Barney and Léana sat across the kitchen table from Azubuike, who stared wide-eyed at the lady.
“And you were the typical pale Irish lady before this?”
She removed her headgear and glasses, revealing the pale blue eyes and fiery red hair that stood in such stark contrast to her dark skin.
Azu’s eyes widened further. “I do not know what to say.”
Barney shrugged, a grimace crossing his face. “Much like the rest of us. I thought to come here because of your wife’s reaction last time I was here.”
“She was shaken, that much is certain. She said that she had never felt a spirit so strongly in all her years.”
“Is she due back soon?”
Azu nodded. “She was running an errand, she mentioned what it was but I did not pay attention.”
“Did you notice anything peculiar when you were cutting the Carbonado after I left?”
The African thought for a time. “Not really.”
Léana leaned forward. “That is hard to believe, considering what has happened to me.”
The Banguian’s eyes flashed in disbelief at the strong Irish accent in the words coming from her lips.
“I promise you that I do not lie.”
The flywire door of Azu’s residence squeaked in protest as it opened and closed. Azu turned his head to regard his wife as she entered the main room. Shasa paid little attention to her husband as she walked down the hall, but looked startled when she saw Barney and Léana sitting on the other side of the table.
Shasa smiled at Barney. “Hello. It is good to see you again.”
Barney gave a slight nod. “Thank you, and I to see you too.”
She returned the tilt of the head, before the look Barney remembered all too well crossed her face. She spoke in a fast, terse tone to Azu.
The onyx man looked back to Barney. “She said that she senses that spirit again, but even more strongly than before.”
Shasa walked around the room, a focused look in her eye. Moving closer to the table, she approached Barney. He moved back slightly as she moved almost nose to nose with him, looking deep into his eyes. Her eyes narrowed, before she looked sideways to Léana. As she moved towards the Irish lady, Shasa’s eye widened in something resembling shock. She said something urgently to Azu, who gave her a sceptical look.
“She says the spirit is her.”
A confused look crossed Barney’s face. “Léana was not here on my last visit, when she felt the spirit last time…”
“I agree with you, but it is what she says.”
Shasa grabbed the empty fourth chair, and sat down beside the confused Léana. The African lady gestured for her to face her, which she hesitantly did. Shasa cupped her hands around Léana’s face, giving the same penetrating look she had given Barney. After several moments, Shasa spoke some words Barney did not understand.
He turned to Azu. “What did she say?”
“I did not understand the words. They were neither French nor Sangho.”
Barney looked even more confused. “Both of them are speaking in weird ways.”
“Absolutely.” Azu looked just as confused as he did.
The two ladies spoke for several minutes. Neither man understood the words being spoken.
Shasa spoke to Azu in a panicked voice. “She says that the spirit of one who did not escape the destruction lives in this lady. She says that the spirit was one of those in stasis on Venus. After many years, it came into contact with a living being it could successfully bond with.”
Léana’s eyes betrayed her sense of fear. “What is going on? I do not understand the words, but the voice does. I speak the words, but only she seems to understand them.”
Barney turned to Azu. “Ask your wife to question her about what this ‘bonding’ means.”
Azu spoke to his wife, who nodded and spoke to Léana in the tongue foreign to both men. Shasa alternated between speaking to Léana and Azu, the man’s face growing more and more shocked as he heard the words his wife spoke. Barney waited for someone to enlighten him to the conversation, but everyone seemed to have forgotten he even sat there.
“Come on now! Why am I the only person who isn’t being spoken to? I want to know what’s going on too!”
The ladies reacted to the tone of Barney’s voice, but continued on talking.
Azu looked at Barney. “Seriously, even I am having trouble understanding this.”
“What do you mean?”
“The two ladies are referring to Earth as ‘the Second World’.”
Azu translated to the story to Barney as the ladies continued their conversation in the otherworldly language.
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