fbpx

A. B. And M.: a Psi-Kicks story by: GF Willmetts.

October 4, 2020 | By | Reply More

Lancier slowly opened his eyes, instinctively scanning his whereabouts beyond his vision, filling in the gaps beyond his normal senses. It felt familiar. The smell of brine and seaweed. Sand. Buildings at an odd scale as he drew his scan closer. The village where Ben Fane was prisoner for two days picking out a spy for General Rurik several years ago. Ben had tricked him and had managed to get him to take a real undercover British spy back to Russia. How much had Sara told Max about that escapade?

As per the plan, he had dropped out of sight and hoped he had dropped below Max’s radar so he could be more effective alone and not caught up in his mind games. Let him focus on the rest and give himself time to rest up and focus. Of course, they must have been successful and achieved a time switch of sorts into the 1960s so any searching he’d done was more or less wasted in Victorian England. He wasn’t out to find Max but the Pattern. They were moving too readily in these realities with their desire to infiltrate the Stable so what was giving them that edge? Of course, some of them had Max but it didn’t explain the rest or how to find Sara Seeker. There was a remote possibility they had her captive, too, but there was just no signature. If an amnesic Libertine Rush had lived, so had Sara and if they hadn’t got her, where was she?

Somehow that search hadn’t worked or he wouldn’t be here. Had he been moved through space as well as time? There was a sudden influx of normal sensations…People!…Norms! He was no longer by the sea but in an upstairs bedroom with a party nearby. That was an even a faster spatial shift and he was wideawake. He hated parties. Too many emotionally active people. Looking down, he was also in a tux. Was he expected to join in?

It could have been worse. An invitation to a kung fu tournament, although that was at least ten years into the future. At least Max wasn’t mixing the time periods with what he liked. But a tux? Who was he supposed to be? James Bond? Scanning revealed no gun. Not even waiting for him to collect in the room. Not Bond, but who?

Picking an ashtray off the chest of drawers, Lancier gently tossed it into the area and let it float there, gently spinning. It might not meant he was in a dreamworld, he could dream scooping but it never happened in the real world much to the puzzlement of the scientists when they had observed him. They had been expecting a poltergeist experience but it never happened. Like physical movement that closed down when sleeping, he didn’t scoop up anything in his sleep.

As the door opened, Lancier scooped and embedded the ashtray into door, much to the wry amusement of the woman who came in. A distinguished auburn in a fancy dress and jewellery. He had hopes it might have been Sara but that was quickly dashed. The noise of a party came in briefly as she shut the door.

‘I wondered when you would wake up? I’m your hostess.’

‘I wasn’t aware I had an invitation.’ Lancier studied her. Not a Blank but something odd as well. If not Vampiri, was this a bona fide Pattern?

‘Are you going to come down? There’s some guests who would love to meet you.’

‘I’m not keen on parties. Too many…people.’

‘We…I’m aware of that. They’ll be waiting for you in different parts of the garden.’

‘What should I ask them? What do they want to know? I haven’t resigned from anything as far as I know.’

‘See if they are who you are looking for. I’ve heard you’ve been looking for several people. They might know who they are. They might even point you in the right direction. You might also trade information.’

‘No lightning storms? Bouncing giant white bubbles?’

‘Maybe not.’

‘I’ll be there shortly.’

The hostess nodded and left.

Lancier checks his wrist for drug punctures. There was none. They hadn’t gone that far and drugged an hallucination.

He opened the window onto the balcony. The garden was below and no one in view but he scanned people. He stepped out into the air and floated gently to the ground. It wasn’t as though he was flying about, just easing his weight vector. Right down in front of a man waiting and two men stepped out from the shadows behind him.

‘Don’t you believe in stairs, Mr..?’

‘Jones. I know who you are.’

‘No names. We must keep our secrets, yes?’

‘I can always call you A, General.’ Lancier studied the man before shrugging. ‘I didn’t want to join the party.’

‘Our hostess does marvellous soirées.’

‘So she tells me. I’m not that sociable.’

‘No matter. We talk here.’

‘Do your bodyguards speak anything but their native tongue?’ A scan knew the answer, but how they responded was always revealing.

‘No. I find private conversations easier when they don’t.’

‘Unfortunately, anyone close to me can understand me regardless of whatever language we speak. The Broca part of the brain. We tend to touch it whether we want to or not. You should know that.’

‘Something I overlooked in the report.’ The General looked at his guards, flicked his hand dismissing them and they stepped back into the shadows and they walked away from the mansion.

‘I’m aware of your particular talents, Mr…Jones.’

Lancier nodded, ‘And no desire for a demonstration that would leave you without bodyguards.’

‘Not against you, but some members of the party if they saw us talking.’

‘Even with marvellous soirées?’

‘The guests come from all walks of life. We might not like each other but we share common desires. It how it works but anyone can become a target. Yourself included.’

‘I’ll bear that in mind. What did you want to ask me?’

‘I never understood why you Psionics were not the rulers of the world?’

‘..and having to sort out all the problems of the world? Sort out one problem and a dozen more problems by the end of the week. We’d look like dictators even if we had the right solutions.’

‘And that isn’t a good thing?’

‘Only if you want to be a dictator and have everyone have no free will. We prefer a quiet life. Sort out things below the radar problems before they grow out of control. Not so good at the moment.’

‘Yet are financed indirectly by the UN and your own country.’

‘We have to live. Protect mankind from itself and other menaces that pop up from time to time. Best to be under the public eye than in it. Our pay isn’t that great but none of us have aspirations to be millionaires.’

‘And not be responsible to anyone?’

‘We take some direction but Norms can’t do what we do. They tried for a while but we could farsight and be ahead and sorting things out before they escalated. We protect. We are only the enemy if attacked.’

‘And you give me this information?’

‘It should be in your files on us. I assume you have files. You’ve been attempting to study and infiltrate us long enough. Why not the Vampiri or Fey?’

‘My ancestors watched them. Like you, they have no aspirations for leadership. They are not rivals. Your people seem to avoid infiltration. Your people are the threat to us taking key positions and command.’

Lancier shrugged. ‘We don’t like being replaced. Not a friendly act. We do bite back.’

‘I see. Thank you for your candidness. I maybe see you later.’

The General walked into the shadows. He might have thought disappearing but to Lancier’s scans, he might as well have been in pure sunlight. As much as he looked like General Rurik, there was something odd about him. Not getting the voice inflection right. Another Pattern. Not the real one. Why were they asking about alliances and money? Did they think they could buy us?

Lancier kicked a stone and walked over to the lake where a lady was sitting. The stone followed, shying several times across the water before bouncing on the opposite bank and then remained hovering there.

He was expecting a visage of Sara Seeker but the lady looked more like Ludomere Shear. An element of doubt about their new Psionic. At least it wasn’t one of the Gorgons.

‘A nice party trick,’ she said watching the stone.

‘I’m trying to decide the reality of my situation. What do I call you?’

‘Maybe B. I so like being in the middle.’

‘Like a double agent?’

‘I wouldn’t say that in mixed company. They might believe in it.’

‘Your people don’t sound unified. I think we’re alone enough. What do you want to know? Where my loyalties lie?’

‘Everyone has a price?’

‘You think?’

‘Otherwise there wouldn’t be people like me.’

‘We serve a bigger picture. It’s in our nature. How about you and your people? Are you like a whisper I’ve heard called Zephyr?’

‘Zephyr?’

‘We’ve been studying your people as much and when we can as you’ve been trying to infiltrate ours. Zephyr comes up a lot. Always watching never doing anything but never seen. Quite unlike Pat…’

‘Please no names. I am not like A.’

‘I could spake.’

‘And let you inside my head? That would not be wise.’

‘Don’t confuse spaking with scanning.’

‘So many “s” words. You’re confusing my poor mind.’

‘It’s a way to hide known psionic terms. Don’t confuse telepathy with mind-reading,’ he whispered. ‘Thoughts might leech but it’s a level of surfaces. We aren’t intentionally digging. That takes longer. To spake is just talking into the brain without audio.’

‘Self-control not to dig around.’

‘Mostly practice. It can be hard work. Let’s talk then. What do you want?’

‘Now you’re direct.’

‘A British thing. I seem to have become very popular and you’re in the queue of how many? We might not have much time. You seem very intent on infiltration and chose the wrong path with your own victory with M…’

‘It’s in our nature. Infiltration, not wrong paths. Ruling is easier this way.’

‘Not with your ancestors. They wanted to have the Norms…normal humans treat them as gods. It lasted less than a generation and largely because your people fought amongst themselves. You aren’t long-lived.’

‘History never gets things right, especially our history. You’ve noticed that. It wouldn’t be as easy today. Humans appear to have given up on pantheons and gone for monotheism and not physical presence. We would just add to their number without some real power like your people have. Is it so wrong to infiltrate something that is already there?’

‘Your infiltration wouldn’t have made any difference. You’re not that difficult to spot. We’ve been successful enough stopping you even with my own people.’

‘Until we met, shall we call him M. We took him quite easy.’

‘He wasn’t prepared and I understand you fooled him. I wouldn’t call it a success. Look at the two time shifts. I don’t think that was part of your plan. A manipulation of someone with truly godlike abilities and he let one of your number share when he thought it was someone he recognised. Somehow one of your number acquired some of his ability which assumes your shape-shifting is more than outward appearances or M shared them.’

‘You’ve been putting things together.’

Lancier shrugged and skipped the stone back across the pond and let it float above the water nearby.

‘It’s what I do. Which of you caused the time shift? Your Pat…person or M, you can’t change it back. M wants to but we can’t reach and help him. We need to be in his presence to change things and something is making M elude us.’

‘You can do it?’

‘Maybe but the one person we can’t find is a better fit. Do I need to give a name or can you figure it out.’

‘Your locator. We lost her with the Vodun woman.’

‘And she lost some of her memories but we found her. We thought you had our…locator.’

Lancier paused but B just waited, maybe a stray thought would come to the surface. ‘We need to share a plan. Take your person away from M and he’ll probably revert to normal. M should locate…the locating woman and bring things back to normal. Something you would also want or you wouldn’t be talking to me.’

‘You plan this?’

‘It’s what’s on offer until we can find some other way. You were the ones who wanted to talk.’

‘I will consider.’

‘You must be able to tell them apart.’

‘That might be a problem.’

Lancier spun the stone in a circle in and out of the pond and turned and the woman was gone.

Scanning, the party was still going on back at the mansion but the sound was obscured as a set of footsteps approached. The hostess. C? If this was following the episode, she was supposed to be taking him to the real leader, except this was Pattern and where there was one, it might still be one. Of course, no one knew if they changed personalities when they changed shape. He could almost believe the scenario would turn into ‘A Christmas Carol’ and meet the ghosts of past, present and future…except this was the geeky Max manipulating reality and he had to have savoured Sara’s story about Ben Fane.

‘Hello again, Mr. Jones. Have you learnt anything to your advantage?’

‘I’ve returned some information and some offers but had no response on them. I presume you and them will be discussing the options.’

‘I think it’s a mistake to think my Pat…let’s call them my Patrons are all the same. When some…shall we say copy, they are indistinguishable from the original. We didn’t expect to duplicate psionic abilities of any magnitude, just enough to blend in.’

‘You mean some don’t remember who they were originally? Surely that would go against any sort of master plan you might have? Especially if you get our emotional make-up. Can’t you keep these odd variants away from your battles. They are as much as danger to you as us.’

The hostess shrugged. ‘We don’t really know until it happens. The change is an ecstasy moment. We enjoy our ability to change appearances as much as we like to conquer. Your people have it as well, don’t you? You pun it by calling it a psi-kick. We are closer than you thought in that regard. We enjoy what we are.’

Lancier skipped the stone off the pond and had it bounce up to garden, letting it float there. ‘Except in purpose and your kind chose the wrong person. S…let’s call her S kept M at a distance for a reason. What we have right now is the one thing we wanted to avoid. He was happy to hear of some of the things we do and not overtly use his power. We thought he was too powerful and…well, you…we are living the result. Twice over. It’s hard to say which scenario is his or his double. You have no way of locating S?’

‘You can stop this?’

‘B asked the same question. S makes it easier. We kept away from M.’

The stone spun ever so much faster for a few seconds as he thought. ‘Your new information makes it difficult. Two similar people together means double the effort, even if we could find them. We think we need to repeat the event that caused this to happen and get M to do something different. Mostly because we haven’t found S which means this might be a pocket universe and she wasn’t brought with us for some reason.’

‘You have the vodun witch?’

‘That’s only half of it. She possesses bodies not minds. S is essential. Her talent is tracking people…the right people. She might be able to pin-point where we should be. Your…Patrons have been keeping track of some of us. Have you seen her?’

The hostess shook her head. ‘One of us couldn’t even become her without her being present. The vodun witch and S just vanished when they attacked and reality shifted.

‘You want normality back, don’t you?’

‘We cannot rule what we have here. It doesn’t seem stable. Did I make a joke?’

‘It’s a facet of M’s mind. If we call a truce here, we would prefer the same when reality became normal again. No more incursions by your people.’

‘As with previous generations, it is our nature.’

‘Just as it’s ours to prevent it. Your previous generations weren’t successful.’

‘For a period, they were.’

‘Today’s world is bigger and over-populated. It would be wiser to watch from the side-lines than interfere.’

‘I’m not sure if all my people would do that. I am only speaking for this crisis.’

‘As my own people say, one thing at a time.’

He skipped the stone across the water again before bringing it back.

The hostess was gone. They seemed to be doing that too easy. Had another of their number acquired someone else’s psionic talent? There was going to be a lot of work when normality returned.

Lancier spun the stone high into the air before letting it crash towards the ground. Reality shifted and he was back in the village cottage but still in a tuxedo. His original clothes laid out on the bed.

The only difference was the stone hadn’t reached the ground. Lancier let it float there, vectoring its energy. A minor reality shift but enough to talk. It could have been either Max or the Pattern…Patron Max or someone else pulling the strings but he was being watched. Would the real Max learn enough and find some portal to bring Sara here? If they were sharing thoughts it could be one or the other or both. How many were truly there? They did stop short of introducing him to one of the Max’s, assuming they knew where he…they were. Would they care which one would have survived?

He directed the stone at the wall, its sharp edge embedded. The choice of stone over pebble was deliberate. He wouldn’t have been able to choose had it all been illusion. Which of the Patrons had that power or who else were they directing? They could have chose one of the Gorgons, but why Ludomere Shear? The new Miss Shear will need watching. A lot to digest from all the vague talking.

Levels of Patron types hammered through Lancier’s head as he changed into his own clothes. That didn’t seem to stupid. There was a grading of psionic powers, why should it be any different elsewhere? It was just unfortunate that a real powerful Pattern had took on Max and not one who only masqueraded. The real Max wasn’t the overall problem.

It certainly changed the MO. One of them had seen Sara and the Baroness coming in on the attack and reacted was what they had managed to put together. It wasn’t all the real Max. A fright reaction not a fight reaction, the result was the same. Had the two women been thrown by seeing a pair of Maxes there and wondering who to attack?

At least they didn’t have Sara. If they could bring her here, would it be to them or us. It would be better to work alone for the moment. They and Sara knew where Max was but she would have to adapt to a situation that’s she never encountered when or if she arrived. Would they want to control Sara or risk copying her and hope they had her ability? Would they over-estimate how powerful Sara really was?

Fully dressed, Lancier stopped in his tracks as he left the bungalow. Who the hell is Zephyr? Had Max somehow watched and gave me a different clue?

He scanned the area. The village was deserted. There was a rail track a few miles from here. The Pattern…Patrons were in over their heads and had no solutions. They wanted to know what the Stable knew. What he had given them wasn’t secret. Now they had to work with us to help us. That should change the game plan a little.

Lancier kicked another stone into the air. Thought a minute and flicked a couple more stones to keep it company, vectoring the space so they kept up as he walked. No sense being unarmed but he had no idea where the mansion was but glad he didn’t have to party. He hated parties.

 

© GF Willmetts 2020

© Psi-Kicks, The Stable, Chris Lancier, Ludomere Shear

All rights reserved

As before borrowing

Category: Short fiction

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Leave a Reply

SFcrowsnest