Sometimes, I wonder what it might have been like to be with Sarah sooner than I was, what it would have meant for us—for me. Would we have suffered as much? Would it have been as painful? Would my burdens have been as heavy? In the end, though, I always decide that it was best that I shouldered my burdens alone, because it meant that she had more nights of unbroken sleep.
— Journal of Ryland LeSarte, circa 4861 PD
15 Novem, 5249 PD
Ezra leaned against the console next to Alana, staring at the control boards. “I still don’t fully understand how it happened,” he murmured. “How did he know they were trying to pull a dump from his implant through the ship’s systems back to the station?”
“He probably felt it.” Alana leaned back, her gaze sliding toward him for a brief moment. “You work with this kind of bioware, Ezra. You don’t know that?”
“All I know about how it feels to have it I learn from patients, and all I know about how they really work in practice, not in theory, is from tech specs and what they tell me. I’ve never encountered something like this.”
“I hope you never have to again,” Alana said. She crossed her arms and watched him for a moment, watched his face as his brows knit, his jaw tightened. “What’s the matter?”
“What if I’ve killed him, Alana?” Ezra whispered. “What if I’ve killed my best friend because I didn’t know enough?”
She turned to face him fully. “How were you supposed to know that he’d tap into Lindsay’s brain from a thousand light years away? I didn’t even know he could do that.”
“It shouldn’t be possible,” Grant Channing rumbled from the bunk. He sat up slowly, looking down at his wife for a moment, who still slept. He ran a rough-fingered hand over her hair tenderly, then tucked their blanket up over her shoulder before he abandoned the bunk. He studied both the doctor and the commando for a long moment. His gaze settled on Ezra.
Shit. Am I about to get some kind of lecture he’s thinking I’ve got coming?
“The pilot,” Grant said. “He’s Bonded to my daughter?”
Ezra nodded. “Yes, sir. My sister and I stood witness.”
The elder psychic’s gaze sharpened and narrowed, then he glanced at Alana, who shrugged slightly.
Grant made a sound in his throat that betrayed neither surprise nor concern. “You don’t like him.”
“I didn’t,” Alana admitted. “But Brendan’s good for her, sir. I can see it now even if I never wanted to before.”
Grant nodded slowly, still studying them both. Ezra suppressed a shiver.
He’s her uncle, and she calls him sir. What’s up with that? “He didn’t want to come,” Ezra said, swallowing against sudden tightness in his throat. “He didn’t want to leave her, but this wouldn’t have worked without him. He’s the only person attached to the Foundation that knows Chinasia Corp inside and out. If he hadn’t said yes…” If he hadn’t said yes, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Grant nodded, crossing his arms tightly against the pale gray of his borrowed shirt. “I think I follow. And my daughter’s still back in the Eridani Trelasia system?”
“In Nova Spexi,” Ezra said. “Brendan spoke to her when we dropped out of hyper for course correction before we rescued you.” Rescued. We did rescue him, didn’t we? From what, though, I wonder? He frowned to himself.
Alana’s fingers brushed his and the expression melted as his heart gave a little stutter-step. He tried not to let either of them notice the reaction, covering it with a head-shake. “That was a few days ago, but I can’t imagine she’d go anywhere else. She stays pretty close to home most of the time. Easier on her, I think.”
“The only place she’d go is out into the woods,” Alana said softly. “And without knowing when we’ll be back, she’ll stay close to home. She’ll want to be there.” She glanced at Ezra and he nodded.
“I know she’ll want to be there to meet us.” Not so much to meet us, but to meet Brendan.
Grant began to pace. “Interesting,” he murmured. “Are you sure he was able to reach her?”
“I’m positive,” Ezra said. “I know the look. He had to destroy his implant because Chinasia was getting strange readings because he was using his ability.” Ability either his implant couldn’t pick up when he was young, or ability he didn’t know he had. “They don’t let psychics fly where he’s from.”
“Chinasia,” Grant said. It wasn’t a question.
Grant stared at his sleeping wife for a moment, his jaw tightening briefly as his lips thinned. After a long moment, he shook his head, murmuring, “It still shouldn’t be possible, Bonded or no.”
“What?” Alana’s fair brows knit as she leaned toward Grant.
“The distance,” Grant said quietly. “How long have they been together? Bonded?”
Alana looked at Ezra, a brow arched almost delicately.
Ezra glanced at his feet. “Seven years.” He caught Alana’s wince out of the corner of his eye and winced himself.
She must have suspected it was that long. They’ve been living together that long.
Grant began to shake his head again, opening his mouth to speak, but Alana interrupted him.
“They’ve lived together since he came to E-557. Rachel took him in, raised him with her. Twelve years.” She stared at Grant, watched his face. His brows knit and he shook his head, starting to pace.
“It still doesn’t make sense. How can the bond be that strong? The distance is…” He stopped, hands curling into fists, and cursed under his breath.
“What’s wrong?” Ezra asked, heartbeat starting to quicken.
“LeSarte,” Grant said. “The only time I can ever remember two psychics connecting over such vast distances are the stories about Ryland LeSarte and Sarah Farragut. Rachel…” His voice trailed away and he swallowed before he continued. “Rachel was doing research on them, on their lives, when all it started. She’d confirmed it, found the documents, journals in LeSarte’s own hand confirming that the legends were true, that the stories were real.” The bear of a man knuckled his eyes and cursed again. “How can it be possible for my daughter to be doing the same thing?”
Alana’s voice was a hushed whisper, as if she was half afraid to speak. “Lindsay is the Oracle. Did you hear of her? Of the Oracle?”
Grant grew pale, fumbling his way to one of the other seats along the console. Ezra touched his shoulder lightly and to his surprise, the older man didn’t shake off the touch. “Yes,” he said. “I heard whisperings about a prophet the Foundation had. I never dreamed it could be my daughter.” He stared at nothing, blinking slowly. “My little girl is a prophet,” he murmured. “The prophet. The Oracle.”
The big man buried his face in his hands.
Ezra looked at Alana. She looked stricken, jaw slack, eyes bleak. She heaved herself up from the pilot’s seat and came to kneel on the floor in front of Grant, putting her hands on his knees.
“Commander—Uncle.” Alana’s hands tightened. “It’s all right. She’s all right.”
“You didn’t tell me,” he said, his tone faintly accusing, muffled by his hands. “Why didn’t you say something?”
“Could be because she didn’t want you thinking of your daughter like that,” Ezra said quietly, his hand still resting on Grant’s shoulder. “I’ve known Lindsay all my life, Commander. The fact that she’s the Oracle just meant that we tried to avoid being around crowds, not that she was much different than any other kid. My sister and Alana were still fishing she and Brendan and I out of swimming holes and the bay.” Ezra smiled. “She’s just another woman, Commander, one with a gift she didn’t ask for that she’s handled with grace and poise beyond any I’ve ever seen before.”
The big man took a few ragged breaths. Alana’s knuckles were white as she squeezed his knees.
“It doesn’t matter, Uncle,” Alana whispered. “It’s the only thing I’ve never been able to protect her from, but Brendan does it for me. She’s fine—or will be, once we bring him home to her again.”
“It almost killed LeSarte,” Grant said.
“LeSarte didn’t have Farragut as early as Lindsay had Brendan,” Ezra said even as his stomach twisted. What if he’s right? What if it’s Farragut and LeSarte’s life for them? Ezra glanced over his shoulder at the pale-faced, unconscious Brendan. He watched his friend’s chest rise and fall, rise and fall. He bit his lip.
No. We’ll make certain of that.
When Ezra looked back at Grant and Alana, he saw them staring at each other. He swallowed hard.
“Maybe I should go check on Brendan,” he mumbled.
Alana nodded. “Yes,” she said in a bare whisper. “Maybe you should do that.”
As he turned away, he saw Grant lean down and hug his niece albeit briefly. Not for the first time, Brendan wondered at the family dynamic and decided that maybe, just maybe, he’d understand it someday.
Then, he turned his attention to another branch of the family, a part that he was afraid he’d have to fight desperately to keep alive.