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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

No Place Left To Hide

Khyrisse ground her teeth and forced herself to mumble something nondescriptly reassuring to Ebreth. His face contorted painfully in some desperate effort to get a grip on himself, but it didn’t quite succeed. How he hated falling apart like this in public. Vas, Val, and now Ebreth-- Damn it, I’ve only just gotten myself to the point where I can handle one person having a breakdown on my watch, and now the whole flarking Rat Pack has to do it at once?

“Aren’t you going to help him?” Skitch demanded tensely of Rani.

The detective gave him a withering look. “Did I miss the post where I got my medical degree, kid?”

“You have the Gift. Use it.”

“You have a hand. Why don’t you use that.” Rani rolled her eyes. “I know these are big words, kid, but I’m a psychometrist, not a neurosurgeon. I couldn’t fix anyone’s brain damage if my life depended on it.”

“It’s not brain damage, it’s a--a dissociative flashback.” Skitch stood his ground. “All you need to do is send some kind of psionic packet to disrupt the neural feedback loop. This is first-year psych stuff. If you can make contact, you can do this!”

Khyrisse was simultaneously touched by Skitch’s concern for a suffering friend, horrified at the tone he was taking with Rani, and guiltily impressed by his growing ability to stand up to her. In all his previous arguments with the acerbic halfbreed, Skitch had been ripped to verbal shreds. This time, Rani wavered, and glanced uncertainly in Ebreth’s direction. “Please,” Khyrisse amended lamely. Grendel help me, but I’m going to need to have another Talk with the boy at some point about this haughtiness of his... not today.

“Fekla,” Rani finally muttered, and pushed past Khyrisse, who backed away with as much of a smile as she could muster. “What the hell level is he, 83? I’m not a fucking telepath.” She knelt by Ebreth’s shaking body and pressed four of her fingers to his temple, her eyes screwing shut in irritated concentration. “Hold still will you, I’m trying to hel--”

Rani broke off with an unbridled scream and fell back onto her ass; then to her side, squeezing her hand between her thighs like she’d burned it on a hot stove. Khyrisse stared. Oh gods. Psychometry. She--hasn’t absorbed his psychic impressions, has...

“What is your problem?” Skitch yelled, frustrated beyond any remaining semblance of politeness.

“Jesus fucking CHRIST!” she screamed blindly back at the boy.

The room distorted, weirdly. A piece of something green visible through a hole in one wall. The sky through part of the floor. Khyrisse felt sick to her stomach. She’d been so focused on trying to help Ebreth, she hadn’t even thought about Rani. Ebreth’s going to have a fit if he finds out about this... he doesn’t even like me visiting his dreams...

Khyrisse pulled her own hair. “Uh,” said Jack’s voice. The ceiling was starting to fade in and out. Khyrisse broke for Ebreth’s side. “Pull yourself together!” Skitch shouted. “We’re breaking up here!” Rani screamed a string of Diarian curses of which Khyrisse recognized only two. “Leave her alone,” Val snarled at Skitch. Khyrisse couldn’t remember her ever yelling at the boy before. There was a tree in the room, and then there wasn’t. Khyrisse reached Ebreth and flung her arms around him.

They closed on empty air. Khyrisse was kneeling on a plush carpet in what appeared to be a tastefully decorated casino. The Rat Pack were nowhere to be seen. “Faxhripset ernsko,” she swore in Impish, standing up and kicking a nearby roulette wheel viciously.

There was a startled yell from behind her, and Khyrisse whirled on it--to see her brother pulling back sharply from the arms of the partially dressed Silverlace.

“KAREL!” Khyrisse shouted at the top of her lungs, putting all the pent-up fury and tension of the past twenty-four hours into it.

“Oh, shit,” muttered Karellion.

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