August 3rd, 2012 | Published in Dragon Wars
Hannah hadn’t gone with the others to help locate Andrew. She’d been planning to go but Tara had asked her to help find out what had happened to her parents. She wasn’t sure how much help she’d be but Hannah couldn’t reject her plea.
“I’m not sure why either,” Tara said when she expressed her uncertainty. “It might just be a hunch but I have a sense we’ll need your help. I’m not usually wrong about this sort of thing.”
“I can’t think of any affinity I have which might be useful for this,” Hannah said. “But I’ll do my best, of course.”
“I know you will,” Tara said. “Now come and sit down.” She was sitting at the dining table with Carl, Collette and a couple of other family members who Lucas had vouched were trustworthy. Lucas, Ian, Sonia, Nerezza and the dragon who had sworn himself to Sonia were there as well. Hannah frowned at them thoughtfully as she sat down.
“We’re going to provide some backup muscle,” Sonia said. “This barrier is very tough and I doubt they have the raw strength to get through on their own.” She scowled into the air in front of her. “And it feels familiar somehow. There’s a sour taste to it I can’t quite place.”
“That sounds ominous,” Hannah said. “So how do we do this?”
“First we have to get everyone into a merge,” Carl said. “Then we scan the barrier for a weak point and hit it.”
“It sounds so simple when you put it that way,” Tara said dryly.
“Well it is, in principle,” he said.
“In principal, yes,” she agreed. “You know how complicated putting a merge of disparate minds together is going to be in practice.”
“Let me take lead in that part,” Lucas said. “Mind is my speciality after all.”
“That’s a good idea,” Tara said. “Please do.”
He nodded and looked around the table. “Is everyone ready?” No one objected and he closed his eyes. A moment later Hannah felt his mind enfold hers.
Let me in, Hannah, he said in her mind. You have to let your defences down. I’m sure they’ve taught you how to do that for a non-family member by now.
They have but it’s not easy. She pushed her defences down one by one until their minds started blending at the edges. She gasped in a shocked breath and her heart began to pound in panic at the alien sensation. She had thought that her lessons at Brierthorn had prepared her for the feeling of merging so closely with a non-relative but she found herself scrambling to stop her defences springing back into place. Sorry.
It’s okay, he said soothingly. Everyone panics the first few times. I know I did. Pause, take a breath and let yourself get used to it. You’ll make it worse if you panic. If you want me to back off, I will.
Hannah shook her head. It’s okay. But your mind feels really weird. She waited for her heart to slow and then made sure all her defences were still down. I’m okay now.
Good. The merging sensation resumed but this time it merely made her skin crawl rather than inducing panic – and even that faded in moments as the merge completed. Only then did she realise that he’d inducted all the others while she was panicking. She had thought he was concentrating on her.
Oh! That’s some multitasking.
I have practice, he said. Is everyone okay? There was assent from everyone. Good. Tara, do you want to take charge now we’re all in?