Theo smiled and reached out to lay her hand on his. His own distress reached her heart and she felt she had to comfort him in his bad memory. "Is it a Wyoran trait, this inability to control their minds?"
"Yes, I am afraid so. The majority of our population has a high degree of psychic talents. Those who need links have too much power to control without training. They need a strong mind to spill into until they can learn the necessary control. Those like Norsa do not respect the link that keeps their sanity. They use the link as a toy, a servant to abuse. I have linked with a few of those."
"How did you manage?" Her words carried all that was implied, how did he keep his sanity, and survive serving the selfish.
"I had training before I began my first link. The pay that was offered was enough to buy my way into the lower rungs of society. The next link moved me up a rung, until finally I had enough money to keep my family in comfort and own my own land."
"You get paid for this?"
Again he looked shocked, and then resigned. "Because of the sensitive and vital nature of the link, the average six month term will net you a lower nobility in our world. The two years that you have endured will make your payout enough to buy a small house in the country to retire to if you wish. Or to purchase a small asteroid as an investment if you don't."
"I haven't thought that far ahead. Will Norsa set me free before her wedding?"
"Yes, just before. She will link with her groom, and don't think that her family hadn't had to pay through the nose for that one. It is not normally part of the wedding ceremony. He has been in training for months for just that moment."
"I really hope he isn't expecting a virgin on his wedding night."
"Why is that?"
"Because at this moment Norsa is schtupping two crew members in one of the engine rooms."
"What is schtupping I have not heard that word before."
She felt her cheeks pink. "It refers to sexual activity."
He scowled. "She will be with her fiancÚ in two days, a fiancÚ that both she and her family have selected, and she is seeking sexual partners on the ship? And then she gives you the overload of her emotional responses? Unbelievable."
She shrugged. "It is simply the way she is, and now that I have a date on which we will be unlinked, I can forgive it a little easier."
His skin seemed to flare black in the bright light of the observation lounge where they were having their conversation. It was fascinating, the red of his skin shifted and flared, darkened and brightened. She was hypnotized by the movement of light on his skin. It took her a few long moments to realize that he had spoken to her.