True Son

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Authors: Lana Krumwiede
expressed in a language, and it was difficult to make sense of them. But she seemed to be showing him a memory.
    Jix was in a cage. A cold cement cell with no windows. The floor was damp and smelled of stale urine and putrid meat. Taemon nearly retched from the strong odors. Not only that, but he felt what Jix felt. Sick, weak, hurting all over, and a headache that pounded on her skull. She could barely hold her head up.
    Taemon saw gruesome flashes of what had brought her to this state. Experiments. Torture. Withholding food, water, and fresh air. Forcing her to do things she didn’t understand and had no desire to do. Forcing her to fight people, hurt people, even kill people. The only way to survive was to do what they wanted — to develop a telepathic ability so she could understand her master’s orders and carry them out. The experiment had killed her mate, and it had nearly killed her.
    Then Taemon saw Gevri enter the cage. He had long hair, like when Taemon had first met him, and looked quite a bit younger, maybe twelve or so. Jix felt no fear of humans any longer. If this human killed her, she would welcome it. If this human hurt her, it would be but one more drop in a lake of hurt.
    The young Gevri approached Jix and did nothing. Said nothing. Only lay next to her on the filthy floor and draped his arm around her. Jix used her telepathic ability to search Gevri’s mind for his intentions. She found no malice, but nor did she find pity. Only a desire for companionship.
    Every night, young Gevri came to Jix’s cage and curled up next to her. Sometimes he brought fresh meat and sweet water. Never before had a human given her good food. In return, Jix taught Gevri how to communicate with telepathy. And one night, when Jix was strong enough, Gevri helped her escape.
    Escape. Escape. That part of the message repeated over and over in Taemon’s mind. Torture, misery, hopelessness . . . then escape! Alone, helpless. The rescuer comes, and escape! Escape!
    Okay, I get that
, Taemon tried to relay to Jix.
I understand why you are loyal to Gevri. But why are you telling me this? What does it have to do with me?
    The escape scene from the cement cell vanished. The connection was still strong, but Jix was pausing. Demanding Taemon’s attention but not communicating anything.
    What do you want me to do?
Taemon asked.
    Still nothing, but Jix would not allow Taemon to break the telepathic connection. How did she do that? Jix was one of the strongest telepaths he’d ever experienced.
    The images of captivity followed by rescue were repeated over and over, increasing in speed and intensity until it became almost painful.
    The connection broke abruptly, and Taemon watched as Jix turned and padded away.
    Amma gasped softly. “Did you see that? Jix locked in a cell and Gevri helping her?” Her voice quivered.
    “I saw it,” Taemon said. “Is that the first time Jix has sent you a message?”
    “Yes! But . . . how? I don’t have psi.”
    “You don’t have to have psi to receive a message. Only to send one.”
    “That is the eeriest thing ever.” Amma shook her head and let out a big huff. “What was it supposed to mean?”
    “I wish I knew,” Taemon answered.

How long had it been since he’d slept? Sleep itself seemed like a dream, a thing he used to do in another life, a luxury of days long past. Now he lived in a fog of pain and confusion. A foggy confusion of pain. A confogging fusion of pain.
    Fog.
    White fog.
    Swirling over the brittle stubs of a wheat field.
    Where? Where were the soldiers who wanted to shoot him?
    Where were the archons? He had to find them. He had to protect them.
    Out of the swirling fog stepped Taemon. He held a gun. A bullet hurtled toward Gevri’s face. It moved slowly. There was plenty of time to move out of the way. If only he could move. But the fog. The fog was like snow clinging to his legs and freezing him in place.
Can’t move. So tired
.
    The bullet struck Gevri’s gas mask

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