way and N’ran joined her.

“Why aren’t you dressed in Citadel gear?” She asked him.

The blush that ran through her face a moment later was hot. The dark, tight leather that he wore was fascinating to look at, but it didn’t match any of the robes that swirled around the building.

He grinned. “I am part of an exchange program. Balen has agreed to accept some children of Repsak, which is my world. It is a cross-training program for talents.”

“Is Zeeba one of your species?”

He rocked a hand from side to side. “It is too early to tell. She bears the physical characteristics of one of ours, and children like her are the reason I am here. If there is a development of any additional cues, they wanted three or four of us here to keep an eye on them.”

“Were they all fathered by someone from your world?”

He tilted his head and made a face. “It is hard to say. The women were implanted with the altered material. They never saw the male from whom the material was taken.”

Leadra blinked at the very sterile manner in which he had described a form of torture on the part of both the male and the female.

BOOK: Hunting a Soul
10.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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