Béla was back aboard the great ship, confined to unfamiliar, cramped quarters after turning herself in for killing a landowner. The Bard Geoffrey and two of her sisters, Dawn and Jolene, were currently managing the estates that she’d acquired from Robert LaCrosse, whom she admitted murdering.
Over the last month, the daughters of Sibilius had gone down to the surface and, following Béla’s example of representing themselves as goddesses, successfully eradicated the wasting disease that had decimated over half the population of New Eden. The goddesses now represented authority on the inner surface and had the mundane duty of dispensing justice against any violators of the accepted civil codes, which they decided to leave unchanged to insure political stability.
Within a week of Béla’s confessing her actions to the Praetor via mind-link, a freight platform had flown down from Southern to collect her. Béla was instructed to board it and return to Southern. She was then escorted on a personnel carrier back to the great ship.
Almost daily for the next three weeks, the Praetor relentlessly explored her mind, going over memories of her entire existence on Earth. During that period of time, Béla came to realize that she was not being judged for that one single act of violence, but for the consequences of her actions, many of which could be attributed to her generally reckless behavior and attitude, which may have caused harm to others.
Regarding punishment, the least that could happen was that the daily personal invasions into her mind by the Praetor would cease. The worse that could happen would be a complete mind-wipe of her identity and all her memories. That terrified her more than anything she had ever faced before. What terrified her about that was her realization that she could actually become the violently murderous rogue her father had once believed she was. She hoped her father would kill her if she lost herself that way. She seriously doubted that he would be able to. After all, he failed, last time…
The Praetor had spent the last three sessions going over her memories of the massacre at Parson’s Landing, where she had been accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake. Béla was forced to relive that nightmare over and over as the Praetor reviewed and processed the images in her mind. The fact that she had spent the remainder of her life on Earth trying to atone for what she had done that night was not yet being considered.
At Parson’s Landing, an early colony in Massachusetts, she had mercilessly and single-handedly hunted down and butchered twenty-three people. The Praetor carefully went over each act of violence she had committed that night until it was satisfied with what it knew. By the end of each session, Béla was nearly insane with grief and self-loathing.
Once a day, Béla was escorted to the communal baths. Her escort was equipped with a personal thought dampener so that she remained in isolation even in the corridors leading to the baths.
Elaine volunteered, as Béla’s roommate, to return to the great ship and allow the Praetor to probe her mind as a kind of character witness. Elaine and Béla had mind-linked almost every night they had roomed together during the long journey to New Eden, and Elaine knew her sister better than anyone else ever had.
The Praetor accepted her offer and spent several sessions with her, limiting its probing to what Elaine knew about Béla and not what Elaine herself had done. Elaine had already served almost eight hundred years in solitary confinement inside a Praetor for her vampiric crimes as a Mayan princess.
Elaine lay in the Communal Bath letting the bubbles relax her. She was alone, feeling stressed and unable to concentrate, having finished a mind-probing session with the Praetor several hours earlier. At the end of her session, the Praetor informed her that it had collected all the information she had available regarding her older sister. When Elaine inquired, the Praetor informed her that the knowledge she had presented would be helpful to Béla’s case.
Personnel aboard the great ship was minimal, currently. Most of the crew were down on the inner surface, either preparing the ground for planting, or already planting the grain that had been harvested and brought from Earth. There was a small crew still unloading the cargo bay. It would take almost a year to finish the task of transporting, delivering, unloading and setting up the remaining equipment that was on board. After that, it would take another year to re-supply the great ship for its return to Deimos, and then, Earth.
Elaine felt the ‘secure to quarters’ in her head for her section of the ship. She knew that once this section was secure, her sister, Béla, would be escorted down the corridors for her daily visit to the communal baths. Desperate to see her sister and despite the fact that she would be severely reprimanded and confined to quarters if she was caught, Elaine hid in Béla’s personal shower stall. She turned on the thought dampener so she couldn’t be detected, and waited.
After about ten minutes, Elaine heard them arriving. Béla was being escorted across the floor. Elaine stifled a cry of distress as she watched her favorite sister cross the room. Béla was thin and anemic, wasted away. Her strong character, her certainty and pride that manifested in the carriage of her body was completely missing. She walked unseeing, with her eyes cast down toward the floor immediately in front of her, like her spirit had finally been broken.
Béla stopped, surprising her escort, and straightened up slightly.
“I’d like to be alone while I bathe,” she told him. “I have much to think about.”
According to protocol, Béla was kept in isolation and continually surrounded by a thought-dampening field, with the exception of her daily bath and her sessions with the Praetor. Even during those times, she was not permitted to make conversation with her escort except for the most basic requests.
She stood and watched her escort until he was out of sight. He would remain at the entrance to the communal baths until she was finished and came out or until thirty minutes had passed. Béla looked toward her personal shower.
'She knows I’m here!' Elaine thought excitedly and stepped out, letting herself be seen.
As Béla and Elaine embraced, their minds merged into each other. Béla had been isolated from all physical and emotional contact for almost a month. As she touched her sister Elaine, she was no longer able to maintain the fragile structure that had been holding her emotions in check and the dam broke in one huge emotional broadcast.
Elaine was completely terrified by the flood of despair and loneliness that assaulted her as Béla came completely unglued. Béla had always been the strong one and now she was reduced to a quivering mass of raw emotion.
They knelt on the cold metal floor holding each other tightly, both crying so hard they couldn’t even breathe. Neither was able to speak as the emotional flood slowly subsided. Then Béla’s escort returned to take her back to her quarters. He glanced at Elaine briefly, his eyes full of sadness.
Without a word of redress to Elaine for violating Béla’s enforced solitude, he helped Béla to her feet, then carefully wiped her face though he knew he could be reprimanded for even that small personal interaction with his escort. Taking Béla by the hand, he led her away.
Elaine saw in the escort’s mind that he dearly loved the princess in his charge and was tormented by her rapidly deteriorating condition. She sat on the cold floor for a few minutes thinking about what she could do, then decided to confront her father about it.
As her bare feet stomped down the metal passageway she determined that Father would either see reason or find out just how much Elaine had learned from her older sister about creating bedlam on board the great ship. She believed that all she had to do was broadcast that image of Béla’s emotional barriers crashing down and father would have a ship-wide mutiny on his hands.
‘Nobody can treat my sister like that and get away with it!’
When Elaine arrived at her father’s lab, Béla’s escort was already there. Elaine saw in his mind that he had not come to report her security violation, but to resign his post and commission, if necessary, and go to the inner surface to take up farming.
Elaine saved him the trouble by angrily dropping an image of her last half-hour in the communal baths directly into her father’s mind, full volume. Sibilius staggered under the onslaught. The Praetor, becoming interested in the emotional forces being slung around the room, centered its attention on Elaine, determining that she had somehow attacked the Regent.
Sibilius, always in mental contact with the Praetor, ordered it to hold off, preventing it from attempting to electrocute Elaine. He then immediately dismissed both Béla’s escort and Elaine from his presence.
Outside the lab door, Elaine and the junior officer looked at each other.
“Thank you,” they both said at the same time.
They both laughed nervously. As Elaine walked away, she reviewed her short invasion of her father’s mind. In the few seconds she had been in contact with him after delivering her emotional payload, she had picked up a single stray thought before he was able to catch himself and recover.
I wonder what he meant by, ‘Oh, no! Not again!’
Dismissing the thought, Elaine returned to the temporary quarters that she had been assigned when she returned to the ship. Since she was now permanently transferred to the inner surface, she no longer had permanent quarters on board the ship. She sat down on her bed, unable to eat any of the fruit she’d brought over from the cooler, and brooded.
Her brief encounter with her older sister had been emotionally traumatic. She hoped she had done the right thing by going to her father and dumping it all on him.
'There’s nothing more I can do,' Elaine decided. 'If I stay here, I’m simply torturing myself. Tomorrow, I’d better go back to the surface.'
Elaine knew that leaving wasn’t right, but she didn’t know what else to do. When she didn’t know what to do, she always fled.
'When Béla doesn’t know what to do, she always attacks!' Elaine thought. 'That’s what I should do: Attack!'
She hopped off the bed, resolute in her decision. She had absolutely no idea what she was going to do when she got to her father’s lab, but she wasn’t going to back down. Her sister’s condition was going to get changed, right now!
Elaine stormed into her father’s lab and was immediately encased in a stasis field generated by the Praetor. She glared at her father.
'How dare you…' she blasted into his mind.
Her father, the Regent, held up his hand, silencing her.
'Now I remember why I always run away!' she realized, much too late.
“It occurred to me that you might return,” Sibilius stated, using formal speech. “It has been brought to my attention that you have violated security protocol. You are hereby remanded…”
Elaine radiated an angry blast of energy, interrupting her father. Sibilius held up his hand again, evaporating her anger into nothing.
“You are hereby confined to quarters. You are assigned new quarters in standing with your current status.”
Elaine couldn’t believe what was happening. Not only was her father going to ignore his eldest daughter’s predicament, he was also reprimanding Elaine for trying to help her. She decided to fight.
'If you resist me on this, my daughter, you will be remanded to solitary confinement. I am doing what is best for you both, within the limits that I am allowed to operate. You will not be disappointed,' Sibilius thought into Elaine’s mind.
Verbally, for the record, he continued. “There is an officer outside waiting to escort you to your confinement quarters. Report to him, now.”
The Praetor released the electrical field surrounding Elaine. She could move again. She turned toward the door, feeling numb and defeated. There was nothing she could do for her sister, after all.
'I hope I can make it up to you, someday, Béla,' she broadcast dejectedly to no one in particulare, knowing that Béla was shielded and couldn’t hear her.
The officer acting as her escort took Elaine to a waiting area where, when the ship was fully manned, passengers and crew had mingled.
“Your quarters are not prepared yet, Princess,” he informed her.
He was carrying a personal thought dampener so she couldn’t feel his mind. Elaine realized that, not only had she failed to help Béla, but she had worsened her own situation, as well.
'Now I’m under solitary confinement, too,' she supposed, sitting quietly across the table from her escort.
After ten minutes he got up and motioned for her to follow. Elaine hadn’t detected anything and didn’t know how her escort could have with his thought dampener operating. She followed him anyway down an unfamiliar corridor in what had been officer’s territory during the outward voyage.
‘Assigned new quarters in standing with my current status?’ Elaine wondered as she reviewed her father’s sentencing. 'Officer’s quarters? Are we stopping here? What is my status, anyway? I should have asked…'
The officer stopped at a door. The wall hummed with a thought-dampening field.
“Your new quarters, Princess,” he told her. “Please be aware that you are not permitted to wander the ship alone.”
He pressed the button, opening the door. Elaine entered and saw Béla standing in the middle of the room, looking around at her new quarters. The sisters stared at each other in disbelief.
“This is where you live now?” Béla asked her, incredulously.
Elaine nodded, tears of joy streaming down her face. 'Thank you, Father…' she broadcast happily, then realized that the thought dampeners wouldn’t allow anything to be heard outside the room. Somehow, though, she knew her father had received it.
“It is now,” Elaine answered, her voice breaking with emotion.
They hugged each other, crying more joyfully than they had in the communal baths. They spent the night mind-linked and holding each other, not making love, but simply embracing. For the first time since she had returned to the great ship, Béla slept peacefully.
‘Where are we?’ Elaine asked as she walked across the soft, yielding sand.
She looked up at the moon. It was early in its first quarter, looking down on them with its silly, white smile. Off to her right, the Northern Lights glowed on the horizon.
‘This is where Jake and I fell in love,’ Béla told her.
She showed her sister an image of her lover approaching them, then he and Béla had made love, her wings wrapped around them both.
‘Where is he now?’ Elaine asked. ‘That had to be a hundred years ago…’
She didn’t want to remind her sister of human mortality, but she also needed to know why Béla had shown her this.
‘I made him immortal, like us,’ Béla said.
She laughed when she saw Elaine’s quizzical face. ‘Immortal? I know we were playing ‘goddess’ down on the inner surface, but… Immortal?’
‘Of course, Darling,’ Béla smiled. ‘Our undiluted blood increases the life span of the humans by hundreds of years. That’s why, when I was using it as a serum for the disease, I made sure to dilute it with plenty of water. I’ve found that interrupting the human condition upsets them terribly, even when it’s for their own benefit.
‘Besides, if everyone in New Eden started living for centuries,’ Béla continued, ‘we’d run out of room in a very short time. The only one I’ve immortalized in New Eden is Geoffrey, the Bard.’
‘I can understand why,’ Elaine grinned. ‘He is pretty amazing – especially his imagination! What are we going to do here?’
‘Well, I’m going to stay here and look for Jake,’ Béla said, smiling at her sister. ‘You can just go to sleep if you want. When you wake up, you’ll be back on the great ship.’
Béla pulled Elaine into a warm embrace and kissed her cheek and neck.
‘I’ll see you in the morning,’ Béla whispered, then faded, leaving Elaine alone on the sand.
Curious, Elaine reached out with her mind, holding the image in place with her own energy now that Béla was no longer creating it. She could see that other images were connected to this one and decided to explore Béla’s dream world a little while longer before she went to sleep.
‘Hello?’ she called into a doorway. ‘Is anyone there?’
Suddenly she was in a bedroom. A gorgeous, disheveled blonde was sitting up in bed, looking at her.
‘Who are you?’ the blond girl asked, ‘and what are you doing in my bedroom?’
‘I don’t know,’ Elaine told her, timidly. ‘I’m not sure how this works… I’m sorry if I’m intruding, but I was just exploring a little before I went home. My sister brought me here.’
‘Your sister?’ the blonde asked suspiciously. ‘Where is your home? Where are your clothes? Do you need a ride or something?’
Elaine shrugged, not understanding half of what the blond girl was saying.
‘You’re very pretty,’ Elaine said apologetically, ‘but I don’t need a “ride” if you don’t want to. I wouldn’t mind, but I can sense that you’re not really in the mood right now. Anyway, I’m really more interested in finding out where I am…’
‘Where you are, my dear, is in my bedroom,’ the blonde said.
Tanya was starting to get annoyed. This strange girl wasn’t making any sense. What did she mean, ‘I’m not really in the mood right now…’ and what sister?
‘Please,’ Elaine pleaded, ‘don’t yell at me like that. I understand that you’re confused. I’m confused, too. I don’t know where I am!’
‘I wasn’t yelling,’ the blonde said, ‘I was simply telling you…’
Elaine interrupted, her voice rising anxiously. ‘You were screaming in my mind! I don’t make any sense to you!’
‘Your mind?’ the girl said, sitting up straighter on the bed. ‘Ohmygod! You’re a vampire!’
She scooted back against the headboard of the bed, suddenly afraid.
‘Well, yes,’ Elaine admitted, ‘I’ve been called that. But my official title is Princess Elaine, second daughter of the Regent of Deimos, currently residing in the realm of Jupiter in the land of New Eden.’
The blonde’s mouth dropped open. ‘Wow! That’s quite a mouthful!’ she thought to herself.
‘I suppose it is a bit regal,’ Elaine thought back, ‘but you wanted to know…’
‘She can read my mind!’ the blonde thought, getting excited. ‘She’s like Béla!’
Delighted at hearing a familiar name, Elaine grinned and nodded at the blonde girl. ‘Yes! My sister! She’s the one who brought me here! This is part of her dream, you see. We were mind-linked. Only she went looking for someone.’
‘You mean Béla was here? Then she shouldn’t be far away, asleep or not. These dream images kind of stick together in odd places.’
‘Well, she wasn’t in here. We were standing on sand. There was a moon and magic lights in the north, like the sacrificial mountain.’
‘Sacrificial what? Wait! Never mind. If Béla left you, I have a hunch where she might be. Let’s go look.’
‘Do you know how to get around in this… stuff?’ Elaine asked, uncertain of what to call these mentally linked little landscapes.
‘Not really – she’s only visited us a couple of times. I discovered that if I just start walking, the image changes. Like this! And, there she is, passed out on top of Jake (of course)! Now go wake her and she’ll take you home.’
As the blond girl faded, Elaine heard her say, ‘Jupiter, huh? Well, now I know where…’
No one interrupted them the next day to take Béla away for a session with the Praetor. Instead, Elaine was helping Béla heal her wounded soul just by being someone she could touch; someone she could talk to, someone she could love. She wasn’t so horribly alone, anymore.
“Will you stop feeding me, please?” Béla pleaded as her roommate climbed back on the bed yet again with her arms loaded with food from the cooler.
This time, Elaine had found a meat pack that someone put in there. Elaine didn’t care for meat; at least not from the cooler. It had to be warm and still bleeding before she was interested. Taking a bite out of her roommate every once in a while satisfied her vampiric cravings nicely.
“Absolutely not!” Elaine exclaimed. “You are nothing but skin and bones! There’s not a decent bite of good meat on your entire body! Not even on your butt!”
She handed her sister the meat pack and bit into a not-quite-ripe peach, noisily tearing a large chunk out of it with her teeth. Although the fruit had been stored in a stasis field until just recently, the skin had wrinkled and its texture was dry and tasteless. Elaine ate it anyway. She had to keep up her strength. She estimated that she was already down almost two liters of blood from letting her sister feed on her.
Several times during the night, especially after she left Jake, Béla’s nightmares had awakened her. Elaine comforted her delirious sister by letting Béla do what came naturally. She held her and rocked her back and forth while Béla fed on her blood.
It angered Elaine to know that, before last night, Béla would scare herself awake with her nightmares only to find herself alone and friendless in a darkened room. Elaine was determined that It wasn’t going to happen again.
Elaine gazed at her sister while they ate. Covered with juices from the meat she was eating, Béla had her full attention on the meat pack, having realized she was still ravenous now that she had some meat in her hands. Although she protested Elaine’s mothering attitude and the constant eating she was being forced to do, Béla craved the attention she was getting and loved Elaine even more for rescuing her.
As she ate, Béla glanced up at her sister and noticed Elaine watching her with that pixie-eyed expression she got when she was aroused and feeling playful. She grinned back at her through her mouthful of meat. Closing the meat pack, Béla sealed it so it wouldn’t leak all over the bed table and set it aside. She was still chewing, so she couldn’t lick her fingers off, either. Impulsively, Béla wiped her hands on her roommate’s breasts and belly.
Her sister vigorously retaliated, pushing her down onto the blanket with a cheerful growl.
'Dampers?' Béla suggested, laughing and wrestling playfully with her sister.
'Not today, Sis,' Elaine replied as she licked salty meat grease off her sister’s face. 'You’re not ready for serious carnage, yet! Maybe tomorrow…'
She looked forward to tearing into her sister, again, but she wasn’t going to do it until Béla looked healthier. Instead, she pushed her leg up between Béla’s warm, moist thighs and they just lay together, kissing, while Elaine gently flexed her leg muscles against Béla’s warm, inviting pussy.
After a few minutes, Béla tensed up and radiated pleasure through her sister as she came. They lay on the bed and relaxed awhile, then both heard the chimes to secure to quarters.
“This is usually when someone comes by to escort me to the public baths,” Béla explained, breaking their smeary embrace.
Elaine looked toward the door, then back at Béla. Climbing off her sister, Elaine trotted to the door and opened it. The passageway was quiet. No one was there. She stepped into the corridor, away from the thought dampeners in the wall. It was still quiet. Elaine returned to the doorway and looked across the room to her naked sister on the bed.
“Well,” she said, “either they’ve damped off the entire corridor between here and the communal baths, or we’re the only two left on the ship.”
“But, I’m supposed to be escorted,” Béla insisted. “I’m not permitted to go anywhere alone until we get this mind-murder thing resolved.”
“Mind-murder?” Elaine asked, surprised. “Wow! What did somebody do to get you that mad?”
“I’m not permitted to discuss it,” Béla said. “I shouldn’t have even mentioned it.”
“Well, Sis,” Elaine said, shrugging her shoulders, “all I knew was that you had killed some baron or something and turned yourself in. I didn’t even know you could kill someone just by thinking about it. That’s really scary.”
“I know,” Béla responded sadly. “That’s why I turned myself in. It mustn’t ever be permitted. It’s too dangerous. Even worse than playing God. Or goddess…”
The sisters were silent for a few minutes. Elaine thought about what her sister had just revealed.
‘This changes everything,’ Elaine realized fearfully. ‘If we can kill with just a thought, we’ll destroy ourselves. No matter how fiercely this is suppressed, the end of our kind is a certainty.’
Having come to that conclusion, she felt strangely empty inside - numb and devoid of all emotion.
“You’ve killed us,” Elaine said, sadly. “There’s no future for any of us now.”
“Actually, there is,” Béla said softly. “Everyone who knows about this will have to be mind-wiped so they don’t remember.” Tears were running down her cheeks. “That means you, too, now.”
Elaine laughed, almost crying, herself. “That only works until someone discovers how to do it all over again. And you’re the one who’s most likely to do that…”
“Then perhaps I should…” Béla sobbed, finding it hard to continue. “I should be removed from this environment.” She shook, visibly.
“I was wondering what could have happened to bring you down this hard,” Elaine said quietly, coming inside and closing the door behind her.
Elaine needed to let her sister know that what was going to happen to her wasn’t Béla’s fault.
“I knew what I was risking when I waited for you yesterday. If they exile you, I want to go with you. If I even remember you when the Praetor gets through with me…”
She stared at her older sister, stunned by the words she herself had just spoken.
“I will remember you!” Elaine promised, earnestly. “They can’t make me forget you!”
She was beginning to realize the seriousness of their situation.
The two sisters sat next to each other on the bed quietly for some time, the thought dampeners keeping their minds separate unless they touched, each working out their individual scenarios about what they would do if…
“I don’t think anybody’s going to come,” Béla said, finally.
“What?” Elaine asked, surprised back from her morbid thoughts.
“I don’t think anyone’s going to escort us to the baths,” Béla repeated.
Elaine slid off the bed. “Come on,” she said, glad to have something to do. “I’ll escort you.”
They left and went to the communal baths. The entire corridor was protected with thought dampeners. They didn’t meet anyone either coming or going and the communal baths were unoccupied when they arrived.
“They’re really serious about nobody finding out about this, aren’t they?” Elaine asked. She didn’t expect an answer, it being a rhetorical question.
“Father’s just trying to protect us,” Béla said, thoughtfully. “He’s probably as worried as we are.”
She had no idea what would happen to her. And now, because of a momentary lapse of judgement by each of them, Elaine would share her fate.
Surprisingly, Béla slept peacefully that night. Her nightmare no longer harbored by herself, but shared with her sister. Mind-linked with her sister, she knew that Elaine wouldn’t have it any other way, even if it meant sharing exile with her or worse.
Many hours later, an officer arriving at their door awakened them. “When you have fed and made yourselves ready, please report to the Council Room. You are expected in one hour.”
He turned around and left, the door closing automatically behind him.
“Made ready?” Elaine asked, trying to joke with her terrified sister. “He should know better; I’m always ready.”
Béla sat still on the bed, staring straight ahead.
“Hey, Sis,” Elaine said. “It’s okay. Whatever it is, we’ll face it together. Remember? It can’t be that bad…”
Elaine knew that it really could be that bad, or even worse; if their judges were afraid enough, both sisters could be terminated, their souls trapped inside the Praetor forever.
Béla turned her head slowly to look at her sister. She still had that look of horror on her face. After a moment, she spoke.
“I’m not afraid of the judgement,” she explained quietly but with her voice shaking, “I’m afraid of what I might do, afterward.”
Elaine’s eyes widened as she understood the meaning behind Béla’s words.
“Stay mind-linked with me, Sister,” Béla said. “If I do anything crazy, promise that you’ll kill me.”
She broadcast the image into Elaine’s mind, showing her how to do it.
‘You just pick up a small object from anywhere – anything you can see with your mind – and rematerialize it inside my brain.’
Looking into Béla’s mind, Elaine saw where Béla had actually done that twice; once to kill her jailer, a madman who wanted the power to control who lived or died from the wasting disease, and…
‘She actually killed a Praetor by teleporting electricity into it!’
Elaine fell back against the wall behind her, terrified by her new and unwanted knowledge. If a Praetor could be destroyed, it meant not only the end of their kind, but the end of their entire civilization. She had destroyed the Mayans with the misuse of her power over them, and now, her sister just handed her the very last thing she ever wanted: total life-and-death power over any living thing!
Enraged by what her sister had just done to her, Elaine leaped at Béla, screaming and clawing! They both fell in a heap on the other side of the bed. Elaine recovered first, pounding Béla’s face with her fists. Béla tried ineffectually to protect herself with her arms, but Elaine kept pounding her, screaming incoherently. Then Elaine began to strangle her.
‘Kill me! Damn you! Kill me or I’ll kill you!’ Elaine screamed into Béla’s mind. ‘Kill me or I’ll kill everyone!’
Béla tried to concentrate as Elaine’s grip tightened around her neck. She couldn’t breath and was beginning to black out. This wasn’t nearly as erotic as when Beth did that to her…
Concentrate! A small air pocket in Elaine’s aorta…
Elaine gasped, her eyes wide open, and collapsed to the floor as she felt her heart scream to a halt. Incredibly, as she fell, she radiated love and gratitude to her sister for her murder.
Béla dream-walked into Elaine’s body and removed the air blockage. Then she pounded into Elaine’s heart, forcing it to start beating again. Returning to her own body, she tried to mind-link with Elaine.
Elaine wasn’t in her body – she was dream-walking somewhere. A fading image surrounded her body. Leaving her own body sleeping on the floor, Béla reached out and stepped inside the image.
'I’m back on Earth!' Béla realized.
It was night. It was hot. She was in the middle of a jungle. In front of her, the ruins of an ancient temple glowed in the moonlight. Elaine stood at the base of the fallen structure, radiating grief and remorse. Sensing her sister’s arrival in her dream world, she turned around.
‘This is what I do with power,’ she stated, indicating the surrounding ruins. ‘This was once the heart of a magnificent civilization that stretched from sea to sea and into the great lands of the north and the south. It’s gone now, and everyone is dead. I killed them all.’
‘You didn’t personally kill each and every one of them…’ Béla asked.
‘No,’ Elaine admitted, ‘but they are dead all the same! Some fought to protect me; others fought to destroy me. They all perished because of me; who I was, what I did to them. It would happen again, with the power you gave me.’
‘No, Elaine,’ Béla pleaded. ‘You are wiser now! It won’t happen again. You have better control of yourself, now that you know the consequences…’
‘That may be, but it no longer matters,’ Elaine said with finality. ‘You killed me. This ruin, this Monumento de Espirito Sheba, is my final resting place; the last thing I’ll ever see. When the energy creating this image is gone and my mind is dead, I’ll be gone with it.’
‘You can wish it was that easy,’ Béla told her. ‘Don’t you think I would have done that if I could?’
She broadcast an image to her sister showing the difference between self-awareness as compared to a created image.
‘You’ll still exist, somewhere…’ Béla explained. ‘You may as well come back with me. Your body is regenerating quite nicely. You’ll be back in it when you wake up anyway.’
Elaine sat down on a large stone, looking forlorn. Béla could feel she was half-convinced to come back. She really had no choice. The laws of physics would not permit her soul to simply cease to exist.
‘Sister, we share the same burden,’ Béla continued as she knelt down in front of her. ‘We both have the power of gods. It’s how we use that power that makes us sane or not. I will help you stay in line, but I need your help to keep me in check as well. Come back with me… Please?’
The image of the ruins of her temple faded. Béla woke up. Elaine stirred beneath her. She opened her eyes and looked up at Béla’s bruised and bloodied face.
“Well, I guess we’re ready…” she said.
Using the bed and each other to balance themselves, they painfully got to their feet and staggered toward the door to meet their destiny.