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Chapter Eighteen: Natalia

We continued my tour of the Rebel base with the human-Telepath training area. We found Brittany there training a human among an audience. I wasn't sure if she was trying to prove a point or teach a lesson. I looked to the crowd for any indication, but it looked like they were unsure as well.

"I don't want to hurt you," said the human shakily.

Brittany was holding a sword by her side. The human on the other hand had a gun, he had the advantage. Brittany was a half-telepath, sure, but it would take some serious skill for her to block a bullet from tearing through her body with only a sword.

Brittany pointed over to us. "Don't worry. I have the best healers in the compound right here."

The guy shot once with his eyes closed; Brittany blocked it smoothly with her sword. "See my point? You're thinking too much. You need to practice with a Telepath more before you'll be ready to leave here."

The gun clattered to the floor. His whole body was trembling like he was about to fall to pieces. "I can't do this." He bundled himself into a ball as he collapsed to the ground. "I can't do this."

"Newbie down!" screamed Brittany, unnecessarily if I might add. There was a rush of people to our location as if he'd spontaneously combusted and they needed to put the fire out before it burned the warehouse down. "Someone calm him down before he hurts himself."

Soothing words and tones crushed the guy like an ocean wave. Some people were urging him to sit up while others were fanning him like he was about to pass out. All he could do was bundle himself up tighter and pull further away from the wave of voices drowning him. He needed an escape.

I took it upon myself to calm him down, since no one else seemed to know what to do, they were only making it worse. I projected my consciousness into his thoughts and took a good look around to get a quick snapshot of this guy's life.

The poor guy's mind was crowded with injustice and pain. He was beaten by his human parents almost every night after they returned from work, taking their frustrations out on their defenseless son. He finally got the courage to leave them on night and stumbled across the Rebels, ready to take him in with open arms. He'd been stuck here, against his will, ever since.

I kept sifting through his memories for a single moment of happiness in his life. I was having a hard time believing his life was only filled with misery. There had to be something. A favorite book, song, or even a peaceful day where he didn't have to worry about the horrors lurking in every corner of the world. I wandered around for a few moments before I finally found what I was looking for.

The guy fell in love with a Telepath two or three years ago before he "joined" the Rebels. The stunningly gorgeous Telepath loved him for who he was while providing him an escape from the terrible reality surrounding him. They'd planned on spending the rest of their lives together raising beautiful half-telepath children. They were prepared to give those unborn children the world once they took their first breath.

But that all changed. The TWA arrested the beautiful Telepath during a raid on a group of rogues. He hadn't seen or heard from her since, but that didn't mean he stopped looking for her. She was the only thing that made his life worth living.

I projected my own thoughts into his mind, disassociating from my own mind for a minute. I morphed the memories he had of the Telepath girl in order to place them in the movies and pictures of exotic destinations I'd discovered over the years.

I placed the two of them on dates, far from the reach of the TWA, in Fiji, Hawaii, and Mexico. I showed him the girl walking down the aisle toward him, ready to make him her husband forever. Next, I projected the little children they dreamt about running around their front yard, laughing as their father chased them in a never ending game of tag. The last image I projected was of him and the girl with their grandchildren on a porch watching the sun set as they told stories about their many adventures.

The boy relaxed into the images, taking them as dreams he would one day achieve. He relaxed so much, in fact, that he fell asleep on the concrete floor among the man voices yelling at him. I returned to my own mind to find Jesse watching me the way a hawk watches its prey. I didn't like it one bit.

"What?" I asked.

"Did you...?" They lifted the boy up without questioning what just happened. They took him down to one of the many buildings for rest and observation, he needed it. I hoped he would feel better when he awoke. He deserved some inner peace.

Brittany looked worn down more since our little meeting, that was barely thirty minutes ago, as she walked over to us. "Human trainees can be a handful, though you seem able to handle them quite nicely."

I shrugged. "You push them too hard.'

Brittany brushed back the hair sticking up on top of her head right above her forehead. I noticed her green-blue eyes hiding underneath her thick blonde eyelashes. She was gorgeous and in a different time, she would've been the envy of every girl.

"So is this a social call?" Brittany asked.

Jesse shook his head. "Just showing her around."

I stepped closer to Brittany. "Any word about my parents?" It was extremely early to be asking this question, but I was sure she had connections everywhere and had been working on this during the three days Mark and I were trapped in their safe house.

Brittany shook her head as she placed her sword on a weapons rack nearby. "No. It seems the TWA are keeping the information about your parents on a need-to-know basis. I have my contacts asking around, but it'll take time." Brittany made direct eye contact with Jesse. "May I have a word with you, alone?" Jesse walked toward Brittany.

I stood there with my arms crossed, waiting for Jesse to return. I wasn't tempted to eavesdrop on their conversation as I watched them whisper. Whatever they were discussing looked serious and I had no business poking my nose into the Rebels' problems.

Jesse popped back over. "Brittany wants you to get started in the infirmary."

I smiled. "That way I'll be out of the way and under supervision."

Jesse tried to smile, but it was forced. I'd hit the nail right on the head and he didn't want to admit it. "She needs a few of the soldiers healed for a mission, but it's mostly to get you integrated into the community immediately."

I nodded. "You're saying everyone will think I"m a threat if I don't do some charity. I get it."

Jesse pulled me off to the side. "Do you have a problem?"

I narrowed my eyes. "I want to be out there looking for my family, not healing some injuries."

Jesse shifted his weight forward toward me. "You said you didn't want to be a solider."

I crossed my arms. "Looking for my parents doesn't make me a soldier."

"It does in this war." Jesse shifted his weight back. "I'll ask again. Do you have a problem with that?" I shook my head; Jesse backed off. "You'll be working in the infirmary until I return." He started walking once again. "I expect you to be on your best behavior."

I rolled my eyes. "I'm always on my best behavior."

We entered a building filled with people coming in and out. There were cots everywhere with machines beside them and some had people resting in them. The injuries I could see ranged from a sprain to lost limbs. I was going to have my work cut out for me, especially if they wanted me to grown new limbs for the injured. The process could be tricky if you weren't careful.

Jesse walked up to the receptionist. "I have Natalia here. She's supposed to be working with Dr. Goodman."

The nurse ran off to find the doctor. "Is this mission of yours top secret?" I asked Jesse.

Jesse backed out of the building slowly. "Can't say."

"So...yes?" I shouted after him. He shot me one of his famous half smiles before disappearing into a portal. Sometimes I hated him.

"Natalia?" I spun around. "Hi, I'm Dr. Goodman. I'm told you're a very talented Molecular Telepath."

I played with my fingers. "I believe talented is too strong of a word."

Dr. Goodman was an older man, most likely in his mid-forties or early fifties. He had a soft smile and wore glasses around his gray eyes. His white lab coat looked a little big on him and his scrubs were stained with what looked like blood.

"Talented and modest." He smiled. "We're working with the gunshot victims from training accidents first." I nodded and we headed deeper into the hospital.

All around me were moans and cries of pain. "Pain medication is hard to come by sometimes. We have to ration what little we have for the more critical patients."

I kept moving as I attempted to block the cries out. Hearing others in pain made me uncomfortable because I knew I could help ease their pain. I forced myself to ignore all of them in order to free myself from a burden I was unable to hold on my shoulders. I wasn't going to be useful to anyone in an emotional state. We didn't live in a world where that was possible.

Dr. Goodman held the door open for me. "Our patients are in our intensive care unit."
I walked through the doorway into a small area. "Why?"

Dr. Goodman picked up the first man's chart. "We either couldn't remove all of the bullet or the damage was too extensive to repair during the surgery. All of them need to be watched constantly for changes in their condition."

I observed all the people lying in the beds attached to bags and machines, not really living. The consistent beeping was a reminder they were asleep and fighting the darkness, that I associated with safety, to get back to their loved ones. I looked at their peaceful faces to see most of them were my age or a few years older than me. Thankfully, none were younger. I wasn't sure I could handle a younger patient in this state.

"Will they make it?"

Dr. Goodman sighed and placed the first man's chart down. "It's hard to say. We have to perform another surgery, at least, on all of them, but they're much too weak now. I'm unsure whether or not they'll ever be strong enough."

I closed my eyes but the image of all the comatose patients in their beds was plastered to the inside of my eyelids. I couldn't ignore their suffering. "What do you want me to do?"

"Anything you can do for them."

I took a seat on the floor. "I'm going to need you to watch me."

"Watch you?"

I crossed my legs and rested the palms of my hands on my knees to ground myself to reality, it was my anchor to my own body. "Make sure I don't pass out. If I'm about to, I need you to jar me out of my trance at any cost. I cannot pass out until I've returned to my body."

I closed my mouth and focused on the world around me before waiting for a response from the doctor. The consistent beeping from the few machines in the room added a rhythm to the room that was soothing. The floor was cold and unmoving beneath me, adding support to my anchor. I felt the electricity flooding into the room and machines to power them. The atoms around me vibrated at different tunes but they were all active, a good sign.

Focusing on the sleeping people around me, I found many were easy fixes. The body needed an extra push to heal itself, however a few of them required a little bit more. Bullet fragments remained in four of them from my count. I needed to be careful not to dissolve the bullet because I ran the risk of poisoning the patients. I also needed to be careful about the tissue damage left behind as I pulled the bullet fragments out. If I didn't work fast enough, the person could bleed out before I could do any damage control.

Working on one patient at a time, I vibrated the molecules in the bullet fragments without knocking them into the body's molecules. I slowly moved the fragments up toward the skin, assessing the immediate damage caused by the bullet's initial entrance. I fixed the damage I created as the bullet moved up and out of the body and onto the floor in front of me.

I opened my eyes when the last of the patients was done. The beeping in the room changed, beginning to quicken at an exponential rate. In front of my legs were seven bullet fragments from the four people I pulled them from.

Dr. Goodman picked me up as he hugged me. He was the only thing keeping me off the floor at the moment. "Your'e a miracle worker."

I gripped onto him tightly as the room spun around me. I wasn't in the condition to heal all these people at once. My reserves were tapped from eliminating the TWA officers, battling Jesse, and projecting myself into a human's mind.

"I wouldn't say that."

Dr. Goodman put my feet on the ground. "You don't give yourself enough credit."

My knees buckled. "I need to rest." Dr. Goodman led me over to an empty cot in the room. He helped me lay down before I closed my eyes to join the darkness once again.

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