Forward: Hi! I can't wait to start my new adventures on Nexus! I'd like to intro my character proper. I hope you enjoy his tale.
Each chapter will be one topic. Please leave your comments, questions, lore corrections in replies!. I might have a few grammar/spelling errors, so please point those out too. Anyway, Thanks for reading!
Chapter 1: Say Goodbye, Say Cheese!
In a small tent, barely large enough for four people to lie down end to end, an extended family of Aurin were quickly making preparations for the long journey ahead.
The elder consort, Hoarfrost, tall for a male, tapped his mate on the shoulder."Mama," he whispered, "Now is not the time to make journeycakes."
"You know that the minute the little ones get up in the sky they'll be so hungry. The least we can do is allow them to go into the unknown with a full belly." she mumbled, flipping cake over cake on a half rusted griddle. She slipped the cakes off the hot iron and put them on a growing pile. As she cooked, her mouth creased down in a frown, her eyes stared into the distance, into all the worries that plagued her. As the leader of her clan, it had been her responsibility to safeguard them. To place them in the hands of another and send them out to who-knows-where, went against everything she stood for.
"We'll make it. We'll all make it." she said to herself, pouring the batter for the last cakes. "We have to."
"Papa! The pullcarts are almost fully loaded..." A young aurin almost the size of his father ducked under the tentflap. "Mama, why are you making cakes?"
"Here dear. Eat, you've been working all night. Being you're the eldest son doesn't make you invincible."
"It's not like I'm picking things up with my hands..."
"The mind is linked with the body," His father interrupted and gave him a cake. "And take a few to your little brother and tell him to stop daydreaming and get ready."
"Rocio's been laying about all night. I'm not sure why you let him get away with it."
The family was unique among the Aurin. They came from a long line of powerful Espers. That served them well when the Empire struck Arboria. Wise use of their telekinetic powers allowed them to defend themselves, fool and confuse the enemy and keep in contact so that they were able to mostly survive the scourge of planet reapers.
The eldest son was Gale. Most Aurin were reminded of the strength of his mother when they looked at him. The youngest son was Rocio who currently sat staring up at the sky while his brother had been working.
"Rocio what are you looking at? Here, Mama told me to bring you food..."
Rocio reached for it, but Gale held it away. "Don't use your hands."
"Come on brother."
"Use your mind."
Rocio sighed and began to concentrate, slowly lifting the cake from his brothers hand. As soon as it was within reach, he raised his hands and took it. "We're going
there you know." He pointed up. "Right into the stars... I wonder what's out there."
"Father says stop daydreaming and get ready." Gale turned and walked off. Shouting behind his shoulder, he added. "I shouldn't have to tell you that."
Among his brothers and sisters, Rocio was the weakest of the Espers. Even as he was slacking off and daydreaming, he was avoiding constant reminders of the fact that he could barely hear the minds of his relatives, he could barely lift his food to his mouth. They were constantly having to tell him things, he would get lost. Around him, loads were being tied, lifted, preparation was being made, and excitement and fear was in the air.
To Rocio, it was silent and the luggage moved on its own even as his uncles and cousins sat around smoking incensed leaves. Had it not been for his older brother, he would have probably died in the invasion. As gruff has Gale's demeanor was, he was the one who carried him to safety, relayed messages and found him when he was lost, often at great peril to himself. But now, Rocio wanted to do more.
He rolled up his sleeping mat and opened up his GPS locator, the one given to him by one of the humans that had visited Arboria. He opened it to a simulation of the known universe. The world was suddenly so much bigger than he had ever thought it could be. Perhaps exploring it, he could become an Esper on par with his brothers, and he wouldn't be a burden to his family any longer.
"You're not a burden, Rocio..."
Rocio hung his head and his ears flattened. "Mama..."
"You're just a late bloomer."
"How can you say that? I've almost come of age and I still can't hear you... I-... I didn't even know you were listening!"
"You are an Esper. And you are in our family. You must have a treasured gift. You just need to find it. Perhaps out there, you will find your gift. Perhaps, you've always had it." She hugged him tightly. "Enough gloomy thoughts. It's time to start anew."
As quiet as his family camp had been, the environment around the rescue shuttles was hectic and extremely noisy. People everywhere were weeping. Disconcerted, Rocio took his mother's hand.
"You're too old to be clinging to me, dear. Say goodbye to Arboria, and be strong."
They were each given a numbered ID card that was slung around their necks, after which they were ushered into a large crowd. Their luggage was taken away. His sisters moved closer to the center of their group. Gale hissed "Keep your tails close!"
Rocio's GPS unit began to beep insistently. He opened his bag pulled it out and it spontaneously projected a holograph of a map. A dotted line was slowly tracing its way across it. It then stopped and a small box appeared that read. "Gambler's... Ruin... Is there where we're going?"
Suddenly the door of the ships slid open with a bang! Bang! Bang! Startled, Rocio stumbled back and tripped, his unit flew from his hands. "Oh no!" He scrambled to
get it and was caught up in a moving crowd. He picked up the GPS unit and stuffed it back in his pack.
"Rocio! Over here! Where are you going?"
The thunderous roar of an explosion drowned out his father's voice. Screaming, the crowd surged toward the ships.
Terror filled him. He tried to turn around but he was being pushed away by the crowd, urged to keep moving.
"Rocio!" His mother cried.
"I can't pick him up," Gale snarled. "There's too many people in the way!"
"Rocio use your mind! Get over here!"
"I can't-" He was no longer within sight of them and heading toward one of several ramps. The roar of the idling engines, the hiss of the exhaust, and the noisy crowd drowned out all sound. "Mama! Mama! I can't hear! Mama! Where are you?"
A tall Granok overshadowed him. He took one look at his identity card and shoved him to the left. He grabbed the craggy hand. "Wait! I'm not supposed to be here! My family's over there!"
"No time to wait! The longer the wait the more likelihood the Dominion blows up any chance we have of getting you out."
"You'll find them when we rendezvous. Move along!"
"You don't understand! I can't! I won't find them! I can't hear..."
Looking into his eyes, the big creature's face cracked a smile. "Sure you can. Up you go!"
The inside of the ship was expansive, a lot bigger than what he had thought it would be. A panel of glass opened up to the smoke rising in the distance. Rocio ran to it
and pressed is face against the pane, trying to see them. Then - BANG - the door shut and sealed with a loud hiss. "Everyone get strapped in now! We're leaving!"
"Our people are still out there!"
"We can't leave now!"
"No! Please wait!"
"What about my relatives?!"
"WE CAN'T!" a tall human stood among them his arms crossed across his chest. "I'm sorry."
A crank started to shut the window. Panicked, Rocio strained to look. Did they make it on board? He was yanked away before the two metal shutters could crush him.
The same male human that had quieted everyone pulled him to his seat and strapped him in.
"Th-thank you." Rocio said quietly.
The man sighed, then looked up at him. There were tears in his eyes. "We'll make this right. I promise."
He cleared his throat and stood. "All ready! Start the engines!"
The roar pained his sensitive hearing. He felt himself rising up and up and up. He felt dizzy and sick. His mind cried out. "Mama!"
And faintly in the back of his mind he heard an echo. He could suddenly feel his mother's warmth. Her presence surrounded him like an embrace. "I love you....Goodbye!"
The main rocket powered up to shoot them free from the gravity of the planet. The force of the push drove him back in his seat. He couldn't do anything but scream.
When he opened his eyes, his vision was blurred. Tiny droplets were drifting in the dark, illuminated by the red emergency lights, blinking on and off. He sniffed. More little drops appeared in front of him. They collided and melded before drifting away.
"Now approaching. Arkship - Gambler's Ruin." Blared a monotone voice.
The loud thunk of a tractor beam normally would have startled him, but he just watched the drops lift off his cheeks and hypnotize him in a dazed stupor. His GPS unit buzzed in his pack.
"You have arrived!" it chimed cheerfully.
He fiddled with the straps holding him down and then reached around to open the pouch where the device was stored. The holographic image indicated that he was "here". And Arboria was... His family was...
A tortured whine escaped his throat. His mother's words then echoed in his memory.
"You are too old to be clinging to me. Say goodbye..."
A rushing and popping of air, interrupted his thoughts. The straps loosed, the drops floating before his face suddenly plopped to the ground. He clutched his device before it could fall in the sudden gravity. He felt sick again and heard several people throwing up.
The doors flew open again. "Okay everyone up! Everyone out! Gather your things! Stand in line for identification."
"Your name?" He was asked when it came his turn.
"Rocio." Another human was measuring him.
"49 inches tall and only 70 lbs. Boy you're skinny..."
A bright flash blinded him. "Good enough!"
"Excuse me. Ma'am?" He said asking the woman who was rapidly typing on a panelscreen. "My family was on another ship. Can you find them?"
"Not until they're all registered, then you can check the board." She pointed to a blinking list of names at the center of a seating area. Around it, an anxious crowd was gathering.
"Here's your ID! Welcome to Gambler's Ruin! Stop over by the information desk and they'll settle you in."
Rocio went to sit and wait. As the hours passed and the crowd shrank, he fell into despair. This wasn't supposed to happen. He wasn't supposed to be here alone. Why did he have to go after his stupid GPS unit? Furious, he rummaged in his backpack, pulled out the device and threw it!
"Haha! Caught it! You almost made me miss it but I caught it! Tadaaaaa!" Another Aurin held the device triumphantly over her head. "NOTHING, gets past Hiir Noivl Guardian of the... of the... of the..." She looked at it. "Hey what is this thing anyway? Hey! Where are you going?"
"To the um... to the information desk."
He suddenly noticed that she was laughing. "What's so funny?" he growled.
"Your ID picture... you look so stupid! Hahahaa! Don't you know you're supposed to say cheese?" She smiled brightly.
"Hey... what's wrong?" After a few beats of silence her eyes widened and she gasped. "Oh no! Oh! I'm so sorry! I didn't know, you were by the board. Waiting. Oh no. I'm sorry."
"I-it's okay. I... I um..."
"Let me show you where the desk is."
It was an actual desk -- a long circular one with various pamphlets signs and information booklets arranged haphazardly around. A Mordesh man saw them and rolled his eyes with a groan. "Just when I thought the last one is done... here comes yet another..."
"He was waiting for his family! You need to get him a room!"
"Well, sorry your Majesty, there ARE no rooms."
Hiir was taken aback. "No... no rooms?"
"There's not enough room on this ship any more to fit a little space rat into a cupboard. We're completely filled. You'll just have to share."
"Oh." Her crestfallen expression suddenly brightened again. "Yeah! We'll just have to share! That'll be fun!"
Rocio's eyes dropped to the floor, struck by vivid memories of staying in the cramped tent while fleeing from the Dominion. It was fun. The fire, the music...
Hiir crouched down. "Hey... it'll be okay. It's not forever. One day we're going to fight! We'll win back Arboria! And then we'll be back with our families again! Right?" she nudged him. "Right?"
"Right! Let's go!" Her stomach growled. "Um... let's go eat!"
In the mess hall, Rocio picked at his food while Hiir rambled on. "Gambler's Ruin has lots of things to do! They have schools! I'm going to school tomorrow. I'm going to learn how to be a spellslinger! Pew pew pew!" She shot imaginary projectiles from her fingers. "Is there anything you want to learn?"
"Well I'm an esper but..."
"An Esper! Wait you can read minds?"
"No... I'm not... good at it."
"That's okay, you can help us farm?" She chuckled "They need some more food around here."
"I'm not going to school. I need to go home. I have to go back."
"You can't go back." her smile disappeared. "I... I already asked." She excused herself quietly and pushed away from the table.
Suddenly realizing that she was the only person he had, he followed.
She wiped at her eyes. "Well, don't make me... I can't let anyone else see." She blinked several times and took a deep breath. "It's hard on everyone okay? So we have to be cheerful and helpful! Alright?"
"Okay um... say cheese?" He gave her an uncertain smile.
Her eyes brightened. "Perfect!"
******LINK for Chapter 2: The Bird and the Devil