Torshael and Tayne's Story: The First Mission

Chapter Five


Torshael hadn't thought he'd be so excited, but he was. The morning the clutch at the Abstract Destiny was scheduled to hatch, he went about his morning business-- a shower and blow-dry for his fur, deciding what clothes to wear once he'd shifted into his human form, breakfast and teeth-brushing and the like-- with a little extra energy in his step. Tayne even caught him humming under his breath and teased him for it.

"Well, I'm excited!" he'd retorted.

"At least you're not nervous," Tayne replied serenely, smiling, sitting by the door and waiting for Torshael to finish primping.

"Why would I be-- oh." The reasons he might be nervous came crashing down and he paused, hairbrush halfway through his hair. Somehow, he'd not thought about being nervous until his brother mentioned it. What if he signed up for this hatching and didn't bond? What if none of the divine-blooded hatchlings thought he was good enough, pure enough, to bond to?

"Don't start now, you were doing so well," Tayne scolded gently. "Come on, if you pretty yourself up any more, we'll be late."

"There's plenty of time, brother," he answered, stung, but he only gave his hair one last stroke before setting the brush down.

"Yes, but you'll have so many people falling at your feet that we won't make it on time, anyway."

Torshael decided not to grace that with a response; he merely stuck his nose in the air and swept out the door, towards the nearest lift-room entrance. Tayne, in lion form with wings and all, padded noiselessly after him, tail flipping with what was probably amusement. Thankfully, the lift was close enough that they didn't pass too many people on the way-- and not because Torshael was worried about them "falling at his feet". As unusual as many of the creatures on the space station were, they still got a few wary looks and wide berths due to the large, predatory cat pacing alongside him.

"If I wasn't such a nice person, I'd start growling at people for being so nervous," Tayne commented once they were safely in their own lift-compartment. It was a little crowded, with such a big cat in with them, as it was meant for humans and smaller species. "Just to see them jump."

"But you are a nice person," Torshael replied calmly. "And besides, they already jump if you just look at them."

"You'd think they'd be used to strange things being harmless," Tayne sighed, then said no more, gazing sightlessly at the lift doors as they whizzed through the station and lost in his own thoughts. Torshael would have descended into nervousness again, but he didn't have time, for the lift doors opened before he'd managed to work himself into anything more than a mild anxiety. Since he wasn't a particularly good multi-tasker, he was forced to keep that in the background while he was pleasant to the other people at the Destiny, on their way in, and found his way down the bay stairs to the floor.

The bay itself was crowded, though the clutch wasn't due to hatch for another few minutes, with both candidates and audience. The tiers of seats along the wall were mostly full, and there was one familiar face in the crowd: the black and red supernal, Israfil, who lived aboard the ship. They'd spoken with him, while they waited for the clutch's hatching date, about how he arrived from the supernals' realm and why he remained here. Speaking to other, missing supernals if they found them was a side-investigation to looking into the infernal dispersal, not the main purpose of their presence in the Nexus, but informative nonetheless. Israfil had been quite willing to speak, and Torshael personally felt better with him on the ship, looking after the two young half-infernal creatures living aboard, as well as the other compliment of strange and probably dangerous creatures who made the Destiny their home.

There was another face, this one in the candidates, who was familiar in species only, but quite enough to catch Torshael's attention. "Tayne!" he hissed, giving one of his brother's round ears a gentle tug to get his attention. "Tayne, look, another supernal!"

The lion beside him turned his gaze almost lazily from the eggs, which were rocking in earnest on the mossy bay floor. "I know, I saw him as we were coming in. I assume he's here for bonding, as well."

"We'll have to talk to him later," Torshael said.

"Later," Tayne agreed. "Pay attention, would you? They're going to hatch any minute."

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were the nervous one."

"Ha, ha."

Still, he was right, and the minute was right then: the first of the eggs finally broke under a particularly enthusiastic kick from its occupant, and out from a broken hole in the shell came a cloven, silver hoof, attached to a blue-scaled leg with a fringe of sea green. As if that were a signal, other shells started shattering, and hatchlings-- appropriately called "foals", apparently-- started tumbling out onto the floor, sticky and awkward-looking with their long limbs and delicate build. They did, indeed, look as equine as they did dragonic, and they were a colorful bunch: the blue and aqua one wasn't even the brightest among them. There were red ones, and violet ones, and blue ones, and green and black, white and brown, and even metallic gold, silver, and copper.

"It's just like at the City," Tayne murmured, sounding vaguely amused, as the foals wobbled around, testing their new legs.

"Only without so much white," Torshael agreed just as quietly, though his eyes went immediately and instinctively first to the little white fillies. There was a pair of them, but they were only two of nineteen newly-hatched and un-bonded, and rather more than that in candidates. Torshael realized, now, just how many more candidates than there were eggs, and realized again just how likely it might be that he wouldn't bond here and now.

But he wanted to....

The first to bond was a brown-marked red colt, who bit the hand of a woman who looked human but didn't smell human, and given the colt's first words to her-- "I can't wait to see you shift! I bet that's so cool!"-- she probably wasn't, not entirely, anyway. Apparently the hand-biting was part of the bonding, for they'd been warned about the possibility earlier, and red Beni'Zettou Taelaan wasn't the only one to do it. It didn't appear to be necessary, either, however, for another one didn't bite her new bond.

A total of seven newly-hatched foals bonded in succession-- including one of the two white ones-- and Torshael was starting to get nervous again as the halfway point neared, before one of the foals appeared to start approaching them. He wasn't one he'd so much as glanced at before, being perhaps the plainest and most drably colored of the lot. He was without markings, colored ashen gray entirely, right down to the silver hooves and nearly-black tufts, with only pale blue gems on his face and tail, the sunrise color of his feathers, and a bright red to his eyes breaking the monotony of color. There was no question, though: he was headed right towards the supernal brothers, crimson eyes moving from one to the other and back again.

Emotions conflicted-- he wanted to bond one of these unique little foal-dragons, and badly, but he also wanted a bond who would be... well, as impressive as he was-- Torshael hardly dared to breathe, waiting for the colt to make his decision. Tayne seemed to be holding similarly still beside him, and Torshael had a moment to wonder why; was his brother as nervous and hopeful as he was? He'd never even hinted that he might want to bond, as well! Well, other than adding his name to the list next to his brother's, but he'd never said anything.

That was all he'd had time to think, though, for the colt made his decision and stopped right in front of him. Not Tayne. Feeling oddly stunned, he offered the colt his hand, in case he wanted to nip him, as some of his siblings had. After another glance between the pair, the colt took the offering, and Torshael jumped a little, startled at the pain: those little teeth were sharp, and actually drew blood! But even more surprising was the sudden sense of connection, not entirely unlike the sense of the High One's mind intruding briefly upon his own, only less overwhelming and more... comfortable. That more than made up for a momentary pain. It even made up for a bond he so thoroughly overwhelmed, physically-- with a mind like that, he didn't need to be beautiful. 

"I'm Haiiro'Hiwatari Taelaan," the colt introduced himself, a little shyly. Glancing at Torshael's bleeding hand, which he was holding with his other hand, trying not to drip on his pristine white clothing, added, "Sorry about that...."

"What? Oh, no, it's all right. I'm--"

"Torshael, I know," Haiiro'Hiwatari said with a small grin on his little muzzle. "And you're--"

"Tayne," Tayne nodded. The tension had drained out of him, and he had lost the stillness he'd had a moment before. He didn't smile-- but then, smiling in lion form meant a threatening display of teeth, so he usually didn't. "It's nice to meet you, Haiiro'Hiwatari."

"Let's get off the floor," Torshael suggested, wanting to get somewhere where Tayne could fix his hand, and where they wouldn't be in the middle of a crowd.

"Good idea," Tayne agreed, and Haiiro nodded vehemently. They both followed him out, the former pacing his usual sedate walk and the latter trotting wobblingly, still not quite used to his legs.


Chapter Six

The Hatching Story

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