“Open… Fucking… OPEN!”
Zhang was banging his fists against the tank. He tried everything else but it was sealed tight.
He couldn’t save him…
He closed his eyes, leaning his head against the tank in desperation. The base was crumbling around them, and he couldn’t save him. Zhang’s eyes squeezed shut before he opened them again, filled with resolution as purple energy started to gather around him, crackling like lightning.
“I told you… to OPEN!” He roared, pulling his hand back. A bolt of lightning sprung from it, forming into a crude, crackling beam. He couldn’t hold back a roar of pain as he slammed it into the lock. More pain as purple lightning came from the tank, enveloping him. Zhang could hear the hiss of the tank opening but by now, the pain was overtaking him as he collapsed to the floor, holding his head. He could feel something leaking from his eyes.
Not tears. Something darker. Thicker…
He knew his eyes were wide open but yet… Everything around him started to go dark.
The world was fading...
Zhang startled as he woke up. Was it a dream?
He tried to get up from the rather rickety bed he was laying on but was stopped when aches across his entire body made themselves known.
Definitely NOT a dream, then.
The Base was brutally attacked…
However, Zhang only remembered thinking about Geist, stuck in that tank, unable to defend himself.
He couldn’t let him die. Not him. Even in the short time they knew each other, they shared a connection Zhang didn’t have with anyone else. Not in Xcom. Not even back in the Triads…
A sharp pain in his head made itself known, and he realized he couldn’t see a thing. His eyes were covered and a quick feel revealed it to be gauze. However, that didn’t explain what he saw… or didn’t see. This blindness was more than just his eyes being covered. They didn’t work anymore.
“You woke up. That’s good…” Someone said, and he could feel the bed he was in sinking as someone else sat on it.
“Geist.” Zhang said, recognizing the voice. “You’re alright.” He felt so relieved…at least this wasn’t all for nothing.
“Is… that my name?” Zhang’s head snapped up. He couldn’t have heard that right.
“Stop playing. This isn’t the time.” He said.
“I’m not playing.” Geist said, sounding genuinely confused. “What’s my name? What was that place you took me from and… who are you?” That last part made the bottom of Zhang’s stomach drop.
“You… don’t remember?” He asked. A negative noise.
“I just remember waking up in this… sarcophagus, you beside me, crying blood.” Geist explained. “The chaos of war all around me.”
“Of course you had to be poetic about it…” Zhang muttered.
“It was the only way I could really describe what was going on.”
“How did you get us out of there, anyway?”
“Well, I do remember how to use this.” Geist said, and Zhang could hear the familiar hum of Psionics. “Uhm, maybe I should… “
“No, I understood.” Zhang said, making his own hand crackle with lightning. “We’re cut from the same cloth, you and I.”
“Now who’s being poetic?” Geist said and, despite everything, the two shared a laugh. “Still, I’d like to be informed about… everything.”
“I hope you have a drink for me. This will take a while.” Zhang said. With that he started to tell. About Xcom. About the invasion. Once he finished, there was an awkward silence.
“That’s… quite something.” Geist said. “Yet, all I can really think about is ‘What now’?”
“I have no idea.” Zhang answered. “And the way things are looking for me… Heh… I don’t think I can really do anything.”
“Don’t say that.” Geist told him. “It could be temporary.” Zhang sighed. Something inside told him it wasn’t. “Still, you need rest. Let’s focus on that for now.” Geist gently pushed him down. “This house is abandoned. Don’t worry about it.” He pre-emptively said. Zhang nodded as he laid down. The fatigue of everything hit him rather hard and soon, he was asleep.
He started awake again. He was never a sound sleeper but with the way things were going, he felt very unsafe. Wounded. Blinded.
There was a presence in the room. He turned to it, despite being unable to see.
“Take it easy. It’s me.” Geist said as Zhang exhaled, relaxing slightly. “I tried to keep quiet.”
“You were.” Zhang said as he realized something. “I didn’t… hear you.” He said, still not quite sure what was going on himself.
“Well, you can’t see me.”
“Very funny.” Zhang dryly answered, before going back to thinking. “It is like… I can sense you. Your mind.”
“Because of your psionics?”
“I suppose…” Zhang said, holding his head. He never used his psionics like this before but even when he just got them he noticed that he… sensed something coming from people. And Aliens, for that matter. Anything living. An energy. He focussed back on Geist. He managed to sense him quite clearly now… but he could also feel it strained his mind. Geist seemed to notice as he was pushed back down on the bed.
“Try not to overexert yourself. There’s plenty of time to experiment. And who knows? Maybe it’s not even needed.” Zhang wanted to protest but the fact that he was out like a light almost immediately told a different story...
“Alright, let’s see.” Geist said, removing the bandages from his eyes. It had been a few days now.
No change. Zhang still couldn’t see anything. The wince Geist gave him as he held his head, probably taking a closer look, didn’t sound promising either. “I’m by no means a doctor… I think… but this looks bad.”
“Fucking great…” Zhang cursed under his breath.
“Doesn’t look like you’ll be using them any time soon.”
“What I mean is you should probably try to find a way to get around without your vision. Unless you enjoy just being stuck in a bed.” Geist said. Zhang just sighed in defeat. “Maybe you were on to something when you sensed my presence.”
“Maybe…” Zhang said. He had tried it again but it was such a strain on his mind. Then again, he started to realize the more he opened his mind, the less strain there was. This left him… conflicted. Zhang was never one to open his mind. Heck, even before psionics he preferred to keep himself closed off, thoughts safely locked behind a solid wall. To open it up like this felt… unsafe. Frightening, even. It meant inviting in psionic energies that weren’t his own and even without the threat of mind control, that sounded like a bad idea.
Still, if he was going to use this… psionic sense… he had to at least try.
So, he took a deep breath, closed his eyes for whatever that was worth, and opened his mind.
His eyes snapped open again when he realized something.
“What’s wrong?” Geist, entering his room, asked.
“They’re here.” Zhang said, sensing… something. A dark, quite literally alien energy. Geist didn’t answer. Zhang could hear the cocking of a gun.
“How many?” Geist asked. Zhang focussed. The signatures were vague and packed together, blending into each other. Trying to separate them in his mind was difficult.
“T-three.” He eventually said, not entirely sure.
“Easy enough. You’ll stay here, I’ll handle it.” Geist said.
“Yes, Mother.” Zhang couldn’t help but quip even if he knew it was for the best. Something was tossed in his lap. A sheathed combat knife.
“Just keep yourself safe.” Geist said as he headed out the door to deal with the threat. Zhang sighed.
He shook his head, taking out the knife. No. He wasn’t. He stood up, ready to take a stance.
A noise made him stop. He barely had time to sense the psionic energy before it invaded his mind. He had this happen before but thanks to the closed off nature of his mind, he usually managed to shrug it off. Not this time.
“They’re inside my head…! They’re inside…!” He shouted desperately. Another presence made itself known...
“Leave… him… ALONE!” Zhang could hear Geist roar before a massive wave of energy overtook his mind, whiting everyone else out. Zhang grasped his head as he made a pained noise and tried to stumble away. He needed to get out of there. He was injured, blinded, unable to defend himself.
“Fuck…!” Zhang said, leaning against a wall, still holding his head. He was shaking. Panicking…
“Zhang!” He could hear someone call. “They’re gone. Are you alright?” He asked. Zhang almost wanted to shout NO, but he didn’t even know if it was Geist talking. His mind was filled with Psionic energy. His own. Geist’s. The enemies… It all swirled together into an incoherent mass.
“Can’t… focus…” He managed. He felt like he was falling into the mass. It was nipping at his very being. He was losing himself…
A gentle touch on his shoulder.
“Focus on me, Zhang. Focus. On. ME.” Geist told him, holding his shoulders tightly. “My voice. My presence. I’m still here, even if you can’t see me.” Zhang nodded as he did what Geist said and focussed on him. On his energy. Powerful as it might be, it also felt warm… inviting. He couldn’t help but lean in as he got a hold of himself. He stopped falling.
“I… feel you. You’re here.” Zhang said, finally calmed down as he let the warmth of Geist’s energy envelop him. “That’s all I need.”