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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.
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A loud reverberating buzzing noise dragged Jev rudely from the depths of sleep. A yellow light on the panel on his nightstand flashed incessantly, in time with the buzzing.
With a tired groan, he reached over and touched the panel, which immediately stopped the assault on his ears. But unfortunately for him the alarm had already done its job. He was awake.
He was, however, in no hurry to get out from under the cozy, warm blankets, which he pulled up tighter against his body.
The shifting of the sheets beside him told him that the alarm had woken Kiyel as well.
“I hate alarm clocks,” Jev complained.
“You hate that they were invented, or that they make such an annoying noise?” Kiyel asked as he turned over to face him.
“Both,” Jev replied, his nose twitching with obvious displeasure.
“Come on,” Kiyel said with a slight chuckle. He sat up and threw off the blankets. “We’d better get up.”
Reluctantly, Jev did the same.
About a half hour later, after showering and putting on fresh uniforms, they left their room and were surprised to see that Sam was already awake and preparing for them what smelled like k’yarri in the tiny alcove that served as their quarters’ galley.
“Doc? What are you doing up so early?” Jev asked, just managing to stifle a yawn.
“Good morning, Jev, Kiyel,” Sam said, handing them each a mug. “I’ve always been an early riser. It’s a habit of mine, I’m afraid.”
“And I thought we woke up early,” Jev muttered to Kiyel quietly. He took a sip of his k’yarri, pausing for a moment so that he could savor the taste and to allow the warmth of the k’yarri to spread throughout his body. “This is really good, Doc,” he said, pleasantly surprised.
“I’m glad you like it. Tiela told me how to prepare it yesterday.”
“Well, that would explain it then,” Kiyel said, taking another sip as they went to the sitting area.
“Is Aiden still asleep?” Jev asked once they were comfortably seated.
“Yes, thankfully,” Sam nodded.
“But I thought you were going to have Aiden checked out this morning to make sure his wounds were properly healed,” Kiyel said, looking quizzically at Sam.
“Sometimes, Kiyel, the body can be the best physician, and getting plenty of rest can be the best medicine. Don’t worry, though. I’ve already gotten in touch with Sanaa, and she and Ardem have agreed to come by shortly, to look after Aiden while we’re gone. When Aiden wakes up, they’ll bring him along.”
As if on cue, the door suddenly sounded, whereupon Sam got up to answer it. After verifying the identity of their visitors, he opened the door to let Sanaa and Ardem in.
“Is that fresh k’yarri I smell?” Sanaa asked, her nose twitching eagerly as she sniffed the air.
“Help yourself to some, I made lots,” Sam said, chuckling a little at her reaction.
After getting their k’yarri, Sanaa and Ardem followed Sam to the seating area where they sat down.
“Thanks for agreeing to look after Aiden for us on such short notice,” Kiyel said.
“Oh, it’s no trouble at all, Kiyel,” Sanaa said, with a wave of her arm.
“The truth is, the both of us are very fascinated with Aiden,” Ardem added. “He is so unlike our young, and yet there’s much about him that is similar.”
“I think that’s probably a trait that all children share, no matter the species,” Sam said, with a bemused grin.
“You’re hoping to have children yourselves one day, aren’t you?” Jev said. It was more a statement than a question.
“How did you know?” Ardem asked, looking genuinely surprised.
“Ardem, Jev’s talent is extremely sensitive. There isn’t a whole lot that escapes his notice. Your desire for young was strong enough for us to easily pick it up,” Kiyel explained.
“No wonder then that the Telepath Guild is so anxious to have you tested, Jev,” Sanaa said.
“Believe me, the feeling isn’t mutual,” Jev said, with a long drawn out sigh. “I feel like I’ve been examined and poked and prodded enough as it is, already.”
“Speaking of which,” Sam interjected, “we might as well get going. I’m sure Tiela is just as anxious to get these tests over with as you are, Jev.”
“I doubt it,” Jev muttered to himself, but grudgingly rose from his seat with the others.
Cheer up, Jev, it’s almost over, Kiyel sent reassuringly
Don’t you ever get tired of it, though, Kiyel?
All the time, Kiyel answered, and Jev could feel his annoyance. It’s just that because of my upbringing I’ve learned to be patient.
Maybe they should be poked and prodded, and see how they like it, Jev sent, half in jest.
Kiyel just chuckled lightly as they reached the door to their quarters.
Sam pressed his hand to the panel and the doors slid open. The three of them then stepped out into the corridor.
“We’ll be by later with Aiden, once he wakes up,” Sanaa told them.
“Thanks again, Sanaa,” Kiyel said.
Sanaa’s ears gave a little flick in acknowledgment and the door slid closed again, leaving them standing alone in the corridor.
“Come on, let’s get this over with,” Sam said.
As they started down the corridor, though, Jev began feeling a little uneasy. There was something unsettling in the air, but for some reason, he was unable to localize its source. The corridors were slightly crowded with the ship’s crew as they carried out their assigned duties, the odd few giving them curious glances as they passed, but there was nothing readily apparent to suggest that anything was out of the ordinary. He tried to dismiss his anxiety as being attributable to his unfamiliarity with the ship. But, still, the feeling of wrongness persisted.
What’s wrong, Enassi? Kiyel asked, picking up on Jev’s uneasiness.
I’m sure it’s nothing, but for some reason, something just doesn’t feel right somehow, Jev answered, his ears twitching nervously.
They were almost at the medical bay when, all of a sudden, Jev stopped short. The uneasiness he felt earlier suddenly intensified sharply. He began to sense that something was now horribly, dangerously wrong, and he whirled about in fear.
“Kiyel, look out!” he screamed, throwing his body at his alarmed Enassi, knocking him to the floor and out of harm’s way.
Right as he did, a blinding red beam lanced out towards them, accompanied by the all too familiar whine of a powerful energy weapon being fired. The shot, which had been aimed at Kiyel, hit Jev instead, sending him hurtling against the bulkhead where he landed in a crumpled heap, unconscious and bleeding heavily from his arm.
Alarms suddenly sounded in the corridor as Kiyel scrambled to his feet and rushed to Jev’s side. He knelt down and pulled Jev to him, cradling his head carefully in his lap. As he did, though, he began to feel wetness on his uniform spread, as Jev’s blood began seeping from a gash in the back of his head, where it had hit the edge of the bulkhead.
“Damn,” Sam swore, kneeling down beside Jev. He ripped a sleeve off his shirt which he then tightly tied around Jev’s arm, in an effort to staunch the flow of blood. “Press your hand down on that wound, lad, to help stop the bleeding,” he instructed Kiyel.
Kiyel did as he was told and looked up at Sam with fear in his eyes. Tears rolled down his cheeks, both from the extreme pain he felt from Jev, and because he was suddenly very afraid for his Enassi’s life. Already he could feel Jev growing weaker from the loss of blood.
“Help him, Sam,” he cried fearfully.
“Medic,” Sam called out, looking up at the alarmed crowd that had gathered. “We need a medic, here, now!”
Movement out of the corner of Kiyel’s eye caught his attention and he looked over just in time to see a pair of feet disappearing down an adjacent corridor.
“Somebody get that son of a bitch!” Kiyel yelled, seething with sudden fury as he pointed in the direction of the fleeing shooter.
He was only peripherally aware of three members of the ship’s security personnel arriving, though, who then quickly took off after the shooter, as his attention returned to his Enassi, whom he held even more tightly.
Meanwhile, Tiela, who heard the commotion and then the sudden blaring of alarms in the corridor, poked her head out of the medical bay and saw the horrifying sight of Jev bleeding badly from his wounds, on the ground with Kiyel and Sam tending to him, along with a large gathering of confused and alarmed Caitarans standing around them. Springing into action, she quickly grabbed her medical kit and called for her staff to follow her.
“Move aside,” she barked sharply when they reached the crowd, forcefully pushing her way through to get to Jev instead of waiting for people to move.
She cringed involuntarily when she finally reached him, seeing just how bad his injuries were. Her training kicked in right away, however, as she knelt down and began to work to stabilize him.
“He’s got a lacerated artery in his arm and a severe concussion,” she said, speaking to Sam as she studied the display on her diagnostic scanner. “The artery is half cauterized; I can’t close it here. We need to get him to the medical bay, now!”
She quickly cut away the cloth Sam had tied around Jev’s arm, which was already soaked with his blood, and carefully, but firmly, applied a pressure bandage to the wound, which she taped tightly.
“Tiela, he’s fading fast,” Kiyel said, his voice taut with fear.
She looked at him with concern, for she could tell also that Kiyel was beginning to fade with his Enassi.
“He’s not going to die, Kiyel,” she promised firmly. “And neither are you.”
With the help of her team, Jev was carefully loaded on a stretcher which Tiela’s team had brought. Together they carried Jev to the medical bay with Kiyel and Sam following closely behind.
No sooner had they brought Jev into the Medical bay, though, than a crying Aiden suddenly came running in. Close on his heels were Sanaa and Ardem who were chasing after him, and who looked slightly out of breath.
“What the...?!” a startled Tiela exclaimed as Aiden made a beeline right for Jev, only to finally be caught by Kiyel.
“Sorry, Tiela,” Sanaa said. “He woke up screaming that Jev had been hurt and needed help. He ran out of the quarters before we could catch him.”
“By the Gods!” Ardem and Sanaa both exclaimed when they saw Jev lying on the table and covered in blood.
“Kiyel, keep him away from Jev so Sam and I can treat his wounds!” Tiela ordered.
“No, I can help!” Aiden cried.
Before anyone could stop him, Aiden twisted out of Kiyel’s grasp and reached out past Tiela to touch Jev’s arm. Tiela was just about to pull him away when she suddenly saw something remarkable happen. Jev’s wound, which had been bleeding profusely, was slowly beginning to heal before her eyes. She couldn’t explain it, and neither could anyone else, as they all stared with wondrous shock at what was happening.
“Kiyel?” Tiela said, with an astonished look, her tail swinging erratically.
“I don’t understand it, Tiela,” Kiyel said. He not only could see Jev’s wound healing, but he could also feel it. “The energies coming out of his hand are incredible.”
When Aiden finally let go, what remained of the wound was now just a reddish patch of fresh skin. There wasn’t any sign of the wound anymore, not even a scar. Only by the fact that the fur was missing could anyone tell that there had been a wound there at all.
“He’s a healer!” Sanaa said, almost in a whisper.
Before they could ask Aiden what he’d done, however, he stumbled and lost consciousness. Luckily, Kiyel was there to catch him before he fell.
“Bring him to the other table, Kiyel,” Tiela told him.
Even as light as Aiden was, Kiyel grunted slightly as he picked him up and gently placed him on the table. He then moved out of the way so that Sam and Tiela could check on him.
After a few tense moments, Sam nodded to Tiela before turning back to them.
“It’s okay,” he said, with a relieved expression. “He’s just exhausted. He needs to get some rest is all.”
The doors to the medical bay opened again unexpectedly, causing Kiyel to jump with a start. He turned and was relieved to see that it was just one of the ship’s security personnel entering the medical bay to take up a position by the door.
Tiela, who had also heard security’s arrival, looked up from where she was now preparing an intravenous line for Jev, and frowned.
“Just stay over there for now, so I can attend to my patients,” she said curtly to the officer.
“I assure you, physician Tiela, I have no intention of interfering,” the officer said.
“You need to move back also, Kiyel, so I can get to Jev,” Tiela said, her tone softening significantly. She knew exactly what his response would be, though.
“I’m not leaving him, Tiela,” Kiyel said, refusing to budge from Jev’s side. “He needs me.”
“Would you mind at least moving to the other side of him?” she asked, as she tried to position her equipment near Jev.
Kiyel’s ears flicked in assent as he made his way slowly, and with some difficulty, around the table, keeping a hand on Jev as he did.
Tiela saw that Kiyel was having difficulty moving around the table and she frowned. Although Jev had been healed by Aiden, Kiyel didn’t appear to be getting any stronger. In fact, he seemed even weaker than before.
“Sanaa, please get a chair and put it over on Jev’s other side so Kiyel can sit with him. And also, would you get Kiyel some k’yarri from the galley? It’ll help alleviate some of the weakness they both feel,” Tiela said, as she began inserting the intravenous line into Jev’s arm.
Moments later, Sanaa returned with the chair and the k’yarri, which Kiyel accepted gratefully.
While Tiela worked on Jev, Kiyel’s attention shifted to the security officer.
“Has the individual responsible for doing this to my Enassi been found yet?” he asked, his tail flicking as he sat down.
“Not yet, sir,” the officer answered from the door. “I was instructed by my superiors to remain here in case the assailant decided to finish what he started.”
As unlikely a scenario as that seemed to Kiyel, he was, nevertheless, glad to have security personnel present, just the same.
Meanwhile, Sam was closely watching Tiela as she began to connect Jev’s intravenous line to an odd looking piece of equipment on a cart that she had positioned next to him.
“What exactly is that device, Tiela?” he asked.
“It’s a blood infuser. It’ll help Jev replenish most of the blood he lost,” she explained, glancing over at Sam as she pressed a sequence of buttons on the device.
“Aren’t you concerned about matching his blood type though?” Sam asked.
Tiela shook her head and smiled faintly at him.
“Not with this device. The infuser analyses the patient’s blood chemistry and injects the correct intravenous solution which will stimulate his body’s natural ability to produce blood. This way, we can greatly reduce, or even eliminate entirely, the need for donated blood.”
“When will we know if Jev will be all right, Tiela?” Kiyel asked.
“His breathing is already starting to return to normal, as is his heart rate. There doesn’t appear to be any infection, partially thanks to the blaster cauterizing the tissue in his arm, but also thanks to Aiden’s remarkable healing ability. I will, of course, continue monitoring him, just in case. So I think we should know within a few hours.”
“So all we can do now is wait,” Kiyel said, with a resigned sigh.
“Pretty much,” Tiela answered.
Tiela’s eyes narrowed slightly as she studied the results displayed on her scanner and tapped a few more commands into the device. It was several hours since Jev had been brought into the medical bay. Sanaa and Ardem had long since left, promising to return later to check on Jev who was finally resting peacefully with Kiyel keeping watch over him, and she was taking the opportunity to go over some of his scans.
“That’s odd,” she said.
“What is?” Sam asked, peering over his shoulder at her.
“I just compared the scans I took of Jev—before his change—to Aiden’s, and there’s something here on Jev’s scans that doesn’t make any sense.”
“Well, Jev is a teenager and Aiden is just a small boy,” Sam said, moving to stand next to her.
“That wouldn’t explain this. Take a look for yourself,” she said, handing him the scanner.
Sam took one look at the scanner’s display and his eyes opened wide with surprised shock.
“Well, I’ll be!” he exclaimed as he suddenly recognized what had Tiela so perplexed.
“You know what this is?” Tiela asked, her clawed finger tapping at the anomaly in the scan.
“Yes, I do,” Sam confirmed. “It’s almost too impossible to believe, but there’s no denying what these scans are telling us.”
“Then this isn’t normal for human development?”
“Heaven’s, no!” Sam said incredulously. “However, it does explain a few things.”
“Several months ago, Jev came to me complaining of severe cramping. I prescribed to him some pain medication, figuring it was just a case of acute indigestion. But he came back again the following month with the exact same symptoms, and the following month after that. And, now, I know why.”
“So if it wasn’t indigestion, then what was it?” Tiela asked.
“Jev has both male and female reproductive organs,” he explained, handing her back the scanner. “He’s what we call intersexed or hermaphroditic.”
“Are you trying to tell me that Jev is actually both male and female?” she asked, her tail giving an involuntary twitch.
“No, not exactly. Jev is definitely male, and he identifies as such. However, he just happens to have female reproductive organs as well.”
“This is completely unheard of in Caitaran physiology,” Tiela said, once again studying the scans.
“It’s a rare phenomenon, I agree, even for humans. But if you look closely, you can clearly see a fully developed uterus, ovaries, and even a birth canal,” Sam said, pointing to each of the organs in the scan.
“But there’s no vaginal opening. Where there should be one, there’s only fatty tissue and skin,” she observed.
“Exactly,” Sam nodded. “Which would explain why Jev’s cramps were so severe before I treated him. At the end of his cycle, the menstrual discharge had nowhere to go.”
“So why then, in the two months he’s been with us, hasn’t he complained of having these cramps, or showed any signs that his menstrual cycle was beginning?” Tiela asked.
“I’m guessing it’s probably because of the stress he’s been under, especially with this change of his. It has thrown his system completely off,” Sam said.
“I wonder...“ Tiela said, her voice trailing off as she quickly moved to her desk in the adjacent room and tapped a few commands into the console there.
“What are you doing now?” a confused Sam asked as he joined her.
“I’m calling up the scans I just took of Jev while we were treating him. I want to confirm the anomaly is still present.”
“It is, look,” Sam said, as the results of the scan were displayed.
“When I initially took this scan, I just assumed they were remnants of his normal human physiology,” Tiela said, her ears folding back against her skull in embarrassment. She sat down and stared at the screen. “Not knowing about your biology, it wasn’t something that I even remotely thought of, much less looked for.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, lass,” Sam said, giving her a reassuring smile. “No one could have expected this. Hell, I didn’t, and I’ve been his doctor for years.”
Tiela grinned at him in thanks.
“So what do we do now?” she asked.
“Do? What do you mean? We tell him of course. We tell both of them.”
“But with this change in his physiology, we don’t even know if he would be capable of carrying young, or even if he and Kiyel are compatible.”
“All the more reason to tell them, I think,” Sam said. “Besides, they’re telepaths. They’re bound to figure it out on their own anyway,” he quickly added.
“You’re right of course,” Tiela said, stiffly getting back to her feet. “I think we’d better go see if he’s awake yet.”
Jev lay unconscious on the examination table in the medical bay, propped up by several pillows. They had been provided for him by Kiyel who sat in a chair beside him.
Just as he began waking up, slowly opening his eyes and blinking them repeatedly to clear away the fuzziness, Sanaa and Ardem walked in.
Jev’s stirring alerted Kiyel to his returning to consciousness.
“Thank the gods you’re awake,” Kiyel said, relief and pleasure plainly evident in his voice.
“What happened?” Jev asked groggily.
“You were shot,” Kiyel said, holding Jev’s hand in his.
As soon as Kiyel said this, the memories of the event came flooding back to Jev in a rush.
“Why does this keep happening to us, Kiyel?” he asked, tears of pain and frustration beginning to fill his eyes. “Why won’t they just leave us alone?”
Kiyel had no answer for him, though. He could only sit there, holding his Enassi to give him comfort, and to reassure him through their link that everything was going to be alright.
It was then that Tiela and Sam emerged from her office. At once they saw that Jev was awake as they’d hoped. What they didn’t expect to see, though, was that he was leaning into Kiyel and sobbing openly.
Kiyel saw them as they approached and shook his head, answering their unspoken question.
When Jev’s sobs soon lessened, and finally stopped altogether, he opened his eyes and saw that Tiela and Sam were in the room with them.
“You gave us quite the scare, lad,” Sam said.
“Do you remember anything that happened, Jev?” Tiela asked.
Jev slowly nodded and wiped the remaining tears from his face.
“I remember feeling that something wasn’t quite right when we left our quarters, and then a sudden feeling of danger around Kiyel. I haven’t felt anything that unsettling since...” Jev said, his voice trailing as realization suddenly hit him like a cold shower.
“The pilot!” Kiyel exclaimed, finishing Jev’s train of thought. He then captured the security officer’s attention. “Inform your chief that he needs to search for the pilot who brought us from our encampment to the main town on the planet below. He may be involved in the attack.”
“Right away, sir,” the officer said, and began speaking into his communicator.
“What’s all this about, Jev?” Sanaa asked, looking confused.
“When we were back on Alessi, and while the rest of our team was gathering our gear from the cave, we had a very unpleasant run in with the shuttle’s pilot. He exhibited very strong feelings of xenophobia, all of which were directed at the two of us,” Jev explained.
“It was the same type of xenophobia that we’d felt before in Gaev, our first officer,” Kiyel finished.
“I just don’t know why I had such trouble picking up on his emotions in the corridor,” Jev said. “Usually I can sense strong emotions right away. But this time, it was like I had to fight my way through a dense fog.”
“I’m almost afraid to suggest this, but it’s possible your attacker carried with him a modified psychic damper. If he did, I’m surprised you were able to sense anything at all,” Sanaa said.
“I told you Jev’s talents were especially strong,” Kiyel reminded them.
“What’s a psychic damper?” Sam asked.
“Psychic dampers are installed throughout the ship in quarters where telepaths reside. Especially strong dampers are installed in Enassi quarters due to the increased intensity of emotions that can be released during a pairing,” Ardem explained.
“You mean when you have sex,” Sam nodded.
“These dampers work by creating a sort of white noise effect that surrounds telepaths, to ensure that their thoughts and emotions don’t bleed out and start affecting the rest of the crew. A modified damper works in reverse, preventing a telepath from picking up the thoughts and feelings of others. It would be like causing someone who can see to suddenly become blind.”
“It’s for this reason modified dampers are illegal,” Sanaa added.
“Somehow, I don’t think whether they’re legal or not has any meaning for the bastard who shot Jev,” Sam said.
“What else do you remember about what happened, Jev?” Tiela asked, prompting him to continue.
“Not much, I’m afraid. There was a flash of red light, a sudden pain in my arm and then I guess I must have blacked out,” he said.
“Well, the shot that was apparently intended for Kiyel hit you instead when you knocked him out of the way,” Sam told him.
Jev glanced down at his arm, seeing the dressing and the intravenous line sticking out of it.
“It cut open an artery in your arm, and the force of it threw you against the bulkhead, which is how you ended up with a pretty nasty gash in your scalp and a severe concussion,” Sam continued.
“I guess I have you and Tiela to thank for fixing me up, again,” Jev said, managing a weak smile.
“Actually,” Sam said, absently rubbing the back of his head, “we did very little except to stop the bleeding and bring you into the medical bay. The one who actually saved your life was Aiden. He’s sleeping right over there.”
Surprised, Jev looked over at the adjacent table where Aiden lay still asleep. Filled with concern for him, he attempted to get off the table, but was hit with a sudden wave of dizziness accompanied by a sharp pain in his head.
Kiyel, feeling Jev’s discomfort moved to steady him and to help him lie back down.
“Easy, Jev. You’re in no condition to be moving about right now,” he said.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere,” Jev assured him, gritting his teeth as he fought back against the pain. “But how did Aiden save me. We left him sleeping in our quarters.”
“We don’t really know,” Tiela admitted. “Somehow, he was able to sense that you were in trouble and rushed out of your quarters and came right here. Before we knew it, he was putting his hands on you and somehow his doing so caused your wounds to begin to heal.”
“You mean he somehow healed me just by putting his hands on me?” Jev asked, his eyes opening wide with shock.
“That’s it exactly, lad,” Sam confirmed. “It’s the darnedest thing I ever saw. Sanaa, I remember, called him a healer.”
A healer is a telepath with a special talent for being able to heal the injured and cure the sick. It is an extremely rare phenomena and one that is highly regarded in our society, almost revered, Kiyel explained through their link.
If he is one, then he really needs to get tested by the guild, now more than ever, Jev sent.
I thought you hated tests, though, Kiyel said playfully.
His attempt at humour was rewarded with a playful punch in the arm from Jev.
“Unfortunately,” Sam continued, unaware of the conversation Jev and Kiyel were having, “healing you took a lot out of Aiden. He’s been sleeping ever since, and we’ve been monitoring him constantly. Tiela has been giving him nutritional supplements to help him recover his strength.”
“Incredible,” Jev said.
“Not as incredible as what we are about to tell you next,” Tiela said.
“There’s more?” Kiyel asked. He was just as surprised as Jev to hear this.
“Yes, but it has nothing to do with the attack on you today,” she said.