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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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"Not bad," Mikkel Commented once they had reached their destination. It was just as Jev had remembered it, seemingly undisturbed since they had stopped here on their way to the Caitarans.
"It provided us with adequate cover from the T'Kri," Jev said.
"So I can tell," Mikkel replied, throwing his pack against a tree, and wearily sitting on the ground.
"Kiyel can hunt for us. We don't have enough food for the three of us," Jev said, putting his pack up against Mikkel's and sitting down beside him.
"He's just going to go out there and hunt for us," Mikkel said incredulously, watching Kiyel bound off into the forest.
"Sure. Why not?"
"Jev, he's a forest cat. How in the world did you manage to tame one like that?"
"It's a long story Mikkel," Jev said.
"I guess we both have long stories to tell."
"You're probably right. You go first. What happened to you after you left Dad and me?"
"Well, it was easier than I thought it would be. I'd heard the stories about the rebels recruiting from Landing, so that is where I went. I ended up sitting in some bar alone when this hooded guy approached me. We got to talking, and eventually he got around to asking me if I would be interested in a job. I told him that I didn't want to do any farming, or anything like that. There was something about him that was different though. The way he was dressed and carried himself. He didn't look like a farmer or laborer. It didn't take me long to figure out that this was one of the rebels sent out to recruit new members.
"I ended up going with him, walking long into the forest just outside of town. Along the way he revealed who he was, and why he was taking me through the forest. Since I already knew who he was, I wasn't at all surprised by his admission. Then he asked me if joining the rebels was something I wanted. I said yes.
"A couple days later, we left the forest and made our way into the mountains near the T'Kri base. At first I was worried because I knew where the base was, and we were travelling awfully close to it. The rebel told me however that it was safe, and that the T'Kri rarely ever ventured into the woods. It seems they don't like the noises in the forest all that much. I don't know whether it's the insects, or the birds, or whatever, but something about the forests make them wary of entering it."
"I wonder if it has something to do with the forest cats."
"It could be. Why do you say that though?" Mikkel asked.
"Because I've seen how the T'Kri react to Kiyel. They were afraid of him," Jev answered.
"Really? That's interesting. In all the time I've witnessed the actions of the T'Kri, I've never seen them scared. That's probably something to think about."
"Anyways," Mikkel continued. "we made our way into the mountains. It was extremely rocky and cold up there. Tucked away in a small, hidden alcove, was a cave. Once in the cave, I found myself in a massive chamber. There were a good number of people moving about. After introducing me to the leader of the rebels, who incidentally used to be a Captain in Earthforce back home, they set about getting me trained. In less than a week, I was sent on my first mission with other rebels.
"I can't tell you how it feels to be doing what I do, Jev. I have never regretted leaving when I did, but I did regret leaving you. I missed you a lot."
"I missed you too Mikkel. After you left, Dad wasn't the same. I had to spend even more time helping him take care of the inn. He never let me out of his sight. I think he was afraid of losing me too. I loved him of course, but I just felt trapped."
"I'm sorry I wasn't there for you, little brother. But I'm here now."
"Mikkel, things have changed a lot since you left."
"Tell me, Jev. Tell me everything."
"Okay, but I don't want you to get upset, or anything. Some of it may be hard for you to believe, but I swear to you, I'm telling the truth. Just promise me you'll keep an open mind, and wait until I'm done."
"I promise, Jev."
"Well, it actually started only a few days ago. I was sitting up in my room, bored out of my mind, when there was a commotion downstairs. It was the colony council meeting about the recent T'Kri activity and something about a crash that occurred up in the hills. Actually, it wasn't that far from where the inn was.
"There was a storm approaching, and Dad and I had everything ready. I went up into my room. The problem was, I couldn't get any sleep. Then I thought I heard something, like a cry for help. It came so suddenly, I ended up falling out of bed. Don't ask me what made me do this, but I got out of bed and went to look out the window. It was snowing heavily outside. I was about to go back into bed, shrugging off whatever it was that I heard, when I saw this dark shape laying in the snow just outside my window.
"I rushed down the stairs. Of course Dad was in the hall wondering what the noise was that I had made, but I just told him that I had to check something outside. Dad didn't want me to, but I grabbed my jacked, threw open the door and ran outside.
"What I found outside was something I never expected."
"Let me guess, Kiyel," Mikkel said.
"You're right. He was injured. There was a wound on his side, and he was bleeding and I could tell close to death. Dad wanted to shoot it, having followed me outside, but I wouldn't let him, and convinced him to help me carry the cat inside. With the help of Sam, Kiyel's wound was patched up, and he and I convinced Dad to let Kiyel sleep in my room.
"The next morning we were awakened by noises coming from downstairs. A squad of T'Kri soldiers was tearing the place apart. Dad tried to stop them, but they marched up the stairs and barged into my room. They tried to search my room, but one look at Kiyel was enough to cause them to leave, practically running. I couldn't believe that a forest cat like Kiyel could do that to the T'Kri. Neither did Dad. From that time on, he accepted Kiyel in the house."
"Sounds a little hard to believe," Mikkel commented.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, a wild forest cat protecting your room from the T'Kri? That just sounds to me to be a little far fetched."
"Well it's what happened bro. I couldn't understand it myself. That is until a short time later," Jev said.
"Why? What happened?"
"After waking up to the T'Kri coming into my room, I went to the bathroom. When I came back, I saw something that shocked the hell out of me, and it changed everything. Standing in my room, was Kiyel. I don't mean he was standing up like a cat would, I mean he was actually standing up. As in on two legs, the same as you and I."
"Jev, forest cats cannot stand on two legs. That's impossible," Mikkel said incredulously.
"That's not all. The moment Kiyel saw me, I heard a voice in my head. It was Kiyel. He was speaking to me."
"WHAT?!" Mikkel exclaimed, standing up suddenly. "What are you saying Jev? That Kiyel actually spoke to you?"
"That's exactly what he's telling you Mikkel," Kiyel said, entering the camp from behind me.
"Who... Who are you?" Mikkel stammered.
"I am Kiyel, as Jev has told you. My crew and I crashed on this planet several days ago."
"You're an alien?" Mikkel asked, backing up, his hand reaching for his gun.
"Mikkel, stop," Jev commanded, reaching out with his mind to him. Mikkel stood in place, unmoving, as if some unseen force fought against his will. His hand was still poised to grab his gun, but try as he might, he could not move it.
"What's happening?" Mikkel asked, frightened.
"I will not let you harm Kiyel," Jev said.
"You? What are you doing?"
"Stopping you from making a mistake."
"How? How are you doing this?" Mikkel said, his eyes wide with fear.
"Please try to relax Mikkel. I will explain everything, but I need you to promise to hear me out, and not try anything to hurt either of us."
"I could never hurt you Jev," Mikkel said, almost in a whisper.
"Not intentionally, no. But if you hurt Kiyel, I would suffer as if you had struck me."
"I don't understand," Mikkel said.
"Sit down and I will explain everything to you. Do you trust me Mikkel? We grew up together. You know me better than anyone. Do you trust me?"
"Yes," Mikkel said.
"Then please sit down Mikkel, and I'll explain." Mikkel felt the force that was holding him relax, and he found he could move again. For a second he hesitated, staring at Kiyel, who had just sat down beside Jev, then slowly sat down, keeping his eyes on Kiyel.
"Kiyel is Caitaran, a felinoid race, who years ago launched a probe onto this world. They were exploring worlds in this area for planets which they could colonize. Kiyel and his crew were sent to these worlds to retrieve the data the probes had collected, but when they reached this one, they found the probe wasn't transmitting it's data.
"They were about to land to investigate when they were suddenly attacked by the T'Kri. I'm sure you have heard by now of the reports of the build-up of T'Kri soldiers. That build-up was due to their having shot down Kiyel's scout craft. Only five Caitarans escaped the crash, escaping into the forest to seek cover from the T'Kri who were closing in on them. All except for Kiyel. He was badly injured, but somehow managed to make his way to the inn, where I found him laying half dead in the snow.
"When Kiyel revealed to me who he was, I was scared at first, as I know you are now, but through explanation I came to realize that he wasn't a threat. We spent a lot of time together. He always hid his true nature from my father and from Sam.
"Eventually his wound was healed sufficiently enough to venture outside. By that time the snow had for the most part melted. We took long walks together. Dad didn't like it very much, preferring that I stayed with him in the inn. But I wanted to get out of there, and Kiyel gave me that opportunity.
"What I'm going to tell you next, I hope you'll understand Mikkel. There's something I've hidden from both Dad and you for a couple years now. Mikkel, I'm gay."
"Little brother, do you think I don't know that already?" Mikkel said, smiling at Jev. "So did Dad. Neither of us had a problem with people's sexual orientation. We both loved you, and wanted you to be happy. The only thing we were worried about was how other people would treat you."
"You knew?" Jev exclaimed. "But how?"
"Jev, Remember those times when we went to Landing to do some shopping for Dad?"
"I saw you taking more than just a passing interest in some of the guys we passed. I knew. Dad noticed it too."
"But why didn't you say anything about it? I was so worried that you and Dad would hate me."
"Mikkel, we couldn't hate you. We love you," Mikkel said, edging closer to Jev.
"I'm sorry Mikkel, I should have trusted you," Jev said, tears beginning to fall from his eyes and down his cheeks.
"Hey, it's okay little brother," Mikkel said, moving up beside Jev, and hugging him close. He could feel Jev melting into his body, the strain of hiding who he was coming out all at once. Mikkel sat there holding Jev, letting him cry. "Shhh, it's going to be okay Jev."
"There's more," Jev said, pulling away from Mikkel.
"Go on," Mikkel said.
"I fell in love with someone Mikkel," Jev said, then looked over at Kiyel.
"Kiyel? You fell in love with Kiyel?" Mikkel asked in shock.
"I couldn't help it Mikkel. He was there for me when I needed him. The more I got to know him, and was with him, the more I never wanted to leave his side. Yes I fell in love with him, and what's more. He fell in love with me."
"But he isn't even human," Mikkel said, looking at Kiyel.
"I know that Mikkel. But then, neither am I entirely human now either."
"What do you mean?" Mikkel asked, looking back at his brother.
"The reason Kiyel was first able to talk to me was because he learned our language from me. It wasn't something I taught him though. He's a telepath Mikkel.""
"There's no such thing," Mikkel said dismissively.
"If that's true, then how was it possible for me to stop you from shooting Kiyel?" Jev asked.
"Yes, how did you do that?" Mikkel asked.
"Because I'm a telepath too Mikkel. When Kiyel first spoke to me, it wasn't with words. I could hear him in my mind. He showed me what it was like to be a telepath, and eventually I was able to send to him as well. When you tried to pull the gun on Kiyel, I sent a counter-command preventing you from moving. I'm sorry I did it Mikkel, but I couldn't let you hurt Kiyel. There's a very good reason for it too."
"And just what is that, Jev?"
"When Kiyel and I linked, a bond formed between us. A bond so strong that whatever affects one of us, will be felt by the other. If you had shot Kiyel I would have felt all his pain. If he had died, then my mind would follow after him. We cannot be separated Mikkel. And I admit, with how I feel for Kiyel, there's no way I could ever stand being separated from him," Jev said.
"You mean if I shot Kiyel and killed him, you would have died as well?" Mikkel asked.
"Yes," Kiyel said. "Mikkel, understand that what Jev and I share is stronger than any normal telepathic bond. We share each other's experiences, our feelings, and our thoughts. We are always in contact with one another. The shock of my death would have eventually led to Jev dying as well."
"I still find this hard to believe Jev," Mikkel said.
"Then take my hand and I'll show you," Jev replied. Mikkel hesitantly did as Jev requested, and held his hand. It was if a door had been opened in his mind, and he suddenly felt as if he wasn't alone. He found he could touch whatever it was and gasped in shock as he could sense his brother. There was another presence with him, seemingly attached to Jev. He knew without even guessing that this was Kiyel.
'This is our bond Mikkel. This is what I feel,' Jev sent to Mikkel. Mikkel could feel the love he and Kiyel shared. There was something else though, something that Mikkel immediately felt that was different about Jev, but he couldn't identify it. He knew it was Jev, but at the same time, it wasn't.
"My God," Mikkel said as Jev let go of his hand. "That was..."
"That's what Kiyel and I share together."
"I could actually feel the love the two of you have. It was, overwhelming," Mikkel said.
"Tell me when love isn't?" Jev laughed.
"I guess you're right there. But Jev, while you were doing that, I could feel something else besides your love and your link. It was like I was looking at someone completely different."
"That's another reason I did that Mikkel. Things happened that caused something to happen."
"What was it?" Mikkel asked.
"When the inn burnt to the ground, Kiyel and I went in search of his crew. That is when we first found this spot we are in now. Deeper in, there is a series of caves embedded in a large rock outcropping. With Kiyel's help I was able to sense their location, and guide us to where they were. We found them in those caves, and were confronted by the Captain. Eventually I was examined by their medic, and rested with Kiyel.
"But there was one member of the crew who was not pleased about my presence; the Captain's first officer. Without warning he attacked me, viciously trying to tear me apart with his teeth and claws. I fought him as best I could, but being Caitaran, he was much stronger then I was and I was slowly beginning to weaken from his relentless attacks.
"What about the rest of the crew? Didn't they do anything to stop him?"
"They couldn't? He acted so quickly that there was nothing anyone could do to help. Not even Kiyel. They were all in a state of shock.
"So how did you survive?" Mikkel asked.
"Because somehow, I changed."
"How? How do you mean you changed?"
"No one knows how it was done exactly, though Kiyel thinks it was telekinesis. I began to physically change. My whole body was wracked in pain as my muscles and bones shifted. I grew hair all over my body, and everything about me that was human, was suddenly not. Mikkel, I do not look as you see me right now."
"But I can see you. You're my brother."
"Yes I am. But I'm also not entirely human anymore either. When I changed, my body became what it identified with most. Mikkel, I look Caitaran now."
"No, that's impossible. I can see you right now. You don't think I know how my own brother looks?" Mikkel said, frightened.
"Mikkel. You felt me through the link that Kiyel and I share. You know it is me right?"
"Right now Kiyel and I are using our telepathic abilities to hide my true appearance. An illusion, if you will. I am going to drop the illusion so you can see how I look now."
"You mean, this is just a disguise?"
"Yes. Are you ready?" Jev asked.
"I guess so."
"Then close your eyes," Jev told him, and Mikkel did. Several seconds passed by before Jev spoke again, telling him that he could open his eyes once more. When he did, he recoiled in shock, for sitting before him was Jev, but it wasn't Jev. What he saw was Caitaran, just like Kiyel, only with the same blond hair that Jev had. He could recognize some of Jev's features, human features, but for the most part, he looked completely Caitaran.
"Jev?" he said, hesitantly.
"It's me Mikkel."
"No, it's got to be some kind of trick," Mikkel said, shaking his head.
"It's real. You know it is. Please Mikkel, I have never lied to you before. I'm not about to start now," Jev pleaded, reaching out to his brother. The moment his hand touched Mikkel's Mikkel jerked back suddenly.
"Don't touch me!" Mikkel shouted.
"Mikkel please," Jev pleaded, tears once more falling down the sides of his face. "I just found you. I can't lose you again."
"Jev, this is too much. Too soon," Mikkel said, staring at Jev.
"I know. You have no idea what I went through after I realized I had changed."
"What do you mean?"
"Mikkel, when Jev changed, he went mad with fury and almost killed Oshi. He was the one who attacked Jev. If it wasn't for me pulling him off, I doubt Oshi would be alive today. The only reason I was able to get Jev to stop was due to our link. Once he realized who I was, he stopped fighting me, and collapsed unconscious.
"The change that Jev had undergone was a painful one. Only the adrenaline being pumped into his body at the time allowed him to push that pain aside when he attacked Oshi. When he was himself again, the pain was too much for him and he passed out. Even when he regained consciousness, he was in constant pain. The body is not accustomed to growing and changing that fast.
"It's similar to the pain you feel when your bones begin to grow when you reach puberty. I think you humans called it growing pains."
"Yes, Jev especially went through that," Mikkel said.
"How?" Mikkel asked.
"When Jev and I were linked, we shared each other's past experiences, and the feelings that were associated with them. In this way, we are both neither Human nor Caitaran."
"But you are both Caitaran. I mean look at you?" Mikkel said.
"It is true our outward appearance is Caitaran. I honestly wish the change had not taken place Mikkel, but what is done is done. It's in our minds that things have changed. For Jev's part, his way of thinking has become more Caitaran, while mine has become more Human."
"I still don't know what to make of all of this," Mikkel admitted.
"Understandable. It wasn't easy for Jev to accept either. The shock of the change made him withdraw into himself. He wouldn't wake up. If it wasn't for me following after him into his mind, I would have lost him. He would have died, and I would have died with him."
"My god, I didn't know," Mikkel said.
"How could you? You weren't there. I was. It took a couple of days for Jev to regain his strength. He joined me in some hunting, and was once again the Jev I knew. Besides, I think he looks really cute with that tail of his,"
"Kiyel!" Jev protested, causing both Kiyel and Mikkel to laugh.
"Jev, I'm sorry," Mikkel said, sitting beside Jev again and putting his arm around Jev's shoulders. "I know you're my brother. How can I not after seeing what you showed me earlier. It's just how you look now is so different."
"Mikkel, I know. I tried to limit the shock you would have when you saw what I really look like now. I was afraid that if you saw me, you'd leave me, and never want to see me again."
"Never! You're my brother. No matter what you look like. And you know something? I think Kiyel is right. You do look cute with a tail."
"Kiyel, I'm going to get you back for that," Jev said, glaring at Kiyel.
"Anything you say Jev," Kiyel chuckled.
"So what now?" Mikkel asked.
"Jev's and my mission was to go to Landing to search out one of the rebels, and bring him back to the caves where our crew waits. From there we would have him or her lead us through the mountains to where our probe is."
"Do you know how dangerous those mountains are?" Mikkel asked.
"No. That is why we need a guide," Kiyel said.
"And you were going to have one of us guide you there whether we wanted to or not?"
"I wouldn't have put it that way, but essentially you are correct."
"What is so special about this probe anyways?" Mikkel asked.
"In the probe is a transmitter, which we want to use to contact our ship."
"Wait a second, I thought you crashed here because of the T'Kri. How could you contact your ship if it's already here?"
"That was just a scout ship. After it crashed, the Captain set the auto-destruct to remove any remaining evidence of who we were, and also to destroy anything that might be useful to whoever it was that shot us down. No the ship we plan to get into contact with is the Cetani."
"What is that, some kind of mother ship?" Mikkel asked.
"Not exactly. It's one of the our battle cruisers."
"And what happens when it gets here? That is if you can contact it."
"When the Cetani arrives, it will pick us up, but in the message the Captain is preparing, he's going to propose that we remove the T'Kri from this world."
"Your people would do that for us?
"When they shot down our scout craft, whether they realize it or not, they declared war on us. The Cetani will treat the T'Kri as an enemy, and will force the surrender of the T'Kri, or eliminated every last one of them from the face of this planet," Kiyel said.
"But we need your help to get them here," Jev said. "If we can't get to the probe, it's a moot point."
"Wouldn't your ship come here to investigate eventually?"
"Yes they would, but by that time, we could either be captured or killed by the T'Kri. The sooner we can get the Cetani here, the better our chances for survival," Kiyel said.
"I agree," Mikkel said.
"So what do you say, big brother? You willing to help us?"
"For you Jev, I would do anything. Alright Kiyel. You have a guide," Mikkel said.
To Be Continued ...