Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Adult, #Romance, #Science Fiction, #Space Opera
Astral projection is great, but taking possession of a Guardian half a universe away is a job for a hero, not a ghost.
Simry enjoyed her escape from a world of shunning and rules that did not apply to her. Life in the Citadel could be difficult, but it had its rewards in the shape of education and friendships.
Being asked to seek out a Guardian and keep him sane from dozens of worlds away was one of the hardest assignments she had ever taken on, and it was also the most rewarding. She rescued the Guardian’s soul, kept his spirits up and made sure that he was able to survive until physical help could arrive.
N’kad was on the edge of giving up when the ghost entered his mind and took over his situation by lodging herself in his soul. The stranger in his mind was brash, annoying, and yet, she kept his attention every moment that she was with him. He would travel quite a way for a woman like that. She was his hero, after all.
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Ghosting a Hero
Copyright © 2015 Viola Grace
Cover art by Carmen Waters
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
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Ghosting a Hero
Tales of the Citadel Book 43
Simry ran a hand through her hair and smiled as she made her way through the ship. Even in her astral form, she had all the mannerisms of her body.
She walked through the walls, passed through the floors and stuck her face into sealed crates. When she concluded her search of the trade vessel, she snapped back into her body.
Her right hand trembled as she lifted it and typed in
An icon flicked on her screen and the ship continued on its way.
A chime rang and she triggered her support chair into levering her upright.
Riasa wandered in and inclined her head. “You have done well today. Three ships caught with minor infractions and two with major disturbances. Now, come on and get some dinner.”
Simry chuckled and eased herself out of her station. “Is Natu busy off world again?”
“Saving lives, one rescue at a time.” Riasa grinned. “Come on. The new cook has promised something befitting Citadel Teklan.”
“Oh good. A mix of sweets and crackers.” Simry chuckled.
“And nuts. Don’t forget the nuts.” Riasa linked arms with her and hauled her out of the monitor station.
Simry grinned and enjoyed the chance to stretch her legs with the administrator of the Citadel. “So, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company today?”
“Nothing in particular. There is a situation developing and I need to know where you are in case someone has to make a move. If it does happen, it will all happen quickly. We are waiting for confirmation.”
“You are making me nervous and kinda excited.” Simry raised her eyebrows.
“Eat first. Then get to sleep. If we need to call on you, I will.”
Simry mulled that over until she was eating, and then, she looked up at her Resicoran friend. “The seers have said something.”
“Rika, one of the new ones. Yes. She knows that you will be needed, but her timelines are fuzzy.”
“Fair enough. No caf for me tonight. Any idea of a general guess?”
Ri sighed. “Sometime this week. That is as close as we can get. Can you stay close to home?”
Simry laughed. “When do I do anything else?”
Two nights later, Simry was woken, wedged into her bodysuit and steered toward her station. When the biojacks came out and Reset plugged her in, she knew that things were more serious than she had imagined. She was going to be in for a while.
Riasa and Natu stood next to her.
Ri smiled. “We have the signature and the world you need to aim for, as well as the relay routes. This is going to be a bit of a journey, but we promise to keep your body up and running.”
She blinked and asked, “What am I doing?”
Natu put his hand on her shoulder. “You are saving a life. A man is trapped hundreds of feet below the surface of an empty world. You need to find him and keep him alive until a rescue team can get there.”
Simry looked at the data patterns, and she eyed them warily. “These will take me deep into the Imperium.”
Ri nodded. “That is where he is. You have his location, you have his mind, go save the hero.”
Simry made a face and settled back, staring at the mental readout on the screen. Tracking people was not her favourite pastime, but if it saved a life, she would do what she could.
She drew in a deep breath, and when she exhaled, she separated her astral form from her physical. With a focus on the route, she loaded her body into the broadcast terminal and sent herself in search of the man with the mind print she was looking for.
The rush of being an electronic presence fueled by psychic propulsion never got old. She pinged from relay to relay, greeting each living being in their wired terminals as she passed through their minds. They would not remember her words, but they would remember the warm feel of her greeting.
Simry travelled from relay to relay until she was out in the system where her target was hidden. She found the nearest satellite and pulled herself into it, aiming her next stream of energy at the world where she could see the mental pattern.
She hooked onto that pattern and pulled herself through space, solar radiation and the tiny objects that would shred her physical form. She corkscrewed through the phenomenal distances, hauling herself along the surface of the empty world until she found the strongest point on the surface. Freshly disturbed stone proved that he had been buried. Now came the point of personal strength. She needed to pull herself to the mind under the surface, and he was quite the distance in.
She hated the idea of being buried alive, but she imagined it was worse if you actually were.
Simry dove into the rock and kept going until she reached the room deep in the skin of the world. She walked around and found the man she was looking for. He was kneeling motionless against the wall and his eyes were open wide.
She stepped into his field of vision and waved at him. “Hello.”
His mind should interpret her voice, but he didn’t move.
She paced back and forth as she debated her next move. Diving into a living being was rarely comfortable. If he had mental damage, she needed to find out quickly before she waited for him to wake up from his wide-eyed nap.
Simry hesitated for ten more seconds before she turned her back to him and reversed until her ghost was inside the space his physical form occupied. With a psychological deep breath, she merged herself into his body and entered his mind.
Simry was standing on a windswept plain and there was nothing around her. The sky above was pale and sandy; the ground was a darker shade but the same colouration. Normally, she would have been greeted by the being she had just broken into. Here, there was nothing.
“Damn it.” She scowled and looked around. She had options, but they would not be comfortable for him.
She looked out through his eyes and tried to calculate the amount of air he had. If he wasn’t moving, he probably had twelve hours. It had taken her three to get there.
Simry cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted, “Hey! Wake up. Or at least come and talk to me!”
She stamped her foot on the ground and clapped her hands. “Hey! Sleeping beauty, over here!”
There was still no reply. She looked around at the featureless landscape and sighed. “Fine. You want to do it the hard way?”
She generated two sabers, and with a flourish, she stabbed the ground beneath her with both blades, twisting them deep.
The ground under her shuddered, and a figure appeared twenty feet away.
“Who are you?”
She stood straight but kept her hands on the swords. “I am Citadel Specialist Simry of Teklan, monitor and ghost.”
He was still blurry and his features were not stable. That wasn’t good. If he didn’t have a sense of self, it was dangerous. If he let his mind go completely while she was in here, she would be bound to his body and that wasn’t a situation she was in favour of.
He blinked. “Do you know who I am?”
She smiled. “My assignment.”
“You are joking.”
“No. I am here to keep you alive until the rescue team arrives.”
“No one is coming for me.” He began to fade into the background once again.
She pulled a saber out and threw it to nick his upper arm. “Get back here. I am here to rescue you. Well, sort of. They sent me here to keep you stable. Will you tell me what happened?”
His body solidified under the small attack. “How did you do that?”
“Practice. Now, why have you given up?”
He was in front of her in the blink of an eye, solidifying and glaring down at her through glowing purple eyes. “I have not given up. I have been discarded.”
“Not by me. Not by my people. We don’t want you to work for us, but we do want you alive.”
He looked down at her and exhaled. “How will you get me out of here?”
“I won’t. Rescuers are coming. I am not even really here. Your body seems a little stuck.”
“I was given a paralyzing toxin. It has numbed my motor cortex, and I have been trapped in my mind.”
She nodded and kept the eye contact. “You have been letting go.”
“It seemed a better way to die than slow suffocation.” His features were solemn. “How will they get me out?”
“I don’t know. I don’t even know your name, just your mind print.”
He cocked his head. “Where did you come from, again?”
“Citadel Teklan. That is where my body currently is.”
“You are not actually here.”
“Your body is nowhere to be found.”
“Well, it is quite a distance away.”
He nodded. “You are a construct of my mind.”
She exhaled in exasperation. “I am not.”
She punched him in the gut, took her saber and went in search of her other one. She heard the rush of feet behind her as she grabbed her other saber and turned to meet him as he slammed a two-handed sword made of energy against her crossed blades.
He needed to get some frustrations out of his systems, and if it brought him back to the waking world, she was all for it.
After their initial connection, she stepped back and waited for him to attack again. Whatever got his mind working was a good thing.
He struck, she blocked and they spent the next hour attacking and retreating. When she finally had him on his knees with her blades at his throat, she asked, “Will you tell me your name now?”
He swallowed. “Guardian N’kad of Emror. Well, late of Emror. I was captured on an off-world assignment, and they refused to ransom me.”
She lowered her blades. “Emror was your birth world.”
“It is my birth world. They would not pay for my return, so I was drugged and dumped down here to die. I am assuming that they sealed it up after me.”
She nodded. “Oh, yes. I examined the surface above you, and it shows recent activity.”
He swallowed. “So, we are depending on your people for my life.”
“And mine. If they don’t maintain me, I could go into shock and die without my soul in my body.”
He sat back, and she stepped away from him.
“You are risking your life to be here?”
“Of course. No one needs to die alone, and a chance to live is still a chance. With your help, we can make the most of that chance.”
She flicked away her sabers and held her hand out to his.
He stood up and looked around. “What can we do from here?”
“Show me your motor cortex and I will determine my options.”
His face firmed up a little, and she could see a smile. “That is rather intimate for a first date.”
She chuckled. “I promise not to take advantage, now show me the goods.”
His snort rumbled across the plain, and they began the walk toward the center of his nervous system.