Breaking the News
disconnected Vin sat back and contemplated the problems having a
toddler daughter would bring, it all depended on if Ambrose had managed
to make a parent bond with Rowena because if he hadn’t there was no way
Vin’s was leaving his daughter in such a Psi stressful state because
without a parent bond she would end up a Warrior from the stress her
mind was under. Hell even if old Ambrose had formed the bond
which solved that problem there were still a lot of other problems
raising a baby Psicon brought a parent, problems that as her Pa and
Captain it was his job to supply the solution to.
Frowning he went over the pressing problems and what would be needed to raise a baby Psicon easier. The two things that needed to be handled the most were the Resonance field all AMM have that could disrupt Crystal Resonance due to the clash in Rez and the second the Psi sensitivity all Psicon have. While the second problem would be half solved with a parent bond to help shield the baby’s developing mind it wasn’t perfect so over the centuries the Legion had developed what they called baby tech to bridge the gap. The baby cradles and toddler beds on a Confederation Ship all had Psi Shields built into them and so did the baby’s clothes. The AMM resonance field was handled the same way until the child was old enough to control it and their Psi themselves, yet even with all the baby tech to help the parent bond was the main protection and control a developing child needed without that added protection all the special field disruptors and Psi shields sown into the child clothing or built into the babies beds only did half the job, just as the opposite was also true, his own childhood proved that his Ma and Grandpa hadn‘t dared use any baby tech on MesaTex in case they died and it fell into the hands of the normal humans and it got used against the Legion, because of that Vin had been raised out on the Dralk plains most of his human contact with the Amerid Tribes who used little Crystal. He’d found out when he was found by his Ship that his Grandpa had sent all the Ghost Shuttles into orbit when Blenken hit MesaTex not wanting them falling into Human Corridor hands, once in orbit the shuttles had opened the airlocks and exposed the interiors to space to kill off the Blenken plague then sent a distress call to Guiding Light with a recording of what was happening, even after the exposure to space Uncle Dayfad and the rest of Guiding light took no chances with the Shuttles they decontaminated them completely before they brought them back to the Citadel.
It wasn’t until the Maybourne’s found out he was Wild CLR and Ghost Born that the place he and Grandpa had been living in out on the Plains was tracked down and Grandpa’s journal telling what the few survivors of the first stage of Blenken had done to survive after they sent the shuttles into orbit, the first stage of Blenken had a eighty percent immediate mortality rate amongst the Ghost exposed to it, the other twenty percent dying slower as the second stage took it’s toll on their organs, Grandpa had been the last Tanner to die ten years after that first exposure being unlucky enough to be the only one to have it go to his brain. Even when the Blenken had turned him Paranoid and forgetful he had been careful not make any reference to Ghost Tech in the Journal but other than that it had been a record of their life on MesaTex. The Journal had told of the shock to the survivors when his Ma got pregnant and the Healers at the Port telling her she should have an abortion as the stress of a pregnancy wasn’t exactly good for her failing health and the odds were the baby would be born with Blenken was great. The Journal had been full of amusement at his daughters stubbornness about bringing the baby to term once she found out there was a slight chance the baby would be born immune, the death of her husband when he finally succumbed to the damage the Blenken had done to his heart made her Tanner stubbornness kick in even more during the pregnancy, they had all been relieved when the Healers at the Port confirmed that he seemed to be born immune to Blenken’s but their joy and plans to send him to Guiding Light and safety had been dimmed when the Healers warned them he might be a Blenken carrier. That last bit of news ended all the plans to send him back to the Ship but that didn‘t stop his Grandpa insisting Vin having the heart switch he made and programmed installed anyway as he knew the O‘Neill’s would have problems holding the Citadel without a Tanner Captain and eventually a cure or vaccination for Blenken’s would be found and the Citadel could come retrieve their Captain.
The rest of the Journal had been a record of the deaths with a slight mention of the decision to move away from both people and Crystal to raise Vin until they could train him to control the AMM field he was born with, later on was mention of him using his Mind Ripping talents to save Vin’s life when his mother died breaking the Psi parent bond when he was five as well as the old man’s worry it would happen again when he himself died and the decision to train the boy so he could survive that Psi bond breaking.
The journal hadn’t been much but it did explain so much and gave him a link to his family it was only years later after he returned to his Ship that he found out the burden he had been on the surviving Tanners, baby Psicon’s weren’t exactly easy to raise due to both the Psi sensitivity and the AMM rez field they were born with, and as a Battle Psicon in the double high range Vin was more sensitive than most, the Tanner‘s had to move away from people and Crystal without the centuries of Baby tech used on the Ships to cope with both problems as they couldn’t risk building that tech and it falling into Human Corridor hands if they died without warning, that was the same reason they tended to stay near the Tribes they wanted Vin found if they died which was exactly what happened with his Grandpa, he had been found in Psi shock and the Comanche Shaman tended him until he recovered enough to bring him to the Maybourne’s, while the Tribe would have been willing to keep him themselves they knew better than to try as his looks would have shown anyone who saw him that he wasn‘t a member of the tribe and they would have been accused of stealing him.
All of which brought up the problem of the Baby Tech again, if little Rowena was living with him they could probably chance it as if anything happened to him Ezra would be on hand to keep it out of the normal hands and if not Ezra, Chris and Bucklin could take control of it once the need to hide it from the Federation was explained but living with Ambrose it would be a bigger risk but unfortunately even more needed to raise Rowena because while he hadn‘t lied when he told his Uncle he wasn‘t worried about her Psi creating Poltergeist activity like he did as a baby, he wasn‘t sure how strong a Psion-Psicon parent bond actually was and even if it was strong enough to handle the Psi needs of shielding a baby Psicon. Ambrose was only a Psion so their was the added problem that he wouldn’t be able to use the bond to control her interaction with Crystal like a Ghost Parent would do, which made the use of baby tech pretty much vital if Ambrose ended up raising her. Trouble was the baby tech was amongst the hidden tech, as such it was kept carefully out of sight of normal humans eyes or extremely disguised, looked like he, Uncle Dayfad and old Ambrose Caelian would be having a long discussion when the Caelian’s arrived on Dis-Pater.
With a sigh at that thought, Vin made his way to the galley sink washed his hands and then checked the dinner he had cooking, finding the roast and baked vegetables done as expected he went to the nearby airlock and called the other men to dinner then drained the non baked vegetables simmering on the cook top transferred them to a serving dish with built in plasma warming element added a few dobs of butter, then took the rest of the food out of the oven and transferred the baked vegetables into it as well covered it and took it to the Galley eating nook which he had already set up for dinner, then came back and began carving the meat into another Plasma serving platter covered it in the gravy he made so it wouldn’t dry out and took it to the eating nook as well, hearing Chris, Bucklin and Ezra in the bathroom washing up he put a pot of Autumn blue on for later and sliced up the bread and took it and the butter to the table and brought the two jugs of fruit juice he made earlier to the table as well, one jug was orange juice because he knew Bucklin loved the stuff, the second jug was made of fruit he had juiced together, mainly because he just wasn‘t in the mood for Citrus no matter how much Bucklin loved it, so he juiced apples and mixed a few plums and other stone fruits into it while he was juicing for added flavour, the third jug was ice water because while he liked his juice watered down a might finding it a bit too heavy and sweet otherwise most people didn’t, Ez certainly didn’t as he had complained about his watering it down more than once so now he added his water at the table not in the jug as he made it which stopped the complaints, it was just once more compromise he was learning to make as he and Ez became a couple. His last action before he joined them at the table was to put the waiting apple pie in the oven for desert.
As they ate Vin learned the Cart engine wasn‘t as bad as they feared so Philip would be happy come Saturday when Bucklin handed in the report as with a few parts and a day’s work he’d get the Cart back able to do the rest of the work Crystal Dawn needed it for. Chris and Ezra’s news was just as promising using the space the four of them cleared with the tractors to make a parking area they had cleaned and put together a scrap skiff all that was left to do was the engine and installation of the anti-grav and wheel undercarriage which would take a few days to clean and tune back to working condition.
“That’s damn good news,” Vin said in relief not only would a working scrap skiff give Bucklin and Chris transport other than their horses but Bucklin could start stockpiling the Geodes to work on over Winter, while he hadn’t yet had a talk to him about making the geode bathroom fittings for the Crystallum Port Chamber over Winter he didn’t think Bucklin would pass up that type of money for easy Winter work. The contract would also get his Geode business a lot of publicity as the place that supplied the fancy bathroom tubs and basins when the luxury apartments finally went up for sale so it was very doubtful Bucklin would pass on the contract. “But how strong is that undercarriage and wheel system on the scrap skiffs, do you think it will survive the punishment of working outside the mines long term, ’em wheels were only made to be used on the magnetic tracks weren’t they and the bigger Geodes will be heavy?”
“That worried me as well,” Chris said reaching for some of the mixed juice to try while he wasn‘t usually one for fresh apple juice as it could be to sweet or tart for his taste but he knew from the twin bond Vin had added other fruits to it. “Buck tells me it should be alright for a while at least as it’s the same basic system they use as part of the treads on the stages and converted Carts used for freight but we‘d be better off taking them to the dump workshops and adding treads to carry the loads better when we can afford it. This is nice!” he said taking a sip of the inch of juice he poured to taste it finding it interesting, the other fruits cut the straight Apple taste considerably watching Vin water his down with interest then adding some of the ice water to his tester Chris found that more to his liking as well as it wasn‘t as sweet that way, deciding he liked it more than orange juice at the moment he filled his glass making it half juice, half water like Vin a action that made Ezra groan at such sacrilege of perfectly good fruit juice which made Chris and Vin laugh at the face he pulled and Buck look clueless at what was so amusing.
“Relax Bucklin ya ain‘t missing much, Chris and I find the juice too sweet so we watered it down some which Ez thinks is sacrilege.” he said with a smirk.
Buck shook his head at their antics, “Hell Ez, haven’t you figured out Chris prefers his sugars fermented and I’ve seen Junior actually leave the new cook’s pie behind at the Diner after he tried it, they tend to warn him which cook is on these days and would fire that cook quick smart if they could find a replacement.”
“True, “ Chris said with a grimace remembering why he now asked which cook was on as well before ordering desert, “I’ve left that pie behind as well the relief cook has a heavy hand with the sugar and other sweeteners as he thinks it hides how bad a cook he is.”
Vin snorted, “I love fruit pie but when I eat it I want to taste the fruit in it not just the sugar.” he grumbled while the too sweet pie he and Chris left behind didn’t go to waste as the rest of the Seven usually finished them off as they all had a sweet tooth, he preferred to be able to eat what he paid for which is why he complained and they now gave him warning of which cook made the pie mainly because they didn‘t want him taking his greenhouse fruit elsewhere. “Bucklin, I got Uncle Dayfad looking into making a satellite guidance system so ya can take the skiffs off the roads without getting lost even in the worst weather but until then iften we’s all careful we can still use ‘em for Geode hunting and other things, we’s all been on Dis-Pater long enough to know the use of a Dis-Pater compass and spacemen enough to have long since worked out the sun and stars for navigation as extra reference on top of the compass until then.”
Buck frowned at the younger man, “Junior wouldn’t such a system be expensive to create, you’d have to build and program a satellite then get it into orbit not to mention the nav-system to hook into it.”
“Market’s there Bucklin a lot of people die each Winter once the Bizzard’s hit, some just a few yards from shelter they can’t see, even a simple beacon system showing towns, homesteads and shelter in the area ya travelling in would save a lot of lives.” Vin said as he finished off his dinner.
Chris nodded, “True enough and it would be useful in other ways as well, the trail herds would have a easier time of it same for the stages and freight lines a lot of them close down in Winter due to navigation and Summer transport would be helped and be a good deal safer if the water holes were marked with beacons.”
“Which is why Candela is willing to work on such a system, the market is here on Dis-Pater and probably on other Colony planets as well once the system is perfected.” sitting back to sip his juice now he’d finished eating he had a few more minutes before the pie was ready he supposed it was time to tell them about Rowena best start of with the good news.
“Good news is Uncle Dayfad confirmed, Charlotte didn’t have no baby!” Vin said quietly.
“That is good news Vin, I know that was worrying you even if the possibility was slight, it must be a relief knowing you will not have to fight her for your child?” Ezra said with a thankful smile.
“Doubt she would a kept any baby of mine, Ez,” Vin said with a snort. “Iften she had my baby I’s pretty sure she would a contacted me long before this she ain‘t the type to let the baby‘s sensitivities ruin her life. Ya know as well as me the whole of the Human Corridors know AMM babies ain‘t exactly easy to raise outside the Legion of Ships, that was proved with Imperial Eagle there was a reason Empire Fleet sent ‘em to us and they became Ghosts. Charlotte may not have known what I was at first but I didn’t keep it a secret I was Ghost Legion I told her long before we actually did anything. It weren‘t as if she ever intended to stay with me Ez, I was just someone to make her husband jealous enough to pay attention.”
“True, the contaminated children born to Empire Fleet made quite and impact in the Human Corridors in the havoc they caused, these days most people have a good idea of the adjustments AMM children parents face on a daily basis, plus her husband would have undoubtedly been quite upset to suddenly be faced with living proof of her actually doing more than make eyes at you my dear Vin.“ Laughed Ezra.
Vin snorted, “Can’t believe he actually swallowed that, once she realised she weren’t fooling me no more she told me she only fucked me because she was horny as he weren’t seeing to her needs. It‘s moot now anyway she didn’t have a baby so I can finally forget about her. Trouble is Charlotte weren‘t the only once Uncle Dayfad was checking on for me, seems that month I played third to Maeve and Alonzo back on MesaTex weren’t without consequence, Uncle Dayfad just told me I have me a two and a half T-year old daughter on MesaTex named Rowena.” he said seriously.
“Damn, how in hell did that happen I thought your friend Maeve knew how to stop a pregnancy, she is the same one who gave you the birds and bee‘s talk isn’t she?” demanded Chris, after Buck and he started spending time with Philip he and Vin had more than once conversation about triads and past relationships, the twin bond didn’t really let them hide much from each other.
Vin chuckled, “She knew how to time it to get pregnant as well Cowboy, I’s thinking she and Alonzo were aiming on really planning on following through on their threat to keep me, they knew how I felt about family so the baby was to be incentive to stay with ‘em as their permanent third, trouble is I went after Eli-Joe and dun ruined their plotting to hog tie and brand me by getting on the Wanted list.”
Ezra narrowed his eyes worried, he and Vin weren‘t yet fully bonded and Vin obviously has feelings for these people and a child was a hold he couldn’t hope to complete against. “Should I be worried about stalkers, Vin?”
“Ya ain’t got cause to worry Ez, they were more friends with benefits than anything, while I could a settled down with ’em for a while something was missing. Besides it’s moot anyway Maeve and Alonzo been dead a T-year according to the Data copies Uncle Dayfad sent me.” Vin said quietly.
“You sure she‘s yours Vin?” Chris asked quietly.
“Yeah, iften she was Alonzo’s baby he would have been on the birth data as her father, instead it says father unknown, I’s thinking they left my name off as I was being hunted and it was too dangerous to give ‘em a hostage to draw me out.”
“Junior she still might not be yours, they might have taken someone else to their bed after you.” warned Buck thinking of his own brush with supposed fatherhood.
“Timings right Bucklin and she has a black Medi-pendent due to her being CLR 19 according to the Data work Uncle Dayfad sent me, pretty obvious she‘s mine.” snorted Vin. “Even so, Legion law says she’ll need a DNA test before I can clam her as mine fully and any legal Heirs come first so she ain‘t in line for the Captaincy unless I die without and legal kids. On top of that, I‘s probably gonna be having a big fight over her custody with her Grandpa Ambrose Caelian my old Jewellery Master. I can tell ya now he ain‘t about to just hand her over to me, he almost went bankrupt fighting the Roth’s that’s Alonzo’s family for custody of the other two kids from the marriage. I‘s thinking it all depends on iften he‘s managed a Parent bond with her, if so I ain’t about to separate ‘em as he‘ll be her Prime Psi stabiliser, in that case I‘ll aim for visiting rights and give her a secondary Psi link as back up in case something happens to Ambrose.”
“I was Adam’s prime, with Sarah the secondary.” Chris said sombrely. “Buck had a slight link as the backup just in case something happened to both Sarah and myself. Buck’s link wasn‘t enough to give him a death void when Adam died as it was just enough too supply a light stabiliser if it ever became necessary.”
“I would have liked more but that wouldn’t have been fair to Sarah, my Psi was stronger than hers and I had a strong mating link to Chris so would have ended up cutting her out of the link to Adam and became the secondary instead. I loved Sarah to much to do that to her.” Buck said sadly such a light link had been broken easily as it had been stretched thin with the distance to Mexico so he hadn’t realised it was missing in the turbulent rage and devastation he was picking up from Chris all the way back to Eagle Bend and the Homestead. A trip Chris hadn’t said a word during until he broke down in front of the smouldering ashes of the ranch house. In hindsight it had been obvious Chris felt their death and the breaking of the Psi bonds so had known they were gone even before they set out but hadn’t really acknowledged it as real until that moment.
Vin grimaced seeing he would have to be real careful not to cut Ambrose out if he was already linked as the Primary.
“I presume you have arranged for their relocation to Dis-Pater given that Black Medi-pendent would put your daughter at the top of the exile list.” Ezra stated with a raised eyebrow.
“Damn right and I told Uncle Dayfad not to take no for an answer, iften he objects they’s to kidnap ‘em and relocate anyway. I’s paying for it with the money I have in the MesaTex bank, told him to bring the Maybourne’s and the kids while they’s at it and buy five hundred Blue-buff embryos and two gestation banks there as well as it‘s cheaper to buy there than on Dis-Pater, which should give us a nice herd.“
Chris frowned, “Cowboy, given what you’ve told me about the Sith Faction in the Ghost Legion how much danger is your daughter in if her existence becomes common knowledge?” he asked worried.
“Don’t worry about that Chris, Uncle Dayfad’s paranoid he was already a step ahead of me he’s already got a temporary bodyguard in place in case the Sith faction finds out about her.”
“Which is extremely wise of him we both know that while you do not have a blood Heir the Sith Faction is content to work from the background stopping the Tanners being reborn, it is well known the O’Neill’s would never hold the Citadel without a Tanner Heir as Captain.” Ezra said with a frown well knowing Morrigan was not quite the target the Citadel was, Maude had finally been more accommodating with the findings of her investigations into Morrigan’s death toll from the deliberate exposure to Blenken‘s. Their Ship had fallen foul of a private action of someone inside the Faction unlike the Tanner’s who had been actual targets due to their position. Once his and Vin’s embryonic Heirs were made they would definitely need a guard.
“Another reason Uncle Dayfad handles most of the Citadel’s business, it makes me less of a target iften they don’t know where I am. Even when I’s assigned to MesaTex my having a space capable Barge made me a hard target. The Bounty made it even harder as I was dodging bounty hunters on top of it so even more careful then usual in hiding my travel, hell it were damn obvious they supplied that damn bounty, five hundred Fed-Credits was insane given Eli-Joe who was wanted for multiple murders as he had a hundred known kills to his name was only three hundred.” Vin snorted. “It didn’t take me long to work out that was the Sith doing as they was hoping the high price on my head did the work for ‘em.”
The other three men exchanged looks frowning at that, why hadn’t they realised how unusual such a high price was. “Junior, should we be worried, getting you free of that bounty must have told anyone who was looking where you set up base now, it isn‘t as if you’re still moving around?” Buck said slowly his voice full of worry.
“Relax Bucklin the Seven are now too well known for a Sith Assassin to get away with taking me out now the Bounty’s been lifted, they don’t dare try anything and risk Uncle Dayfad proving it was assassination, which is why the Bounty was made so high, now that it’s lifted if my death is suspect in any way my Ship and Patrol Cluster can demand Psi questioning of anyone they suspect in the Fleet on those grounds and they know it. Hell iften I die of anything but a natural death now the Sith know they risk everything, jacking the bounty hoping it did the work and thereby let them slip suspicion was the last straw for Patrol Cluster. That won’t work again my Ship has the proof now the Bounty was both false and made so high in an effort to kill me so the pending Blood Hunt was made automatic if I die unnatural in anyway instead of conditional as it was made after the four attempts on MesaTex, now if I die they don’t even have to prove it was Legion work.”
“Indeed,” smirked Ezra. “I did receive notice of a conditional Blood Hunt being filed along with four proven attempts at the assassination of a Patrol Captain as the reason as well as the change to automatic Blood Hunt if you die anything but natural causes with the proof of the fifth attempt in the form of the Bounty after it was proven both false and made higher than it should have been. With such an automatic Hunt notice on file with the Quorum even hiring someone is chancy now because at the least suspicion that your death was unnatural the Hunt will automatically be called.“
Vin said sombrely, “Patrol lost too many of the Captains to assassination back in the Dark Times to tolerate it once the attempts on a Captain been proven, even when the Ships in Patrol Cluster are fighting each other they won’t tolerate that, they’ll put their business and personal feuds on hold and close ranks for the Blood Hunt, which while not as bad as a Wild Hunt ain’t something the Sith want brought down on ’em as it’s just as ruthless just less invasive as it has more rules.”
Ezra grimaced, “Unfortunately the Sith have become much more devious over the Centuries, in the Dark Times a Sith Plan would not have been this hidden or intricate, it was only after the Dark Times just before Journey Start that the Sith became this Machiavellian and we both know how bad that became this trend does not bode well for the future.”
Vin winced Celebration was still pretty much a swear word amongst the Patrol even centuries later, “Yeah, Master of the Hidden’s worried about that as well, this Sithpit is showing too many of the same tactics except they seem to be targeting any Clan Cluster both Mining and Patrol who could cause 'em trouble what's really worrying the Master is that up to now they’s been trapped in the Ships same as we were, but since Journey End they ain‘t confined no more so rooting not just this Sithpit out but any future Sithpit out before they take hold is gonna be hell for the Hidden in the years to come, look how long it’s taken the Confederacy to see this Sith pattern and even then it was mainly the death toll that drew the Hidden to suspect Sith, the Blenken pattern was much to specific not to have been aimed, the use of a Psi Blocker was just the confirmation.” Vin said tiredly.
Ezra winced, “Indeed, we have been quite lucky, despite this deep infection it is still confined to the Confederacy if the Psicon Sith had tried to join forces with their counterparts amongst the Psion we would not have been so hopeful of rooting them out. The day that happens is my worst nightmare?”
“The profilers claim we don’t have to worry about that until the Ghost openly mix more with the Psion in the Independents, thankfully the Psicon Sith are too arrogant to work with the lesser Psi as equals. That might change with time but it’s doubtful to be an easy process Sith by their very nature don’t work easily with those they consider beneath ‘em, they’ll be trying to use ‘em as minions and cannon fodder which the Lesser Sith will object to given the prejudice against AMM which won‘t just disappear overnight. There is also some thought that the two mindsets ain‘t that compatible due to the different Psi intensity of the Psicon and Psion, it’s been theorised that the Sith Psion’s will burn out from the power overload, their minds not able to support the full intensity of the Sith Psicon mindset in constant link.” Vin said with a shake of his head, Ez must have missed a report, everyone was hoping that was true as it would stop a full merger of the greater and lesser Sith mindset, most of the base work on that theory was from studying the interaction of Psion-Psicon bonding links they found they were all different depending on the Psi levels of the bondee's and a few of them like the lower Psion and the greater Psicon were unable to form a permanent bond with each other in any way, in the end they theorised the two Sith mindsets weren't compatible enough, they might ally but not merge.
Ezra nodded, “I must have missed a report, either way allied or merged it still means it is a future worry for when our two cultures are more involved with each other.” he said thoughtfully realising with a grimace that it might well become his problem if Dayfad O’Neill did in fact make him the next Master of the Hidden at some hopefully extremely far off date.
“Boys I’m still not sure what you mean by Sith, up to now I was thinking it was a Ghost thing but now you're referencing Psion Sith?” Buck complained.
“Me too?” Chris said shaking his head, he might be twined to Vin but that didn’t mean the information was readily available, in many ways both Vin’s mind and Ghost society was just so strange he didn’t understand it.
Vin and Ezra exchanged looks, “Ya know how twisted a person gets iften they use Psi to Kill and to a lesser degree to hurt someone mentally or physically with their Psi?”
“Yeah, but that second one is just a theory it hasn’t ever been proven, what has been proven is that while a person can kill using physical weapons of any sort with just the usual angst over it, using Psi to do it is extremely painful because you get a psychic backlash. Warriors are the only ones who can safely use their Psi that way, a Warrior can kill with their Psi if they can justify doing so especially in self defence or protecting somebody else, the sane ones just don‘t like doing so," he sai dryly. "Essentially it means to a Warrior, Psi is just one more weapon to use in defence of the Tribe.”
“That is just the tip of the iceberg Mr. Wilmington, once a person knows right from wrong the mind begins to judge your actions especially in the Warriors, while a person can get away with doing what they consider wrong on a physical level without falling into the mental abyss unless it continues to the extent they become either totally immoral or insane, often they do not fall far enough to actually do harm to another human being, so merely teeter on the edge of true insanity, the sewers of their minds never actually crossing over into physical attack. This is because it is not deadly to another person if you only think of doing something not actually do it. The evolution of Psi added a whole new dimension to that old barrier before Psi thinking harm and doing harm to another were reasonably separate, a human had a pause that gave them a chance to return to sanity, with the advent of Psi that changed, thought often becomes deed with no pause between the two. Because of this Evolution was forced to instil a greater safeguard against Psi misuse in Mankind, use Psi in a way your mind says is immoral and the backlash is tremendous unfortunately Humans are stubborn and willing to endure pain to achieve a goal as you well know. It has been discovered by the Mind specialists’ of the Confederacy that if you use Psi that way long enough you gain a tolerance to that evolutionary backlash which lets you endure it longer, eventually it actually becomes pleasurable and highly addictive because it is well known that pain and pleasure are so closely linked in the human psyche. This addiction can take many forms Psi is an extremely intimate tool if you inflict pain in any form or enjoy controlling another with your Psi it becomes a craving to do so again, worse still use Psi to kill because you like doing so the backlash eventually becomes pleasure instead of pain and you begin to grave the feeling of another mind dying under your hands and Psi, it is all exquisitely addictive and more pleasurable than sex to the most corrupt of the addicts because the more you use your Psi that way the more the corruption changes your mental outlook as you begin to live for your next fix as thoroughly as the most depraved drug addict. Power and control of another is addictive even without Psi manipulation involved, add Psi to that and the rush from controlling and punishing others is even greater, an even greater rush comes from having the power of life or death over another, often the final fix in such a situation ends in a Psi killing and they revel in the feeling of the minds being extinguished under their hands and Psi, this Death Rush is even more addictive, such serial killers are quite insane, all of these Psi Backlash Addicts are the beings we call Sith.”
Chris frowned at that, “What about Warriors, they can kill with Psi it’s part of the mindset it’s just another weapon to them as Buck said.”
“Indeed it is, due to their nature Warriors have a strong resistance to this mentally addictive cancer as they are designed to protect and capable of killing without harm to themselves if it is in protection of both self and tribe, if their morality knows they are in the right they do not get the extreme backlash a normal minded Psion or Psicon gets if they kill with Psi, that does not mean they do not get the extreme backlash if they know they have crossed the line their morality as well as societies morality says is wrong, notice it is a double check on their sanity and motives for the kill but in defence of themselves they can do so without any reaction of the Backlash, as protector of the Tribe they are designed to survive because in essence the need to survive as a child is what created the Warrior Mindset in the first place, defence of the Tribe is more iffy as personal and society morals can clash but they can use their Psi to kill with only a slight twinge to remind them it is wrong even if necessary in most cases, mainly because most Warriors do not kill without cause they usually know just how evil their target is before deciding to kill them, this lack of extreme reaction when they defend Self and Tribe is the source of their slight immunity to Sith Pits but even they can eventually succumb if the infection surrounds them long enough as their minds become inundated by the second hand rush from the Sith around them. The main difference is that if a Mind Ripper gets to such an infected Warrior they can wipe the infection out of them. Complete recovery can take decades and it all depends on it they joined the Sith voluntarily or not as the mindset is everything, true Sith cannot be saved even the Warriors. Even with the involuntary Warrior Sith reclaiming them is not an easy process as there is a fifty percent mortality rate in such Warriors which is much better than the ninety percent mortality in the involuntary non warriors who are infected. As you can guess Warriors are usually the main adult survivors of a Sith Pit.”
“What about children?” Chris asked with a sick feeling.
“Survival rate for children is good, Cowboy but saving ’em takes a lot of work and what’s needed ain’t to everyone’s morality.” Vin said with a grimace. “That’s why the mind Healers work on the child Warriors and the Warrior Mind Rippers work on the rest.”
The two men looked at the two Ghost suspiciously, “Which means what exactly?”
“What Captain Tanner is dancing around is that it is an unfortunate fact that the children of a Sith Pit usually only survive with a personality of their own if they develop the Warrior Mindset in retaliation to the constant intrusion, manipulation and conditioning because without this mindset they do not develop a true personality of their own as they are trained and conditioned to be exactly what their Sith parents want them to be. Unfortunately this does create a problem when cleaning out a Sith Pit. While the Warrior Mindset children recover with diligent help needing little true intervention, as the Warrior Mindset is resilient and well able to choose which morality it will follow if given a choice so all they really need is love and guidance and therapy to develop a true morality to reinforce their core personality already formed around the Warrior Mindset. The only way to save the rest of the children from becoming true Sith is to practically mind wipe them picking and choosing which memories to retain as their vivid primary memories and which to lessen to mere recordings of data this will create a neophyte personality out of the good things you find and reinforce without resorting to destroying the child’s mind, once this is done they are turned over the Mind Healers to help them essentially cope with their memories by teaching them why it is wrong and help develop the ability to think for themselves, which also needs a lot of love and guidance to let the neophyte personality and morality grow and develop into a real person not a Sith Echo. Such drastic Psi surgery is at heart mental death to the Sith reflection buried in those children’s minds by conditioning as the Ripper pick which of the child’s memories to sanitise and which to reinforce to create a personality which is why it is beyond a normal Mind Healer and requires a Warrior Mind Ripper to do such drastic mind surgery and personality salvage.”
Chris grimaced, “Which is probably why the Warrior Mind Healers are called Mind Rippers not healers, it probably terrifies people that they can do that it‘s basically Psi brainwashing.”
“Understatement of the Century Cowboy, even the Mind Healers don’t like ‘em because their abilities scare ‘em even if they can save a mind better than they can if something drastic is needed. Normal mind healing is like intense therapy a healer guides a person into understanding themselves by showing 'em the problem so they themselves work on it, if necessary they can block off troublesome memories for a short while, this doesn’t change those memories in any way and such blocks never last but give the patient time to deal with them especially if the memory feed is broken down and dealt with slowly over each healing session but essentially it is all the patients work, Mind Healers are guides only.” Vin said with a sigh. “A Mind Ripper on the other hand ain’t a therapist they’s surgeons, their true designation is actually Mind Surgeon, they single out with surgical precision infected memories that can’t be dealt with by the Mind Healers to the extent they are affecting the physical health of the patient, they don’t do it physically they corner the memory and then do the equivalent of stripping the memory formatting back to the basics by wiping out any supercharged emotions or sense data clouding the patients memory of the incident, it’s like replacing a fluorescence colour picture with screaming sound, colour and other sense data with a soft almost black and white picture with a soft sound recording of what happened instead of the memory screaming at you making you relive it over and over again, it lets the mind assimilate the traumatic memory safely as if it was a picture not a memory and work through it without actually destroying the memory completely which would leave a blank spot in their memory then they send them back to the Mind Healer to complete the healing they aren’t therapists in any way, ya have to understand such a drastic intervention only happens if the Mind Healers deem it necessary and often after years of trying to deal with it in the normal way so that skill is rarely called for. The Rippers main work is with the brain damaged they can weave and salvage memories from the damaged sections even as they use delicate TK to rewire a damaged brain to work again, reconnecting the damaged part physically and mentally cutting out the parts that interfere with the rewiring process, it speeds up the physical retraining to operate the rewired connections to their body better than letting natural healing try to rewire around the damage. This is surgery not therapy again so something a mind healer can‘t do.”
Chris frowned in realisation. “Void caps are a form of Mind Ripping, while not actual surgery it isn’t therapy either!” it was a statement not a question.
“Yeah, ya right Cowboy, Death Voids are pure Psi creations as they are the severed end of a Psi link so creating a cap over a death void is Mind Ripper work not Mind Healer work as to weave a cap ya have to rearrange a minds memories by forcing them into useable strands to create the weave of the cap over the void, the normal Healers can’t do that because one wrong move or if the patient fights ya too hard ya can rip a mind to pieces by shredding the memories and trying to fight a mind while doing that work triggers the backlash big time. And before ya ask I ain‘t a Mind Ripper in the usual sense, my Battle Psicon Shield usually stops me doing that work as I can’t sync with someone long enough to do such delicate work despite Grandpa‘s training in Void caps, I could only do it for ya because our minds are twining so my shields didn‘t engage and kill us both it was like I was doing it for myself.” grumbled Vin.
“I’m not complaining Cowboy, this is the sanest I‘ve been since my Mother died and even if you had killed me trying to create those caps we both know damn well it would have been self defence on your part. I did force this twin bond on you which we both know was wrecking your mind due to my insanity.” Chris said with a sigh he had long since come to terms with that because Vin hadn’t been able to hide the fact it had come down to a simple choice, Vin cured his insanity by attempting the caps or Vin killed him to save his own mind and life. “The strands you wove over the voids are made of the memories of the people whose death made the void!” again it was a statement not a question.
“Yeah, the void draws ya to it whenever ya think of that person so capping it works best by weaving the memories of that person over the void they created when they died, if ya do it right eventually the memories heal the void but it takes years for that to happen, meanwhile Grandpa told me the memories in the weave actually get stronger as the void draw ya thoughts to ‘em, the void is still there but instead of sinking into the void when ya thoughts stray towards the person ya lost ya hit the memories in the weave and that reinforces ‘em makes ‘em stronger, which is why it’s best to only use the good memories in the weave as the good memories triggering love and other good feeling which is what lets ya mind eventually heal the void, if ya use the bad memories especially of the actual death instead it makes ya depressed and those bad memories can not only rot the weave and eventually the void gets uncapped again by the reinforcing of the pain and loss of the death that created it, the void underneath usually ends up bigger than it was when the cap gives way, it takes a real sick mind to do such damage while pretending to heal someone.”
Chris froze smart enough to put the hint into prospective with the information on Sith, “A Sith infected Mind Healer could play Warrior and pretend to be a Mind Surgeon and slowly destroy their patients minds with such a game instead of healing them.” he really hoped he was wrong.
“It was a favourite Sith game during the Dark Times, the Mind Surgeon profession never recovered as ya can see by ‘em still being called Rippers instead of Surgeons unfortunately during the Dark Times we found out the Sith can play Warrior way too well to be found out easily unless they attract the attention of true Warrior and the more wily Sith actually managed to fool even another Warrior by simulating a Warrior flash when they met another Warrior, difference was they couldn’t sustain it to fool a Warrior non stop but iften they kept the meeting short it worked. It played merry hell with the trust people had in their Warriors especially the Mind Rippers as their true nature wasn‘t discovered until the death toll built up past hiding amongst the patients they treated, in those days each ship trained Healers and Doctors and people changed Ships whenever they liked because before the Dark Times we weren’t so Clannish and Ship orientated, often a Mind Healer was searched for and offered incentive to join a Crew which just spread the damage farther as they changed Ship before being found out and started again, eventually the Hospital Citadel Asclepius was finally built to contain the Sith congregating in the Medical professions, Asclepius always has a Warrior Captain as part of it’s Charter which was made during the Dark Times, that Charter says if they can’t find a Warrior Healer, Doctor or Surgeon certified and trained by Patrol in their Warrior Art to be their Captain, the Patrol will supply a Warrior to act as Temporary Administrator to fill the Administrative roll of Captain but not Medical Duties until a real Captain is found and trained, Asclepius is the only Citadel the Captaincy ain’t hereditary on, it was the only way to keep the Sith from playing such games, as ya can guess Asclepius holds the Medical Registry for the entire Legion of Ships listing exactly what section of Ghost Medicine they trained ya for and iften ya ain‘t on it and try to practice ya in a world of hurt, it‘s Patrol‘s job to enforce the Charter and Police the Register. Which is another reason someone will be turning up to check those caps as soon as Uncle Dayfad finds a Ripper or Healer he trusts, while Asclepius knows I‘s trained in Void Cap creation by my Grandpa who was a licensed Mind Ripper, I ain‘t got a Mind Ripper licence so the work has to be checked and signed off on and the reasons it happened recorded to cover our butts, they only list me as a Mind Medic.”
Chris grimaced but nodded compliance knowing it was probably iffy ground for a Ghost, it would be as if Nathan was healing without a licence, that was fine in an emergency but his work would be checked afterwards when a real Healer could be found.
“I got a question Junior if the Sith are so bad and keep popping up how the heck have the Legion survived this long?” Buck demanded.
“The Sith state is an addiction unfortunately that mental state is also infectious a truly corrupt Sith can use their Psi to control another Psi until they are also addicted to the rush this is commonly called a Sith Pit as it is like a cancer that spreads. This was how the Dark Times back in Sol came about as we were too new to our own Psicon nature to realise what Sith Pits were, three quarters of the Confederacy were infected before the discovery was confirmed all the ships would have fallen to Sith control if the advent of the Battle Psicon’s hadn’t happened amongst the Patrol Ships, you see the Shields of a Battle Psicon are totally immune to Sith Psi infection, at first they made no impact except the Patrol always had a sentinel capable of watching for Sith invading their Ships which in addition the large amount of Warriors in the Patrol Crew kept them as bastions against the infection but on the other ships the cancer pits kept growing no matter how often they were rooted out and destroyed but then the first Warrior Battle Psicon was created in the stress of an environment where even the youngest children were fighting for survival and the War turned around as once these children were grown the Patrol had an actual fighting force to take the war to the Sith instead of being under siege, because a War Cluster led by a Warrior Battle Psicon mated to another Warrior Psicon could extend the protection to all the War Cluster if they linked, they were the first Wild Hunts on record and even to this day if Sith are proven on any ship all Ships must prove they aren’t infected.”
“So you think that might be why the Patrol got isolated the Sith remnants were trying to keep the Battle Psicon Genes to the Patrol Cluster?” mused Chris.
“Heck if we know Chris, weren’t any proof we were made by Genetic engineering just as their weren’t no proof it was natural evolution brought about by the Psi breeding programs of the time either. As time went on and no Battle Psicons turned up outside the Patrol Ships it was listed as GE augmentation.”
“Which is obviously untrue as with the advent of fresh blood from the Human Corridors Battle Psicons are now being born to the Mining Ships without any Patrol genes to sully the gene pool. I believe the new theory has the Battle Psicons as the next evolutionary stage of the AMM, it merely occurred first in the Patrol Cluster simply because as the primary fighting force and fighters against both Sith and Hive they had the most Evolutionary pressure to evolve. The double threat of both the Internal Sith and the external Hives pushed Evolution to create the Battle Psicons to fight the internal Sith threat which it could fight.”
“Okay that‘s the Psicon Sith explained what about the Psion Sith?” Chris asked.
“Same mindset Cowboy just not as infectious as the Psi ain’t as strong, evil is part of the human mind, everyone has their good and bad and just with the Warriors a lot of it depends on the morals of the society they come from, power mongers and serial killers have existed from the dawn of time Psi has just made it worse, even the infection ability is part of mankind we‘s a pack animal, riots and mobs are at base that type of infection and when ya add Psi it just gets worse. Even Warriors have the ability and we’s the lone wolves of the pack what do you think a War Cluster is, if need be they act as one under the leadership of a strong leader or linked couple which is also why the War Clusters with a Warrior Battle Psicon as part of the central bond it formed around were so effective against the Sith, Warriors had a slight resistance to begin with and on top of that the Battle Psicon shield was spread over the entire War Cluster through their bondmate giving even more protection to the entire War Cluster against the Psi infection of the group mind of the larger Sith Pit.”
“Damnation!” swore Buck in realisation. “The Seven wouldn’t work if you and Chris weren’t twined, Junior. I’m betting as Warrior Battle Psicons if you and Ez were solely bonded to each other it would be a self contained Warrior unit no room for a War Cluster except on the edge, true bonding would be impossible as you couldn’t link into the Cluster, one of you needed the outside link not only to spread the Psi Shield to the rest of the Cluster in battle but to actually slot you two into the Cluster as a working unit you had to have a link to the Cluster as well, by you and Chris twining we became a central Quad linked through you and Chris.”
The two Ghost looked at each other, “Could be Bucklin,” Vin finally said. “Our type of bonding is damn rare as it’s so dangerous and I don’t think the survivors ever formed a Cluster afterwards which is another reason they ain’t encouraged, ya need a special type of War Cluster to make and effective Wild Hunt War Cluster to Hunt Sith. There was a reason my O’Neill relatives kept hinting I should go find me a nice Warrior Psicon to bond with and set about making a War Cluster to settle down to make a lot of Tanner rugrats with. Iften I’d done that it would have killed two birds with one stone, made some Blood Heirs for Guiding Light and created a potential Wild Hunt War Cluster.”
“I also have had the same hints over the years from various tutors while training amongst the Patrol Ships,” Ezra said with a grimace. “It has often been suggested I also look for a Warrior Psicon to bond with as it would not only strengthen Morrigan by forming a War Cluster for it’s protection but let me think of supplying my Ship and Cluster with Blood Heirs. I believe it is standard to suggest such to all Warrior Battle Psicons, due to our shield ability being the heart of a Wild Hunt.”
Vin sighed, “Even with a quad at the centre the Seven ain‘t suitable for bearing the brunt of a Wild Hunt, not enough Psicons in the Cluster and of the four we have only the two of us are trained for Psi Battle, the other three members of the Seven are also fairly low on the Psion scale which limits their usefulness in a Psi battle, even adding Casey and Rain though linking in once married the War Cluster is to unbalanced on a Psi level, the main problem is the Quad’s too Psi heavy compared to the others and not trained enough to both shield all the Cluster and hunt at the same time. Iften it happened in the old days we’d have ended up in the rear guarding and acting as the Psi focus for the Hounds as keeping us stationary guarding the precogs would let us play to our strong point which is the shield strength we should be able to generate as a bonded Warrior Battle Psicon pair linked to a Cluster which would also have doubled our natural precog augment talent making the hounds more effective.”
“What?” exclaimed Buck startled, Chris looked interested as well.
“It’s a little known talent of the Warrior Battle Psicon only the Quorum are suppose to know about, we can augment and Guide the precogs to search for specific dangers when it’s triggered by sensing a danger to the tribe. That‘s what the Hound part of the Wild Hunt are, the precogs would gather on the Patrol Citadel or somewhere protected if that wasn’t viable and the strongest Wild Hunt Cluster acted as both Shield and bodyguards while their Warrior Battle Psicon both Shielded the Cluster and directed the precogs to root out the traces of the Sith on the other Ships. It’s another reason we suspected Sith after the Blenken Plague, Ghost precogs are very sensitive they should have been having warnings about the Blenken as it was so wide spread but they stopped having flashes a decade before that which in hindsight told the Hidden there must be a Psi Blocker actively blocking known precogs which has effectively muzzled our Ghost Hounds so they can‘t give warning.”
“If the Hounds as you call the precogs have been muzzled by a Psi blocker who will direct the Hunt?” Chris asked going straight to the problem.
“I have no idea Cowboy, the Hidden have been attempting to make up for the Hounds being muzzled by the enemy but it’s slow going without the Precogs giving us hints, it’s like hunting a needle in a haystack and during the Hunt itself we won’t be able to react as quick, Hunting Sith is dangerous enough with the Hounds leading the pack without ’em I’s betting the death toll will double.” Vin said grimly.
Buck was about to comment when a bell cut through the silence.
“Enough of this, I do believe it is time to change the topic of our conversation from such a grim subject as it is hardly suitable for discussion over the desert that bell proclaims is ready for our greedy consumption.” Ezra said brightly with a flashing gold tooth.
Vin laughed, “That a hint ya want me to go get the pie out of the Oven, Ez?”
“But of course my darling Vin, who am I not to advocate the distribution of such a masterpiece, while your main meals are adequate they are nothing special even I can produce something similar and I am admittedly only a basic cook but when it comes to deserts especially Pie production, Nettie Wells has managed to instil into your talented hands the skills of a master pastry chef, even the humble apple pie is sublime when made by your hands.“ Ezra said sweetly.
Vin snorted, “Ya trying to butter me up for something, ain‘t ya?” he asked in amusement.
Ezra grimaced, “Perhaps!’ he admitted sheepishly.
“Let me guess, ya want me to go get the vanilla ice-cream we made a week ago to go with pie?” Vin said dryly.
“You know me so well!” Ezra said looking at him hopefully.
“Yeah I know ya!” laughed Vin fondly. “I’ll make a deal with a ya, if I go get the Ice-cream you have to take the pie out of the oven, cut it up and then serve the Autumn Blue after you clear the table?”
Ezra said in annoyance, “I’d rather get the ice-cream!” he said in disgust it was less work.
Vin laughed really amused at that, “I ain‘t keeping ya!” he said with a chuckle as he headed for the oven then used pot holders to bring the Pie dish out, setting it on the waiting tea towel so he didn’t scorch the wood chopping board Chris made him by using it as a pie resting place, a flick of a switch turned the Plasma oven off.
“Damn!” Ezra grumbled realising he was serious, with a much put upon sigh he got up and made his way downstairs to the main freezers to dig out the gallon of Ice-cream they made with the cream from the Blue-Buffalo milk they traded for. With the pie cooling Vin turned back to clear the table.
“Relax Junior, I’ll clear the table, you cut up that pie, Chris can pour the Autumn Blue, if we play our cards right we should have it all done by the time Ez gets back with the Ice-cream for the pie.” Buck said happily as he began to collect the dirty dishes, hanging around Vin and Ezra was a delight even if it was bad for his waistline he hadn’t eaten this well in years. “And over pie and Ice-cream we need to hear more about that daughter of yours, all we know at the moment is she‘s two and a half T-Years and her name’s Rowena.”
“Ain’t much more to tell Bucklin,” Vin said heading for the cupboard to get the bowls to serve the pie and ice-cream in, I ain’t even seen a picture of her yet!” he grumbled, “Maeve had black hair so odds are little Rowena has it as well seeing her son had black hair.”
“Hell Junior if she gets blue eyes they’ll think she’s mine?” chuckled Buck slipping the plates and cutlery into the dishwasher gleefully at that thought females went all gooey over a man carrying a baby or child.
“No they won’t, no daughter of mine will be mistaken as belonging to someone as ugly as you Bucklin!” smirked Vin.
“He has you there Buck, any daughter of Vin’s is going to be breaking hearts left and right. We both know Vin turns heads just walking down the street imagine those looks on a little girl then think of her when she’s dating age?” laughed Chris.
“Oh damn! Chris we better start getting use to toting shotguns full time now so we’re use to them by the time she hits dating age.” Buck said horrified.
“Don’t be ridiculous Bucklin, she’s not only a Ghost but my daughter and old Ambrose Caelian’s granddaughter by the time she’s dating age she be trained in the use of a knife and have a reaper to gut ‘em iften to try anything she don’t want.“ Vin said with a glare cutting up the pie into four pieces.
Buck blinked, “Would her dead Ma approve of that, Junior? Most women object to a Pa turning their little Princess into a Tomboy.”
Vin laughed, “Hell Bucklin, Maeve was hell on wheels with a knife, old Ambrose trained her from the time she could walk he don’t approve of anyone not being able to defend themselves and thinks women need it even more than the men. He was even worse with me because I had the Warrior Mindset and Maeve didn‘t.”
The two Federation men just shook their head at that, they had grown up in a society where no woman would even contemplate learning such a thing.
“Ez is coming, looks like we did time it good,” Vin said happily.