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Authors: Viola Grace

Tags: #Romance, Science Fiction, Paranormal, Shapeshifter

HeartbeatofSilence (2 page)

BOOK: HeartbeatofSilence
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Thank you.
She bowed low over the head sister’s hands.

“We can go now.” She smiled at Stanik while still trying to dig into his mind once again.

He chuckled, and the sound rippled through her senses. She shivered and returned them to the Garden of Tears.

Teesha laughed at the box Stanik was carrying but led the way to the launch that had brought them to the island.

Reynal steered the boat around the island and into deeper ocean.

“Where are we going?” Veera was curious as she held onto the side of the bouncing craft for balance. Water sprayed into her face, and she spluttered, moving to sit in the centre of the craft next to Stanik.

He helped stabilize her, and he pointed. “We moored the shuttle just out of viewing range. Our presence here is not really authorized.”

She stared at him for a moment and then laughed. “So I have been kidnapped?”

“You have been invited to leave Farellen.” Reynal laughed.

Veera turned to stare at her brother. “Rey, what is going on?”

Teesha lifted her head from the com unit and jerked her head at their brother. “Tell her.”

Reynal sighed and turned the ship in a direct line for the small silvery blip on the horizon. “Farellen is a locked world now. It went through a year ago. We were trying to bribe someone in the government to get access to you last month, but they denied us. Sneaking in and grabbing you was the only way.”

Veera cocked her head. “Why bother?”

Stanik smiled. “I have engaged in training to assist you in gaining control over your mind and your life. It would be a shame to waste your life on the island of the dead.”

She ran through the mind of her siblings. She used a cool and delicate touch on them, reading the despair they felt as they were told she was out of their reach. It was both gratifying and terrifying to have such a loving family. They would do anything for her, including risking their own freedom to come and sweep her off to the stars.

Veera watched as the shuttle came into full view. It was a bubble of silver on the rippling ocean. She read the pilot and navigator. Two males with a fair share of tension were urging them to hurry. She opened her mental net wide and found the fliers and the boats heading toward their location.

“Reynal, if you can increase our speed, it would probably be a good thing.” She looked up with eyes gone blind as she read the rage, the pain and the hostility of the approaching troops.

The pain gave her pause until she delved further and found that six of the approaching twenty-four were fans of the great Teesha Halig. Arresting their hero was not something they were looking forward to. “We have company.” The first of the ships was becoming visible on the skyline.

Stanik got to his feet and stood between Veera and danger. She didn’t think he even knew it was his reflex, but it made her smile.

“Veera, can you slow them down?” Teesha was nervous, and it was a rare thing to see.

She shook her head. “No, not without dropping them out of the sky. I don’t want to hurt anyone.”

Her mental net kept expanding. She shook as the voices of the mainland came at her thoughts. All those months at the island and the moment that she was gone, her talent surged out of her control again.

She hissed and pressed a hand to her forehead. The boat was slowing, but the world was already fading around her while her mind lit up with the millions of minds on Farellen.

She heard voices and felt hands lifting her as a calm mind inserted itself into hers. She clung to that island of calm in her thoughts and shivered in relief as the voices of Farellen grew distant and faded out.

She exhaled with a rattling sound and opened her eyes. She was on a table in a tiny medical bay with Stanik watching her with a worried gaze.

“I am fine now. Don’t look so worried.” She sat up and wrinkled her nose at the ache in her brain.

“You are in pain.” He reached out and cupped the back of her skull with one hand.

She licked her lips nervously. The contact was unexpected. “The pain will come and go as we pass population centres. When do you start acting as my link?”

He scowled. “We need a bit of privacy and shielded quarters. We will link on Balen where you can adjust to the new arrangement.”

She chuckled. “Won’t you have to do some adjusting?”

He massaged her skull and the back of her neck lightly. “I have been trained for this, though you are far less insane than someone with your talent and handicap should be.”

She laughed outright. “You haven’t seen anything yet.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Three

 

 

The tour ship that met them meant that Teesha and Reynal had to resume their progress while Veera continued on in the shuttle with Stanik hovering next to her like a hen guarding its chick.

Veera watched the festively decked-out ship as it slowly faded into space. Five hundred people were on that ship, and they were all looking forward to their next port of call. It took a lot of manpower to launch a Halig show, and when that ship docked on a new world, it would bring a lot of power and energy to the performance. It always did.

Veera smiled as well wishes were sent to her from the entire crew on the ship. She missed the performances, the public enthusiasm and the adoration. She had once danced while her sister sang and her brother performed on the drums.

When her mind broke open, she had to stop performing. The thoughts of the people in the audience were distracting to say the least. As her mental net expanded, she was unable to function even to the point of maintaining her own body.

She vaguely remembered years of life support and the agony of thoughts not her own ripping through her mind. While travelling in space, the effect was muted, but when she first landed on Farellen, she had been completely helpless for weeks.

Now, she was back in space, and she wanted to find a way to fend off that feeling of dependence and helplessness so that she would never be vulnerable again. If that meant shackling her mind to that of another, she would do it, just to be able to see her family in concert once more.

The shuttle pulsed and shivered, jolting her as it jumped from one point in space to another. She was slightly disoriented, but it was a relief to have no minds other than those of the three men with her.

They shifted and another jump took them closer to their destination.

Veera looked around her and smiled at Stanik’s protective posture. He was almost bristling with hostility toward the other two men on the shuttle.

“What is a Lyran anyway?”

He smiled. “We are shape-shifters, a designed race. We are predators that enjoy hunting on wild worlds.”

“It sounds like fun.”

“Not as dramatic as being a performer, but I suppose we all have our place. Do you really dance in public?” He raised one eyebrow.

“Not recently. I need to be able to block out the crowd and just feel the music. Since I can’t block, I can’t dance.” She shrugged and gasped as they jumped again.

When the world settled around her, she was clinging to Stanik’s hand. She tried to let him go, but he wasn’t cooperating.

He tapped the back of her hand to get her attention and smiled as he pointed at the view screen. “Your new training site. Welcome to Balen.”

 

* * * *

 

Stanik watched her expression as her mind took in the lack of population on the world below. It was a childlike glee and a hope that should not have had to burn so bright.

“The entire population of Balen is currently at less than one hundred souls, the Citadel is shielded and you will only be exposed to the people you are in the same room with. It should provide you with a good starting point or a blank slate if you wish.” Stanik wanted to take her in his arms. He had wanted it since the moment he first saw her in a digital image with her siblings watching his reactions.

Teesha and Reynal had been performing on his home world of Savvil and looking for a match. The local minder brought him to their attention, and before he knew it, he was watching images of Veera before she had opened her mind.

She had laughed, joked and performed with a zest for life that had taken his breath away. The next images had been her lying in a medical bay, life support attached everywhere and her eyes wide and unseeing.

The image of her joyful countenance contrasted with the later image of her overloaded mind colouring her expression. Her innocence had been lost in one small genetic shift, and Stanik’s mind screamed that it wasn’t fair.

When they offered him the chance to help her, he agreed without hesitation.

Stanik sighed as he watched Veera press her hands to the thick viewing window. Part of his Wyoran training had involved him being keyed to her through her own blood. She would learn that soon enough. For now, it was one confidence too far.

Her enthusiasm for the world around her was impressive considering her condition. Her expression warmed his heart, and the soft curves of her body kept the promise that her images had extended to him. Over his entire lifespan, he had looked for the woman who sent his senses into a spin, and he had found her in a woman cursed with an open mind.

He wondered how well she would accept his other form. Would her open mind extend to accepting his inner beast?

 

* * * *

 

Veera watched as the Citadel grew closer and closer. She could sense minds on the planet, but as Stanik said, there were less than one hundred souls on the surface.

When they set down on the plateau, she shivered. There were two beings nearby, and they were engaged in a heated courtship.

Priina and Rhanos were playing games in the woods. Veera could feel their energy and the static of hormones rippling through their thoughts.

Stanik exited the shuttle first, greeting someone on the exterior.

Veera sensed a vast power and was amazed that she hadn’t felt it before.

A woman was waiting for them, glowing with power on the psychic plane. “Welcome to Balen, Veera. I am Zenina-Balen, Avatar of this world. I greet you on behalf of every living thing and everything coming alive on my surface.”

Veera inclined her head, noting that instead of an open mind, Zenina-Balen had a column of fire where her thoughts should be. “Thank you for your welcome. How far may my mind range?”

“As far as it needs to go, child.” The Avatar smiled.

She sighed and opened her thoughts, taking down the small restrictions she had been able to build over the years.

Two minds were coming in fast, but they were peculiar. They were more animal than sentient at the time, and Veera was still figuring it out when they ran onto the plateau and came straight for the shuttle at a loping pace.

Veera stared. They had long muzzles, pointed ears, huge eyes, monstrous fangs, barrel chests and long silky fur that covered their entire bodies. The one in the lead was carrying a robe.

Stanik moved to stand between her and the incoming beasts, but Veera peered around him.

“Hello, Priina.” Veera smiled slowly.

Priina nodded and inclined her head, carefully draping the robe around her shoulders as she shifted from beast to woman.

Her still-furry companion put himself between their party and his female while she tied her robe. She ran her hand down his fur when she was done.

Priina walked toward her, and Veera met her halfway. “Hello.”

She quickly introduced herself. “I am Veera. Zenina-Balen invited me here while I try to get a grip on my talent. It came on a little suddenly. This is my guard and companion, Stanik.”

Stanik saluted though he was looking at Priina with a lot of curiosity.

Priina cocked her head and assessed Veera with a nod. “You need silence, so we will be on our way to our dinner. I have exercised quite a bit today.”

Veera smiled. “Yes, you have. You will soon be on your way to Udell Base, so Zenina offered me the space while Stanik walks me through self-control.”

Priina laughed. “Funny thing is that I was sent here to lose my self-control. I have to say that the experience has done me good.”

“I hope I have that luck as well.”

Rhanos was in a glaring contest with Stanik when Priina turned around. “Come on, fuzzy face. Let’s let them get settled.”

Rhanos lifted her in his arms and carried her into the Citadel while Veera watched them go.

She looked at her companion. “So, that is what you look like when you let yourself go, huh?”

Stanik’s face coloured slightly. “Not exactly like that. I have different colouration.”

Zenina-Balen grinned. “The Citadel is at your disposal. Stanik knows where your quarters are. If you need anything from me, you need only think it. I will come running.”

“I hope that will not be necessary.”

Zenina-Balen simply smiled softly and levitated away.

Stanik returned to the shuttle and emerged with a bag over one shoulder and her travelling chest in his hands. “Shall we?”

He led the way to the Citadel, and she followed, her mind expanding to cover the entire planet in her web.

The Guardsmen over at the base had minds under strict control. She could read them fairly easily, but they kept their surface minds bright and ready. None of the darkness that most people let go casually during their day seemed to be flicking around. They kept themselves firmly wrapped up.

Veera could feel the grin on her face as she entered the Citadel doors. She was able to relax here, and if she was a very good girl, she might even get to sleep a night through.

 

The room was keyed to her palm in a few minutes, and as Stanik set her trunk down, she hopped from her left foot to the right.

He gave her a peculiar look. “What is in here?”

She palmed the lock and flipped it open. “My life before my brain broke. I have recordings of all my family’s performances starting when I was a child and up until current day. I haven’t been able to watch all of them yet, but I look forward to it.”

BOOK: HeartbeatofSilence
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