hares-recovery

Terra Fabula: Birthday Blues (Content Advisory)

MATURE CONTENT. Reader discretion is advised.

With that out of the way… There’s no explicit anything in this installment. There is, however, a small measure alluded to between people that perhaps should not be doing such things. If you’re not comfortable with that vague description, I suggest you skip this chapter. It won’t hurt anything to pass on it. However…

This will be canon in its final version (this is not final, which is why it’s in the burn pile) and will eventually be moved into the main TF hierarchy. The main reason it’s not up there yet is because there’s stuff before it. It is however, my birthday today and since it’s being written about Jadyn’s… It made sense to put it up on this date.

The date listed below is the in-chapter date, not the day of posting.

August 9th, 2000; 5 J’ae, 2766 (VT). Springtime on Veloria.


The first rays of dawn slipped through the bedroom windows, creeping across the floor toward where Tarioshi lay sleeping. Valiantly struggling to hold onto the last vestiges of her slumber, her eyes finally drifted open as sunrise poured light into the room.

She was immediately aware that she was alone in the bed. Sitting up, a quick glance around the room proved that he was nowhere to be found. With a quick shake of her hair the kitsune vixen slipped out of bed and cracked open the bedroom door. The very few times Jadyn had risen before her, she’d always been aware of his leaving; usually, he wound up in the kitchen cooking their breakfast. Today presented a scenario that hadn’t happened before.

She hadn’t felt him leave, and there was no scent of food coming from downstairs.

“Bee?” Tari whispered, closing the door.

“Good morning!” the AI’s voice replied.

“Hi. Where’d he run off to?”

T’bia was silent - another bad sign. “Uh… Well…”

“Did something happen?” Tari queried, after it had become clear the AI was unwilling to answer.

“It depends on the context of the question. Did something happen this morning? No. Everything’s just peachy.

“Well, if you’re just going to be snippy about it -“

“Sorry, it’s just… By our calendar, it’s 5 J’ae - his official 365th birthday.” T’bia appeared in the room, lifting up a picture frame from the dresser. “There’s nothing particularly marvelous about that number. Months ago, when he told you what happened for us to wind up so far from there, he left out a couple of important points.”

“On purpose?”

“Not maliciously, no.” T’bia handed the photoframe to Tarioshi. At first glance it looked like a family portrait, albeit with a few too many members based on what she’d heard to date. “So. This was taken… Hm. Summer, 2416, I think it was. Must have been, yeah, she left that fall… Okay. Jay’s right there in front.”

“Jeez, he looks like a kid.”

“He’s fifteen in this shot. Well, our fifteen. That’d be… twenty-one, Terran.”

Tari blinked, looking up at T’bia.

“What?” the skunk asked.

“Just trying to figure out if you’re kidding or not.”

“Physically, the development into adulthood is slower - one of our years for him was about the same as one of your years for any average Terran kid. Mentally though, when he turned ten he was about as sharp as I’d expect a fifteen-year-old to be for you guys, maybe a smidge more. We really didn’t consider kids on our world ‘adults’ until they were contributing members of society, be it ten or sixteen or or thirty years, whatever. They were certainly capable of it by the time they were fifteen, some far younger… whether they wanted to contribute or not.”

“Out of curiosity… what was the age of consent?”

“Sixteen, unless the participants were within two years of age. Considering the same passage of time converted directly to your calendar, that’d be twenty-two years aaaand… five months.” She tapped the photograph. “So, yeah. The black fox standing behind him and to my side is Kieran, his father. The vixen there is his mother, Aazi.”

“Who’re the others?”

“The brown and red mottled vixen with her arm slung around Jay’s neck is Melichanni, the lifemate-to-be he left behind. The gray vixen to her other side is Kishira… She was living with us for a while after her parents died. She probably would have joined into their planned lifemating bond, too, if things hadn’t gone completely to pot. The dark red vixen leaning on his free arm… That’s Telara.”

“His sister.”

“His twin sister, to be specific.”

Tari’s eyebrow shot up. “They were twins? He didn’t mention that…”

“Mm.” A sad smile crept over T’bia. “They were very close, growing up. They fought and argued and teased a lot, but at the end of the day they really were closer for it. The fact he never found her before she and Anni both died… It strikes a little close to home on their birthday. So does… Mmnh. So does the fact the massacre started today in 2419. It could have started on anyone’s birthday. It just happened to start on their eighteenth. Which, if we’re counting, would have made them twenty-five on your planet.”

Tari’s eyes lingered on the family portrait.

“My opinion,” T’bia went on, “is that the Tr’aal were aiming to start on the day of the Equinox Festival. For whatever reason, they were a few days late getting there.”

Tari nodded, setting the photo back on his dresser. “Where is he right now?”

“I should ask you to just give him some space today.”

“Maybe you should, but I know you won’t.”

“There’s no point. You wouldn’t listen to me, anyway.” The AI shrugged, dissolving back into the air. “He’s out in the woods, near the cliffs.”


Tari stopped at the edge of the treeline, shaking melting snow off her toes as she watched him. She hadn’t tried to be stealthy about her approach but he’d given no sign that she’d been noticed. Several minutes passed before he let out a sigh and turned his head slightly in her direction.

“I’m not going to be very good company today.”

Kneeling down behind him, she wrapped her arms around his chest. “You may not be, but I could be if I’m needed.”

Jadyn squinted at the western horizon, falling back into reticence. Tari had nearly decided to leave him to his mourning when he put his hand over hers, keeping her from slipping away.

“Tell me about her,” Tari whispered. “About them all.”

A faint smile appeared on his face; he gave the back of her hand a kiss. “Bee fill you in?”

“Mm-hm.” She let go of him, sliding around and sitting beside him in the grass. “Not… a whole lot. Just enough to know some of why you’re hurting.”

A bemused grunt escaped his throat, his eyes tracing upwards to the few wispy clouds hanging in the sky. “Telli and I… We couldn’t stand each other for a long time. We fought about absolutely everything, wouldn’t leave each other alone… I think we were eight. She had caught this nasty bug going around, something the usual antiviral stuff wouldn’t touch. Both the clinic and Bee said to just ride it out, it’d pass. Dad was out of the system with the Serin for a testing run, and mom had an emergency with one of her friends she had to go attend to. She left me at home to keep an eye on her. The sitter she’d called never showed up. Took a wrong turn coming up the mountain and got lost in the woods.”

He swallowed, looking at his hands. “When I went up to check on her, she was absolutely burning up. Mom had left a hypo of medication on her bedstand, I didn’t know she’d just given herself a double dose by accident… So I gave her some more thinking it would help. I nearly killed her. She was unconscious for three days in the clinic. I don’t remember it all but mom said I never left her side. I just… I hadn’t been able to stand her, but almost losing her made me realize how much I actually loved her.”

“There was no way you could have known she’d overdosed.”

“I could have checked the last time the hypo had been cycled, had I thought to look. That would have told me she’d overdosed and needed help.” A grin broke out on his face as tears flowed down his cheeks. “That little snot… The first thing she said when she woke up and saw me crying? ‘Sissy.’”

Tari smirked, patting his back. “I see where you get it from.”

“A little of everywhere. Mom and dad were certifiably nuts too. The offer of lemonade was a standing threat around our house.” He shook his head. “A little after we turned ten, one of her friends mentioned to her some sort of friendly curiosity about me - er, right, that’s older on your calendar -“

“T’bia explained it a little. Ten was about fifteen, despite the fact you still look ten… I think that’s what she said.”

“Sounds… closeish. I can’t do that kind of conversion off the top of my head right now.” Scratching at his neck, he peered back out over the cliff. “Telara told her where she could find me one afternoon. Just so happened she had to come near our place for one of her private tutors, so she cut through the woods to track me down after her lesson. Here I am, hiding in the trees, trying to read a book that keeps moving the information I’m supposed to be studying, and suddenly this vixen comes out of absolutely nowhere and scares two years growth out of me.

“That’s how I met Melichanni. At first, she just kind of bugged me… I was pretty comfortably dug into an anti-social shell by that point and really didn’t care for the outside interference she was providing. The jocks considered me a nerd because I was too intelligent, the nerds considered me a jock because I worked out too much, and everyone was always whispering about ‘that blue kid’ everytime I walked past. I just closed everyone out and kept to myself. The only friend I had was my sister. Anni managed to drag me back into impolite society with Telli’s help, even with me kicking and screaming all the way. She and I started hanging out more and more since she was studying the Art, too… I think Telli got a little jealous that someone else was vying for my time, but she really seemed pleased with her matchmaking handiwork.”

“When did you two decide you were an item?”

“Mm… It was just before we’d shared her first season. Think we were fourteen… No, no. The year before. She’d just had her thirteenth birthday party. See, Val’Traxan vixens had a few options when they went into heat - I think I told you this already? Maybe not, I don’t remember. They could either go hide in a corner for a few days, spending the time either alone or with female relatives. That was sort of falling by the wayside by the time I was born, but some still opted for it. Alternatively, they could get drugged up to get rid of the urges, or go for the suppressants - not a great idea for a young woman coming into her first season. The generally accepted choice was to take a mate to be with for the duration and just work off the urges the old fashioned way. Part of our ‘lewd’ social values that kept us generally isolated in the quadrant included the proactive nature of family planning. Ninety-seven percent of males willfully rendered themselves incapable of siring children by the time they were thirteen - temporarily, I should say.”

“How?”

“Two ways. A monthly injection was more common. They’d put this pill under the skin, right here in the crook of the elbow, and it’d release a stream of hormones over the course of the month that’d shut down the assembly lines. The other option, for those too busy or forgetful to go in for the shot every month, was to have little valve shunts surgically implanted - basically, a vasectomy that can be turned off and on by a medical professional as needed.”

Tari nodded. “And you didn’t need either one.”

“No. I went in to have the shunts done… That’s when they told me that I can never sire kids of my own. Of course, they didn’t bother to mention that until after making me watch the holographic demo of the procedure.” Jadyn shifted around, sitting up straight and facing Tari. “So, anyway… Anni convinced her folks they needed a vacation without a kid in tow, and gee, wouldn’t it be great if she could go get some extra tutoring with my dad while they were gone? A week later I had a roommate, and another week after that she was stinking up the place with a very confusing scent and generally losing her mind.”

“If it’s anything like what I went through…”

“Worse, I think. You at least had a semblance of self control - and I guarantee the next one will be easier, now that you know what you’re dealing with. That’s part of why the drugs are a bad idea for the first one - have to learn self-control at some point, and it’s best to start as soon as possible. Still… She and I had fun, and we shared something really special. She could have picked anyone to be with for that. There were private services that specialized in sending out… I think you’d call them ‘call boys’? If a lady wanted a more anonymous experience, the option was there - but what would you really prefer? A stranger who just considers you the latest assignment? Or, your closest friend, someone who sees you as something more than a number and will cherish the experience for the foreseeable future?”

“Mm. I don’t know. Anonymous has its benefits. There’s not the ‘oh shit’ moment of regret in the morning.”

“Maybe so. There was a trust between us, though. I don’t think I can explain it. We just… clicked. Sort of like you and I.”

Tari nodded. “The gray vixen from the photo… Where’s she come in?”

“Kishira? Her parents were test pilots. They’d done the big no-no and both boarded the same shuttle for a testing run… The emergency transporters got them out but they died in the intensive care unit about an hour later. Mom and dad had been… Mm, what would you call it… Guardians? Godparents? They agreed to take care of her if anything happened to her parents, and her parents agreed the same about us. Telli and I never actually met any of them before the accident.

“She moved in with us in… 2415. She and Telara shared a room, got along pretty well right off the get-go. Anni really liked her too, even more once she discovered they shared the same birthday. Was almost like having another sister around… Well, save for the ‘needy’ days that Anni talked me into helping her through.”

Tari raised an eyebrow. “You had to be convinced? You liar.”

“I’m serious! She really felt like another sister to me before that hormone storm rolled in. I didn’t feel completely okay with it and turned her down until Anni gave me a good reality check. A year or so after that, Anni invited her to join the lifemating bond we were going to take after we finished our respective university classes. She never said yes, but she never really said no, either. I think she really would have agreed if we’d managed to finish school before there was no planet left.” He took a deep breath, exhaling slowly through his teeth. “Spirits, I miss them… What I wouldn’t give to just see them all for one more day… Catch up, find out how their lives went… To apologize for leaving the way I did… “

“It’s not your fault.”

“Like Void it isn’t. If I’d just stayed put, Telara would have found us. But no, I had to go off half-cocked, so sure that I could find her and bring her home safe. What’d that net me? My promised lifemate and my twin sister, both dead from trying to chase after me.” He grimaced, looking at his balled-up fists; wisps of smoke rose from his fingers as he relaxed. “I’m sorry. I did warn you I wasn’t going to be good company.”

“And I sat down having been duly warned, yes.” She took hold of his hands, giving them a squeeze. “You saw Telara and Melichanni die in that vision, right? What about Kishira?”

Jadyn shook his head. “No, she wasn’t there. I really don’t know what happened to her. I’d like to think that she went on to have a huge family, lived to a ripe old age, and finally joined the Light and met back up with her parents and everyone else we’d lost. She could just have easily died long before Anni and Telli did in my vision. I’ll never truly know. That’s one of many regrets… I was hurting too much to go back and face her again. I knew I couldn’t handle telling her that I’d seen them both die.”

“I guess… I don’t know.” Tari shrugged. “There’s really not much I can say. You’re three and a half times my senior. I should be the one coming to you for advice.”

“I doubt I’d make a very good expert on anything. Void, just look at my priorities. I walked out on a beautiful lady on my birthday to go sulk in the woods about things I can’t ever change. You know what? I can mope around next year, when I’m not wasting the precious little time we have together.”

“You deserve time to mourn.”

“I’ve been mourning for a very long time.” Jadyn shook his head, easing to his feet. “I’m going to continue mourning for a very long time to come, too. I don’t think they’ll mind if I take a year off.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah. Besides… Bee told you what was going on, right? Probably suggested you shouldn’t come talk to me, but told you right where to find me?” Upon her nod of confirmation, he stabbed at his bracelet. “Madame Sparky, question for you.”

Hm?

“Combining your fascination for outcome prediction, your absolute mastery of probability manipulation, and your complete understanding of how to push every button in my head using every available resource at your disposal…”

Yeah?

“Is the cake that I have long since forbade you to bake for my birthday ready yet?”

Tari smirked. “I see. I’m just a variable in a grand formula.”

One that I had to gently tweak this morning to get the equation to balance. No, the cake is not done. Just out of the oven. I was expecting you two to take another half an hour. Go for a walk or something.

“I suppose we walk, then.” Jadyn offered his hand, helping her to her feet. Tari stole a glance out over the cliff as they made their way back into the woods.

“Jay?”

“Hm?”

“You shared in Melichanni’s first season, probably many more after that… You helped Kishira through her time after she moved in…” She felt him wince beside her, and fell silent for a time as they strolled down the path. “I’m not going to think less of you, regardless of what you say. Your culture is completely different than anything I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve no right to judge it. Would you prefer I not ask?”

“If I asked you not to, that would just answer the question in a way that I don’t think does it justice.” Jadyn frowned. “You want to know what Telara did when hers came around, since I was servicing our closest female friends.”

Tari nodded, watching him out of the corner of her eye.

“I know that on Terra, that kind of relationship is taboo in some places and downright illegal in others. It’s the same out here in the Alligned Worlds. It wasn’t something we generally smiled on back home, but it wasn’t strictly forbidden. She once told me… Mm. She told me she was in love with a man she could never have. When her first time came, just after Melichanni’s, she didn’t seek out a brother. She went to the man she felt safe with, the only one she’d ever really trusted… And entrusted him with a secret neither could ever share with anyone else.”


“Happy 365th.”

The red vixen glanced up from her book as a slice of cake with one candle was placed in front of her. “Is it 5 J’ae already? I thought Oram just started.”

“Yeah, it did. Fifty-three days ago.” Across the table, a mottled brown and red vixen set down a second slice of cake and took a seat. Glaring briefly at the dim light swinging precariously over their makeshift table on nothing more than its electrical wire, she stabbed a fork into her slice and took a bite. “Eh… not terrible for replicated. I’ll do better next year, I promise.”

“It’s fine. Thank you.” The first hesitated, squinting at the candle. All around them the slow cargo ship creaked and groaned as it lumbered through hyperspace. After a full minute of silence, she closed her eyes, took a breath, and gently blew out the flame.

“What’d you wish for?”

“If I told you that, it wouldn’t come true.”

“That’s just superstition.”

“So is the making the wish in the first place.” Sucking frosting off the bottom of the candle, she set it on the plate and took a small sample of the cake. “Mint chocolate… Nice pick.”

“Used up half my rations for the run. Worth every credit.”

“Two slices of cake and a candle took that much?”

“No, but the bottle of wine did.” She held up the glass vessel, waving it tauntingly. “Really now. What’d you wish for?”

“Same thing as last year. To stop having to hitchhike across the galaxy, doing odd jobs just for passage from the last pothole to the next.”

“You and me both.”

“Are you sure about this route?” the red asked, pulling the stopper out of the bottle with her teeth. “Like, really sure?”

“Completely.”

“Because the last time you were really sure, we wound up taking a wrong turn and got stranded in someone’s restricted weapons testing range, and then got thrown on a garbage scow for twenty months of community service when they didn’t believe we’d just gotten lost.”

“Yeah… That was… unpleasant. No, this time, we’re definitely on the right track. It’s like a part of a dream I had a long time ago came back to me. Maybe something my guide told me when I was sent back, I don’t know.”

“What was it, again?”

“‘When all is dark and you find no place left to seek answers, look to the night sky and remember that which you and he dreamed of as your own.’”

“And you think that means the base of the Kshorahii’s Tails?

“That’s what we always looked at in the stars.” The mottled vixen finished the last morsel of her cake, licking the crumbs off the plate for good measure. “By the charts I could get my hands on, we’re still half a galaxy away from there, especially if we keep going the way we’re going.”

“We need a ship of our own again.”

“We’ll have one, sooner or later. Even if we have to just… borrow it.”

“Let’s not. I’m sick of prison clothing.”


11 Responses

  1. Tsunari says:

    Trying to link back up to Creationism?

  2. Derek says:

    Doing a little more than ‘trying.’ :D

  3. hans44 says:

    Sounds more like a step between “Earth Isn’t So Bad” and “We Decided Not to Wait”… woah, that’s a blast from the past there.

    Happy Birthday, Jadyn.

  4. Tsunari says:

    Wait, we decided not to wait? I never actually saw that file. Even though I heard it mentioned in the comments of earlier stories

  5. Derek says:

    I can’t find an archived copy in my old site directories. The gist of it was that Melichanni and Telara managed to track him down sometime a hundred or so years after EISB.

  6. Tsunari says:

    Hmmm, did We decided not to wait ever get posted online?

  7. hans44 says:

    We Decided Not to Wait was never posted on bluevulpine.net. The only incarnation of it to ever hit the interwebz was on the furnation.com/Bluefish/ page (which is currently down due to furnation’s getting hacked last year).

  8. Derek says:

    AHA! Using that, I did find the path I’d stuck it into. Which means, it must have been up on the main site at some point since the BlueFish one was a mirror.

  9. typhoon says:

    We decided not to wait was on bluevulpine.net, that site being the only source I ever read you stories on - I’m sure it was in the file I sent you way back when you asked for copies.

  10. Tsunari says:

    “It is however, my birthday today and since it’s being written about Jadyn’s… It made sense to put it up on this date.” Your secretly Jadyn! Maybe after you finally died.

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