Veera’s mind broke wide open during a tragedy. A telepathic call for help sent her into a coma where every mind around her was open to hers.
A stint on an island where no one spoke or thought a harsh word was just what she needed, but when she was offered a chance to live a life out in the open, she agreed to everything that the shape-shifter asked. Life was something that she needed to find.
Stanik trained to be Veera’s link for eighteen months. When he finally met her, her physical presence sent his senses reeling. The reality was much better than the images her family had sent him to entice him into agreeing to share his mind with hers.
He gives her stability, and she gives him attitude, a challenge and someone to protect. It is a fairly even swap.
Halfway to the garden of new arrivals, she heard a gong. Veera paused. There was no service scheduled for today.
The gong rang again marked with a sharp chime and a third gong.
“Someone is calling.” Veera turned and headed for the dock on the far side of the island.
Three of the sisters passed her and nodded, their hands hidden by their robes as they bustled past her, going to hide in the chapel. It was standard for the sisters not on duty to hide when they were not needed for a ceremony. Veera had tried to ask them about it, but she only got the vague answer in hand signals that it was a tradition.
She moved quickly but decorously across the paths until she could see the dock and her visitor.
The sister on duty walked past her, heading for the chapel. Veera reached out and touched the minds of the people just beyond her line of sight. Her feet picked up speed as she ran to greet her sister and brother. The other mind that was with them was harder to spot, but if he was with her siblings, she didn’t see a problem with him.
She could always flay his mind with hers at a later time.
“Teesha, Reynal!” She ran forward, and her siblings embraced her.
They laughed and hugged together as Veera ran through all of their current thoughts and events in their lives. She smiled and caressed Teesha’s cheek. “I am glad to see you.”
Reynal tapped her nose with a finger. “You have learned to be politic, dearest Veera.”
She inclined her head. “The sisters have been good for me. I needed this silence. Come with me to the Garden of Tears and tell me why you are here.”
Teesha nodded and turned to look behind her. A shadow detached itself from the wall and took a few steps forward.
Veera swallowed heavily. Something about him spoke volumes without saying anything. His mind was completely silent as he approached her.
“Veera Halig, I am pleased to meet you.” He extended his hand, and she took it, jolting as a wave of heat rolled up her arm and rippled across her body.
“I…” She frowned and looked to her siblings.
Teesha was amazed, but Reynal took point. “Veera, this is Stanik Arlinik. He is going to be your link.”
She shook her head, dazed by the hormonal surge the light touch on her hand caused. He released her fingers, and she stepped back. She gestured for them to follow her. “I believe we need to discuss things.”
Teesha and Reynal Halig followed her, but Stanik stayed at her side.
She led the way to the Garden of Tears and gestured for them to take seats on the benches arranged in conversational settings.
She primly smoothed her pink gown around her legs and perched next to Teesha. “Not that I don’t appreciate you taking time out of your performing schedule, but why are you here?”
Teesha smiled. “When you were first afflicted, we didn’t know what to do. Mom and Dad looked into every remedy or treatment that they could find.”
Veera wrinkled her nose. “I remember.”
“Well, when I was off world performing, I ran into a Wyoran who told me about members of their populations born with open minds, like yours. They get what is called a link. It is a person who can offer them mental stability until they can match their self-control with their talent. Similar to the braces Reynal had to wear on his teeth until they straightened.”
Veera laughed. “So this is a Wyoran thing?”
Teesha rubbed her nose. “Well, yes and no. Farellens don’t match well with Wyorans. Our minds are too dissimilar. As the family travelled, we went looking for a species that had someone with a mental signature that matched yours and was willing to devote possible years out of their life to helping you master your talent.”
All of them turned to stare at Stanik, and he sat casually as if sitting and sunning himself was all he had planned for the day.
Veera cleared her throat. “Please tell me that the volunteer is Mr. Arlinik’s little sister.”