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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
This chapter, and all following chapters, are the original 1st draft chapters from Destiny's Edge. The places, names, and events contained within these chapters are somewhat different than those found in the finished novel.
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The first thing that Jev decided he had to do was get supplies from town. There was no way that he could tell how many people, if any, had learned of the fire that had claimed his home. His only hope of escaping the questioning gazes of the rest of the colonists, especially with Kiyel by his side, was to appear as inconspicuous as possible.
Kiyel would attract enough attention as it was, so Jev needed to find a way to disguise his appearance, and find a place where Kiyel could remain out of sight until Jev had gathered all he needed for the trek into the hills.
As luck would have it, they came upon a home not too far from town. It too had been ransacked by the T'Kri, in their search for something. Then Jev looked over at Kiyel, who was walking beside him on all fours. Or some one, he thought to himself. It didn't take much to figure out that the T'Kri were looking for survivors of the downed scout craft. They obviously believed that someone did make it out alive. He smiled briefly at the deception they were able to pull over the T'Kri's heads. If they only knew what he did, Jev thought.
The home appeared to be abandoned as they approached it. The windows were broken, and there appeared to be no movement outside. On a clothesline around back hung several articles of clothing, one of which just happened to be an over coat with a cloak. Knowing that he would need a change of clothing in the days to come, he removed what he could carry from the clothesline, then looked around for something that he could carry them in.
Luck seemed to be on Jev's and Kiyel's side this day, as they soon found a traveling pack. Stuffing the bag with the clothes, except for the coat which he put on, he and Kiyel then went to look for any food that they could take with them. Jev didn't have much to buy with in terms of the colony's currency, so he decided he was going to make use of whatever he could, and hope he had enough to buy what they needed, at least enough to last them for a few days.
'I'm not entirely comfortable with us having to steal other's belongings Jev.' Kiyel sent.
'Nor am I Kiyel, however I will do what I need to, if we are to have any chance of finding the rest of your crew.'
'I agree. But just remember, we can always hunt for more food if we run out.'
'You're right of course Kiyel,' Jev admitted. 'I guess I just want to take as little time as possible for us to reach your crew. Having to hunt will slow us down.'
'Keep this in mind Jev, they aren't going to be found easily. I know the captain well enough to know that he will find a place very well hidden from the T'Kri, or from the other colonists for that matter.'
'Then you know where they are?'
'No,' Kiyel sent. 'But I know we'll be able to locate them, if we work together.'
"How?" Jev asked out loud.
"As telepaths, we can sense when other's are near. Concentrate hard enough, and we're even able to distinguish between individuals, to such a degree that we can find them no matter where they are," Kiyel said.
"I'm sorry, I'm still new to this telepathic stuff," Jev admitted.
"Don't let that get you down Jev. You're learning more and more every day, and you have learned much more than the common telepath has in such a short amount of time," Kiyel said encouragingly.
"I want to be able to learn your language Kiyel," Jev said. "If we are going to find the rest of your crew, then I'll need to be able to communicate with them."
"You are right, of course. It would be an asset. Very well, I will teach you as much as I can. Keep in mind, it will be a lot faster, and far easier for you if we use telepathy to accomplish this." Kiyel said.
"I'll be ready. But let us wait until we are safely out of town before we begin. It will take all my concentration just to avoid being recognized."
'I will need someplace to hide while you are in town. By now most of the colonists know that I follow you around, and it wouldn't be wise for me to be seen with you.'
'I agree Kiyel. Just on the outskirts of town is a forest. You can hide in there. Just be careful. There are some colonists who hunt down the cats in the forest to sell their meat and furs in the market.'
'I will be careful Jev, don't worry about that.'
Finishing up in the home, they left and headed down the path that would take them to town. As soon as they had come into view of the town, Kiyel immediately bounded for the cover of the forest, leaving Jev standing alone on the road. He pulled up the hood on the coat he took from the home, partially obscuring his face from view, then started once more towards the town.
He could see no signs of any T'Kri nearby, but in town he could see several colonists busily going about their business. Jev was tense as he approached the edge of town. His eyes kept darting back and forth, peering into the buildings he passed, and watching out for any signs that someone had recognized him.
'Try to relax love,' Kiyel sent to him. 'If you are tense, you will be noticed. You can use your talent to make yourself as inconspicuous as you want, but you have to believe in yourself to do it. Blend in Jev. Vanish into the crowd.'
Jev shifted his thoughts and buried deep everything but his determination to complete his task. He was attracting looks from several of the people now gathering in the market, so he focused on them, reaching out with his mind to erase his presence from their memories. Kiyel was right, he had learned a lot, but it still taxed his energy, especially to do something as complicated as he was doing right now.
'Jev, draw from me. Use my energy to strengthen yourself. You're not strong enough yet to do this on your own,' Kiyel sent. Jev opened his mind, and reached out for Kiyel. Jev could feel his energy being restored, but he also found a strength within him that he never knew possible. 'In this way, we can help each other, love,' Kiyel sent. 'Until you are strong enough, you can always use some of my energy to replenish yours. Just be careful that you don't use too much, or we would both be too weak to help ourselves.'
'Don't worry babe, I will not endanger us. I will only be a few moments longer, and then we can leave.' Jev replied.
As it was, with Jev's new found ability, he was able to accomplish all he set out to do in town in rather quick order. The few people that recognized him quickly forgot that they had even seen him. The traveling pack that he had found earlier was now full, not only with the clothes he needed, but also with enough food to last a week. He only hoped that it would not take that long for them to reach the rest of Kiyel's crew.
Leaving the town, Jev headed for the forest where Kiyel was waiting for him. Kiyel was so well hidden from view that Jev couldn't see him, but he could still sense him nearby. Jev still wondered at the new sensations he felt whenever he was with Kiyel. Every moment away from him was sheer agony.
Something was troubling Jev though, as he thought he could feel the presence of someone else, someone nearby, watching him.
'Kiyel, is that you?' Jev sent.
'What do you mean, love?'
'Can you see me?'
'No not yet, I'm much farther into the forest than you are right now.'
'Then I'm being watched by someone else.' Jev sent, his fear beginning to rise.
'Stay where you are, Jev, I am on my way to you now.' Kiyel sent, and immediately began to run on all fours, using his talent to hone in on Jev's presence. Suddenly his mind exploded with terror. He knew at that moment that Jev was in serious trouble.
'Kiyel!' Jev sent, screaming out in horror.
'What is it? Let me see!' Kiyel sent, redoubling his efforts to reach Jev. Jev's mind opened up for him, allowing Kiyel to see what was going on, and what he saw sent a shiver through his entire body. Jev was in a small clearing, being circled by three T'Kri soldiers.
"You the one who escaped the fire earlier. We teach you lesson this time yes?" the nearest T'Kri soldier hissed at Jev.
"You're the ones who killed my father! You god damn bastard!" Jev screamed and launched himself at the T'Kri who had addressed him, attacking him with the thick branch he had picked up on his way to meet up with Kiyel.
At that moment, Kiyel broke from the cover of the bushes and lept into the air, his jaws wide open, and his claws fully extended. He landed on the nearest T'Kri soldier, digging his teeth into it's exposed neck. Applying as much pressure as he could, he tasted the soldier's blood, and then felt it's neck snap. He released it then, and let the body fall to the ground. Looking over at Jev he saw that he was wildly swinging the branch at one of the two remaining soldiers, making contact several times. He also saw the other T'Kri approaching Jev from behind.
Not wasting a second, Kiyel launched into another attack, rapidly bearing down on the T'Kri who was approaching Jev. The T'Kri soldier saw Kiyel too late, as it turned to find itself being bowled over by Kiyel's attack, landing on it's back with Kiyel pressing down on it. It looked up in terror at Kiyel's snarling face. "I will show you what it means to attack my mate!" Kiyel snapped.
Suddenly Kiyel clamped his jaws around the soldier's throat, tightening his grip and closing off the T'Kri's airway. The T'kri below him tried futilely to push Kiyel off it. Soon it's attempts became sluggish until it fought back no more, it's arms falling lifelessly to the ground.
Jev in the mean time had finally brought the T'Kri soldier down, raining blow after blow to it's head. Kiyel could see that the officer was dead, but Jev didn't stop his attack, as if blind to the rage he felt inside. Kiyel left the dead T'Kri and rushed to Jev, grabbing a hold of the branch and with his other hand pulling Jev in close to him.
"It's over Jev," Kiyel said softly, still holding the struggling Jev.
"He killed him Kiyel! He killed my father! I could read it in his mind!" Jev cried.
"I know love, but he's dead now. He can't harm you any longer," Kiyel said softly. All the fight suddenly left Jev, and he pushed himself into Kiyel's embrace, letting go of the branch. Kiyel let it fall to the ground, and wrapped his arms around his mate, holding him close while Jev sobbed deeply against his chest.
"Jev, we need to get going," Kiyel told Jev after his sobs had diminished slightly. "The noise of what happened is sure to draw the attention of other T'Kri, and we need to get out of here."
Jev allowed himself to separate from Kiyel. He looked up at him, tears still rolling down his face. "I love you, Kiyel. I don't want to lose you."
"You aren't going to lose me Jev, I promise," Kiyel said, lowering his face to Jev's and giving him a gentle kiss on his lips.
"I like that Kiyel," Jev said, putting his fingers to his lips after they had separated.
"I did too love, now let's get going. We have a lot of ground to cover." Together, Jev and Kiyel left the clearing, leaving the bodies of the three dead T'Kri to rot in the sun.
Traveling through the forest was easy going at first, but they soon found themselves deeper in the woods where the growth was much thicker. One of the items that Jev had picked up in town was a brush cutter, which he had to take out of his back pack. Using the brush cutter, he began the task of cutting away the dense brush that blocked their path. It was a risk to cut away the brush like this as it left an obvious trail for someone to follow, but in order to avoid traveling on the open road, it was their only choice.
As Jev cut through the brush, Kiyel set about teaching him his people's language, sending most of the knowledge to Jev telepathically. Kiyel then had Jev practice speaking the language so that he could fully grasp all that Kiyel had taught him.
After a while, Kiyel had to take over cutting the brush, as Jev had grown tired. Even with Kiyel's stronger muscles and greater endurance, it was still fairly slow going.
Eventually they came across another clearing, and even though it was already starting to get dark out, Jev and Kiyel were a lot more cautious about walking out in the open. Together they tried to sense anything nearby that could pose a threat, but found nothing. Not even a sign of pursuit from behind them. It was as if no one was looking for them, but they both knew that it was only a matter of time.
'We should cross here and make camp during the night on the other side.' Kiyel suggested.
'I can sense nothing Kiyel. If we're going to go, we had better go now. I don't like being out in the open.'
'I know love, neither do I. Let's go,' Kiyel sent and together the two of them quickly made their way across the clearing, until they were safely on the other side. Looking back from where they came, they tried to once again sense anything following them. Finding none, they forced themselves to relax and slipped further into the forest once again.
'We need to find a secluded spot to set up camp. I'm really exhausted, and I need something to eat,' Jev sent.
'Here, we'll make camp here,' Kiyel sent, pointing to a wall of vines that covered a good sized area.
'Perfect love,' Jev sent, already moving towards the vines. Behind the vines was an open area that Jev thought was perfect for a small campsite. In fact, he thought it looked to have been used recently, but put that thought out of his mind. Sitting down beside Kiyel, he opened up the traveling bag, and took out a few items. Some of which included already cooked meat, some bread, and a small container which he told Kiyel contained water.
They sat together, eating the food that Jev had brought, but silently watching for any signs that they were being followed. Still there was none, and that made Kiyel rather nervous.
'I don't like this, love. That fight should have drawn every T'Kri in the area after us,' Kiyel sent.
'I know. I don't like it either. We'll need to take turns on watch tonight,' Jev sent.
'I agree, and I will take first watch. You need the rest babe. I will stand watch, and wake you in a few hours.'
'Are you sure, Kiyel? What about your wound?' Jev sent.
'It isn't bothering me that much,' Kiyel replied.
'Promise me that you'll wake me up. Despite what you say, I know you're as exhausted as I am.'
'I will Jev, I promise,' Kiyel sent reassuringly. Jev leaned over to give Kiyel a kiss, which he gladly returned.
'Goodnight love, sleep well,' Jev sent, before resting his head on Kiyel's lap and closing his eyes. As tired as he was, it wasn't long before he was fast asleep.
"Goodnight Jev," Kiyel said softly.
For the next few hours Kiyel stayed awake, carefully watching and listening for any signs that they had been discovered. He also spent a lot of that time thinking back on what had happened earlier that day. The attack by the T'Kri greatly unnerved him, as he had never taken a life before. It shouldn't have been possible for him to kill.
And yet, he had just killed two T'Kri soldiers, and watched without feeling, as Jev killed the third. As a telepath, it should have been physically and psychologically impossible for him to be able to witness, never mind even participate in, the killing of another being.
At the same time, he knew without uncertainty that if the situation arose again, he wouldn't hesitate to do what he had to in order to protect Jev, his Liej.
There was no other way to explain it in any other way. To Kiyel, Jev was his Liej. His life mate. The one he was fated to spend the rest of his life with. He knew that he couldn't live without him, and he knew that Jev felt the same way about him. No matter what happened around them, Kiyel was determined that nothing save death would be able to tear them apart.
He sat there, leaning up against a tree, Jev sleeping peacefully next to him, his head and arm resting on his lap. Kiyel looked down at him and smiled, running his hand gently across Jev's body.
"I love you Jev. I always will," he said softly. As if hearing him, Jev smiled and shifted slightly, moving even closer to Kiyel than he already was.
Kiyel hated having to wake Jev up, but he had made a promise, and he was not going to break one, especially not one he had made to his love. "Jev babe," Kiyel said, gently shaking him. "Time to get up."
Slowly, Jev began to stir, stretching out and then looking up at Kiyel. "Is it my turn on watch?" he asked sleepily.
"Yes Jev. I will get some sleep while you stand watch. It should be dawn in a few hours and we still have a long way to go before we reach my crew." With that, Kiyel allowed himself to lie down, assuming the same position that Jev had with him, resting his head on his lap, feeling Jev's hand lightly stroke his hair.
"Your hair is so soft Kiyel. I love how it feels," Jev said softly, but Kiyel never responded, as he had already fallen fast asleep. Jev continued to stroke Kiyel's hair. Just this simple act seemed to connect them in ways that that he couldn't comprehend. He could feel Kiyel's pleasure at his touch, even though he was sound asleep. Every touch, every movement only seemed to make him feel that much more alive. He never wanted this feeling to end. He had made a promise to Kiyel, to always be with him no matter what happened, and he intended to keep it. He loved Kiyel. He Loved him more than any other person in his life.
Time slipped away, as it always does. Jev's watch over their camp, passed by without incident. The sun was now steadily rising in the sky, it's warm light now piercing the thick canopy above them, dispelling the chill in the air that had settled in the forest overnight.
Jev knew that they had to get moving. He looked down at Kiyel's peaceful face. Whatever dreams he was having Jev hated to interrupt, but he knew also that every moment they delayed increased their chance of being discovered, even though there wasn't any signs yet of pursuit.
Gently he shook Kiyel awake; Kiyel was startled at first, but upon seeing Jev's face allowed himself to relax. Jev thought it was funny watching Kiyel stretch. It reminded him so much of how his pet cat used to stretch out when it woke up after a nap. Kiyel arched his back and pushed out with his arms and legs straight in front of him. His mouth opened wide, displaying the powerful teeth he had, in a long tired yawn. Sitting himself out, he looked at Jev who was staring at him with a grin on his face.
'Good morning babe,' Jev sent.
'Good morning Jev,' returned. 'What is that grin on your face for?' he asked.
'Nothing, just that you reminded me of my pet cat when you woke up.'
'Oh you think how I wake up in the morning is funny do you?' Kiyel asked teasingly.
'Actually, I think I love you even more, the more I look at you, and am with you.' Jev answered seriously.
'That's not fair!' Kiyel complained. 'I was having fun.'
'Can't have everything Kiyel,' Jev replied, his grin becoming a full smile.
'Just you wait, I'll pay you back for that,' Kiyel promised.
'Promises, promises. Now let's get everything packed back up. I want to get to the rest of your crew before the night falls. It got a little too chilly last night for my tastes,' Jev said.
'You should grow some fur like mine,' Kiyel sent.
'I would if I could Kiyel. But I think it'd be a little uncomfortable during the summer.'
'It sheds,' Kiyel sent dismissively. "Though I could use a good brushing now. My hair feels so dry right now," he said aloud.
"Well, we don't have any shampoo and I don't have a brush with me, so we'll just have to make do until we can get cleaned up properly," Jev replied.
"Agreed. Let's just get out of here. I don't feel comfortable staying in any one place for this length of time."
For the next few minutes, they finished gathering up everything that they had taken from Jev's pack, then set about erasing as much as they could of their presence from the campsite. Finally satisfied, Jev gathered up the bag, while Kiyel picked up the brush cutter. If the forest they had already passed earlier was any indication, they were certain that the remainder was going to be just as tedious to cross.
They set about, once more finding the way fairly easy at first, but then once more encountering thick brush that they were forced to cut away as they went. Kiyel was in front of Jev as he hacked and cut his way through the heavy growth.
"Kiyel, tell me a little more about you and your family. And how was it that you ended up on the scout ship in the first place?" Jev asked, as they slowly made their way through the forest.
"I was born twenty of your years ago, on my home world, Caitaran in one of the largest cities called Jezzuad. My family is the largest and oldest of the families in the city with my father being the head of the Telepath Guild, and is also a member of the Caitaran government working for Alien Affairs. My mother is actually the head of our family, as she inherited that title from her father. I have a younger sister by the name of Kirri, who's right now studying with the Guild. All the members of my family are telepaths.
"From the moment I was born, I was taught the responsibilities that came with being a member of the family. It is expected that I will one day take my mother's place as head of the family, once I reach adulthood."
"Hold on a second, you're twenty years old and you have still yet to reach adulthood?" Jev interrupted.
"Yes, among my people, we don't reach maturity until our twenty-first birthday. At least, that is according to our laws. Physically we mature much earlier than that and are generally sexually active by the time we are about twelve years of age.
"But knowing what my duties were, that caused me to seek out something more, which eventually led me to joining the military and as a consequence joining the crew of the scout ship Agiz.
"You see Jev, I am expected to carry on my family's name. I was betrothed to a female who was born on the same day as me. The problem was, I have no sexual attraction for females, and have always been attracted to males. This isn't a problem in our society mind you, as it is rather common for males to seek the companionship of other males, and females to other females. But with me being the heir to my mother, certain expectations have been pressed upon me. Soon after I reach adulthood, I am expected to wed that same female I was betrothed to, and I so desperately want to stop that from happening.
"So I ran away from home, enlisted in the military under an assumed name, and ended up being assigned to the mission which brought me to this world.
"Not that I'm complaining mind you, as it led me to you. I know that when I return to my home world, there will be complications, but I don't care about that. I'm in love with you, and I will find some way for us to be together," Kiyel finished. Jev didn't know at first what to say. Kiyel had pretty much laid out his whole life before him, and it was a lot to take in.
"Kiyel, I'm glad you told me about all that. It gives me a better idea of what to expect, but you must know already that I love you with all my heart. I can't imagine ever being without you in my life. Whatever we have to do to be together, I'm going to do everything I can to make sure it happens."
"I don't want to hide anything from you. Just do me the favor and not reveal what I have told you to any of the crew. As I mentioned, I joined the military under an assumed name, and I'd rather not have to deal with the attention I would get if they knew," Kiyel said.
"I understand babe," Jev said, then suddenly stopped in his tracks.
'What's wrong Jev?' Kiyel sent.
'We're being watched,' Jev replied.
Kiyel concentrated for a moment, closing his eyes. 'Are you sure? I can't feel anything.'
'I can, and they're up over there,' Jev sent, pointing up to a rocky outcropping just ahead of them. 'Their minds feel like yours, Caitaran, and they know we're here.'
To Be Continued ...