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Done. Control of my mind returned to me. There is a way to break the mind control, if things go wrong, but everything went the way it was supposed to. Mum had been careful about showing me exactly how to arrange that preset, because seven ways from Sunday doing mind control on yourself is dangerous. I dropped my mind back into my body, wiggled fingers and toes, and blinked twice. Everything worked.
Gifts? Just before I left Atlanticea I’d pushed my gifts way deep, much deeper than I’d expected to need them, driving my shields toward their ultimate limits. Now I shouldn’t even consider calling any of my gifts. Not flight. Not teleportation. Not any of the neat ways I can seriously wreck things. Not force field – yes, there’s a low-level screen tacking my ribs together. I could go way deep into my gifts right now, if I absolutely had to, but if I did, I’m going to hurt myself.
My memories took me back to Atlanticea. The Martyr gave me the Namestone. I climbed the Outer Stairs, out of the Maze into the waking world. Ahead of me, wisps of cloud were incandescent white against a cerulean sky. I was sufficiently wrecked up that climbing those stairs was incredibly demanding. After each step, I half-felt ready to quit. Before I did the Maze, I had zerolined all of my gifts, flat as possible. Under the rules, while in the Maze, any gift I called, the Maze could call at three times the power. That was its rule. Curiously, three times zero is zero. I did not give the Maze any advantages.
While I climbed the stairs, I desperately tried to re-open my power levels. I could barely touch The Sky. After a moment of terror, The Sky opened. With The Sky powering my gifts, my force field would stop a determined punch. I could fly somewhat faster than I could walk. With an effort that left me dizzy and gasping for breath I managed to reach down to The Breaking Wave. With The Breaking Wave powering my gifts, I could fly faster than most sports cars. I am not embarrassed to say that the first gift that I called was mind control, to suppress pain. Just before I sliced the last fellow open from guggle to zatch, he gut-punched me. Hard. After my next step I managed to find life support. With broken ribs, it hurt to breathe. Once I didn’t need to breathe, I could focus. I remembered to summon the Medico rules engine. It would have been truly stupid to bleed to death after I got my hands on the Namestone. Medico reported that I was not dying, not even close. Mayhaps the Namestone would have protected me until I finished climbing the Outer Stairs. I didn’t count on it.