Joqout's Story: Chapter Six




Joqout walks back into the new-dragoner apartment, looking at the message in his hand with a puzzled frown. "We have mail."

::At the door?::

Disbelief is heavy in Timan's mind-voice. "I know. Special messenger. It's even on paper."

For whatever reason, hearing that brings Timan running, green eyes bright and expression, for once, not sour and serious. ::Finally!::

Joqout looks up at his bond. At nearly two years, to the day, he is fully sixteen feet, ten inches tall, build strong and bulky-- even more so than Joqout himself, who looks like no weakling-- and heavily muscled with constant exercise, battle-practice, and sparring. His hatchling-short hair has grown long, black locks hanging over his shoulders in front and back, dangling down both chest and back, between his wide, blunt wings. No practice-born injuries have scarred him yet, not even those given when Joqout loses his temper with him and attacks in earnest, to the yautjadragon's disappointment. Scars, he seems to think, would be signs of prowess and experience; Joqout just thinks they would be signs of a failed block or a dodge too slow, but he has long since given up arguing with the yautja.

They have, over the course of the past year, come to something of a truce: Timan no longer ambushes him, except on rare occasions to make sure he stays alert, and no longer insults him at every turn, while Joqout makes an effort to draw out his battle-rage and get it under some semblance of control. That effort has not yet done more than knock Timan into walls every now and then. Even so, Timan seems pleased enough with the attempts themselves rather than their results, though he still cannot shake Joqout of all his fear of going berserk, and occasionally is free enough with his disgust to send them both into arguments almost as bad as their first year bonded. They always seem to make up, after a fashion, though: when he is ready to forgive his chosen one, Timan will wordlessly join him in the dragon-sized gym Joqout frequents for a joint work-out and sparring session. There is never an apology, but Joqout has given up waiting for one, and accepted what peace he can get.

"Finally, what?" he asks, still holding the mysterious message. The paper is thick and silky, soft like cloth, and the edges had been cut into an elegant shape. The address and names-- Joqout Kasim and Venator Timan-- are written in fancy, calligraphied hand, in old-fashioned, liquid ink, with an even more old-fashioned, variable-tipped fountain pen. It looks like something only the richest Solistien could produce, and certainly not something normally seen on high-tech Star City Station.

::Let me see!:: Timan demands, and because the command is eager rather than forceful, and because he has no idea what it could be and Timan does, Joqout lets him have it. Then he stares as, once he sees the script on the front of the message, Timan actually bounces with excitement, muzzle pulled into the unfamiliar expression of a savage grin and extra mandibles pulled wide, as if grinning, too. Joqout isn't sure what to make of it. Timan never bounces like an enthusiastic child. Timan hardly ever was a child.

"So what is it?" Joqout asks, confused, as Timan pulls out the one dagger he never takes off-- as far as Joqout can tell, not even to sleep or bathe-- and slices open the wax seal with a deft cut.

::It's from Doctor Schroeder,:: Timan answers, distracted, scanning the contents of the message. ::Time, date, and location for our testing!::

"Testing," Joqout repeats blankly, but when Timan looks up at him with a snort of disbelief at his forgetfulness, he remembers: at their two-year birthday, all the Genesis Clutch yautjadragons were to return to their creator for testing. Whatever this "testing" is, Timan has been looking forward to it almost since hatching, and working hard at his training as much for this "testing" as for future adventures.

::It's next week, Sunday, at the sixth hour of the day shift,:: Timan explains, eyes now back on the letter. ::So late! I would have thought dawn would be better.... He wants both of us to come-- but don't worry, you aren't being tested, or anything. Just me.:: Timan gives a little snort, handing the open letter back to him. ::You're there for "moral support".::

Trying not to take offense at the obvious implication that Timan needs no moral support from anyone, much less his somewhat disappointing bond, Joqout takes the letter and scans it over, himself. To his surprise, it isn't even just a simple invitation with contact information, like he'd expected. It is, in fact, a rather rambly little letter, filling the entire page with pleasantries, protestations of excitement, thanks for expressing interest in returning, and welcomes to the Abstract Destiny, in advance. There's even a warning to Timan to "keep his lunch light". To his even further surprise, it is signed-- in the same hand-- by the geneticist, himself, much as if Doctor Schroeder wrote the entire thing, himself.

"What famous geneticist has time to write personalized, chatty letters to all his projects and their bonds?" he wonders aloud, scanning the letter again.

::We're not just projects,:: Timan snaps, though without real malice. For him, in fact, his tone is downright cheerful. ::We're like his children-- or his grandchildren, at least. Of course he's going to send us a personalized letter.::

"Well, excuse me for assuming," Joqout replies calmly, with only a hint of sarcasm, and folds the letter. "So next week, we're going to his ship?"


Joqout tries not to smile at Timan's enthusiasm. "Excited?"

Timan swallows that enthusiasm immediately, trying to look as serious and dour as usual. ::No--::


To his surprise, and even a little pleasure, Timan deflates a little. ::Well, all right, yes, I am.:: He perks again as he explains, ::It's my chance to prove myself! To get my rank, and determine my mission in life, and show Doctor Schroeder and all of my siblings how hard I've worked and how hard I'm willing to work, and--::

"I get the picture," Joqout laughs, though behind the amusement at such an unusual reaction out of Timan lurks a little anxiety. He just hopes that the yautjadragon will do well, or he fears what the reaction might be: utterly out of character dejection, complete denial, or even pent up fury that could, easily, end up being taken out on his disappointment of a bond? It doesn't even bear thinking about. Besides, with how hard Timan has been working, unless the test has a "politeness" or "niceness" factor, he ought to wind up top-ranked.

::What are we going to do all morning?:: Timan is moaning, mostly to himself.

"Try and relax?" Joqout suggests, smiling some and putting worries aside, for now. "No, wait, I forgot-- you don't know how to relax."

::Shut it, lazy-boy,:: Timan shoots back, but Joqout has gauged his mood well enough, and the words aren't serious. ::I can relax when I need to. I just don't think I'll be able to, then!::

"Well, we'll think of something," Joqout assures him, patting the yautja's shoulder companionably. "Something that isn't going to wear you out before you even get there." Thoughts of vigils and meditation spring to mind, and Joqout smiles a bit more; he might even be able to convince him to try them, this time, especially if he brings up how many Fantasan knights and warriors had vigils before their knighthood.

"Don't worry about it now," he advises, for the moment. "You've still got a whole week and a half until then."

Timan looks vaguely ill. ::Oh, god, that's all? I'm going to the gym--::

Without another word, the oddly flustered-seeming yautja disappears, leaving Joqout behind, turn between amusement and bemusement. "At least it's proof he's a normal, mortal being," he says, shaking his head, and because he has nothing better to do, he follows his bond to their preferred gym-- the slow way.


Joqout's Story

The Hunter-Trial

Chapter Seven



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