Torshael and Tayne's Story: The First Mission
Tayne had never seen anything like Star City. Not even the High One's City was quite as impressive-- though he hadn't decided, yet, if it was a good kind of impressive. Everything was so different he hardly knew how to judge the good from the bad. Walls were common metal and plastic, not precious metal and stone, but they were certainly functional; light was garish and colored, not cool and pure, but there was a certain appeal to it in certain places and at certain times. There were no parks, not the way Tayne knew them, and no sky at all; most of the grass in front lawns or rolled out in front of storefronts wasn't real. And the people were far, far more varied than the simple rainbow of colors Tayne was used to. Not even the addition of bonds could possibly match the variety of Star City's population.
Still, no matter how bewildered it made Tayne, it was hitting Torshael even harder. Here, no one knew what he was, who he was, or how rare and powerful he was: no one deferred to him, offered to help him, or even watched him reverently as he went by. Some watched him with other looks in their eyes, of course-- from simple admiration to outright lust to the critical eye of a thief-- but that just wasn't the same, and only served to make Torshael more uncomfortable. Tayne, used to being overlooked, was completely unsurprised when his brother got pretty much all the looks, no matter what those looks were. Torshael just looked like he rather wished he was being ignored, though Tayne didn't think he'd have liked that, either.
At the same time, though, it was different enough that everyone saw them, regardless of species, and regardless of what shape they wore. They'd been warned that the faint separation of planes that, in the realm, made it difficult for humans and the like to see unshifted supernals simply didn't exist out of the realm. It was an interesting experience to walk the metal streets and be seen as clear as day, despite their large and fluffy appearance.
So far, they'd been moderately busy, and they'd only been on the station one day and one night. They'd arrived the morning before on what they'd been warned was the "flight deck", the largest and safest place for a teleport on the station, and by the helpful services of a map and the facts on the station they'd had to memorize before arriving, made their way to a central information booth on the third deck. There, they'd changed the gold coin the City's treasury had provided them into local currency, a single stick of plastic called a "credit card", and gotten the benefit of a detailed, guided tour of the station-- for a small price, of course-- as no amount of staring at maps and figures and sketches could prepare them for the sheer, immense complexity of the place. The orange fellow who'd been their tour guide-- a dragon of native-station, mixed breed stock-- had been very friendly, and very helpful, but the appreciative looks he had kept throwing Torshael had been less helpful, despite the amusement Tayne had gleaned from them.
After the tour, they'd found their way to the recommended hotel for the duration of their stay. The room had come with a computer terminal and a holovision device-- they'd received lessons in working these before leaving the City-- and they'd spent the rest of the day learning more about the station through those two mediums. Nothing they'd found out, however, had been about infernals, causing trouble or otherwise, though what Tayne had learned shed light on a few things the High One had told him before they'd left.
Now, the next morning-- though there was nothing on the station itself to tell them when "morning" was, except little digital displays on the walls here and there and their own internal clocks-- they were just leaving their hotel room, human-formed this time so as to avoid all those looks of the day before. Given how pretty Torshael's human form was-- smooth skin, silky white hair, pale blue eyes, and his beautifully boyish face; humans and elves and even a couple supernals back home fairly often fell in love with him, until he proved his utter disinterest, beyond saving souls and bodies-- Tayne expected they'd still get some of those looks. He wasn't nearly as handsome, himself, when he was human-formed, and he preferred it that way.
And human, after all, was how it had to be. As much as he would have loved to be padding about on lion paws, Tayne agreed that frightening the station's inhabitants would be a bad idea, especially since they didn't want to attract a lot of attention today. After all, today, armed with what information they had found or been given, they would begin their actual mission.
"So where do we start looking?" Torshael asked, locking the door behind him, not with a key, but with a little plastic card.
It was a largely rhetorical question, since Torshael was the one who made plans, though Tayne really thought that he didn't have the faintest idea where to begin. If faced with the whole station, and no clues to narrow things down with, Tayne expected he would have been stumped, at well.
Thankfully, this time, Tayne had an answer. "Abstract Destiny," he said, surprising his brother.
"Abstract... destiny?" Torshael repeated blankly. "What's that?"
"It's where the High One said to start. I learned about it on the computer last night."
"Well, what is it?" Torshael repeated.
"It's a space ship," Tayne began. They'd learned about space ships before leaving, as well: they were, apparently, the second most common form of transportation in this realm, the Nexus realm. The most common seemed to be dragons. "They spend a large portion of their time docked on the station, though, because of the ship's purpose, creating life forms by means of genetic engineering."
"And we're supposed to start looking for renegade infernals and missing supernals there?"
"It's where the High One suggested we go," Tayne said, holding up his hands helplessly.
"Well, we know where the docking bays are, at least," Torshael sighed. "Which one are they at?"
"There's apparently one reserved for the ship: pylon six, level two, port one." At Torshael's blank expression, Tayne chuckled. "The elevator things will know where that is, don't worry."
"I certainly hope so," Torshael muttered, and they started for the nearest of those elevators.
The elevator ride was very quick. The little rooms fairly flew through their special tunneling through the station, taking the most direct path possible at the fastest speed possible-- and somehow, it didn't even seem like they were going so quickly, from the inside. They stepped out onto the docking platform, for the lift itself actually had an exit right in front of the Abstract Destiny's port. Further ports coiled around the docking pylon, but they were right where they needed to be: facing the open doors of an airlock, with stairs leading right into the lower levels of the Abstract Destiny, itself.
As they climbed into the ship and started down the infernal-sized hallway there, towards the human-sized door at the far end, Torshael paused, glancing to the right. "Tayne... what are these? The rooms to our left and right?"
"Hatching bays, Tor. They've got eggs in them, dragon eggs. Remember how I said they make living things here?"
Torshael put his hands on the wall a moment, frowning, as if he could see past it and into what Tayne's research said was the Bravo Bay. "How does that work, here? Is it like those other hatchings on the station?" Since they'd done research on Nexiian dragon hatchings, particularly Star City hatchings, they both knew what those hatchings were like, and what they were for.
"Apparently so," Tayne shrugged, trying not to sound like he was interested-- because he was. "You just sign up, either in person, or through the station's network. And then you bond, when the clutch hatches." He paused, then added, "The clutch in that bay is... somewhat special."
"Oh? Do tell."
"One of the parents is a guardian spirit of good." If Torshael had been in anything other than human form, his ears would have perked with interest. Tayne smothered a smile, continuing, "The children, in addition to having to bond because of one of the other parents, will only bond to good and honest people. It's said they will be beautiful, and have some... small inheritance in the way of magical power, from their guardian spirit father."
After a long pause, during which he stared speculatively at the bay wall, Torshael finally dropped his hands with a simple: "Huh." Tayne knew exactly what his brother was thinking, and since it was exactly what he'd hoped he'd think, he smiled.
"You don't suppose the High One would mind if we put off our task a little, would he?" Torshael asked after another moment, confirming just what Tayne had thought: Torshael, always in search of a bond to help him fight evil, as well as take him a step closer to being fully Favored, thought this would be a good opportunity to try for one of those bonds. The aura of the eggs already within the bay called to him, as it probably would any pure being who came by and could sense it.
"Since this is an investigation, and not a search and destroy," Tayne chuckled, "and since I think he had this in mind when he told me about this place, no, I don't think he will mind."
Torshael cast his brother a skeptical glance, making Tayne laugh aloud, then shook his head. "All right, then we'll sign up. In person, since we're here. We can ask about unholy activity afterwards, hmm?"
"After you, brother," Tayne grinned.