|Children of the Stars
Author: InFamousHero PM
Following in the footsteps of her late sister, Ali'sha Lunari joins the Sahren military, the galactic peacekeepers of her people. But will the memory of her sister be too heavy a burden or will she triumph and earn her place among the stars? The Sahren certainly won't make it easy for her.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi - Chapters: 5 - Words: 18,615 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 06-21-12 - Published: 06-13-12 - id: 3031835
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Thanks for taking a look, I hope you enjoy the story I'm building. If you'd like to know more, check my profile as I have a few links to background info and my tumblr feed.
I'm hoping to eventually turn this into a kindle book, but for now I'm just working out typos and inconsistencies so feel free to point those out.
Anyway, on with the story -
"Ali! Time to get up!"
A voice was breaking through her dreams, melting the pleasant images away into a grey sea. She didn't want to get up; she was too comfortable, too cosy.
"Ali – I swear if you don't get that tail out of bed you're going to school earless!"
Upon hearing such a dire threat she scrambled, only getting tangled in her sheets and tumbling onto the floor for her trouble. Muttering under her breath she ignored the door opening. "Ali'sha, what are you doing?"
Ali'sha looked up to find her mother standing in the doorway, her ears raised and facing forward. Lanna apparently hadn't expected to find her daughter in a heap, awkwardly trapped by her sheets. With an amused snort she briskly helped Ali'sha out of her predicament. "Still such a helpless kit," she commented, ruffling Ali'sha's dark hair, the same colour as her fur. All in all she was a mirror image of her sire, black fur and white skin, offset by rich golden eyes.
Barely out of her kitling years and Ali'sha was still having trouble with the whole 'school' thing. She saw it as little more than a place to meet friends and suitably show off. It was something of bewilderment to the Siethan, since whenever Ali'sha decided to pay attention, she got excellent marks. She was clearly intelligent – maybe she just believed it was beneath her to bother?
Either way, there was little that would make her turn back and go home. Her mother was calm and gentle, but by Lun'sahre she wanted nothing to do with her mother's temper when roused. Better to just get to school.
"Alright, settle down!"
Ali'sha bit her tongue to stop from laughing. Siethan Majai was having trouble with the class, they seemed especially rowdy tonight; granted it was the last night. This was the last night they would be viewed as kits – everyone was eager to get it over with. Ali'sha couldn't help but smile, there was much to do beyond this point, so much to see.
"Awh, come on Siethan! We're not kitlings anymore."
"Can't we have the night off or something?"
"I like the sound of that!"
"Siethan, I think they have a point," Ali'sha leaned back in her chair, always at the back corner of the class. She laced her hands behind her head, tail flicking languidly.
Majai levelled her dark, tired eyes on the kit. "Was this your handiwork, Ali'sha? Inciting nothing short of a riot..."
"She's always been like that, causing trouble," another voice joined the fray, a little more judgemental than Ali'sha was comfortable with. She glanced over to meet the ice blue eyes of Kah'rin Marousal, a dam born of Teldanese parents and an artisan clan. Ali'sha flashed her fangs, "and how would someone like you know the difference between trouble and fun?"
Kah'rin narrowed her eyes, ears folding sharply back, "I'm not the one being chased around by the town Mesai every week, katza."
Ali'sha closed her eyes, getting more comfortable in her chair and still wearing her smug grin. "You're just jealous they like me more."
Majai interjected, "are you two quite finished? I'd like to get through the night without flaying anyone's ears."
The class finally settled enough for Majai to start teaching, but while Ali'sha wasn't exactly paying attention, she kept glancing over at Kah'rin. The Marousal line had a history of being rather selective in regards to breeding, which gave the most recent generation their perfectly white fur, hair and skin. Most appeared like the walking embodiments of fresh snow, and their eyes usually followed suit. Kah'rin herself stared at the world with pale blue eyes usually full of contempt.
Those cold orbs suddenly turned on her – Ali'sha could presume that Kah'rin felt eyes on her. In response to the intense glare being sent her way, Ali'sha grinned, leaning forward on her desk so she could sway her tail back and forth, held high. Kah'rin's ears shot up and the young dam angrily looked away, her cheeks darkening and the fur of her tail bristling furiously. Ali'sha suppressed a laugh and settled back into a comfortable position. Flustering Kah'rin was amusing and not entirely baseless – the Marousal was quite attractive. Not that Ali'sha could ever picture herself with someone so utterly infuriating; besides, Kah'rin had an active hand in making sure Ali'sha felt unwelcome.
A sigh left her, disagreements between clans rarely broke out into actual fights but tensions could run high when the clans in question clashed too harshly. Her own line, the Lunari, were warriors by nature and had a long history of military service, honour, glory and titles. They originally hailed from the home world but a small branch, including her parents, decided to move to the outer edges of Sahren Space. From what she understood they lived on Dahnzu to extend the clan's reach.
Kah'rin's clan on the other hand, were creatures of culture. They showed the Lunari the expected amount of respect, but there was always an air of disdain for such 'brutes' whenever the two clans interacted. Kah'rin no doubt took after her parents because she did not let any chance to jab at Ali'sha's heritage pass her by.
Grumbling to herself, Ali'sha shook her head and tried to actually pay attention to Majai's words. It was the last night; she should not bother herself with something that would soon be ancient history.
. . .
Ali'sha wasn't so sure about her thought later that day. Sparring was usually something she was good at, but Siethan Helrei had left momentarily to take care of something else. Leaving her alone with a group who cared rather little for her existence, Kah'rin, those loyal to her and those who wanted to see a 'great warrior' taken down to 'their level.'
Maybe it was deliberate – Ali'sha knew the Siethan were chosen to guide because they were honourable, but pride could always play a hand in such things.
She swallowed hard, carefully moving around in a circle to keep an eye on everyone surrounding her. "I think you're forgetting the rules here. One on one, so it's fair, no?"
"Be quiet, katza!"
"Helrei won't be back for a while."
"So let's see just how great the Lunari warriors are."
Ali'sha frowned, settling into a ready stance. Her szisere was a decorated if retired member of the Sahren military, she taught Ali'sha a lot. So she at least had some knowledge advantage, perhaps some better experience regards sparring with a veteran. Though Ashell was not at her peak due to old injuries, it had to be better than what these clawless whelps knew.
She didn't make a habit out of getting into fights, but she definitely wasn't going to go down without one. Four of them fell before a foot slammed into her gut. Someone grabbed her tail and Ali'sha snarled, her ears folding down. Whirling sharply smacked into the temple of the offender, her sharp nails leaving shallow cuts on the other youth's face.
Another foot suddenly pressed into the back of her knee, forcing it to bend. She stumbled forwards, trying to stand, but someone's knee connected with her ribs, knocking her to the floor.
"Where's big sister now, Lunari?"
Ali'sha's eyes narrowed against the floor, her hands curling against it. She tried to take in air and struggled to her knees again, teeth clenched. They didn't let her get much farther than that, kicking her onto her side where she promptly curled up to and tried to block out the hits.
"What do you think you're doing? Get away from her!"
The voice was vague over the chorus of taunting yells, but it sounded like Helrei. Maybe it wasn't on purpose. Maybe...
"This is ridiculous; she shouldn't have to put up with this!"
"I'm aware but I cannot simply, as you say, 'go over there and teach their sun-loving spawn a lesson.' Neither can I do that to their 'soon to be gutless parents,' it wouldn't do much aside from antagonize them further. They might – if at all – punish their children, and they would in turn reflect their anger on Ali'sha."
"So she's supposed to just accept their abuse?"
"I did not say that."
"Then say something useful!"
"Our child was hurt tonight. She was outnumbered and attacked because of pettiness and pride."
"You know what happened to Lisarah, this is exactly why they restricted real weapons to the military wing!"
"I...I'm sorry, Ashell. I just don't want this to happen again."
"Lisarah drew attention to herself, Ali'sha merely annoys those of lesser spirit."
"And what do you think would have happened if the school had real weapons?"
"Exactly. I can't lose them both, we can't. Is there nothing we can do?"
"You know the rules; disputes between clans are conflicts to be resolved among ourselves. We can't ask anyone to intervene without looking weak."
"That wasn't a dispute!"
"I know that!"
The muffled voices were quiet for a moment and Ali'sha clutched at her heart, fingers curling tightly into her clothes.
"I know that... Lanna, I cannot fix this. All we can hope for is that this is the end of it; Ali'sha is out of school now. She'll choose her path, she'll be away from this Goddess forsaken town and she will be fine."
Ali'sha quietly slinked away from her parent's room, tail held low. She was still sore but she walked around just fine without being coddled, her pride was a different matter.
Stepping outside the waning moon still lit up most of the area. She settled on the edge of the deck, the perfectly varnished hard wood never daring to leave a splinter. They didn't live in one of the cities, rather one of the larger towns, Izalla. Ali'sha was thankful for that; there was less freedom to be had in a city.
"That wasn't a dispute!"
Her mother's words echoed in her mind and Ali'sha closed her eyes. Her sister was killed in a petty dispute a few years back, though some would argue she had it coming, sticking her nose into things she shouldn't. Ali'sha would happily throw anyone who disrespected her sister over a cliff - Lisarah was a good Talinth, she knew honour and she was a local hero who rooted out the gangs and helped the Mesai. And for all that Ali'sha was the one who found her hero dying in a pool of her own blood, cut to ribbons. Lisarah had whispered not to be scared, choking on her blood and weakly ruffling a crying Ali'sha's hair.
Ali'sha clenched her teeth, curling up and clutching either side of her head. She didn't want to remember that, helpless and scared as she ran away to find help, only to return and find her sister's body was gone. The wretches who killed her claimed they took her body and gave it the 'treatment' it deserved; they bragged about how it would never be found. It surprised Ali'sha little that they died during the first night of their imprisonment.
Suddenly she leapt up from the deck and started running. Where she didn't know, and didn't really care. Her feet dug into the dirt path and her muscles ached in protest after Goddess only knew how long. It was the last night; she had time to get better. Ashell had told her not to worry, but how could she not? That fight had been about the Lunari name, they challenged her to prove that Lunari were unmatched warriors, and she failed. She needed to be better than Lisarah, make her sister proud of her; carry on in her place.
She should have been able to prove it. She ground her teeth, forcing herself to keep running despite the pain. Her hands clenched, young claws digging into her palms. I shouldn't have lost!
A root caught her unprepared and she went flying. Tumbling to a halt Ali'sha spat out dirt and grass, cursing. Here she was grieving for what little remained of her pride like any young Talinth had the right to do, and the universe felt the need to vex her further. She grumbled, nursing her foot, trying to figure out what exactly the aforementioned entity had against her.
With a sigh, Ali'sha fell back on the grass – the soft cool strands pressing against her skin were comforting. The sky above was clear, showing off the stars like the single most inspiring masterpiece of their Goddess. Lun'sahre was their guiding light in darkness, pure and irrevocable. Ali'sha wondered from time to time if Lisarah was among the stars with Lun'sahren, watching over her. She could only imagine the older sire scolding her for moping.
Ali'sha closed her eyes, internally grumbling. It was a pointless fight in a school, she still had her honour, nothing had been lost. At least that's what she tried to tell herself. She groaned and wiped her hands down her face; she was just trying to convince herself.
Something on the wind caught her attention, like faint whispers of a coming storm; trouble. Ali'sha sat up, looking around at the empty fields and seeing nothing along the path; her ears swivelled to catch the noise again. She was a fair ways from Izalla now, maybe her parents were looking for her?
Getting to her feet Ali'sha brushed the dust from her loose clothes, falling over on the path had covered her in dirt.
She looked up sharply and her ears faced the source of the yell, it sounded like Kah'rin. She never wanted to see that arrogant dam again, so high and mighty, limitless in her arrogance. Yet here she was running down the path; covered in blood. The perfect white that made up her appearance was so completely violated by abhorrent red. Her simple dress was ripped and Ali'sha managed to notice she was bleeding from a wound in her shoulder. She'd never wanted to see this again, see someone injured, bleeding all over the place.
Kah'rin slammed into her, clutching, sobbing, and completely incoherent. Ali'sha noticed the other was holding a very bloody knife, it was so wet, so red. Swallowing hard she tried to get Kah'rin to look at her, but there was little to calm her down. "What's wrong?" Ali'sha asked loudly, trying to be heard over the other's crying. "Kah'rin! What happened?" she asked, firmer.
Kah'rin hiccupped, coughing and momentarily choking. "My...m-my parents. They're coming! Th-they'll kill me! Please! H-help!"
Ali'sha could only stare blankly at this sobbing, bloody wreck in her arms. This gutless Teldanese bitch cared nothing for her, she even took part in the humiliation Ali'sha put up with at school. Yet here she was helpless and in need, and her entire world hinged on if Ali'sha would help her or not.
"Mother!" Ali'sha called, stumbling through the door with a half-unconscious Kah'rin in her arms.
Lanna came through to the main room and her ears lifted sharply at the sight greeting her, "Ali'sha, tell me you found her like that."
Ali'sha glared, "attacking her is beneath me."
Ashell was quick to follow, eyes narrowing once they set upon Kah'rin's trembling form. "Why did you bring her here? She's Marousal."
"And she's in trouble."
"So you help your tormentor?"
"She's bleeding; can we talk about this when she's not leaking everywhere?"
"Fine, take her to the guest room; I'll get my medical supplies..."
Ashell turned away, leaving Lanna and Ali'sha to carry Kah'rin. She'd slipped off again but her grip on the knife didn't falter. Ali'sha frowned, wondering why Kah'rin had the knife in the first place. 'My parents – they're coming – they're going to kill me.' What did she mean? Why would her parents try to kill her? Ali'sha held little sympathy for the girl but she didn't want her to die.
Regardless of the whys to Kah'rin's situation they got her cleaned up and Ashell worked – without complaint – to close the wound. Ali'sha offered a set of her own and Kah'rin was changed into clean clothes; blood had a nasty habit of festering into something foul. In a moment of blurry consciousness they managed to convince her that the knife wasn't needed and she willingly gave it over. The exhausted girl slipped back into sleep with Ali'sha nearby, keeping watch – Ashell was going to try and figure out what was happening.
Despite her injuries, Ashell was still a highly experienced stealth specialist who was frequently used for a variety of dangerous missions during the old war with the Falsatha. The details of such missions were not widely known, all that mattered was that she helped bring precious little calm in times of war.
Her szisere's stories felt like legends from a different time, so much had changed since then. Whilst space flight had been achieved eight generations ago they were continuing to spread, and in Ashell's youth she had played a large role in wresting control of the Majae Sector. It had been a newly colonized area for mining purposes, but one of the larger clans had a big stake in the colonies. They decided to forcefully take control of what went on and who got to live and work there.
The wayward clan were known as the Falsatha. They had not been formed like a traditional clan, born of many generations from an old bloodline, and were the first to be officially accepted as a real clan. This had caused much controversy; some clans even took to openly attacking the Falsatha. But they proved able to protect their name and only continued to grow in number.
Majae was just one of the many warning signs that the Falsatha were more than they pretended to be. Most of the clan was made up of outcasts; chezrika and kaezuk were welcome without hesitation. If they were willing to fight under the Falsatha banner, nothing else mattered.
The clan had apparently been gathered by an actual bloodline descendant, a one Sushare Landellium. She was a typical pale Illuthulian with poisonous violet-red eyes and a penchant for bloody manipulation. Her charisma and guile let her slip through many a political call outs unpunished and allowed her to fool many of their people. In the end it was all just a mask, she wanted control. After Majae, the Falsatha were done with pretending.
To this date, they had been behind many assassinations and terrorist attacks, not least of which being a direct assault on High Priestess Celestra's life. Such a strike, failed though it did, against one of Lun'sahre's chosen, cast the Falsatha in a darker light than ever before.
The fighting had split Talinth society into two distinct factions, the Sahren, normal Talinth who held fast to their honour and Lun'sahre's teachings – and the heretical Falsatha who threw those teachings to the ground and spat in their Goddess's face. Illuthulians themselves practiced the teachings of Anzuiso, the mortal guardian of Lun'sahre who became her Keeper of Death in the afterlife. From what little they chose to share about their insular culture, Anzetism was not inherently dangerous nor was it hostile towards Sahrism in any form. Quite the opposite, Anzetic believers bowed to the Kelradoma, the religious clan of their united government, of whom were comprised almost entirely of Ru-Sahrists.
But Sushare took the Anzetic teachings and twisted them to believing that Lun'sahre was no divine being but merely a cunning tyrant who seduced people with lies. Instead she proposed Anzuiso herself was a being worthy of far greater reverence, that only their Keeper of Death, their dark lunar warrior, could possibly understand them, a nocturnal people.
Naturally the resulting conflict of the Falsatha dropping their facade was brutal and ultimately straining on relations with the Illuthulians no matter how vehemently they decried Sushare and her followers as heretics.
According to intelligence, news and Ashell's stories, the Falsatha now resided in the Dell'han Sector on Akron and had been there for the last 500 years. Ali'sha could feel her stomach twist at the thought of them, unconsciously growling; she would relish the chance to fight against such vile beings.
Her mother's voice caught her off guard and Ali'sha looked up. Lanna cast a cautious look towards Kah'rin – still asleep – before tilting her head back. Ali'sha frowned and got up, glancing back at Kah'rin. The girl looked so pitifully harmless laying there in her bandages; she looked so tired. Shaking her head Ali'sha walked out, running a hand through her hair and promptly scratching behind her right ear. "Is something wrong?"
Lanna closed the door behind her, "it wasn't her parents," her expression was grave, fixed in acute disapproval. "The Marousal family is-" she paused to choose her word carefully, "-complex."
"Full of bloodthirsty backstabbers you mean," Ashell bluntly stated, coming up behind Ali'sha. She was busy wiping off a dagger. Ali'sha swallowed, silently wondering if her szisere had actually used it. She cleared her throat, "so someone else killed her parents, and tried to kill her as well?"
Ashell nodded; disdain clear in her features, "it would seem so. Both parents are dead, and the blood on Kah'rin's dress was far too much to be her own – she must've been standing right there when it happened."
The thought of having to watch her parents die crossed Ali'sha's mind and she felt a chill echo through her blood. "A-And the knife?"
"Well," her szisere finally put the dagger away, "the little Marousal has more spine than I gave her credit for. There was another body; throat torn open as if someone had stabbed at it in absolute panic."
Ali'sha was lost in her own thoughts, but Ashell placed a hand on her head, ruffling the youth's hair. "Don't worry. We'll keep her safe. The Mesai will likely agree to this since none of her family can be trusted now."
Ali'sha found no words coming to her for a moment, and glanced back at the door.
"By the way, Ali..."
She looked back at her szisere, ears raised. "Yes?"
Ashell smiled with warmth in her eyes, "you made me proud. Kah'rin has little right to your kindness, but you helped her regardless. You need not worry about your honour."
A swell rose in her chest and Ali'sha smiled broadly in return. "Thank you, szisere."
Ashell nodded, "now, your mother and I will keep watch over Kah'rin. Things are going to change, but I must ask you to put previous grievances behind you. Events such as these can change a person, especially at a young age – Kah'rin is likely to be very quiet and unresponsive. So be gentle with her?"
"I'll do my best."
"Good girl, now go to bed."
More to come.