the electricity crackled over him, another scouring ball of red energy appeared in the air above her, streaked downward. For a moment, as the energy raced over her shield, it seemed to consume her, and again she laughed.
Memory after memory fell upon him, one on top of another, images and sensations, overwhelming, smothering.
Fire, screams, stillness. Powerful voices raised in argument while he sat in the darkness of his bedroom. Harsh words at the dinner table; a fireball delivered to punctuate a remark, energy diffusing harmlessly across a shield. Scorch marks on the walls, on the furniture, a new couch ordered in haste before visitors arrived. His corner, the corner of the living room where he retreated when they forgot to send him to his room and he couldn't safely reach it. The sparks of conflict ignited in an instant, died as quickly. He sat and pressed himself into the wall, not wanting to hear, not wanting to see. It was all his fault. If only he behaved better, worked harder. He would be quiet and still, would give them no more reason to fight.
Another fight, and he was taller now, his father's face clearer, the sharp nose and intimidating blue glare of his eyes. The arguments became longer, the violence more frequent and intense.
His father and a young Alwyn stumbling into a plush corporate office suite, drunk, two strange women behind them. Galen followed, his screen clutched to his chest, and retreated into a small side office.
His mother leaning over his bed, whispering him to sleep. "Your father would have me cast out if he could. I built the corporation from nothing, and he wants it all for himself."
His father, a dark silhouette against the bright sky, standing over him during one of their endless training sessions. "You will obey me, and