December 31st, 2010 | Published in Dragon Wars
“I don’t know about this, Dad,” Lydia said. “Drew’s not exactly the most accomplished liar. I’m not sure he could fool someone for the length of time he’d need to. There’s a good chance he’ll blow your cover and get himself killed in the process.”
“I’d have to agree, Matt,” Sonia said. “He’ll give himself away eventually if he tries that. He’s too fundamentally honest not to.” She frowned at her hands. “There are ways around that, of course, but not if he doesn’t trust us.
“Ways around it?” Andrew asked hesitently. “What do you mean?”
“I could make sure that you didn’t realise you were lying when you were with Emms. I’ve already pulled a similar trick for your father, not that he’s not capable of massive dissembling anyway,” Sonia said. “But you’d have to let me in first, and that’s not happening if you don’t trust me not to brainwash you.”
“That’s… eh… you can do that?” His very obvious spike of anxiety made Lydia swallow.
“It’s creepy,” Lydia said. “Bloody useful, but very creepy. But if our parents were going to mess with your head, Drew, I think they’d have done it before now.”
“That’s true, I guess, but…” He wrapped his arms around himself. “I like my mind, I want it to be my own.”
“There is one possibility,” Sonia said gently. “How about I show you my mind first? Then you’ll know what I think and that I won’t do anything more than I say I will.” She held out her hand to him and the screen around her mind dropped. “Come on, it’s not hard, dear.”
“I- um-” He gave a deep sigh. “I suppose that if you’re intending to brainwash me I can’t stop you anyway.” He reached out and took her hand.
Sonia gave a gentle half-smile. “Not really, no. Your screen isn’t good enough. You couldn’t stop Jayden Emms either. He’s quite capable of smashing your screen and very skilled with mind stuff.” She looked somber for a moment. “It’s lucky Daniel’s is better. Now, dear, you just need to reach into my mind with your own.”
“Um? I’ll try…” A scowl crossed Andrew’s face followed by a kind of stunned look. “Oh, mum! No wonder they-” He’d gone pale but then he shook his head and grinned. “Well at least it makes sense now. That’s amazing. Can I get my hands on some of those blocks sometime? It’s a bit much to take in all at once.”
“History blocks?” Sarah asked. “What did you do, Sonia? Give him a potted history?”
“Pretty much, yes. Once you know our history it becomes apparent why Jayden Emms can’t be right. You can get hold of some history blocks can’t you, Sal? I think Lyd and Dan could do with getting access to them as well.”
“Of course I can. Brierthorne has a load.”
“History blocks?” Lydia asked curiously.
“Objects which have been impressed with a psychometric impression of our history,” Sonia said.
“Oh, wow! That’s such a brilliant idea,” Lydia said. “But what made you go so pale, Drew?”
“I – well – I think I understand why there’s so much bad blood between some Speakers and humans now. Even if the really big thing was several thousand years ago now.”
Lydia looked at him and then frowned at her parents. “What happened?”
“It was when the dragons first attacked Earth,” Sonia said softly. “There weren’t enough Astrals to fight them off, so a group of us apparently found a way to summon and bind Speakers to fight for us. It ended badly for everyone. Most Astrals got killed in the reprisals and the dragons turned their attention to this world as more than just a base of operations. Well that’s the short version. There’s more to it than that. If it were the only time anyone had tried anything so stupid it might not have led to so much trouble, but every so often someone tries again. Fortunately none of the other cases have led to a total massacre.”
“Oh,” Lydia said. “Oh dear.”
“It still comes up from time to time,” Matthias added. “Mostly, interestingly enough, from the Lavernes and their fellow hunters around the globe. There’s a strong argument for thinking that it was the resonant hunters at the time who originally stripped us of our best defenses and then tried to plug the gap with Speakers but the blocks from the time are not very clear.”
“Well, you could ask me,” Rilletta said from the doorway. “I was there after all.” She gave a half-smile when they turned to her with shock.Â “At least since you aren’t discussing this behind heavy wards and are in a public place I assume it’s not private.”
“Actually it is,” Sarah said in a flat tone.
“Then I apologise and will leave you be, but I’ll tell you this: if they hadn’t driven most of the resonants – if that’s what you want to call them – into exile to avoid being slaughtered there would never have been a dragon attack on Gaia in the first place.”