Disclaimer thinger! In no way do I, nor have I ever owned any of the games in the Escape Velocity series. But I do love the newest one, Escape Velocity Nova, which is what this story is based on.
If you've ever played through the Polaris story-line, you'll know what this is all about. It's a deviation from the story line toward the end. And, I would just like to say, that Ryushi Teir is a random name that I use. Like a screen name. Anyways, stuff happens, and Ory'hara needs to express his feelings. This is a one-shot! No updates of any kind planned, though if I get good feedback, I might write more. I'll need ideas...
Read, and flame if you must. This is my first fic of all time, so be gentle. If you can.
He sails alone, through the endless unchartered space, guided only by the extension of his mind that is the universe. Though not actually alone, followed by his faithful crew of support ships, he might as well be. 'Ory'hara!' the people would chant when he landed. 'Ory'hara!' Their minds cried out, even in the blank darkness. He could hear them. All of them. All the way to Sol. He could hear a small boy crying out for his mother, alone in the darkness of the city that he had run away into. Using the weaves he thought of as every day, but others could not even begin to spin, he told the scared young boy which direction to go in. Left. Now another left. Go through this door. Up that elevator. Through that corridor. Now through the shopping center. Right. Your mother is searching in that store. You are home.
"Home." He whispered, his voice barely registering. What was home to Ory'hara? The man who could control the universe. The man who was the universe. Wherever he went, he was in the company of many trillions of people. Without knowing it, everyone in the universe used up space in his mind. Even with his completely all-powerful abilities, he still could not block out the eternally changing ideas and thoughts of the people he served and looked after. And tried to forge a better future for. Even his ship's mind, slow and small as it was, interrupted his inner sanctum. Polaris ships. They couldn't just use over the top technology, they had to go and give them brains. Living forms. I should have stuck with my Starbridge. But I can't go back now. Everyone expects the most powerful being in the universe to pilot something seen as equally as powerful. And I guess the P'aedt did go to all the trouble of building this for me. I still can't get the thought of engine failure out of my head. A sudden stoppage would cause the formation of a black hole they told me. It's a wonder they haven't tried to weaponize it, being the Polaris. Ory'hara had never known home. All he had known was responsibility. Everything he had could be, and was expected to be sacrificed for the good of the people. Even himself. Even his mind. He laughed, bitterly. He didn't mind helping people; he didn't mind it at all. He liked helping people. Especially if he was the only person who could. If it weren't an infringement of honour, and an insult, he would have refused payment many times. He always had money. Somewhere along the line, somebody had started a donation account for Ory'hara, and many had come to give up what they had. For many, it was all they had. It hurt, being the person who owned everything because everyone else gave it up. He had tried to find the source, and tried to shut it down, and to return everything donated, but no one person knew where it had started. That made it incredibly difficult to find. The tales of poverty and suffering he heard about, made him feel incredibly and horribly responsible. He had tried to weave a desire to keep what they had into the people, but it had not worked, for the simple reason, there was no radius to his powers. If he tried to do something so colossal, he would undoubtedly destroy his mind. And the people still needed him. So he had stopped before he started, and instead, the world of Kont had become his base of operations.
No one came near it. No one sent researchers, or scouts, or teams. It was just he and his mind, by themselves. Even the roar of Aurora was faded here. Though not of the rim worlds, at least he was given sanctity from the inner systems. And not only did he hear the living worlds, but the dead ones also. New Ireland in the Tuatha system…bombed into submission and on until not even an atmosphere could be sustained by the reduced gravity of the now asteroid sized lump of rock. Vellos, the ancient world that the Federation had nuclear bombed until the people were dead and the ones that weren't, captured. So many planets he could not count, pain and suffering imbedded into the very core and rock of the floating spheres. All the death, life, pain, happiness and the universe seeped through his mind like water into dirt. Extremely intelligent dirt. It invaded, destroying memories and implanting new ones; foreign ones that lasted only long enough to be washed away by different, newer ones. And the cycle repeated. Only one thought and memory was and would remain coherent. The only person that, from the beginning, had treated him as a person, not a god. A Mu'hari, a woman, a person. She had treated him as a peer, or perhaps a brother. She was happy whenever he was near, and though she did not know it, so was he, when she was around. Even when he only heard her thoughts, peace settled on him and he calmed. Calmed enough to concentrate on and amplify her thoughts, to concentrate and listen to her voice. To see her face, with the long, slightly curled auburn hair that always had a slightly shiny 'just washed' look. He smiled in the loneliness of the cockpit of his thirty-crew member hulk of a ship. But there was no crew on his ship, he checked all the subsystems, repaired all that needed repairing and did all of the maintenance and piloting by himself, with his mind. Tools and equipment floated throughout the decks, gathering in areas that needed attention and scattering again once work was finished. The concentration required to do so was enormous, but it was only the bat of an eyelid for Ory'hara. He didn't even remember his own name anymore. He relied on his reputation in the Federal governed systems to remind him.
"Sir, scan complete, no ships in the system. Stellar recognized, but it's odd sir. Like a ship, but set in space without ability to move. A space station, maybe. Land, sir?" He absently heard his second in command speak through the radio. He did not speak; he simply wove his desires into the minds of his subordinates. They all banked away and sat at some distance away while Ory'hara took his Raven in to land on the deserted station. Doing the landing systems check, and logging his flight and landing, he opened the airlock on his ship, weaving a breathable atmosphere into the station as he walked into it. It was completely empty. There was no one. He did a double check mind sweep, but it was blank. He sighed in relief, then sat down on the floor and put his head in his hands, weeping openly in the solitude. This was the most normal things could get in his world. Nobody treated him as a friend anymore. All treated him as a role model, a higher entity. A god. All except one. He reminded himself, and a single, accentuated, and titled name escaped his dry lips.
"Mu'Randa." The name made fresh tears drip from his eyes. Always happy. Always bubbly and cheerful. She always understood when he needed time to himself. She always knew when he was feeling stressed or lonely. Most importantly, she always helped him to feel better. She was always telling him to take as much time as he needed, always treating him as an equal, someone about whom a fuss was not to be made. He enjoyed her company simply for the fact that she gave him her company. Everyone else shied in awe. It was not fear, but that did not mean that it made him feel welcome. He hated landing at inhabited places. It meant that people would recognize him. That meant duels with over eager Nilke'morya, a sphere of empty space around him that people avoided being caught in. And, above all else, it meant that he could see just how much people thought he was higher and more worthy. Nobody cared about him. Nobody cared that he was able to destroy planets as if they had never existed. No one minded that his constant merging with the universe caused his mind to slowly deteriorate. The only one that greeted him when he landed; stood in the empty sphere, and told him to take a break, was Mu'Randa.
"Mu'Randa." He whispered again, reaching out with his mind. She was on Vera'se, in the Vera'Roqi system, helping P'Jeena, no doubt. Probably not even thinking of me. She's probably involved with another Mu'hari anyway. She probably only acts as she does around me out of sympathy. Or maybe it's just because her interests lie in keeping me safe and therefore, preserving the life of the Polaris. She's-
"Hello, Ory'hara," A voice in his head interrupted. A beautiful voice. A voice he loved hearing.Mu'Randa…how did she…
"I know you are there Ory'hara. I know you are listening. You can talk back, you know. I don't know where you are; all I know is that you'll be listening to thoughts. Mine will get through eventually. When you get this, say hi back." He heard. He smiled slightly. She didn't know that he had been listening for her thoughts.
"Hi." He said softly. He gently felt the surprise from her. Then comfort.
"Have you been listening for me Ory'hara? Why?" Ory'hara thought about his response quickly. She could not read his mind, so his thoughts were safe. He realized how scary someone who could go through your mind like a filing cabinet was.
"I was simply…concentrating on someone familiar. It soothes the unrelenting wave of unending thoughts that usually go though my mind. I still have found no defense against that." He felt sympathy from her. And sadness for him.
"I am sorry. I know that it hurts you. As does…the name. I'll call you Ryushi, instead. I just wanted to know how you were doing, Ryushi. You have been absent often." Ryushi. That had been his name, yes. He could almost see Mu'Randa's smile as she said this to him. And her eyes. The deep, green eyes.
"I am doing okay, I guess. I-" He thought about what he was going to say next. Would it be a good idea? No turning back. It can't hurt to tell her, "I have missed you, Mu'Randa." He felt more surprise well in her mind. And slight confusion.
"Missed me? Why would you have missed me? I am always here." Ryushi shook his head, mentally.
"No Mu'Randa, you are always there. It is hard to find you as you travel constantly. So…I have…missed you. A lot. What is P'Jeena up to?" The sudden switch in topics confused her more. He regretted telling her.
"Ryushi…that is not all of it. I know. Tell me what is bothering you. Or better yet…tell me in person. I'll be on Vera'se for a while. You can come and visit…if you like." Yearning? Why would Mu'Randa yearn for me to come to her? He had heard the concern in her 'voice'. It concerned him.
"I will be there soon, Mu'Randa. If you can…go to J'narr. It is deserted. That is most comfortable. I am sorry if this is inconveniencing to you." He actually heard her mentally laugh. It was a wonderful sound, one that he kept dear.
"Ryushi, I am Mu'hari. I have no honour, by caste. Therefore, I am bound to nothing permanently. All you have to do is ask for my help in J'narr, and I am bound to go there unless someone else asks me to help them with something else." Ryushi nodded to himself."Please Mu'Randa…I need your help. In J'narr. I shall be there now. Get there as soon as you can." He could literally feel her grin as she answered.
"Of course, Ryushi. I will be there as soon as I can be." Ryushi smiled, the first time in weeks. Maybe months, and he stood up, walking to the airlock and closing it with a weave. He undocked and piloted out to his small group of three Dragons and three Zephyrs, weaving their attention. Using more weaves, a blue glow appeared on the other side of the station.
"Sir, what's going on? What is that?" Ryushi smiled.
"It is a wormhole. We are going to J'narr. That is our path. Follow where I go." He said softly, knowing they heard him. His voice sounded odd, as if it was a new concept, and, yes, he realized, he had stopped using it lately. He flew the Raven out to the circular tear in the surrounding space and piloted into it. His instruments whined for a second before the craft steadied and he was in J'narr. He mentally masked his presence with weaves and watched as his other pilots appeared out of nowhere. They grouped behind him and brought their silent hulls to a stand still. Ryushi sent out the order to cloak, and the entire group and the Raven disappeared to the naked eye. He leaned back in his chair and waited. Nobody came to J'narr, despite how close it was to the Mu'Hari system. Or the Ver'Roqi. Not long after he and his fleet appeared, a single white Zephyr jumped in, slowed, and stopped. It turned, as if searching.
"Pilots, surround the area, docked personnel, launch and encircle the system. Do not allow anyone into the perimeter." He uncloaked, as did his men, and launched all of his docked escorts. Three Thunderheads, six Pirate Thunderheads, twelve Mantas, and sixteen Pirate Vipers later, Mu'Randa's ship was already sending docking requests. He eagerly accepted, and a small cylindrical shute appeared on the side of the Zephyr, which docked on the Raven's airlock. Ryushi walked quickly to the airlock, suppressing the urge to run. It hissed open as he got there, and a woman with auburn hair smiled radiantly from the opened hatch.
"Ryushi! Where have you been? The council has been worried sick. You should know better!" She said, amused, shaking a finger in mock annoyance. Ryushi smiled at her, his second real smile in too long.
"Oh, you know…here and there," He felt his face harden into seriousness, "Finding places of solitude mostly. Places I can escape from the ocean of thoughts I can't control. Places where I can try to be alone. Even now, I hear Bis'Andreya in the Court of Leaders. She is thinking of her dinner, getting cold as she sits in the chamber. She might have to get take out again. Even though she's had it three times this week and she's already sick of it…" He trailed off, aware he was commuting exactly what the older woman was thinking to Mu'Randa, who was now looking concernedly at him. He smiled again.
"Sorry…I…wasn't concentrating properly." She nodded. Silence fell between them, like two teenagers, uncomfortable with the opposite sex. She smiled warmly at him.
"So, Ryushi, what did you need help with? I can't imagine what I could give you, but it is my duty to help with what I can." She was smiling her usual, cheery smile. The one he remembered so well. Wanted to keep for so long. He walked up to her and put his arms around her, putting his head on her shoulder.
"Mu'Randa…I missed you so badly. You are the only true friend I have amoung the Polaris. The only person whose company is something I really wish I had more of." He felt her raise her arms unsteadily to his back as well. He breathed in, unintentionally smelling her hair. Cinnamon. Her hair actually smells like cinnamon.
When she spoke, her words were unsteady as her arms were, and she quivered.
"Ryushi…" She said softly. He stood back suddenly, aware he was invading her personal space.
"Sorry Mu'Randa…I'm just…I just really missed your happy, buoyant self. When I'm lost and weighed down by the thoughts of others, I concentrate on you, and your thoughts lift away the burden. To think of you is so liberating. I'm sorry for taking you away for important work for this…but I needed to see you." She nodded looking up at him, with a bright and happy smile on her face.
"You don't need to apologize, I actually wanted to be here too. You see…I kind of missed you as well. I wanted to see that you were okay. Not only was the Council worried. I was worried. Do you know what that means? Do you know what that entails being a Mu'hari? I keep having thoughts I am not supposed to. And it's you I think about. I guess…the most surprising thing of all…is that I don't mind. I don't care that I am completely going against the caste rules I have followed all my life…seeing you again feels good. And it's a feeling I don't want to ignore." Ryushi nodded. He already knew this. He had heard it, in her thoughts. His face had been causing her increasing amounts of stress. Stress in the sense that she could not figure out why she kept thinking of him.
"Mu'Randa…I feel the same about you…I can't stop thinking about you. I think of you all the time, not only does it ease the sandstorm of thoughts, but it makes me feel better too. Your smile makes me happy. That's why I missed you. Why I've always missed you. Ever since I met you, I've always hoped I'd see you again next time I landed. Being Ory'hara…it makes me so confused. Afraid. I have all this power. But what am I supposed to do with it? What if I…what if I hurt someone? What if I do something that seems right, but ultimately will cause wrong? What if I destroy something I'm trying to save?" Her smile did not falter, but rather, it brightened even more.
"Ryushi, being Ory'hara…you are still the same person. You are still Ryushi Teir. I knew Ryushi Teir. He did what was morally right. All the time. He never let anyone come to harm if he could help it. And that is exactly how you should be. How you are. You never let us come to harm, if you can help it. You are so unlike many of us. Selfish, wanting more than they have. Complaining about what they don't have. You are told that when the Polaris are in trouble, you must be there to save us…and instead of hiding and refusing and making excuses, you stand there, along side us in our peril, accepting that you might not live through the experience. Knowing that we might not live through it. That you might lose someone, a friend perhaps…but you still go. You still accept your fate, whatever it may be. That is what you are. That is exactly as you should be." Ryushi nodded.
"But…I do run away. I left to go and find solitude. I ran away from responsibility. From everyone." Mu'Randa did not falter.
"No, you did not run away. You needed some time to yourself, to reflect. We all do. You more than anyone. People see some sort of god in you, who is able to, do whatever he wants, have whatever he wants, and survive through anything. But I know better. You are a man, Ryushi Teir. Naught but a man, if one with special abilities. And like men, you cannot withstand any blow. Emotions still run through your head. Thoughts still move through your mind, and like all mortals, your mortality constantly reminds you of its presence. No normal man can do what you have done. Not just physically, but mentally also. You did not run from responsibility. You accepted it and requested time to go and ponder on you existence and place in the universe. All of us wonder about that, but you more so, because of your powers in particular, wonder why. Why you were made, why you of all people, were given the gift. Or curse, you see it, as you will. Though some may be resentful of you, know that you still have friends. Arando, he recognizes above anyone else, what will be going through your head. Bis'Andreya herself knows what it is to be at the figurehead of a people. I know you more personally than anyone in the Polaris nation, and I will always remain close to you, I hope. I know what it is to be a servant, but to still be revered above others." Ryushi smiled at her.
"Thankyou Mu'Randa. I hope that I shall always remain close to you also. I need talks like this. I don't know how I would stay alive without you." Her smile was as bright as he had seen it, and he saw the light red blush on her cheeks. He wondered when the last time Mu'Randa had blushed was.
"Mu'Randa I hope you don't mind me asking but would you tell what cast you were training to be before you joined the Mu'hari?" She smiled, but this time it was rueful.
"You mean before I failed and fell into the Mu'hari? No, I wouldn't mind. I've never told anyone before. It's usually not done. In fact, I've refused to tell some people when they asked. It's different with you though. I was the proud owner of my very own Manta. Grown from birth with my own DNA. We travelled far, completed initiation missions. But in the final test to become Nilke'morya, I failed. Only when I failed did I know why. I was asked: 'To whom does the warrior have debt?' I answered, the Polaris. I was wrong. The correct answer was never given to me, but I know it now. Warriors have debt to themselves. Married to their occupation, never being able to make good friends, the warrior always has debt that they cannot repay. It is confusing, but I think you can understand. After that, my Manta was extricated from the role books, I was sent to the Mu'hari, and I spent the next ten years doing more training. Then, finally, at thirty years of age, I went on my first out of Polaris territory mission. To Aurora. I needed a lift to Sol, and a handsome and charmingly confused native picked me up. We went a while together; finally, he saved the leader of the Polaris and became known as Ory'hara. The more I talked and spent time around him, the more confusing feelings I had. Feelings that went against the laws of the Mu'hari. Feelings that an unbiassed judge is not supposed to have. Even toward an innocent. And now, I feel that I am going to fail, again, in the lowest of castes that exist. In the caste you cannot fail. I fear I am going to fail at being a Mu'hari. All because of my feelings. And now…right now…I have to make a choice. One that will affect my future. One that your presence makes no easier. One that has a right choice and a wrong choice, but both are the same. On the one hand, I can stay with you, tell you how I feel, and fail the Mu'hari, casting my already honourless existence away. On the other hand, I can hide my feelings, try to destroy them, and then stay on as a Mu'hari, a meaningless existence that will save only my physical being. It is a most difficult decision…" She was not smiling anymore. And somehow, she had managed to keep this a secret from him. Maybe because he had not been looking for these thoughts from her. She looked lost. Alone. Afraid. He embraced her again.
"Mu'Randa, I understand. You do not have to stop being a Mu'hari. I know what that means. But…maybe…maybe I can do something. Perhaps…I can start a new caste. I mean…I am Ory'hara…I must be able to do something…I must be able to help you somehow…Maybe I can get you retested…in a different caste if that's what it takes. Maybe you could become P'aedt…there has to be some way I can help you…all this power, and no way to use it." He realised he himself was crying now, not just her. They stood together in the darkness of the lonely ship. His arms around her smaller figure, holding her gently.
"I do not know what to do Ryushi…It is I, who is lost. If only I had known the answer, so long ago. None of this would have happened, I would never have to make this decision." Ryushi shook his head.
"But we never would have met Mu'Randa. Then, Ory'hara would not exist, I would never be here. I would still be living an existence worth nothing, all I own, credits and a ship. Here, I have that. I also have a legacy. I have a mission. I have purpose. And here, my purpose is to help you. You alone. Not the universe, or the Polaris, or anyone but you." No sound invaded the privacy of the airlock. Ryushi finally saw Mu'Randa for what she was. Someone like him. Alone, afraid, confused, a personality that was used as a mask to hide what was really happening in their life. Mu'Randa was as insecure as he was, and he suddenly knew that, everyone in the universe had a face value. Everyone who ever existed, does exist, and will exist, is hiding what they don't want others to see about them. Mu'Randa was afraid and insecure. She hid it with a visage of happiness and apparent contentness. He himself was alone and lost. He hid it by being alone. By not letting anyone else close enough to see it. Anyone, but Mu'Randa. And now, she had done the same for him.
"What if…what if you tell me, we do become involved, and you go back to being a Mu'hari anyway?" He asked her softly as they stood, her head on his chest and his on top of hers.
"My judgement will be impaired…I won't be able to make accurate and binding decisions without being influenced by my feelings." Ryushi smiled down at her.
"In Aurora and the uncorrupted areas of the Federation, and I'm sure even in the Rebels, they have unbiassed judges who are married. Who have intimate relationships. Why can't you be the same?" She shook her head, inhaling.
"It is not allowed." Ryushi looked at her in surprise.
"You…you mean you're just, not allowed to have relationships. What about population falls? If castes aren't allowed to become involved with eachother, what happens to children? How do you replenish your population?" She shook her head.
"You do not understand. You are from the outside. Only the Mu'hari caste is not allowed. Because children born from honourless parents have no honour." Ryushi searched for strings.
"But surely this is a special case? I am Ory'hara. My honour is more than enough for the both of us…I am not vain but, just knowing me, shouldn't that give you honour? I make the rules in this area don't I? I mean, I am the first Ory'hara, which means that rules pertaining to me have not been created. If I say you have your honour back, and then you do, don't you? I mean, I could weave honour into you. I could weave you into the Nilke'morya if I wanted to…" She looked up and brought her finger to his lips.
"No. I do not think that you can. Even if you could, what if I don't want you to? That would be giving me special treatment, and that is something I do not wish to receive. I have made my decision. I will tell you how I feel, and I will travel with you. Then we will see where my fate takes me." Ryushi nodded slowly to her.
"Are you sure Mu'Randa? This is-" She silenced him quickly.
"I know what this is!" She snapped, "I have been thinking of this since you first came to Polaris space. Do not think I do not know what my decision means. Any words you say are only going to make me uncertain, and then it will take more time. Time I do not wish to waste." Ryushi nodded.
"Alright Mu'Randa. I trust your decision." She nodded.
"Sorry for snapping…I…I didn't mean to." Ryushi smiled and waved it away.
"It's my fault. Carry on, please." She looked straight up at him, right into his eyes. Into his soul, he felt.
"Ory'hara…Ryushi. Ever since I met you, feelings that I have recently understood started to run in me. Now, I finally know what it all means…I know that…I love you Ryushi." She rose up slightly, as he bent down. Their lips met in the middle and he bent further so that she could stand evenly on the ground again instead of on tiptoes. She sighed as they kissed and eventually they broke apart.
"Mu'Randa, I have known for a long time now…but I was always afraid of what you would say. I was afraid that you would already be involved with someone else…afraid you would reject me. Afraid that you would laugh in my face. But, I want you to know…I love you too." She smiled at him. Silence was abundant for what seemed like hours on end, but only a few minutes later, Mu'Randa spoke.
"Ryushi…my life as a Polaris is over. I'll be exiled…but…I can stay with you, can't I?" Ryushi looked down at her, his smile a reflection of hers.
"As long as we both shall live." He answered.
So, how was it? Not that bad, eh? Right? Please? Ah well, send responses as you will. If you want more, say so. You might need to send something you want me to write about. Also, I have never played the other EV games, and don't plan to. Strictly forbidden to Nova. Unless you want to give me a copy of the others...