Swallowing the things shoving at the walls of her conditioned Silence, she got up, gathered her hair into a sleek roll, and put on one of the flowing dresses she preferred to wear while forecasting. This one was a deep rust brown with spaghetti straps and a hem that skimmed her ankles. Even when the visions refused to let her go, her body at least felt free.
Ready, she walked out into the living room and took her usual position in the chair. Monitoring would've begun the second she entered the living area, but now they'd be sitting up in expectation of a session. Instead, she threw up the strongest blocks she could imagine - she couldn't stop the visions, but she could occasionally contain them for a time - and started reading a book.
By the time she finished it two hours later, she knew they had to be getting impatient. She never used the chair for such mundane things. Then she picked up another book. Ten minutes later, her comm console chimed an incoming call. Using the remote, she flicked on the screen facing the chair.
The title was nothing more than a convenient way to refer to him. Anthony Kyriakus was a stranger to her except as the governing force of the PsyClan, no matter that it was half his blood that ran in her veins. "Faith, Medical has informed me of erratic behavior on your part."
Here it came, she thought, the request for a complete mental and physical workup. "Father, would you consider it a breach of your rights as a free citizen to be monitored on the PsyNet?" An ultimately logical question. "Or am I allowed to shadow you wherever you go?"
Anthony's brown eyes remained cool on-screen. "It was for your own protection."
"You didn't answer my question." She picked up her book again. "As it appears I cannot inform myself in private, I thought I should do it in public." The most subtle of threats.
"You've never shown any desire for complete isolation."
Isolation, not privacy. It was becoming crystal clear how they'd been herding her along a certain path her entire life. But he was right - she couldn't show such a drastic change without some explanation. A flicker of memory from the Net gave her inspiration and if it came from the same part of her that showed her the visions, she chose to ignore that. "Perhaps an adult cardinal, one of the rare F designation, might possibly be interested in other opportunities... but those opportunities are highly unlikely to be offered to someone with a babysitter."
Understanding filtered so quickly into Anthony's face that she was certain he'd already been thinking along those lines. "It's a dangerous game. Only the strong survive."
"Which is why I can't appear weak."
"Have you heard anything concrete?"
"I'll tell you when it's time." A blatant untruth because the time would never come, no matter what Anthony believed. The Council was hardly going to consider a cloistered foreseer as a possible member. But as far as reasons for privacy went, it was close to perfect.
Something brutal and ugly shoved at the walls she'd set up against the visions and she knew she had to get out of here before it erupted and exposed her. Because the business visions were never this powerful, this aggressive. Putting down the book, she swung her legs over the side of the chair. "My answer, Father?"
"Privacy is a citizen's right." He nodded. "But should you need assistance, contact me."
"Of course." She switched off the screen without further good-byes - they were redundant in her situation, something she'd figured out as a child. But at least now she'd be left alone on the Net, a huge step forward. No one could suspect her of anything at this stage - even the information she'd found out about Sascha had come from public bulletin boards. However, her next searches weren't going to be so innocent.
Another push on her mind. She strolled out of the room and forced herself to get water and several nutrition bars from the cooler. The second her hand closed around a bar, Vaughn's mocking smile appeared in the screen of her mind. She could imagine what he'd say to her choice of food and, though it was a dangerous game, she indulged herself and focused on him all the way to her bedroom. Once inside, she put down the food and closed the door.
The next push almost drove her off her feet. She swayed, but remained upright - if she fell, the sensors outside the door might pick it up. Breathing carefully, she somehow got to the bed before collapsing. Sweat dampened her hands and temples - a physiological reaction to unknown stress factors.
She was Psy. She should feel no fear. But neither should she be seeing what she was now being forced into seeing. Then the darkness breached the flimsy walls of her defenses and hooked its claws into her mind. Her back arched, her hands clenched, her teeth snapped shut with crushing force, and she was no longer aware of anything but the vision.
It was as if the darkness knew when she was alone and at her most helpless. Like some vicious beast waiting in the shadows for its prey to drop its guard, it crept in through the vision channels and seized control of her senses. And then it - he - forced her to watch what would come to pass if he wasn't stopped.
Blood, so much blood on his hands, in his hair, on his skin. The pale fragility of his hand was almost invisible under the rich, dark coating - wait. He was older than this, decades more experienced than the slender boy drenched in blood. But it was the same darkness, the same evil. She understood what she was seeing, though this had rarely ever happened to her.
An unexpected expression of the ability of foresight was backsight, the ability to see the past. F-Psy who primarily saw the past were very, very rare. Faith could think of none in the last fifty years. When they did appear, they tended to head into Enforcement. But most active F-Psy usually had one or two flashes of backsight during the year. In her case, she'd always caught innocuous images connected with the future she was trying to glimpse.