WARNING: Anything that could be construed as a political opinion is not necessarily my own. It is a statement of fact of a fictional history. (Meaning it isn't true, and I'm not trying to force my political outlook on you)
For the next week, I couldn't concentrate. All I could think of were the students in the forbidden wing, and I couldn't decide whether I was happy or upset that my dorm was relatively close to said wing. Soren never contacted me; I was beginning to think it was all a dream, albeit a very real and very strange one. I continued to take my classes, continued to practice the simulators, and continued to stand alone. Soren's comment about me being an overshot still smarted and my following reaction scared me. How had I known? That infernal buzzing hadn't gone away either. In fact sometimes, it seemed to get worse. Much worse. In all my classes I was distracted. Usually, I was bored (because I had taken the classes before), but attentive. Now, the noise was driving me crazy. Sometimes, the teacher had to repeat a question two and three times before I even realized I was being spoken to. If only the teachers didn't have that stupid policy of not bothering the dean until it was a crisis. Couldn't they see it was already a crisis? I was going crazy and they didn't do a thing about it. Granted, they couldn't see anything wrong other than my severely truncated attention span, but I was falling apart inside.
The buzzing wasn't even a constant. Sometimes it seemed as if hundreds of people were screaming at the top of their lungs right into my ear, and it was loud enough to drown out even my own thoughts. I couldn't make out the words. Occasionally, it would diminish to less of a flood, more like a river, and it was lost in the roaring silence between my ears. I found that in my room it was the best, barely a trickle of static. I started going there right after class let out, and during meal times. None of the students noticed anything out of the ordinary other than the fact that my grades were dropping like flies, and even then I was such an outsider that they just ignored me. If I had had time for religion, I would have been praying night and day for Soren to contact me. I cried myself to sleep every night and woke up every morning fighting exhaustion and the most massive migraine I have ever had.
Ten days after my excursion into the forbidden east wing, the buzzing finally started getting softer, but it was still a torment. It was nonexistant in my room and tolerable in the lunchroom, but it was still horrible in the classroom. I had just about resolved to throw myself from the top of the North Tower when I went deaf.
Well, not really, but that's what it felt like. The teacher had decided to take us down to the geodome fifty feet below the sub-basement. It was a huge cavern more than twice the size of the school complex. Trees, grass, WATER running on the ground, animals too; it was a paradise! There were habitats that couldn't be found anymore on Earth, like rainforests and plains, and even an underwater habitat! The rainforests on Earth had fallen to commercial burnings about 500 years ago, and with them went all their inhabitants. To make a long story short, the food chain collapsed. In a desperate attempt to create and conserve food sources, governments built factories and depositories in and along the seas. In less than ten years, the pollution grew so bad that the water stagnated and the marine life started disappearing. Before the Earth knew it, half of it was dead.
The environmentalists who had been mocked and ignored for centuries finally came into their own. They had the scientists concentrate on space travel and geodomes, and threw themselves into saving the last gasps of the living Earth. A few die-hards still protested their efforts, but the bulk of the population had recognized the time for fighting had ended. It was time to work together to save our planet.
Thus spoke the teacher; in the same speech he made every year. Those of us who had heard it before almost slept though it, but perked up when he said we could roam around for the rest of the day. "The day" being until the artificial light mimicking the sun dimmed and the 'moonlight' took it's place. The scientists had actually done a remarkable job on this place; it was the first and greatest of all attempted geodomes. Virtually all the habitats except the deserts were to be found here. Deserts, Earth had plenty of. I wandered past the jungle habitat, and stopped briefly before the ocean. It was a truly amazing feat of modern technology. They had managed to create a force field that stopped the water better than any glass couldNot even the immense pressure of the water could break through the field. I was particularly proud of that bit of ocean, because my grandparents somewhere up the line had been a part of the force field team. Meandering past the plains with their prairie dogs and coyotes, I stopped at the deciduous forest. I loved it here. The trees blocked most of the light and the rest came down as if through a green filter. I could still faintly hear the rest of the students running around, yelling and laughing, and of course, the always present buzzing. They all avoided the forest. I think they thought it was scary or something. I couldn't see why, it was so peaceful here. Birds singing, leaves blowing in a gentle wind that ruffled my hair, and a small spring that fed a lively little stream. It was amazing how they managed even to keep the air quality and temperatures apart to preserve the integrity of the different habitats. It smelled of verdancy and life.
Slowly, the animals came out of hiding. I had befriended a little long-eared creature called a rabbit. It was very sweet and was content to sit in my lap for hours. As it hopped out of it's tree, it twitched its nose in an adorable way, and I couldn't help but laugh. Suddenly, it froze, and everything else in the forest seemed to as well. No birdsong, no movement, no wind in the trees, and perhaps most noticeable of all, no gurgling water. My ears rang in the silence, and then it hit me. The buzzing was gone. So was the muted laughter and shouting from the other students. I was stunned. I took a step toward my little rabbit, thinking it would help calm me, but it laid it's ears back and shivered I took another step, hoping against hope, but it darted away from me, and that seemed to be the cue for all the other creatures to disappear whence they had come. In seconds, I stood absolutely alone, in the middle of a deserted clearing, next to a silent spring, and it hurt more than I had believed possible.
I don't know how long I stood there, trying not to cry, trying to understand what had just happened. I don't think it was very long. My head felt empty. My only unconditional friends had apparently deserted me. What was going on? I was terrified. And then a voice that I had not expected to hear again filled the emptiness.
"You're really naïve, you know that?"
I whirled around, trying to find him, but he was nowhere to be seen. My terror turned to anger and I tried desperately to control it. Things happened when I was angry, and I didn't want anything to happen. Why was he playing these games with me? "Idiot, look up!" I looked up and there, over twenty feet up in the air, was Soren, leaning casually against the bole of a great spreading oak. His left foot was crossed over his right and his arms over his chest, and I didn't even want to think about the thickness (of lack thereof) of the branch supporting his weight. Even though I couldn't see his eyes (the light was behind him and hiding his features), I got the impression that he was glaring right at me. "Lesson number one: Just because you can't see your enemy doesn't mean he isn't there." And he jumped. Not forward, not onto another branch. Down. I shrieked as he came flying down at me, one leg extended to catch his fall and both arms up to protect his face from the wind of his passage. I flinched away from him and stumbled, tripped over a rock, and fell on my butt. Soren landed lightly, and gazed dispassionately down at me. I looked up at him and was caught totally by surprise. His eyes, which until now had been hidden in one way or another, were visible, and they were the most incredible shade of blue I had ever seen.
I blinked at him, and then all the questions that had been building up came rushing out.
"What are you doing here? What did you do to the animals? Where'd everyone else go? Where's the buzzing? Why-" Soren glared at me and I immediately shut up. Hey, I may hate the guy, but I'm not stupid!
He didn't say anything, but there was this twitch in my head that I was starting to recognize as the mark of eminent contact. So I beat him to the punch.
"And could you talk to me? It's getting annoying to only hear your mindvoice." Well, maybe I can be a bit stupid...
He didn't move for a minute, and I thought that he was going to kill me for being so flippant. But then he stepped back and let me get up. I raced to the side of the spring to get some space between us, and briefly considered not stopping. Briefly, because Soren was abruptly standing in front of me. I yelped and tried to swerve, but I couldn't stop in time. I threw out my hands to soften the impact, but to my complete surprise I ran right through him, smack-dab into the tree behind him. While I was busy studying the make-up of plant cells without a microscope, Soren invaded my mind again. "Lesson number two: Just because you can see your enemy doesn't mean he's there."
"What are you talking about?" I snapped. "How can a person be visible but not there?"
"And what if the person isn't there?"
Two things startled me. One, that he had answered my question with another, and two, that he had spoken to me. As in, with his voice. It was deep, a little deeper than I thought it would be for such a little guy. Shaking my head to rid it of the fog this unexpected twist had thrown it into, I waited for him to go on. He didn't, and was obviously waiting for me to say something. Feeling flustered by this subject that I knew nothing about, I attempted to change the subject.
"Look, why are you here?"
"Don't tell me that you already forgot our first meeting!" Soren's voice dripped with shock and disbelief and was heavily laced with sarcasm. I didn't appreciate it, and the alien feelings of contempt I felt wafting through my brain didn't help any.
"Yeah I remember our meeting! That L'kaira character was scary. And Harin was there… and a few other people…"
Now he was staring at me is true surprise, with a contemplative look on his face. And a gleam in his eyes that was giving me shivers of apprehension. "So you truly don't remember? Hmm, this could get interesting…"
"I hope you aren't planning on doing anything without my consent first! Whatever you're planning to do, it obviously involves me, and I want to have a say in what happens! And-"
"Oh, give it a rest will you? You don't have enough knowledge to give a good accounting of yourself, so I would just shut it before you dig yourself any deeper. Now here's what's going on, since I don't feel like listening to you anymore. And I'll start at the beginning for politeness' sake." He switched to mindspeech; I guess the strain was too much. "Have you ever noticed anything strange about your trips to the forest? Like the fact that one particular animal always seemed to come to your will?" Now that he mentioned it, it did seem strange. All of the other animals acted just like they were supposed to, but that one rabbit always came whenever I needed some unreserved love. It had just seemed so right, that I didn't think about it. "Will you stop interrupting me please?" He sounded as if having to be this patient was killing him. "Let me finish. This is the only incident of it's kind that we have ever heard of. Apparently, your telepathy has been developing, in some bizarre fasion. We haven't been able to sense it and neither have you. The fact is, your rabbit is here because you are a telepath."
"What?!" I exclaimed before I could stop myself. A mildly annoyed expression flashed across his face before it disappeared and he continued. "You. Are. A. Telepath. And you have a familiar."
A/N: Ack! I'm sorry for the cliff-hanger, but I need time to write the next chapter, and I feel guilty about not posting. Everybody give a HUGE round of applause to my gorgeously wonderful, patient, smart, observant, sharp beta Earthsong12!!!!! (She'll be really mad at me for writing this, she doesn't know I was gonna put this here. ;-D) Hopefully, she'll consent to beta the rest of the story, it's turning out so much better than I had hoped. Oh, and go read her stuff, it's wonderful!!!
Thank youfor reading! Constructive criticism is welcomed!
Next chapter: Rena-ah comes to terms with her telepathy, and we learn more about her contemporaries! (meaning I'm running out of plot and need time to think. )