Saturday, September 5, 2015

Crossed Off: Relay (Part IX)

“It sounds like crosstalk to me,” Karam said after Starla explained what had happened with the old man in Greece. He preferred to speak with her out loud, even though they were psychically connected.
I don’t know what that means.
“Well, you sent your consciousness to Egypt, and while you were doing that, this Don guy was sending his consciousness to Greece. You sort of...collided with him, and it prevented you from completing your call to me.”
How do I get back to them?
“Well, you’ve already tried what I would have suggested. It sounds like you don’t really know his phone number.” He threw up air quotes at those last words. “It was an accident. I don’t know that you could replicate it.”
Starla was silent, unable to vocalize her frustration regarding the last few weeks. She thought things couldn’t get any worse following her physical decline, but she was wrong. Something had to change, and quick.

Alec decided to take the next term of school off, and it would have been an uphill battle for Starla’s parents to try to claim that there was any reason for her to go back to tertiary school. They had no idea why her body had fallen into this condition, but they were probably more distraught over it than even her. They paid the bills and modified the house to accommodate her. They did everything right, on paper, that is. But they had a hard time looking her in the eye. They were secretly grateful for Alec’s involvement and patience. She loved them very much, but she didn’t dwell on the fact that they had grown apart. Sometimes, things like that are just unavoidable.
And so, the two of them remained in Winnipeg with Marissa’s family for the next few weeks. Starla would bring the consciousnesses of her confidants to hang out with them. Unfortunately, she could only connect with one person at a time, and Karam was hogging all the appointments so that he could be around Therasia. He had an open relationship with his husband, so there was no problem with his attraction towards her on that front. Though, there was a bit of a problem from their age difference, so he kept his feelings to himself, and also to Starla since she couldn’t help but know.
One of her confidants was too busy to hang out, however. Uruguayan-born Yenifer was always off on one crusade or another. After tertiary school, she decided to forego college and travel the developing world, providing aid to those in need. She had worked for a number of different organizations and was at present working for Food for Somalia on the outskirts of Mogadishu. It was likely the most dangerous situation she had ever been in, and she was currently calling for Starla’s help. I need you to relay messages to Chantal, Yenifer pleaded. In order for two or more of Starla’s confidants to communicate with each other, without using the telephone or letters, Starla would have to relay messages between them. She would have to send her consciousness to one location, pick up the psychic message, then send her consciousness to the other and repeat the thought. And she would have to do this over and over again, because there was no way to connect them together. It was mentally taxing, but it ultimately instilled a sense of community amongst her friends, rather than them being just a scatter of people around the world who all happened to know the same South Carolina girl.
I can do that, Starla said after jumping to Yenifer’s body. She was running through an industrial area. A large group of civilians were running beside her while some kind of small armed military force was providing cover and protection. One soldier, however, had no weapons at all. Instead, she remained up front, barreling through enemies with her bare hands like they were nothing. She clearly had some kind of superhuman strength. She was either another person born with special abilities, or part of a military supersoldier program. She could not yet rule out the latter.
We have to flee the mainland, Yenifer cried. Chantal is the closest known friendly. I need you to coordinate with her. We need permission to enter Seychelles.
I don’t think that she would have that kind of pull, Starla said.
She’ll have to contact the Coast Guard and inform them that we seek refuge from a pirate legion. Seychelles incarcerates the highest number of pirates in the world. I expect them to be sympathetic to the cause.
What have you gotten yourself into, Yenifer? Starla asked like a disappointed mother.
Don’t give me that. This is important. We’re almost to the plane. We need a place to land. Can you help or not? I can just wait until we get to a phone and do it myself.
No, no, it’s fine, Starla insisted. I can do it.
Starla kept an eye on both of them, making sure that Yenifer got to the plane safely, and that Chantal managed to get ahold of the right people. After some discussion, the Seychelles Coast Guard did agree to let them land as long as they agreed to be debriefed, and to let them handle any further piracy issues. Starla ended up staying with Yenifer for a while as she was looking for a way to get the woman with superstrength alone.
“Could you tell me your name? I always like to know who to thank for saving my life.”
Máire Lyne,” the woman said, shaking hands. “And it’s my job.”
“Forgive me, but you possess a level of strength of never seen before.” She looked down to the back of the fuselage. “And there are far more soldiers here than I remember running with us.”
“Many were waiting for us on the plane,” Máire explained.
“I don’t believe that. Do you have a superpower?”
“Of course I don’t,” Máire replied, and it was obvious that this wasn’t the first time she had been asked such a question.
“There are two people inside of my body right now. Me,” she began, “and my friend, Starla. Her body is in Manitoba right now.”
Máire was wary but noticeably excited by this. “Is that a joke?”
They provided her with a demonstration. Physical contact with a confidant and someone else on the other side allowed Starla to transfer her consciousness to that new person. She moved Máire’s mind to Marissa’s house where the gang was playing cards and telling stories. “That was amazing,” she said after returning to her own body. “She’s always been able to do that?”
Starla took over Yenifer’s body completely. “I have.”
My brother and I already know that we’re not alone. Sandro Watts works on a separate team, using darts he shoots out of his fingers. Honestly, Miss Wakefield, I would be remiss if I did not suggest to you that you strongly consider joining us.”
“Sorry,” Starla said truthfully. “I would never.”
“I understand. But remember that we’re here to help; not to hurt. My ability does not only give me physical strength. I’m also able to utilize the intelligence and wisdom of others. I always know how to find the peaceful option, if there is one. Besides, you wouldn’t have to join the paramilitary. There are other positions in the Confederacy. I’m pretty sure one of us works as an interpreter in Hudson.”
“Yes,” Starla nodded. “Ling Guo. I have encountered her. I almost forgot.”
Máire subtly shrugged her shoulders. “Just something to think about.”

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