Hey kids, long time no see, yeah? Real life's been real busy, as it sometimes does. But I know a lot of my regular readers have missed me and want something to read. So I decided to find you something from the shelf.
About This Story: If it seems like you read this story before, you probably have. I published it previously under the name Kheldar (SilKheldar, PrinceKheldar, I forget exactly what). I wanted to try out something new, but felt that the name 'capnnerefir' was too tied up in Neomorphs, and that my readers might have certain expectations. But not a whole lot of people read this the first time I posted it, and there were some parts I was never happy with anyway. So I've done a bit of re-vamping; changing some names, fiddling with characters, adding more flavor, etc.
So, for those of you who read this before and enjoyed it, I hope you like the small changes I've made and I can assure you that it won't be too long before you see something wholly new. To those of you just joining me in this new story, welcome. I hope you enjoy the ride.
Sabion-Tored-Selec was intoxicated. This was common. The end of the Yeerk War had been great for most of the galaxy. It had been a disaster for Warrior Sabion. No sooner had he been made a full Warrior, no sooner had he been assigned to a Dome ship and given his orders to go out and fight the Yeerks, no sooner had he set hoof on the path to being a true hero, than the dream had been torn from him. The StarThorn was only halfway to its intended target when they received the news. The war was over. Sabion never even had the chance to go forth and earn glory for his herd. His dreams were all as dead as the Yeerk Empire. He had been lucky enough to be one of the ones to keep his position in the military, but there was little satisfaction in that.
And so Sabion drank.
And when he drank, he often found himself doing very strange things. Tonight, he found himself outside of the Scoop of none other than Alloran-Semitur-Corass, formerly known as the Abomination. But Alloran was completely irrelevant to why Sabion was there. His thoughts ware about Alloran's daughter, Alludra-Lasius-Kemia.
Alludra had a bit of a reputation. Without her father around to keep her in line, she grew pretty wild. Her scoop was a common stop for young Andalites at the Academy, and she was usually a willing host. After Alloran's capture, her mother virtually gave up on life. She barely kept herself fed, much less kept her daughter in line. Alludra's older brother, the famous Captain-Prince Asculan-Semitur-Langor, was too busy fighting the Yeerks to worry about the life his sister was leading.
That all changed when Alloran returned, of course. Jahar regained her health and after Alloran nearly decapitated a foolish aristh who apparently hadn't gotten the message, males stopped coming to the Scoop uninvited. Except for Sabion. The first time he arrived, he had nearly lost his tailblade to Alloran. But after that, the old War-Prince seemed to decide he was harmless. Now, he just politely sent Sabion on his way. Although for Alloran, 'polite' consisted of only minor wounds.
(ALLUDRA!) Sabion shouted. (ALLUDRA!)
As always, it was Alloran who appeared. Even inebriated as he was, Sabion was afraid of Alloran. He was a large Andalite, though not as large as most of the Andalites Sabion had grown up with. Sabion himself was larger than Alloran. Like most Andalites from the southern quarter of the world, he had strong, muscular arms not typically associated with his species.
But Alloran had a...presence. There was some sort of aura around him that made him seem larger than he really was. His willpower was like a physical force that allowed Alloran to tower over Andalites who were larger than he was. And of course, there was the fact that Alloran could, at will, become one of any number of deadly creatures that Esplin 9466 had acquired into his body.
Though with his years of experience and training, he did not need any of that to send a drunken Sabion to the ground. A flick of his tail was usually enough. Sometimes, his voice was all it took. (Warrior Sabion. I wonder how one so incapable of learning managed to graduate from the Academy.)
(I'm very good with my tail,) Sabion answered.
(Not from what I've seen.) The two of them gazed at each other for several moments. Alloran glared. Sabion just sort of gazed drunkenly. Finally, Alloran looked away and sighed. (Must we go through this every week, Sabion?)
(It hasn't been a week.)
(You are correct. It has been five days. Your visits are getting more and more frequent. I think I am going to have to do something to permanently deter you.)
(Maybe if you'd let me-)
(I only want-)
(I swear I-)
(If you'd just-)
(Really, you'll see-) Sabion cut off when he felt Alloran's tailblade across his face. He had the blade turned sideways so it didn't cut him, but the force of the blow sent Sabion stumbling. Faster than Sabion realized was possible form one of his age, Alloran followed up by smashing one of Sabion's knees, then another. A forth smack in the upper torso sent the Warrior the ground.
Alloran stood over him, glaring down. (Again, I ask how you graduated.)
(My tail fighting scores-)
Alloran ground a hoof into Sabion's side. (Go home, Warrior. There is nothing for you here.)
(Alloran?) a female voice called. Not Alludra. Sabion would have recognized her voice. This must have been her mother, Jahar. (Alloran, Jaham has called. He wishes to speak with you.)
Jaham? Sabion wondered. He could only think of one Jaham: Jaham-Estalan-Forlan, head of the Andalite War-Council, official head of their race's military. But it couldn't be him. What could he possibly want at this hour? Nevertheless, Alloran turned and entered the scoop again. Sabion tried to stumble to his hooves and failed. Resignedly, he morphed to Kafit and flew back to his own scoop. All things considered, the night hadn't been so bad.
Alloran usually hurt him much, much worse.
Sabion woke up the next morning to the shrieking of his holocom. (Crangar's tails,) Sabion cursed, getting up. He had been sleeping on his side. (I must have been really into it last night,) he muttered to himself, stumbling over to where his holocom sat. He had a splitting headache and every sound seemed to be designed as a weapon. Light itself seemed weaponized. (Too much oeda juice. Never again.) He paused and thought about that. (At least, not today)
There wasn't much in his scoop, though that was to be expected. A table at one end held some of his possessions, most notably his holocom and his Shredder. There was also a hologram of him with the rest of the driftball team, next to which was his most prized possession: a hologram of Baradon-Nurmeon-Palloros, Sabion's favorite driftball player and almost universally recognized as the best player the game had ever seen. It was signed by Baradon himself.
On a bench next to the table were the trophies he had earned in the Academy. Most of them were for driftball, though there were also a few for tail fighting. Under the bench sat his driftball equipment, neatly stored away in a trunk.
Sabion slammed his hand down on the pad to answer the holocom. He was about to demand to who in yaolin was calling and why they would wake him up at the crack of noon, but he stopped when he saw the face of his caller. It was a face burned into his mind very, very clearly. It was the face of Jaham-Estalan-Forlan.
Sabion bowed his upper torso respectfully and gracefully. His tailblade fell to the ground with much less grace. He was shocked. (Great Leader Jaham, I-)
(This is the third time I have called you, Warrior.)
One of Sabion's heats stopped beating. (I am sorry I-)
(If you think your status as the former captain of Central Academy's driftball team earns you any leniency whatsoever, Warrior, you could not be more mistaken.)
(Of course not, Great Leader! I would never-)
(You talk entirely too much when you should be listening. Or have you deluded yourself into thinking I have called you for a pleasant chat?)
(Of course not, Great Leader. I am sorry-)
(You are still talking.) If Sabion had a jaw, he would have snapped it shut. Instead, he just lowered his stalk eyes.
(Better,) Jaham continued. (Had you been capable of answering your holocom, you would know that you were supposed to be at the scoop of War-Prince Alloran-Semitur-Corass one hour and thirty seven minutes ago.)
Alloran's scoop? Crangar's Tails (May I ask why, Great Leader?)
(No. Go there. Now.) Jaham cut the connection. Sabion sighed and shambled into the sunlight. It was like someone shot a Dracon beam directly into his eyes. All four of them. The call of the Kafit bird might as well have been the screech of a Taxxon.
(If Alloran wants to kill me, this walk will probably do it.)
Alloran's scoop was a lot more crowded than Sabion expected it to be. Jahar was waiting outside. She looked upset about something. Alludra was nowhere in sight, nor was Alloran. There were three Andalites in the scoop, none of whom were in any way affiliated with the scoop's usual inhabitants as far as Sabion knew.
Calnen-Ceranur-Corran was the one Sabion recognized at first glance. They had gone to the same academy. Calnen had been almost as well liked as Sabion had, though for different reasons. He was widely regarded as the most intelligent Andalite at Central Academy the most prestigious of the five military training schools on the homeworld. Some called him a genius. Sabion wasn't sure about that, but he knew Calnen was a whole lot smarter than him. He had been sent into the intelligence service, Sabion recalled, though there was little need for him with the war ended. Presumably, he had been tossed aside just like Sabion.
Calnen had the typical Eastern build. Easterners were thin and the smallest of the Andalites. His fur was a lighter blue, with only traces of the tan fur common to the other races of Andalite.
The other male took him a moment to recognize. Acario something or other. Though he somehow ended up at Central Academy, he had never graduated. He was one of those Western Andalites, and though Sabion considered himself open minded, Acario fit the stereotype perfectly. He was always inhaling, drinking, or crushing something. He rarely attended classes, didn't show up for exams, and was just generally a nuisance for everyone. When he had finally been thrown out of the Academy, Sabion had made no secret of his joy.
Acario was built like every Westerner Sabion had ever seen. He wasn't much thicker than Calnen, but he was taller. As tall as Sabion himself, in fact. His fur had more grey than tan in it, and the blue parts were darker, too, giving him a dusky appearance.
There was a female there, though Sabion didn't recognize her. She stood stiffly and off off towards the back of the scoop, almost like she was trying not to be noticed. Her main eyes seemed to be directed at the floor, and she was idly scuffing one of her forehooves back and forth through the dirt. Nervous, Sabion thought. Judging by her size, she was a Northern Andalite, like Alloran or Alludra. Northern was a bit of a misnomer, though. Back in ancient times, when the five Andalite races were at war, the Northerners had conquered the central plains and the two races grew together pretty quickly. By the time the war was over, Northern and Central Andalites were one and the same.
Sabion decided to ignore her for the moment. Whatever these Andalties were here for, it was probably important. He turned to Calnen. (Why are we here?)
(Because you slept in,) Calnen answered. (Otherwise, I'm sure we'd be somewhere else by now.)
It was most likely true, so Sabion moved on to his next question. (Where is Alludra? And Alloran?)
Calnen shrugged with his eyes, as eastern Andalites tended to do. Clearly, he did not know.
(Old Killer's probably having a talk with his little girl about being good while daddy's away,) Acario answered.
Sabion ignored him. (When do you think he'll be back, Calnen?)
(No idea,) Calnen answered.
(Ah, I see you haven't changed one bit, Sabby. Still ignoring me as much as you can,) Acario added. He turned to the nervous Andalite Sabion didn't recognize. (See what I mean about the academy types, Estrid? I'd bet your pal Aximili wouldn't have been so nice if he hadn't gotten out a few kilorotes early.)
That name caught Sabion's attention. (What are you talking about?) he grumbled.
(Ah, now you realize I'm here?) Acario asked. (Well, maybe I want to play your game, Sabby.)
(Don't call me that.)
(Or what, you'll thrash me around with that log you call a tail? I can't feel a thing right now anyway, so have your fun. Prungar extract is a great thing. Probably the only worthwhile thing on the whole Taxxon world.)
Sabion glared at him with his main eyes.. (Do you ever stop talking?)
(Not sure. Probably when I black out, though Grach says I like to talk in my sleep.)
Estrid raised her main eyes from the floor to focus on Acario. (Grach? What kind of name is that?) She sounded hesitant, almost like she was afraid to ask.
(Junker,) Acario answered. (Skrit Na, as you scientist types like to call them.)
(I'm more of a chemist than a xenobiologist,) she answered.
(You don't say. I'm something of a chemist myself.)
Estrid stood up a little straighter, turning all four eyes on Acario. (Oh? What university do you attend? I studied under Arbat-Elivat-Estoni at Central University Three.)
(I didn't exactly learn at one of the Universities,) Acario answered evasively.
(He did not even graduate from the Academy,) Calnen added.
Acario shot him a glare. (We can't all be geniuses, now can we? I've got other talents.)
(Sabion graduated.) After a pause, Calnen added, (No offense, Sabion.) Sabion shrugged his stalks. He knew his strengths and weaknesses. Were it not for driftball and tail-fighting, he would have failed out years ago.
Acario turned back to Estrid. (Arbat; isn't that Alloran's brother?)
Estrid's stalk eyes rose a bit in surprise. (Not many people know that.)
(I've got other talents,) Acario repeated.
(And chemistry is one of them?) she asked.
(You could say that.)
(Where did you learn? Was it a relative, or...)
(Well, I'm of a learn-by-doing sort of Andalite.)
Calnen rolled his main eyes. (He used to run a frahnch laboratory out of his quarters at the Academy. It was, among other reasons, why they threw him out.)
(Oh.) Estrid's eyes dropped back to the floor. Acario glared at Calnen. He looked like he was about to say something, but a loud voice cut off whatever he was about to say.
(Acario-Merron-Oeda,) Came Alloran's voice. The grizzled old War-Prince entered his scoop, shooting a cold glance at Sabion with three eyes. Alludra was close behind him. She nodded to Estrid but seemed completely unaware of Calnen and Sabion. Alloran's tailblade rocketed over his head. For a moment, Sabion thought he was going to cut Acario in half. But then Alloran's tail stopped, halfway between the two of them. Acario slapped his own tailblade against Alloran's. The Andalite version of a bearhug.
If that wasn't shocking for Sabion, what Acario said next would have been. (Heya, Uncle Ally. Fancy meeting you here.) Acario's stalk eyes darted over Alloran's shoulder. (Alludra. You got better looking.)
(And you haven't changed a bit, Acario,) Alludra answered.
Something about that angered Sabion. Acario was a loser, a drug addict, a dropout. So why was he being treated as an old friend and Sabion, captain of the driftball team, the most well-liked Andalite in his Academy, being treated like an outsider or a piece of furniture? (Why are we here?) Sabion burst out.
Alloran turned all four eyes on Sabion, and the Warrior backed up a bit. (We are here,) Alloran answered, (to discuss our mission.)
Calnen nodded. (I thought the War Council had something in the works. Mission to where?)
This time, Alloran turned all of his eyes on him. (Kelbrid Space.)