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Authors: Viola Grace

Tags: #romance, science fiction

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BOOK: PowerofLearning
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“That oversight must be corrected.”

He got to his feet, disposed of the trays and returned to offer her his hand. “Morganti is a lovely planet. Perhaps it is not as lush as Tebr but a lot less poisonous spiders.”

She laughed and took his hand. “I would love to see it. Let’s get to that tour.”

Daylight struck her skin, and she turned her head upward to catch the rays. It filled her system far better than the food had.

“Photosynthesis in a bipedal race is very rare.” Hosh murmured it as he watched her turn her head from the left to the right.

“I know. We have a theory back home but no proof.”

“What is your theory?”

“The ancient Tebr were forced underground for warmth during a volcanic-inspired ice age. They lived for generations with no sun and only the phosphorescence of the underground minerals. Their skins went from pale like mine to the blue of silver-exposed tissue. When they came back to the surface, their eyes could not take the light, so they hid in the thick vegetation, gradually working their way back into daylight over decades. Their bodies needed the daylight to break down the food of the surface and to continue to balance the minerals of their systems. The more daylight they took in, the better they felt. It simply became the way things worked.”

She smiled. “We have never gone in search of the caves, so we will never know. I mean, for all we know, there may still be underground Tebr living happily in their darkened existence. Enough about me. If you are a Wyoran off shoot, do you link to other people via your mind?”

“Not personally, no. I try to keep my mind to myself unless I am doing triage in a disaster.”

She laughed. “I can see how touching someone else’s mind would be a good thing on occasion.”

He raised his dark brows. “Really?”

“Sure. I mean, sex would be much easier if you knew right away that you were doing it right.” She laughed at his stricken expression. “The Tebr live naked. We are fairly open about sex.”

“Oh. I didn’t notice it while I was there.” He looked abashed.

“You need to attend my lecture on alien etiquette. It is going to take most of the day, but it will be one heck of an event. I am going to be studying for it after I return to my quarters.”

He nodded. “How is the brainstorm coming along?”

“There is plenty to feed it, so I am quite happy with how things are turning out here so far. Well, aside from the kidnapping attempt. That I could have done without.”

He laughed again and continued the tour, her arm tucked around the crook of his elbow, their robes swishing in unison. She enjoyed their moment and hoped that there would be more in the future.

Chapter Eight

Two days after her tour, she was standing in a lecture hall with fifty eager faces watching her.

Yavil’s robes felt too hot, her skin felt dry and her stomach flipped the way it always did before she instructed anyone on a subject she had just learned about herself.

“Today, we are here to discuss etiquette and taboos of a variety of cultures.” She continued, her voice lulling her students into a receptive state.

She stopped periodically to take a drink of water but continued her lecture until she had covered nine very sensitive species that were out in the Alliance as active trading partners. It was quite likely that one of her students would run into one within the next five years based on the information Turnari gave her.

When her lecture was complete, she clapped her hands and concluded. “Thank you for being here today. Feel free to ask questions that you may have about the subject matter. If your headache persists, please see the infirmary.” Yavil waited as the students held their foreheads and frowned as their minds grappled with the information she had just drummed into their thoughts. She always imagined the information as settling in and making room as if jostling for space at a family table.

As the confused but impressed students began to file out, Hosh came up to her with his bright blue robes swirling. “Well done, Yavil. Would you care to get something to eat?”

Her stomach growled before she could say anything. “Yes, please.”

He offered her his arm, and together, they walked out of the lecture hall behind the last of the students.

“Remind me to have you give medical instruction to my students before they try anything on the mock-ups. It might speed things along and put me out of a job.”

“You want to be out of a job?”

He grinned. “If I am not needed on Morganti, then I am able to go on more long-range assignments.”

Her heart stuttered at the thought. “You wouldn’t be here then?”

“That generally is the effect of not being on Morganti.”

She bit her lip as they entered the dining hall. Her entire class was there, filling up on the food that they had missed while in the learning trance.

He was going to leave. They were just on the verge of starting something and he was leaving. Her thoughts swirled in distress.

With her mind occupied, she tried to keep her hands steady as she loaded a tray and walked with Hosh to a table. Eating was straight mechanics. She chewed, swallowed and drank her water with attention to fueling her system.

“Yavil, is something wrong?”

She tried to make light of it, but as she opened her mouth to speak, a spearing pain ran through her head. Her gasp was punctuated as her hands clenched on her tray and it clattered to the ground. “Oh no.”

Out of reflex, she knelt to clean it up but another pain spike struck her, locking her in place. She hissed as Hosh touched her arm and checked her pupils. She clenched her teeth and focussed. “Brainstorm.”

He nodded and lifted her in his arms. The sensation of his touch on her was setting a riot under her skin. It gave her something else to concentrate on as her mind locked itself in agony that she only remembered feeling twice in her life. The first time she had felt it, her mother’s father had died. The second time, it had been after her friends Hallow and Harkin told her that because of what she was, their family would not allow them to associate with her anymore. The moment that she learned they had lied and that they had only been friendly to get in with Yellan and Ardu, she had been devastated. Both times, her heart had been broken and her mind had followed.

Hosh carried her to the infirmary, and the doctor did what doctors always did, he tried to scan her.

“Dr. Tinneer, she won’t show up on scans. You need a contact healer.”

The doctor looked at the blank readings and met her pained gaze. “I will call Quedar.”

Hosh stayed near her, holding her hand to keep her calm as she clenched and twisted on the exam bed.

A blue woman with a shaved head appeared in Yavil’s field of vision. “Hello, Instructor. I am Quedar. I am a contact healer. Have you dealt with one of my kind before?”

Yavil shook her head, unable to speak.

“Instructor Ender, do you know what started this?” Quedar was rubbing her hands together.

“She said it was a brainstorm, but I don’t know what that entails.” Hosh sounded worried.

Yavil could hear them talking, but it was as if she were listening to them from a great distance.

The first touch of Quedar’s hands was cool water on her burning skin. The touch on her mind made her jump, and the part of her mind that controlled her brainstorms reached eagerly for the contact.

She heard the woman hiss as she poured the equivalent of mental cool water on Yavil’s thoughts. When she removed her hands, she looked at Yavil with sadness in her eyes. “You are tougher than you look, Instructor.”

Yavil licked her lips. “I don’t know if that is a compliment.”

Quedar sat next to her on the bed. “Your people…do they link minds?”

She nodded. “Yes. Of course. Tebr are always born in pairs.”

“Yet, you were not. Did you never find a person to connect with?” Quedar’s voice was low, but Yavil could see Hosh listening attentively.

“A few times, but every time I did, they were taken from me.”

“What happened today, Yavil?”

She looked at Hosh and couldn’t speak. “Nothing. Nothing happened.”

Quedar smiled. “I know, but I also know that your mind was reacting pre-emptively, seeking information in lieu of connection. It will take one if it cannot have the other, but now that information is available to you at any time, you are looking for the connection. Your mind is driven to want both.”

Hosh asked. “So, what is happening to her?”

“As she said, it is a brainstorm. Her mind is reaching out but doesn’t know how to make the connection.” Quedar stroked her forehead.

“I am right here, you know.” Petulance was not becoming, but it was all she could come up with in her prone position.

Hosh frowned. “Is she in danger?”

“Yes, but she has always been in danger, she lives one heartbreak away from death every day.”

Tears welled in Yavil’s eyes to hear her secrets told so calmly.

She closed her eyes and turned her head away, letting the tears fall.

Quedar patted her hand and went off to speak with Dr. Tinneer.

Hosh remained at her side, holding her hand.

It took all her effort to speak clearly. “You should get to whatever you had scheduled, Hosh. I am fine now.”

He squeezed her hand, and she finally turned to look at him. “I will be your link if you need one.”

She blinked rapidly and brushed her tears away with her free hand. “What is a link?”

“Wyorans use them when someone has an out-of-control psychic ability. The addition of another mind stabilises them.”

“That is not what I want. Attaching to someone just to make my life easier and theirs harder is not something I will do.” She sat up and tried to take her hand from his.

“That is not why I am offering. I have an interest in you that goes beyond my being your recruiter. I would like to be quite a bit more.” His expression was earnest, and he leaned toward her with an intense look in his eyes.

She sighed and leaned back to avoid the kiss that her body wanted with every molecule. “You want to leave, and I am scheduled to stay here.”

He reared back. “That was what spurred this?”

She opened her mouth, and it was caught in a kiss that was as stunning as it was confined to the psychic plane.

Yavil squeaked in surprise as she felt the sensations of warm, soft lips against her own, the heady scent of Hosh’s body and the heat of hands holding her head to keep her still.

When the kiss ended, she blinked rapidly and Hosh’s lips curled up in a smile. “I do not wish to leave you or the Citadel, I just wanted to travel. It was a casual and unremarkable sharing of goals for the future, Yavil.”

“Oh. So, I may have over-reacted.” She pursed her lips, and they stared at each other before they burst out laughing.

He grinned and took both of her hands, pressing his forehead against hers. “Just a little.”

She felt tendrils of thought touching her mind, and with a surge, the part of her mind that absorbed information lunged for those tendrils and gripped them tight.

He let out a low groan, and she leaned up, kissing his lips for the first time as her mind spun itself into his and he returned the favour. For two people fully clothed, things could hardly have been more intimate.

She smiled as the pain and tension in her mind lifted. She pressed soft kisses against his lips, enjoying the freedom of contact. When he broke their contact, he smiled warmly at her. “Hello, link.”

Chapter Nine

Yavil had never felt better. It was strange how meeting the right person at the right time could turn her life around.

“This feels exceptionally peculiar, Hosh.” She kept wanting to touch her forehead, but the change was internal.

“It is bizarre for me as well. My folk do not usually need links, but we get the rudimentary training for it. Your mind is exceptional, by the way.”

“Thank you.”

The doctor released her from the infirmary at Quedar’s say-so, and Hosh put her hand on his arm, leading her back to Turnari’s offices.

“Why are we waiting to talk to the Coordinator?” Yavil had to ask.

“You will see.”

She shrugged, and they waited for the receptionist to wave them through. When the woman let them pass, they walked into Turnari’s office together.

Tea was waiting for them, and Turnari looked at their posture with a resigned expression.

He poured tea and smiled, “Links?”

Hosh helped Yavil into her seat. “Yes. She needed it.”

Turnari handed Yavil her cup with a quirked brow.

She shrugged. “Tebr are not designed to live alone.”

It was so simple and summed up in that one sentence, she was amazed that it had not come to her before. Her people were not designed to live alone. They had evolved to be linked to a sibling as they matured and their mate when they wed. Her attempts to hold someone to her during childhood had been thwarted, but now, she had been handed the cure to her brainstorms in a delightful package.

Turnari sat back and sighed. “I will have the maintenance staff move your things, Hosh. Her environment is pretty specific.”

That got Yavil’s attention. “What?”

“Links have to live together while the bond is still forming. If you separate for too long, you risk going back to the worst possible moment in your illness. A broken mind is not something we will court, so your schedules will be matched for convenience.”

Yavil shook her head in confusion. “So, I have to move quarters?”

“No. Hosh will move in with you. You will need to stay close together for as long as possible, that will include your sleep schedule. You will need to be close while your mind is at rest. The bond will strengthen then.”

Hosh was smiling and sipping at his tea.

“Do I have a say in this?”

Turnari leaned back in his chair. “No, I believe that is why Hosh brought you here. He wanted to make sure that you knew it was not just his half-assed seduction techniques.”

“I…this is stupid.”

“It is the price of being linked, pet.” Hosh lifted her hand and pressed a kiss to the back of it.

She warmed with that small display of public affection. For all that the Tebr lived in the nude, public romance was taboo. She glanced at his lap, but his robes obscured it, and she realized that clothing had its finer points beyond keeping a body warm. The concealment was also something that she had not considered.

BOOK: PowerofLearning
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