• Interactive fiction running live now:
    Sparnell Confederation: Season 64 Sign-ups: Five Hundred Fun Ways to Die!
    The Freeholds: Rock Danger: Ask Me Anything
      Participate as yourself, or use your own Original Character in Vazdimet!
    Wed, Oct 13th 2021 07:17   Edited on Tue, May 3rd 2022 01:26

    Coming Home (Auren Reed)

    Grand Navarch Shane Lawrence motioned to the pair of chairs in the otherwise sparse conference room.   "Have a seat, Munokkael. Make yourself comfortable. You're going be here for a while."
    Wed, Oct 13th 2021 07:28

    Auren eyes the chair, hovering beside it nervously but not sitting. "What does Munno-kale mean?"
    Wed, Oct 13th 2021 07:45

    Shane smirks. "All in due time. I need to call you something, and you haven't told me your name."   He claims his seat, leaning backwards to cross his feet on the desk as the door locks behind him with an audible click.   "Sit! Relax!" He motions to the remaining chair. "I believe I offered to answer your questions about our intentions with Sparnell. I'm a man of my word. Ask away."
    Wed, Oct 13th 2021 08:12

    After a moment, Auren sits, crossing his arms in a way that is supposed to be confident but that comes off as kind of anxious. "Are you going to destroy them?"
    Wed, Oct 13th 2021 08:33

    "Right to the point." Shane smiles approvingly before shaking his head. "No. Not that the idea doesn't hold a certain appeal, mind you. But there's a lot of logistical concerns with an effort of that magnitude."   Removing his feet from the desk he leans forward, orange eyes locked on Auren's. "The Mordena may be tenacious, and we certainly don't take no for an answer. But how do we take on the entire Sparnell war machine while still defending our own people? And, more importantly, how do we make sure we don't become the same as the enemy we're fighting?"   Shane shakes his head. "No, I've made that mistake before, and I swore it would never happen again. So we'll defend our allies against the Confederation, deny Sparnell the expansion they hunger for, undermine key efforts when we can, and help provide a safe haven for those fleeing from their grasp. But as far as trying to wipe them off the starmap? That's the Order and the SDL's problem. Not ours."
    Wed, Oct 13th 2021 08:44

    Auren nods, silent for a moment as he turns it over in his mind. "So your goal is to protect people from them. Help people." He scratches absently at his arm. "Not to take the fight to Sparnell."
    Wed, Oct 13th 2021 08:48

    Shane leans back in his seat again, crossing his hands behind his head, his calculating gaze still locked on Auren. "Exactly. Universe doesn't need more bullies, there's more than enough already. But the innocent need a shield." His grin carries memories of triumphs past. "A violent, ruthless, bloodthirsty shield, but a shield nonetheless."
    Wed, Oct 13th 2021 09:15

    Auren uncrosses his arms, frowning as he runs his fingers through his hair. "I wish -" He cuts himself off and then forces himself to meet Shane's eyes. "How do you join the Mordena?"
    Wed, Oct 13th 2021 09:58

    "How would you join, you mean?"   Shane's face hardens, his formerly jovial demeanor shifting into menace.   "I've been quite open and honest with you regarding our militaristic intentions with Sparnell. You know things that nobody else knows outside the Mordena. Surely you've realized by now, Munokkael."   His smirk returns, this time dripping with the threatening confidence of one accustomed to absolute power as he leans forward, eyes still locked on Auren.   "You're not leaving this room until I'm confident you're mine."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 11:02

    Auren’s eyes widen, though he quickly tries to rearrange his face to hide the alarm. “What’s that supposed to mean? You know nothing about me.”
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 11:09

    "I know more than you think." Shane's words are quiet, but no less lethal. "And you'll tell me the rest. I'm quite... pursuasive."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 01:37

    Auren takes a deep breath to steady himself. "As long as this isn't some weird sex thing, I don't mind answering questions."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 02:09

    Shane pulls back at Auren's words, raising an eyebrow. "No..." Recovering quickly, his smirk returns. "Sorry to disappoint."   His expression deepens into a scowl as Feels' laughter echoes in his mind from the locket around his neck, the soothing power of their psychomorphation already smoothing out his embarrassment and discomfort. Not often your new recruits manage to make you the uncomfortable one. This'll be a fun one.   Directing the scowl at Auren, he harnesses his frustrations to cut an even more imposing figure. "You say I don't know you, so tell me. What makes you you? And why should I allow you to survive this conversation?"
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 02:33

    Auren twists his hands together, a mixture of relieved and still alarmed. "Well, I-" His voice fails him and he swallows, making an effort to pull himself together. He can't make himself look at Shane. "I know agrokinesis, though I mostly have experience with cereal crops. Grains. I can help the Mordena with food."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 02:44

    Shane leans forward, back in his element. "While I appreciate the knowledge of your skills, I'm not talking about your magic. I'm talking about you. What makes you who you are? What are your dreams, your desires, your fears, your insecurities?" His voice hardens, his words a mere whisper. "What have you done with your life, and how did it bring you here, to my conference room, at the complete mercy of my whims?"
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 03:01

    Auren swallows and forces himself to look up at Shane's face. He didn't come here to be scared.   "I grew up in an orphanage because of Sparnell. I want to make sure that stops happening."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 03:16

    Shane's face softens. "Where'd you grow up, kid? Where's home?"
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 03:53

    Auren looks down at his hands, picking absently at one of his nails. "Vemia. Order territory."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 04:30

    Shane inhales as Feels' conditioning kicks in, his sudden burst of guilt transforming into a hardened resolve just as they'd programmed him those decades ago when he'd reclaimed the Inevitable from the Confederation.   What's wrong, Grim? Feels' concern ripples through his mind, their love entwining with his sorrow.   Vemia. One of the countless planets he'd sworn to forget. He'd been there that day, when the Confederation had wreaked their destruction on the undeserving planet below, one more casualty in the endless exchange of bloodshed, one more retaliation against a retaliation that started Void knows when. The Inevitable and her Armada had led the assault, her last against the Hydell Order before Sparnell Fleet Command had approved her switch to target SDL territory, and Loxira. The last battle where Shane had believed in his cause. Done his duty for the glory of the Sparnell Confederation.   Caused more people like him.   Giving the signal to unlock the door, he motions Auren to exit. "Revenge never tastes as sweet as it does in your dreams, kid. Go. Build a good, honest life for yourself. I can't take anything else from you."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 04:35

    Auren frowns at that and glances at the door, then back at Shane. He doesn't get up.   "Did I say something wrong?"
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 04:41

    "I'm not the hero you're looking for."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 04:59

    "I'm not looking for a hero." Auren twists his fingers together. "I'm looking to help."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 05:08

    "What is it you're really after?" Shane finally turns to watch Auren, his former intensity now replaced with a heavy sadness. "Help with what? Stop them how?"
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 05:49

    Auren runs his hand through his hair, scuffing his toe on the tiled floor.   "You're right. I came here wanting revenge. But what you said about bullies makes sense to me. About protecting people." He takes a breath, anxious to prevent Shane from just kicking him out on his ear. "I sold everything I had to get the money to come here. I heard a lot of stories, about everything. The Mordena were never the bad guys. I don't want to be a bad guy."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 06:14

    Shane scoffs. "Oh, we've been the bad guys. As with everything, it depends on who you ask." He frowns. "And what you know. I was there, at Vemia. I made it happen, commanded my people to do their duty for the glory of the Sparnell Confederation. And the fleet that attacked? The same one I claimed for the Mordena at Baden. The same people."   He turns his full attention to Auren, a calculating orange stare intent to analyze every hint of a reaction. "You say the Mordena have never been the bad guys, but we're the ones who killed your parents. I killed your parents."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 06:53

    The chair clatters to the floor as Auren leaps to his feet. He wraps his arms tightly around himself, staring through Shane as his thoughts race and tumble, trying to marry this new information with everything he has been told and believed about the Mordena.
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 07:59

    "As I said, I'm no hero. I've caused a lot of harm to a lot of people. You have the misfortune to be one of them."   Shane shrugs. "As I see it, you have three choices. I don't often give choices to people once they enter my conference room, but considering what I've already taken from you I'll make an exception in your case."   He motions to the door. "One. You can go. Walk right out that door, be the first to leave one of my interviews and survive. Hell, ask the Ambassador for a seat in one of our fighters on the way out. Blade'll Portal you to whatever system you want, no need to figure out how to book passage."   He leans back in his chair. "Two. You want revenge? Take it. I'm right here. Maybe you can finally find a way to sleep at night."   His voice hardens as he leans forward, folding his hands on the table between them. "Or three. If for some strange reason you still want to go through with this, pledge your loyalty to the villain you've been hunting your whole life, sit back down and I'll lock that door and we'll find out if you can earn your keep with the Mordena. Just know, if that's your decision that's it. You won't have another opportunity to change your mind."   Back in his element with the menacing posturing, Shane sneers again at the young man before him. "Let me know if you need me to leave the room while you decide."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 08:18

    After a long moment, Auren sinks back down into the chair, keeping his arms wrapped around himself as though they might protect him from the man in front of him. He clenches his fists in an attempt to stop them shaking. The silence stretches on for several minutes as his mind churns.   When he speaks, his voice is hoarse. "You broke away from them. Then the whole fleet broke away for you." He clears his throat and risks a look up at Shane. "That means something."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 08:31

    Shane raises an eyebrow but holds his silence, the door locking itself once more with an audible click at the twist of his finger.   "Can't say I expected that," he says at last, his voice surprisingly gentle. "Take your time. We don't need to start this again right away. Are you hungry?"
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 08:45

    Auren is thrown a little off-kilter by Shane's abrupt change in attitude. He wishes his hands would stop shaking.   "M-maybe a little."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 09:08

    "Sit tight. I'll be right back."   Bending the Void around himself Shane disappears, only to return several minutes later with a large fruit basket piled high with an assortment of colorful oddities, none of them familiar. He places it in the middle of the table with a sheepish smile.   "Sorry, probably should have asked if you had any preferences, rather than just grabbing my favorites."   But he shows no sign of following through, instead carefully selecting a fruit from the collection before settling back into his seat.   "Help yourself."
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 09:29

    As Auren is still kind of stunned by the casual Hell Jump, it takes a moment or two before Shane's words sink in.   Auren reaches out and picks up one of the fruits, turning it over in his hand curiously. "What is it?"
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 09:37

    Shane grins as Auren inspects the large fruit in his hand, the gold flecks against its purple skin glittering in the light of the conference room. "That one? Tsijturikk. First fruit I ever tried on Janikk. That's her favorite, and easy to see why. Sweet, juicy, and the tree sets off pretty little explosions when the flowers bloom."   He frowns, holding his hand in the air until a pair of large cloth napkins appear within his grasp. He passes one to Auren. "Very juicy. You're going to need that."   He bites into his own fruit, a smaller blue orb with faint darker blue speckles, closing his eyes as he growls contentedly.
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 09:55

    Auren tests the unfamiliar word in his mouth, slowly. It's just as clumsy on his tongue as Munokkael was, but Shane says it so easily. Then he takes a small, cautious bite of the fruit. His eyes close as a riot of taste takes over his tongue, sweet and as vivid as colours.
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 10:48

    He likes it. Feels' joy at Auren's enjoyment dances through Shane's mind. He'd probably come to Janikk for the fruit alone. I know I would.   Shane smiles, reaching beneath his shirt to caress his locket affectionately, focusing his thoughts on his love for the empath in return. If the company were different he'd pull the empathic fae to the mortal plane to share their feast, but the true nature of his relationship with Feels is already a secret from most of the Mordena. Last thing he wants to do is reveal it to a stranger.   Licking his fingers before claiming a second fruit, Shane eyes Auren carefully.   Auren Reed, his sources had reported when he disappeared to claim the fruit from the embassy kitchen. An orphan, as he'd claimed, with a haphazard past picking up whatever odd jobs he could find after leaving the orphanage. Not the typical skillet most organizations would rush to recruit, but the Mordena found room for anyone willing to live by their ideals, and the boy had heart.   By all appearances Auren seems viable Mordena recruitment material, brave enough to stand up to Shane, foolish enough that when offered his freedom he sat back down instead, and perceptive enough to recognize Shane's efforts to make up for his past despite Auren's own emotions regarding the necromancer's past choices.   But Shane has to be certain.   "We're not exactly popular with the Hydell Order, either. What are they saying about us these days, anyway?"
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 11:40

    Auren takes a moment to finish the last mouthful of his fruit. He rubs his mouth and chin with the cloth, wiping the sticky juice away as he looks up at Shane, obviously thinking.   "The most colourful description I heard was some Navy guy saying you lot were 'blasphemous wasps', getting everywhere and anywhere with your Hell Jumping. On the radio you're 'dangerous enemies, not to be engaged with.'" He folds the cloth into a neat little square, just for something to do with his hands. "With the rest of us though? There was always a certain amount of awe when people spoke of you. Seemed to think none of you can die."   There's half a question there, but he doesn't dare ask it out loud.
    Thu, Oct 14th 2021 11:53

    Shane laughs. "Could be worse. Confederation calls us 'Space Chickens.' Because of the gromdonis in our logo." He winks. "They'd feel differently if they ever met one."   He takes another bite of fruit, savoring it's flavor before returning his attention to Auren, sidestepping the unasked question to instead ask one of his own. "You called it a Hell Jump. You served in the Militant Order of Descendents?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 12:17

    Auren shakes his head even before Shane finishes speaking. "No. I met a lot of them going in and out of the space port though. They really like their shiny shoes."   He rubs his arm, eyeing the fruit bowl that still sits between them.   "That's what they always called it," he adds as an afterthought, almost defensively.
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 12:30

    "It's a colorful turn of phrase. More exciting than calling it phasing or Hyperjumping. Wish more more people called it that, would be good for my image. Make me sound even more intimidating." He winks, pushing the fruit bowl closer to Auren. "Eat as much as you want, we've got plenty. Try the blue ones."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 12:44

    Auren plucks a blue fruit out of the bowl, turning it over between his fingers - it's pretty. "What's this one called?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 01:25

    "One of my personal favorites, elbaturikk. Large berry, not too sweet, not too juicy, hits the spot just right."   He snags another for himself, devouring it in two bites. "So why's someone from the Order looking to join us 'blasphemous wasps'? Last I checked, the Militant were still after Sparnell, too."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 09:54

    Auren stares down at the fruit, just turning it between his fingers. "I don't believe in the Order anymore."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 11:22

    Shane sits patiently, silently enjoying the burst of flavor from his tsijturikk. He'll ask the question if he needs to ask, but instinct tells him the present topic is a burden Auren has been carrying solo for a long time. He likely wants to tell someone, and all Shane needs to do is hold his silence long enough to listen.   He smiles encouragingly. It's always easier when the Munokkael wants to tell him their secrets without his questions. The less he needs to steer the conversation, the more he learns of their own mind.
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 01:28

    Auren takes a bite of the fruit, closing his eyes for a moment as he savours the taste of it. It's just as good as the other one.   Eventually, he opens his eyes and says quietly, "There was a fire at the orphanage, where the younger kids and babies were. No one could explain to me why they weren't worthy."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 02:28

    Shane nods understanding, maintaining his silence but slowly sliding his arm across the table, palm up. A hand to hold, if Auren needs.   You've already made up your mind about this kid, haven't you? Feels' amusement flickers through his thoughts, Shane responding with a teasing annoyance, Feels' laughter joining the mix in turn. I like him. You do what you need, but he has my vote.   Shane carefully wipes his other hand on his napkin before reaching beneath his shirt to lovingly caress the locket once more, returning his gaze to Auren.
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 04:57

    When Shane remains quiet, Auren shrugs uncomfortably. "Things got harder to ignore after that. Like how the great temples are full of gold and jewels when the people around me struggled for food. What I had believed in no longer felt safe and true."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 05:05

    Shane pulls his hand back, folding them both in his lap instead, out of sight.   "And the Truth fractured into the lies that built it."   His words carry an agreement born from shared experience.
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 05:15

    Auren nods, saying softly, "Yeah."   He puts the rest of the elbaturikk in his mouth, focusing on the flavour of the fruit instead of his whirling thoughts.
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 05:26

    Sensing Auren has said all he'd like to share on their present subject, Shane decides to shift gears into a more comfortable topic.   "Why us?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 05:36

    Auren scuffs the toes of his boot on the floor. "From everything I heard, the Mordena seemed different than everyone else. Like, even though you are mercenaries, you care about people. The unimportant people." After a moment, he looks up at Shane. "And I was tired of being alone."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 05:39

    "And now that you've met us?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 06:07

    Auren hesitates for a moment, folding his arms back across his chest. "You're not... what I expected." He takes a slow breath. "You're intimidating and a little frightening, but... if that truly was all there was to you, you wouldn't have brought me fruit." He shifts uncomfortably in his chair, but ploughs on. "You protect your people by making sure the people who want to join are the right people. You're frightening for a reason."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 06:38

    Shane's sneer returns. "I'm a great many things. I have a reputation for ruthlessness for a reason. I do what it takes to get what I want."   With a wave of his hand he bends the mortal plane around the remaining fruit, returning it to the Embassy kitchen before leaning closer to Auren.   "And right now? What I want is your eternal, unquestionable loyalty. And you're going to give it to me."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 07:11

    Auren shifts in his seat, staring at the place the fruit bowl was. "Eternal is a strong word."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 07:21

    "It is," Shane agrees, not backing down.   He's nervous, Feels adds. But he wants this.   But Shane has to be certain. The anxious young man before him still carries the memory of his parents' death at the hands of the Sparnell – at Shane's hands – and if not dealt with now, this could have repercussions later. If Auren is to join the Mordena it must be with an eye to the future, not the past.   Shane's face hardens, the orange intensity of his eyes fixed solely on Auren. "So. Let's talk about your parents."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 07:42

    Auren's body tenses a little. "You think I want revenge?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 07:54

    Shane leans back in his chair, closing his eyes as he turns his face to the ceiling, his feet once more propped on the table. "No. I gave you the option and you didn't take it." He cracks one eye, turning to watch Auren. "You won't get a second chance. When I told you what would happen if you sat back down, I meant every word."   He settles deeper into the chair, hands folding across his chest as his eyes close once more. "But you do want closure. And you're no use to me right now, wrapped up in the past. So go ahead. Ask your questions. Tell me how you really feel."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 07:59

    Auren looks down at his hands, picking nervously at one of his fingernails. "Did you hesitate?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 08:06

    "No."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 08:08

    After a moment, Auren asks in a quieter voice, "Did you ever hesitate?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 08:13

    "No." Shane's voice softens, but only slightly. "I did what was expected of me. Just as I was taught." It hardens again. "And I reveled in it."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 08:24

    Auren takes a deep, shuddering his breath, closing his eyes for a moment. He tries to picture his parents' faces, but he can't.   He opens his eyes again, looking back at Shane. "You were - did you ever kill anyone up close?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 08:33

    "Yes. Often." He opens his eyes to observe Auden. "Not your parents, though, if that's what you're asking. No, I reserved my personal touch for political rivals. Sometimes mine, sometimes my Admiral's, if they didn't get the message after the first death or two."   He settles back into the chair, eyes closing again as he focused on maintaining his calm veneer at the bitter reminders of his past. He focuses his thoughts on gratitude as Feels' magic fills him with a sense of peace and forgiveness – but it's not Feels' forgiveness that matters today.   "I was quite... effective."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 08:41

    Auren focuses on the questions he needs to ask, even though his heart is fluttering with fear. He swallows hard. "And did you enjoy that? The personal stuff?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 08:43

    "Yes." He smiles, relaxing. "Still do. When they let me."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 08:49

    Auren nods slightly, wetting his dry lips nervously. "When you decide you don't want me, will you kill me quickly?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 08:51

    Shane sits up with a start, tangling his legs with the table and shifting it several inches across the floor in the process. "What?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 09:02

    Auren looks up at him, obviously trying to hide his fear with bravado. "That's where this is heading, isn't it? You can't trust me to watch your people's backs when I know a lot of them were involved in my parents' deaths. And I know too much now for you to let me go."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 09:11

    "I already told you, I always get what I want. Since what I want is you, killing you would be counter to that." His words are a growl, more frustration than threat. "You're mine and I protect my own. Including from me."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 09:21

    Auren looks away at that, though the fear subsides a bit at Shane's words.   "I meant what I said," he says eventually. "It means something you and the fleet turned away from Sparnell, like I've turned away from the Order." He makes himself look back up at Shane. "We can't help the shitty ideals of where we were raised, but I feel like the Mordena is something you chose. What the fleet chose." His voice lowers, his next words barely audible. "What I want to choose."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 09:29

    "You're right." Shane's voice grows quiet as he studies his hands. "My next mission, right after Vemia, I was confronted with the truth of my actions. The truth about who I was hurting."   He looks up, meeting Auren's eyes, his voice earnest. "The Mordena are my way of trying to make up for past mistakes. Try to undo some of the harms I've caused. Build a better universe for the son I met that day."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 09:42

    Auren nods after a moment, swallowing hard. "Then you don't need to worry about my loyalty, sir. I'm yours."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 09:53

    He forgives you, Grim. Shane felt himself relax at Feels' confirmation. He's yours, if you claim him.   Shane's voice is kind, but with an aloof curiosity. "What do you know about Janikk, Auren Reed?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 10:02

    Auren is so startled at the sound of his name - which he definitely did not give to Shane but perhaps he should have expected him to know - that he blurts out, "It's haunted."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 10:15

    Shane chuckles. "Close enough. How do you feel about living on a haunted planet?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 10:20

    Still a bit shocked from Shane knowing his name, Auren rubs his hands over his arms. "I could live with it," he says, almost shyly. "I'm kind of interested in all the new plants there would be."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 10:23

    "You're in for a treat then." He stands up, motioning for Auren to join him. "You want to see her?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 10:24

    Auren gets to his feet cautiously. "Her?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 10:28

    "Janikk." Shane raises an eyebrow as if the answer were obvious. "Have you ever Hyperjumped before? Or did you ride one of those Portal hoppers here?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 10:38

    Oh, right. Janikk.   Auren shakes his head in response to the first question. "Yeah, one of the Portal hoppers." Dubiously, he adds, "Does it hurt?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 10:45

    "No. Just a quick trip through the Afterlife." He smiles, his voice kind. "Although I can linger, if you'd like to look around. We could even try to Call your parents, if you like, if you remember enough about them."   He falters, looking down at his hands before turning back to Auren. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 10:50

    Auren’s heart twists painfully at the thought as he tries again to picture his parents’ faces.   “I don’t know if they would like that, with their beliefs. But… thank you. For the sorry too.”
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 10:55

    Shane nods, dropping the subject. If Auren changes his mind, he'll ask.   Instead Shane motions Auren closer, holding out his arm. "It takes less magic if you stand close to me."
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 11:04

    Auren steps closer to Shane, looking up at him; we didn’t quite realise how tall he was.
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 11:12

    Shane pulls Auren closer, wrapping his arm around the young man to pin him gently against Shane's side.
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 11:15

    Auren stiffens automatically, but doesn’t pull away. He can’t remember the last time he was this close to another person, or the last time someone touched him on purpose.
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 11:34

    He's lonely, Feels observes. You'd better let him join, I think he'll die of a broken heart if you don't and I'll never forgive you.   Shane smiles at Feels' observation, noting Auren's reaction to his touch, and holds the young man tighter. Casting his Shielding around them both – wide enough to include some air from the room – he elevates them into the Afterlife, bending the mortal plane around them to emerge at his intended destination: Janikk's lower orbit.   Janikk sparkled below them, a colorful orb of mostly greens, blues, and whites, her twin moons clearly visible to their right, several of the Mordena's capital ships sitting high in orbit behind them.   Now the true test: just how much had this lonely young man learned to trust the necromancer to whom he'd pledged his allegiance?
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 11:39

    Auren’s eyes widen at the change in scenery, his head swivelling back and forth as he tries to take in everything at once. The beauty of the planet laid out before him knocks any shock at the sensation of the Hyperjump out of him.   “It’s beautiful.”
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 11:50

    Awe. Trust. No fear. Feels dutifully confirms Shane's suspicions.   The necromancer tousels Auren's hair with his free hand, his words full of pride in the young man at his side. "Let's get you planetside before we run out of air. Do you have a favorite food?"
    Fri, Oct 15th 2021 11:56

    Auren stares around as he realises that they are floating in space, but weirdly he doesn’t feel any fear.   He looks up at Shane again, blinking as he realises he was asked a question. “I’ve never really thought about it.”
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 12:03

    "Then we'll use mine for now." Shane channels his magic again, this time dripping them both gently in the middle of an untamed orchard containing a haphazard collection of trees and vines. Several Agrokinetic mages of assorted species move about in their daily efforts, although none are in their immediate vacinity.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 12:05

    Auren turns on the spot, looking all around him with wonder. There are so many different species here, and they all look healthy and well-cared for.   “This is amazing.”
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 12:18

    "Welcome to Janikk." Shane's voice radiates pride. "She allows us to live here as long as we respect her, and recognize that we, too, are now part of the Balance of life."   He looks down, fixing Auren with a purposeful stare. "This agreement will extend to you, as well. You're planetside now. Once you eat something here, you'll become part of the planetary network, too. Permanently. There's no going back. Are you certain this is what you want?"
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 12:21

    Auren looks up at Shane, meeting his eyes. “Yes, sir.”
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 12:23

    Shane nods. "You said you know Agrokinesis. Pick one. Tell it to bloom for you."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 12:51

    Auren takes a moment to look around. It feels so different here from the sharp, pragmatic wheat fields he is used to. The orchard thrums with life, and there are so many things to look at that he feels he could spend days in this one spot.   He approaches one of the trees nearer to them and splays his hand on the bark. Tilting his head back, he watches as the light and shadows dance through the canopy, the leaves shifting and whispering in the calm breeze.   Focusing his energy, Auren closes his eyes and murmurs to the tree, "You can do it."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 01:14

    The tree springs to life at Auren's touch, even more than it had been before, a vibrant caress of gratitude dancing against his mind. And then suddenly it blooms, the entire canopy erupting in a grand display of thick orange flowers, the large petals drifting to the ground to reveal a bounty of deep red fruits. A smug satisfaction flitted against Auren's mind.   "Interesting choice." Shane closed his eyes, inhaling the pleasures of the tree before phasing a pair of the ripened fruits into his awaiting hands. "Jingisturrik. Also called 'singing fruit,' even though it's only the tree that sings." He offers one to Auren. "Hums their emotions, really. Minor empaths."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 01:28

    Auren takes the fruit, turning it over between his fingers. "It won't hurt the tree if I eat it?"
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 01:36

    Shane shakes his head. "No." His face shines with concern. "You'll permanently join the Tenecknaab, though, once you eat it. It's the network of life on all of Janikk. You'll feel it in your mind, and recognize its other members by that feeling, forever. So only eat it if that's what you'll want."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 01:41

    Auren looks down at the fruit and then back up at Shane. "You mean... I'll never feel alone again?"
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 01:43

    "Nope." Shane chuckles. "You'll be part of Janikk, and she won't let you."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 01:59

    Auren looks down at the fruit again, and then lifts it to his mouth to take a bite. The flavours explode on his tongue, even as the presence of Janikk rushes into his mind. The feeling is overwhelming and suddenly he becomes aware that tears are sliding down his cheeks.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 02:17

    Shane feels Auren enter the network, taking a bite of his own fruit as he swells with pride in the brave young man before him.   Grim...   Feels' concern cuts through Shane's thoughts, and only then does the necromancer notice Auren's tears. "Shhhh, Munokkael," he soothes, wrapping his arms around the boy in an awkward hug. "A little help, Feels," he breathes, much quieter.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 02:28

    Auren stiffens at the hug, but then sort of relaxes awkwardly against Shane's chest.   "I'm okay," he manages after a moment. "It's just... a lot."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 02:49

    "We're a lot to handle," Shane teases, in an effort to lighten the mood, his voice softening. "Listen. You said something, back on Baden, about us caring about the unimportant people. I didn't say anything then, was too busy trying to intimidate you, but I need to correct you. There are no unimportant people."   He motions to the orchard and the people within it, several already gathered to claim the remainder of Auren's harvest, patiently awaiting Shane's departure. "Everyone had a role to play, based upon their strengths and interests, and we're all the stronger for their contributions."   He returns his attention to Auden, his eyes shining with pride. "And soon you'll be one of us, ready to find your place and pursue your dreams, and we'll all be stronger for it."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 02:54

    Auren looks around and gives the other people an awkward little nod, before looking back up at Shane. "I understand."   He wipes his eyes on the back of his hand and steps away a little to compose himself.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 03:03

    Shane takes another bite of his fruit, enjoying the juices dribbling down his chin as he watches Auren's back retreat slightly into the orchard.   You picked a good one, Grim. Feels' love danced through his mind, rubbing against his sorrows with an encouraging caress. He's going to do great here.   "I'm the reason he's so broken," Shane sighed, waving in the orchard workers as he turned from the tree.   Then you'll make him whole again, Feels ordered with affectionate confidence. Just like you always do. Just like you've already started.   "Just one more thing to take care of, and then he'll be Morjakkael. One of us." Shane wipes the sticky remains of the fruit from his fingers. "Then my work begins in earnest, doesn't it?"
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 03:10

    Auren crouches down by a tree, gently touching his fingers to a plant - perhaps a weed - that looks like it is struggling, giving it a little magic to help it be more robust and to grow a little towards the light.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 03:23

    Shane watches as a young sapling sprouts from the ground in front of Auren, its leaves unfurling to catch the spattering of light making its way through the canopy.   "Yes," Shane growls, pleased. "He'll do quite well here."   Striding toward the young man, Shane bends to tap him lightly on the shoulder, his voice apologetic. "I know this is overwhelming right now... But when you're ready, there's one last thing and then you'll be officially Mordena. We need to teach you how to speak Morjakk."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 03:25

    Auren startles a little at the touch and then gets to his feet. "That will take a while, right? When do I start?"
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 03:31

    "No, it's... quite fast, actually. I'll have one of my Telepaths transfer my memories to you. The language, plus a few other useful tidbits of information to help you adjust to your new life."   He frowns with concern. "Works best if you're asleep, unfortunately. Easier to add memories when you're not making new ones at the same time. But we can start whenever you're ready."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 03:36

    Auren lets out a slightly nervous laugh at the thought. "I don't think I'm ever going to be able to sleep again."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 03:46

    "I know a thing or two about not sleeping." Shane laughs. "If there's too much of Janikk in your head I can teach you ways to limit that. If it's everything else..." He waves his arm in a motion meant to encompass the entirety of the Mordena. "Well. Jake is a rather skilled alchemist. Only reason I get any relief from the dreams forcing me to relive my regrets."   He offers an encouraging smile. "You're home now. We'll always make sure you get what you need. If we haven't yet, just ask."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 03:54

    "There's just so much to learn," Auren says, looking around the orchard again. "So many new things to look at."   Auren looks back at Shane and gives him a small smile. "Thank you. Really."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 03:57

    "Of course," Shane shrugs. "That's just what we do." He points to a different part of the orchard. "I'll give you some space. I know I'm a lot, especially on top of everything else. Just let me know when you're ready to go, and we'll finish up your membership."   He turns to leave.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 03:59

    Auren shakes his head. "That's not what I - I'm ready now."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 04:01

    Shane pauses, turning around to hold out his arm with a nod. "Grab hold. I'll jump there right now."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 04:07

    Auren hesitates only a moment before taking hold of Shane's arm.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 04:52

    Shane phases through the Afterlife, bringing them both to the main platform of the nearest Mordena outpost – Mejjit Niwok, The Beautiful Gift. The morning sun illuminates the large balcony, the woven living branches of the flooring, the comfortable cushioned benches lining the sheltered space, the assortment of Mordena from all professions and walks of life intent upon their daily lives.   A small collection of children note their arrival, leaping to their feet with an infectious excitement and a caucophany of "Uncle Shane! Uncle Shane!" Their dracoling caretaker looks on, sighing with a smile at Shane and a shake of his head as gently closes the book in his lap, the day's lesson forgotten.   Shane releases his hold on Auren, kneeling with a widened grin to spread his arms in greeting to the children, positioning himself in front of his newest recruit to shield Auren from the joyful enslaught.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 04:58

    Auren watches as the children crowd around Shane, the image in direct contrast to his experiences as a child in the orphanage - the happy faces, the affection, the bright, beautiful surroundings. The sunlight feels warm on his skin, the air sweet on his tongue. It feels almost as though he's in a dream.   He knows he has made the right choice.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 05:29

    "Flesykoj esaukkae yekkarit!" "Do you like my new shoes?" "Rekkoree Flesykox turikk?" "Can you jump me next?" The questions arrive with the children, in a flood of smiles and friendly shoves as Shane greets each in turn with a hug and a small fruit candy from the handful he'd phased in from his personal office, kept for just such occasions.   "You're going to spoil them," their caretaker warns with a grin. "Probably already have."   "Good." He tousles the fur of the closest child as he rises to his feet, a gray canid still clutching her homemade toy, still giddy from Shane's approval of its working parts. "I'd like you to meet your new neighbor, Auren. He'll be Morjakkael soon, and will probably have lots of questions later once he's settled in. Can I count on you?"   Small chests swell with pride at the offered responsibility, occasionally accompanied by salutes, as the collection of curious eyes turn to view Auren with bright smiles and warm words. "Hi!" "Nikeer!" "Hello, Auren!" "Ask me! Ask me!"
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 08:22

    Auren returns the children's smiles with a warm one of his own. It has been a while since he has been around young kids, but their enthusiasm and obvious happiness makes him feel cosy inside.   "It's nice to meet you all," he says. "I'm sure we'll have lots of time to talk later."   For a moment, a horrible sense of fear washes over him that Shane is going to leave him here, followed by immediate crossness at himself. Of course the leader of the Mordena is a busy man, not a babysitter. He hides the emotions with another smile at the children.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 08:41

    The children giggle at Auren's greeting, a young katanoj going to far as to steal a quick hug before Shane shoos him off with a smile.   "Back to your lessons!" Shane orders with a smile, their caretaker gathering them back into their reading circle, several adults pausing their own tasks to assist.   He's going to need a friend before you leave, Feels warns. Otherwise you'll traumatize him again.   Finally disentangled from the youngsters, Shane motions Auren to an unremarkable doorway, one of many along the center of the treetop town. "Here's our stop. After you."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 08:45

    Blinking off the surprise at the hug, Auren nods and goes through the door as directed and looks around quiety.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 08:58

    The room within is large and sterile, yet somehow warm and cozy at the same time. Shelving full of alchemical substances lines the far right wall, with an assortment of examining tables scattered throughout, each with an available privacy curtain, all of them open.   The room's occupants look up at their entrance, most immediately resuming their work. An elderly woman by the door looks up in greeting, but Shane waves her off, instead turning his attention to the occupants of the furthest examination table: a short, fierce woman with untamed red curls, accompanied by a smiling man with unkempt brown hair and calloused hands.   Shane's voice shines with welcome surprise. "Raz! Jeb! What are you doing here?"
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 09:05

    Auren walks beside Shane, looking around quietly at the different people and the shelves and all the bottles. It smells rather interesting in here, almost medicinal. As Shane greets the people called Raz and Jeb, he looks over at them too, unconsciously standing a little behind Shane.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 09:15

    "Well, this is a surprise," Jeb smiles.   Razick scowls, but there's no menace in her eyes. "Don't believe my brother. He heard you brought a Munokkael to the orchard and twisted my arm to schedule a physical so he could be his usual nosy self." She motions to Auren with a warm smile. "Is this him?"   Shane steps to the side, motioning to the siblings. "Auren, meet Razick and Jeb Kane. Both dear friends of mine, and two of the original founding members of the Mordena."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 09:25

    Auren gives Razick and Jeb a shy smile. "It's nice to meet you both, um, ma'am? Sir?"
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 09:37

    Razick laughs. "There's no need for the formality, Auren. You survived Lawrence's attentions intact, far as I'm concerned you've earned the right to call me Raz."   "Jeb's fine by me," her brother adds. "I'm a botanist, not a Battle Mage. I gave up the Sirs a long time ago."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 09:39

    Auren's eyes light up a little bit at Jeb's words. "A botanist?"
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 09:54

    "Used to do a lot of field expeditions and experimentation for the Confederation," Jeb explains. "Wrote the book on hydroponics for Sparnell capital ships."   Razick rolls her eyes. "All twelve volumes of it."   "Yeah, yeah," Jeb grumbles, tugging his hair as he grins at Auren. "If you want to talk to the real ecological genius around here, though, you'll want Urla. She's taken everything I've done and... Well, she's just absolutely brilliant."   Shane pulls away from the conversation to discuss his needs for Auren with one of the attendants, his concern for the young man's happiness appeased by Auren's fascination with Jeb.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 10:01

    Auren glances uncomfortably at Shane as he walks away and then looks back at Jeb, falling back on his nervous habit of picking at a fingernail.   "I, um, sometimes help wheat to grow."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 10:03

    "By what I heard from the orchard, you do a lot more than that," Jeb laughs.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 10:09

    Auren's cheeks turn a little pink at that. "You heard about that?"
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 10:25

    "News travels fast. Especially when the Telepaths get involved." Razick fixes a pointed stare at her brother.   Jeb shrugs. "It pays to stay informed. Especially when a potential coworker is involved." He tugs his hair again as he turns to Auren. "Have you thought about what you want to do? After you're all settled in, I mean?"
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 10:37

    Auren looks down at his hands for a moment, before looking up at Jeb.   “I didn’t realise I had a choice. But, um, I like plants. And working with them.”
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 10:49

    "We've got lots of those here," Razick grins.   "And you've got plenty of time to decide. Or change your mind, until you find the perfect fit," Shane adds, returning to the conversation with an attendant in tow. "Do you have any questions before we begin?"
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 10:54

    Auren looks nervously between Shane and the attendant. “Is this going to hurt?”
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 11:07

    "No," she answers kindly. "You're going to feel a bit of an itch at the back of your mind, as if something is scratching to be let in. That will be me, with the telepathic link. Accept it, and I'll talk you through the rest from there."   "Or I could do it, if you'd rather," Jeb offers.
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 11:11

    Auren glances between them, feeling awkward at being given a choice. “I - I don’t mind.”
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 11:29

    Jeb grins as Shane dismisses the attendant. "It'll be just like old times."   Climbing down from the table, Razick motions for Auren to take her seat. "You'll want to lay down for this."   "But first..." Shane concentrates his magic again, retrieving a slim black card from his office and offering it to Auren. "A gift. My son programmed these with a Soul Call spell, keyed to me." His brows furrow. "I won't be here when you wake up. Have to take care of some things. But this'll let you reach me, wherever I am."   Shane smiles apologetically. "It'll sting a bit, when you touch it the first time. Don't want just anyone to be able to find me, so Jake keyed them to the user's genetics. This one will only work for you."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 11:36

    Auren takes the card from Shane, flinching a little at the sharp pain as it touches his fingers. After a moment, he tucks it carefully away in his pocket.   He looks up at Shane, trying to swallow his anxiety. It’s stupid. He only met this man today.   “Thank you,” he says instead. “For everything.”
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 11:49

    "Of course." Shane feels a flicker of guilt for his past transgressions, the emotions following Feels' conditioning to shift into resolve. That was the past. This was now, and he'd do what he could to make up for his mistakes.   He pats the examination table. "Hop on up, when you ready."
    Sat, Oct 16th 2021 11:52

    Auren touches where he put the card and then climbs up onto the table. He lies down, as Razick said to, looking up at the ceiling and following the curves of the beams with his eyes.   After a moment, he feels a soft scratching at the back of his mind. For a second, the sensation makes him panic and he almost sits up, but then he remembers what the attendant said. He takes a deep breath, forcing himself to relax, and accepts the connection.
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:03

    Jeb's voice carries warmth and patience within the sending. <I'm going to pull the Grand Navarch into the link now, alright?>
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:11

    Auren closes his eyes, murmuring, “Okay.”
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:20

    And suddenly Shane's presence fills his thoughts, the same way he filled the room back at the embassy. <You're going to feel a slight pressure at the back of your mind as Jeb asks permission to widen the link. This will let us plant the memories once you're asleep.>
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:22

    Auren responds out loud, as he has no frame of reference how to not. “Yes, sir.”   The pressure comes as Shane said it would. Auren doesn’t panic this time, but allows Jeb to widen the link between them.
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:32

    <You're doing great,> Shane praises, offering Auren a small alchemy bottle as he squeezes the young man's shoulder with his other hand. <This will put you to sleep. Only for an hour or so, long enough for you to do your work, although after all the excitement today you'll probably sleep longer.>   He frowns. <I'm sorry I won't be here when you wake up. Would you like Jeb or Razick to wait with you?>
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:35

    Auren opens his eyes again and takes the small bottle from Shane. He glances over at Jeb and then away again.   “Please.”
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:36

    <Happy to.> Jeb squeezes his hand.
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:45

    “Thank you,” Auren mumbles.   He undoes the bottle and swallows the mixture, preemptively screwing his face up because he expects it to taste foul. He is pleasantly surprised when it is not too bad.   He puts the empty bottle out of the way again and closes his eyes. His stomach flutters with anxiety at the thought of what is going to happen next.
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 01:51

    <Sweet dreams, Morjakkael,> Shane whispers as Auron drifts off.   <He's ready,> Jeb announces moments later, Auren's form breathing in a calm and steady rhythm from his table. <Guide me to the memories you wish to share.>   Shane pulls Jeb into his own mind, focusing his thoughts on the Morjakk language module Feels and Jeb had helped extract from Janikk herself shortly after they'd been granted permission to colonize the planet, Jeb dutifully copying it to Auren's memories. After a moment Shane also selects his memories of the Mordena newcomer's guide several of the younger recruits had pulled together with minor input from Jake, including a map of the planetary portal system to allow ease of travel across the planet.   <He's all set,> Jeb confirms. <Shall I break the connection?>   <Not yet.> Shane hesitates, gathering the courage to add two of his personal memories to the transfer. First, the full depths of his remorse at Auren's mention of Vemia. He couldn't undo his past, couldn't bring back Auren's parents or give the boy the childhood he'd deserved, but at least Shane could show how genuinely sorry he was for his prior cruelties.   And then his fierce pride in the young man from their trip to the orchard, and the accompanying confidence of Auren's bright future within the Mordena. His courage and determination had brought him this far, and Shane has no doubts these same traits will propel him forward into a good life on Janikk. Only fair to share that confidence with Auren.   <Now I'm done.>   Jeb breaks the connection, eying Shane with concern. "You okay?"   "Yeah." Shane rubs the back of his neck, his own attention still locked on Auren. "I ruined his life. I owe him. Whatever he needs, I'm going to make sure he gets it... And I want him to know that I mean it."   "Lawrence..."   Razick reaches to pull him into a hug, but he brushes her off, instead gingerly lifting Auren's sleeping frame to cradle him in his arms. "I'll be fine. This isn't a new emotion for me. Let's get him to his room."
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 02:23

    Shane decides to walk, Jeb and Razick following to either side, Auren's head gently tucked against his neck. The sight gathers attention across the settlement, Feels dutifully reporting the collection of curiosity and respect afforded the sleeping young man, the Mordena rumor mill quickly recognizing that this new member was someone special if the Grand Navarch was willingly walking him somewhere, with the Kanes as escort.   "Good. If they know he's important to me, then he'll be important to them, too."   Jeb triggers the door mechanism for the spare room, a small but comfortable lodging for one, far enough away from the village's public spaces to allow for a quiet night's sleep, but still within easy walking distance of the main thoroughfares. Shane smiles as he notices the fresh sheets on the bed, an assortment of clothing piled lovingly on the table, fresh toiletries stocked in the bathroom.   "Guess I'm not the only one who realized you'd found a new recruit," Jeb grins.   Razick crosses her arms, unimpressed. "You only told half the planet yourself."   Shane shakes his head with a smile, otherwise ignoring their sibling rivalry as he sets Auron down on the bed beneath the thin weighted blanket, gently brushing the stray hair from his face. "Sleep well, Auren. Welcome to your new life."   He retrieves the remainder of the fruit bowl from Badem's Embassy, jumping it through the Afterlife with his Necromancy, penning a short note to accompany the gift:   Yukkan Morjakkael. Nikkeer. ~Shane   "You'll keep an eye on him?" He turns to watch Auren as he speaks, the young man's breath still calm and even.   "Go." Razick squeezes his shoulder, compassion in her voice. "We'll look after him."   Shane bends the mortal plane once more and steps into the Void.
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 11:03

    Auren stirs, feeling as though he is wading through heavy fog. He doesn't open his eyes. It was such a good dream, he wants to feel as though he belongs a little longer.
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 11:35

    Razick notes a faint stirring from the bed and pokes her brother. "I think he's waking up."   "Auren?" Jeb looks up from his reading, his voice soft and carrying kindness. "It's okay. You're safe now."
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 11:44

    Auren opens his eyes at the voices, everything flooding back to him as he sits up on the bed. He registers he is in a different room and tries to open his mouth to speak, but emotion rises in his chest and strangles the words in his throat. Suddenly he's crying, the tears dripping onto the back of his hands as he tries to hide his face.
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 11:50

    Jeb rushes forward but Razick gets there first, gently rubbing Auren's back as she pulls him into a hug. "We've got you. It'll be okay."
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:02

    Auren flinches at the contact but doesn't pull away, managing to force out a 'sorry' between sniffles.
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:10

    "For what?" Jeb asks, squeezing past Razick to add himself to the hug. "There's always a lot of emotion after dealing with Lawrence. You're fine. There's no judgment here."   Razick continues to rub Auren's back. "Yukkan."
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:19

    Auren sniffs, slowly gaining control of himself. He wipes the back of his hand across his eyes.   "I've never had a home before." His voice is barely audible. "Not really."
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:29

    "You have one now," Razick soothes. "Forever. We're not going away." She shifts to the side, allowing Auren a view of the room. "And we'll take care of you. This is yours now."
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:34

    Auren looks around the room, properly taking the space in. "It's mine? How much do I owe?"   His eyes fall on the fruit basket beside the bed and, stupidly, the tears start to fall again.
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:43

    "We don't do the money thing here." Jeb pulls away from the hug, shrugging with a smile. "We just find ways to help each other, doing things we enjoy, and somehow everything that needs doing gets done."   Razick pulls him closer, her hair now cascading down his back as she continues to rub in strong, soothing strokes.
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 12:52

    Auren closes his eyes, leaning into the hug like a touch-starved child. "I can help. I can do that."
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 01:19

    "I know," Razick soothes. "But there's no need to worry about that right now. Why don't you look around your room, make sure you have everything you need? Did you leave anything on Baden or Vemia you'd like us to pick up for you?"
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 01:33

    Auren shakes his head and pulls away from the hug, wiping his eyes dry on his sleeve. "There's nothing else. Just me."
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 01:53

    "And you're more than enough." Jeb tugs at his sister, grinning. "C'mon. You've got a whole world to explore, and a room of your own. Easier to experience it all after you get out of bed."
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 02:08

    Auren rubs his eyes with his sleeve one mjore time to make sure they are dry, before sliding off the bed. It's going to take a little while to get used to everything here, though weirdly he feels as though he knows more than he should. That must have been part of the telepathy.   He notices the note beside the fruit basket and picks it up, reading it quietly. Emotion once again rises in his chest, choking him for a moment, but he manages to hold back the tears. After a moment, he tucks the note into his pocket beside the card Shane gave him earlier, and turns to look at the Kane siblings.   "How do I make myself useful?"
    Sun, Oct 17th 2021 02:44

    "Don't worry too much about that." Razick steps back to allow Auren some space. "For now just explore, make friends, get comfortable. You'll know when you find it."   Jeb tousels Auren's hair before offering his arm. "Welcome to the rest of your life. Ready to explore it?"   Jeb meets Auren's nervous smile with a grin of his own. "Yukkan Morjakkael, Nikkeer."   Welcome home, Mordena. Welcome home.
    Powered by World Anvil