Jason had immersed himself into his new position, he made sure he taught his students well. He had buried his past and had come to terms with all of it. He felt whole again, and his life was going forward now. He had been back for six months and he was enjoying the life he had always enjoyed. He wasn’t forgetting Shamira or Knala, that was something that he nor Shandarro could ever do, they had however, started living in the present and he only occasionally woke up from a bad dream. He was home, safe, and ready. He had escaped a hostile alien world, won every match in a do or die, thirty days long, brutal series of sword duels. Shandarro had been forced to fight all manner of beasts, and to kill them for the enjoyment of the crowd. That was all behind them now, the only reason he or Shandarro ever wanted to kill again, was to protect the planet, another being, or for food.
He had awakened in the middle of the night, sweating and shaking. He had been dreaming of the arena, the torture, all that had happened to him at the hands of the Marn. He had found a certain type of respect for them. They were honorable, in a way, they didn’t lie, they were honest, and they were some of the best duelists that he had seen. That was where the respect ended, they were also the most barbaric, cruel, and vicious species he had ever seen, and it was also the only thing they had respect for. The only place they hadn’t tried to conquer was the Vatarian home world, and that was because they were routed by them, and had witnessed them rending all Marn they found within reach limb from limb, and they were next to impossible to injure, let alone kill.
He felt Lantana’s presence at the back of his mind, and rather than talking on the link, he told Shandarro “Let’s go see the Seers.” Shandarro looked at him and said “Are you sure you want to do this?” he nodded and they made their way to the Seers. He wanted them to scan him, he wanted to know the what he had experienced was actually real and that somehow he hadn’t dreamed it, or distorted the facts in any way. Lantana agreed to have the Seers do it, but he raised his hand to stop her, and said, “Lantana, I need for you to do this, not them.” She looked at Jason and started to ask him why, and then stopped. Shandarro was in the room and he spoke to her out loud “Lantana, he needs you to do this, just you, he has to know he is remembering, not dreaming or having a nightmare, and he needs to know that no one else knows because of the brutality of it, as well as the doubts it could cause.” She understood, and inclined her head to signify it. She told all the Seers to leave the room and to go get something to eat and some kaba and she would call them back when it was time to return.
Once they were gone and told under no circumstances were they to be scanning, she told Jason to sit on one of the thick cushions between her and Steele. He did, and then she actually placed her hands on the sides of his head, and told him to close his eyes and relax, and he told her “No, I need to see the reality with my own eyes, not just have you tell me that its real not a trick of my mind to cope.” She nodded, and continued. She started into his memories, and as she was going back she learned what he had learned and they both saw it as it happened. After a couple of memories were looked at he said go back to the capture. It was going to be brutal, she had been the first one there. She went and she felt him tense and Shandarro let out a deep, menacing, growl. Shamira and Knala were there, the joy, then the pulse rifle shots that took them out, the faces of the Marn who had killed them and captured he and Shandarro, the trip to Marn, the interrogations and torture, the comrades who he had help escape, the death of Harlow at his hands, and the escape. She was in tears by the time they finished. He rose, bowed his head, and left. As they left, Shandarro sent her a thank you on the link, and she inclined her head as a sign of the greatest respect. She had had no realistic idea of his ordeal on Marn. He had walled it off from all of them, and he had shared it with her alone. She understood why he seemed more somber, less of the devil may care boy, who was so charismatic and the talk of every gathering. He had grown through adversity into a strong, resilient, man, who could accomplish things that she had only seen her father do.
He felt clean; for the first time since his capture, he was at peace. He was ready to move forward, and seeing the Statue of Shamira and Knala no longer turned him into a sobbing, emotional, wreck. He could walk by and hold his head up and show respect as all Guardians did for their fallen comrades, and continue on. The Hall of Heroes had the names of the fallen Guardians inscribed on the walls. The statues were recent and there were only two, Jama and Shamira Mounted on their Skree Bond-Mates Skelos and Knala, set the tone for the future. The hall was the meeting place for the Guardians, and was the central hub in the Temple compound’s ground level.
He marveled at all the changes and new things that the Vatarians had helped to create for them. The new armor, was better than the old. It was lighter, more flexible, and harder to penetrate, Goran had used his memory of the Companions in their armor to create this armor, one he thought was better than theirs. They had never found anything of the Companions other than the cave Jana and Lantana had found while they were on their final training mission to become Guardians, had added the diadems that they all now wore, one that Yoran had improved on for the Seers. There was the book that he and Shamira had found. His whole being changed in the moment he remembered the book. The secrets the book held. He knew that Shamira had been carrying the book when they were attacked. He needed to find that book. If it fell into the hands of the Marn, it would give them an idea of how to defeat the Guardians. He asked Lantana to tell him where Shamira’s things were being held. She told him to look in their apartments.
He went to their apartments, and looked through all of Shamira’s gear, her bags, and personal items were all here, but no book. He went to her statue, and checked the saddle pouches, and it wasn’t there either. Starting to get frustrated and scared, he was about to head to his father’s ward room and tell him about the book and that it was missing, when he felt a nudge in his mind, and it wasn’t Lantana or Shandarro, it was Braela, she told him “We took the book and it is safe. Trust us, we will know when the time is right to reveal the book to the Guardians. Until then we are the keepers of its secrets, do you understand?” Jason affirmed to her that he did. She left his mind, and he no longer needed to worry about the book, it had found a new keeper for its secrets.
What shocked him was it was Braela who spoke to him directly. He had never heard of a Bonded Skree speaking to anyone telepathically other than their Bond-Mate. He asked Shandarro “Was that my imagination, or did Braela speak to me directly?” “It was Braela.” Shandarro said. Jason was confused and as he walked through the Temple complex, he found himself in the mess hall. Kaba sounded really good right now, and he wanted to think about what had happened with Braela when he started looking for the book. While he was deep in thought, a shadow crossed his face stayed. He looked up, and it was one of the Scouts just returning from deployment. She asked if he minded if she sat, he waved nonchalantly for her to take a seat. She was about to introduce herself when Jason actually looked at her,
“Vesarra, you’re a Scout?” he asked. The last time he had seen her, she was running through the great hall chasing her brother, and now, she was a Scout, and a beautiful woman. She was maybe a centimeter taller than Lantana, her blue hair was extremely long, braided and hanging down her back, with long strands of hair in front of her ears that hung down to her chest. Her hair was a lighter blue than most Vela, it showed she spent a lot of time mounted and in the sun. her violet eyes were alive with excitement and life. She was just in from her last deployment. She sat down, and looked Jason in the eyes, and saw they no longer carried the sadness they had when he had returned home. That gave Vesarra hope. She had been in love with him ever since she was a little girl, and she had grown into a full grown woman, who was full of life and wanted to be the best Guardian she could.
As she sat there, Shacarri, her Bond-Mate, had gotten closer to Shandarro, and he didn’t reject her. He asked Shandarro ‘Are you okay with Shacarri being this close to you? Do Skree find new mates if they lose their Life-Mates?” he replied “Jason, I grieved over the loss of Knala just as you have for Shamira. Life continues, we are young, we can still have families, and we both can have a new Life-Mate.” He was shocked, and then he relaxed, Shandarro was right, he could still have a family. He turned to look at her and asked her, “Feel like having dinner with me tonight?” She smiled, nodded her head, and left the mess hall. He had to go do some cleaning in his apartment and to store some things. He was looking forward to spending time with her. She was actually only two years younger than him and he was out scouting when she bonded with Shacarri. He was going to check her record before he went to the apartment.
He was astonished by how complete his father’s records were, and how detailed they were. He went through and located Vasarra’s record. He discovered that she was an incredible archer, possibly a match for Lantana, she was head of her class in swordsmanship, survival training, ranger training, scout training, she had excelled in every training component and had already risen to Head Scout in her Ranger Division. He also noticed that she usually deployed with another female, he would have to ask her why. He read through some of her scouting reports, and saw that her reports and logs, were exemplary. He also noticed that of the fifteen Scout missions she had been on, she deployed ten times with the same partner, five times with a male partner, and they only deployed one time each.
He was so curious, that Shandarro broke in on his reverie, and said “Jason, why not just ask her, or better yet, I’ll ask Shacarri, and then you won’t be concerned any longer.” Jason was surprised that Shandarro had spoken aloud, that meant no one was around. “No, if she has a problem with male Scouts, or prefers to stay single, we will find out from her.” That being said, they went to their apartment and got it ready. They cleaned everything, got food for dinner, he was going to cook fresh Auroch, had some of Rena’s wonderful nut and berry tarts for desert, roasted tubers and roots, fresh ground kaba, and the table looked nice set for two.
She arrived after her duty was finished, she wasn’t in her armor, she was wearing pants, a tunic, and her sword and dagger. She had unbraided her hair and it flowed back. He was infatuated. The little girl with skinny legs and arms, who followed her brother around like a lost puppy, had grown into this woman setting before him. She was strong, beautiful, full of life, ready to defend this planet from anyone, what more could a man ask for? He had thought earlier not to ask her why she seemed to deploy mainly with female scouts, but now that he was interested in more than visiting, he asked “Vesarra, I’ve known you all your life, and when you came to the mess hall, and we agreed to have dinner tonight, I wanted to check your record, and I did. I have a question to ask, and if you don’t mind, I would really like an answer. Why do you only deploy with women? Did something happen with some of the first partners you had?” She raised her head and looking straight into his eyes, answered him “No, I was in love with someone, and he took someone else as a life mate. When he chose another, not that he had any knowledge of how I felt about him, I chose to remain single. I got tired of every six months, having a proposal from someone whom I respected, but wouldn’t consider him a Life-Mate. The decision I made to remain single, was changed for me about a year ago.” She then looked back down at the table. He took her hand in one of his, and with the other lifted her face so he could look into her eyes, and said “Vesarra, if I am who you were talking about, then hear what I’m saying now, I would be honored to have you as my Life-Mate, and Shacarri is waiting for you to choose, she already made it clear to Shandarro how she feels.” Looking straight into his eyes, with hers glistening with tears, she nodded her head, and kissed the palm of his hand.
He would no longer be alone, and he had made peace with the past, and was glad of the choice he’d made. She would make an awesome Life-Mate. Lara and Lantana were excited, this time there would be a ceremony with witnesses and then a procession moving all of Vesarra’s belongings, and all of Jason’s belongings, to a new apartment that Whitlaw had assigned them. It was on another level, and had every convenience that Goran and the Vatarians had installed. It had its own stove and oven, food storage, and pantry, cooled meat cabinet made in the same manner as the place in the Bonding Cave, it had a shower, that’s what Goran called it, and made it like standing in a water fall when you bathed. It was incredible, it also had a traditional bath, as well as three bedrooms, and a fireplace. It was Goran, Yoran, and Yondor’s personal gift to him. It had been carved out and everything installed in the last week. The Vatarians were amazing engineers, they had made life so different since they had come to be with them as fellow citizens of Embrellon, and Yoran and Risa were about to become parents.
Once he and Vesarra had settled in, they were called to report to Whitlaw’s wardroom. It was the first time she had been there in a long time. It was different than the last time she was here, it now had shelves in it with books, stacks of charts, actual maps of the continent, as well as the location of any communities. She had never seen the continent in detail like this. She asked how these charts were made. He asked if she had ever been to see the Seers. She shook her head no, and then he looked at Jason, saw the life back in his eyes, and said “Jason, take her to the Seers so that she can see for herself how it is I have these maps and charts.” Jason nodded his head, with a slight smile and took her by the hand and they went to the see the Seers.
When they entered the room, Lantana rose to greet them, and said “This is where we work to help the Guardians protect our world. Would you like to see our world?” Vesarra was amazed already at the room alone, and she was so in awe she just nodded her head. Then the planet appeared between the orbs and she looked at it and pointed, then J
ason responded “That is Embrellon, the Seers can project anything they are able to see here between the orbs.” He was pointing and raising his arm up and down in a motion between the orbs. “Lantana, show me who’s on patrol near the Bonding Cave, please” immediately the vision between the orbs blurred and then came back into focus, she saw two mounted scouts floating on a thermal to save strength, and they came into a close up view and she saw that it was her brother, Tesarro and his Life-Mate Ceterra and their Bond-Mates Fandasso and Sincarra. He asked Tesarro for a report, and she heard her brother speak. She was astonished. He was there just as if he was in the room, the strong, square jaw, the long blue hair with the front pulled into a braid, his crooked nose from the last battle with the Marn, where he was hit with fly head, it was him. She looked at Jason and mouthed the word how, and Tesarro asked him if he had seen Vesarra she was due back at the Temple any time. “She’s been back for a while, and we have some news for you as well, we have chosen to be Life-Mates, and that makes us all family now.” Tesarro grinned and told him “their tour was done in a week, and they would see them when they arrived back.” With that they left the Seers and went to their apartments.