The group followed Julie’s order suggestions and the merge went smoothly, so they were soon ready to begin.
But how do we do this? Lydia asked. There’s nothing to feed in like we did with the visions of our fight with Emms.
You need to feed your feelings in, Tarian replied. I’ll use my ability to clarify hunches into visions, then Julie will clarify them further if needed. Okay?
I think so, Lydia said. I’ll try anyway.
She concentrated on the churning in her gut and the painful itching in her skin, distilling the sensations down then pushing them at him through the merge. He gasped as he took them and she felt him hug her mentally.
How did you cope with this? he asked. The itching would have driven me insane.
It only got so bad in the last hour or so. If this doesn’t work it probably will make me flip out.
She waited and watched as the others passed their sensations to Tarian as well. No one else felt like they wanted to scratch their skin off like she did, but they all felt nauseous or colicky.
Okay, I have you all, Tarian said. Now I’ll meditate on the sensations. Come with me.
A sense of peace crept over Lydia and the others as they followed Tarian’ lead. It felt like they were floating in a warm, dark place where the sensations they had poured into Tarian were visible as bright threads. Tarian gathered these threads together, weaving them into a tight ball. As he did the light got brighter and brighter until finally it exploded and engulfed them.
It was twilight. Lydia wasn’t sure if it was morning or evening but it felt very soon. This evening or tomorrow morning then. In the half-light she looked for any clue as to where they were but saw nothing especially distinctive. Blocks of high rise flats which looked like they should have been condemned years ago for the poor way they’d been maintained overlooked a small park and some allotments. She tried to turn and see if she could see anything else that might give a clue, but found she couldn’t turn. Her attention was being continuely drawn back to the concrete plaza in front of the blocks of flats.
Whatever is going to happen, it’s going to be there, Tarian said.
There! Karen’s intejection made them all jump. What’s that?
Lydia followed the direction of her sister’s mental gesture. A mostly-human creature with wings of made of light green water and matching eyes crouched above the main door of the flats, obviously waiting for something. He was only partly visible and Lydia had the sense he would be completely invisible to normal senses. More importantly, she recognised what he was.
A Kithreian! she gasped. What’s it doing here?
I don’t know, Tarian said. But I have a bad fe–
He broke off as a black girl in her late teens staggered out of the flats. She wasn’t sleeping but there was a dazed, blank look in her eyes and her movements were so uncoordinated that Lydia wondered if she was ill or intoxicated.
Neither, Tarian said. She’s emerging and it’s put her into a fugue state. In spite of that she’s not flaring so I don’t think she’s infect– Uh-oh!
That last was because a patrol of soldiers had come into view. They trained their guns on the girl and shouted at her to go back inside but it was obvious she didn’t hear them. One of the soldiers shouted again then fired a warning shot over her head. She was still non-responsive but the Kithreian was not. He produced a vial of a glowing liquid that made Lydia’s skin crawl just to look at and hurled it at the girl.