Andrea leaned back in the armchair, closed her eyes and concentrated on slowing her breathing. Palin had just pulled the rug out from under her, with that onslaught of questions and accusations. Up until then, Andrea was under the impression that her arrangement with Jagathy meant there would be no investigation. Now, she knew that it had actually done nothing more than delay the inevitable.
Palin was hell-bent on arresting her for something. That much was obvious. Although the idea of going to prison was anxiety provoking, Andrea knew that she could and would survive if it happened. The thought that she might be the cause of her sister to be sent as well filled her with overwhelming dread. Janet led a sheltered life and could be incredibly naïve. Not only that, she couldn’t fight her way out of a wet paper bag. The other prisoners would eat her alive.
Andrea had been clinging to the hope that a successful Doorkeeper mission would mean the two of them could walk away free and clear. Now, that hope was dashed. Palin had just made it clear that he would never allow that to happen. He was like a dog with a bone. Why did he hate her so much? She hadn’t done anything to him.
If Andrea had gotten into trouble alone, then it would have been easy to disappear underground until the case went cold. Sooner or later, Palin would be forced to close it and move on. But because Janet happened to be there the night Steve attacked her and she was forced to shoot him, her sister was stuck on the same sinking ship.
So, there was her sister’s future to consider. Andrea had nothing to lose in pulling up stakes and going on the run. Her sister was successful and had built a nice comfortable life. It wouldn’t be fair to ask her to abandon everything for which she worked so hard all those years. Andrea was so occupied with these worrisome musings that she was unaware of her sister’s presence, until Janet spoke.
“There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you, I… what’s wrong Andrea?”
“I…I’m fine, I uh just needed a minute to myself.”
“Oh, well come on you gotta see this. One of the senior level seekers is going to hunt for Jagathy in the astral realm.”
Thankful for the distraction, Andrea allowed herself to be dragged up to the viewing amphitheater. A modern version of a surgical amphitheater, there was an upper gallery which ringed a central area below. They situated themselves next to Marko, in the front row of gallery seats and peered down through the glass into the darkness below. Barely visible was a man lying on a narrow bed. Beside him on a brass stand was the glass globe containing the jinn essence Sage had harvested, during the being’s escape from the Doorkeeper compound.
“I can’t see anything,” Andrea complained.
“Here, look through these,” directed Marko handing each of them an infrared viewer.
When the sisters gazed through their viewers, the seeker on the bed was instantly converted into a rainbow of heat signatures. Before their eyes, he seemingly became two men as the seeker’s etheric body slowly separated itself from the supine physical body. Janet gasped as the ghostly form sat up in bed and reached into the glass globe. He freed swarming fiery jinn essence. The flaming ribbon immediately took off zipping up past the gallery window and through the ceiling with the seeker’s spectral form in close pursuit, unfurling a silvery astral umbilical cord behind it which tethered it to the seeker’s body.
Janet and Andrea gasped and expressed their amazement in hushed tones, not wanting to disturb the seeker’s deep meditative state. Marko explained that had just seen the seeker’s etheric body or soul on its way to the astral realm. After thirty minutes of staring down at the still form below, Andrea grew restless. The trio decided to take a break and get some snacks.
On the way back to the viewing amphitheater, they heard exclamations of alarm and rushed back into the gallery. Below, the seeker’s body was shuddering and bucking. Someone had turned the lights all the way up. They could clearly see the distress in his face. All at once, his seizing ceased and he was still. The Doorkeeper physician’s efforts to revive him failed. Blood began seeping from the corner of the seeker’s mouth. Janet peered through the infrared viewer and sighed. The seeker’s essence had been torn from the astral umbilical cord connecting it to his body. Something had gone horribly wrong.