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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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When Jev regained consciousness, he felt as if every muscle in his body was on fire. His head was pounding fiercely, and he felt as if he was going to be sick to his stomach.
To his right, he felt the heat from a fire. The ground beneath him where he lay felt different somehow, as if he was laying on a soft carpet rather than the rocky floor of the cave. He could tell he was still in the cave because he could feel the dampness in the air, and smell the familiar scent of rock, water and moss. But there was something else in the air, and he couldn't quite figure out what it was.
Sounds began to assault his ears, aggravating his headache even more, and he moved to cover them with his hands. He had still not opened his eyes, fearing the light would make his headache worse than it already was, if that was even possible.
The moment his hands touched the side of his head, he jerked them back in shock and fear. "Oh my god what happened to me?" he thought, jerking his hands away from the sides of his head. He tried to open his eyes, but found it impossible to do, and he began to panic.
Kiyel, who was talking to the captain and Taaj when he sensed that Jev had awoken. Turning to where Jev lay by the fire, he began to feel Jev's panic and fear, and quickly excused himself, rushing over to his Liej. In seconds he was kneeling by Jev's side, looking down at his love, not knowing what he could do for him. He so much wanted to take Jev in his arms and hold him close, but knew that Jev was in a great deal of pain, and he didn't want to cause further injury. All he could do is try to comfort him with his mind, reassuring him that he was there and that he loved him.
Jev could feel Kiyel's presence, but also he could sense fear, uncertainty, and a sadness in him that he had never felt from Kiyel before. Jev was shaking now as shock began to set it. 'Kiyel! What's happened to me?' he sent frightfully. He was so cold now, his body shivering, and he tried to roll himself up into a ball, but the pain was too great. He couldn't move.
'Hush my love, it's going to be alright,' Kiyel sent soothingly.
'I don't feel so good,' Jev sent weekly. 'It hurts!'
'I know. Don't try to move too much Jev. I'll get Tiela to have a look at you,' Kiyel replied.
'Please hurry Kiyel, I can't see. Everything feels different, and it hurts so much!'
'I'm here Jev, and I'm not going to leave you.'
'What's happened to me?' Jev repeated.
"Shhh," Kiyel said, placing a hand on Jev's shivering body. "I'll get Tiela and she'll make things better." He placed a blanket over Jev, and quickly made his way over to Tiela, who was still tending over the wounds that Jev had inflicted on Oshi.
The wounds were severe. Since the attack, Oshi had yet to have regained consciousness. Most of the upper half of his body had been shaved back, and several large field dressings were now covering the various wounds on his stomach, chest, arms, and face. Jev's attack was so severe that Oshi's heart had stopped twice, and it took all of Tiela's skill to restart it. The fact that Oshi was still alive was a testament to her skills as a medical professional, and sheer luck that in his frenzy, Jev didn't cause more damage.
Kiyel looked down at the prone body of Oshi, hooked up to several machines which Tiela was using to monitor his vitals. He could almost feel sorry for what happened to him. Almost.
"Tiela," Kiyel said, trying to get her attention.
"One second Kiyel, I need to finish with this dressing."
Tiela's head turned and she looked at Kiyel. "I'll be right there. How is he?"
"He's hurting, says he can't see, is feeling nauseated, and he's going into shock."
"Damn. Okay Kiyel. Lets go," she said. "Oshi's wounds will do for now until I can check on him later."
"Jev really did a number on him, didn't he?" Kiyel asked, looking back at Oshi one last time.
"Yes he did. It's a miracle that Oshi is still alive. And I still don't know how it was possible for Jev to change like that. I'm worried about him."
"No more than I am, Tiela. You forget that I can feel everything he's feeling right now. It's only because of my love for him and my determination to see him well that's keeping me on my feet."
"I hadn't thought of that, Kiyel, do you need me to get you something? Some psychic suppressants?"
"No, I dare not use them when he's in shock like this. There's no telling what could happen to him. I think the only thing that's keeping him together right now is our link."
"Damn. Alright, we'll do what we can to help him. But I have to be honest with you here Kiyel. This is entirely new territory for me. I have never had to treat anyone like Jev before."
"He's still Jev Tiela," Kiyel said.
"I'm aware of that Kiyel. But he's also apparently half Caitaran now, and there is no telling what that combination will do to him."
They reached Jev, who was once again unconscious and was now shaking noticeably, despite the blanket Kiyel had placed over top of him. Kiyel knelt next to Jev, placing his hands on his trembling body and tried to send him warm comforting thoughts, but none of it seemed to do any good. Jev was still trembling, a layer of sweat now coated his Caitaran fur. Kiyel could see the painful expression on his face, He felt so helpless, not knowing what he could do to help Jev. Fearful tears began to form in his eyes as he tried, seemingly in vain, to comfort his love.
"Gods Tiela, I can't lose him. I love him so much. To have found him now, only to lose him... I couldn't handle that."
"Hush! You're not going to lose him. I'm a stubborn old medic, and I don't give in so easily. Now step aside, so I can have a look at him," she said.
Reluctantly, Kiyel stepped away from Jev, but hovered next to him as Tiela got to work looking Jev over. She gently began to pull the blanket off of Jev, and checked his pulse, then, placing a hand on Jev's cheek, checking his temperature. Next, she began to gently pressed on Jev's arms, chest, legs and sides. Then, placing the blanket back over top of Jev, she carefully opened Jev's eyes, inspecting Jev's now Caitaran eyes with the penlight she had with her.
"He's so cold Tiela," Kiyel complained.
"That's because he's gone into shock Kiyel. Go grab me some blankets from the rest of the gear, and then help me move him closer to the fire," she said. Kiyel rushed to do as Tiela had asked, and a few minutes later, he came back with a bundle of blankets. When he had returned, Kiyel saw that she was placing an instrument into her coat pocket.
"What was that Tiela?" Kiyel asked.
"I was scanning Jev's body to compare it to the scans I took earlier," she answered.
Kiyel laid out one of the blankets on the ground a few feet away from the fire, and then together, he and Tiela carefully moved Jev over onto the blanket, placing him on his back.
Taking one of the blankets, Tiela folded it and then placed it under Jev's feet, elevating his legs. She grabbed two of the blankets and wrapped him tightly with them, folding the edges under his body.
"Okay Kiyel, I need you to stay with him while I get some things to help relieve his symptoms."
"But what's happening to him?" Kiyel asked.
"I'll explain when I get back Kiyel. Just stay with him and keep doing what you were doing. It'll help him to know that you are with him. I'll be right back." With that, Tiela left Kiyel kneeling behind Jev as she ran towards her medical supplies at the other end of the cave.
Captain Kel at that moment walked up to him from behind, momentarily startling him. "Sorry Kiyel. I didn't mean to startle you," he said.
"No that's okay Captain," Kiyel replied. "This whole thing with Jev's change has me unsettled, and I'm worried about him."
"I don't blame you Kiyel, though I think it has everyone unsettled. Quite frankly he's going to be a curiosity among our people, and there will be some who want to study him."
"I won't let that happen Captain. He's my Liej, my mate. I will not let people use him for their own interests," Kiyel said resolutely.
"Of course you won't lad, and I'll support you as much as I can. The fact that the two of you are Liej linked will help, certainly."
"How so?" Kiyel asked.
"If I'm not mistaken, this link you and Jev share is total. Whatever he feels, you feel, and the same for him, correct?"
"It's much more than that Captain," Kiyel said. "I'm aware of his thoughts and desires. It's not just what he's feeling, but what he's thinking. There's a compulsion on the both of us to be together. Neither of us can help it. And that compulsion also includes a sexual component as well. The longer we are linked, the more dependent on each other we become. I wasn't lying to Jev when I said separation could send one of us into shock, and possibly kill us. Though I've never heard of a case where people who were linked as Jev and I are ever being separated. It's just never happened before."
"That's why I'm saying this link of yours will help. They can't do anything to Jev without you knowing about it. What they do to him, you will feel, and I doubt you will allow that to happen, nor would the authorities," Kel said.
"You are correct there."
"Then there is the fact that you are in love with each other. It's one thing to be linked, but something else entirely to be loved. The only complication I see arising from this, is that your family was most likely expecting you to provide them with offspring of your own. Loving Jev will make that prospect unlikely."
"I know captain," Kiyel said. "But Jev and I have each other. We're both content with that."
"You'll do fine Kiyel. And so will Jev. I don't pretend to understand what happened to him, but I'm sure the Gods had a hand in it. Trust in them Kiyel. They won't steer you wrong," Kel said, placing a hand on Kiyel's shoulder.
"Don't mention it, Kiyel. I will say this though. Your mate can really take care of himself. I saw the wounds on Oshi's body. What Oshi did was disgracful, and if he should happen to survive, he will face a court martial. You know that right?"
"I know Captain. I wish it had been different, but I doubt any of us could have suspected that Oshi would be so xenophobic."
"Yes, there are going to be some serious questions for high command and the psych profile teams when we get back."
"What about Jev and myself?" Kiyel asked.
"Unfortunately, you will have to appear before a review board. That is unavoidable. However, given the circumstances, it will only be an informal meeting, rather than a full hearing."
"I understand Captain," Kiyel said.
"Alright, lets get this overwith," Tiela said, returning with her medical kit, and kneeling down beside Jev. Opening her kit, she took from it a small glass bottle containing a clear fluid and a syringe.
"What's that for?" Kiyel asked.
"This is a muscle relaxant. The pain Jev's going through is due to his transformation. He has grown more muscle, and the ones he originally had have stretched to accommodate his larger frame. I've also looked over his eyes. They are fully Caitaran. The colour has changed, he now has an elliptical pupil much like ours rather than the circular one he had when he was human. He has also grown an nictitating membrane, or an inner eyelid if you will, like ours. Also, he has developed the Tapetum membrane on the back of his eyes."
"In other words, he has fully functional Caitaran eyes," Kiyel said.
"Yes and no. Because a part of him is still human, he also has more of the receptors in his eyes which detect colours. For the most part, Caitarans are colour blind. We have excellent night vision, and our ability to track movement is far superior to that of humans, but we aren't able to see very well in the red spectrum. Jev's species has far more receptors for colour, allowing them to see colours more vividly than we do, especially reds, but their night time vision and their ability to track movement is inferior to ours. During the change, Jev didn't lose those colour receptors."
"So what are you saying? That he has both human and Caitaran eyes?" Kiyel asked.
"In essence yes. He's gained some of the Caitaran eye's characteristics, while retaining his human ones."
"What about the nausea he was complaining about, and the headaches?" Kiyel asked.
"Those are due to the stress that has been placed on his body because of the change. You can't go through what Jev did and not be adversely affected by it. The only reason he was able to attack Oshi as he did was because of a sudden surge of adrenaline, coupled with what I can only describe as a flight or fight response. It's an instinctual response to stress which Jev's species has. Most likely a remnant characteristic trait carried over from his people's ancestry."
"Is he going to be alright though?" Kiyel asked.
"From everything I have learned, I'd say yes. But he needs to rest for a few days. I'm sorry Captain," Tiela said, noticing the look Captain Kel gave her. "He's in no condition to attempt a search for the probe. And even if he tried, the strain of it could kill him, and Kiyel as well."
"Very well," Kel said, obviously not pleased, but resigning himself to the situation. "Kiyel, you take care of your Liej, I need to begin making plans for an extended stay."
"Thank you Captain," Kiyel said.
"You need to get some rest too Kiyel," Tiela said after the Captain had left.
"I know. I doubt I'll get any sleep though, not at least until I know he's going to be alright."
"Hey, what's this? No faith in my abilities Kiyel?" she asked.
Kiyel was momentarily caught off guard by her comment, trying to think of something to mollify her hurt feelings when he saw a grin begin to appear on her face. He couldn't help himself but smile back at her.
"That's much better," Tiela said, packing up her kit.
"You are evil, do you know that?" Kiyel said, looking up at her as she stood.
"So I've been told. But it keeps you young one's on your toes."
"That it does. And you're not old."
"Oh thank you for that lie Kiyel, it was really sweet of you," Tiela said sarcastically, still smiling down at him. Then she turned and went back to Oshi, leaving Kiyel sitting beside Jev, shaking his head.
"Women," he muttered.
Jev awoke for the second time, this time feeling a presence behind him. Reaching out with his mind, he felt Kiyel's mind, discerning instantly that he was asleep. He felt warm, and comforted at that moment, though he was still very sore. His headache had for the most part disappeared, and he didn't feel the urge to throw up any more. But inside, he still felt different.
As he became more aware, he remembered the events from before and sat up suddenly, opening his eyes, and feeling the sides of his head.
"Kiyel!" he shouted.
"I'm here babe," Kiyel said, sitting up behind him, and holding Jev steady.
"What's happened to me? What's going on?" Jev asked fearfully.
"Take it easy Jev, you're okay."
"No I'm not, I can't feel my ears. What happened?"
"We don't really know, but I suspect that Oshi's attack yesterday triggered a latent talent in you, one that none of us ever thought possible. You changed Jev. I can show you what you look like my love, but I have to warn you that what you see may shock you. You look more Caitaran than human now."
"But that's not possible," Jev choked, reaching up to his head once more, this time allowing his hands to go higher until he felt for himself the same pointed ears atop the sides of his head, much like the ones he saw on Kiyel. "Show me Kiyel, I want to see."
"Close your eyes Jev," Kiyel instructed him, moving around to sit in front of Jev.
"But how am I supposed to see what I look like if I have my eyes closed?" Jev asked.
"Because you're not going to see yourself with your eyes, you're going to see what you look like through mine. Link with me Jev. I'll guide you."
Jev concentrated until he had linked with Kiyel, feeling his love, and his warmth. He could feel Kiyel guiding him further into his mind than he had ever gone before, until he felt Kiyel release him.
'Open your eyes now my love. Open and see,' Kiyel sent to him.
Jev opened his eyes, and gasped in shock, for what he saw was not Kiyel in front of him, but rather a Caitaran with the same coloured hair as himself. The fur covered his entire face and body. His face looked so much like his pet cat's except for the fine hair that covered it. His eyes were a brilliant gold with vertical slits for irises. His ears were pointed and standing straight up from the side of his head.
He had never seen this Caitaran before, but somehow, he felt that he knew him.
'He is you Jev,' Kiyel sent.
'No, that's not possible babe,' Jev sent, still refusing to believe what he was seeing.
'Look more closely babe, and you will see that I tell you the truth. I wouldn't lie to you.'
Jev looked closer at the Caitaran before him, and finally saw some things that he recognized. The shape of his face, while Caitaran, did have a human look to it. The shape of his eyes, the cheekbones, and even his jawline looked more human than Caitaran. Looking at the Caitaran's features even closer, he suddenly was able to see some similarities, and then suddenly saw what Kiyel wanted him to see. The Caitaran sitting in front of him, was him!
The shock of seeing himself through Kiyel's eyes made him withdraw, and he sagged back, barely catching himself before falling over. He was breathing hard, and his heart was racing.
'My God babe! What happened to me? How is it possible?' Jev asked.
'We don't know love. My best guess is that you are not only Telepathic, but also have some Telekinetic ability as well. Somehow you changed your genetic makeup to become more Caitaran in response to the threat you faced from Oshi.'
'What does this mean though? Does it mean that I will forever be this way?' Jev sent.
'I don't have any answers for you Jev. I wish I did. My best guess is that this change is permanent.'
'What else is going to happen to me Kiyel?' Jev cried. Kiyel moved to sit beside Jev, holding on to him and letting him cry on his shoulder.
"I hope nothing Jev, but if it does, we'll face it together. I love you." Kiyel said aloud.
"I love you too Kiyel," Jev said when he had calmed down a little more.
"Besides, I'll tell you one thing that's good about this," Kiyel said, sitting up straight.
"There's actually a good side to this?" Jev asked, wiping away his tears.
"Yep. I got my wish. I get to see you with a tail, and I was right. It does suit you." That caused Jev to begin laughing. It was a strained laugh, but a laugh none-the-less. Kiyel was happy to see Jev laughing again as it gave him hope that things would be alright for the both of them.
"Well, I see that the two of you are doing better," Lieutenant Taaj said, joining them by the fire.
"Jev, this is Taaj, he was the scout ship's navigations officer."
"Nice to meet you," Jev said tentatively, holding out his hand.
Taaj grasped his hand in his warmly, and shook it. "It's nice to meet you too Jev, though you looked somewhat different when you first came in here."
"I know," Jev said.
"Oh don't worry about it. I think you look better this way. Something about no hair on a person's skin just makes me a bit uneasy."
"You're not going to attack me like Oshi did are you?" Jev asked worriedly.
Taaj laughed out loud. "Oh hell no. Not a chance. After seeing what you did to Oshi there, there's no way I'm going to tangle with you. Besides, it was only a matter of time before Oshi snapped. Ever since we had crash landed he's been acting oddly. The Captain was the first to notice it, and he warned each of us to keep an eye on him. I suspect he's going to be facing a trial after we get rescued by the Cetani."
"So I've been told," Kiyel said. "But I also have to appear before the review board."
"Oh why so?" Taaj asked.
"It has to do with the link Jev and I share," Kiyel answered.
"You think they'd try to disolve it?"
"There's no way to disolve the link Taaj. Only death can do that."
"Well, they're not murderers, so I think you and Jev are safe. Besides. The two of you make a good couple together."
"Thank you Taaj," Jev said.
"Don't mention it. While I couldn't see myself with another male, I have no problems with it. Don't worry Kiyel. I'm betting the hearing will be just a formal exercise. What's done is done and they can't change it."
"You're right there, and even if they tried, they'd have a hell of a fight on their hands," Kiyel said.
"Oh, I'd hate to be them if they got between you and Jev."
"Yeah, I might just decide to sharpen my hunting skills," Jev joked.
This caused all three of them to begin laughing.
"Do I need to get you a scratching post?" Kiyel asked mischievously, making the three of them laugh hysterically.
To Be Continued ...