“Labrat! Grab you’re sticky dots and your laptop.” Fane leaned into Sophia’s office. Sophia, as usual, was buried up to her shoulders in charts and reports. Fane figured she was the reason for deforestation. Corbin popped his head out from beneath a different desk in the room. Fane raised a confused eyebrow at him. “I don’t care if you’re there, Corbin, unless you can find me a strap, cup and a mouthguard – make that double. Whoever’s on the receiving end probably doesn’t want to deal with a dentist today. Just wanted Bern to help me with an experiment and didn’t want for you to miss out on it and start throwing charts at me later.” Fane grabbed up the canvas bag that contained Sophia’s sensor material. Sophia scrambled at the prospect of Fane willingly doing an experiment of any kind. Fane muttered under his breath at her excitement as she dashed out after him. Corbin’s footsteps followed them shortly after their exited.
“What are you doing, Fane?” she asked.
Fane shrugged and twitched his jaw. “Need Bern,” he grouched as he walked down to the infirmary where the White Horse had been recently. Aside from Sven and Yeller, no one else was in the rooms.
“Need something, Fane?” Sven asked, curious as to why the Red Hare had come in.
“Looking for Bern.” He waved as he left the door. Corbin motioned to Fane. He was rather surprised that Corbin had found him what he needed.
“He left with Ishan out to the bridge!” Yeller called back through the closing door. Fane gave him a thumbs up and headed out of the living area to the spaceship side of the warehouse after dropping into the bathroom for a minute with Corbin’s proffered materials. He clambered up the ladder into the main bay area of the ship and trampled through the choriddors and up several flights of stairs to the bridge. Sophia and Corbin trailed after him, more and more curious by the moment.
They were greeted by the glendwellers, Bern, and Ishan mingling in the bridge. They all glanced up, wondering what Fane wanted them for. Fane waved over Bern and set the canvas bag down on a console. He drew in a breath and set his jaw. He pulled off his shirt and kicked off his pants as Sophia pulled out her materials. Corbin started layering him with sticky-dots, and Sophia started typing on her computer.
Bern walked over. “That was an awful nice rain storm back there. Kids told me they haven’t seen that kinda downpour in almost a year?” Bern tilted his head to regard Fane.
Fane helped with the sticky dots on his chest. He was getting better about remembering where they all went. “Tell me about these legends, Bern,” Fane dismissed the hidden question. So the rain was his.
Bern regarded Fane quietly for a minute. He had wondered how long it would take before Fane would come to him asking. Bern flicked a glance to Deck and cocked an eyebrow. “You lived through them. I just heard legends. I know them as warriors of Macha, Badb, and Nemain,” the Fyskar conceded to Dietrik.
“Red Hare, shaman, storm-bringer, thought-stealer, beasts of the inferno, peng niao, rwa-dun, carnyx, bowman, sacred priests and priestesses of the Mor-Rioghain,” Dietrik supplied more phrases. Bern raised an inquiring eyebrow. Dietrik smiled, all fangs showing. “At one point, Healer, there were mares just as powerful as stallions if not more so. Your clan was coming to an end long before they vanished in the 17th century.
“Nat is only partially able to command a few of his abilities. I’m making an assumption here, but I feel he never would have discovered these if not for our occupation. He will never be able to do what Fane can do, but he already shows the ability to thought-steal. He told us of Raphael’s death that he only discovered through it.
“I see no reason that Fane will be unable to also do this with practice. As it is, Ishan has a drop or two of Bai blood, and has shown an ability to direct Fane’s void at least once. Signs of a Healer.” Dietrik turned to survey Ishan. The prince looked at him in surprise. Fane nodded, following along with his own suspicions.
“So, what could the Red Hare do then?” Fane pressed as Sophia began the intensive process of syncing up all the transmitters on his skin.
“Dietrik’s gonna give you some kind of Ghandi crap. From what I’m getting from his interpretation you’re essentially an elementalist and a telepath with a broadcasting ability. Hydrokinesis, aerokinesis, pyrokinesis, fulgurkinesis, dark and light, space and time. You got the whole D&D package deal.” Deck smiled amiably before Dietrik took over for him, a bit disgruntled. “Your emotions connect you to the elements, and with that, you are connected to the world. As you are already aware, ice associates with your anger. Water is your sorrow. Heat is your joy. Fire is your carnal passion. Electricity is your fixation. Shadow is suspicion. Darkness is trust. Light is calm. Your void is your centre, though, unlike the White Horse, you can turn your void inside out, broadcast it out to everyone around you. I remember a few of the great Red Hare were capable of calling for miles. Because of this, you can trespass into those you connect to in that space. As it is, you’ve been calling to everyone in the warehouse since you woke up this morning. We only got a break at about the time there was the deluge of Noah outside,” Dietrik pointed out.
Fane dry swallowed and glanced at Ishan. “Sorry.”
Ishan shrugged and tried not to smirk. Fane buried his head in his hand and shuddered.
“You are untrained. It’s bound to happen,” Dietrik mimicked Ishan’s shrug.
“All right. We have ice down pat. We also have sorrow. That was earlier.” Fane ticked off his fingers.
“Joy, you heated the space up yesterday morning when you rediscovered you’re rope,” Ishan provided.
“You were also glowing about that same time, so we’ve got light,” Sun Hee added.
“I’ve seen Nat do shadows when he whooped Dietrik’s butt back in Dallas,” Zola murmured to Sun Hee. The woman nodded at the comment and turned a thoughtful glance on Fane. “I don’t think I’ve seen him do it yet. Maybe if we hadn’t all been in the void? Sophia, do you remember the bridge going dark or anything other than ice yesterday?” Sun Hee called over to the woman working on the terminals.
Sophia quieted her typing for a moment to think. “Maybe? I mean, there was something like a power surge last night, but that could have been the electricity in the ship still being spotty.”
“I didn’t see fire when I told Fane to take Ishan out somewhere that didn’t burn,” Bern supplied. Dietrik raised an eyebrow.
“No fire,” Ishan deflected. Dietrik’s lips thinned in thought.
“Looks like you brought some equipment. You wanting to learn what you can actually do?” Hana asked, curious. Corbin had set the spare strap, cup, and mouthguard up on top of the console.
“Didn’t feel like diving back into my void. That was dangerous last night. I wanted to be more present for the ice, or whatever I might end up doing this time. Maybe figure out what sets it off out here rather than in there. Might come up with a more viable method for instigating the portal jumps if we can narrow this down. Also, I’d rather not be telling the whole warehouse what I’m up to…or burning it down,” his cheeks burned at the admission. “Thoughts?” he asked, trying to drive the conversation past this embarrassing speed bump.
“Sounds like a bit of fun. Wish Cashia could play. He’s our heavy-hitter and would have enjoyed a good bit of rough housing about this time,” Heinrich smiled eagerly.
“Cashia’s got a broken hand, and Sven is out. So, who’s the next best hand-to-hand here?” Fane turned to the glendwellers. Every finger pointed to Hana. Fane raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Hana?”
“No, Sylvi’s better than Sven,” Heinrich answered. Fane hadn’t taken the time to figure out which one of the girls had which wolf. So Hana was the one with the Norse warrior for a wolf. He had figured out the guys at least. He still hadn’t expected them all to point at the raven-haired girl who looked like her bones were hollow.
“For the love -!” Fane cleared his throat. “Let’s try that again, you imbecilic mutts. Someone who is not pregnant, shall we?” he rasped. The glendwellers looked surprised at this comment.
“All due respect, Shaman. I’ve fought before when expecting,” Sylvi growled, put off.
“Oh, no doubt. You think quick. And I’ll let you hand me my butt on a silver platter after they are born for being a chauvinistic asshole. I’m not tempting fate and your mate and his host’s boyfriend right now. All right?” Fane bartered. He had seen how she moved in his void. She was fast. He would admit that. He wasn’t about to have an entire pack of wolves breathing down his throat if he flubbed something and injured her or the children, though.
“So that throws out Anastasia and Sibor then.” Sylvi shrugged. Fane tilted his head in a way to say of course that goes without saying.
“Go with Heinrich. His host actual does something with his body, so they can harmonize well enough.” Sylvi motioned to Benj, who bowed low.
“Harmonize?” Fane dodged a glance at Hana as she sidled up to him. She was looking particularly round as her white t-shirt strained.
“Yeller figured it out first. We can meet our host’s wavelength sometimes. Cashia and him helped Nat. Nat harmonized with Sven and Tereza when he got pissed off at Dietrik for being a pig. It’s how he got his own colourings. Not all of us have figured out how to do it yet. I’d bet you, if you give Benj and Heinrich an outlet for some pent-up energy they’ve had since Michael’s men, he could probably harmonize. They’d be a good challenge together,” she smiled at the lean man across from her. Benj smiled back shyly. He wasn’t used to being praised for his martial arts ability by someone who wasn’t ringside.
Fane shrugged and nodded, appraising the man. Sophia eyed Benj, suddenly curious. Benj returned that look with a glare. “Not happening, Sophia. I am not turning into one of your science experiments,” Heinrich growled.
Sophia threw up her hands in mock surrender. “Whatever. I’ll come back to you later. All right, Fane. We’ve got everything up and running!” She gave him a thumbs up.
Ishan walked up to him and set a hand on his shoulder. “Know what you’re doing?” Fane shrugged, not really sure. He slipped the mouthguard in around his teeth. “The grey monster?” Ishan lowered his voice, searching Fane’s eyes.
Fane drew in a steadying breath. “I’m out here, not in there. We’ll find out,” he grumbled around the mouthguard.
“Tell me if you need me to get you out.” Ishan patted him once more before leaning up against the console. Fane folded to the floor to stretch out.
Corbin handed Benj the other equipment he had brought along. Benj nodded his thanks and left out of the bridge for a moment of privacy. He returned back and pulled his shirt off. He jammed the mouthguard in against his teeth and worked the plastic against his molars. He yanked his socks off and tested the surface of the blue orb.
Fane watched him, wary. The kid flowed as he stretched. He had seen him in the cafeteria. Fane hadn’t gained a good appraisal of what he could do, though. They walked over to the blue circle that marked Fane’s working area. It wasn’t necessary that they had to do it there, but it felt like a decent designated area.
“No weapons,” Corbin called. Benj held out his clenched fists. “All right, hand-to-hand. Fane, you got anything else sharp hanging around?” Corbin asked. Benj rolled the cuffs of his pants before squatting wide to check the stretch in the crotch and inseam. He tugged the cuffs up after his assessment.
“My wit?” Fane patted down his chest and his thighs like there would be something on his exposed skin and looked up at Corbin and shrugged.
“Har har, jester. What are we calling this? Five minutes? Till someone’s down? No killing the glendweller. We still want to know more.” Corbin pointed a warning finger at Fane.
“You wound me, Corbin.” Fane smiled, exposing the black mouthguard.
“Benj?” Corbin turned to the man.
“’Til one of us is on the ground,” one of his eyes was glowing. Fane eyed him warily. That was probably a sign.
“Blue ring is field. Don’t leave it or you’re out,” Corbin warned, taking on the challenge of playing ref happily. Ishan shifted against the console, chewing on his bottom lip. Sylvi joined him. Dietrik, Sibor, and Anastasia sat down in the folding chairs behind the console.
Benj and Fane entered the designated ring. They bumped fists and bowed to each other before backing up. Benj dropped into a high guard, his hands up blocking and his arms a little flared out. Fane watched, noting the marching stance and squared hips, the somewhat widened legs with feet almost perpendicular to each other. His ribs and chest were open targets, bait. Fane narrowed his eyes. Muay Thai fighter with experience.
Fane swept his leg back and under him into a dancing ginga, keeping the corresponding arm parallel at his chin and shifted through cadeira to sweep his other leg as he gained a touch of distance. He wasn’t eager to get an elbow to the kidney today, but Benj was going to prove entertaining at the very least. Benj pressed him with a false start. Fane eased out of the press with a quick twist and a macaco em pe that sent him out from Benj’s path. He flowed, his movement never stopping as Benj kept his guard up. Fane chewed into the mouthguard, contemplating his opponent.
Benj shifted back to wait for Fane to throw out a kick or a hit. He had seen a couple other people with similar moves to Fane at his underground ring before. He hadn’t ever gone up against them. He was aware, though, after watching one guy get carried out on a stretcher for a batch of cracked ribs that his opponent was going to throw out just as powerful of kicks as he’d throw out knees and elbows.
Ishan glanced at Sophia’s screens. Spikes were registering wildly. He returned his attention to Fane. This was different from what Fane had done in the void. This wasn’t the stiffer dodging and throwing he had done with the glendwellers. How many types of fighting styles did he know?
Benj decided to shift his press, leaning more weight into his front leg as he stepped into Fane’s space. He landed a grazing knee, startled to almost lose his footing when Fane wrapped him up in a banda de costa. Fane had felt that knee and knew his bicep was going to have a nice black line across it later. Benj pulled back to regain his footing. Fane dropped into the rotating spin of a corta capin, driving Benj farther back.
Fane might be eager for hand-to-hand, but he appreciated the subtle build of the game over brute strength. He wasn’t out to flatten Benj in a single cut, but rather drive his emotions until they could pin one of them down. They entered the blue ring and found themselves on a board of chess. Calculation and intension flowed.
Another step in as Fane stepped out of the corta capin forced Benj onto his back after a swift underkick of a rasteira de costa took his ankle out from under him. Fane stood up and offered a hand, pulling Benj back up off the floor.
“Who taught you capoeira?” Benj asked while Fane gave him a moment to regain his breath.
“Metre Luiz Machado was a brigadier on base. He taught classes in the evenings and weekends,” Fane supplied. “He practiced for twenty-eight years.” Benj nodded, sucking on his mouthguard as he replaced it. “Where’d you learn Muay Thai? Your stance is superb, but your intuition needs help,” Fane asked.
“Learned from a patchwork of guys at an underground ring I’d contend in on weekends. One of the guys took me under his wing and taught me a couple of things. I was more the opener than the lead, but I made a bit of money, so there’s that. Practised at home and tried to figure the whole thing out,” Benj acknowledged his failings.
“That was you without Heinrich, then?” Fane asked. Benj nodded, once again replacing his mouthguard. “Hmph,” Fane shoved his mouthpiece against his teeth and grunted non-commitally. “Continue?” he mumbled around the plastic.
“Sure,” Heinrich smiled, flashing his mouthpiece in white.
They bumped fists again and returned to their starting positions. Fane was surprised at the difference he could see between Heinrich and Benj. His stance improved leaps and bounds.
Heinrich’s eyes tracked Fane’s sweeps intimately. He was less willing to bluff, instead waiting patiently for Fane to enter his space.
The jerky movements from before stabilized. Fane found the man to be much more competent, more brutal. He caught a solid knee to the shoulder. It hadn’t been what Heinrich was aiming for, but Fane had dropped fast enough to block his ribs.
Fane’s skin tingled under this new development. His eyes flashed silver on black as he watched and waited with anticipation. He didn’t notice Sophia at the monitor eagerly pointing out more information to Ishan as the battle raged. Ozone permeated the room. Sensors flickered and died on Sophia’s screen one at a time, racing up from the feet and hands. Heinrich and Benj had become one with the challenge of a decent opponent, and with that came the teeth and claws. Benj spat out the mouthguard, the wolf teeth miss-shaping the plastic. Fane checked himself, foregoing the headkicks he had been baiting with to open up Heinrich’s stance.
Bern and Dietrik shifted over to an unaware Ishan, ready to toss him at Fane. The crackle in the room was building. The blue connection orb glowed and hummed underfoot as the electricity from Fane shot through it. He rolled and span, legs looping in the air, electricity arcing with each movement as he dodged and lured Heinrich. The wolf sprang back from a front-hand spring to an ax kick that arced up to the ceiling beams, causing the lights to flicker.
“Hold!” Dietrik bellowed before the last five sensors were about to go. Heinrich bounced out of the ring as a burst of sizzling ozone punched through the space when Fane tried to root himself to the blue orb at the command. His skin crackled audibly in the space. He swung his eyes to the lead glendweller. He was barely breathing heavy at the exertion. His eyes flickered excitedly.
“Need a new batch of sensors!” Corbin motioned Fane toward the console. Fane looked down at himself and the peeling sensors. He went to touch a node, and electricity arched from it to his fingers and raced across the hair on his arms. He arched an eyebrow at Dietrik.
“Do you not notice that you’re doing that in the moment?” Bern asked from across the ring, wary of the smell of lightning.
Fane raised his arms up to look at his skin more closely. He glanced down the length of his chest as the peach fuzz slowly continued to ripple with static. He shrugged and yanked the ill-fitting mouthguard out. “How long was I all super-saiyan for?” He looked up, slightly amused at the situation.
Ishan approached Fane curiously and reached a hand out to touch his arm, “about half a minute”.
Fane scooted away from the fingers. “Have a feeling you probably don’t want to do that.” Fane smiled up at him, his eyes still set in their silver-on-black. Ishan returned the smile and reached in regardless. A long blue arch laced from Fane to Ishan. The snap was painful to hear. Ishan grunted, but pressed as the electricity spread and writhed between the two.
“That’s trippy but cool.” Ishan was amused with the skittering, visible electricity as he traced sparks across Fane’s skin.
Fane watched with rapt fascination as Ishan’s eyes shifted from their smooth amber to warm honey. The bodyguard’s focus had swung with a predator’s fixation from calculated battle to desire, and Ishan was his new mark. The world dissolved around him as they fell through a blue ring of light into Fane’s void.
Ishan glanced around at the dimmed room, not recognizing the location from Fane’s regular stage. It took him half a second to realize it was the hallway outside of the ballroom in the palace. He turned to find Fane watching him steadily, hungrily. The blood red and heavily embroidered gold kurta from the night of the party clung to defined muscle.
Gold bangles clinked at his wrist as he reached up to tunnel fingers into platinum blonde hair. Ishan melted at the heat of the fierce kiss Fane returned to him from that one night.
Fane pressed Ishan up against the wall of the marble hallway, his hands finding every sensitive place and defined muscle. Ishan’s skin was the texture of cream beneath his lips. Fabric scratched and slipped under his finger-pads as he traced and teased. The high hit his system like a flamethrower.
“Tell me something I’ve wanted to know since that night,” Fane’s voice echoed rough and low in the quiet space. Ishan’s reply strangled with need. “I looked into the colours, the jewellery, the embroidery that night when I left you.” He slipped buttons loose on Ishan’s kurta, exposing soft milk-tea skin to the dim light. Ishan inhaled sharply, his eyes flashing open as his heart fluttered in his chest. Fane nipped at his collarbone, ever aware of Ishan’s reactions in the space.
“I don’t remember there ever being a question, and I don’t remember giving an answer, but it seems you were making a statement.” Fane eased the hem of Ishan’s kurta, skirting the edge of his draw-string churidars to play across tight skin. “Does it still hold?” He glanced up at Ishan’s half-lidded eyes.
“You’re more to me than a passing fancy, or a bodyguard.” Ishan nipped at Fane’s ear as the redhead’s fingers travelled down to cup him gently.
Ishan trembled in his arms, and Fane couldn’t help but smile knowing he could do that to this man. “I’m drawn to you in a way I’ve never known. I want more time with you than I could ever have.” Fane brushed at the hardening length in his hand, pleased with the broken groan from his prince.
“Marry me, Fane Anson,” Ishan demanded, leaving no room for a question at his intention.
“If you’ll have a hood rat, gladly, Ishan Orlov.” Fane slipped the knot loose on Ishan’s churidars. The hallway spun away to leave them floating in darkness. Fingers dances across skin, pressing and pushing as heat barreled around them, searing their hearts. They lost themselves to sensation as they became one with each other. Soon they could no longer tell where one started and the other ended. Clothing fell away, leaving them revelling in the texture of each other. Ishan arched as Fane’s nails trailed down his chest as he pressed in.
A nagging sensation tripped across his nerve endings as Ishan wrapped tighter around him. He couldn’t place it as silken heat encompassed him, and a heavy weight settled into the heels of his feet. The numbing tingle of ecstacy ran across the webbing of his fingers. He was close, and the driving beat of Ishan’s heart and heat was calling to him, driving his craving to a scorching high. A slash ran across his brain just as he hit the edge. They were in his void, not on the outside. What was this in here? It was with great difficulty that he extracted himself from Ishan’s mewling groans.
He dropped them out of his void. They found their footing on the blue connector, Ishan’s caressing finger still trailing its path down his arm. The machine below their feet whirred frenetically. Fane drew in a ragged breath as his eyes found Ishan’s. Fire licked across their skin where electricity had just been. It coated them in a soft wave of white and blue. “How long were we out?” Fane whispered in the pitch-black room. He turned to search out Bern. As his gaze swept the dark room he took in the state of the glendwellers, Corbin, Sophia, before he locked onto the White Horse.
“Bingo! The door hit an activation sequence! Wait…it’s not…it’s not holding, crap.” Sophia returned to her furious typing after her excited outburst.
The White Horse looked worse for wear. He turned to plant himself behind the console before regarding Fane with barely concealed need. “Not more than a couple of seconds.” Bern ran trembling fingers through his hair and tried to gain his breathing.
“Dietrik?” Bern turned to the quivering leader who was holding onto his mate like his life depended on it. Feral glowing eyes met Bern’s question.
“I haven’t felt a call like that in centuries. I almost wondered if I had been imagining it,” Dietrik growled between sharp teeth.
Fane glanced between the two with growing concern. “Call?” Fane knotted his fingers with Ishan’s nervously. The flames slowly receded with his sudden concern. The lighting lifted in the space back to the regular bright intensity. He blinked up at the fluorescent lights, confused.
“I’m amazed at how much you are capable of doing in such a short period of time. Let alone your complete inability before now,” Dietrik eyed Fane warily. Fane shifted uncomfortably at that accusation. The destruction at Sanguis came to mind. “You would have shown potential at the age of ten or eleven, something, any one of these would have triggered then in short inconsistent bursts. You can’t tell me you don’t remember ever being able to do this before. Your control is sloppy but incredibly strong for an unknown Red Hare lineage.” Dietrik came around Sibor and approached Fane with a line of frustration running through his shoulders.
Fane’s heart was in his throat. The wolf’s eyes glowed brilliantly like headlights on a wet road at night, and he could feel the crawl of that gaze sweep down his skin like razor blades. Fane subtly tugged Ishan behind him, the hairs on his arms rising at the approach of the leader. “What was it? What pushed you? Think to damn it!” Dietrik reached for Fane’s shoulder. Fane’s fingers wrapped around the leader’s throat so fast no one registered what had happened. Shadows flared out and danced across the room as the room pitched and groaned under a sudden encompassing layer of ice. Ishan and Dietrik plunged into Fane’s void.
Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.
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