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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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To say that Captain Harris was shocked, would have been putting it mildly. Several times he stood there opening his mouth and closing it, as if to say something, but no words came out.
Jev stood in front of Captain Harris and waited. He could practically hear the various thoughts that were going through his mind, all of them being considered and rejected. Had the situation been less serious, Jev would have found the whole thing quite humorous. As it was, however, he knew the best thing he could do was to say nothing and let the Captain come to terms with Jev's introduction.
"Captain, this is my brother," Mikkel said, speaking up and standing with Jev.
"Lieutenant, your brother is a sixteen year old Human being. Not a member of Captain Kel's species," Johnathan finally said, finding his voice. "Now, you told me that your brother was with you, so where is he?"
"Captain, I'm telling you the truth. This is Jev," Mikkel said. "Trust me, Captain. It is an extremely long story."
"Lieutenant. What kind of fool do you think I am? A person cannot alter their species. Now I want an explanation."
"Captain, we don't have time for this crap," Jev said heatedly. "There's a T'Kri scout craft headed in our direction, and we need to get your shuttle under some cover, and fast!"
"What the hell is he talking about?" Johnathan demanded to know, looking at Kel.
Everyone else was now looking at Jev, who seemed to be concentrating on something. Even Kiyel was slightly confused, until he saw in Jev's mind exactly what Jev was seeing.
"He's right, everyone get under cover!" Kiyel announced, already scrambling to collect some of the supplies that they had out in the open.
"Would someone please tell me what is going on?" Johnathan demanded, now totally confused and bewildered.
"Captain, trust me. If Jev says to get under cover, we'd better do it. He's usually right about these sorts of things. Just trust me. We need to get the shuttle hidden," Mikkel said, already looking around for a secure place to put the shuttle.
The urgency in Mikkel's voice seemed to get the Captain to move, and in short order was barking orders at his crew to get back into the shuttle and for the pilot get it ready to fly. Like Jev, Mikkel saw the bushes by the caves and decided that they were the best and only place to hide the shuttle. As it began to rise, Mikkel started to wave his arms to get the pilot's attention. The pilot, having seen Mikkel waving to him, began to angle the shuttle until it was facing him.
Directing the pilot with his arms, Mikkel managed to help the pilot maneuver the shuttle into the bushes. Several of them were pushed aside by the nose of the shuttle, but Mikkel knew that with the bushes so close to the hull of the shuttle, it would make it harder for the T'Kri to see them, even if they flew very close. The fact that night had fallen helped great deal as well.
Everyone else was scrambling to collect whatever they could, and made their way to the probe, squeezing as much as they could into the tight confines of the cave.
'Is it just the one, Jev?' Kiyel asked, holding Jev's hand, giving him as much of his support as he could while Jev scanned for the T'Kri.
'No, there's one more. They'll both pass by here,' Jev replied, still maintaining his focus despite the fear he was beginning to feel. If it wasn't for Kiyel holding his hand at that moment, he didn't know what might happen. Jev could feel Kiyel squeezing his hand, and Kiyel's gentle touch in his mind, reassuring Jev that Kiyel was with him and would be with him until the danger was over.
"Kiyel, what do the two of you see?" Kel asked.
"Two scout ships approaching our position captain. The first one should be here... now!" And as he said that, the unmistakable sound of an engine began to roar outside the cave as the T'Kri shuttle flew over head. None of them could see it, but by the sound alone they all knew that it was hovering above their makeshift campsite. Kel began to look around to make sure nothing was left behind that would have given away their presence to the T'Kri. His brief look didn't reveal anything obvious to him, but he also knew that things often looked much different from above than they did from the ground.
Eventually the scout craft began to move off, the sound of it's engines beginning to fade the further away it flew. Kel wanted to breathe a sigh of relief, but Kiyel had told him that there was still one more ship coming. And come it did, though Kel thought the sound wasn't as close as the first one, but still close enough that they could still be seen if they moved at all.
Kel heard the second scout craft fly off, following the first one. Only when he could hear the sound no more did he dare let himself relax. Still, he looked over at Jev and Kiyel for confirmation that everything was clear.
"They're gone, Captain," Jev finally said, tiredly.
"Thank you, Jev," Kel said, and lead his team out into the open. The shuttle that Johnathan's people had come in on stayed where it was, but Kel could see that the people within were beginning to exit the craft to join them.
"Jev, are you alright?" Tiela asked, noticing Jev swaying a bit.
"Yes, sorry, Tiela. I didn't expect to feel so drained after scanning for the T'Kri like that."
"Kiyel, take your Liej, and find some place to sit down. The two of you aren't in any shape to be of much use to the Captain right now until you've recovered some of your strength," she ordered.
Seeing that there would be no point in arguing with her, Kiyel helped Jev sit down against the wall of the cave, trying to make him as comfortable as he could.
'Thanks, Kiyel,' Jev sent.
'She is right, though. You do have to watch yourself. You're still not a hundred percent yet,' Kiyel replied.
'I know. But I felt that something was coming, and I had to find out what it was. We can't risk getting found up here.'
'I agree, Jev. Just try to be more careful,' Kiyel sent.
'I will, Kiyel,' Jev replied, sensing Kiyel's concern and love through their link. He raised his hand up to Kiyel's face, and gently stroked the side. 'I love you so much.'
'And I love you too,' Kiyel said, and leaned in closer, wrapping his arms around Jev. Jev accepted the embrace, and let himself be held by Kiyel, resting his head on his shoulder. The two of them sat like that and watched as the two crews all gathered in the clearing, and as as the two captains again approached one another.
"Captain, would you mind explaining to me what the hell just happened there? And just how did one of your crew know that the T'Kri scout ships were coming?" Johnathan demanded.
"Telepaths," was Kel's simple reply.
"Telepaths? Captain. I may be a simple soldier, but I'm also a realist, and I can tell you right now that I don't believe in that nonsense."
"Well, you had better start believing it, because those two over there just might save all our lives. By the time we would have heard the scout ships approaching, it would have been too late and we'd have been spotted. If it wasn't for Jev and Kiyel being telepaths, we'd never have found this probe in the first place, and neither of us would have any chance of doing something about the T'Kri."
"Jev, a telepath? Captain, first of all, I still haven't seen Jev."
"Yes you have, though probably not as you've expected to see him. He's right now sitting with Kiyel in the cave. Scanning for the T'Kri took a lot out of the both of them. If I know Tiela, she's probably already preparing something to help them gain some of their strength back. What the two of them together have accomplished is far beyond what my people are used to when dealing with telepaths," Kel said.
"All I see are two of your crew members, both of whom are male I see holding each other. Is it common among your people for people of the same sex to be that close?" Johnathan asked.
"Not so much common as it is accepted. However, from what Jev has told us, it's not something that your species has been able to accept very well."
"Quite frankly, no. And to tell you the truth, I find it very unsettling. But they're your crew, and I'm not going to tell you how your people should be around each other," Johnathan said.
"Even though one of them happens to be my brother, Captain?" Mikkel asked, overhearing what his Captain had said, and walked over to the two of them. "Yes, he is my brother, no matter what he looks like right now."
"What is it with everyone thinking that that alien over there is Jev. Jev is a Human being, not Caitaran," Johnathan said in frustration.
"What you don't know is what happened transpired after Jev disappeared. We all thought he had died in the fire along with our father, but I was so happy to find him alive and well that day in the forest."
"Tell me, Lieutenant. Just how did Jev look to you when you found him? Did he look like that Caitaran over there?" Johnathan asked.
"No, Captain. He didn't. He looked just like the brother I had always known."
"Then how do you explain how you can think that that Caitaran is Jev?"
"Simple, Captain, and I will show you if you will allow me to," Jev said, suddenly approaching the group. Startled, the three of them looked over to see both Jev and Kiyel walking towards them.
"Show me? How?" Johnathan asked, slightly flustered. He hadn't even heard them approaching.
"Take a hold of my hand," Jev instructed Johnathan.
"Excuse me?" Johnathan said, perturbed by Jev's request.
"If you wish to learn all that you need to about me, and why I appear to you as a Caitaran, then please take my hand," he said, holding his hand out before Johnathan.
For a moment, Johnathan just stood there, unsure of whether or not he could trust this Caitaran. 'And why would he ask me to take his hand?' Johnathan thought.
"Because it is easier for me to show you what you want to know if I am touching you," Jev said.
"How... how did you know what I was thinking?" Johnathan asked, stuttering.
"I am a telepath, Captain. And you were thinking quite loudly for us to hear," Jev said, smiling reassuringly at him.
Slowly, and still uncertain, Johnathan reached out with his hand until it was touching Jev's, which closed around his, and held it. Gasping in shock, he suddenly found himself looking through Jev's memories. The moment Jev had found Kiyel, discovering Kiyel's true nature, feeling the love the two of them shared with one another, and the pain Jev felt after seeing the inn burn to the ground with his father still inside. He saw as the two of them were attacked by the T'Kri on their way to find Kiyel's crew and watched as Jev killed one of the T'Kri with a branch. He could do nothing but stand there in stunned silence as he saw them reach the cave where Kiyel's crew were hidden, then gasp when he saw one of Kiyel's crew attacking Jev. There was no escaping the pain Jev felt nor what he saw as Jev went through the transformation. He could no longer deny that the alien that was holding his hand, was in fact that same sixteen year old who had lived with his brother, Mikkel.
Still the images kept coming, watching Kiyel and Jev as they hunted together, and find Mikkel on their way to Landing. He saw how they stopped the T'Kri patrol, and then question the lone survivor up in the caves where the crew was. And finally, he saw them make their way to their current location.
Jev let go of Johnathan's hand, and waited as he recovered from everything that was shown to him.
"That was..." Johnathan started, trying to catch his breath.
"I know it was a lot," Jev said.
"That was..." Johnathan tried again before taking a deep breath. "Unbelievable!"
"But true," Jev finished.
"There's no denying that. You really are Mikkel's brother," Johnathan said.
"Yes," Jev replied.
"Captain, Jev needs his rest. He needed to come out here to settle this, but he's almost completely drained of energy," Kiyel said, holding Jev up, who now looked as though he could barely walk.
"Of course, Kiyel. I presume Tiela is already getting something ready for him?"
"Yes she is," Kiyel said, before helping Jev back to the cave.
"I still can't believe it. That is Jev, but how did it happen?" Johnathan asked
"We still don't know. The only one that had any idea was Kiyel, who suggested that besides being telepathic, Jev is also telekinetic. Somehow his mind and body responded to the threat of my first officer's attack by altering his genetic makeup. To tell you the truth, I could barely believe it myself. But as you can see, there he is," Kel said, looking over at Jev and Kiyel where they had once again sat down at the mouth of the cave.
"Yes. There he is. Now, if we can, there are other matters that we need to focus on, namely getting your shuttle's power supply adapted to work with the probe," Kel suggested.
"Of course," Johnathan agreed. "Seargant Mathews! Front and Center!" he called out, looking over at the rest of his crew. A tall, dark haired woman approached smartly, responding to Johnathan's order.
"Seargant Mathews reporting as ordered, Captain," she said, saluting smartly, which Johnathan returned.
"Janice, I need you to begin removing the power supply from the shuttle and work with Captain Kel's team to adapt it to their probe. We need this done ASAP," Johnathan ordered.
"Understood Captain. Captain Kel, does anyone among your team know anything about the systems aboard your probe?" she asked Kel.
"Unfortunately not Seargant. Taaj would have been the best to assist you, however he is still recovering from a concussion. I'll have Jaffey assist you. He is my tactical officer."
"Very good, Captain. Um, if you could point him out to me?" she said, looking at the Caitarans.
"Of course, he is that one over there helping another of my crew," Kel said, pointing to Jaffey and Oshi, who were sitting down on a rock. She immediately went towards them, and talked to Jaffey. Together the two of them headed for the shuttle.
"I recognize that one," Johnathan said, looking at the now alone Oshi. "That is the one that attacked Jev."
"Yes he is, and unfortunately will have to face a hearing when we get back."
"He looks so... subdued," Johnathan said, struggling to find the right word.
"Unfortunately when he regained consciousness, his mind hasn't been the same. Kiyel had to do something which bordered on violating the laws governing telepaths on my world, and it's something that he didn't enjoy doing. Though I agree, it had to be done."
"I caught some of it when Jev was showing me how he met Kiyel, and what happened after up until now. The two of them really made your first officer think he was on fire?" Johnathan asked.
"Yes. Like I said before. What those two together have accomplished is far more than what my people are used to when dealing with telepaths. There are going to be a lot of questions for the both of them when we get back."
"You're saying that as if Jev will be going with you back to your home world when your ship arrives," Johnathan said.
"He will have to," Kel said simply.
"Captain, I don't pretend to know anything about your society or laws, but I do know Humans, and despite what Jev looks like right now, he definitely was born and raised as a Human being. He belongs with his own people."
"Normally, I would agree with you, but circumstances have made that an impossibility," Kel sighed, seeing that he was going to have to settle this matter as well. "First of all, both Jev and Kiyel will be called upon to testify before Oshi's hearing. The hearing would probably take place on board the Cetani when the T'Kri have been taken care of. Secondly, due to Jev's and Kiyel's link, they can no longer be separated, and Jev himself has already indicated that he wished to return with Kiyel."
"What do you mean link? I know from Jev that the two of them share a bond, but aside for being in love with each other, I don't get what kind link you're talking about," Johnathan said, genuinely trying to understand.
"Among our telepaths exists a rare link between two people. It is called a Liej link, and it is total. This link is so powerful that the two of them are, for all intents and purposes, one person. What one of them thinks, the other knows. What one of them feels, the other feels as well. The bond is so complete that if one of them should die, the other would die as well. Along with the feelings and thoughts that they are constantly aware of, there is also a physical component to it as well. For them to be away from the other for an extended period of time would affect the both of them, becoming very unsettling, and even uncomfortable. If they were forced apart for too long, eventually they would begin suffering from headaches and nausea."
"How can the two of them survive like that?" Johnathan exclaimed, bewildered by what he had just been told.
"To them, it is perfectly normal. Jev told us that the love they share developed first, before this link formed, but once it formed, it solidified them, making them Liej's to each other. They are life mates now, even though legally it hasn't been registered. I expect once we return, and they have both been able to adapt to the link they now have, there will be a ceremony to formally join them together as life mates."
"You mean they'd get married," Johnathan said.
"Yes, I guess that is the term you Humans use for the joining of two people."
"I guess I can see where Jev is coming from. I wish it was otherwise, since he is a part of this colony."
"He always will be, I expect, Johnathan," Kel said, smiling at him for the first time since the T'Kri shuttles had left.
"And I guess it would be best for him to leave. This colony has been under seige by an alien race for so long, that they wouldn't be comfortable to have Jev around them, not as he looks now," Johnathan said, looking once more at Kiyel and Jev who were now eating something.
"Captain," Janice interrupted, walking up to them with Jaffey following behind her.
"Report, Seargant," Johnathan said.
"We've been able to remove the power supply from the shuttle, but it is going to take us some time before we're able to adapt it to the probe's systems."
"Then I suggest that the two of you not waste any time," Kel suggested, looking at Jaffey, and then at Janice.
"Yes, Sir, however there is something else."
"What is it?" Johnathan asked.
"The connections for the probes power supply appears to have been tampered with, Sir."
"Tampered with, in what way?" Kel demanded, his attention now fully on Janice.
"It appears that the leads for the power source are missing, Sir," she said.
"Missing!" Kel exclaimed.
"Jaffey, did you find anything?" Kel asked.
"No, Sir. I couldn't tell you whether the probe's power systems were tampered with prior to it's landing, or after. But they are definitely missing."
"He was right," Mikkel said.
"Who was right?" Johnathan asked.
"Jev. He said he had a feeling that we'd be too late, that someone had already discovered the probe."
"Jev said that?" Kel asked. "When, Mikkel?"
"On the way here from the caves, Sir. He thought that the T'Kri might have found the probe before we got here. We just dismissed it as him just thinking the worst, but now..." Mikkel said, looking over at Jev.
"Now, you're thinking that he was right in the first place," Kel answered for him, finishing his thought.
"Why would the T'Kri go through all the trouble of locating the probe, uncovering it, and then stealing the connections for the power supply, then cover the probe back up once they were done?" Johnathan asked.
"I can think of only one reason for that," Kel said. "To make it more difficult for us to send out a signal, and to give them time to organize a strike force against us."
"That would suggest that they already know that we're here," Johnathan said.
"Yes, and if that's the case, then we have even less time than we did before," Kel stated, already beginning to weigh their options. Jaffey, did you test the power supply itself?"
"Yes, Sir. Both Seargant Mathews and I checked it out, and we cannot find anything wrong with the power supply. It seems to be in perfect working order. The connections are just missing."
"Is there anything we can use to adapt some wiring in the probe to connect the power supply back up to it's systems?" Kel asked.
"Yes, Sir, but like Seargant Mathews said, it's going to take time."
"Then I suggest the two of you get to work on it," Kel said.
"Yes, Sir," Jaffey said, and turned towards the probe.
"Wait a minute, Captain," Johnathan said. "I am not comfortable staying here in what is an obvious trap. We should retreat while we still can."
"Captain, you and I both know that if we leave here now, without signaling the Centani, that our chances of escaping from this mountain are slim to none," Kel said, staring at Johnathan in amazement for his audacity to suggest such a thing.
"For you and your crew, maybe. But not for mine. We can take the shuttle and escape from here before the T'Kri have a chance to organize an offensive."
"You would seriously consider abandoning my crew up here on this mountain so you can avoid a confrontation?" Kel asked, his anger already beginning to rise at this man's audacity.
"Captain, you have five people. I have an entire colony to consider. If we are captured, the chances of this colony surviving will be nill. I will not jeopardize this colony just to send out a signal. No, we'll have to wait for another opportunity."
"This is the only opportunity we've had since this occupation started!" Mikkel said heatedly. "And now you're willing to risk all that, just to run away?"
"That is enough of that, Lieutenant!" Johnathan ordered. "Get everyone packed up and ready to leave. And tell Janice to get that power supply re-installed in the shuttle."
"I'm sorry, Sir, but I can't do that," Mikkel said.
"What did you say, Lieutenant?" Johnathan asked heatedly.
"You heard me, Sir. I will not abandon my brother to the T'Kri, and if there is any chance of getting that probe working again, and a signal out to their ship, then I'm going to do what I can to help."
"This is mutiny, mister," Johnathan yelled.
"No, Sir. This is family protecting family. I joined this group because I wanted to do what I could to get rid of the T'Kri. I didn't sign on just to retreat!"
"Mister, you get on that shuttle right now, or..."
"Or you'll what? Have me court martialed? We're a rebel force, not the military. The colony council doesn't even recognize our status. No, Captain. I cannot follow you any longer. My place is with my brother, and it always has been. I should have remembered that before I left him. I'm not going to do that again."
"Fine, stay here and die. Janice, get that power supply hooked back up, we're packing up and leaving," Johnathan ordered, already heading back to the shuttle himself, and beginning to bark orders to the rest of his team.
"Are you sure you want to do this, Mikkel?" Kel asked him.
"Captain, I am more sure about this than I have been of anything in my life. My place is with Jev. Captain, I'd like permission to join your crew."
"Mikkel, understand what this means. You would be enlisted in the Caitaran military and you are a Human being."
"I understand that, Captain. But this is where I belong; with Jev."
"Then welcome aboard, Lieutenant," Kel said, shaking Mikkel's hand. "Your first task is to do what you can to help Jaffey adapt some of the wiring to hook up the probe's power supply."
"I will help you with that, Mikkel," Janice said, making everyone look at her.
"Janice?" Mikkel said, curious as to why she was still here.
"I'm not going to let that fool of a Captain ruin any chance this colony has of getting rid of the T'Kri. I'll get that power supply hooked back up to his shuttle, but I'm staying here with you. You need me to help you with that power supply."
"Janice, I appreciate the offer..." Mikkel started.
"This isn't an offer, Mikkel. This is what I want to do. Captain, if you need me, I'm yours."
"We do need you, Seargant," Kel said, bewildered at having two humans requesting to join his crew. "I have to ask you if you're sure about this, though."
"Captain, I am more than sure."
"Welcome aboard then, Seargant," Kel said. "I suggest the two of you get started on the probe right away."
"Aye, Captain," Mikkel and Janice said at the same time, saluting before they ran off to help Jaffey get the probe working again.
"You know the woman is in love with my brother, Captain," Jev said behind Kel.
"Damn, Jev. Don't do that," a startled Kel said, turning to look at Jev and Kiyel who was with him as always. "And yes, I had a feeling she was."
"This should be interesting to watch. I've never seen my brother in love before," Jev said, smiling wryly.
"That it should, lad," Kel agreed, laughing.
To Be Continued ...