Friday, September 4, 2015

The Fugitive Pair - Chapter 18

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Michelle fears she and Matt have brought danger into the lives of Zav and his four rogue psychics.

Cassie dropped onto the bed next to Michelle and hugged her. “Don’t cry, Michelle. You didn’t put us in danger.”

Michelle forced a smile as the first tear spilled out of her eye and ran down her cheek. “That’s sweet of you, Cassie, but we both know that’s not true.”

“Neither of you knows any such thing, Michelle,” Zav said. “Danger waxes and wanes around us with the frequency of Terra’s moon. Your arrival simply signals a period of waxing danger for us.”

“Zav’s right, Michelle,” Cassie added. “We’ll tell you our story over dinner and you’ll see. Oh, and it’s my turn to help cook!” Giving Michelle a last squeeze, Cassie hopped up. “Besides, don’t you need to send a message home?”

“Oh my gosh, you’re right! I—” Michelle broke off and gave Cassie a wondering look. “Did you ‘see’ me sending a message home, just like you saw us coming in through that airlock?”

“Nah. It’s just what I’d do if I had parents who love me and were worried about me.” A wistful look stole over Cassie’s face, disappearing almost as quickly as it came. The girl flashed a grin and tapped her head. “Besides, I’m just that smart.”

Wiping her eyes, Michelle laughed as the girl dashed out of the door. Looking at Zav, she said, “Cassie is quite something. The only people who have ever made me feel as welcome as she did are my family.”

“To Cassie, you are family. She’s been having visions of you two for the last year and a half—almost to the exclusion of anything else.” Zav’s gaze followed the girl down the short hallway. “Before that, her visions were all over the place—some of them concerned us, but most of them had no apparent connection to anything or anyone familiar. I thought it would be the same as usual when she first told me about the ‘nice rich boy looking for his parents’ with ‘the most beautiful girl in the galaxy’ at his side.”

Michelle actually blushed at Zav’s words. “That’s very sweet of Cassie, but even I know I’m not that beautiful!”

“Well, I think Cassie shows amazing perception for one so young!” I said.

“You are a very pretty woman, Michelle,” Zav said, “but what Matt said is true. Cassie’s gift lets her see people differently than the rest of humanity sees people. It’s not just a person’s outward appearance she sees. There are times when a single look can tell Cassie who a person was and, more importantly, who they will be. Until you two entered her visions, she rarely saw the same person twice. It’s entirely possible she knows you better than you know yourself.”

Zav stepped to Michelle’s side, put one hand on each of her shoulders, and looked in her eyes. “Cassie loves me like a favorite uncle, and I treasure that. She loves you and Matt like parents.”

Zav’s announcement stunned Michelle and me. For once, I found my tongue first. “What about Cassie’s real parents? Even if she hasn’t seen them in a long time, surely she loves them more than us. I was apart from my parents for seven years, but my love for them never dimmed.”

Zav grimaced. “Cassie’s power manifested at a very early age—much too early for her to understand what was happening. She started talking about strange people and stranger happenings when she was four. Her parents never quite figured out what their daughter was talking about though they found her rambling disturbing. When Cassie was five, they found her crying over the death of another child in their neighborhood—only the child was playing outside right then. The next morning her parents learned the child was killed in a flyer accident a few hours after they found Cassie crying. They immediately took their ‘creepy daughter’ to the nearest Psy Corps office, turned her in, claimed the reward, and just walked away.”

“What kind of parents could do that to their own child?” Michelle wondered, her voice barely more than a horrified whisper. “Did she tell you about it?”

“No. I was there,” Zav replied. As Michelle and I exchanged alarmed looks, Zav held his hands up in a placating gesture. “I was going to build up to that, but once again Cassie has precipitated a change in plans. I used to work for Psy Corps—and that’s why I have more reason to hate them than even you do.”

A girl about the same age as Gene poked her head into the room. She was petite, with raven hair, gray eyes, and an impish smile. “You can trust Zav. Really!”

“Thank you, Kristin,” Zav said. Turning to us, he added, “Kristin is a telekinetic. She’s developing quite a deft touch, too.”

“Did I hear Cassie say Michelle needs to send a message?” Kristin asked. “She can borrow any of my makeup to disguise herself and I’ll be happy to take her to a message center.”

“Thank you, Kristin,” Michelle said, heading for the door. Over her shoulder, she said, “And Matt, I don’t need to tell you to stay inside and out of sight, do I?”

“Don’t worry, Michelle,” Zav said before I could play the part of the put-upon husband, “I’ll keep Matt busy until you get back.”

“Doing what?” I asked.

“We’ll start with you telling me everything you’ve learned and done with your empathic ability,” he replied, “then we’ll get started on your training.”

That brought Michelle up short. Spinning, she asked, “What makes you qualified to train my husband?”

Zav gave a bitter smile. “I was one of Psy Corps’ psychic trainers before I ran off with their four most promising young psychics.”

I felt a surge of excitement. “And you know how to train empaths, too?”

“You’ll be my tenth, Matt.”

“Can you teach him how to defeat the test for psychic abilities?” Michelle asked, her eyes full of hope.

Zav shook his head, “I’m afraid that’s impossible. But don’t worry, there is a lot I can teach him.”

Disappointed, Michelle turned and followed Kristin into the hallway. Zav and I went down to the living room where, amidst the sounds of kids cooking and two girls discussing makeup, Zav began my training.

Can Matt learn enough to keep everyone from dying in the living room slaughter? Find out more in Chapter 19, coming Monday.