Gender: Male Age: Secret Location: Illinois
|Introduction: This is NOT my story. I really liked the CAMP: Ron's Journey, and felt that the next instalment, CAMP: Sibling Rivalry, should be avalible on this site as well. By Eric Storm (Net Wolf). This is the second of his CAMP series books, and is still in progress. I will update whenever it is made avalible.|
Chapter 4: Alena
Alena opened her eyes and yawned, stretching her lithe body taut as she did so and tossing her light brown hair out of her face. Pushing the covers back, she swung her feet to the floor and stood up, all in one motion. A smile crossed her face as she looked out the window and welcomed the sunrise. Having her short morning ritual out of the way, she headed out to the bathroom.
On her way back from the bathroom, Alena saw her sister, Temna, come out of her bedroom. A brief frown flicked across Alena's face, but she shooed it away. Her sister would not ruin her mood.
Or so Alena thought. Just as she was reaching her bedroom, Alena felt something grab her ankles and yank. Alena's feet came out from under her, and she saw the floor rush up to meet her. Luckily, she had the time to put her arms out to block her head from hitting the floor, but it stung quite a bit, nonetheless. Her nightgown fluttered, exposing her panties to the world.
"Nice panties, shliushka!", Temna said in passing. Alena could hear the chortle in her voice. "You really need to learn to walk better!"
Shliushka: "little slut". It was Temna's cruel way of reminding Alena that she was sixteen and had never had a boyfriend.
"Govno!" Alena cursed under her breath, slamming her fist into the floor. Alena was angry that she had once again been caught off guard. How do you prepare for an attack when the attacker doesn't have to move to hurt you?
Temna was a psionic, and had advertised that fact for about a year. She had slowly begun to torment everyone in the family, especially when she didn't get her own way. Alena had never much liked Temna, but since the Ability came to her, Alena had begun to loathe her sister.
Picking herself up off the floor, Alena closed her door and got dressed. She had to help her father harvest today, so she made sure her clothes were sturdy ones. Finally, ready to meet the day, she left her room for the kitchen.
"Latkes again?" Temna whined petulantly.
Alena rolled her eyes at her sister. She wasn't exactly thrilled with them, either, but they couldn't afford anything else. "Oh, shut up and eat them, you stupid otrodye."
"I am not a brat! You take that back, Alena!"
"All right, you two," their mother said. "Just eat your breakfast. There is too much work to be doing to waste energy on arguing. Temna, your father wants you to go into Ostrov and buy some supplies. You'll need to hitch the wagon up."
"Who's going to load?" she asked.
"Why don't you do it, you're so powerful," Alena sniped.
A potato from the counter suddenly sailed across the room and smacked Alena in the head.
"Keep running your mouth, and see what it gets you!" Temna challenged. Alena smartly went back to her latkes and kept her mouth shut.
"Alena," their father said, "I need you to look at Sasha. I think he has something caught in his hoof." Their father couldn't bend as easily as he used to; he'd had an 'accident' with the plow. Alena was sure that was Temna's doing.
"Yes, father," she replied. "As soon as I'm done. Will we be harvesting today?"
"Yes. Right after you take care of the chickens and the pig."
Alena finished her breakfast and took her plate to the sink. She gave her mother a kiss as thanks for breakfast, and went outside to begin her daily chores. She was feeding the chickens when Temna walked by, on her way to the barn.
In her head, Alena heard, ...God, she's such an asshole!
Alena turned and said, "What did you say?"
Temna turned at the angry tone of Alena's voice. "I didn't say anything to you, bitch. Now leave me alone!" Temna stormed off toward the barn while Alena continued her chore as she pondered what had happened.
I could have sworn I heard Temna say... Oh well. It must have just been my imagination.
The next day, Alena was heading to the barn. Her father had asked her to walk the fence, to make sure it had not been damaged in recent rains. She needed to retrieve tools and some nails, in case a repair was necessary.
As she approached the door to the barn, she got a strange feeling, and suddenly she heard, ...Let's see how the little bitch likes a face full of pig shit!
That was definitely not my own thought! Alena said to herself. It sounded like Temna's voice. What's going on?
Alena thought quickly. She had been headed toward the main door to the barn; it was the easiest one to use. But it wasn't the only way in. She headed to the side door, instead. They only used this door in the rain, because it was easier to open and close quickly. Alena shut the door silently, and tiptoed in until she could see the main door. Sure enough, there was a bucket full of pig manure on the floor. Alena took a quick look around and spotted Temna, up in the loft looking down at the doorway.
Alena smirked. How did I know she was waiting for me? While continuing to ponder that thought, Alena quietly grabbed the hammer and nails from the workbench, and put them in a bag tied to her waist. She headed for the door leading to the pasture - she always walked the fence on the inside - and stopped when she got there.
Turning around, Alena had an evil thought. She called out, loudly, "See you later, Temna!"
Temna, who had been focused on the main door, spun around in the loft at the sound of Alena's voice. Unfortunately for Temna, she was too close to the edge to be spinning like that, and she soon found herself falling through the air. She landed hard on the ground, and the air whooshed out of her. She looked up to see Alena wave and walk out the door.
"Yobany stos!" Temna cursed loudly, once she had her breath back, but by then, Alena was long gone.
Alena had finished her inspection of the fence, and was on her way back to the barn. She saw her mother giving Temna a talking to. She couldn't hear what was being said, but it was clear that their mother was angry.
Alena could see the tension in Temna's body. Alena knew that her sister wouldn't let this go without retribution. She hated to be rebuked, and she had her ways of getting even. Alena didn't realize she would be so quick about it, though.
Alena had just passed by the edge of the barn, so that she could no longer see the two. Suddenly, she heard in her head, Let's see if a shovel to the side of the head straightens your fucking ass out!
Alena quickly stepped back so that she could see her sister again. Her mother was walking away, and Alena saw one of the shovels that was leaning against the fence lift up into the air. Alena had grown used to seeing such things around her sister, but she knew that this time, it meant her mother might be seriously injured. But what could Alena do?
Looking around frantically, Alena spotted some dried horse manure lying on the ground. She leaned down and picked up the horse apple just as the shovel began to speed toward her mother. Alena drew back and pitched the lump as hard as she could, right at Temna's head.
Alena's aim was off, but it didn't matter. She smacked Temna square in the back. Temna's concentration was broken, and the shovel clanged rudely to the ground. Temna spun at the exact same moment as their mother.
"Suka!" Temna screamed at Alena. Alena just glared at her for a moment, then walked back into the barn.
So... I get a warning, now? How is that possible? Is God helping me?
Alena woke the next morning, still confused about what was happening. Despite her sister's Ability, Alena had no real knowledge of what it meant to be a psionic, so she did not connect the dots.
After performing her usual morning ritual, she headed for the bathroom. Just as she passed the door to Temna's room, she picked up a thought. But the thought was more of an image than actual words. She saw, in her mind, Temna squishing something into her face and laughing. Alena knew this was going to happen on her way back from the bathroom.
We'll just see about that, Alena thought to herself.
Alena took care of her business, and washed up. She made sure to be a little extra-loud about her actions. When she left the bathroom, she was humming a tune recognizable to Tetris users the world over.
Just as she reached Temna's room, without slowing down, she crouched.
Temna was hiding just inside her bedroom door. When she saw Alena's foot appear, she didn't take any time to notice it wasn't positioned quite right. She spun around into the doorway and flung the mud pie she had in her hand right into Alena's face...
...only Alena's face wasn't there. Alena's face was about a foot and a half lower down. The pie went sailing through the air, smacking loudly into their parents' bedroom door. A second later, that door opened.
Their father looked down at the floor, then at the girls, who had not yet had a chance to move. It was instantly clear to Mr. Orlovsky what had happened.
"Alena, go to your room," he said quietly, but with command.
"Yes, Papa," she replied, and quickly headed down the hallway. She didn't believe she was in trouble, but she also didn't want to get in trouble, so she did as she was told.
"Temna Orlovskaya, I have had about enough of your nonsense! You will stay in your room today. You will get nothing to eat all day. But first, you will clean up this mess you have made. Go get the scrub brush and soap! Now!"
Even Temna knew when not to back-talk. She quickly headed off down the hallway. Alena saw her pass by in a hurry. A few seconds later, her father came in to her bedroom. His features were much softened from the angry mien they had held.
"What happened, solnyshko?"
Alena smiled. Her father never called her "little sun" when he was upset with her. She shrugged. "Temna being Temna, Papa. She wanted to hit me with the pie. I ducked. She missed."
Alena's father looked at her for a long moment. Then he leaned over and hugged her, kissing her on the cheek. "Very good, Alena. Now go on, your mother has breakfast ready. I'm afraid you'll have to do some of Temna's chores today. Punishing her punishes you, as well. For that, I am sorry."
"It's all right, Papa. I don't mind. It looks to be a nice day out, anyway."
Her father smiled at her, and shooed her out toward the kitchen.
Alena hummed to herself as she pulled the carrots from the ground and placed them in her basket. It was a warm day; it would probably be one of the last. She enjoyed the feel of the sun on her shoulders as she worked the field. She truly enjoyed her life.
Alena looked over to where her father was, dumping some potatoes into the small wagon they used to collect the harvest. It sat unevenly, since they were in the middle of the field, but her father had assured her it was stable.
Just as Alena was about to return to her harvesting, it seemed as if the sun dimmed for a second. She was about to look up to see if it was a cloud, when she received an image of her father, trapped underneath the wagon. In the background of the image, she saw Temna laughing.
Alena snapped to, and swung her head around to see the wagon just beginning to shift.
"Papa, LOOK OUT!" she screamed.
Mr. Orlovsky, fully aware that his daughter did not scream for just any reason, didn't bother looking. He simply dove out of the way before the wagon slammed down into the ground where he had been crouched. Alena ran over to him to make sure he was okay.
"Papa, are you all right?"
"Fine, thanks to you." He dusted himself off as he stood, then he looked at the cart. "I really thought it was stable," he said, shaking his head.
Alena spat out, "Temna." It sounded like a curse.
"How did you know?" he asked his daughter.
"I saw it start to tip," she replied. She didn't mention to him about the premonition, if that's what it was.
Her father once again looked at her for a long moment, then turned to the wagon. "Help me set it up." The two quickly had it back on its wheels, and were reloading the vegetables into it.
"Promise me you will not become like your sister, solnyshko," Alena's father said to her softly when they were done.
Alena looked at him in surprise. He didn't usually speak badly of Temna, even after she'd done things wrong. She wasn't sure why he was saying it now. "I promise, Papa. If I do, you can give me a sound spanking."
He looked at her a little funny, then he smiled and waved her back to her work.
Alena crept along the hallway, trying to be as quiet as she could. She knew without a doubt, if she made any noise 'they' would hear her. She desperately did not want them to hear her.
As she passed by a cabinet in the hall, though, she nudged it ever so slightly. It was just enough to knock a small vase off the top of the hutch, sending it crashing to the floor. She whirled around, and 'they' came rushing out of every door. Monsters of unspeakable size and shape... but every one of them with a face resembling Temna's.
Alena turned and ran as fast as her legs would carry her. She made turn after turn, randomly, trying to outrun the monsters, but they were always there, right behind her, but never catching her...
Finally, she made a wrong turn. Her hallway dead-ended, and she had nowhere to go unless she wanted to jump out the window. She knew instinctively that she was many feet above the ground, and such a jump was suicidal.
She turned and held out her arms, her hands in front of her face to block the assault and her head turned away so she wouldn't see the final attack...
But there was no final attack.
Alena slowly opened her eyes and turned her head back. Through a shimmering light, she could see the monsters, held back, but snarling and trying to get to her.
"What is this?" she asked herself. Experimentally, she pushed her arms out, toward the shimmering light. The light, and the monsters, were pushed backward. She took a tentative step, and once again the light and the monsters retreated.
"O, klassno!" Alena muttered in wonderment. She took a big step forward, pushing her arms out, and the light intensified, shoving the creatures several yards down the hallway. The light, she noticed, had stayed closer to her.
"What is this?" she asked herself again.
Out of the nearest doorway stepped... Alena.
"Oh, now I get it," Alena-the-first uttered. "I'm dreaming."
As soon as she realized this, the monsters faded into non-existence. Alena was familiar with lucid dreams; she'd had several of them in her life. She turned to her clone and asked, "Is there a reason for this one, or is it just another nightmare I'm fighting?"
"You're trying to get yourself to admit something," Alena-the-second answered.
"What you really are."
"What do you mean?"
"You know you're a psionic, Alena. Just admit it to yourself, so that you can get on with the interesting things your life will soon contain."
"No. I've seen what being a psionic means. I can't be one."
"Not all psionics are the same. If they were, then there wouldn't have been a war."
"Maybe they're not all the same, but they are all war-like."
"You know that's not true. You've heard the stories."
"Those are just legends."
"You're trying to convince yourself of that. You don't want to admit that you have this power, because you're afraid of what it means. And that's why you're lying in bed, having an argument with yourself in a monster-filled sanitarium."
"You tell me then, what does it mean?"
"It means you're responsible for what you do with your new power. You could turn out like your sister if you go down that path. It means you're more powerful than most people, and once you've developed your skills, you can harm them, but they can't harm you... and you're afraid of turning into Temna."
"Papa knows... or suspects."
"Yes. That's why he said what he did."
"How does he know?"
"The same way that you know what's happening to you. He's seen it before."
"I don't want to be like Temna!"
"Then don't be! It's a choice, you know! She didn't have to be a suka, you know. She could have been a decent person..."
"What if all psionics are assholes?"
"You know better than that!"
"Don't give me this shit, Alena. You're sixteen. You're not a baby, and you're not normal, either. You're a psionic. Start acting like one!"
Alena woke with a start. She swiveled her head quickly to look around the room, but she was, indeed, alone. I hate those dreams. Alena's lucid dreams had always come to confront her with things she didn't want to admit or face up to. She had known, once she started sensing Temna's thoughts, what it meant, but she had turned away from that knowledge in fear.
I can't hide from it. Papa knows. How long will it be before Temna knows? Maybe she already knows! If that's true, she will soon try to assert her power over me. I must learn to use whatever skills I have.
That decided, Alena got out of bed. It was still the middle of the night, but she was no longer tired. After a trip to the bathroom, she sat down in a chair in her room, and tried to think. How do I test my skills? What are my skills?
Alena knew that Temna was a telekinetic. She figured, since they were related, that was a good place to start. She knew that she would need to see what she was doing, so she lit a candle, and set it on her table. As her hand moved back from the candle, it seemed to her that the flame briefly followed.
With a bit of trepidation, Alena moved her hand back toward the flame. It moved slightly away from her hand. She moved her hand to the left, and the flame did likewise. Moving her hand back to center, she tried to simply think about the flame moving to the left. To her astonishment, after a few moments, it did so. She lost her concentration at that, and it immediately returned to its upright position.
For long moments, Alena made the flame dance. She found that involving both her hands gave her more control over the flame, and she could almost literally make it dance on the wick. She was able to make it burn brighter, and to almost extinguish it. She wasn't able to put it out completely, though.
Finally, after a half-hour, she had grown tired. She blew out the candle, and she returned to her slumber. The tormenting dream did not return.
Alena fairly leaped out of bed. It had been a few days since she'd admitted her power to herself, and she felt much better. She had amused herself the previous night making the candle flame do a very complex little dance, without using her hands at all.
As she dressed herself, she stopped for a moment.
What else can I do? What should I try? Alena didn't want to do anything that might break something, or worse, get someone hurt. She considered for a moment as she continued to dress. As she was just about to put her boots on, she thought of something.
Alena sat on the edge of her bed. She put on her boot, but didn't tie it. She stared down at the laces, considering how to do what she needed to. She concentrated, and was able to lift one end of the lace straight up. When she tried to focus on the other one, though, she ended up dropping the first.
For long moments, Alena sat there, trying to work it out. She closed her eyes, seeing the mechanics of tying her laces in her head. Then, she opened her eyes and, instead of focusing on the lace ends, she focused on the entire lace. She felt it tighten against her foot, and she let out a little squeak of joy when both ends of the lace rose up and pulled taut.
Carefully, Alena concentrated on the image of the knot, rather than on the particulars of the action. She watched in amazement as the lace ends knotted themselves, pulling tight against her leg. Then the bunny ears formed, and the knot was once again pulled tight against the boot. She let out a long breath; she had just tied her boot without lifting a finger.
After a break, and another few minutes of work, Alena had two perfectly tied boots, without laying a hand on her laces. She smiled as she walked out of her room.
Temna saw the smile on her face as she entered the kitchen. "What the hell are you in such a mood about?"
"And good morning to you, too, Temnota," Alena said, using her entire name. Temna hated it when people used her entire name... but she really hated it when Alena was happy.
"Fuck off," Temna muttered under her breath.
Alena actually enjoyed that she was annoying her sister by being cheery. Breakfast was quite fun. Her fun was lessened when Temna left, but that was okay; she could enjoy her meal with her parents.
"What is she in such a mood about?" Mrs. Orlovskaya wondered. Alena just shrugged. Her father looked at her askance, but kept his peace.
Alena made no special effort to taunt Temna any further; she knew she was playing with fire, and didn't want to get burned. She knew that Temna's power was greater than her own, but she was bound and determined to get herself up to speed quickly. She was sure that Temna would be making her play for dominance any time.
At the moment, Alena was sitting in her room, reading a book. Her chores were long finished, and she didn't have anything else to do. It was raining, a not-uncommon occurrence in late August in this area, so she could not go outside. It was okay with her, but she was somewhat bored.
Setting her book down, Alena looked around the room. She was thinking about practicing her TK again. She spotted her old rag doll sitting limply in the corner, and got an idea.
Alena closed her eyes for a moment, trying to picture what she wanted in her head. Finally, feeling that she had the image clearly defined, she opened her eyes and stared at the doll. In her head, a piece from Tchaikovsky began to play.
Suddenly, the doll rose from its spot in the corner, and shook itself, as if to remove the dust, which flew every which way. The doll moved clumsily at first, taking tentative steps and actually falling twice. Alena kept trying, though, and soon the doll was moving its tattered feet to the music in Alena's thoughts. After a while, she brought the doll's arms into the action, raising them above the doll's head and performing a perfect doll-pirouette.
She moved the doll faster as the song in her head reached a crescendo... but at the peak of the music, she lost control, and the doll flung itself wildly to the floor. The music faded from her mind, and Alena realized that she had barely been breathing. She gulped in lungfuls of air, and wiped the sweat from her brow.
That was fun, she thought to herself. She decided, though, that she really needed some rest, and lay down to take a short nap.
Temna scowled as she watched Alena from across the field. Her sister had always been the cheerful sort, but lately she had become insufferably happy about something. It was irritating Temna to no end.
Temna despised Alena, and she hated her parents for having Alena. She looked down at the ground, and saw a sharp rock lying there. She reached out with her Ability and grabbed it, lifting it up to eye level. She saw the edges on it; it would be most painful if it hit someone.
Temna used her Ability to hurl the rock straight at Alena. She wasn't trying to kill her, per se, but she wanted to make her miserable, and her parents miserable. And if Alena died in the process, well, that didn't trouble Temna too much, either.
Temna growled in disgust as, at the very last second, Alena rolled to one side from her crouched position. The rock sailed harmlessly past. Temna had no time to redirect it. She let go of it, and it fell feebly to the ground with a thud.
How does she do that?
Temna stomped off to sulk in private.
Across the field, Alena watched her sister go.
That was close. That really would have hurt! I think the time is coming soon.
She couldn't know that that neither of them would actually pick the time of their true confrontation.
Alena sat in her room, making the candle dance from across the room and thinking about what she had become.
I don't feel any different inside... I mean, I don't think I'm becoming a monster... so what happened to Temna?
It slipped Alena's memory that Temna wasn't exactly a ray of sunshine before she became a psionic.
Alena's thoughts were interrupted when her mother called the girls to dinner. Alena got up and extinguished the candle - the normal way - and then went to the kitchen.
"Not this crap again!" Temna complained.
"Temna, you know we have very little choice," her father said kindly. Too kindly, to Alena's way of thinking. Temna needed to be told off, but it wasn't Alena's job to do it.
Alena decided, without being asked, to help her mother serve. She heard Temna's thought in her head.
Alena ignored that and carried on with her tasks. She set the main course platter on the table, and turned to help her mother with the potatoes.
At that moment, Alena had an image of the platter she'd just set down, crashing to the floor.
Oh, no you don't, bitch, Alena thought to herself. Without batting an eye, Alena clamped her own TK down onto the platter, holding it firmly to the table. Temna was probably strong enough to override her, but Alena would at least give it a shot.
Temna pushed at the platter, but it didn't budge. She frowned, and pushed again. Once more, it didn't move. Finally, she gave it the hardest shove she could without being seen. The platter skittered toward the edge of the table...
At the last instant, Alena turned around and caught the platter, shoving it firmly back onto the table.
"Whoops. Guess I set it too close to the edge. There we go." Alena looked at her sister accusingly, but then turned back to what she was doing.
In her mind, Temna seethed. How does she always fucking know?
Over the next several days, Alena learned to dodge objects quite rapidly. Temna was becoming frustrated, and the last few objects would have done a lot of damage if Alena hadn't been aware they were coming ahead of time.
Now, Alena was feeding the chickens in the yard, minding her own business. The image that came to her mind was rather terrifying, and she dove to the ground immediately. An instant later, the blade off the plow went sailing over her, missing her by a couple feet. Had she still been standing, it would certainly have killed her.
Alena grabbed the nearest rock, whirled around, and pitched it at Temna, full force. Alena watched in fascination as Temna stared fixedly at the rock, but did not move out of the way. The rock nailed Temna squarely on the shoulder, actually knocking her down.
"Suka!" Temna screamed in rage. "You'll pay for this!"
"You tried to kill me! So which one of us is really the bitch!?"
"Fuck you!" By this time, Temna had gotten to her feet. She stormed off toward the house. Alena, a little shaken, dusted herself off and returned to her chores. She knew this wasn't the end of it.
Not by a long shot.
"...and that's the last I'm going to hear of it! They're your chores to do, and it's not Alena's fault that they didn't get done because you didn't do them!"
"You always take her side!" Temna screamed in accusation.
"No, I take her side when she is right," her mother responded rather forcefully.
"Suka!" Temna swore.
Mrs. Orlovskaya slapped Temna so hard it left a red mark. "You will never call me that again," she said, her voice under tight control. Mrs. Orlovskaya turned and left, heading for the wagon, which was loaded and ready to take to market.
Alena had been standing next to her father when this exchange took place. Both of them were over by the barn. The wagon stood a hundred feet to their right. The house, where Temna still stood, three hundred feet to their left.
As Alena's mother walked past the wagon, to check on the horses that were already hitched, Alena heard the slightest sound of creaking wood. The image she got in her head was so horrific that she didn't even see the whole thing. Her head snapped around to verify what was happening. The far wagon wheels were, in fact, already off the ground.
Alena knew that she couldn't stop anything that big. She was dumbfounded that Temna could move a fully loaded wagon, even enough to overturn it. She did the only thing that came immediately to mind. She screamed.
Mrs. Orlovskaya heard her daughter, and turned that way. She could tell by the looks on their faces that she was the one in danger, but she didn't yet know what it was. At that moment, one of the horses knickered and stamped his foot.
Oh, dear God. The wagon...
Alena regained her senses quickly. She couldn't stop the wagon; she had no chance at it, and it was foolhardy to try. There was, however, something she could do.
Reaching out, Alena pulled with all her telekinetic might. Mrs. Orlovskaya was suddenly flying through the air toward her younger daughter. About halfway, Alena had to let her go. Her mother dropped to the ground, and both Alena and her father ran to see if she was all right.
"Mother! Are you okay?" Alena cried, just as the wagon finally toppled. The hitching luckily snapped, and the horses were not injured. They were frightened, however, and bolted.
"I'm okay, Alena... I think. Did... did you do that?"
"Da," Alena said, and the look on her face grew much more menacing than her parents had ever seen before. "And I have something I must do now."
Reaching down deep inside herself, Alena rose to her feet and leveled every bit of telekinetic energy she had at her sister. Temna never saw it coming; she was still recovering from toppling the wagon, and her rage at seeing that her bitch of a mother had somehow miraculously gotten out of the way in time.
Suddenly, Temna was flying backward through the air. She sailed past the house and was dumped unceremoniously into a shallow, muddy pond. She growled in disgust, but then realized that there was another sound... a sound that she knew meant trouble.
Alena began running as fast as she could toward her sister. She knew that this was going to be a battle to the end; one of them was going to have to surrender to the other. There would be no walking away to fight again later.
Or so she thought.
As Alena reached the edge of the pond, she figured to wade in and fight her sister right there. Wherever Temna was, Alena would be, also. She let out a howl of unfettered rage, and just kept running. It took her a moment to realize that she was skipping across the water's surface.
Temna noticed somewhat more quickly.
She's a fucking psionic, too! Temna tried to focus, to launch an attack against her sister. She tried to grab at her, to pull her down.
Alena felt the tendrils of Temna's telekinetic powers tugging at her, but, as Alena had suspected from the earlier encounter, Temna couldn't grab moving objects. Alena reached her sister, but had to figure out how she was going to attack her, when she was standing three feet above her. Taking the obvious course, Alena delivered a vicious kick to Temna's head, sending Temna plunging backward into the water. Alena also dropped into the water, now that she wasn't so focused on her movement.
Temna surfaced, and lunged at Alena in rage. The two grappled, dunking each other in the shallow water. They slowly made their way to the edge of the pond, and then they tumbled out onto dry land.
Temna pinned Alena down and started to hammer at her with her fists. Alena felt the pain from the blows, but was too angry to be much affected by them. Alena focused her energies and pushed upward with her hands and her TK.
"Get off me!" she shouted, as Temna was launched ten feet into the air and fifteen feet sideways.
By the time Temna got to her feet, Alena was standing and ready. Temna focused for another attack, but Alena, seeing the concentration on Temna's face, began to move erratically, from side to side, but always moving a little closer to Temna. Suddenly, Alena began to run around Temna in a circle.
"Come on, Temna! What's the matter, can't you get me? You're so fucking strong!"
Temna lashed out, almost blindly, trying to trip her sister, but it was as if Alena could see the moves before Temna even tried them.
For Alena's part, she was still being forewarned of Temna's attacks. She danced and skipped across the ground, avoiding all of Temna's telekinetic jabs.
She was a little too focused on the TK, though, because Temna suddenly launched herself at Alena, and tackled her. The two were soon rolling on the ground again, grappling and wrestling. Temna grabbed Alena's arm and twisted, throwing Alena face-first into the dust. She grabbed Alena's hair, pulling her head back and causing intense pain. Then Temna slammed Alena's face back into the ground. Alena had a bloody nose and a split lip; she spit blood out onto the ground.
Suddenly, both of them were flying through the air. Alena had once again used her TK to push, only this time, she could only push against the ground, which meant that she went where her sister went.
The two separated in mid-flight, and Alena managed to twist herself around. She saw the ground coming up, and rolled as she landed, coming upright to her feet. Her nose was swelling, and she feared it was broken, but there was nothing to be done about it at this moment.
Temna had not landed well, and she wasn't moving just yet. Alena took advantage of this to catch her breath and regain her psionic strength.
Finally, Temna rose from her supine position. She saw Alena, standing, waiting. Temna, enraged, rushed at her again, figuring to begin the struggle once more. This time, however, Alena stepped sideways at the last moment and tripped her sister on the way past. Temna went sprawling onto the ground, and Alena kicked her, hard, in the side. The kick was telekinetically augmented, and Temna went tumbling for a good twenty feet. Rising again, Temna howled her rage, and took a running leap at Alena.
Alena was growing tired, and also weary of the fight. She saw her sister coming. Once again, she moved slightly to the side. This time, though, she hauled off and slugged her sister as hard as she could. Her TK augmented the punch, which landed squarely into Temna's solar plexus.
Temna collapsed to the ground as if someone had turned her off. She then began to gasp and wheeze, trying to catch her breath. Alena walked away, until she was about halfway between Temna and their parents. She wasn't quite ready to face them, though, so she turned back to face her sister.
Temna coughed, sputtered, and wheezed for several minutes, while Alena waited. Finally, Temna was able to push herself to her hands and knees, and then scrabbled to her feet. She saw Alena, standing calmly about a hundred feet away. She knew that Alena had better control; Alena'd had a target in mind while practicing. Temna had never needed to defend herself against anyone; this was a rude awakening, and one she clearly wasn't ready for. She knew that she had been beaten.
Temna turned without a word, and walked back into the house. Alena didn't move for the five minutes that Temna was inside. Soon enough, she emerged, and walked out to the road. She turned north, and continued walking. Soon, she was out of sight. Only then did Alena turn and walk over to her parents.
"Are you all right, Mother?" Alena asked.
"I'm fine, Alena. Are you all right? Your nose!" Her mother almost touched it, but flinched just before doing so. Alena cringed, thinking of how much it would have hurt.
"How long have you known you were a psionic, solnyshko?"
"Papa, I know you already know the answer to that question," she said with a half-grin. Grinning fully hurt too much.
"I only know how long I have suspected."
"Only a little while more than that."
"And you did not tell us because..." her mother prompted.
"Because then Temna would have known," her father answered for her. Alena nodded.
"Do you think she will come back?" Alena asked.
Mr. Orlovsky shook his head. "I can't imagine she would wish to revisit what happened here. How did you become so much stronger than her?"
"I'm not stronger than her. I don't think. But when I learned what I was, I knew that I was going to have to fight her. I was practicing. She wasn't. I'm not stronger, I'm just more prepared."
Mr. Orlovsky nodded.
Alena looked over at the wagon. "It's a disaster," she said, downtrodden.
"It can be fixed. We'll tend to it. You should go inside and take care of yourself."
Alena was almost afraid to look into a mirror, but her father was right; she needed to tend to her wounds. She was too exhausted to be of any use to her family at the moment, anyway.
"Yuri, are you sure this is the right thing for us to do?"
"Varya, what choice do we have? Sooner or later, action must be taken. Sooner is better, I think."
Alena's parents were sitting in a bar in Ostrov, waiting for someone. They were both extremely nervous.
"What if she doesn't come? What if she won't take the job?" Varya worried.
"Let us worry about one thing at a time," Yuri said, trying to reassure her by clasping her hand.
After a few more minutes, the door to the pub opened. The young woman that strode into the bar emanated power. She wasn't very tall, nor was she obviously armed, but the gentlemen near the door parted to give her a clear path.
"Is that her?" Varya asked Yuri.
"I don't know, but I think so. Did you see the way they avoid her?"
The young woman in question sat down at the bar and ordered a drink. She did not look around, nor did she speak to anyone, other than to order. Her drink was retrieved snappily, and the bartender retreated to the other end of the bar.
Yuri and Varya watched in silence for several minutes. Then they argued quietly about who should approach her.
Finally, the two of them rose from their table. They were ignored as they walked toward the bar, even by the woman who was the target of their hesitant approach.
Yuri stepped up to the bar next to the blonde woman and put his hands flat on the bar top. His wife almost cowered next to him. The bartender came down to see what he wanted.
"Vodka, two of them, please."
The bartender nodded curtly, and the drinks were soon delivered. His wife gunned hers down, but Yuri sipped his first. Then, finally, he swallowed the remainder and set his glass down on the bar.
Yuri kept his hands flat on the bar as he turned only his head to face the woman, who had remained silent during the entire time they had stood and had their drink.
"Excuse me, young lady," Yuri began as politely as he knew how, "I do not mean to bother you, but are you Sashenka Iv-"
"Yes," she said quietly. "I am."
Yuri felt his wife cringe even more behind him.
"Might my wife and I have a moment or two of your time? In private?"
This question brought the woman's evaluative gaze squarely onto Yuri, and he swallowed hard. Her reputation was well-earned; she was scary.
"Over here," she said, and gestured them back to their own table.
"How did you... are you a psionic?" Varya had to ask, but she did so in a hoarse whisper.
Sashenka actually smiled at that. "No. But I come here regularly. Yours were new faces, and so I paid them the attention that unknown things deserve."
"Oh," Varya said, now feeling foolish and blushing.
"Please," Yuri said, gesturing to Sashenka to sit first. She did so, and the other two joined her. They noted that she put her back to the wall, so she could face the room.
"What is it you need of me?" Sashenka asked.
"You are Sashenka Iv-"
"Yes, I am Sashenka Ivanovna Ivanova, only remaining daughter of Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov." She paused, and as an aside she offered, "My great-grandfather was a rather annoying man." Continuing with her introduction, she said, "I am sure that my reputation precedes me, or you would not have asked for my attention so politely. So. What is it you need of me?" she repeated.
"We have a job for you, if you will take it."
"Tell me," Sashenka ordered, but politely.
Alena was coming back from riding one of their horses when her parents arrived at the house with a strange young woman in tow. Alena couldn't judge the woman's age, but she was a beautiful woman, with obvious strength. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a pony tail, which was tucked into the back of her shirt. What appeared to be a bow was slung across the woman's back, along with a pack of some sort. The woman carried a walking stick in her hand, which was taller than her 5' 6" height.
Alena got off the horse and left it to graze. She ducked through the fence rather than opening the gate, and made her way toward her parents to greet them and their guest.
"Mother, Papa. I hope all went well." She kissed her parents, and then gestured to Sashenka. "Who is this?" she asked with curiosity.
"Solnyshko," her father started, "let's talk inside."
Alena knew right then that something was terribly wrong. She followed her parents into the house, fully aware that the woman was following her. They all went into the kitchen and sat around the table.
"Would you like something to eat?" Varya asked Sashenka.
"I would like a hot meal, but it can wait until things have been revealed. I don't think she can wait very much longer," Sashenka said, nodding to Alena. She gave the young girl a reassuring smile.
"Papa?" Alena asked.
Yuri took a large breath, and let it out. Then he started. "Alena... With your new powers, your mother and I have been talking about things. We see the way Temna turned out-"
"I am not Temna!" Alena retorted, interrupting.
Yuri held up his hand. "May I finish?" Alena nodded acceptance. "I know you are not Temna. And I was not referring to her attitude. You bested Temna quite easily, because you were prepared for the fight, and she was not. What concerns us is, what happens next time. The next psionic you come across may be much more prepared than you. They may know things you do not, know how to do things you can't even imagine."
"That is something I have worried about. Especially if Temna were to return," Alena verified.
"We do not believe Temna will ever come back. We are nothing to her, really, except an annoyance she no longer has to put up with. She isn't in Ostrov. We think she went to Pskov. Perhaps even further. That is not the point. The point is that you must learn all that you can about your powers, so that you can protect yourself."
"Is that why she's here?" She turned to Sashenka. "Are you a psionic? Can you teach me?"
Sashenka smiled, but Yuri answered. "No, she is not a psionic. She is your guide and protector."
"What?" Alena asked, clearly confused.
"Solnyshko," Yuri said, his voice almost cracking, "you must... leave here. You must find someone who can teach you what you need to know. It's not safe for you to stay."
'NO!" Alena shouted. "I'm not leaving you! What if Temna comes back? What if others -"
"Temna's return is far more likely while you are here," Sashenka said softly, but firmly. Alena stopped dead in her tracks, and stared, wide-eyed, at Sashenka. "You are a threat to her. You have wounded her pride. Your parents are normals... they don't mean anything to Temna, unless they're in her way. They were, but now she's not here, so they're not, and they never did anything to warrant coming back for. You, on the other hand..."
"Beat her," Alena said in a soft almost-whisper.
"Yes. And she is not likely to forget the first loss she has ever taken."
Alena looked at her parents. "What do I do? Where do I go?"
Yuri looked to his wife, who was weeping too hard to be of any help. "We don't know that, Alena. You will have to find your own path. Head west; it isn't safe to go east yet, the land is still too toxic. Sashenka will go with you. She has studied maps of Europe, and she is also a skilled hunter and trapper. She is also reputed to be one of the best fighters in this area."
Alena stared with awe at the woman. Sashenka smiled back.
"When will we leave?" Alena asked her.
"Tomorrow. Tonight, you should rest, and gather the few items you want to take with you. Your pack is already mostly full, so pick carefully what you take. We will leave mid-morning."
Alena looked down at the table. Her life had just been upended by the strange thing in her head. Her voice was very Russian when she accepted her fate. "Da."
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