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by Y. L. Wigman
Kreyna Katz is a talented intuitive—just how talented is yet unknown. The Australian Security Intelligence Organization has high hopes that she will be a key member of their Non-Physical Surveillance Team, which gathers strategic information from any distance. Her experience within the Filigrane, the global consciousness network, makes her the perfect candidate.
Pleased to have found a career using her gifts, Kreyna is also entranced by the attentions of the attractive, enigmatic Frances Parrey. But can powerful minds and wayward hearts be delicately balanced or will they all shatter like glass?
Governments aren’t alone in their use of such techniques, and Kreyna finds herself on the receiving end of an offer she can’t refuse…
The story is very well written and is certainly complex... Ms Wigman’s passion for studying the human condition, spirituality and astrology are evident in her work. Edited by famed Katherine V. Forrest, Ms Wigman has given readers great characters, a fine plot, and ideas to think about — what does the not so distant future hold for all of us?
Kreyna Katz stilled herself in a single breath and thinned her energy to assume the full white state. To the casual observer, she appeared to be slightly out of focus, the air surrounding her shimmering like a heat haze. Positioned in the shadows at the edge of the Rotterdam Seaport Police interrogation room, she steadied a notepad in her lap and held a pen over the page as if it were the focus of her attention. In truth, she altered her essential frequency and moved within the room, an unseen thought form.
Five men sat hunched over a bare, steel table bolted to the concrete floor. Sitting with their backs to opposing walls, Kreyna and her colleague, Robert Varazslo, were acting as observers, ostensibly. Chief Inspector Versluis of the Rotterdam Criminal Intelligence Department and his fearsome second-in-command sat facing Robert. Kreyna faced Victor Deprez, an Inspector with the Antwerp Gendarmerie and Investigation Brigade.
Both Dutch and Belgian police were investigating an unlikely story from a snitch named Piet Van Whalen. He had told the Dutch police of a drug organization headed by some of Belgium’s most senior law enforcement officials who were helping notorious Dutch and Belgian drug barons to import drugs through the port of Antwerp. One of those officials, Inspector Deprez was alleged to have masterminded illicit schemes that trafficked drugs across the globe as far as Australia.
Interpol had alerted Australian Customs who briefed the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, otherwise known as ASIO. As ASIO’s senior remote viewer, Robert had been brought in to evaluate the truthfulness of Deprez and two Public Prosecutor’s Office clerks during interrogation. Kreyna had accompanied him in a final test of her telepathic skills.
Kreyna’s mission was to mind-scan the suspects, record their thoughts into a quantifying matrix and to measure to what extent they were lying. How well she performed would determine her admittance to ASIO’s Non-Physical Surveillance Team of remote viewers who were trained to gather military intelligence at any distance. Competition for a role in the team was strong and Kreyna was determined to earn her place.
Sitting at the table on either side of Deprez, the two Public Prosecutor’s Office clerks were accused of sabotaging all attempts to investigate the Belgian inspector—an accusation they had denied. Instead, they had implicated Antwerp’s highest official in the PPO, the Prosecutor General himself. In response, the Belgian parliament had gone into meltdown, met behind closed doors and called for the Dutch authorities to provide further proof. Chief Inspector Versluis was in charge of the investigation.
With casual menace, Chief Inspector Versluis addressed the younger PPO clerk, “We have documentary evidence that shows thousands of francs being deposited into your bank account in Antwerp. What is your explanation?”
Kreyna heard little beyond the first question. She was working. Answering evasively, the clerk grazed fingernails across his lips and spoke softly. Kreyna slipped into his thoughts. He would have felt her as a waft of fresh air, or a pleasant coolness. Oblivious, he continued. She appraised the volume of his varying emotions, peeling them aside like lasagna layers: at the top, uncertainty about the way the interrogation would go and concern as to what Versluis thought of him. Down a layer to his worry about the other clerk, his close and equally corrupt friend—how much would he say? Down another layer to the long-gone bribe spent on his family. And down to where lurked his crawling fear of being caught, his zero chance of escape and the sickening threat: could he survive an extended jail term, if Deprez let him live?
With pen to paper, Kreyna sketched out a matrix that supported her assessment of the young man’s sincerity. There was a ninety-six percent probability he was lying.
Versluis turned his attention to the sweating, gray-faced older PPO clerk who tugged at a jacket that failed to button across his belly. Within seconds, Kreyna had all the information she needed and recorded the verdict of ninety-eight percent—he too lied as if his life depended on it. She looked up in an attempt to catch Robert’s attention, but saw only the top of a bowed head topped with plentiful blond curls. He was deep in concentration.
She considered Inspector Deprez. A tall man wearing a perfectly tailored black suit, he surveyed the proceedings with a sly, contemptuous smile. Despite the petty arrogance, he seemed innocuous enough. Would he prove more challenging? She narrowed her eyes, inhaled deeply and homed in on him.
Deprez picked up her intrusion. With lightning speed he closed his seven energy centers, the chakras, like a sequence of doors to a vault crashing shut. Surprised, she shifted a fraction too slow. A moment’s indecision and she hovered in stillness—an unreadable quietude. Feeling him try to get her measure, she suppressed a little jolt of excitement at finding a worthy adversary. He was a competent intuitive, albeit a criminally corrupt cop. Interesting.
Chief Inspector Versluis turned his attention to Deprez. “How much did you pay De Vries to lose the warrant for Van Whalen’s arrest?”
Caught off guard, Deprez’s concentration faltered. “Assuming I know either of them and I don’t.”
No time to lose. Again, Kreyna scanned his chakras and found a sliver of an opening at the solar plexus. Startled by this new intrusion, his shock soon turned into fear, then anger and rage. Instantly, she grasped his hostile energy and used it to sneak in the back door—his sacral chakra directly below.
Deprez’s pupils dilated. She visualized her fingertips caressing his scrotum. Within a second, he was erect and ready to explode. He lurched, grunted and dropped his hands to his groin. Beside him, the young clerk stared in confusion. Between the four men, gazes met, heads shook and shoulders shrugged.
Unimpeded, Kreyna shot up to Deprez’s crown chakra, mined his thoughts at will and fled back to emerge through his solar plexus. She wrote fast, recording his memories, conversations and shady deals, mercenary cruelties and bribe-fueled indulgences. Deprez thought he was invincible.
In her haste, the pen clattered to the floor—with a quick glance up, she stooped to retrieve it. Teeth bared, Deprez shot looks like bullets. Her psychic flak jacket held him at bay.
For the remainder of the interview, she closed down her hyper-senses. There was nothing more she could do and she needed to save energy for the next subject. Soon, Deprez and the two clerks were bundled out of the room. A few minutes later, another man was escorted in and sat down at the table.
A slight, bespectacled thirty-five-year-old Belgian, Piet Van Whalen was a known drug trafficker and police informer. He’d been supplying details of clandestine drug movements to Deprez who protected him from prosecution, in return. According to Piet, Deprez had made good use of the information Piet fed him and built a mini drug trafficking empire. More and more audacious deals had made Piet fear for his life until finally he wanted out. With the help of three other drug runners who were former accomplices of Deprez, he put together multiple dossiers bulging with trafficking details. Then he had contacted the Rotterdam CID and asked Chief Inspector Versluis for protection in return for information.
Under interrogation, Piet Van Whalen sweated—it reeked of stale nicotine. From her vantage point in the gloomy interview room, Kreyna could detect its rankness too easily. But she smelled another unfamiliar substance that she strained to identify.
When Chief Inspector Versluis barked questions, Piet’s heart rate surged and faltered to unnatural extremes. He was high on something, definitely. Sticking to the routine of her job, Kreyna plumbed his halting answers and found truthful motives jumbled by mortal fear.
Piet described his connections to well-known drug traffickers, citing names that the chief
inspector’s second-in-command jotted down in a casebook. Detailed accounts of Inspector Deprez’s criminal activities implicated the two Belgian clerks, as well. By the end of the interview, Kreyna didn’t doubt the truth of his story. However, he had a drug problem. What kind of drug was another question—crack or ice? She couldn’t be sure, but that he concealed a habit was certain.
Satisfied that everyone had been thoroughly assessed and her conclusions were accurate and verifiable, Kreyna withdrew and stabilized her senses. Her job complete, she sat back and switched off from the remaining dialogue. Across the room and ignoring her, Robert wrote sporadic notes.
Kreyna was drained, yet well pleased with her performance here. For days, she’d been in and out of planes, taxis and hotel rooms, with no opportunity to explore Rotterdam, Europe’s busiest harbor city that celebrated a diverse culture and busy nightlife. Regrettable as it was to have missed out on being a tourist, it would be a welcome relief to get home to Canberra.
* * *
Despite the extra width and legroom of the 747’s business class seat, Kreyna found it difficult to settle down and catch some sleep. The cabin crew had dimmed the lights, and handed out blankets and pillows soon after they had reached cruising height, thirty minutes out of Bahrain. In keeping with the airline’s world-class reputation, the Qantas flight attendants anticipated her every need by supplying quality food, fine wine and comfort.
By now the subdued hum of engines and discreet conversations between the crew should have been background to her peaceful sleeping. Yet she hovered on the edge, trying to doze, trying to block the intrusive, agitated thoughts of someone close by. She didn’t usually have this much trouble. When she’d boarded the plane at Heathrow, she’d checked immediately for possible threats and found nothing discernible.
Once again, she scanned the energy. A disturbing signature, oddly skewed—strange yet familiar—it made no sense. She knew no one on the aircraft, she was sure. Whatever the origin, she accepted it as neutral, yet it warranted ongoing monitoring.
She studied the passengers in the gloom, sending out a sigh of thought that wafted past each shadowed form, unnoticed except for one who stirred briefly, looked around and repositioned some limbs. Kreyna noted the seat and began counting the seeds in a very large imaginary sunflower, clearly visualized. With a smile, watching a worker bee stuff pollen into bulging yellow sacs on its legs, she slipped into sleep.
* * *
Polite fingertips on her shoulder roused her. The neatly uniformed attendant offered fruit juice and a hot, perfumed towel. She smoothed her face with its refreshing luxury and scanned the cabin with well-trained ease, paying lengthy attention to the person who had been so agitated earlier. Timed right, she would gain a proper look. How about a comfort stop?
She made her way back from the toilet suite, just as the flight attendant’s trolley blocked the aisle. Alongside the lone woman’s seat, she was forced to loiter. “Are you on your way home, too?”
Disturbed from a distant mental scene, the woman’s eyes steeled and relaxed, appraising Kreyna’s charcoal sweatshirt over the flattering black Versace jeans. “Yes, still a long way off, aren’t we?”
Kreyna registered the cultured English accent—not as plummy as Received Pronunciation but definitely public school. “From Singapore, about five hours or so, I think. But I’m guessing home’s not Australia? I’m heading for Canberra myself. How about you?”
“I’ve been visiting family in the UK. My husband has a two-year posting at the High Commission in Canberra.” The Englishwoman speared her fingers through the thick, dark blond hair that brushed Nordic cheekbones. “It’s a lovely city, really it is. But I’ve left my children in boarding school in England, you see.”
Kreyna saw—the woman’s distress pierced her brain like a drill bit. “That must be difficult. I’m sorry. Leave you to it.” She returned to her seat, regretting the intrusion into the woman’s sorrow, yet satisfied it had been a necessary precaution.
Reseated, she shook loose her hair and massaged the tension from her scalp. Exasperated by fatigue, she wrestled the mass of long dark curls into a plain gold clip—a few rebellious strands sprang free around her hairline and neat ears. The persistent ache in her lower back attested to lack of weight training. She hadn’t had a chance to exercise in the five days she’d been away, at least three of which had been spent in aircraft. With her watch reset to Singapore time, she calculated the flying hours beyond Changi Airport and onward to Melbourne—yet another six, conservatively.
Had her boss, Adrian Frode, gotten her phone message confirming her arrival at 7:20 p.m., as scheduled? And where was Robert? They were supposed to have flown from London together. The empty seat beside her exacerbated a sense of foreboding. It was vital to debrief with Adrian alone at headquarters, to present her report with confidence. The information gathered during the interviews in Rotterdam was convincing, yet she was uneasy. Robert’s version was a potentially treacherous unknown.
As an ex-boyfriend who wanted her back, Robert could be, by turns, charmingly persuasive or bullying with a vengeance. He knew her vulnerabilities and did not hesitate to exploit them when he felt so inclined. At her insistence, they were now merely colleagues and both working for the Australian federal government’s top security agency in Canberra.
Early last year, like many university graduates, Kreyna had applied to join a graduate program or internship with several government departments, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. With a bachelor’s degree in international relations, she’d progressed to an interview and then a psychological assessment. At yet another interview, she was asked if she would consider joining ASIO. The psychologist had noted her exceptional intuitive ability and recommended her for training as a remote viewer, authorized to gather intelligence at a distance. Kreyna had thought her natural talent, considered perfectly ordinary in her family, would be of little value to her prospective employer. ASIO management thought otherwise and fast-tracked her recruitment into the Strategic Surveillance Division.
Adrian Frode managed the division and Kreyna, being proud of her familial abilities, was determined to impress. He would be pleased with her work. Of this, her first assignment in Europe, she was quietly confident. Once she was a member of the Non-Physical Surveillance Team, she would have plenty of opportunity to hone her remote viewing skills.
With a start, she remembered the research article her remote viewing trainer, Pankaj Corea, had instructed her to study and rummaged through her briefcase. John Gribbin’s latest book, a guilty pleasure, somehow made its way onto her lap instead and fell open at the tenth page.
“Excuse me, sorry to bother you.” The Englishwoman hovered in the aisle. “I couldn’t help notice the title. Is that his sequel to In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat?”
Kreyna flicked the book shut to examine the cover featuring a blue-eyed puss. “It’s called Schrödinger’s Kittens and the Search for Reality. I think it’s an attempt to tie up a few loose ends, plus it explains his views on string theory—not bad so far. Are you familiar with his writing?”
“The world is a construct of our sensations, perceptions and memories, so he says. I think Schrödinger’s a fine read. Though he’s written plenty I haven’t found…”
Without warning, the aircraft dropped in altitude. The woman lurched forward and grabbed the seatback, bracing herself. Hurriedly, Kreyna snatched up her briefcase and moved over; the woman reeled into the rocking seat. For a few juddering moments, they fumbled to fasten seat belts and waited for what seemed an age for the turbulence to subside.
“Phew, glad my stomach’s already empty. I’m Frances, by the way. And quantum theory is a fascinating subject. There’s so much yet to be discovered. Exciting, wouldn’t you agree?”
Taken aback by Frances’s enthusiasm, Kreyna shook the extended hand, clasping warm, tapering fingers. “The name’s Kreyna. Pardon me asking, but have we met before? You seem familiar.”
The woman’s gaze met Kreyna’s with sudden coolness. “Excuse me? Not a chance—I would remember you, I’m sure.”
Kreyna tried again. “Where did you cultivate this particular interest? It’s not exactly standard fare.”
“Cambridge. Ten years ago. When I was an undergraduate in the Physics Department—the Cavendish Laboratory. Have you heard of it?”
Kreyna shook her head and sat back to listen. Next to her, long legs stretched out under a gored denim skirt, their owner reaching a height of about five foot nine—no wonder Frances was in business class. A plain white blouse suited the kind of skin that relished the sun. The woman had a curiously open face with ample lips, the corners upturned in a permanent half smile, even when she wasn’t smiling. She spoke with a restrained passion, reminiscing over her time as a student.
Kreyna had to ask, “You didn’t finish your degree?”
Wide set, pine-green eyes cast a sweeping glance over her, lingering at her mouth and throat. “I met my future husband, Bryce. Not long before, he’d been appointed to the Diplomatic Service. I had to make a choice—either fulfill an interest in physics or satisfy my wanderlust by marrying a diplomat. Traveling the world won out.”
“I don’t know that I would have made a great physicist. Hard to say.” Frances spun the rings on her left hand. “Made the right decision, I should think. I’ve been abroad for years, off and on, and have two bootiful children. I’m very lucky.” Her smile flared and extinguished like a match.
Shifting into an opaque state, Kreyna sent out a tiny surge of energy that barely grazed the mind of the woman beside her. Resignation covered a layer of regret mixed with resentment, beneath which crept anger at herself and others, mostly at herself. And something else, carefully guarded—what was it? Taking too long. Retreat.
“Excuse me, ladies.” The flight attendant leaned over them. “Would you prefer a Thai chicken green curry or beef Wellington?”
Frances made to get up and hesitated. “Would you prefer to be alone? Or may I keep you company over dinner?”
“You’re welcome to stay. Although I’ve reading I must do for work once we’ve eaten.”
A quaffable Shiraz accompanied the meal, prompting them to debate the merits of Australian wines as they ate. Margaret River whites were agreed upon favorites.
Afterward, Frances chose to amuse herself watching the in-flight film, Babe. Kreyna dug out the research article Pankaj had given her. She studied the results of a recent experiment confirming the significant effects of intention. With the knowledge that thought has a physical effect on perception, could she set up favorable conditions solely by intent, thereby easing her access to highly secure environments? It was something to bounce off Pankaj when she got back. She glanced at the film’s credits rolling on the screen hanging from the bulkhead.
“Would you study again?” Kreyna asked.
“Too late for that.” Frances shook her head. “Besides, I’m not long enough in one place to attempt it. I have a part-time job at the Australian National University. Doing administrative support for the Centre for Consciousness. Part of the Physics Department. I enjoy the work.”
“Don’t you envy the researchers?”
“Sometimes. I’m involved without getting too involved. I’ve met a few fine people there. My boss has brains and drive. They’re all good sorts, but I know I’ll lose touch with them, probably—goes with the territory. In the end, we all move on. The Centre’s putting on an end-of-year party soon. I shall miss them.”
Abruptly, Frances added, “I think I’m supposed to be organizing it. Oh, hell. At this time of year venues will be in short supply. Better have it at home.” She swiveled to face Kreyna. “Would you like to come? There’ll be some likeminded people there. May I tempt you?”
Could be out of the country but can’t be sure. Kreyna tentatively consented, which seemed to please Frances. The Englishwoman relaxed back into her seat, stretched one arm over her head and stifled a yawn. Kreyna tried not to stare at a birthmark just above Frances’s left collarbone. Following her gaze, Frances adjusted her blouse to obscure the café-au-lait splash.
At Singapore’s Changi Airport and after umpteen total hours in the air, it was a relief to find shower facilities that gave Kreyna the opportunity to freshen up. Frances said she needed something to read and went looking for a bookstore. Two hours later, with the plane cleaned and restocked, passengers straggled back on board and settled down to another chunk of their lives spent in the singularly unnatural activity of hurtling across the face of the earth in a cylinder, five miles up.
Through heavy-lidded eyes, Kreyna watched Frances wander off to the toilets. The woman moved well for her height. And was strong—neither as compact nor as athletic as herself, but definitely fit—she’d make a good squash partner. As per routine, Kreyna extended her senses and gauged her environment. The other passengers were equally tired, yet relaxed and comfortable.
Frances approached, still three rows away. A distinct golden halo radiated from her figure, brightest at her head. It swirled and shimmered in hues of deep yellow, orange and gold that intensified as she drew near. Startled, Kreyna took some seconds to react, to gather in her clamoring senses and dampen down her chakras. With an awkward attempt at humor, she said, “Not you again.”
Frances grinned and sat back down. “Can’t stay away.” Arranging a blue blanket around her shoulders, she held Kreyna’s gaze, smile receding. In a low, richly mellow voice, she said, “Best get some rest.”
Kreyna turned away to the window, warmth permeating her stomach and her pulse gathering speed. Yet not as fast as her thoughts that raced from sensation to explanation, unable to make sense of what had just happened and her response.
How often was an aura that strong, that bold? What on earth was going on? Note to self: must ask Pankaj. Later. Sleep now.
* * *