Brian W. Antoine
July 15, 1994
Even in that near coma state that is my mind when I'm asleep, I knew something was wrong. Wrong in a way that had me jumping to my feet and trying to run, even before I was awake enough to focus my eye's. The painful result was that I tripped and slammed into the floor in mid yell.
"Penny! What's wrong!"
If she answered, I didn't hear her as I fought with the cushion I'd gotten tangled up in. I did though notice Lythandi peeking over the top of her sleeping cushion as she watched me with eye's wide in fright. It took me longer than it should have to get untangled. Every move I made was a fight with myself to keep from trying to jump up and run again.
"Penny, Damnit answer me!"
"I did boss. There's nothing wrong that I can see. You having another nightmare again?"
I heard it, and didn't believe it for a second. Every sense I had, both mundane and magical, was screaming that something was deathly wrong. Even as I sat there on the floor shaking in panic, the conviction that I needed to be moving continued to grow. I was on full auto-pilot as I scrambled to my feet and ran from my cabin.
"That's impossible," I yelled as I ran for the flightdeck. "I'm not imagining what I'm feeling. I want a full scan of the entire system and forget being nice to the locals. Dump every probe we have over-board and get them moving right now!" I was acting nuts, I knew I was, and the small shudder the Sunbeam gave as every probe launched at the same time did nothing to ease the panic I felt or my slowly growing terror at what I was doing. I was running full tilt through the hatch to the flightdeck when I finally realized what had happened. When I slid to a stop against Nek's saddle I had the shakes so bad I couldn't stand up.
"Brian, what's wrong?" yelled Penny as she saw the look on my face.
"Bring the Sunbeam to a stop right now!" was all I could get out of my throat. @Penny, link with me!@ and I turned to stare at the hatch I'd just come through. Like a door opening onto a storm my sister fell into my mind and saw what was going on. Some part of her began to panic even as we both fell into sync and began the spell.
Penny provides the speed and accuracy and I provide the ability and knowledge. When I failed for the third time in as many seconds to concentrate sharp enough to begin the spell, she pulled the knowledge from my mind and used me to provide the raw power needed to force the universe to open a gate back to Velar using the hatch as the anchor. It was barely stable before I jumped through it and landed in the meadow at the other end. Two things followed me through, Lythandi and Penny's voice telling me... @She's alive, something else broke your link with her!@ Neither one of us believed it.
I took one step and teleported into the middle of the living room of our home. Where there should have been light there were only the fading dim remains of the sunset outside. With everything I had I screamed for my mate...
"*% KAL! %*"
Half the planet probably heard me, but the mind that I'd come to love beyond anything else I'd ever known stayed silent. Even as I started to head towards her workrooms at the rear of the house I think I knew that her memory was all I had left. When I tripped over something in the hallway and lit a small magelight, I knew it for certain. Anyone who hadn't heard my first scream had to have heard the second as I looked down at the remains of my family. I was sick, scared, furious and a half dozen other things all at the same time. Finally, my mind just shutdown and I sat down in the middle of the hallway and cried.
I think I remember hearing someone else scream, but I was too numb to respond. It wasn't until Tan touched me on my shoulder to get my attention that I realized he was even there.
I looked up at him and then back down at the head I was holding in my lap. "Tan, can you help me put Kal back together? She's broke and I can't get the parts to work right." All he did was bow his head and start to shake. "When we get her working again we can fix Wythdantis and Lan Louis. I think I found all the pieces, though we may have to search some more," and I started sorting the various bloody remains I'd found scattered around the house. "Tan?" and I sat there confused while he jumped up and ran from the house. "Oh well..." and I looked down at the head I held in my arms. "Don't worry, I can fix you. I'm a very powerful Mage you know, I can fix anything!"
I looked up and found Lythandi kneeling in front of me with her arms out. "Oh, do you know how to fix her?" She nodded, so I handed her the head and waited. Like a small child looking up to a parent, I trusted her with every fiber of my being. When she started to cry though I could feel something inside me begin to scream for attention and I started to hick-up as I tried to keep from crying myself. It wasn't meant to be I guess. I was numb to the core as what sanity I could claim reared its head and I pulled Lythandi into my arms to hold her. Together we sat there amid the remains of our family and grieved for our losses.
Grief wasn't the only thing that I began to feel though and when Tan managed to return to stare at us, I looked up at him. What ever he saw in my face caused him to stumble backwards as I stood and pulled Lythandi to her feet. "Come my friend, it's time to leave," and I led the two of them from my home. The moment we cleared the door it slammed shut as did every other door and window within hearing. Before we'd made it down the path to the road that ran by the house, the house itself began to glow a dull green that quickly grew in intensity.
"Good-bye and safe journey..." was all I said to send my mate, my son and my friend on their way as the house began to waver and fade from sight. "Tan, do you recognize this?" and I handed him the Oweesee Clan insignia that Wythdantis had refused to turn loose of even in death. She'd refused to turn loose of the dozen or so Oweesee that had cornered her in the kitchen as well. They had to have caught Kal by surprise, but Wyth had taken a lot of them with her as she had defended my son.
"Where did you find that?"
I just nodded towards the fading outline of my life as the last of the light died away. "I have something I have to take care of now. Would you please watch out for Lythandi for me?" He started to complain I think, but I said "Thanks" and vanished into the night.
I'd never been to my destination before so I 'ported in high above the ground to avoid problems. As I hovered a couple of hundred feet above the road, that passed in front of the entry to the courtyard, I listened to a stray thought ask 'how do you know he's involved' and smiled to myself as I thought about it. "Ok you son of a bitch. Let's find out how dirty you are," and I lowered myself to the ground just outside the double doors of the entrance.
It was early dawn on this side of the world as I started beating on the doors of the person who had been systematically trying to destroy my reputation the last few months. It would have taken a good deal of personal power to convince the Oweesee to come down from the mountains and try to kill me, even if they did hate me and everything I'd stood for. The bastard on the other side of the door I was pounding on had both the power and the motivation to use it.
"Good morning, what can..." and the words died in her throat as she got a good look at me from the small window in the door. Most of my emotions were still bottled up tight, but I did feel some faint echo of amusement as she screamed and turned to run.
"What's the matter, never see this much blood before?" and I blew the doors into shrapnel with a thought. When I walked through the remains I found two people sprawled on the ground bleeding. "Next time find someone honorable to work for," and I teleported them both directly to the emergency room of the local hospital.
"Valthandal ne Zan, show yourself or I'll burn this place to the ground around your head!" I yelled as I stood in the middle of the courtyard. I knew exactly where he was, but I wanted him out in the open. A half dozen doors around the second floor opened to people looking out to see what the hell was going on. The door I wanted was the last to open and the look on his face as he spotted me just flamed my anger hotter.
"I should have known better than to expect civilized behavior from one such as you," he said with disdain as he waved everyone else back into their rooms. "This just proves..." <gack>
His words died in his throat as I teleported beside him, grabbed him by the throat, and lifted. His first reaction was to take a swipe at me and I barely even felt the slashes he opened in my side as I squeezed. In my rage I could only think of two things. Killing the bastard who had destroyed my family and staying alive long enough to do it. That maniacal focus kept me healing myself as fast as he slashed me, while I let my rage fuel the psi probe that I turned loose on his unguarded mind. Even as he gave up trying to kill me, his mind gave up its secrets and I knew I had found Kalindra's killer. He may not have been there, but he'd hired the Oweesee in person. If anything, my hold on his throat tighten as I teleported us both into the middle of the local town square.
"You can't prove a thing," he managed to gasp as I continued my invasion of his mind. It was the last thing he ever said aloud. When I had destroyed the parts of his mind that controlled movement I released him to float above the ground while I backed away. Hanging there in mid-air I made sure he felt everything I did as I began to systematically destroy the rest of his mind as well.
"For the life of my mate, my son and my friend. I now sentence you to damnation for the remainder of your own life. I won't have to prove a thing since you are going to tell everyone exactly what you have done." I'd left him enough of his mind to realize what I was doing as I looked around at the crowd that had gathered in horror. Every one of them was watching me as I turned to face them.
"I once helped save this world because one of you cried in my arms and asked for help. I stayed and became her mate because I saw something in her that sang to me of honor. Her death I now lay at your feet because you choose to let one of your own kill her because of profit." I was crying again as I finished and I used those tears to moisten the blood that covered my hands. Stepping to the body that still hovered in the air, I drew the symbol for our family name on his chest in Kalindra's blood.
"Let the punishment be complete," and I teleported him three feet straight down into the earth of the town square. Even with most of his mind fried he managed to scream almost as loud as the ground itself as the lower parts of his legs materialized inside solid rock. I'd buried him deep enough that both leg joints were underground. He had no choice but to stand erect as I touched his mind one last time. "Tell them," and I fused his mind into nothing but pain, memories and enough telepathic ability to broadcast both around the world. Everyone in the town square, indeed everyone on the planet now had no choice but to listen to him scream and tell his story. Pulling a scrap of cloth from my pocket I flung it at his feet. "Now for your hirelings..." and I vanished once again.
This time I knew just where I was going. This wasn't the first time I'd warred with this particular group, but it would damn well be the last. As I appeared on the top of the mountain that overlooked the area they lived in, my rage continued to grow to the point where my eyesight was starting to narrow. I almost missed seeing Tanindra sitting on the ground as I looked down on the race I was about to destroy.
"I knew you would show up here sooner or later," he said as he winced at the voice he was hearing in his head. "What are you going..." and he fell silent as I turned to look at him.
"Is Lythandi safe?" He nodded slowly as he looked back at me. "This isn't going to be a safe place to be when I..." and the rest of it died as all the rage, pain, love and despair I'd been keeping bottled up inside finally broke loose. Turning my back on him I faced the mountains in the distance and began to sing.
Singing for me is my way of tapping that part of my mind that controls the greater magic's I'm capable of. More often than I can remember I've been told I can't sing worth shit. Maybe so, but two notes, if they're the right ones, can move mountains. Moving them wasn't what I had in mind and for the first time in my life the song came without working for it.
I sang of the only family I'd ever know where I felt I belonged.
And the world grew silent as it listened...
I sang of my pain and the grief that was tearing my soul apart.
And anything that could run away started running.
I sang of my rage at a race that would do this to those I loved.
And the stars themselves offered me the energy to take my revenge!
When the last note died in my throat I stared out at a scene that had last been seen when the planet was young. Where before there had been mountains, there was now a caldera that bubbled to itself as the pockets of gas escaped the surface. My revenge was complete yet I felt nothing in response to the scene before me. Everything I'd felt was gone like a slate wiped clean, or shattered and discarded. The closest I came to even a faint echo of emotion was when I turned and found Tanindra curled into a ball with his arms over his ears.
*This is your world to protect now. You might try to teach it the value of what it threw away.*
"Is it over?" he asked as he uncurled and looked in terror at what I'd done.
"And so am I my one time friend." Pulling a knife from my belt I threw it into the dirt at his feet. "I'm leaving now either by your hand or by my own choice. In either case you'll never see me again." Tan looked at the knife I'd offered him and the pleading look in my eyes and shook his head. I nodded, and reaching up I removed the ruby in my ear and tossed it in the dirt next to the knife. From my pocket I pulled the last gift Kalindra had been able to leave for me and fastened the stone from her ear in my own. It was all I would have to remember her by in the years to come.
"Tell Lythandi good-bye for me" I said and in a flash of fire I left the world of Velar for the last time...