The psion curled on the ground, hand protecting its face, as though expecting a blow. Neviar stood, chest heaving over him, forcing himself in check, and sheathed his weapon, now feeling certain any threat had been subdued. He found it hard to believe that the psionic force he had sensed came from this small, strange person. Normally the psions in Plantasia did not register so strong on his radar. This one looked to be about thirteen or fourteen years of age, just at the cusp of physical maturity. Short black hair hung into its eyes, also a shining black. At first glance, the psion seemed human. But then, as Neviar stood there watching it cower, he saw the truth. With a glimpse of its face, he knew. The frame diminutive, the face just a little too delicate and pale, the ears an odd shape. This was no human Neviar stared upon, and he knew it after a moment of reflection.
“What are you?” he asked.
The person sat up and stared at him. Large eyes, black and magnetic, regarded Neviar; surprisingly looking more furious then scared. Neviar felt a sweep of something against his mental shield, and then a force of energy hit him from the inside, a consciously delivered mental blow. The feel of someone's energy used against him in an aggressive way triggered Neviar into turning the attack back on the sender, just as an instinctual response. His mental shield had been forged into possessing a boomerang effect. Throughout the centuries Neviar had dealt with psionics on many worlds and had learned to adapt his body or mind to survive a great variety of attacks on his psyche.
He watched the kids face crumple in pain with the blow intended for him. Maybe if the psion had been more experienced, he would be able to get around Neviar's defenses. But just from the brief moments of mental contact they had shared Neviar could see that this psion had very little practice with his own gift.
“None of that,” he told the kid. “I know you're pissed, but just settle down for a moment and listen to me.”
Instead, the psion threw out his hand, and made a grab for his mind.
As soon as Neviar felt the tendrils of foreign energy filtering in to ensnare his consciousness, he fortified his mental shield. The wispy twirls of psionic intrusion grew more solid, and wrapped with a spasm around his mind, squeezing him tight. For just an instant, Neviar couldn't fight it; for just a second, he felt himself at the grip of another power, felt his body flood with the other, and felt his awareness sink to the background, like a stone gliding into mud. And then he caught himself, as he always tended to, and with a blade of sheer consciousness, severed the tendrils and all traces of a forced link.
They both fell to the ground after the brief but intense struggle. The psion looked exhausted, like maybe he was out of tricks. His entire body shivered after the tangle with Nevir's ego, skin now sheened in sweat. He seemed subdued.
Neviar hit him in the face anyway. There was nothing he hated more then a telepath who took advantage of people. He gave the psion a solid whack right in the face with the back of his hand, felt the crack of the kids jaw on his knuckles and thought he'd maybe done it a little hard.
The kid fell back, wailed like he was dying, and scrabbled at Neviar's mental shield in a desperate psionic way. The constant tittering of the telepath's mind rapping up against his own was getting frustrating fast.
“Look kid,” Neviar growled. “We have a long way to go, so you might as well pace yourself. You're coming with me.”
“Where are you taking me?” the psion cried, his voice a piercing lilt. He hunched on the ground and wept, and Neviar began to feel bad for hitting him. God, but the little twerp wouldn't stop messing with his head...
“Eveli, City of Dreams. Look, as long as you keep your mind games in check, we'll get along fine. I won't hit you again. But if you keep acting like a brat and refusing to cooperate, I'll have to get rough. I don't want to, but I will.”