The afternoon sun was blindingly bright.
His head hurt; a sick throbbing ache; that pounded relentlessly against the top of his neck. There was another sharp pain, lower down; something was digging into his lower back; jabbing at his spine.
Lukas blinked watering eyes, and raised a hand to shield them. As his vision slowly focused, he was able to raise his head and gaze blearily around. At first, the distorted shapes refused to make any sense. Then they resolved themselves into walls, ceiling and door.
Lukas found himself lying sprawled; half-in, half-out of the front door. At the sight of the plain wooden door, memories crowded themselves into his mind. Unthinkingly he tried to sit up; to lessen the pain across his lower back. Immediately, the pain in his head increased exponentially; as if gravity was suddenly trying to pull his brain down through his spine.
Eventually, he was able to drag himself across the lip of the door, much to the relief of his lower back, and slump against a wall. Only then, did he turn his head and look outside, his eyes searching first the small garden, then the visible area of the cul-de-sac beyond. About halfway down the pathway, his cellphone lay, abandoned, where he must have dropped it.
There was no sign of David Jackinson.
Slowly, he relaxed back against the wall; soaking up the pain, and waiting for it to fade enough to allow him to move. After a few minutes longer, however, the heat of the afternoon became almost too much to endure, and carefully, he eased himself further along the wall, deeper into the hall, until he was completely enveloped in blessedly cool shadow.
How long had he been gone? It seemed to Lukas that hours, if not actual days, might have passed, during his instruction session with Mentor. Yet he felt somehow, viscerally, that very little actual time had passed, since he had confronted Jackinson in the road. For one thing, the house was still empty, the front door still open. The fact that neither Helen nor MacKenzie had found him was testament to the fact that, wherever his mind had been, his body had remained in this world.
That was some trick, he thought. He supposed that, however she had done it, he should at least be thankful. It was entirely possible that, without her timely intervention, the assault upon his mind by the Al'urion controlling Jackinson might have accomplished her mission. He had a sudden image; of Helen and MacKenzie, arriving back home to find him lying, a drooling wreck, in the street, and shuddered involuntarily.
'Thank you Mentor.' He whispered into the silence.
After a tentative internal check, he decided to see if his body was ready yet, to take up the strain of standing upright. It was, barely, and he pressed one hand to the nearest wall for support, as he made he cautious way towards the kitchen area. He made it to the sink, and fumbled a glass under the tap, before turning and collapsing ungracefully onto the nearest chair. The water was chill, and welcome upon his dry tongue. He drank heavily, before placing the almost empty glass down, and looking around.
Nothing had changed, as far as he could see. A glance at the kitchen clock confirmed that a little over twenty minutes had passed, since he had stormed out of the living room, to confront Jackinson. On an impulse, he lifted his wrist. To his complete lack of surprise, the hands on his watch agreed with those on the clock.
So; twenty minutes, give or take. Twenty minutes, and an uncountable span of time spent in Mentor's company. His mind ran over his recent conversation, attempting to sort some sort of coherence from what he had learnt. About the Al'urion, and about his own role in this madness he had found himself the center of. And not only him, it seemed. Both Helen and MacKenzie appeared to have pivotal roles to play, if Mentor was to be believed.
Lukas believed. All he had to do now, was find a way to convince his sister, and MacKenzie. Helen would not be hard to convince; Lukas had learned quite a lot about his sister, over the past few days; some of which had surprised him. MacKenzie Church, however, was an unknown.
It was clear, even to Lukas, now that he had had it explained to him, that MacKenzie liked him; a lot. And, the feeling was reciprocated. Would she feel the same, he wondered, once he told her about her role in the coming battle? That was a conversation he was not looking forwards to; Lukas was glad that Helen would be there, for support. Lukas' mind drifted back to his time spent with Mentor, going again and again over the things she had told him.
It struck him, that he persisted in thinking of the entity as 'she', despite no real evidence of any sex whatsoever. The fact that Mentor had worn MacKenzie's face and body had been enough to sway Lukas; not a coincidence on Mentor's part, Lukas suspected. In his mind, he heard MacKenzie's voice; her real voice ' not the accent-less tones adopted by Mentor. He saw her soft features, framed by her thick mass of coppery hair, as it would be, if he ever saw it unfettered. Her dark gaze to to pierce his soul; to know his every thought, and her full lips smiled softly at him; lips he suddenly wished, very much, that he could kiss.
'Nexus. Empath. Crux.'
The three titles moved slowly across the forefront of his thoughts; each accompanied by a small thrill of recognition. 'Nexus... Empath... Crux...Lukas... Helen... Mackenzie.'
Whether intentionally or not, Lukas sensed the hand of Mentor at work; softly easing the concept into him; into his very psyche; until he knew. Until he accepted.
The sense of Mentor's presence was subtle, but Lukas was suddenly aware of her in his mind. Her tone was as even as he recalled, but, still, he sensed a small undercurrent of what could have been amusement. 'Was that so hard, after all?' Her presence began to fade. 'I will see you soon. All of you. And I have left you a small gift.' Her small voice faded.
'Look, and see.'
Before Lukas could frame a reply, her presence was gone.