Copyright © 2010 -
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
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.
Please direct all comments to: email@example.com
Please donate to nifty: http://donate.nifty.org/donate.html
When Jev walked into the inn after having left the council chambers almost two hours later, he found Jaffay, Izha and Taaj sitting at a table in the corner by the fireplace.
Joining them, he sat down and ordered a cup of coffee from the innkeeper.
“The meeting’s not over already, is it?” Jaffay asked.
“For now,” Jev said, letting out a long and weary sigh.
“I take it diplomacy’s not your thing,” Izha said, with a wry grin.
“Gods no,” Jev said, almost laughing. “I was glad when Cael asked for an adjournment so he could consult with his superiors. Tiela suggested I take a break also. So here I am.”
“It’s no wonder, what with all that you and Kiyel have been doing lately,” Jaffay said.
Jev’s coffee arrived and he took a tentative sip from the steaming cup.
“Thank you,” he said, looking up at the innkeeper with an appreciative grin.
“Don’t mention it,” the innkeeper said, before turning to return to the bar.
“Speaking of Kiyel, why didn’t he leave with you?” Taaj asked.
“He’s still needed to act as an interpreter for Ambassador D’lin,” Jev said.
“Well, I for one, don’t envy him the job,” Taaj said.
Jev grinned at him appreciatively.
“Believe me, Kiyel’s just as anxious to get out of there as I was.”
“It’s not fair that you and Kiyel really haven’t had time alone to just enjoy each others company,” Taaj said.
“We’re hoping to get some time off after these talks are done and we’re on board the Cetani.”
“Fat chance of that happening,” Jaffay snorted derisively. “I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Admiral Chuul orders a full inquiry into what happened here. And I bet you she’ll have more than just a few questions for the two of you.”
“Don’t worry, Tiela already has that covered,” Jev said.
“Has she, now?” Jaffay asked, his ears pricking with interest.
“Just before I left, she informed Kiyel and me that after we get on board the Cetani, she’s taking us off active duty and ordering that we not be disturbed until she’s certain there aren’t any complications with our link or my transformation.”
“She’s a crafty old medic, that one,” Jaffay said, with a boisterous laugh.
Jev drank the last of his coffee and indicated for the innkeeper to bring him another.
“So, what was it that made Cael ask for a recess?” Izha asked.
“It was something the rebel leader said, actually,” Jev replied, nodding his thanks to the innkeeper who placed a fresh cup of coffee before him and took away his empty cup. “Amazingly enough, his team recently managed to capture and interrogate several T’kri. From them they learned that the race the T’kri are at war with are called Chemians.”
Jaffay suddenly sputtered and coughed into his drink then looked up at Jev in disbelief.
“You’re kidding me, right?”
“I’m afraid not. Cael just finished explaining to us who the Chemians are, and how they came to be banished from Caitar.”
“They’re a dark part of our history that we’re not particularly proud of,” Jaffay said, his ears flicking with embarrassment.
“It would certainly explain why the T’kri reacted to us the way they did,” Izha observed.
“Indeed,” Jaffay said dryly.
Just then they heard footsteps coming down the stairs by the bar. Jev turned in his seat to see Janice making her way towards them.
“I see they finally let you out of there,” she said, smiling at him as she pulled up a chair from an adjacent table and sat down next to him.
“Tiela said I needed to get some rest,” Jev said. “How’s Aiden doing?” he asked.
“He’s fine. He’s upstairs sleeping like a baby. Doc O’Riley and Elder Veir are watching over him right now,” Janice assured him.
“He actually let you and Doc put him to bed?” Jev asked, his ears pricking in surprise
“Actually, I was the one who put him to bed, Jev,” Jaffay told him.
Jev nodded his head appreciatively at him.
It was at that moment that the front door suddenly swung open, causing such a noise as to draw everyone’s attention to the front of the inn where they saw Janette enter and purposefully make her way towards them.
“Jev, I’d like to have a word with you,” she said. From the tone in her voice and the expression on her face, Jev could tell she wasn’t happy.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Why didn’t you tell me you had a child with you, a human child?”
Jev’s tail began to flick nervously behind him.
“Because we didn’t have to, First Councilor. You already knew we did,” Jev answered.
“How did you know that?” she asked, stopping in her tracks and staring at him in shock.
“I am a telepath, remember?” Jev said, grinning wryly at her. “The moment you saw us coming down the shuttle’s ramp, Kiyel and I were both easily able to pick up your realization that we were the ones who took Aiden from his home,” he explained.
“So which one of you was responsible for killing Luke Mills, then?” Janette asked, her tone becoming serious once more.
“Kiyel was,” Jev answered truthfully, no longer smiling. “And before you ask, yes, it was necessary,” Jev quickly added.
“How in the world can you think ripping a man to pieces is necessary, Jev?” Janette asked incredulously.
“Leave the lad alone, Janette.” As one, they all turned to see Sam and Elder Veir coming down the stairs. “You have no cause to be barking at Jev like that,” Sam said.
“Sam!” Janette exclaimed, surprised to see him. “What are you doing here?”
“My job,” Sam told her curtly. “Jev, Aiden is beginning to wake up,” he said in a gentler voice, as he looked at him and smiled. “Why don’t you go on up there and see him. I’ll take care of things down here.”
Acknowledging Sam with a grateful flick of his ears, and relieved to have a reason to be someplace else, Jev rose from his chair and hurried up the stairs.
“You knew?” Janette asked Sam after Jev had left, looking at him incredulously. “You knew that these people had Luke Mills’ child and you didn’t report it?”
Turning back to her, he folded his arms across his chest.
“Of course I knew, Janette. It was your aide, after all, who informed me that Jev and Kiyel were headed toward my clinic.”
“But they killed the boy’s father, Sam,” Janette said incredulously.
“I know what they did, Janette. And had I been there, I probably would have done the same,” Sam replied.
Janette gasped in shock.
“How can you say that?”
“Because, First Councilor, it took me several hours to repair the numerous severe injuries that Aiden’s so-called father inflicted upon him, that’s why,” Sam spat with disgust.
“What injuries?” Janette asked, becoming concerned.
“I think it’d be better if I let Jev explain what happened, when he comes back down,” he said, sitting down in the chair that Jev had just vacated. “I think he’ll be able to show you more effectively than I could tell it,” he finished, tapping the side of his temple with his finger.
As if on cue, Jev’s footsteps could be heard coming down the stairs. He wasn’t alone, however. With him, holding his hand and trying to rub the sleep out of his eyes, was a very groggy-looking Aiden.
“He said he was thirsty,” Jev said, answering Sam’s unspoken question.
“He can have juice or water, Jev,” Sam cautioned him. “No milk until I’m certain his system can handle it.”
Nodding his head, Jev led Aiden over to the bar. As soon as Aiden saw the innkeeper though, he quickly hid behind Jev’s legs.
“I’m sorry about that,” Jev said, his ears dipping slightly at the innkeeper’s startled reaction. “He’s terrified of being around humans.”
“What happened to him?” the innkeeper asked, her eyes opening wide.
“It’s a long story,” Jev said, with a long deep sigh.
“Isn’t it always?” she asked, shaking her head sadly.
“What would you like, Aiden, juice or water?” Jev asked, turning slightly to look down at him.
“Juice, please,” Aiden said, timidly poking his head out from behind Jev’s legs.
The innkeeper smiled kindly at Aiden then turned and took from the cooler behind her a glass pitcher filled with apple juice and began pouring the contents into a tall glass which she then set on the bar top.
“Thank you,” Jev said, taking the glass and handing it to Aiden who smiled up at him appreciatively.
He then led Aiden to the table where the others sat. As soon as Aiden saw that Janette, Sam, and Janice were at the table, though, he could feel Aiden’s grip tighten in fear.
It’s alright, Aiden, Jev sent to him soothingly. They’re not going to hurt you.
“You promise?” Aiden asked, looking up at him with concern, but loosening his grip slightly.
“I promise,” Jev said aloud, with a reassuring smile. “Why don’t you go sit with Jaffay and drink your juice.”
Aiden’s face brightened immediately at this.
“Okay,” he said.
Jev watched with amazed amusement as Aiden then strolled up to a surprised Jaffay and somehow managed to climb up onto his lap without spilling a drop of his juice.
“I just finished suggesting to Janette that you could show her what happened when the two of you entered Aiden’s home, Jev,” Sam said, getting his attention. “That way she can see for herself that it was necessary for you and Kiyel to do what you did.”
Before Jev could respond to Sam’s suggestion, however, the door suddenly slammed open, drawing their attention once more to the front of the inn where they saw a concerned-looking Kiyel enter and head directly toward Jev. Following right behind him, and looking equally concerned, were Kel, Tiela and Mikkel.
Jaffay quickly stood up from his chair, lifting Aiden in his arms as he did.
“Captain, what’s wrong?” he asked.
“I don’t know, Jaffay. Kiyel all of a sudden announced that he had to get over here right away.”
“Are you alright, Jev?” Kiyel asked as soon as he reached the table, his tail lashing from side to side.
“I am, now that you’re here,” Jev answered with a relieved smile. He welcomed Kiyel’s warm embrace and rubbed his nose to Kiyel’s affectionately. “We just had a bit of a disagreement is all.”
“It’s more than just a disagreement, Jev. A man has been killed!” Janette said incredulously.
Kiyel let go of Jev and glared at her, his ears flattening against his skull in anger.
“I know precisely what has been going on here, First Councilor,” he said, the forcefulness of his rebuke causing her to shrink back from him in fear.
“There is a way we can resolve this, Kiyel,” Jev said.
Kiyel took in a deep breath and forced himself to relax as he turned back to his Enassi.
“You mean show her our memories of what we found in Aiden’s home?” he asked.
“You can actually do that?” Janette asked in awe.
Kiyel and Jev both nodded their heads in assent.
“It’s one of the reasons why telepaths are so highly regarded by our courts, First Councilor,” Kel told her.
“If you’re willing to do this, you would see and hear everything that we did as though you were actually there,” Kiyel explained.
“What do I have to do?” Janette asked.
“Just grab a hold of my hands and open your mind to me,” Jev told her.
Janette hesitated only slightly before doing as Jev instructed, holding her hands out to him, which he then took a hold of and gripped tightly in his before gently sending a probe deep into her mind. The suddenness of Jev’s intrusion into her mind caused Janette to take in a sharp breath and try to pull away from him. But, his grip on her hands was firm and he refused to let go.
Feeling her discomfort, and not wishing to prolong the experience any longer than necessary, Jev quickly located the area in her mind that he was looking for, then began sending his memories to her; showing her the moment when he and Kiyel heard Aiden’s cries in the forest, and the horrifying scene that confronted them when they burst into Aiden’s home.
It took him several minutes to complete the transfer, but once done, he gently withdrew from her mind. Kiyel comfortingly held him as he began to tremble slightly from having to relive the memories.
“Oh God, I think I’m going to be sick!” Janette exclaimed, bending over slightly as she struggled to recover from the experience.
“Now do you see why we had to do what we did?” Kiyel asked.
“Yes,” she answered in a shaky, almost whispered voice. There were tears in her eyes. “How could he do such a thing, especially to his own son?” she asked.
“I don’t think anyone could really know for sure. It was obvious he was sick, but even so, he couldn’t be permitted to harm anyone else.”
“No, of course you’re right,” she said, wiping away her tears. She then looked at Jev. “I’m terribly sorry for doubting you, Jev,” she said sincerely. “I’ve known you long enough that I should have trusted you.”
“It’s alright, First Councilor,” Jev answered, accepting her apology with a flick of his ears.
“There is one thing I don’t understand though. Just a little while ago Aiden asked you a question, as though he was responding to something you’d said, but you didn’t said any. How’s that possible?”
“That’s another thing we need to discuss with you,” Kiyel told her. “Aiden is a lot like us.”
“You mean he’s also a telepath?” Janette asked, glancing over at Aiden who was still nursing his drink.
“We’re not sure. Because of the trauma he suffered at the hands of his father, his talent was awakened much earlier than it normally would have been. Right now, Aiden doesn’t have any control over his abilities, so Kiyel and I—and now Elder Veir—have been using our abilities to suppress his talents.”
“But why would you need to do that?” Janette asked, confused.
“If we didn’t, he would broadcast wildly and begin affecting the moods and thoughts of others around him. What’s worse, he wouldn’t even be aware that he’s doing it,” Kiyel explained.
“That’s why,” Jev said, and knowing she wasn’t going to like what he was going to suggest, took a deep breath, “Aiden needs to come with us when we leave.”
“No, absolutely not!” Janette said, emphatically shaking her head. “Regardless of what problems he might have, he’s a part of this colony and we’ll take care of him.”
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible,” Kiyel said.
“Why’s that?” Janette asked, turning on him.
“Because the more Aiden’s talent grows stronger—and it will—the more he’ll begin to affect the people around him. Aiden needs very specific training to teach him to control his talent, and of course, how to use it properly. Your people, while fully capable of taking care of a normal child his age, are ill-equipped to train a telepath.”
“Couldn’t you train him here?” she asked.
Kiyel again shook his head.
“He’s too terrified of humans. It would make teaching him to control his talent very difficult, if not impossible.”
“What if I were to adopt Aiden and go with him, Janette?” Sam asked, drawing everyone’s attention to him.
“Sam, no, you can’t!” Janette protested, both surprised and alarmed at his suggestion.
“Why the hell not?” Sam asked. “Just think about this rationally for a minute, Janette. Who on Kiyel’s home world knows anything about raising a human child, or treating him medically if he were to get sick or injured? And besides which, while Aiden may not trust me yet, he does know me.”
“Alright, you do have a point there,” Janette conceded reluctantly. “But what about your patients at the clinic, Sam? We need you here.”
Sam shook his head.
“You and I both know that there are other well-qualified doctors who now work at the clinic besides me Janette,” he reminded her. “And even more can be trained now that the T’kri are gone.”
“You’re really going to come with us to Caitar?” Jev asked excitedly.
“Truthfully, I was never cut out to be a colonist, Jev. I only signed up because I desperately wanted to get away from Earth and all her problems.”
“I’m not going to win this, am I?” Janette asked with a weary sigh.
“Nope,” Sam said with a wry grin.
“Don’t feel too bad, First Councilor,” Jev told her, shaking his head with amusement. “My dad wasn’t able to win an argument against him either.”
“Alright, I’ll agree to this, but only on one condition,” Janette decided.
“And what might that be?” Sam asked, his tone turning serious once more.
“That this is what Aiden wants,” she told him.
“So how about it Aiden?” Jev asked as he turned to him. By this time Aiden had finished his juice and was now resting comfortably in Jaffay’s arms. “Would you like it if Doc O’Riley were to become your new dad?”
“Why can’t you or Kiyel be my daddy?” Aiden asked hopefully.
Jev shook his head sadly.
“I wish we could, but neither of us are really old enough. I’m only sixteen years old,” he said. Aiden’s face fell. “But do you know what we would be if Doc O’Riley was your new dad?” Jev quickly added.
“No, what?” Aiden asked, his voice trembling slightly.
“We’d be brothers.”
“Really?” Aiden’s eyes opened wide with surprise. “You’d really be my brother?” he asked, suddenly becoming excited.
“Yes I would,” Jev answered with a smile.
“And Kiyel, too?”
“And Kiyel, too,” Jev assured him, his ears flicking in assent.
Aiden suddenly hopped off Jaffay’s lap and ran to Jev, wrapping his arms around his neck happily as Jev picked him up.
“I’d say that’s a yes,” Taaj said, grinning.
“I’ll have the papers ready for you to sign by the time you leave tomorrow, Sam,” Janette told him, sighing with resignation. Despite her misgivings though, she couldn’t help but smile at Aiden’s enthusiasm.
“Thank you, Janette,” Sam said.
“I’m still thirsty,” Aiden said quietly into Jev’s ear.
“Doc, is Aiden allowed to have some more juice?” Jev asked, looking at him.
“Just a little bit, Jev,” Sam said, nodding his head in assent. “I’ll get it for him,” he said as he got up from his chair.
“Thanks, Doc,” Jev said, setting Aiden down. “Go ahead and sit back down with Jaffay. Doc will bring you your juice in a minute.”
“Okay,” Aiden said happily, already hurrying over to Jaffay who lifted him up onto his lap.
“Well, now that that’s taken care of, First Councilor, if it’s alright with you, may I have a moment alone with my team?” Kel asked.
“Of course, Captain. I’ll leave you to it, then,” Janette said before turning to Jev. “You take care of yourself up there, alright?” she told him.
“I will,” Jev promised.
Then nodding her head to the others at the table, she turned and left the inn.
“So, what’s up, Captain?” Izha asked.
“Tomorrow morning, a shuttle from the Taigana will be coming to take us back to the Cetani. Kiyel, a telepath from Alien Affairs will be on board. She’ll be taking over as an interpreter for the remainder of these talks. Captain Cael would like you to imprint the colonists’ language on her when she gets here.”
“Of course, Captain,” Kiyel said, acknowledging his order with a flick of his ears.
“Before the shuttle arrives, we need to unload all our gear from Captain Cael’s shuttle, and prepare to load it onto the one arriving. And lastly, when we’re on board the Cetani, we have been instructed by Admiral Chuul to attend a debriefing.”
“Captain, you’d better inform the Admiral that Jev and Kiyel will not be at that debriefing. Until such time as I’m satisfied there are no lasting side-effects to Jev’s transformation, and that their link is stable, I’m taking them off active duty,” Tiela interjected.
“She’s not going to be very happy about that, Tiela,” Kel said with a frown, his ears flicking briefly. “I’m afraid she’s going to insist that they be there.”
“She can insist all she wants. But until I’ve certified them fit to return to duty, neither she, or any of her staff, are to come anywhere near them.”
“And if she tries to push the issue?”
Tiela grinned at him wickedly.
“Then I’ll introduce her to my mother.”
“I feel sorry for the Admiral already,” Kel said with a light chuckle, which earned him a quick, but playful elbow to the ribs from her.
“As for you two,” he continued, turning his attention to Mikkel and Janice, “you have a choice to make. Cael has granted you permission to come with us when we leave, in which case you’ll officially become permanent members of our armed forces. Of course, if you decide to come, you’ll have to undergo extensive training, which is quite grueling even by Caitaran standards. Or, if you wish, you can remain here on Alessi.”
Mikkel and Janice looked at each other for a moment before nodding their heads together in silent agreement.
“Captain, if it’s all the same to you, now that the T’kri threat has been abated, we’d like to stay and help rebuild the colony,” Janice said.
“I had a feeling you might,” Kel said with an understanding grin.
“You’re not coming with us?” Jev asked, looking at Mikkel. Tears began to form in his eyes which then rolled down his furred cheek as he suddenly realized he would soon be saying goodbye to his brother.
“I have to stay, Jev,” Mikkel said, reaching up to rub his tears away. “They need me here. And besides, someone needs to keep an eye on Captain Harris.”
“But I need you, too,” Jev said, with a sob.
“You know I’ll always be here for you, Jev,” Mikkel promised, pulling him into a tight hug. “We’ll see each other again soon. I promise. Once things get settled here, I’ll come and visit.”
“We both will,” Janice added, and offered him a reassuring smile.
“Alright, people" Kel continued after Jev and Mikkel finally separated from each other, once again getting his crew’s attention. “We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow. So I suggest that you all take this time to freshen up a bit and get some much deserved rest. The First Councilor has made arrangements with the innkeeper to provide us with rooms to sleep in for the night—and showers.”
Jev’s ears pricked up at this last bit of news, as did every Caitaran at the table. The prospect of finally being able to have a shower gave him much relief as his fur had long ago lost its sheen and his skin underneath was beginning to feel very dry and itchy. There was no doubt in his mind that the others were feeling just as uncomfortable.
“A shower,” Tiela whispered dreamily, her tail flicking anxiously behind her. “It’s been so long since I’ve had one that I’d almost forgotten what one was.”
There were several heads nodding in agreement at this.
“What do you think, Kiyel? Care to join me upstairs?” Jev asked, looking at his Enassi with a mischievous grin.
“I think I’d like that,” Kiyel answered enthusiastically.
“Oh will you two please get a room,” Tiela said, rolling her eyes at them with mock indignation, which caused everyone at the table to erupt in laughter.
“We definitely plan to, Tiela,” Jev said once he managed to get his laughter under control, “one with a nice, soft bed to sleep in rather than a cold, hard floor like in the cave.”
“I’m all for that,” Izah said, her nose crinkling slightly as she cringed from the memory of their time in the cave.
“I’ll have Taaj bring you up some fresh uniforms from the shuttle when you’re done,” Kel told them.
“Thanks, Captain,” Kiyel said with an appreciative flick of his ears.
“Come on, Kiyel,” Jev said gleefully as he grabbed a hold of his hand, and then began leading him up the stairs.