About 8:00 am the next morning, Hannibal awoke with a terrible blistering headache. His head throbbed and pounded mercilessly as he looked to see if Selina was still asleep. He found that she was not asleep, but wide-awake sitting in the corner of the tent; her legs pushed to her chest with her arms wrapped around them and her chin resting on her knees. She seemed oblivious to his awakening. Hannibal held his head with one hand and propped himself up with the other. “Ugh…you too?” he asked Selina, noticing she was in severe pain as well. He received no response from her so he crawled out of the sleeping bag, making his way to her. He asked again as he gently touched her arm, “Has the headache got you too?” She looked up into his face. Her hair hung disheveled, partially covering her face, which betrayed as much pain just as his face did.
“What’s going on?” Selina asked through the pain. “Are you in as much pain as I am?”
“Apparently,” Hannibal answered as he gritted his teeth through a surge of pain. “I have no idea what’s going on with this. I haven’t had a headache like this since the incident with the Teacher. Come on. Let’s go outside. Maybe some fresh air will help.” He gently grabbed her arm and led her out of the tent. Harry and Nathanael sat next to the fire talking quietly when they came out. The pair looked over as Hannibal and Selina came out of the tent and immediately noticed the problem.
“You two look like hell,” Harry commented as they slowly staggered to the fire and sat down heavily in the empty chairs. “What’s wrong?”
Hannibal and Selina didn’t respond, only sat there looking into the fire as they battled with the pain. Nathanael raised an eyebrow and touched Selina’s mind telepathically for an instant, feeling the excruciating pain she and Hannibal shared. “They’re sharing a terrible headache because of their link,” Nathanael informed. “Get them some painkillers from the first-aid supplies.” Harry immediately headed for the medical supplies. Nathanael looked at Hannibal’s eyes, seeing them begin to glaze. “Oh, no,” Nathanael growled. “Don’t do this now. Not now.”
Hannibal’s glazed eyes turned vacant and he began to babble in the Stone Language again. Nathanael looked at Selina as Harry returned with a bottle of painkillers and saw her eyes glaze as well. She suddenly began to speak in the Stone Language as well. Nathanael looked at Harry as he asked, “What is it? What’s going on?”
“It’s happening again. The download has reared its ugly head again,” Nathanael said with a great deal of concern. As he finished speaking, the both Hannibal and Selina suddenly fell quiet and slumped forward falling out of their chairs. Harry immediately dropped the bottle of painkillers, catching Hannibal. Nathanael caught Selina, looking into her face. It was twisted in excruciating pain with her eyes glazed over. Harry looked into Hannibal’s face, seeing the same thing.
“This is very bad timing,” Harry declared while pushing Hannibal up in his chair.
“You’re telling me,” Nathanael agreed. “But better it happen now than when we really need him. If the pattern holds true, this time will be less than the last time and they’ll come out of it sooner. Come…let’s put them back in the tent and make them as comfortable as possible.” Nathanael scooped his daughter up and put her back in the tent, on the sleeping bag. Harry held Hannibal stationary as he waited for Nathanael’s help in moving him. Nathanael returned and helped Harry put Hannibal in the tent next to Selina, propping their heads up with the pillows. Nathanael put them as close together as he could. He laid their hands on one another. “I’m going to double check them telepathically to see if it’s what I think it is. May I use you as an anchor again?” he asked Harry. Harry nodded, sitting down next to Hannibal. Nathanael sat down next to Selina and proceeded to make contact with Harry telepathically. He anchored himself with Harry’s mind and said, “Okay, I’m going in. Hold on to me.” Harry nodded and Nathanael made contact with Selina’s mind, immediately running into a wall of excruciating pain, which he managed to penetrate with the use of Harry’s strength.
Once through the wall, Nathanael was in the midst of the maelstrom of knowledge avalanching back into Hannibal and Selina’s feeble minds. He immediately noticed that the severity of the tempest wasn’t nearly as strong as the last time he attempted it. He pushed deeper into Selina’s mind and ran through several bands of terrible pain as if it were a hurricane. Every time he did, Harry cringed, the pain running through his mind as if he were holding on to a high-voltage line. Nathanael probed deeper and deeper, finally finding Hannibal and Selina huddled together in the midst of the tempest of the download. Princess! he called out. Can you hear me!
Yes, Dad! I can hear you! We’re over here! The download sneaked up on us! Selina answered. Nathanael pressed toward them and they came into view. Be careful dad! This download is different from the others! It’s treacherous. Don’t let it ensnare you! Selina warned. He stopped short of reaching them, just outside of the most severe part of the maelstrom that swirled in their minds.
Is there anything that I can do? Nathanael asked as he clung to the anchor line to Harry’s mind.
No Nathanael! Hannibal answered. The only way out is to wait for it to subside! We’ll be all right! Just wait and have faith!
Very well! Nathanael shouted back. We’ll be waiting for you on the outside! Please don’t take too long!
We’ll try not to! Selina answered as Nathanael backed out of her mind.
Once out, he broke contact with Harry’s mind and the both of them collapsed, Nathanael falling next to Selina, and Harry next to Hannibal. Every nerve in Harry’s body tingled painfully and every nerve in Nathanael’s body burned with searing pain. Nathanael lay there a few moments, and then said, “Oww…it didn’t hurt that much the last time. But it isn’t as severe as it was the last time. Harry, how’re you doing over there?”
“Well, I’m still here,” Harry answered, his whole body tingling. “Though that’s about all I can say. You didn’t sap my strength like you did the last time, but I did get a taste of the pain this time. Every nerve in my body is tingling as if I grabbed a power line. I think I’m just going to lay here a while and get over how strange it felt to have you inside my head again.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” Nathanael replied as the searing pain slowly began to subside. He looked over at Selina and noticed the grimace of pain on her face was gradually subsiding and her eyes were slowly beginning to close. He reached over, gently grasping his daughter’s hand and she responded by slightly squeezing his hand. It encouraged him. Therefore, Nathanael kept a gentle grip on his daughter’s hand as he and Harry lay there recouping from the telepathic contact.
Within a couple of hours, Nathanael and Harry had recovered while Hannibal and Selina remained catatonic in the grip of the download: once again imprisoned in their minds by the tempest of ancient information. Nathanael and Harry found the ancient map in Hannibal’s pack and proceeded to search for evidence of the road to Amacia in the forest surrounding the hangar.
Around dusk, Nathanael and Harry returned to the camp from their search without any apparent success in finding the ancient road in the forest underbrush. Their lack of progress discouraged them as they rekindled the fire and sat down to eat. Looking in on Hannibal and Selina, Nathanael and Harry found them in a deep sleep from which they could not be aroused. Just then, the communicator in Hannibal’s pack chimed. Nathanael grabbed the device and exited the tent, answering it once outside the tent. He informed the Temple of what had occurred and reassured them that all was well. He and Harry then proceeded to have some dinner, after which they talked for a couple of hours before retiring to their respective tents.
At 3:00 am, the noise of the night suddenly ceased and an eerie silence fell over the whole area. The only noise heard was the sound of the perimeter guns humming softly as they swept back and forth, ready to fire on anything that tried to cross the perimeter. Hannibal suddenly came out of the download, bolting into a sitting position in the tent with a gasp. He looked around wildly, pulse racing and saw only shadows flitting around the tent. A brief pulse of pain shot through his head and he cringed, grabbing his forehead with this hands. When the pain subsided, he relaxed a bit. Hannibal immediately noticed the lack of noise. He looked over at Selina, seeing she was still asleep. She stirred slightly, turning on her side toward him, but didn’t wake up. A waxing gibbous moon shown through the hole in the hangar where the trees stood, lighting up the camp site with its soft glow and giving enough light to see fairly well. He reached out and gently touched her face as he gathered his thoughts. Suddenly, he got up and went out of the tent, looking around. It was completely quiet, not even a light breeze. Only the sound of the guns tracking the perimeter echoed softly through the hangar. This is strange. There isn’t any noise, he thought as he went behind one of the planes to relieve himself. He walked the perimeter after relieving himself, sensing something wasn’t right. Scanning the perimeter intensely as he walked, Hannibal found nothing out of the ordinary except for the lack of wildlife noise. After walking the perimeter, he walked back to his tent at the center of the camp.
Hannibal looked up and saw the gibbous moon through the hole in the roof between the limbs of the trees. He stared for a few moments as the uneasy feeling he had slowly grew. High clouds slowly drifted across the moon as he watched, casting a claw-like shadow on the moon. His innate ability to sense danger pegged up another notch. “Place your angelic guard around this camp, Lord, and protect us from evil,” he prayed softly as he took one last look around. After praying, the uneasy feeling in his gut began to ease, so he went back in the tent, and laid down by Selina. She was still fast asleep. He turned on his side and gazed lovingly at her. Thank you again for her, Lord, he thought as he drifted off to sleep again.