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Authors: Viola Grace

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

Hunting a Soul (4 page)

BOOK: Hunting a Soul
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* * * *

 

N’ran smiled in the shadows of the gym; his natural markings blended him right into the darkness and Leadra’s physical distress kept her from seeing him with her other senses. She was determined; he had to admire that. Her ability to take hits and keep coming was also something mentioned in her arrest report.

Her attacks were clumsy, but she was getting better with each strike. He looked forward to having her as a partner. The shadows were striking more frequently, and if they weren’t stopped, chaos would reign.

 

Chapter Five

 

 

Three weeks of fighting, pulling souls and therapy later and Leadra felt different. Her muscle mass had increased, her reflexes were faster and she ate quite a bit more. Krix was a little sleepy, but he was enjoying the workouts.

Zeyan met her at the classroom where four other members of the Citadel were waiting.

“Finally! Come in, Lee. Today, you are working on the living.”

Lee paused on her way down the steps, and Krix chirped quizzically. “What the what now?”

“These Citadel volunteers are here so that you can withdraw their souls and store them in a canister. When you are done, you will put the soul back in the correct body.”

Lee’s heart began to pound. The volunteers simply stood with encouraging smiles on their faces.

A few minutes of organization took place and a nervous Lee faced her first volunteer. “Please have a seat.”

The man smiled and said, “Good forethought.”

Lee was sweating with tension. When he sat, she looked at him and eased his consciousness from his body, pulling it toward her and holding it in her hands. She looked to Zeyan. “Where are the containers?”

Zeyan grinned. “In the hallway.”

Panic slammed into Lee, but she cradled the soul carefully while walking outside the classroom to the table with the four canisters lined up on it. She opened one of the canisters and eased her passenger into it. His face smiled at her from the side of the canister and she locked it with a sigh of relief.

She gathered all the canisters in her arms and returned to the classroom. With narrowed eyes, she glared at Zeyan. “That was a mean trick.”

Zeyan grinned. “You need to know where you are going to put them. It isn’t a simple thing to pull a soul, so you need to think past the moment of extraction.”

Lee checked the body of her volunteer, and when his breathing was still even, she smiled tightly at the woman in line. “Next?”

When the extractions were complete, Lee was still sweating, but now, it was from fatigue.

“And now I put them back?”

Zeyan nodded. “Correct. You have to re-initiate your connection and put them back where you found them.”

The way Zeyan said it let Lee know that she was in for some kind of shenanigans.

Lee went to the table where she had put the canisters, and she looked through the souls for the first one she had pulled. It wasn’t where she had left it.

Lee picked up the canister, and set it at the feet of the first volunteer. She unlatched it and caught the soul as it sprang free. In a slow and controlled move, she slipped it back into the body, and when the man opened his eyes and grinned, she moved on to the next one.

By the time all four were sorted, she was wiped out. She sat with her head hanging and her arms dangling between her knees. Krix was cuddled in her lap and chortling as he helped to recharge her.

Zeyan asked, “Well? How did she do?”

The four volunteers looked at each other and smiled. The woman who had been the second movement spoke. “She is excellently attentive. It was like being cradled in caring arms, and her identification before placement was definitely appreciated.”

Zeyan chuckled. “Yeah, I thought I had her there.”

Lee looked up with bleary eyes. “So everyone is where they are supposed to be?”

Zeyan nodded. “Yes, and if not, they could move themselves back to the correct body. This is the astral-projection class. They move themselves in and out of their bodies all the time.”

Lee chuckled. “That explains a few things. Two of them jumped at me when I removed them.”

The men blushed and the women rolled their eyes. Everyone could guess who the jumpers were.

Zeyan thanked the volunteers and dismissed them. “Well, Lee, it looks like there is only one last thing I can teach you.”

“What?”

“Energy dispersal. Your talent seems to be designed to either contain or destroy energy fields. Tomorrow, we go on a trip and we break some power into pieces, and by we, I mean you.” She smiled brightly.

Lee kept breathing slowly. “Good. I need to know that.”

N’ran appeared on schedule. “Are you ready to go?”

Lee cuddled Krix and she stood. “I am. See you tomorrow, Zee?”

“You know it. Orenn wants to head out on assignments, and I can’t do that until we get you sorted.”

Lee had met Orenn a few times in the last few weeks, and while he enjoyed spending time on Balen, he wanted to be back in action with the woman he loved. It glowed out of him every time Lee saw him.

Lee headed out with N’ran, and she nervously took the controls. He had been teaching her how to fly, and today, it was going to be her responsibility to get them to and from her appointment.

She settled Krix in the backseat and looked at N’ran. “Are you sure about this?”

He grinned. “It is a day for tests, so yes. I know you can do this. Get us to the Guard base and get us home again. I will bring you your dinner in your own quarters.”

She put on her harness and gave him a sideways look. “Dessert too?”

“With dessert.” He grinned. His purple eyes were sparkling.

She took a deep breath, checked the surroundings of the skimmer and flipped on the engines. In seconds, they were off.

Krix chirped excitedly, and N’ran tried to look casual, but she could see the tight creases in his tunic where he gripped his bicep as he crossed his arms.

Lee dipped the skimmer and watched the creases tighten. Snickering, she evened out and continued their trip to her therapist.

She got a clear bill of psychosis and a hug from her counsellor. She was still damaged, but she had accepted what she was and what she was about to become. She was no longer a victim; she was becoming a hunter.

Krix chuckled happily when she finished her appointment and put him on her shoulder. N’ran was speaking with the stellar Avatar who flew off as Lee approached.

“Was it something I said?” She chuckled.

“No, he was wondering how long I was staying on the surface.”

“Not long. Get in the skimmer. I want to launch you over the edge of the cliff and see if I can bleach your spots.” She grinned.

He laughed and got into the passenger seat. “Feeling good after your visit?”

“Feeling balanced. I can feel everything and not worry about being overwhelmed anymore. I feel like me and I haven’t felt like this in a very long time.”

It went beyond the deaths. It went back to the moment when she first began to see the energy inside the people around her. Talents had been imprisoned for less than simply seeing things. She didn’t want to risk losing those around her, so she hid what she was becoming. Ignoring souls on the street was easy; they didn’t expect to be seen.

Despite feeling giddy, Lee flew straight to the landing pad at the Citadel. When the skimmer was powered down, she looked at N’ran. “Well?”

“Dinner will be delivered in ten minutes.”

She grinned, grabbed Krix and headed for her quarters. She waved at Zeeba and the other children, her robes flared out and away from her as she sprinted up the stairs.

She set Krix down on the bed, sprinted to the lav and took a quick solar shower, letting her hair down. She sighed happily and turned on the vid, looking for the animated movies that she loved. Krix was rubbing himself all over her bed, and she laughed. “Was it
change the sheets
day?”

He chirped affirmative.

She had just dialled up two cups of tea when there was a knock on her door. She skidded over, confirmed that it was N’ran and opened the door. “Come on in.”

He carried in the two trays and slid hers onto the table, next to his own. “You showered.”

“Solared. My morning workout was still hanging around.” She brought the tea over and returned to the refreshment dispenser for water. When she settled next to him, she inhaled happily.

“Thank you.”

He chuckled. “You earned it. We will start work on shuttle flight when you are on your first assignment.”

She blinked with a mouthful of noodles dangling. “Wath?”

N’ran shook his head. “Finish your meal and we will discuss it. You might also want to invest in etiquette lessons.”

She shrugged and slurped. “Fine, but only because you look a little queasy.”

He sighed and ate his meal with grace and economic movements. “That is only because of your bizarre enthusiasm for those noodles.”

Lee couldn’t explain that her mother had made something similar and she hadn’t even been able to look at them for the first two weeks at the Citadel. Now that she could eat them, she felt like she was getting another part of herself back.

Krix hopped over and up onto the table using his booster steps. Lee held out a palm full of seeds and nuts, watching as he nipped at her palm voraciously. “Ouch.”

N’ran looked at him. “Is he all right?”

“I don’t know; he seems to be getting more aggressive.” She checked the nip in her hand, and when she didn’t see blood, she refilled her hand with more Yaluthu food and put it back under Krix’s beak.

“That is usually a sign of the transformation. It means you must be close to being healed.”

She got pecked again. “How delightful.”

Lee finished her food and tucked Krix into his little bed. He nuzzled her hand and the red marks disappeared. “It’s okay, little dude. You are just facing something you don’t control. I am with you.”

His huge eyes closed and he rumbled a little as he fell asleep.

Lee beckoned N’ran into the entertainment area where the video would muffle their voices.

“He snores?”

The amazement in his voice made her giggle. “He snores. He also gets wicked bed head.”

They sat on the couch and she gave him a frank look. “So, you mentioned assignments?”

He nodded. “If you are up for it, we have an appointment with a finder who specialises in the spectral. From there, we have authorization to pursue any lead we receive.”

“You would leave Balen?”

“The others can watch over the children until my replacement arrives. If you will have me, I have been assigned as your partner.”

She looked into his earnest purple eyes and saw something else in his gaze. To her surprise, he leaned in and he kissed her.

Her eyes went wide as she felt the heat of his breath a moment before his lips grazed hers. She let her eyes close, and she leaned forward, smelling the scent of N’ran and the leather that he always wore.

When he leaned back, he had a slight smile and a lot of relief in his gaze. “Thank Repsak. That could have ended badly.”

She smiled and sat straight again. “If I was not interested?”

“Precisely. I am a little dependant on pheromone cues and your species doesn’t really give them off. I have had to pay very close attention to your body language, and I am still confused most of the time.”

She covered her mouth and laughed.

“That is more familial than species related. My father used to watch my mother like a raptor, trying to figure out her mood. Unless she was bawling, he didn’t know what was coming his way.”

It ached to talk about them, but it felt good to share that insight into her family. She missed them every day, but her life went on, just as her mother wanted.

N’ran rubbed his palms down his trousers. “Well, tomorrow, you need to see the outfitter. She will foresee what you need to have with you and provide what she can with a list for what she can’t.”

“That is a weird talent.”

“It is a version of the seer energy.”

She smiled. “It is still weird.”

Lee got up and took his hand. “Thank you, N’ran. I am not sure I could have made it this far without you.”

He lifted her hand to his lips. “You could have, it just might have taken you a little longer.”

She smiled at the warmth that the kiss spread through her. “Good night.”

He sighed, sent a long look at the bed and made his way out of her quarters.

After it closed, she leaned on the door and tried to get her heartbeat under control. Krix’s snores increased in volume, and she smiled at the reminder that she was not sleeping alone.

The next day she would tear energy apart, and if she were good enough, she would get to take her talent to the stars in search of the being that killed her family.

 

Chapter Six

 

 

“So, let me see.” The outfitter looked her over, and her eyes went from pansy blue to black on black.

Uli started to make a list as she stared at Lee with that eerie gaze.

Lee held still, and even Krix was immobile as they were assessed. Parts of her were still smouldering a little from the energy-dispersal class, but she was standing tall.

The list began to get longer and longer on the display, and some of the items were a little eyebrow raising. The amount of knives was surprising. Lee didn’t know where she was going to put them all.

Finally, Uli, the outfitter, relaxed and looked at the list. “Well, I think I have just about all of this here. You will have to go to medical for those jabs, but the rest can be ready for you in about an hour, including rations.”

Uli smiled brightly, her pansy eyes bright in her yellow skin.

“Thank you. I am sure it will be very helpful.”

“Thank you for making eye contact with me immediately. Many folks lose their nerve after I do my assessment.” Uli chuckled.

“You are most welcome. Now, thank you again; I will be back in two hours.”

She reached up and stroked Krix as she headed to medical with a copy of her list.

Canevor was on duty and he grinned. “I hear you have made it through training.”

BOOK: Hunting a Soul
11.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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