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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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He was seven years old, running across an open field on a bright sunny afternoon. Where he was running to didn't matter to him, so long as he kept running. All he knew was that he had to get away. Far away. His breath came in quick gasps, his lungs struggling to take in as much air as they could. His heart was beating furiously in his chest, and every muscle in his body was screaming out in agony, but still he didn't stop, dared not stop, for whatever it was that was after him would surely catch him if he did.
He heard a rustle in the grass behind him, startling him, and making him redouble his efforts to get away, but his body was quickly tiring, his lungs unable to keep up and he was almost completely out of breath. He could hear whatever it was behind him, slowly gaining on him as his body failed him. There was no way he could outrun it, but still he tried. All he could do was keep running, hoping that he could outrun, and escape from what it was that was after him.
His foot suddenly caught on a rock embedded deep in the ground, and he found himself being flung forward, his arms stretched out, falling hard onto his stomach. When he hit, what little air he had in his lungs escaped with a rush. Laying there panting, trying desperately to catch his breath, he attempted to get up off the ground, but he was too week. The muscles in his legs screamed at him and he yelled out in pain as the first cramp hit his right leg.
The sound returned, getting even closer. There was no escaping it. He looked behind him just as the tall grass flew apart and a tall, lithe figure leaped out at him. All he could see was the face of his cat, it's teeth gleaming white in the sun, it's lips curled back in a wicked grin. In his mind he heard a triumphant voice call out, 'You're mine!'
"Nooooooo!" Jev screamed, jerking awake suddenly, sitting up from the makeshift bed he had been sleeping on.
"Jev what's wrong?" Kiyel asked sitting up beside him.
Jev looked over at Kiyel as if seeing him for the first time, and screamed again. "No stay away!" he said, backing up from Kiyel.
'Jev, what's wrong?' Kiyel sent, trying to reach Jev's frightened mind. Jev kept backing up from Kiyel, trying to push himself as far away from him as he could. Kiyel could feel Jev's fear, and realized he was still living a nightmare despite having woken up.
'Jev, it's okay. It's me. Kiyel. Nothing's going to hurt you, I won't let it,' he sent soothingly, hoping that he could reach Jev through his fear and get him to calm down.
Jev was now backed against the wall of the cave, he could go no further, and he felt trapped. All he could remember was the cat leaping out at him, threatening him, to make him his. The cat was advancing on him, slowly. He could hear it speaking, but to him it made no sense. There was nothing he could do, and suddenly the cat was over top of him. He screamed.
Kiyel, sat with Jev, who was now unconscious in his arms. Tears came to his eyes as he looked down at his Liej, not knowing what was wrong with Jev. All he could feel was Jev's terror, which was almost overwhelming all his senses. He felt helpless, doing everything he could to make things right with the one he loved. He cradled Jev's head in his arms, and sent all his love. Sending him nothing but pleasant thoughts, and trying the best he could to help him.
"Kiyel, what's going on here," Tiela demanded, walking up to him.
"I don't know Tiela. He's frightened, that's all I'm picking up from him. It's like he's living a nightmare, and it won't let go of him."
"I should have realized that this would have happened."
"What do you mean? You knew?" Kiyel asked.
"Of course I did Kiyel, and so should you have," Tiela scolded him.
"How am I supposed to predict what Jev would dream Tiela, that's just ridiculous."
"Kiyel, think with your brain for a minute!" Tiela said in frustration. "Jev's just gone through a remarkable transformation. All his life he's been human, and now look at him. Imagine what it would be like for yourself to suddenly become human. Tell me what you would be feeling?"
"By the Gods, I can't even contemplate that Tiela. I was born Caitaran."
"Exactly. Jev was born human, and now suddenly he's not. You're a telepath Kiyel, can't you tell what he's going through right now?"
"It's not that simple Tiela."
"Damn it Kiyel, that's your Liej in your arms. You have to do something to help him. You're the only one that can reach him in this state."
"What do you mean Tiela, he's just unconscious. When he wakes up, I'll be here for him."
"Just try to reach him Kiyel."
"I'm trying Tiela, but it's like he's not even hearing me. I can barely see him. I'm doing everything I know how to try and get him to come back to me."
"Damn, you need to go deeper than that," Tiela said. "Kiyel, he's withdrawn into himself to try and keep him safe. You need to look deeper into his mind to find him."
"How do you know this Tiela?"
"I've seen it before Kiyel. I've seen what happens when someone goes through something traumatic like Jev has. Not to that extreme but the effects are the same. I'm not just a medical doctor Kiyel, I'm also a trained psychologist. Jev's gone so deep into his mind, a part of himself that contains his identity. He's got himself so well protected that eventually, you won't be able to find him, and he'll be lost to you as he won't want to come back."
"I can't lose him though Tiela," Kiyel said, suddenly realizing that he could lose Jev, tears beginning to form in his eyes. "I just found him. I don't want to lose him."
"I know Kiyel. I know," Tiela said more gently, resting a hand on Kiyel's shoulder. "I need you to do something for me."
"Anything, so long as it brings Jev back to me."
"I need you to open your link to include me. I need to join you in Jev's mind."
"Tiela, I can't. The things you would feel, they could overwhelm you. You haven't the training."
"I do Kiyel, trust me. I can't guarantee it'll work, but it's our only hope of getting him back."
"Alright, I'll try," Kiyel said, grabbing a hold of Tiela's hand and closing his eyes.
Tiela could feel Kiyel's mind as he opened his mind to her, she could feel herself drifting towards him and then being held by him. It always unnerved her to be this close to another person. She could feel everything Kiyel was. His hopes, his fears, and especially his love for Jev. She could see the link they shared, but it was growing faint.
'That's our link Tiela,' Kiyel sent.
'My God, it's so faint!' she exclaimed.
'I know, and that's what's scaring me Tiela. I'm trying to hold on to it, but it keeps getting fainter with each passing moment. I'm afraid I'm losing him.'
'We won't let that happen then Kiyel. Take me into his mind, let me join the link.'
'All you have to do is reach out to it Tiela, but please hurry,' Kiyel sent worriedly.
Tiela did as she was told, and reached out to grab a hold of the link before her. It was almost intangible, and she could feel what Kiyel felt as Jev was slowly beginning to fade away. Together Kiyel and her traveled the link until they found themselves in a place that was almost pitch black. Where Kiyel's mind was alive with his thoughts and feelings, Jev's mind felt almost barren, devoid of thought, and feelings. Only a small glimmer could be seen by either of them, the small part of Jev that was still present. Cautiously they approached where Jev had retreated to. That glimmer that had seemed much brighter was itself becoming more faint.
'Call out to him Kiyel,' Tiela told him. 'Give him something to concentrate on besides the fear he feels.'
'Jev, please my love, come back to me,' Kiyel sent gently.
'No, leave me alone! He'll find me.' Jev's voice rang out.
'Who will find you Jev? I won't let anything hurt you. I promise you. I love you. So very much. I can't lose you. I need you,' Kiyel pleaded.
'No! It's a trick. You don't love me, you just want me to belong to you. He told me so,' Jev said, trying to push away.
'Who told you so Jev? Open yourself up to me my love. I know you can feel what I feel for you.'
'I'm can't,' Jev admitted after a short time.
'Kiyel, you have to do something, he's getting weaker,' Tiela sent.
Kiyel did the only thing he could think of, reaching out and grabbing a hold of the glimmer of light that was Jev, and holding him close to his chest.
'Feel my heart beat Jev. It beats for you. Without you, my heart will die. If you leave, I won't live. I can't lose you Jev. I love you. Feel my love for you Jev. You know I speak the truth.'
'You love me?' Jev asked hesitantly.
'With all my heart Jev. Come back to me. I won't let anything hurt you.'
Slowly the faint glimmer that was Jev began to grow brighter. Kiyel poured as much of himself into Jev, giving of himself everything that he was. Kiyel watched as Jev's light grew stronger and stronger becoming many tiny lights. Soon they began to coalesce into an image of Jev, his human self.
'This is only a part of who you are Jev,' Kiyel sent. Reaching out Kiyel touched Jev's human face. 'Close your eyes my love, and trust me.'
'I'm scared,' Jev sent.
'Don't be Jev. I will not let anything hurt you, ever again,' Kiyel sent. Jev slowly closed his eyes and gave himself over to Kiyel, feeling his love, and trusting in him.
Tiela watched in amazement as Kiyel's image and Jev's seemed to become translucent, then begin to flow into each other creating a swirling mass of images, some human, and some Caitaran. There was no way of telling for how long the two of them were together, twisting and blending together as they were, but after a time Tiela saw Kiyel separate from Jev.
She gasped at what she saw, for instead of the Human image of Jev, there was now standing before her the image of Jev as he looked in real life. Part Human, and part Caitaran. Not only that, she also saw a change come over Kiyel, his Caitaran features had become less pronounced, with Human ones more evident.
Both Jev and Kiyel were now surrounded by a soft blue light, tendrils of light flowed between them, pulsing rhythmically in sink with each other, as if their very life force was being shared, beating in time with their heats which now beat as one.
'This is who we are Jev,' Kiyel's image said. 'We're neither Human nor Caitaran, but both. We belong to each other. From the moment my mind touched yours I knew I would never be the same, and as I fell in love with you, I felt those same feelings within you for me. This change was predestined by the Gods. No one can separate us now my love. We are forever as one.'
'I am sorry Kiyel. I was afraid to see this. All I saw in my dreams was me as a small boy being chased by a cat, and then it attacking me, trying to make me his,' Jev sent.
'Who was trying to hurt you babe?' Kiyel sent.
'I don't know, he came to me in the image of the cat I once had as a young boy. He looked so much like you Kiyel. I knew I was dreaming, but I couldn't stop him. Every time I closed my eyes, he was there, waiting for me. Taunting me, and making me more and more frightened. He looked like you Kiyel, and when I awoke and saw you sitting there, and I looked into your face and saw the same face from my dreams... I'm sorry my love. I'm so sorry!' Jev cried, collapsing into his Liej's arms.
"Oshi!' Tiela suddenly shouted, causing both Kiyel and Tiela to look at her. 'My God Kiyel, we have to get back, quick!''
'You will come with us?' Kiyel asked Jev.
'Yes. I know who I am, and where I belong now. I am not afraid. If it is Oshi, I am ready to face him. He does not control our lives!'
With a start, Kiyel and Tiela suddenly came back into their own minds. Kiyel had slumped over Jev who was now waking up. Tiela was the first to recover, getting to her feet, immediately looking around to find the table where Oshi lay.
"Kiyel, he's gone!" She said,
"What?!" Kiyel said, suddenly coming to his senses and sitting up. "How is that possible?"
"I don't know," Tiela admitted.
"Where is everyone," a week Jev asked.
"Don't try to move Jev, you're still week after your change."
"I'm alright," Jev said, trying to get up, and suddenly collapsing back to the ground.
"No you're not! Now stay put here. I'm going to find everyone else," Kiyel said. "Watch over him Tiela. Both our lives are in your hands."
"I will not allow him to come to harm, Kiyel," Tiela said, unholstering her sidearm.
Kiyel got up after giving Jev a quick kiss on his lips, then taking one final look at his Liej, turned towards the rest of the cave, his eyes easily adjusting to the dark. Only the fire which still burned provided any light, but it was adequate for him to see clearly enough. What he did see, was enough to make him shiver with apprehension. There was no sign of any of the crew. Only Jev, Tiela and himself remained. It was eerie, and it caused his hair to stand up on end.
There was an opening in the cave near the back, and he approached it, smelling the air and reaching out with his mind for any signs of the rest of the crew. He stopped suddenly as his mind was filled with the rage, and madness of a mind bent on revenge. He knew without even guessing that the mind belonged to Oshi.
He crept through the opening, trying to be as quiet as he possibly could, masking any sounds he made with his mind, making it impossible for anyone to hear him approach. The deeper into the cave he went, the darker it became. Even if he had a flashlight he wouldn't dare turn it on. To do so would alert Oshi that he was coming after him.
The feelings he was picking up from Oshi were beginning to get stronger, and he could now sense the presence of two others with him, both of them still alive, one of whom was very week. Oshi on the other hand, being driven by madness was stronger than ever before, and Kiyel knew that he had to be careful.
Kiyel soon found himself deeper into the cave than he had ever been before. Following a maze of rock formations, and feeling along the walls and floor with his hands and feet for any indication that there was a drop off in front of him. What little light there was filtered in from an opening on the other side of a large gaping pit, providing him with just enough light to be able to see a narrow path along the wall of the cave. He could hear the sounds of creatures accustomed to the environs of the cave above him, hoping that they were benevolent.
Slowly, and carefully, Kiyel made his way towards the opening, until at last he reached it. There was no sound from inside the opening. He could still sense the presence of Kel, Jaffay, and Taaj, as well as the mad mind of Oshi.
Kiyel wished he knew what it was that set Oshi off as it did. There was nothing in his past that Kiyel was aware of to indicate that the first officer had this madness within him. He could not fathom anything that could do that to a person, and he hoped that once he had reached Oshi, that he was able to reach him before he did something to hurt anyone else, and that he wasn't too late already.
Carefully, Kiyel crept inside the opening, walking quietly along the short winding tunnel until he came to a site that almost caused him to gasp out loud. Laying in heaps on the floor, covered in blood were Kel, Jaffay, and Taaj. Kiyel could not tell if they had been stabbed by the deranged Oshi who was standing over them, glaring at them as if daring them to get up.
By now Kiyel was close enough to hear the madness in Oshi's voice as he muttered above them. Kiyel crouched down low at the entrance of the small cavern they were in so as to not be noticeable to Oshi.
"Come on out Kiyel! Don't think I can't see you crouching over there!" Oshi suddenly called out, looking in Kiyel's direction.
"What have you done Oshi?" Kiyel demanded, standing up and walking into the cavern.
"You are a fool Kiyel! You are all fools. You can't see what is happening right in front of your eyes. The other's have attacked us and you have come under the spell of one of their agents. It's an abomination and I plan to end it's existence once and for all," Oshi spat.
"You will do no such think Oshi," Kiyel said resolutely.
"Oh and I suppose you are going to stop me then," Oshi said tauntingly.
"Count on it," Kiyel said, stopping several yards in front of Oshi.
"You should have killed yourself rather than think to face me without any weapons Kiyel!" Oshi said, pulling out his side arm and pointing it at Kiyel.
"I don't need weapons as primitive and crude as that gun in your hands," Kiyel said smiling, making Oshi falter slightly.
"Your choice then Kiyel. After I have finished with you, I'll take care of the rest of you so your lover's contagion has no chance to spread. Then I will find the pod and escape from this world on the Cetani."
"I can't let you do that Oshi. You need help. I don't know what it is that has set you off thus, but your mind isn't right. I can sense the madness in you. Let go of it Oshi, or it will destroy you.
"Get out of my head you damned freak!" Oshi yelled, putting his hands up to his head in a vain effort to stop Kiyel from reading his thoughts. "I will kill you now," he said, once more pointing the gun at Kiyel.
"I think not Oshi," Kiyel said, closing his eyes and concentrating all his thoughts on Oshi.
'Help me my love,' he sent to Jev who was still with Tiela. 'I need some of your strength. I can't do this alone.'
'I am still week Kiyel, but I will try,' Jev replied, and suddenly Kiyel felt a new energy fill him, allowing him to tighten his focus, shutting everything out except what he needed to do. Feeling Jev's energy wavering, and adding as much of his own that he could, he sent his thoughts hurtling towards Oshi.
Oshi had no time to react as suddenly his entire body felt as if it was aflame. He cried out in pain and fell to the floor, writhing in a pathetic attempt to get away from the pain. His movements became sluggish, and week, and soon he moved no more, laying in a heap in front of Kiyel. Only the rapid rise and fall of his chest told Kiyel that Oshi was still alive.
Kiyel was sweating and breathing heavily. It had taken so much of his energy and Jev's to accomplish what he did. Despite how tired he was, he quickly found some rope and tied together Oshi's hands and feet, making sure it was impossible for Oshi to escape. He even went as far as to clear away any rubble that Oshi might have been able to use to cut through the ropes should he regain consciousness.
Tiredly, he walked over to where the rest of the crew lay and checked them over. Thankfully they were all still alive, except he could see that Taaj was the worst off. He had received many blows to the head, and Kiyel could not sense much from him at all making him think that Taah was in a coma. Kel's injuries were minor, but they were sufficient to have rendered him unconscious, as was Jaffay.
Knowing that he had to recover some of his strength, he set about the task of trying to make the others as comfortable as possible, pulling them as close to the fire as he safely could so that they could warm up in the cold, damp cavern. Checking on Oshi one last time, he sat down in front of the fire and concentrated, closing his eyes, and willing his body to draw in as much energy as it could from the life forms around him, being careful to not take any from his crew or from Jev. All was quiet now, with only the sound of the fire before him, and the odd twittering of the creatures in the cave breaking the silence.
Jev lay on the blanket that Tiela had put on the ground for him. His head resting on her powerful thigh. She was gently rubbing his scalp, trying to keep him rested while Kiyel was off doing whatever he could to find the others. Only minutes earlier had Jev suddenly awoken from a peaceful sleep. She could tell he was talking to Kiyel, though she had no idea what it was they were talking about.
"Tiela, Kiyel needs me to help him. I'm going to. Oshi is with the rest of the crew, and it looks like he's hurt them bad. Please stay with me, I'm going to give him everything I can," he had told her.
"Jev no! You're not fit to be giving Kiyel anything," she told him, though she knew it was pointless.
"It can't be helped. It's either I do this, or both Kiyel and I die," he had said.
"Just be careful. I will do what I can," she told him, and with that he suddenly went still as he sent everything he had to his Liej. She could tell he wouldn't last, as he hadn't been strong enough in the first place, and soon he was unconscious.
Tiela made sure Jev was alright, before she went to her medical kit and pulled out a syringe and a bottle. Filling the syringe half way, she pressed on the plunger, clearing any debris that might have been picked up by the needle. She then brought it to Jev's exposed arm, finding a vein quickly, and emptying the contents of the syringe into Jev's body.
Satisfied that she had done all she could with him, she sat down with Jev, pulling his body towards her so his head could rest on her thigh, rubbing his scalp, and making sure he was a comfortable as possible.
Sometime later, Jev awoke, finding himself with his head on a warm leg, and a hand massaging his scalp, playing with his new Caitaran hair.
"That feels nice," he purred.
"Hush. You're still tired and need your rest," she said, smiling down at him.
"He found them. They're okay, except Taaj is in a coma," Jev said almost in a whisper.
"What about Kiyel? And what about Oshi?" she asked, her inquisitiveness betraying her own instructions to Jev.
"Kiyel is fine, but tired. He's gaining his strength back now. Oshi won't be a problem any more," Jev said, already beginning to feel himself getting sleepy again.
"Good. I'm glad that Kiyel was able to find them," Tiela said.
"Me too," Jev said before he finally giving up the fight to stay awake.
Tiela noticed that Jev had fallen asleep and leaned forward, planting a kiss on his forehead. "Good night cub," she quietly whispered.
To Be Continued ...