Chapter 2 - Loss and Life
I woke momentarily to see Bransen sitting in the corner of this antiseptic, dimly lit room. The smell of bleach and other antibacterial agents wafted past my nose. Sleep was pulling my eyes closed again. We would have to talk later. I wondered if the look of fear on his face was for me or because of me.
My eyes fluttered open again. This time someone was taking my vitals and writing on a clipboard. I felt stronger this time and glanced about the room. Bransen sat in the corner of the room sullen and silent. I didn't know if he was still there or had come to visit again. There was a mixture of concern and distrust upon his face.
'Captain, I believe sleeping beauty here has finally awakened,' the medic said, turning to the corner to address Bransen.
'If you ever call me that again, I'm going to beat you until you quit moving! It's Bransen, not captain,' he grumbled. 'Now get the hell out of here!'
My caretaker glanced at a monitor above my head, made a nervous scribble, and made a hasty exit.
'Nice to meet you, cheerful!' I joked in a raspy voice.
'Cut the shit, freak. I don't have the time or patience for another smartass in my group,' Bransen snapped back.
'Oh, so this freak is part of your group, huh?! I don't remember being asked or agreeing.' I spat out the words while trying to pull myself up.
'In fact,' I hacked, trying to catch my breath as my voice broke in and out of a rage, 'they're probably still cleaning up the brains of the last asshole that crossed me!'
The truth was, though, had they not taken me in, I would probably have died or, at the very least, been dinner for one of the local animals. The IV in my arm was becoming more tangled as I struggled to sit upright. The room began to spin and I slumped back.
'Hey, hey, calm down kid. I'm sorry,' His tender amber voice filled the room as he walked toward me. He pressed the button on the side of the bed causing it to rise.
'Kid?!' Bransen's eyes grew nearly twice their size in surprise.
A middle aged gentleman burst through the door and yelled, 'What in the blue fuck is going on in here!? What the hell are you doing to my patient?!' Doc rushed through the room and stood between my bed and Bransen.
'Woah! Woah! Doc. It's just a misunderstanding,' He backed away with his arms half raised.
'Get the fuck out of here you butcher.' Doc spun and stared at me dazed. I was almost as surprised to have said it as he was to hear it.
'I'm sorry.' Visions of the last few days of my life flashed through my mind and a hollow ache tightened my chest.
'Please Just leave' I begged them both as I clutched my hands to my face and sobbed.
Like a robot obeying a command Doc, left the room without another word. Glimpses of my unborn child, Vale's death, the slaughter of his fathers, and the entire ordeal of the merging flashed through my mind. My murder of Rase in my rage blazed across my thoughts and my body shook with an anguish I couldn't control. Who the hell was I? What the hell was I?! What is going on!!!?? Hot wet tears spilled through my fingers and I barely noticed his arms pull me into an embrace.
'Hey guy, it's okay, It's okay now. You're safe. You're here with us,' Bransen tried to comfort me as he hugged me even closer. He rocked me for what seemed like forever before I spoke again.
'They're all gone,' The shudder of my body interrupted my words as I rambled..
Pulling away slightly and putting his hand beneath my chin Bransen lifted my eyes to his. 'You have a new family now.'
Glancing past him and into the mirror across the room, I saw something that terrified me, my reflection. A set of blue-white eyes blazed back at me. They weren't the icy blue color I was used to, they literally glowed. Realizing what I was seeing, my breath caught in my throat.
'It's too much! I can't do this!' I wept as I leaned forward again, hoping to hide away in the curve of Bransen's neck.
I had lost so much and my heart ached. There was no escaping the horror, and I didn't know how to react, so I let Bransen console me. I had lost everything, and I had maliciously killed a man. This wasn't me, was it?
Pulling away from Bransen one final time, I calmed myself and sniffled. He handed me a tissue and I wiped my eyes and nose. I had felt so much pain so quickly I was now almost immune. It just takes time to gain the benefit of the numbness and acceptance of a true horror and I was thankful for the subdued pangs of emotion. It was done. I was here, and nothing I could do would fix what had happened. I would carry the scars of my actions as a part of me forever. As I have always told others, 'It is what it is. Learn from it and move on.'
'Kelay was supposed to be with you.' Bransen picked at his fingernails as he spoke.
Staring into my lap, I whispered, 'He is.' I lifted my eyes to his. 'All that he was and knew'
'Knew?' Bransen interrupted. 'Knew? Where is he? What happened? What do you mean 'Knew'?' I could see the worry in his eyes.
'All the things he was and knew, I now know. All of his memories are now mine.' I paused. 'My father now lives within me, forever. He has moved beyond,' Another torrent of tears crawled down my cheeks. The word 'father' seemed to surprise him.
I felt a burning anguish rush through Bransen's soul, which was then quickly tucked away and hidden. 'I understand,' He spoke so softly I wasn't sure if he had actually said the words.
I looked into his eyes and knew. He loved Kelay, truly and desperately, but his love was a caged and bridled thing, never allowed to escape. Bransen had loved my father from afar for many years, but had kept it safely in check. Kelay had known it, but it was a fire that was never allowed to start. How sad. So much wasted time. What are we if not how we spend our time here?
'Are you sure?' There was a desperate pleading to his words, but I crushed his hopes with a simple nod.
'We have merged and he has moved on. I know you as well as any, though you don't know me. Know this though; I am all he was, and more. It is how he had planned it. He knew this day would come.'
Another muted twinge of pain rolled through his chest, but never met his face. I reached for him and he shrank away. I should have anticipated this. I had the memories, but I didn't know how to apply them.
'I need time alone, please.' We both needed time to think on what had happened and now Bransen had his own pain to deal with.
A thought escaped him as he stood and turned away from me. 'You sound so much like him!'
'It was never my intention'. It was what he had said to me when we met in the woods.
At hearing his own words, he paused and glanced back before finally leaving the room, and me, to sort out my new world.
Sleep overtook me. Coming to terms with everything would have to wait. I needed rest.
I woke, and once again found Bransen watching me from the corner.
'Hello again.' I tried to smile.
'Hello Khore,' he quietly replied.
'I will be ready for training in 1 day,' I could hear the questions like a low rumble rolling through his mind as he studied me.
'One day?!' There was doubt in his voice as he eyed me suspiciously.
'Well, it's been long enough for my body to fully recover. Speak. I get the impression you have a question for me,' I watched as he squirmed uncomfortably in his chair.
'uhhh.. how long do you think you have been out?' He eyed me intently.
'I don't know. A couple of days?' I shrugged off the question.
'Try two weeks!' he responded.
'I see.' I ignored the surprising news as though it were nothing. 'Must be a result of your inferior medical practice.'
'WHAT!?' He exclaimed, in denial more than anything.
'Got ya!' I chuckled. 'You are sooooo easy.'
I realized it was the first time a smile had been on my face since my last night with Vale. I remembered the joy of it as we lay on the cool stone, spent from loves exertions. The memory made me feel an instant guilt for even considering happiness.
Noticing this, Bransen asked, 'So, what happened?'
I recounted to Bransen the events of my last hours of memory and he listened intently. Skimming over some of the more explicit behavior of my sexual escapades, I told him the story with the essential facts as I could best recall them.
He looked at me in disbelief. 'So you were from one of the primitive groups then?' I nodded my reply.
'Excuse me for saying so, but you seem to have adapted remarkably well,' Branson continued.
'Do you think so?' I couldn't agree considering the rage of emotion that flooded my heart and mind. 'I'm not obsessed with the future as the Thorens are. It is their failing, and will ultimately be their destruction if they don't change their ways. They have forgotten how to live for the day, but instead only worry about their own longevity. They are dying, and it terrifies them. One might think that the many millennia they have witnessed, would have taught them more than this, but vanity and fear are hard pressed guides in their lives.'
'I have Kelay's memories, but not his wisdom,' I looked deep into his perplexed pale blue eyes and tried to explain.
'Knowing not to touch the cooking pot because it will burn you, is not the same as having made the mistake of burning your skin from its touch.' Some understanding crept into his expression as I continued.
'We learn from experience and feeling of a thing. I believe it is for my own sanity that I have chosen not to allow Kelay's emotions to merge with my own. I don't know if I could keep my mind if I allowed that just yet.' I paused, feeling a slight glimmer of hope move through him.
'Our emotion is what builds and maintains our soul. It is our pain, joy, fear, and triumph that molds us into who we are and who we will become.' My life had not been an easy one, but it was simple, and the complexities of Kelay's memory made me glad for it.
'You speak like an old man,' Embarrassment colored Bransen's cheeks.
'Today is my birthday,' Feeling the growing pains increase within my body another memory of Kelay's filled my mind. 'I turn 1600 years old today, and need you to go so that I may change.'
I could see questions forming in his mind, but interrupted him before he could speak.
'I need you to go now. Do not allow anyone to enter. They won't be able to, and I may unwittingly harm them. You will know when I have finished.' My eyes started to shine with that familiar white blue which was slowly growing in intensity.
I moaned in pain and writhed on the bed as my muscles and bones began to reform themselves. 'Go now!' I said, louder than I had intended and watched Bransen jump.
'Khore, are you okay?' Bransen's words were filled with concern but the rise in his voice seemed to hint more panic than worry.
Panting, with sweat forming on my brow and upper lip, I yelled out in pain, 'GO!' and thrust him from the room with my mind. I centered an almost violent and immediate pressure on his chest, sending him stumbling backward, and out of the room. I slammed the heavy metal door, bending it into the doorframe. The extreme pressure curved it outward like a wind-caught ship's sail.
I had allowed him to stay too long and wasn't prepared. Focusing on the smallest of cells within my body, I was able to temper the pain. I knew from the borrowed memories that now was the time to merge, Kelay and myself, to become who I needed to be. I loosed Kelay's emotions from the prison I had created for them and it began.
Wave upon wave of emotion rolled through my mind, finding their appropriate place with each memory. Pain, loss, sorrow, joy, lust, pride, shame, and more all took their place amongst the millennia's memories and experiences. The flashes through my mind merged with the images like watching someone's life on fast forward. The images were a constant blur at blistering speed, moving much to quickly to give more than a silhouette or impression of any one given thing. It was as though someone had painted a multicolored mosaic that was constantly remaking itself, shifting in complexity and color.
As the emotions racked my mind, the growing pains that throbbed from my bones began to increase in intensity. I pinched my eyes shut, trying to chase away the throbbing . A blinding blue and white fire wrapped around my body. I was aging now, faster than anything my mind could imagine. My shoulders were broadening, and I could feel my hair and nails had grown considerably. I heard myself screaming, long and loud, between gasps and shudders of pain, though I was more witness to the spectacle than active participant.
Time blurred as my body aged to that of a 21st age young man. Kelay had designed me this way. Knowing it was true, and that he had tinkered with the building blocks of life did little to ease the transition. In hours my body had aged what would normally have taken 5000 years. Well, what would have been normal for me anyway. The fury of light and emotion that had been coursing through my mind and body finally began to fade. Only my eyes glowed now, and the pain was barely a dull ache, with an occasional cramp or muscle spasm stealing my attention. Exhausted, I dozed off, leaving the final changes to complete themselves while I lay in the ignorant bliss of sleep.
I awoke with matted eyes. Rubbing them with balled up fists, I massaged the sleep from my eyes and sat up. I found myself in a tangle of hair and nearly scratched my face with my incredibly long finger nails. Commanding the lights to rise in intensity, I began to look at my hands and arms in the dimly lit room. I stretched and watched new, thicker muscle play across my arms and chest, noticing the slightest bit of fuzz play down the center of my abdomen, growing in strength and color at my naval, and working its way lower to more private places.
Pulling myself to the side of the bed, I stood and grabbed large handfuls of hair. Long chocolate brown ripples and ringlets cascaded down my shoulders. Even as I hefted it in my arms, my hair still dusted the floor as I made my way to the bathroom.
Sitting down on the toilet, I cut my fingernails so that I would be better able to manage and reach the more important things without accidentally castrating myself. Looking at myself in the mirror, clad only in pajama bottoms and bare-chested, I stared. My hair now framed a slightly more squared face, but the changes in my appearance weren't dramatic. My nose had grown to accommodate my face and my lips seemed somewhat larger, but not exactly plump. The muscles in my neck seemed more defined. My chest and abdomen lost the baby fat that used to hide the farm-built muscle beneath. I had to admire the new look of it, as my chest and abdomen narrowed at my waist.
Grabbing an armband used during the taking of blood samples, I gathered my hair at waist level and tied it into a mammoth pony tail. I found a pair of scissors on the counter and cut my hair below the band. My hair must have been 7 or 8 pounds lighter and I felt the weight fall away from my upper back and neck.
I started the shower on a comfortable medium to hot warmth, removed my pajama bottoms and stepped in. The water felt like silk sliding down my new body. Running my hands down my skin with massaging movements, I glanced down the length of my body and to a somewhat larger penis. It rested atop powerful thighs and strong calves, and started to plump from the sudden attention. Limp, at five inches, it showed a lot of potential, but I really didn't have time for this right now. I would become better acquainted with my new body later.
I stepped further into the stream of water, letting it flow down my face, through my hair, and down the rest of my body. Turning with my back to the spray, I let it beat against my skin to help relax the muscles of my neck and shoulders. The hiss of water was so soothing; I could easily have fallen into my own world for hours without a second thought. Running my fingers through my hair, I gave one last turn as I rinsed my body and shut off the flow of water.
Stepping out, I reached for a towel from the shelf and used it to dry my hair and body with rough but thorough rubbing. Moving out of the bathroom, I looked about the room for clothing other than the dirty pajama bottoms in which I had awakened. On the arm of the chair in which Bransen had been sitting, was a set of clothes. I pulled on a pair of brown pants. They were made of better cloth than I was used to. I laced them up the front, much like one would a pair of shoes or boots. They were extremely form-fitting so I reached inside and adjusted myself so they were not quite as revealing. I pulled on the shirt next. It was sheer and nearly transparent. Its blue fabric billowed and flowed from the slightest wind caused by my movement. On the floor next to the chair was a pair of slip-on shoes made of tawny brown leather and in design much like a house slipper, but with a harder sole made for walking safely outdoors.
It was the best I had felt since all of this began.
'I suppose I should get this over with. There is so much that must be done.' I said to myself and turned toward the door.
'Thank the gods that was only the door and not Bransen.' I mumbled to no one, shaking my head.
I focused on the door ahead of me. I bound my mind to each molecule, increasing the speed of the protons and electrons as though I had built them myself and could control them with my mind. It was little more than that. It was a simple direction of energy to manipulate the environment around me, completely scientific and as natural as a drop of sweat. Directing more energy to the process, the metal began to warm intensely and become more malleable. Applying fields of energy behind the door and at all its contact points with the frame, I brought the metal back toward me. It creaked a loud metallic yawn in complaint to its contortion.
As the door returned to its proper shape, I reduced the energy that had accelerated the electrons and protons and allowed them to cool. A few moments later, when I knew the metal would stay separated, I released the fields, keeping them apart. I relaxed, leaning against the end of the bed, and waited for the metal to cool completely.
I opened the door with my mind and waited for Bransen to enter. I heard the medical personnel in their panic of mind calling him to come immediately.
Leaning forward off the bed and fully standing again, I watched Bransen enter the room.
'Happy birthday to me.' I grinned as I watched his eyes dance from my face to the rest of my body. His blue eyes lingered a little longer at my crotch than he should have allowed himself.
'I guess so!' He smirked and shut the door behind him. We needed privacy and he was going to make sure that we got it.
'Could you take care of the cameras like before?' He asked me.
'Take care of what cameras? Ahhh, of course there were cameras. What kind of freak show would I be if I weren't caught on video!' I felt somewhat exposed and violated.
'Well, don't feel too badly. They never worked much beyond the point at which you kicked me out of the room,' He seemed almost disappointed by the fact but grinned.
'They turned themselves back on while you were traipsing about the room naked, getting dressed.'
'HonestlyI hear it was quite the show.' He chuckled and blushed. 'I'm almost sorry I missed it!'
It was the second time I had seen him blush and it was precious. It reminded me of how Vale used to blush when we had been intimate and traveled into new and undiscovered areas of sex..
'I'm sure they have it recorded,' I grinned mischievously. 'And as the captain I'm sure you have access to all video records.'
'Ohhhh you do like to push don't you,' he laughed. 'Just call me Bransen, alright?'
'Yes Cap.. err Bransen,' I goaded.
'So, the cameras please?' He glanced to a corner of the room and then back to me.
The energy I was releasing had interfered with the video feed. I reached out, sensing each and every camera and recording device in the room, and then looked to each spot in the room drawing energy into myself, causing my eyes to glow.
'They will not function again until you say it is safe.' I blinked at him and knew the strobe like light coming from my eyes unnerved him.
'You are different.' He eyes traveled along the length of my body and then back again. 'Your face, your whole body, it's older.'
'Yes, and this is the appearance and body I will have until the end of time.' I focused on a nondescript section of floor and tried to hide my horror.
'I thought that only the Thorens lived forever.' Bransen was picking at his fingernails again and I knew there was something on his mind that he didn't want to admit.
'No, the Thorens are dying, but unless I am horribly wounded or incinerated, I will recover and continue on. I am my father's life's work made real through love. I am the Thoren's ultimate goal., He kept it a secret from them, but now that secret, me, is out. The Thoren will come for it. They would have been here if they knew my location so I think we're safe for the moment. My diversion to the Antarctic must have been successful or this place would surely have fallen by now,' The prospect of living forever was something that plagued me and I was glad for the distraction.
I watched his eyes widen as the gravity of the situation gripped him. With my admission of this information, he now knew he had my complete trust, as he did Kelay's. I could feel his terror for it, and also something else. His heart moved. He was confused with his past feelings for Kelay, and that part of me that is now Kelay. I will never be more in awe of anything, than the ability of the human mind to shift gears so completely, regardless of the momentum to its destination.
Bransen stood speechless, staring at me. A moment passed and I began to smile awkwardly at him.
'Perhaps we should go see the others. They're still waiting.' I nodded hoping to bring him back from his thoughts.
'I wish you wouldn't do that. It takes so much fun out of the conversation.' Bransen thought the words.
'I'm sorry,' I answered before he could speak what was on his mind.
'Quit that!' He chuckled and shook his head.
'I'm sorry, it's just that you keep so much hidden away. When a thought does come across your mind unbridled, it's like a scream that echoes about the room.' I paused. 'I will make a conscious effort to make sure that it doesn't happen again. I don't want you to fear for your own personal thoughts and privacy.'
His mind seemed to shift from one thing to another and then settle. 'Thank you. I appreciate that.'
'Okay then, let's go meet the crew. Go easy on them, okay Khore?' Bransen grinned as I approached.
'Yeah, yeah. No death by sex. I swear!' I made a crossing motion over my heart and we both burst into laughter.
'Oh! And ratchet down those eyes. Let's not freak out everyone on our first day out in the big city, okay?'
Gods it felt good to laugh again. Who ever said that 'Laughter is the best medicine' was more brilliant than the world will ever know. Bransen made my heart smile and it frightened me.
I followed him out the door and all eyes focused on me as we made our way to the elevator.
'Thank you for your most excellent care.' I paused for a moment and looked at Doc. 'My apologies, Doc, for my behavior. You're the best.'
It's strange how a few words can affect a person, but I saw Doc's whole body relax. The man was tense; way too tense. He needed some hard core sex, and soon. It's not safe to linger too long when you're on the edge. I gave him a wink. Yeah, I'm a bitch. I never said I was perfect, and who's to say I wouldn't cure him of his 'dry streak.' He wasn't bad looking either. His short, cropped, sunny blond hair, with a perfect part, tired slate blue eyes, pale skin and medium frame was kind of sexy.
He had the body of someone who exercised because they cared. He seemed like someone who strained in and out of life. There was never enough time to put his soul's effort fully into anything. Hot, but just too damned busy to care more about himself than others. Definitely doable.
A bell sounded and the elevator doors opened. We stepped in and Bransen pressed the 10 button that would deliver us to the recreation and exercise area for the crew. Okay, I'm new. I know them, but they don't know me. I have to go easy on them. SHIT! Fuck it, I thought, we'll do this my way. Each will get the proof they need and learn who I am. There is no way to do this all at once. Or is there? Wait, a less than kind thought crossed my mind.
The bell rang again as we reached level ten. The doors opened and we exited, with Bransen leading the way to the large sparring area. It was a simple open space with nothing but 50 square feet of mats on the floor. We passed the dining area and I felt the press of eyes as we moved through the room.
I had Kelay's memories and knew each of them. Not on the level that Bransen did I am sure, but we had had several meetings in the past and each had proven themselves. It was strange to have them look at me with suspicious eyes but then again they hadn't ever seen me before.
We entered the area where Sweed and Neek were sparring, exchanging combinations of kicks and punches.
'So this is the new bad ass, huh? Kind of puny, don't you think?' Neek glanced at Sweed and puffed out his chest.
I calmed myself and settled into a defensive stance.
Bransen stepped back, 'Don't hurt them, Khore. They don't know you.'
Neek took this comment personally and ran toward me. As he was preparing to land his first combo, I stepped to the side, letting him pass me, and kicked him square in the ass and sent him sailing out of the training area.
Sweed watched and studied me. He was a mass of a man in size and stature. Nordic would be the best way I could explain it. He was tall, thick, and a short blond mop of hair topped his head. He had a square jaw, and fists that more resembled hammers. He was a sight to behold. He moved more gracefully than he should considering his mammoth size. With a deceptive grace he advanced into a fighting pattern that telegraphed his every move. I read his thoughts, and found he was going to sweep my legs and then execute a change-over to mid rift kick.
I took a step back as he executed his move, grasped his ankle, shifted my weight, and used his own momentum to send him flying into the wall five yards away. The massive power of his own attack completely turned against him and made me appear stronger than I was.
This seemed to get the attention of Raven, Rift, and Twist. They all charged me at once. Raven sent a flying kick toward my face as Twist initiated a sweep and Rift went for a kidney shot from the side.
Throwing my hips, I went into a cartwheel kick, moving below Raven's attack, but above Twist's foot sweep. I made contact with Rift's knee, blocking his kidney shot, and dropped him to the floor. Raven and Twist then bore down on me in a two man free-for-all combination. I leapt into the air and planted the ball of my feet into each of their chests, sending them backwards. At that moment, Neek and Sweed thought it was a good idea to attack me from behind.
I turned, facing them. My eyes went ablaze, and the surprised expression on their faces made me smile. Stretching one arm in their direction, I used the energy around me to grip them and raise them off the floor, making their throats contract to stop the flow of air. Before Rift, Twist and Raven could react, I raised my other hand, lifting them, as well. I brought them together before me, hovering in the air.
'Hello Gentlemen. My name is Khore. It is a pleasure to meet you,' A white blue fire exploded out and around my body, and I released the pressure on their necks, allowing them to breathe.
'You freak son of a bitch! Who the hell do you think you are?' Raven spat out the words as he glared at me.
I turned and stared into Raven's piercing black eyes and smiled. I drew in more and more energy, glowing so brightly they had to squint their eyes against the blaze.
'Khore, that's enough. You promised.' Bransen didn't hide his worry and spoke the words quickly.
I increased the energy another level and a pure icy blue light surged so brightly from me one could not discern what was at the center.
'I promised I would not kill them.' Pulling and concentrating the energy into myself I formed it into a small ball of rolling power.
'I do not appreciate the name calling. I can make you feel pleasure.' I released the ball of energy, letting it explode outward, enhancing the nerves and giving all whom it touched one of the most intense orgasms of their lives. There would not be a dry pair of shorts in the room. It rippled like the waves created from a pebble thrown into calm water, but with extreme speed. There were moans and gasps to be heard for several moments.
When everyone seemed to come back down from their orgasm I was still staring at Raven who was now sweating and panting, looking somewhat pleased with the recent developments.
'Or I can cause you pain. Personally I'm not into pain.' I flicked out my hands, sending the 5 of them flying across the training area. They struck the padded walls behind them with a staccato of thuds and I lowered my arms, as my eyes return to normal.
Looking over at Bransen, in his somewhat recovered revelry, I said, 'I promised not to kill anyone with sex. See. Everyone lived,' I chuckled.
'Bransen, report to the infirmary immediately. Bring Khore with you.' The intercom belched Doc's words. It seemed as though he was 'trying' to sound angry, but failed.
Twist's eyes lit up and he laughed, 'Well that has got to be a record. What's it been, twenty five minutes out of your room before you got into trouble?'
'Seriously, uhh, when you get a free moment I'd love a repeat of that thing before you tossed us across the room.,' Twist blushed and diverted his eyes to the floor.
We all laughed and Bransen elbowed me in the side. 'Let's go see Doc. I think your little 'trick' went a bit further than this room.'