Disclaimer: This one is all mine. Do not use or post without permission.
Rae sighed. It had already been a long, rainy night and she was looking forward to sleep.
The best way to sum things up: her most recent boyfriend had dumped her - reasons unknown, her car had broken down almost two miles from her apartment, and her current assignment was a bust.
She just wanted to get inside her home, get something warm to drink, and crawl into bed. How hard was that?
Her tired feet thudded on the stairs in the enclosed well. Yet another lovely addition to her rotten evening - the elevator was out. Could it really get any worse? Was today God’s ‘pick on Rae Thompson’ day?
As the young woman approached the door to her apartment, she sensed the presence of another. The aura was powerful enough to give the sensation of hair standing on the back of her neck. Most times, normal people didn’t have that kind of empathic radiation.
Unconsciously, her fingers shifted: thumbs touching, first fingers touching, the rest lacing together at the first knuckles. It was a defensive move, one that had been trained into her early on, and it had saved her life too many times in the past. A psychic blast slammed against the metaphysical shield Rae had created, staggering her.
This time was no different.
Her brown eyes were already moving in the direction that it had come from, looking for her assailant. They widened when she saw the slim form standing at the other end of the hall. Of all the times… She’d almost been home. Had she managed to get in the damn door, she would have had the benefit of the protection of wards that had been set in place when she’d originally moved in.
Rae really didn’t want to have a psychic battle in the hall. Even if normal onlookers couldn’t see the combat take place, it was just damned spooky to watch a couple of people stare at each other and not say a word. Fortunately, it was late enough that most of the mundane folk wouldn’t have any clue what was going on here.
“Can I at least get a name,” she asked, keeping her voice low and not releasing the shield-lock.
“Étienne Rickard,” the answer came, delivered by a masculine voice with a French accent.
She sighed and focused, preparing for the coming combat. Rae knew his name, of course. Anyone who was affiliated with the Psionic Security and Intelligence Agency had a registered entry. Étienne Rickard had been one of the French operatives.
Unfortunately, he’d gone rogue some months ago. He’d killed a civilian and a fellow PSI Agent in the field by accident. It was not an unknown happening; they were, after all, trained to take down metaphysical threats - preferably before said threats managed harm to the public at large.
His case had been unique, however. Étienne had been attempting to absorb a psychic backlash, which was a dangerous tactic to say the least. When trying to drain off the raw chaotic energy of a new psionic’s ‘awakening,’ even the most gifted of psychics could be overloaded.
The problem had been that, instead of simply taking in the residual energy, he’d also drained the young man who had unleashed it - absorbed his potential power. Drunk on the rush, he then turned and silenced his partner for that mission, leaving him a lifeless husk as well. Publicly, the deaths were written off as natural, but PSI-A knew better.
The act was forbidden: a crime of the highest order and punishable by either death or lobotomy. Those who participated in this brutal kind of psychic ‘cannibalism’ were called incubi or succubi, depending on their gender. Étienne Rickard was an incubus, one that was crazed and obsessed with obtaining more power.
The French branch of the Agency had sent out a “seize and capture” order immediately following the incident, hoping to keep the matter quiet. All worldwide offices had been made aware of this order. A warning had gone out to all field operatives to be wary in case they should encounter him.
No one had honestly expected him to come to the United States, not even Rae.
She braced again when she felt his energy swell, getting her feet as stable as she could. Étienne had the powerbase of two Class S psions and one unrated potential. The agent wasn’t sure how long she could keep him busy until reinforcements arrived. She just hoped he didn’t kill her before the containment team got there.
After her shield nearly crumpled from the next blast, Rae hoped the containment team would be enough to stop him. Her hands twisted their pattern, the last finger and her thumbs remaining connected while the three pairs between laced. The new shield that formed before her was one that redirected some of an attack back on the assailant. While it wasn’t as strong as the previous defense had been, this one had the potential to make an attacker think twice once they got a taste of their own medicine.
When Étienne blasted through it without seeming the worse for wear, Rae knew she was in trouble. Psychic combat was not her strongest suit, she was primarily an investigator. Her body flew back from the assault, the only physical display of what was happening between them. Her landing was going to be as bad as the barrage.
Except, she didn’t actually land. Her dark eyes snapped open and she looked behind her. She had missed contact with the wall by a scant two inches. A cocoon of energy bore her aloft and shielded her from any further attacks.
Rae’s eyes moved again, seeking the one who had saved her, and they came to rest on Brian Johnson from the PSI “Hard Core” unit.
“Looks like you owe me dinner, Rae-rae. I‘ll take over from here, you get inside.”
She nodded and looked at the man who had attacked her. “Gladly,” she whispered, moving to do just that. Brian was a dual S class psion and definitely more suited to sustaining combat with an incubus.