Joqout's Story: Chapter Four


I don't know about this, Joqout thinks apprehensively, staring down at the hatchling which had, only moments before, broken its lizard-like shell, marched straight up to him, hissed disdainfully, and announced-- presumably for all the world to hear!-- that he is, in the hatchling's mind, pathetic. What am I supposed to do with him? This has to be-- some kind of mistake!

Vibrantly green eyes-- like his only in color-- snap up to him and glare. It is hard to keep his usual calm, easy attitude about him with such a hostile gaze focused on him! I will keep my temper! he tells himself fiercely, just as fiercely as any... what did their creator call them?... yaujta dragon. As fiercely as this little one is glaring at him, only focused on himself, not another.

As if in response to the thought, the hatchling-- Timan; its name, his name, is Timan-- gives a snort full of disgust and goes back to feeding himself. In most of the other bonded pairs, the newly bonded candidate is busily feeding a pleased-- or at least resigned!-- newly hatched dragon. Looking around briefly, Joqout can only think he is the only one, aside from the hatching-pair, who is not feeding "his" hatching. A second glance at the pair who bonded each other proves him wrong: they are offering their meat to each other.

"Timan... would you like...?" he begins hopefully.

::I'm doing just fine by myself,:: the sour hatchling snorts back, and Joqout's ear-fins pull back. ::You just be patient; I'll get to you soon enough.::

It takes a lot to keep from pulling his lips from his teeth in an indignant growl at the presumptive, proprietary, and altogether rude tone of Timan's comment-- no, command. When he realizes the inclination is moving towards action, he draws a deep breath, shuts his eyes, and concentrates on relaxing. He's a hatchling. He's newly-born. He can't know he's being-- being-- whatever he's being. He'll learn. Oh, please, Ixuzah, he prays fervently to the patron Great Spirit of his clan, please let him learn!

Without looking up, Timan replies to the unspoken words: ::You don't seem to get the picture here. You're the one who has so much to learn, not me!::

"I've been alive longer than you have," Joqout reminds him calmly. "I've seen a lot more than you have-- I understand more."

Timan only snorted again in disdainful, stubborn disbelief. ::I understand enough to know that you are a coward, afraid of yourself, of all things-- and that we're going to fix that before I come back here for my testing. Or die trying,:: he adds grimly, ignoring Joqout's dismay and smothered anger.

This has to be a mistake, Joqout groans to himself.

::I will not be bonded to a coward, do you understand?:: Timan says seriously, looking up again with that implacable, accusing glare.

Joqout says nothing, and does his best to think nothing; this, after all, is the hatchling's choice, not his. Out of all the candidates left, he could have chosen one already pleased to go out on killing sprees. He could have chosen to picked a candidate who liked killing, in the name of justice or otherwise, or who had delusions of saving the world, or who lacked a heart. But no, Timan has chosen him, and, apparently, intends to make some kind of project out of him. A project to do what-- turn him into a killing machine? Turn his anger and madness into death and destruction?

Once those fierce, green eyes focus back to dinner-- or, Joqout guesses absently, breakfast, since Timan has never before eaten-- he dares the woeful thought, Why could I not have been chosen by the one who thought I was noble?

Finished, Timan insists on making rounds to survey his siblings, say good-bye to Sahurru, and check in with his "grandfather", Doctor Schroeder. Throughout it all, Joqout trails after him, still unshifted into a human body; he simply cannot imagine giving the hatchling any more of an intimidation advantage than he already has, and not only would there be the size difference, but appearing nude would, he guesses, scandalize the remaining audience, if not the hatchlings. There are few times when he regrets his lack of enchantment ability, which most Solistien use to enchant themselves clothing when shifting, but this is one of them. Normally, Joqout cares nothing about a lack of clothes, but the way the rest of the station would react would make him embarrassed, and that would be nothing but fodder to make the tiny dragon cow him more. 

It is a sad day when a Solistien is cowed by his newly-hatched bond....

The round about the hatching bay accomplishes little, to Joqout's mind. The siblings largely ignore them both, though Joqout tries half-heartedly to determine which might have been the second one who spoke to him that afternoon almost two weeks ago; that earns him a growl from Timan, and the comment, ::He didn't chose you, so stop moping about it!:: Sahurru is so stunned by being bonded, himself, that he hardly has more than a dazed smile for Joqout and a brief fare-thee-well for Timan; there is no aid coming from that particular quarter. And Doctor Schroeder, himself, seems either oblivious to Joqout's entreating gaze and somewhat obvious predicament, is indifferent to it, or somehow assumes everything will work out: all he does is pat Joqout's claws and shake Timan's forepaw with a brilliant smile. "I'll see you both in two years, then!" he says cheerfully. "If not sooner!"

Then, whether mercifully or not, Timan is leading the way out of the hatching bay at last. Joqout follows silently, wondering whether this is what his life is going to be like, now: walking in the shadow of someone so much smaller and younger than he, being bossed and bullied by a hatchling who, apparently, thinks he should be giving into the berserk rage that kills others. Timan, either ignoring his misgivings now or else too wrapped up in his own thoughts, says nothing.

Halfway to Dasque's apartment, Joqout realizes with horror that Dasque-- his gentle, helpful, sensitive cousin Dasque-- has no idea what he is bringing home. "Uh, Timan," he begins.

::What?:: Timan asks, impatient and distracted.

"We're going back to my cousin's apartment, right now. I live with my cousin. He's--"

::A wimp,:: Timan interrupts dismissively. ::I saw him in your head. He's a wimp, but at least he's not a coward, and at least he does stuff to make the world a better place.::

"And what do you think I've been doing ever since I got here?" Joqout demands, at last goaded into defending himself-- at least a little.

::What you're told,:: comes the unsympathetic response, ::and wasting your talents.::

"My 'talents'," Joqout growls, but to himself. To Timan, he says firmly, as if to the child Timan is supposed to be, "You insult me and pick on me, as if you really feel it necessary, but one harsh word from you to Dasque and you will be out on the street, bond or no bond. He will be hurt by what you say and how you say it, and I will not stand for that. You are to be gentle and polite with him. Do you understand me?"

Timan looks over his shoulder with what might be a smile. ::Perfectly.:: For a moment, startled out of his irritation and dismay by what looks like understanding and compassion, Joqout almost smiles back-- but the moment is ruined when the little monster adds scathingly, ::I'll have you out of there before too long, anyway. He'll just get in the way and drag you down, and they have free housing for us new-bonded. There's a lot we've got to do, you know,:: Timan continues, almost conversationally, ::Training, strengthening, mock-battles.... Getting you into fighting mode!::

Joqout smothers another groan, hangs his head, and decides to make an effort, at least for now, to ignore his new bond.

Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and all of this will be a dream....


Joqout's Story

Chapter Five



Fantasa and Legend dragons are the intellectual property of Silver Midnight.