Chapter 1

Raine floated with ease through the night sky. Below him rose a mountainous landscape occasionally obscured by a passing cloud. The land was a shimmering dark green, occasionally punctuated at the higher elevations by patches of white snow. The colors were vivid, and he could see them even through the dark of the night. He could see them even through the closed eyes of his physical body that sat in a prison cell far away. He was approaching the prison rapidly, but it was still far off. As he had so many times before, Raine admired the dreamlike quality of the world below. The colors were so rich. The scenery looked like a painted masterpiece. He enjoyed his time here in the astral, but it was not his natural habitat. And he was not yet skilled enough to navigate the deeper mysteries of this place, which were many. This was the place where the different planes of reality intersected. It was also a place where one could easily get lost. Asylums were full of people who found themselves in the astral and could not find their way back. He had met a few of them in his travels. Lost and confused, they wandered, unable to communicate or even think a sane thought. But he had his training and combined with his natural skills, he was confident here. He had never dared to stay out for more than an hour of real-world clock time, because the longer one stayed, the more difficult it was to follow the thread back. Fortunately, he had not been out that long and the path to his body was clear and the currents gravitated him toward it. Occasionally, he could see phantasms from other peoples dreams, both in the air and on the ground below. For the most part, they could not see him at all and could only enter his sphere if he allowed it, though he could, with effort, enter theirs. He was getting close now. Up ahead was a very large, featureless gray building with guards posted every hundred feet or so, surrounded by barbed wire fence. It frustrated him that he was not able to explore the prison he was being held captive in. It seemed to have some kind of shielding. He had tried, of course, but had been driven outside on every attempt. Who could’ve done that for them? The prison loomed up before him. The geometry of the building was not quite right, nor the proportion or size of it. In fact it looked surreal. He found that in the astral, natural things looked like their physical counterparts, but man-made objects just looked weird. No one had yet been able to give him a satisfactory explanation for this phenomenon. Many times he could not see artificial objects, but he could see the prison, even if it was distorted. He was close enough now to see right through the walls. There was his body sitting cross-legged on a bench in a tiny ten foot wide cell, with no window. With great effort he brought himself back into his body and could once again feel its pain. No one had beaten him since he had resisted when they kidnapped him, but his body was still stiff and sore from that unpleasant episode. “The men in black” he thought bitterly. “A funny cliche until they’re
kicking down your door.” At least it was quiet in his cell. In fact, no one had spoken to him since they

had locked him up. No charges, no phone call, no rights read. No rights at all in fact. And here he was, back in his hurting body again. He could feel his beard starting to grow in and

And here he was, back in his hurting body again. He could feel his beard starting to grow in and feeling scratchy. His behind hurt against the hard bench, and he was hungry. “Pain is inevitable,
suffering is optional,” he reminded himself once again.

How many days had it been? At least four, though it was hard to say for sure in this place of eternal light. Sometimes fear would creep up on him and catch him off guard. It was then that he reminded himself of the real situation. Of who he was and the momentous things that were happening across the world. Then a secret smile would work its way across his face, and he would be OK for a while anyway. They were wearing him down slowly, but he knew he would escape in the end. He had seen it vividly in a dream the night before. And Raine had good reason to believe in dreams. A food tray was shoved through the slot in his cell door. What a sorry sight that was. A burnt hamburger on a plain bun, some unidentified mush, a hunk of stale bread, and a cup of water. Although he had not eaten since his capture, Raine did not even consider the possibility of eating such a mess. Who knew what was in it? “It’s probably drugged.” he thought. He knew eating it would certainly lower his energy levels. Luckily his training had included fasting, so he could go for prolonged periods without food. In fact, fasting heightened his powers and looking around his tiny, bare cell, he noted that he could use all the power that he could get. The room was bare, except for the bench he was on, a pillow, a dingy blanket, and a toilet. The smell of piss and disinfectant turned his stomach. As he had done the previous days, he held his right hand about an inch over the plate of food and concentrated. After a few moments his hand grew hot, and he could smell the food as its temperature rose and steam came out of it. Within a minute, the food had turned into ash underneath his hand—an old trick he had learned in his time in Nepal. He scattered the ash on the floor. He knew they would force-feed him if they started seeing their food returned, and he wasn’t going to let that happen. With trepidation, he drank the cup of water. He could only go without water for so long. It didn’t taste like it was drugged. Raine relaxed for a minute, then sent gentle healing energy to various parts of his body. He dozed in and out of sleep for a while before deciding to go back into the astral. There was nothing else
to do. Standing, he stretched his legs, followed by the rest of his body. Inhale. Exhale. He felt his chest

rising and falling and could feel the energy running through him, energizing him, calming him. After some time stretching, he settled down as comfortably as he could, he cast a circle, gathered his energy and closed his eyes. After some moments of intense concentration, he felt himself floating and once again felt the dizzying, odd sensation of leaving his body. Looking down he could see it seated peacefully below. He rose through the ceiling. It felt good to be outside again. Maybe this time he’d find one of his comrades. He had been trying since he was captured with no luck. It didn’t help that there probably weren’t any in the immediate area and he hadn’t been missing long enough for the to search for him. He wished, not for the first time, that he knew the trick of astral teleportation. Then he could show up with ease to his friends anywhere in the world and ask for help. This was possible to do, although no one he knew could do it, except of course Master Chang. The Master could do everything, or so it

one he knew could do it, except of course Master Chang. The Master could do everything, or so it seemed. If only the Master would come! A cloud came over him and enveloped him in the fog which did not feel damp or clammy as one might expect. It didn’t really feel like anything at all. Although he couldn’t feel the temperature, he guessed there was a bit of chill in the area. He floated through the currents, letting instinct guide him. His weightless body took a sharp turn to the south. He could sense that there was a young man alone on a cliff somewhere not too far off in this direction. He would go there to him. He relaxed as he was taken effortlessly through the currents. This young man was important. He could feel it.

Chapter 2
Troy climbed up the last rock to the top of the cliff. It was windy, and he bundled his long coat around him to keep off the chill. It was still cool in the north country, although he could feel Spring in the air a little more each day. He often came to this spot when he needed to get away. In the distance, he could hear the squawking of some ducks, returning from their southern vacation. He looked out over the town below. There were still many lights on in spite of the time, and they twinkled brightly against the darkness.“I bet I could see for fifty miles,” he thought. He felt energetic, and his brain was buzzing. He sat down on the rock and squeezed his eyes shut. For a moment he thought that he could physically feel the thoughts bouncing around in his brain. “No coffee this late again,” he said to himself. He felt the forest stirring to life after its long winter hibernation. Lately, it seemed to him that his senses were more alive than ever before. He had noticed that his eyesight seemed much better, and he felt that he could see more details in things than he had ever been able to. The moon was out, but it wasn’t giving much light. Still, he could the tiny buds on the trees as they made their way out into the world. His other senses were equally alive. The smells of the forest in early spring were strong and intoxicating. The subtle sound of the breeze making the branches sway and small animal scurrying through the woods. All small details, but together they made up the complexities of a night forest that normally he would have missed. In the distance he heard two dogs barking. What did they have to say to each other? Maybe
they were involved in a deep philosophical discussion that only dogs could understand? He listened

closer. They were definitely saying something, but it seemed to be not so much in language as in pure emotion. He wished that he could understand them and for a moment felt as if he almost could. Troy often thought such things. He was a dreamer and had a reputation among his teachers for not paying attention in class. Nonetheless he was great at consistently passing tests and solving problems creatively. Most of his other peers didn’t really get him, and while other kids of his type often got picked on, they steered clear of Troy. At six feet and two inches, he towered over most other students. He had wavy brown hair that hung around his ears and a playful expression on his face, especially in his eyes. For the most part, he didn’t take life too seriously. He was passionate about certain things, and this explained his excellence at the guitar and many other musical instruments and his interest in girls from an early age. His latest love was a beautiful girl in his school named Melody. When she moved into his neighborhood several months ago, he had taken one look at her dark, quiet beauty and made up his mind to ask her out. Trying to talk to Melody gave him something that he normally didn’t feel around girls—a nervous feeling. “She was way too good for him.” he had thought. She had jet black hair which hung down past her shoulders, and which she carelessly styled in different ways depending on her mood. Her light skin stood in contrast to her hair and was accentuated by her red lips and expressive blue-gray eyes. With the right costume she could have passed for a gypsy fortune teller. She dressed well and often in

the right costume she could have passed for a gypsy fortune teller. She dressed well and often in black, her favorite color. Although she got most of her clothes from the Goodwill, she somehow made it all look great. She was usually adorned with rings, necklaces, and other jewelry, although no piercings —not yet anyways. It took three days for him to work up the courage to ask if she would like to go out to a cafe with him, and she had accepted immediately. He liked that in a girl. As he sat on the cliff he remembered that day and it came back to him vivid in his mind. They had gone to the local cafe, ordered coffee and had sat in the dark corner in the back. This was the quietest spot in the place, although you could still hear the constant noise of the people and the occasional whirring of the coffee grinder. He sat there more nervous than he had been in a long time and an awkward silence passed between them. She asked him if he would like to hear one of her poems. “Definitely,” he had said. She had pulled out one of her hand decorated notebooks in her well worn black bag and read:
The moon knows this feeling how it is to wait for the sun to shine upon her. The deliciousness of the dark days, where in solitude she sings and makes up costumes to wear when she sees him again, shining so bright her entire being lights up the midnight. Loving him yet equally pleased for the darkness, she circles the blue planet alone.

He fell in love with her at that moment and was relieved that she seemed to like him too. Since that day, they had spent every moment they could together, though often hindered by her strict parents. Troy’s parents on the other hand were very easy going and let him come and go as he pleased. She had to be in by nine every night except weekends when she got to stay out until eleven. Troy thought this quite unfair, but there was not much he could do, so he accepted it. Besides, it gave him time to do his own thing. He looked out again at the expanse laid out before him. He thought again of Melody and smiled. She was so fascinating—like an intricate puzzle that you could never quite figure out. Her mind worked quite differently than his, and although she drove him crazy sometimes, he thought that she was worth every bit of trouble. His thoughts drifted to their conversation from the day before. They had been talking about one of her favorite subjects which was how to acquire psychic powers. Troy thought it was an interesting topic but didn’t believe in it with the same passion as she did. They were both sitting on the couch in his bedroom. Troy was casually playing his guitar as he and Melody talked.

“Everyone has these powers, but most people never develop them. They just show up in strange ways like premonitions or telepathy.” she said. He paused for a moment. “So you think people can develop telepathy and other powers if they really tried?” “Yes, and I’m doing just that.” “OK, what am I thinking right now?” “Oh that’s easy enough to figure out even without psychic powers!” she teased. “I know what boys like!” she sang, and he blushed slightly and looked away. She leaned over and gave him a kiss to reassure him. “No. Let’s try a real test.” She looked around his room and found the deck of playing cards that he always had lying around. “Pick a card, any card,” she said as she spread out the cards in her hand. He picked a card and looked at it. Melody took on a look of intense concentration. “It’s a four of clubs,” she said. “Not even close. It’s a two of diamonds.“ Her face fell. “Try again,” he said encouraging her and pulled another card. It was the nine of clubs. She concentrated again. “It’s black?” He nodded. “It’s a club”. “Yes,” he said, surprised. She concentrated even more. “It’s the nine of clubs!” she said with certainty. He looked at her in astonishment and showed her the card. “Yes!” she yelled in triumph. “How did you do that?” he asked. “Don’t know. But I’ve been getting better at it lately. Let’s try another!” He pulled another card. She closed her eyes and concentrated. “The ace of spades,” she said. It was in fact the six of diamonds. For a moment he toyed with the idea of telling her yes and quickly shuffling the card back in, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. She couldn’t hide her look of disappointment. He put down his guitar and cuddled up next to her. She smelled good, a blend of cinnamon, jasmine and other scents he couldn’t recognize. “When I’m alone, I’m much better at that game,” she said, and he kissed her again. He wanted to sleep with her so bad and had let her know for some time through subtle comments. But she wanted to wait and let him know in no uncertain terms, so he was waiting. What else could he do? Coming out of his thoughts, Troy looked up at the stars and pulled his coat tighter around him. The wind was picking up. He heard a whispering sound like something was trying to talk to him. He felt a presence, as if someone else was nearby and fear crept over him. He had grown up in the city and his family had moved here only two years ago. He loved being out in the country at night, but it did still scared him a little. He looked around, but there was no one up here but him. He felt dazed and closed his eyes. It felt for a moment as if he was being pulled out of his body.

He felt dazed and closed his eyes. It felt for a moment as if he was being pulled out of his body.
There was a man in the sky pulling him up there. Wait, that didn’t make sense..He felt dizzy. If only he

could think straight. He felt a rushing sensation like he was in motion. An image came into his mind of a small city nestled in a mountain range. It was all lit up against the darkness and looked inviting. As he looked at it in wonder, he felt as if he could almost hear a voice in the wind repeating a word over and over. What was it saying? “Ashvale” the voice whispered again and again. Ashvale? What was
that? Sounded like a place.

”I’d like to go there.” he thought. Where did that thought come from? Had someone put it in his
head? The man in the sky? He opened his eyes and found that he was still on the mountain and there

was no man in the sky. “You’re losing it,” he thought to himself. Slowly he came back into his body. He could still picture the city in his mind, but the image was fading. He stood there for a few minutes, but nothing new happened, so he pulled his hood over his head and hurried home. That night he had a hard time falling asleep—and it wasn’t just the coffee.

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Melody lay awake in her bed. Her dim room illuminated only by a faltering candle on her bedside table. There were beautiful tapestries with intricate designs hung on the wall and the room was filled with the smell of sandalwood incense, her favorite. Her room was neat but not meticulous. An assortment of clothes, mostly blacks and reds were hung up in her open closet. She was a proficient seamstress and much of her wardrobe had been made by hand using pieces of castoff clothes given new life. It was well after midnight, and this was her very favorite time of day. She had been a night owl as long as she could remember, though she often woke up tired from lack of sleep. Still, it was worth it. Often, as she hovered between consciousness and the world of dreams, insights would come to her in the form of fragments of sentences and she would hurriedly sit up and write them down in one of her many journals. She would often piece together these written words to create her poetry. She wished that she had friends that appreciated her poetry, but she wrote mostly for herself. It was a way for her to process all of the emotions that flowed so freely through her. Without a way to express these things, they would collect inside and she imagined that they would make her eventually explode. “And
that would not be pretty,” she had decided long ago.

At least Troy liked her poetry, even if he didn’t really understand it. Troy. He felt so right for her. She wished he was here right now snuggled up close. She loved the feeling of being held in his arms, his masculine smell enveloping her. And he made her laugh. That was important, though sometimes his joking manner irritated her when she was in a bad mood. Still, she thought, she wouldn’t do well with someone who was as moody as she was. “Good thing he’s an easy sort,” she mused. Melody sat up and stroked her cat Lucky who had jumped up on her bed. She thought of some of the strange things that had been happening to her lately. She had been getting better at guessing

of the strange things that had been happening to her lately. She had been getting better at guessing the cards. She was sure of it. And then there were the voices. There had been several times when she was quite sure that a person near her had said something but clearly their lips had not moved. And she would sometimes hear the strangest things when she walked down the school corridor. Some guy would say something wildly inappropriate, and she would spin around to see who had said it, but could never quite catch them. Was she reading minds? Is this what being psychic is like? And then there were her hands that frequently grew warm for no apparent reason. This would often happen around someone who was sick or injured. Yesterday she had heard her mother while she sat in her rocker moaning softly and rubbing her hands. Her mother had arthritis. “Is it bad today Mom?” Melody had asked. At that moment, she had felt her hands growing noticeably warmer. “Afraid so. It’s this damp weather.” Her mother said in a low voice, clearly in pain. Instinctively, Melody got down on her knees next to her mother. “Let me rub them for you,” she said and took one of them in her hands. Her mother was a bit uncomfortable at this display of affection from her daughter, but as Melody began massaging them, she felt the pain drain out of her hands. “That feels so good Melody. I didn’t know that you could massage like that,” her mother said sighing deeply. Melody continued for a number of minutes until her mother said “Thank you Melody. I think that’s good for now.” She could feel her mother’s barriers going up again. “No problem Mom.” Suddenly she felt awkward like she usually did around her parents and excused herself. At least she didn’t fight with her. Not like with her father. He was an angry person and often took his anger out on Melody. When she was young, she had been terrified of him because of his violent temper. She still mostly avoided him, although he insisted on interfering with her life as much as possible. A few days later, her mother had approached her to ask if she might be able to massage her hand again. Melody agreed and massaged her mother’s hands. This time though she felt her hands were warmer than usual, there was no amazing healing energy. “Before it just happened by itself,” she thought. Still it felt satisfying to be in good space with her mother. Melody had also felt quite strange the past few weeks. Not anything she could really describe. She just felt things more deeply than usual, particularly if she was around someone who was emotional. She would cry easily at sad parts in movies or sometimes for no reason at all. And she was laughing more too. Her emotions were just a little more intense. She liked feeling things this deeply but sometimes felt afraid that she would keep going down deep and never come back. She lay back down on her bed. It was almost three o’clock and really time to get some sleep. She blew out the candle and closed her eyes, falling asleep after about ten minutes. That night she had a vivid dream. She was in her bed but could see up through the roof where a man floated above her house and beckoned her to join him. He was dressed in a black outfit with a glowing red symbol on his sleeve. As she looked closer, she could see that the symbol seemed to be alive, changing shape before her eyes. The man waved his hands, motioning her to come up to him. She sensed that he wanted to speak but couldn’t. For that matter, she couldn’t speak either. The only sound was the faint whisper of a breeze.

Without effort, she began floating up into the sky. She felt unsteady and unable to control her flight. Looking down, she saw her house falling away below her, only the house didn’t look quite right. The angles and proportion were all wrong. She could simultaneously see inside her house and saw herself lying in bed sleeping. Was this a dream? She was carried along by some strong current, not quite wind but similar, and she relaxed into the sensation. Ahead of her, she could see the floating man and below, the ground flying by beneath her. The terrain changed, and she found herself over a mountain range with a city nestled between the mountains. The lights of the city seemed like an oasis against the blackness of the countryside around it. The man smiled, waved at her, and pointed to the city. He floated closer, close enough for her to see his face and the intensity of his gaze. He handed her something. She didn’t know what it was at first but looked closer and saw that it was a fist sized red gemstone carved into an intricate, three dimensional geometrical design very much like the one on his sleeve. It was circular and looked something like pictures of crop circles she had seen before, only it seemed to be alive, morphing and changing. Fascinated, she gazed at it, trying to grasp its incredible detail and its insistence on defying the normal principles of geometry. It glowed in her hand, emitting a gentle warmth. She woke up all at once, her fingers clutching the edges of her blanket. It was just a dream, but
it had felt so real! She got up and looked out the window. It was that time of night where there is no

dawn light yet, but the sky is a deep blue, and it is not far to go until the morning. Blue-O’Clock as she liked to call it. She looked up at the sky, half expecting to see the floating man, but there was nothing but the stars that were fading from the sky as the light crept in. This was one for the dream journal. She hurriedly wrote down her experience before she forgot the details, but she knew this dream was different and that it was more like one of her waking dreams. So strange! She’d get a good poem out
of this one for sure.

It was Saturday morning. She had plans to hang out with Troy today but for now she needed more sleep so she went back to bed. Lucky leapt onto the bed and lay down beside her. Minutes later she fell into a dreamless sleep.

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It was a night for strange dreams and Jason was having one of his own. He dreamed he was in a room with six people, three men and three women. They looked odd. Their clothes, which were not of any type he had ever seen before. They were made out of a material that was vibrating with colors and seemed almost alive. They were each holding a crystal about the size and shape of an egg. Each crystal was a different type and color, and each one had light circulating inside of it. The people were seated on floor cushions in a circle and were concentrating on their crystals. As they gazed into them, the crystals pulsated with light. It was clear to Jason that the lights were being manipulated by the people’s thoughts.

After almost a minute had passed, three of them held their hands out towards the center, and Jason watched with astonishment as the crystals floated out of their hands and hung before them in mid air, glowing and pulsating with light. Simultaneously, the other three held their crystals close to their chests and he could hear a loud humming noise emerge from the circle. He realized that this sound was coming from the people and was a song made of long sustained notes. Light started pouring out of the tops of the floating crystals, enveloping the people in a brilliant fountain that seemed to spill all over them like water. As it did, their humming turned to cries of pleasure and delight. As the light filled the room, it reached Jason, and he felt an intense rush of energy throughout his body. It was intensely pleasurable, and he involuntarily gasped out loud as it passed through him. Through the light filled room, he could see the faces of the people turn to him. They could see him? For a moment he was scared, but he saw that they were all smiling at him. The scene faded, and he fell back asleep. At about nine in the morning he awoke, opened his eyes and found himself staring at his bedroom ceiling thinking about the strange dream. He had never had one quite like that. Usually his dreams were chaotic, and he couldn’t remember much of them, but the details from this one stood out clear in his mind. “What was that all about?” he thought. He sat up in bed, grabbed his sketchbook and made a rough drawing of the scene. He could hear his parents out in the kitchen, and he lay in his bed thinking about the dream for several minutes before getting up and opening the window. A warm breeze came in, carrying promises of spring. He sat at his desk where he had been working on his latest project, a computer 3d model of a futuristic car. He didn’t know much about the mechanical aspects of automobiles, but he was teaching himself. For now, his main goal was to make it look awesome. He had taught himself a number of advanced 3D rendering programs and planned on studying it more in college. He checked his email. Not much there. He could hear his parents in the living room arguing again. This was a pretty constant part of his life. They had been fighting with each other and with him for as long as he could remember. God,
he couldn’t wait to move away. He had been going through the brochures for various colleges. One

more year of high school, and he was gone. He put on some music to drown out the sound of his parents. After a few minutes, he decided to go down to the cafe downtown and see who was hanging there, but first a shower. He took his time in the shower, as he always did. He loved the feeling of hot water pouring down on his head. He could forget all the hassles in his life for these brief moments. He got out, dried himself off and dressed in his favorite faded jeans and his favorite black t-shirt. His black leather jacket completed his outfit. He grabbed his wallet and sketchbook and quietly opened his door. From the other room, he could hear his parents voices rising over the television, blaring some lame news network that they loved to watch. He closed his door as quietly as he could and crept down the hall. He avoided his parents as much as possible. These days their only communication with him seemed to consist of them yelling at him for no good reason.

Only twenty more feet to the door. There was a space that opened up to the living room where his parents were so he had to make this quick. “I wish I could turn myself invisible,” he said to himself. Suddenly he felt invisible. “Weird,” he thought. He went so far as to look at his hands. They were still there. He crept towards the door. Only fifteen more feet. “Jason, is that you?” his father said gruffly and turned around. Jason was thinking about what to say that would get him out of the house the fastest but then noticed an unusual expression on his father’s face. It looked kind of confused and blank as if he was looking right through him. His father hesitated for a moment, then turned around in his chair back to watching the television. Jason covered the remaining few feet as quickly and quietly as he could. When he was outside he looked again at his hands which were still there. “Very strange,” he thought as he walked towards downtown. After he had rounded the corner, he slowed to a normal walking pace. He passed by his old elementary school and memories came flooding back. He had always been different, even back then. Too smart for the other kids. They didn’t understand him and were often jealous of how effortless school work was for him. Regular practice with his karate lessons had done wonders in getting schoolyard bullies to avoid him. Even his father was careful to never get physical with him anymore. He had often caught the back of his hand when he was younger, but after that incident when he had sent that bully Joey to the hospital, his father had never dared to hit him again. He had been taking karate lessons for almost eight years now and was a formidable opponent. He was almost at the cafe and stopped to look at his reflection in a storefront window. He felt mildly depressed looking at himself. What would he look like in a few years? Better he hoped. Like many young men his age, he really was good looking with his olive complexion and intense eyes. He had no idea how many girls in his school had a secret crush on him, and if he had, he might not have known what to do with that information. How unlike his best friend Troy who had always had an easy time with the ladies! Now he had that super hot Melody hanging on his arm whenever he saw him, although he hadn’t seen him much lately. “Can’t blame him though.” he thought, but he couldn’t help feel jealous that she had so much if his best friend’s attention. He looked up as Troy and Melody rounded the corner holding hands. That was odd to see them
at the exact moment he was thinking of them. He had been having a lot of strange things like this

happen over the last few weeks. Odd things like singing a few words to a song and having it come on the radio moments later. Or bumping into people he knew in the strangest places. Stuff that didn’t seem to have any meaning, although when he had mentioned it to his friend Patrick, he had told him about synchronicities, and how some people thought coincidences like that held some kind of significance and should be paid special attention to. “What’s up?” he said bumping knuckles with Troy and giving Melody a smile. “We’re getting coffee and deciding what to do.” Troy answered. Melody nodded her head and smiled. She was a quiet one. They all went into the cafe and ordered drinks. Jason frowned a bit as he came to the counter. Damn, that cute girl isn’t working here today. He got a black coffee with a shot

he came to the counter. Damn, that cute girl isn’t working here today. He got a black coffee with a shot of espresso. A straight up as he called it. They sat down at the only empty table. “Melody was just starting to tell me about a dream she had last night,” Troy said turning to her. “Yeah. I was standing in my backyard looking up at the sky and there was a floating man,” Melody began with her soft, musical voice. She told them about her dream, but when she got to the part about seeing the city nestled in the mountains, Troy almost choked on his coffee and put his hand up. “What?” he said. “I saw a city like that too only it wasn’t exactly a dream—kind of a waking dream, a vision of some kind.” He told them about what had happened to him on the mountain. “I’m visiting a town in the mountains next week during school vacation. It’s called Ashvale. “Ashvale! Yes, that’s what the voice was saying,” Troy said. He got out his phone and did a quick image search for Ashvale, got a photo of the city at night and showed it to them. “Oh my god, that’s it!” Melody said. “That’s the city I saw!” “Me too,” Troy said. “That’s messed up.” What could this mean? Jason broke the silence to tell them what he had learned about synchronicities. “Lots of weird stuff like this has been happening. There’s something to this,” he mused. “You both dream about a place, maybe the same place that I just happen to be going to? That doesn’t make sense.” “We’ve got to go there and find out if this really means anything,” Melody said with excitement. “I’m going there next week,” Jason said. “I can check it out for us.” “I want to go too,” said Troy. “I have some money saved up, and I think my car can make it down.” Jason gave him a skeptical glance. “That’s debatable. And your parents will just let you go?” “Oh I’ll find a way. They’re easy.” “You are SO lucky.” “I want to go too.” Melody said. “Your parents would never let you,” Troy replied. “You’re right. They’re so unfair. It really sucks.” “Let me tell you about the dream I had last night.” He told them all about it and showed them the sketch. They all looked at it and were silent for a moment, lost in their private thoughts. “What can all this mean?” Melody asked. “I don’t know, but I have a feeling that we’re going to find out,” answered Troy.

Chapter 3
Emily woke up earlier than usual for a Saturday morning. Another one of those strange dreams
of the woman with the green eyes. That made three of them in the past week. This time they had been

walking through a path in a dense rain forest. She could still hear the sounds of the jungle and smell the rich scent of flowers and vegetation. Once again, she couldn’t understand what the woman was saying, but that didn’t seem to stop her from talking a good long time. The woman had an unearthly, beautiful voice and she spoke in some kind of language that didn’t really sound like a language at all.
“It’s really more like alien music,” Emily thought. The woman had handed her a beautiful rose colored

crystal that seemed to be alive. It had morphed and pulsed with energy, making her hand grow warm. After a time she had stopped talking, smiled at Emily and gently floated up into the sky. The dream had been so vivid. And so weird! She sat up in bed pondering whether getting up would be more rewarding than sinking back into her warm, comfy blankets. She had promised to go with her grandfather to a protest that afternoon, so she reluctantly got out of bed and slipped into her favorite weekend knockabout clothes: a worn, but soft pair of cotton pants and a faded t-shirt with the iconic photo of Che Guavera on it that she always wore to protests. She brushed out her long blonde hair, pushed it behind her shoulders, and put an elastic around it to keep it out of her face. Looking in the mirror to inspect her face, she nodded with approval. “Looking good,” she said to herself. She had large, expressive blue eyes, and a generous mouth. At her grandmothers urging, she had stopped eating so much junk food and her complexion had cleared up quite a bit. “Thank God,” she thought. She took a moment to check in with herself. This was something that she had learned to do through counseling after her mother’s death. “Hey you, how is everything?” she asked herself in the mirror. “Just fine,” came the answer. “Yeah, right,” she thought. She checked in again. Yes, she was
still feeling a little depressed. Well at least she wasn’t taking those horrible medications that made her

feel groggy. She’d been free from them for over two years now and was doing quite well, although she still went through some serious mood swings. The last couple of months had been tough ones, but she was coming out of it and feeling better every day. She was eager for coffee and shuffled out to the kitchen where her grandmother was fixing breakfast. “Good morning!” her grandmother said a little too cheerfully to Emily’s half asleep self. Her grandmother was one of those people who got up early in the morning on purpose. Emily had moved in with her grandparents after the sudden death of her mother in a car accident when she was seven. She had never known her father, although her mother had dated a number of men when she was little. She only had vague childhood memories of her mother, but she held them dear to her heart. Although her mother’s death had been traumatic for her, she had learned to live with it and accepted her grandparents as her actual parents and they loved and accepted her as their own daughter. Her grandparents had lived through the 60’s and had never quite left them. Her grandmother,

Her grandparents had lived through the 60’s and had never quite left them. Her grandmother, Starr, still did yoga every day and was involved in her community organizing local events, raising money for charities, and such things. Starr had a small build, was in excellent shape, and was usually full of energy for someone her age. She ate a diet exclusively of raw, uncooked foods which intrigued Emily, though she wasn’t quite ready to give up her favorite foods. Her grandfather, Jake, had been very involved in the 60’s anti-war protest movements and had continued his involvement over the decades. Time had softened him somewhat, and he often took the time to be out in nature and do more leisure activities than he had allowed himself when he was younger. Having Emily come and stay with them had had a profound and positive effect on him. Jake was a solid, muscular man, though he was starting to show his age. Starr was always trying to get him to eat better but with little success. He had been a biker when he was younger and would often entertain Emily with stories of those adventurous times. As she sat down at the dining room table, she could hear her grandfather talking heatedly to the computer in the other room. “What’s up with him?” she asked her grandmother. Starr’s smile dropped off. “Congress just passed more outrageous laws to create even more surveillance. Apparently they’re going to have little robots now that are going to fly around with cameras or something like that. They’re not supposed to go on private property, but you know they’re going to. I don’t like where this is heading myself, but you know your grandfather—he’s furious!” Starr paused, “I just hope he doesn’t do anything stupid at the protest today,” she added. “The toast!” Emily yelled as the room started to fill with smoke that made her eyes water. Her grandmother rushed over to the toaster oven, and Emily stepped out of the room. She walked over and stood behind her grandfather who was watching a video of their country’s president, an aggressive looking man named Steele who was speaking in front of an official looking audience. Jake looked up at her, and she could see that he was visibly upset. “I knew this bastard was trouble, but I never thought it would get this bad this fast!” he practically shouted at Emily. “It’s OK poppy,” Emily spoke softly to him and started to give him a gentle shoulder rub. “Calm down.” “I can’t calm down when I see this country being flushed down the toilet by criminals like this. Look at him! Elected for four months and passing all sorts of crazy laws! This guy is bad, really bad. Maybe it’s time to consider moving.” They had all talked about this before. Her grandparents had even gone so far as to buy a small piece of land in a small tropical country but had not done much with it, except visit it a couple of times. They really liked being involved in the local community here and had a real love for their country too. “I’ve been fighting for our country for decades now!” Jake had exclaimed many times. Her grandmother was not as politically involved. She preferred helping people individually over grander political schemes. “Dwelling on all of the injustices of the world is a good way to make sure you have an unhappy

“Dwelling on all of the injustices of the world is a good way to make sure you have an unhappy life,” she once told Emily. “Not doing daily kindnesses to others is another way. People get so caught up in the struggle that they forget to live.” Emily continued to give her grandfather a shoulder rub. Startled, she became aware of a hot sensation running down her arms into her hands. She fell into a trance. This energy flowing through
her. What was it? It felt like something really positive, and it made her feel good. She could feel her

grandfather noticeably relax under her hands and the energy emanating out of them. He breathed a sight of relief. “Wow, you are getting good at this Em. Have you ever considered becoming a massage therapist?” “Maybe. Something to think about.” she said and continued rubbing him for a few minutes until the warmth in her hands ebbed. “How about we make up our protest signs?” she suggested. “That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day,” Jake answered.

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The protest was in full swing by the time they got there. They stood with the rest of the crowd as people who drove by either beeped their horns in encouragement or scowled at them. Police kept arriving, many of them in full riot gear, and started forcing the crowd back. Emily stumbled back with the rest of the crowd. The protest was getting ugly fast. She had agreed to go with her grandfather today in exchange for him going to a cabin up in the mountains with her and Starr this weekend. She was starting to regret the deal. What was she doing here? She loved other people, and it hurt her to see so much pain, anger and strife. And this was an angry crowd. Still, she was on the side of the protesters. Economically, the entire world had been in a depression for some years now and showed no signs of ending. Global warming had shifted from being seen as a theory to a harsh reality. The environment was crumbling fast. Their society was quickly unraveling, and many people were going hungry. “Protesting only makes sense,” she thought. This particular protest was focused on the rapidly escalating police state that was happening all over. Government operated hidden video cameras had become common in public (and some said not so public) places and now there were going to be these new flying drones. Laws had long ago been put into place that would potentially allow police to detain, arrest and hold until further notice anyone labeled as a terrorist. The main problem with this being that there was no clear definition of what a terrorist was, so its meaning in practice was someone who is doing something that the government or
even a particular police officer didn’t like. This made going to protests an extra scary proposition.

Although it was still rare for people to just disappear, it did happen. She heard one of the protesters, a woman, shouting something and the crowd roaring its approval. What was she saying? All Emily could do was feel and the amount of anger, elation, and other strong emotions going on around her was overwhelming her senses. She felt lightheaded and looked up at the sky. It was beautiful. So peaceful. A rich blue color with perfect white fluffy clouds. No,

looked up at the sky. It was beautiful. So peaceful. A rich blue color with perfect white fluffy clouds. No,
she couldn’t go there. She needed to be here now in her body. Her grandfather needed her to be here now.

Everyone around her was tense. There was a line of police officers in full riot gear ahead of them. One of them had been shouting out in a megaphone to clear the area for some time. Now talk was over, and they were enforcing order while trying to avoid a serious scene. The crowd wasn’t going for it. Emily pressed her hand into her grandfather’s and squeezed it. He leaned over to her and whispered, “You should really get out of here now.” “No. YOU should really get out of here now,” she replied with conviction. “You know that’s not an option for me,” Jake reminded her. Emily felt the energy of the crowd. It whirled around her, both exhilarating and dangerous. The police held their own energy. An unmoving and commanding energy, and one that she knew could explode into violence without notice.
She was not cut out for this. “Please come away with me poppy!” she pleaded. Before he could

answer, a scuffle broke out between the yelling protester and some of the police. The whole volatile scene exploded, and the cops broke out their billy clubs and rubber bullets went flying. Emily screamed in terror and looked around for somewhere, anywhere, to run to. There was chaos everywhere with people running away and others trying in vain to protect themselves from the enraged police force. Suddenly it seemed as if time had drastically slowed down. She could see that her grandfather had been targeted by one of the police. The policeman’s baton came crashing down on his back. Emily ran over and without thinking threw herself between Jake and the policeman. As she did she looked intensely into the cop’s eyes. “STOP THIS NOW!” she yelled at him. When she yelled, it was as if a great force had come out of her and hit him, causing him to stumble back. Her voice held a supernatural power which was clear to both of them. The cops eyes grew wide in surprise. Was that a frightened look in his eyes? He seemed unable to move, and he and Emily stood there with their eyes locked on each other while the violence continued all around them. The cop stumbled backwards looking at Emily while he did. “Fall back!” he yelled. The other cops seemed surprised, but they obeyed the order after hesitating for a moment. The protesters dispersed immediately, and Emily and Jake followed with them. “What happened back there?” he asked Emily as they walked away as fast as they could. “I don’t know,” she said glancing a look at him. “I don’t know.”

Chapter 4
Raine had come back into his body just in time. The door opened and two security guards appeared. “Get up and put your hands out in front of you,” one of them said. He was cuffed and taken out into the corridor. The humming noise he could hear in his cell was intensified out here. The corridor was very white and very clean. More like a hospital than a prison. What was that humming noise? He was glad they hadn’t come sooner as it would no doubt be quite suspicious to find his inert body while he was out traveling in the astral. Of course, great bodily pain or distress could bring him back into his body fast enough. If only he could travel through this prison to know its secrets. He wished he knew who had shielded this place and how. As he walked along, he wondered who the young man on the cliff had been and if he would meet him. “I think the image got through,” he thought. He was able to draw him into the astral so easily that he knew this young man had the gift. And the young woman! She had been a natural. He had picked up her trail from the young man’s thoughts of her, and whatever forces guided him on the astral had led him straight to her. Whoever she was, she was powerful. He had gotten the sense of a very strong entity that was staying close to her, perhaps guarding her. He’d been able to penetrate right into her dream space and invite her to follow him. As always the message that had been conveyed was vague because of the lack of language. He’d been able to send the image of Ashvale to both of them. Hopefully he and the girl would put it all together and would find their way there and hook up with Sophia. At least, that was the intention he had visualized. He knew that focused intentions in the astral often manifested in reality or at least became more likely to. It was part of the magic of the place. These two would be valuable additions to their growing numbers. “There are so many of them activating these days.” he mused. The soldiers suddenly stopped, forcing him out of his reverie. One of them put his eyes up to a scanner, and a door opened. It was an ordinary, featureless room. There were large windows on one side exposing a beautiful mountain view. In the middle was a table with a feast laid out on it on steaming plates. They brought him in and sat him down on a stool. Across the table there was a silver haired, intelligent looking man sitting down. “Hello. My name is Dr. Chaste,” the man said adjusting his glasses. “I thought we’d enjoy a bite to eat while we talked.” Raine looked down at the food. It was a huge improvement over what they had tried to feed him in his cell. It looked like a buffet table at a gourmet restaurant. Each dish looked better than the last, and their collective tantalizing smell overwhelmed him. All of his hunger from the last few days caught up with him. But he hesitated. “The food is not tainted or drugged in any way I assure you,” said the man as he started piling food onto his plate. Raine knew instinctively that he was telling the truth. He took one of the empty plates and started filling it up. They ate in silence for a couple of minutes. The man asked him a few questions. Had he been treated well? Did he have any medical needs?

“What’s this all about?” Raine thought to himself. He must know the shitty conditions I’ve been held in. He looked intently into the man and concentrated. He was surprised to discover that this man had had training in psychic shielding, but was far from fully developed. By Raine’s standards he was a novice. “What are you doing?” said the man. “Do you think I can be read that easily? I should be insulted, but I’ll let it go.” He managed to smile.“Who trained you?” “I‘ve had many teachers,” Raine responded. He took a bite of salad and chewed it thoughtfully. “Can you name a few?” “There was Miss Harvey, my first grade teacher. I forget the name of my second grade teacher, but in third grade there was Mrs. Plum. You know, I never could forget that name.” Dr. Chaste frowned. “Do you think this is a game?” he asked. He leaned towards Raine and spoke in a low voice. “I can help you, but you need to help me first,” he said. “Otherwise this whole thing could get very unpleasant. If you answer my questions fully and truthfully, I’ll see that you get excellent treatment, and you will be released shortly.” Raine looked back at him giving his best look at being unimpressed. He took another bite of his salad. “How about you tell me where YOU trained?” he said. It was Dr. Chaste’s turn to be surprised. How did he know? “My employers are doing research into psychic phenomenon. In fact, I'm one of the lead researchers.” He said with a note of pride leaning back in his chair. “Look, we really don’t care too much about your little group. What we’re really interested in is finding out just what the hell is going on. There’s been an increase in psychic activity all over the world. You’ve obviously been trained in your powers, but there are people, mostly young people, that are getting these powers out of nowhere. They don’t know what to do with them and we’re afraid they might get hurt.” “Or your employers might be able to use them as weapons? I know that your organization is the psy-ops division of the army,” Raine replied, “and I’m afraid we’re not on the same team.” “Oh, but it doesn’t have to be like that,” Dr. Chaste said. “You just don’t see the whole picture of what we’re doing. How necessary so many of the governments actions are, because face it, people still need to be governed.” “Do they really? Personally I believe in the essential goodness of humans.” “You, my friend, are quite naive. Look at the world today. It’s in economic and political chaos. We’ve pretty much destroyed the biosphere. Believe me, without a strong handed government, we’ll be finished as a species within a generation. Perhaps in some future enlightened time we'll not have a need for one.” “A necessary evil huh? Show me a government that works for the people and not for the profit and power of the people at the top. It’s entirely corrupt, and you know it and yet you work with it. Why?” Dr. Chaste looked at him and chuckled quietly. “I’m supposed to be the one interrogating you. Let’s just say that I could never get access to the money and equipment I need to pursue my scientific interests on my own. The government does both good and bad things. Sometimes, events done with

interests on my own. The government does both good and bad things. Sometimes, events done with good reason can seem cruel looking from the outside. The government is simply made of people who are for the most part good. Do I look like a cruel man?” Raine could easily read people, and he could see right into the doctors mind in spite of his training in mental shielding. He saw that Dr. Chaste was not inherently a cruel person and that he was very convinced of the rightness of his actions. He did however have that fatal flaw so often found in people in positions of power: he felt that the ends justified the means. Dr. Chaste really did want to help create a happy and peaceful world, but he had no problem with using violent means to attain this end. He also had very specific ideas of what kind of people should be allowed to live in this perfect world, and it was fine with him if that perfect society was kept peaceful by force. He reached a little further into the doctor’s mind. What he saw shocked him.
There were other prisoners like him. Most had no idea why they were here. He saw images of laboratories with men and women in white smocks injecting people with syringes filled with colored liquid and reading brainwave charts. He saw rooms with people in cages. Rows and rows of people, mostly children and teenagers, with defeated looks in their eyes. To the doctor, they were merely experiments. He chose not to see their humanity. The images changed, and he saw the doctor at his home caring for his sick wife. There were images of him playing a game with a young boy. His grandson? The boy was laughing and smiling.

Dr. Chaste suddenly stood up and shouted, “Get out of my mind!” bringing Raine out of his trance. “How did you do that?” He looked flustered and for a brief moment, vulnerable. Raine was silent, processing what he had seen. They were doing experiments on other
activated people. The doctor had clearly never come across someone with his kind of training or level

of power. He’d have to be more careful about not displaying the extent of his power to him. “We’re done for the day,” Dr. Chaste said abruptly. “Guards!” The two guards came back into the room. “Put him in one of the rooms in section C.” He turned to Raine and said in an ominous voice “We’ll be meeting again very soon.” The guards took him to a new room with a glass wall. A much more comfortable one than before. There was a real bed, a chair, and a small table with some magazines on it. Best yet there was a light switch. Raine gratefully dimmed the lights and reclined on the bed. Within minutes a young woman came to his room. She pressed the intercom button to speak with him. “Hello. Can I get you anything?” Raine sat up. “Are there any leftovers?” The meal had ended up abruptly, and he was still hungry. “I’ll see what I can do”, the young woman said. “And how about a book? I’m not one for magazines.” “I’ll have the librarian come and bring a collection for you to choose from.” “I prefer classics or books with an escape-from-prison theme.” The woman smiled. “I’ll see what I can do,” she said and walked away. Raine lay back down and closed his eyes. It was time for another journey.

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President Steele sat perfectly straight in his chair. He was a hardened, tough looking man but perfectly groomed in his gray suit which resembled a military uniform. He was in the council room this morning awaiting a meeting with his most trusted advisers. He had just gotten back from a meeting with The Hand. “Damned crazy, that’s what they are.” he thought. But he’d go along with them. They had the power after all and they had chosen him to be
the leader in this transitional time. And they’ve been planning this for a long, long time.

He knew their ultimate goal. They had been ruling the earth in secret for centuries. Now they wanted to rule it openly. It was them against the human race. And guess who wins? Well, he’d make
sure he was on the winning side. He didn’t have the blood,but he had served them well and they knew that and rewarded loyalty.

He thought back to when he first came into office. He had signed the executive order that would open up the massive detention camps that had been secretly set up all over the country over the last ten years. Under new laws passed with his influence, any form of protest could put the offending party into one of these camps without the need for any messy trial. And he made sure that they could define the word protest in any way that they chose to. Hell, they could get someone for going to a protest or
even writing a subversive post on the Internet.

Two months ago he had quietly formed a new government run organization he dubbed The True Patriots and had given full time jobs to thousands of suitable candidates. Recruits for this special organization had been carefully screened for fanatical patriotism, moderate, but not too high intelligence, and a special zeal for following orders. He had started a project developing specialized computer equipment that would scour the Internet seeking suspicious activity. This system was known to those who used it as Big Brain and took the combined efforts of hundreds to create and maintain. Sure, they had programs like this before, but
this sucker was good. It could not only sort through all of the information on the Internet looking for

certain types of activities, but could then target an individual and send a complete dossier with all of their Internet activities, including private emails, to an investigator. The popularity of social networking had made it far easier to track such activities. The True Patriots were busy around the clock compiling lists. Each suspect was ranked, taking into account their subversive ideas, their actual actions, and their influence. If anyone had ever said anything remotely critical of the government, online, even in an email, they were likely on this list. And they would get to them all sooner or later, but they were starting with the most blatant offenders.
Now he was getting ready to implement the next phase of their plan. This involved rounding up

a hundred thousand or so of the most dangerous anti-American protesters and agitators and lock them up in detention camps. That would certainly have the desired effect on the rest of the population.

up in detention camps. That would certainly have the desired effect on the rest of the population. Curfews would be put into place, as well as laws regarding why and when groups of people could get together. This would give him the opportunity to really start moving on many of his more extreme reforms. He had the majority of those with political power behind him, and some unpleasant surprises in store for those who weren’t. His advisers started coming into the room and finding seats. Flange, the head of the Patriots had started off with some bad news. Steele didn’t like hearing it. Not at all. A key Patriot’s control center had been burned down. There had been no arrests made yet. The locations of these centers were top secret, and each operative had been ultra-screened and well trained in secrecy. How had
they known how to find it? Was there an informer among them? The fire had happened on a Sunday

evening, so there were no casualties, although a guard had been treated for smoke inhalation. They had managed to keep the information about the center from the papers. It was reported instead that it had been an abandoned warehouse. Luckily, the data was safely backed up, so this would only be a temporary setback.
Well, he had to expect some resistance. Keep rooting out the rabble rousers and keep them from having children. That was his plan. The next generation would never know any other way except quiet submission. Other leaders of countries around the world were in on the plan and took their orders

from The Hand, though increasingly they were getting their daily orders from him. Steele leaned back in his chair, rubbed his temples and thought long and hard. Although highly intelligent, his mind was inflexible, and once on a course, he did not waver. This made him ideal for the political arena but like many presidents before him, made him a bad leader. He took the news of the burning as a personal affront and by god he was going to set them straight! Pearson, a grim looking man in charge of coordinating the different departments, spoke up. Apparently there was some news from psy-ops, the psychic research division, that Steele should hear firsthand. He had flown in Dr. Chaste to speak with the entire group, as the news might effect them all. “I don’t have time for this psychic nonsense,” thought Steele. He had always considered psyops a bit of a joke, although he had heard rumors of strange things coming from it over the years. It
was worth a listen, he supposed. “Bring him in. He has five minutes.” barked Steele.

Dr. Chaste entered the room. He had a powerful and hypnotic presence. Everyone took notice and straightened up in their chairs at his entrance. “Thank you for having me. It’s so good to be here,” he said with a slight bow. “Sit down and let’s keep this brief,” Steele said. Chaste sat down and brought out some papers from his briefcase. “Over the last few years we’ve seen a growing number of people developing psychic powers. Usually these powers remain unknown even to those who have them. Although our detection equipment is still crude, we have estimated that this number is now over the .001% mark. This means roughly one out of every 10,000 people is being affected. There does not seem to be any discernible pattern in who is developing these powers, except that this phenomenon is primarily affecting those under eighteen years of age. We have been unable to locate any specific cause for them. Furthermore

under eighteen years of age. We have been unable to locate any specific cause for them. Furthermore the number of people affected, as well as the extent of their powers, seems to be growing
exponentially.”

“What do I care if people get psychic powers?” Steele said disdainfully. “They can have their magic tricks.” Dr. Chaste looked at him for a moment in silence before speaking. “Sir, this is a matter of utmost concern to our security. A person with a significant amount of psychic power could easily uncover secrets that our best security measures would not be able to hide, and potentially do much more. We have taken captive many people with psychic abilities. For the most part, they have had limited powers, but we have determined that these powers are increasing over time. I just interviewed a prisoner last night who is exceptionally advanced and very possibly trained. In my opinion, he and others like him constitute a very serious threat to our nation’s security. I feel that this prisoner in particular may know what is going on.“ Steele pondered this. It wasn’t what he had been expecting to hear. Could this be how they had
found out about the center? “Let’s transfer this prisoner over to one of our special interrogation

facilities. They’ll get him to talk or whatever else you want him to do.” “With all due respect, I believe this calls for a softer touch. I’ve only had him for three days and believe that I can win him over to our side. Give me a few more days with him. If he doesn’t agree to cooperate by then, we’ll interrogate him. I want to find out specifically if there are more like him that are not only advanced but trained. This could potentially be a powerful weapon for our side. Imagine if we knew how to activate people’s psychic powers ourselves—our military forces would be unstoppable!” “Is there any known way to shield ourselves from this psychic probing? What powers do they have exactly?” “We do not have the answers to these questions at this time, but we’re working on it day and night. We’ve developed some methods for psychic shielding, but this particular subject broke through these with ease. We’re also working on a prototype helmet that could potentially act as a shield. We‘ll potentially be able to make safes or even small buildings out of this material as well. We have a lot going on in our department and frankly, we could use more manpower and more money.” “Talk to Nelson over there. He’ll give you anything you need. I want to be personally updated if there are any new developments on this. I’ll send you one of my people, and you’re to keep him informed. Now if no one has anything else to say, I have other urgent business to attend to.” He got up to leave, thought of something and sat down again. “Dr. Chaste, you say that you can tell if someone has these abilities or not, correct?” Chaste nodded. “I want you to take your equipment to the Hammersley base and screen the soldiers there. Let’s see if any of our boys have any of these socalled magic powers.” Chaste nodded again. “I'll do that immediately,” he said. He smiled to himself, trying to figure out just how much money and manpower he could get out of Nelson and what he was going to do with all of that. These were exciting time for his unit. Exciting times!

Chapter 5
Jason woke up in a daze. He had dreamed of the woman again. Her clothing was simple and consisted of a short white summer dress. She was barefoot and without jewelry, but what really stood out about her was her eyes. They were like two green pools of light, sparkling and mesmerizing him. She had appeared in his dreams several times in the past few nights, and each time it was the same. He would be flying with her, and she would be telling him things, but he couldn’t understand her. She spoke in some kind of musical language that wasn’t really like any language he knew of. He drew a quick sketch of the woman from his memory. She was unforgettable. He noticed that his drawing skills were getting exceptionally good, and after about ten minutes he had drawn a pretty good likeness of her. He looked on the Internet and did a search for the meaning of a woman in a white dress. He found a forum that was all about dreams and looked in disbelief at the first posting.
“This is wild. Last night I had the same dream again with that freaky lady with the white dress and green eyes. I flew with her above the clouds and over mountains. All the time she spoke with me, but I can’t remember what she said. I never can. This is SO weird. How come I keep having this dream over and over again? Does anyone know what a flying woman in a dream means?” The writer’s profile

name was Dizzy. There were three replies: “I looked in my dream dictionary, and flying represents freedom. Maybe the woman is your
subconscious trying to give you advice to free yourself from something in your life?”

Another responded: “I wish I had cool dreams. Are you taking any drugs or anything that would
make you have dreams like that? If so, can you share them? :-)”

But it was the final one that made him bolt upright in his chair when he read it: “No WAY! My sister has been having this SAME dream!!! Holy shit! RU kidding or RU
serious??? I’ve sent you a personal message..Please write back.” This one was signed Top Cat. Different people who didn’t know each other having the same dream? It was too much to be a coincidence. Something was not right here. He scanned his drawing, uploaded it, and put a link to it up

on the forum. It was going to be interesting to see what response he got. His mother called him from the next room. They were leaving for the airport in an hour. He got up and packed, lost in thought.

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He flew into Ashvale later that day with his parents. After going out to dinner with his aunt’s family, he excused himself and gone into the room he was sleeping in. He spent some time working on his sketches and chatting over the Internet with his friends. Troy was arriving the next morning, and he arranged to meet him in a park downtown.

That night Jason had yet another unusual dream. In it, he was trapped in a building with machinery running throughout it. Every room he went in was barely lit and alive with gears, live wires, electronic humming, and mechanical noises. There seemed to be no end of rooms, and they all ran together. He felt claustrophobic, and his mind felt fragmented and unable to focus. To make it worse, there seemed to be something after him. He wasn’t sure what it was, and didn’t want to find out. As he stumbled from room to room, he became anxious and even frightened. As he came into one particularly busy room, he saw a small blur in the air. He looked closer and saw that it was a tiny hummingbird. A hummingbird? The bird looked intently at him, and he looked back at it catching its eye. It seemed to be trying to say something to him, but what? It flew slowly towards one of the many doors in the room, and Jason followed. The thing in the building was still after him. He could feel it getting closer. As if in response, the hummingbird moved faster, going from room to room until Jason was running to keep up with it. He ran faster and faster, and the rooms flew by. As he ran, his mind grew calmer. He felt a stillness and peace inside of himself, and he realized that he had become the hummingbird going from room to room, suddenly very certain of where he was going. After a few more rooms, he saw an open door with sunlight streaming in. He flew through the door and into the sky, grateful to be leaving the dark building and clanking machinery behind and that thing that had been chasing him, whatever it was. He was flying in the sunlight over fields higher and higher, looking at the world spreading out below him. Suddenly the scene shifted, and he was back in his body, lying in bed, breathing heavily. Around him there were seven faces of very old people with dark, wrinkled skin. Their eyes were ancient and some of them were smiling. He could hear a soft drum beat and their rattles as they chanted something in a language that sounded like Spanish. The faces floated towards him, as if not attached to any bodies. Who were they? Jason felt panicky but could not move. The drumming and rattling continued. As the chanting grew louder, one of the men in the group started saying something in that same foreign language. He was speaking very clearly, and Jason had the impression that this was some kind of ritual. Occasionally his speaking would be punctuated by sounds of assent from the others. After a few minutes of this, the man stopped and looked very intently at him. Suddenly, they all gave their rattles an intense round of shaking, gave a loud cry and were gone. Jason felt a surge of relief finding that he could move again and woke up with a start. What was with all of these freaky
dreams? He managed to get back to sleep only after a very long time.

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Troy arrived in Ashvale in the early morning, after a fourteen hour drive. He was tired but exhilarated as he drove into the downtown area and parked in a garage. As he walked down the street, he found himself really enjoying the vibe of the place. People were casual and friendly. He went into a cafe, and the girl behind the counter flirted with him. He decided that he liked it here. After some coffee

cafe, and the girl behind the counter flirted with him. He decided that he liked it here. After some coffee and visiting some of the funky shops downtown, he got directions to West Ashvale and headed off. He had found a place to stay through a couch surfing web site. His hosts username was ‘Gremlin’, and his profile said he was an ‘anarcho-punk-clown’. Sounded good to him. He found the place and knocked on the door. A young man answered. He had a goatee and was dressed in jeans with dozens of patches and a t-shirt that advertised the Ashvale Roller Derby Girls. “Hey man, you must be Troy.” he said, putting out his hand. They chatted a bit, introducing themselves, and he showed Troy around the house. “I have classes this morning and have to leave in just a minute. If you want to meet up later, I can show you around town.” “Sure. I’m meeting a friend of mine at six o-clock at Simmons Park. Want to come?” “Sounds like a plan,” Tommy said, hoisting a backpack over his shoulder. “Gotta run. If you need anything help yourself.” Troy was still tired, so he made himself comfortable on the living room couch and managed to fall asleep. He dreamed of an exotic looking young woman. Her long straight hair swept over her shoulders and down her back. She was short in stature and slender, yet robust and looked vital and strong. She looked at him with an intense, yet friendly gaze, smiled and put out her arm in a welcoming gesture. She was dressed in a short white dress and had vivid green eyes. This was the
dream woman Jason had told him about!

Troy tried to wave back, but found he was paralyzed and couldn’t move or speak. Although he felt constricted, he was overcome with a sense of deep peace. She walked up to him and held out a brilliant blue jewel. There were flashes of light sparking throughout it. He found that he could move his arm and gently took it from her. It sat in the palm of his hand, and as he watched in amazement, it started growing. As it did, the light in it intensified and Troy could feel the white and blue energy moving through his arms and spreading throughout his body. Within seconds, he was filled with white and blue light which permeated every part of his body and was moving through him as it had moved in the crystal. A wave of bliss swept over him, and he fell into a deep and ecstatic trance state. Then it all faded, and he fell back into the deepest sleep of his life.

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Melody sat the dinner table and discretely rolled her eyes. Her grandfather was quoting one of his favorite talk show hosts about the protesters and why they were against everything their country stood for. He went on about how people should be working with the government to find solutions, instead of fighting against them. She didn’t even try to argue anymore. Her grandfather was steadfast in his beliefs, and arguing would get her nowhere with him as she had learned over the years. The rest of her family were listening and agreeing with him. Her mother and father sat across the table. How did she even come from them? They were so different from her. They were actually

the table. How did she even come from them? They were so different from her. They were actually
agreeing with grandfather! Her father had inherited not only her grandfather’s fanatic, conservative

political beliefs, but his angry temperament as well. Her grandmother was nice enough in a grandmotherly kind of way, even if she was a bit uptight. Later that evening, she sat with her grandmother by the fire. Her parents and grandfather had gone to bed. The room was filled with old fashioned furniture and the familiar smells of the house. Her grandmother was quietly knitting on the couch, and they sat across from each other. The fire in the fireplace crackled, and Melody got up to put another log on it. “Grandma, why is Grandpa always angry?” she asked. “He wasn’t always like that, though I'll say that he always did have a temper. He’s just gotten old, and he’s in a lot of pain with his arthritis. He’s had a hard life. Both of us have.” She looked sad. Melody felt a surge of compassion go through her. “Grandma, tell me again what it was like for you when you were growing up.” “Oh, you’ve heard these stories before.” “No no. I want you to tell me again. Please.” She felt an odd sensation in her chest like it was expanding. She suddenly felt really good. Blissful. She felt her heart open up and great love for her grandmother came over her. “Well you know, I was born during the great depression and what a time everyone was having!” Melody felt dizzy from the sensations sweeping over her. She tried to ignore them and listened closely, drawn into her grandmother’s world. “My mother had several children before she had me. I was the youngest. My mother worked so hard. And my father, now THAT was a man with a temper. You didn’t want to be around him when he was angry!” She chuckled, but Melody could feel the pain of the memory. Suddenly in her mind, Melody saw him. She saw her grandmother’s father clearly. Not in the room they were in, but in her mind. She was looking into a small old-fashioned looking room. Her great grandfather was shouting curses in Italian and throwing furniture around the room. A frightened woman cowered in the corner, two of her children, a girl and a boy, were hiding behind her in terror. The little
girl was her grandmother! The scene was so real, Melody could feel their terror.

Her grandmother was still talking, but she couldn’t hear anymore what she was saying as the vision overpowered her senses. “Don’t pass out. Don’t pass out,” she thought. The man was still shrieking at the woman and children and throwing plates and furniture around. The woman was crying and begging him on her knees to not hurt the children. Emily locked into the man’s eyes. They were lit up with intense anger. Suddenly, as if going swiftly through a tunnel, she arrived at another scene. It was a small and dirty apartment from long ago. A dark haired European woman was screaming at her son and every few seconds smacking him on his ears. The young boy was crying in pain and vainly putting his arms up to protect himself. Melody instinctively knew that the young boy was the man, her grandmother’s father in the first vision. She was seeing his childhood. His origin. The vision brought her to another place where a young girl was being beaten with a paddle by a

The vision brought her to another place where a young girl was being beaten with a paddle by a stern looking man. Then it was a boy being slapped around by his mother. It was clear that the visions were going into different time periods, each further back than the last. More and more visions came to her, all piling on top of each other, but somehow Melody could distinguish them all. She saw dozens and dozens of scenes of yelling, violence and abuse, even sexual abuse. She felt in her core the pain of all of these victims and just as intensely a burning love for them. Abruptly, the vision ended, and she felt dazed. She understood now why her grandfather was so angry. He had carried the violence and anger of generations and had then passed them to her stern father. She thought of her childhood. Her father had spanked her a number of times, and it had been so frightening to her. He had stopped this as she got older but still verbally and emotionally abused her. She felt a great sadness come over her and a determination that this chain of abuse would stop with her. If she ever had children, she would not pass on this dark gift. “Are you alright dear?” Her grandmothers concerned face floated in front of her. “You look ill. Do you want some water?” Melody realized that she was slumped over the side of the chair. “I’ll be alright.” She managed to straighten herself in the chair, and they both sat in silence for a bit. Tears welled up in her eyes. “Grandma, have I told you how much I love you?” She could see the tears forming in her grandmothers eyes. “And I love you too Melody. Very much.”

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