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Chapter 4

The next day brought a scare from the border. Three Cheveyos raced into the main building during breakfast howling about a perimeter breach. They raced up to the table where Alye and Dayn sat eating their breakfast, and then everything was a flurry of movement. Taru had never seen any group move so fast and manage to be so coordinated at the same time. They raced around gathering weapons and shields. Jaki raced over to the table where Taru was sitting and pulled her out of the main building.

“We need to get out of their way Taru, I’m not a fighter, and you aren’t ready yet, so we’re going to go back to the infirmary and get ready in case there are any casualties.” Jaki didn’t release her hand until they reached the small building that she had been staying in since she had arrived here, and Taru focused on helping the older woman. They gathered bandages, warmed water, and prepared for the worse case scenario.

“Only twice has a perimeter breach been an actual issue, but both times were nasty.” Jaki informed her. Taru didn’t want to guess what qualified as nasty when Jaki barely flinched when she saw Taru’s numerous scars. A young girl burst into the infirmary after a short while and scared a year off Taru’s life.

“It’s ok, it was just Nikkaron, making sure the perimeter was up to snuff. You know how he is. I think Dayn wanted to hit him, but we proved that we can do a good job.” The young girl breathed out. Taru remembered the name from the conversation with Hawk the previous day, but she didn’t have any idea who this Nikkaron was. Jaki, who had a disturbing knack for knowing what Taru was thinking, answered her unspoken question with a cryptic response.

“Oh, you’ll like Nikkaron, he’s a real rebel. Even more then we are.” She smiled, and again drug Taru from a building. She was pulled back to the building she had just left and huffed at Jaki. She did not appreciate being led around like a pet. Jaki had the temerity to smirk at her, and lead her to the main table.

“Taru hasn’t met Nik yet, so she gets to sit here. No arguments guys.” Jaki pushed her into a seat then, and Taru glared up at her. Sometimes she hated being the newest person at the camp. Other times however it was a boon, because not very many people knew her, and so most left her alone. She was surprised when the doors burst open and a loud laughing man entered. He was tall and had wild dark brown hair running down his back. His eyes were almost the same color, and he had a tanned and muscular arm thrown over Dayn’s shoulder.

“Like I said Dayn, it’s a good idea to keep them on their toes. You never know when a perimeter breach is going to happen for real.” The stranger, Nikkaron, smiled and leaned over to kiss Alye’s cheek. “And how you are love? Been getting into much trouble since I’ve been gone?”

Alye blushed and slapped Nikkaron’s arm. No trouble happens when you aren’t here Nik, didn’t you know that? Alye’s mental speech was one of the clearest Taru had ever heard. The deep and slightly rough voice was understandable even when she wasn’t “speaking” directly to you. Taru was a little jealous of her ability, but would never tell anyone that. She was still trying to break the conditioning that made her afraid to speak with her mind. She couldn’t help but smile at the antics of the new man. Jaki seemed to know very well when she told her that she would like Nikkaron. He was young, much younger then most of the leaders of the rebellion, and he was handsome in an unconventional way. Taru had the strange thought that she had seen him before, but she knew that was impossible.

The three who had just entered sat around the table, and Nikkaron smiled brightly when he saw Taru seated at the table. She couldn’t help but smile back. The man had an intense amount of charisma. There were five other people who sat around the table, but Taru didn’t recognize any of them. Jaki and many others had pulled up chairs and sat huddled around the large head table. Alye and Dayn quieted the room with some soft mental touches, and turned to Nikkaron.

As you all surely know by now, Nikkaron was the one to test the border. He is back for a month this time. For those of you that do not know who he is, I will let him speak for himself as he so loves to do. Dayn spoke first, and there were a lot of giggles around the room at his last comment. Obviously a lot of people knew Nikkaron very well.

“Aw Dayn, you truly love me.” Nikkaron smiled and received the second punch of the day from one of the twins. “I do see some new faces here, and so I’ll be quick, as I don’t want to bore you all. I’m Nik, only my mother and the twins call me Nikkaron. I was born in the compound, but not as one of you. My mother is Regina, one of the two commanders of the compound. I spent my whole young life being told anyone there was under me, worthless, to be hated, but when I met Dayn I knew that all was a lie.” He smiled, and suddenly Taru understood the banter between the two.

“When I mentioned Dayn to my mother, she had him sent out to be killed. Alye with him, as they worked as a pair, and Rederick, my uncle didn’t want to bother with an angry sibling. I was able to help them escape, and fooled my mother in the process. I helped them found a small base here, and since then I’ve been their eyes and ears in the compound.” Nik looked at Dayn again, and Taru was flooded with a sense of jealousy. She had never been looked at in that way by anyone. The love reflected in Nik’s eyes was so deep Taru wondered how he was ever able to leave Dayn’s side.

Taru watched mummers race around the room, apparently in the time Nikkaron had been away there had been quite a few new people to join the camp. Taru was glad she wasn’t the only one who didn’t know this story. She wanted to ask questions, but with this many people she was nervous about the control she had. The more time she spent here, the more she came to realize how silly it was that she didn’t use her mental voice. Anyone else who was unable to vocalize in another way had no qualms of speaking that way, and Taru decided it was time for her to get over that particular issue. There was some more discussion that took place, but most of it was lost on Taru, she spent the whole time watching the interlay between Nikkaron and Dayn. The fact that they were both men didn’t bother her at all. She knew it was not encouraged in Malaquent, and she had heard rumors that in other countries it was even forbidden, but she had never understood how someone could tell you whom not to love.

The meeting was short, and as the people slowly moved from the building to go back to whatever they were doing before the rather unsettling interruption. Taru remained at the table, wanting to ask questions, but still too shy to do so. She hoped that Jaki would stick around and do the talking for her. She knew she was coming to rely on her friend in that way too much, but she really didn’t care. Jaki thankfully stayed, and sat when a chair became available at the table. Alye left, but Dayn remained seated next to Nik, and Taru could see that their hands ere intertwined under the table. Nikkaron, this is Taru, she is the newest person we have been able to get out of the compound. She should be starting sparring lessons with you and Hawk tomorrow. Taru was glad that Dayn introduced her, but she was less pleased to hear that she was having another lesson with Hawk. She had hoped that she would have a little more time off before being put through that again. She was less angry after Nik sent her another brilliant smile, and she guessed that there were worse things that she could be doing.

“It’s very nice to meet you Taru. I’m guessing you’re some form of a mind speaker?” Taru was surprised at his observation, but nodded. He didn’t seem to be bothered that he didn’t reply more then that. She had found that most of the people in the camp were very open to however you wanted to communicate. The only people who didn’t like the fact that she didn’t speak much were the ones who couldn’t see. Apparently she made them nervous. One of the few visually impaired people, who liked Taru, was Hali. She was a truth seer, and she didn’t need Taru to speak at all to know what she was saying.

“She also has mage ability Nik.” Jaki stated proudly and Taru blushed as much as her deeply tanned skin would allow. She was pleased that her friend was proud of her, but she was deeply embarrassed by the comment. Her filures at mage gift were not something that she wanted to talk to Nik about. He seemed slightly impressed by the statement, but didn’t say anything more. Taru turned to Jaki and hoped that the other girl got that she wanted more information about Nik. She couldn’t understand how someone who wasn’t trained in the compound would be willing to join this strange rebel group. Even his love for Dayn didn’t explain why he was still helping the rebels in the way that he was. His life was in danger every moment he was away from the camp. Taru couldn’t fathom how someone could choose to live that way. If she had any choice in the matter she would be as far away from this mess as possible. Her debt to Dayn and the rebels would not allow this however, and she was resigned to that fact.

Jaki didn’t get the message, or chose not to send it on. Taru had a feeling that Jaki had been told to stop talking for her all the time. She figured that since there were only a few people in the room that her control would be enough to voice to them all. She took a deep breath, and centered herself.

Thank you for your welcome. It is surprising to me to see someone like you here with us. Taru found it was hard to focus her thoughts enough to speak them, and she hoped that it was not another thing that would be difficult for her always. She was frustrated enough with everything else that she was failing at. Dayn smiled a little at her mental speaking, and she knew that he was worried about her lack of communication. She thought he might have been the one to tell Jaki to not talk for her. She tried to be happy that she had managed to speak without an intense emotion fueling it but she didn’t find any joy yet. Maybe she would be unable to feel happiness ever again. The thought sobered her, and Nik frowned at her sudden brooding look.

“Well when something horrible is going on right in front of you, you’ve got two choices. You can ignore it and contribute to it, or you can choose to do something about it, and help solve the problem. I know I chose a rather, intense, path but I wouldn’t change what I have done for all the riches in the world.” Nik spoke with such conviction that Taru felt drawn into his words. If this man spoke of something he was passionate about, it was almost impossible not to listen. “My mother tried to keep me from being who I was meant to me, but she failed. I saw the truth no matter how hard she tried to hide it. What Malaquent is doing is wrong. The Compound has been bastardized from its true purpose so horribly only a hint of what it was made for remains.”

Taru had no idea what he was talking about, but he didn’t continue, and she didn’t have the courage to ask him to explain more. It was apparent that most of the people in the room knew more then she did, and that annoyed her a little, but it also made her that much more resolved to improve her knowledge of where she came from. Apparently there was a lot about the Compound that she didn’t know, and she wondered what she would learn. She could only see the place in one of two ways, it was her home of ten years, but it was also a prison that stole her life, and broke her spirit. She didn’t miss it, but she did. The thoughts she had about the place confused her so much, and she hated it. If she could just hate the place life would be so much easier.

Nikkaron talked about his mother for a little, and then smiled to everyone.

“Alright folks, I’ve been gone three months, there’s some things Dayn and I need to catch up on.” Taru had no questions about what those things were and she found herself blushing again. Nik caught her blush and smiled hugely at her, as he led a fully compliant Dayn off towards the second floor.

Onto Chapter 5

 Malaquent is completely fictional, any relationship to real people, places, or events is purely coincidental, and is in no way ment to offend. All pictures of the Cheveyos are Emy Rothenberger. Any use of names, places, or images from these pages is strictly prohibited. Other images may be other artists, and all rights belong to those artists. Use without permission is prohibited.