Brothers by Design 4:
Testing Your Wings

by Fur and Fantasy
PG for Gen
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

"Good afternoon, Father." Kell smiled warmly at the tall blue Dracon in the milling, organized chaos of the meal hall.

"Good Afternoon, Kell." Korim smiled back. "How are lessons going today?" He asked as he gestured for the young feline to join him.

"Very well." He sat and relaxed as his food appeared. "I was wondering if it would be okay if Nathan and I go to that waterfall pool you to me too my first day."

 "You'll need someone to fly you there." Korim pointed out. "Have you asked anyone?"

"Actually I checked out the trajectory and winds, and I know enough air magic to get there and back on my own wings."

"Your own wings?" Korim asked, looking at the young feline curiously. "I didn't realize your transformation studies at gotten that far along."

"They haven't." He shook his head, suddenly realizing that his father didn't know the extent of his natural shifting abilities. "One of my natural forms is a gray Dracon-kin."

"Grey?" Korim asked, suddenly a good deal more interested.

The kit nodded and paused in his meal, a touch unnerved by the sudden attention. "Would you like to see it now?"

"After lunch will be soon enough." Korim nodded easily. "And not right here." He added, as he reached into the Great Library and accessed the records on the only world known to have Gray Dracons.

"Yes, father." He responded easily and almost reflexively, turning his attention to the food that was still something he relished three or even four times a day.

The two ate quietly, with half of the Blue Dracon's attention on the survey report on Tyraxis, a world in a very distant part of the multiverse. His aunt had surveyed the world in the previous cycle, and he wondered what it was like now almost twenty millennia later. Would the strange polarized world be as slow changing as Draconea, or would its lack of StarFire's gentle guidance make it more volatile.

He was still musing when he realized that Kell had finished and was waiting patiently for him.

"Let's go to my study." Korim said, as he stood from the table and led the way to his office, his younger son padding along at his heals.

"Okay, lets see this Grey Dracon form." Korim said gently, once they were in his office.

Kell nodded and relaxed into his largest form. Still lanky in early adolescence and Kell's natural build, the fine-scaled gray Dracon-kin was definitely only kin. His wings were wide and the leather connected to his back all the way down to the upper part of his whip-like tail.

He looked up at his father with bright blue eyes, distinctly different from the rich orange ones of his Felsin forms. Despite the biped nature of the form, it's forward angled stance and strongly back-hinged legs was more reminiscent of a True Dracon standing upright than a Dracon's nearly perfectly vertical posture.

"Very close." Korim nodded. "The color is definitely the same. The only question remaining is how." He said quietly thinking out loud. "Does this form glide or is it a true flyer?" He asked as he looked over the large form.

"A glider, but I ... know ... I will be able to fly when I'm older." He said a little uncertainly. "I'm not too sure how I know."

"Probably the way Dracons know how to glide without being taught, or the way Felsin shifters know how to change from one form to another." Korim said reassuringly. "Some things nature just gives us, whether it's instinct or racial knowledge is hard to say. But it doesn't matter." He said with a gentle smile. "What you may not know is that Grey only occurs in Dracon or Dracon-kin on one world in all the worlds we've explored in the multiverse. In Dragon-kin it's almost as rare."

"I have noticed." He said quietly. "I haven't worn it before ... kind of for that reason."

"You really don't need to worry." He smiled. "You are who you are regardless of coloration. Shapeshift doesn't really faze Dracons since shapeshift doesn't change a person's aura, which is quite visible to Dracons and is as unique as fingerprint or the pattern of a tiger's stripes." He added reassuringly. "It's just very odd that such genetics would be in your makeup, I'm quite sure the SG does not have access to Tyraxis. I think part of your heritage may be courtesy of Caito." He chuckled lightly.

"I wouldn't be surprised." He smiled faintly and shifted back to his default half-breed Felsin form. "Just including Dracon in a Gen 0 mix is not done. It either destabilizes the mix, or it breaks sections of any programming, like loyalty. It's not done intentionally anymore."

"I don't think it was ever done intentionally." Korim said easily. "Dracons are linked on a level that the SG wouldn't want. And we are a stubbornly independent bunch, not a trait that goes well with the blind loyalty such people desire." He chuckled. "And I don't think there's been a Gen 0 yet that Caito didn't tamper with." He said thoughtfully, and then wondered about another power signature he'd seen in his son's aura during the shift. Not the subtle mischievous signature of Caito but of someone else, more powerful and more subtle, but more importantly not one he recognized easily.

"I'm not surprised." Kell snickered. "He's left his signature on everyone of Felsinor, it wouldn't be right to leave the Gen 0's alone."

"Oh, the Gen 0's would've had his signature from the shapeshifting he gave all Felsin in the beginning, but he's always considered the Gen 0 projects as something of a challenge to Felsira's role as creator of the Felsin. And he never ignores such challenges." Korim chuckled. "Thus the signatures from very recent actions."

"No good trickster does." He grinned back. "It's part of the package."

"As much as anything can be said to be standard about tricksters." Korim chuckled. "They do hate to be predictable."

"Including being unpredictable."

"Though I've never heard of one who could truly be called anything but unpredictable." Korim smiled.

Kell nodded, not having head of one but sure they'd hate being call it all the same.

"But back to your request." Korim said easily. "Have you ever flown carrying anyone before?"

"No one as heavy as Nathan," he acknowledged. "I probably shouldn't test the theory with him either."

"At least not without having someone present who can back you up if things go wrong." Korim suggested. "I suggest you talk to Altos, he's the flight instructor. His office is the top floor of the northwest tower."

"I will, father." He nodded politely. "Assuming Nathan wants to come."

"That would be the other important question." Korim nodded. "Though he likes the water nearly as much as you do." He added with a smile.

"Yes, but he is still very ... sensitive ... about his lack of shifting ability." Kell said quietly. "He may not want to be around the reminder I have wings and he doesn't."

"Wings or not, it's still you." Korim said reassuringly. "You may just have to accept a little moodiness while he adapts to the idea that you can shift, and he can't. Given his heritage, its something of a disappointment for him. But I think the strength of your relationship will get the two of you past just about anything."

"Oh, yes." He nodded easily. "But part of that strength is not making a point of bringing up things we know upsets the other. Assurances that he is still young and it is far from a settled thing with his heritage don't help much. So I don't shift around him much."

"Which probably helps a great deal." Korim nodded. "But I expect he thinks about it regardless, especially with what Cazi was capable of. If he hasn't shown any sign of shifting by the time he reaches physical maturity, I'll look into it more closely then."

"With three parents that could, the odds of it not manifesting in him naturally is fairly low." Kell nodded slowly.

"Though my information suggests that Cazi wasn't a shifter until his late teens." Korim said reassuringly. "Perhaps he takes after him in that way, though I expect that would be of little reassurance."

"It's not." Kell smiled weakly. "He's not fond of the reminders he's maturing slowly either."

"In some respects he's maturing much like a Dracon." Korim said simply. "Intellectual maturity coming ahead of the rest."

"While I'm physically ahead of all but a handful of other Gen 0's." He nodded. "I'll see if that perspective helps him any when it comes up next. It might. He likes the thought of taking after Cazi a bit more than he can see right now."

"It probably wouldn't hurt." Korim nodded. "Just remember that if he's maturing like a Dracon, sexual maturity will come late for him as well." He said gently. "Just as it will probably come early for you."

"I've noticed." Kell nodded seriously. "I've kinda made a point of socializing with the Adepts because of that. No one in my classes is noticing that stuff yet."

"They wouldn't." Korim nodded. "Dracons are usually a couple decades behind most races in that regard. This is not a problem, since very few Dracons travel much before the age of fifty."

"I can hardly blame them, with what is here." He smiled softly. "It takes a while to take in what's local, before getting curious about what's out there, even for an explorer."

"And with some students we have to actively encourage them to travel." Korim chuckled. "To see the world beyond the bounds of castle and books."

"Some days I think we'll be among them," Kell sighed and glanced out the window. "And some days I can't wait to get out." He shook his head slowly. "It's an odd feeling."

"Not surprising, considering you're not from here originally. And more importantly 'outside' is still something new to you, and novelty has an attraction." Korim said easily.

"It's also where danger is." He said quietly. "There is safety here, but I ... I don't really belong where it's safe. I can feel it, even more than the call of the open sky and clear water. I've got a purpose, and it's not here, and it's not safe." He dropped his eyes to the clean stone floor warn smooth by generations of Dracons walking on it. "Some days I can't wait for it. Some days I remember where I've been out there, and I never want go out there again."

"And what purpose would that be?" Korim asked quietly.

Kell looked up again, out the window. His gaze was distant, for all that his attention was on his father.

"I don't know, father. I can only feel it, that there is something important ... something specific ... that I'm meant to do or be. Sometimes I can almost name it. Every thing I learn, each new field, brings it a little more into focus."

"Just be careful with purposes that come from outside." Korim cautioned. "We are meant to choose our own paths in life, not to let them be chosen for us. The future is fluid and indeterminate, nothing in it is certain until it happens."

"I know father." He nodded. "For now, it is nothing more than a desire to learn." He smiled faintly. "It may just be the fact that I was created to have a very specific purpose, and now I'm trying to find one, now that what I was is no longer what I'm going to be. Createds like me, like the NightBlades, don't ... we were created to do a specific thing. It's part of our nature to have a purpose, a focus. You can take the sniper out of me, but not the nature that made it possible to be a perfect one. The drive to have a focus and be the very best at it." He met his father's eyes. "Am I making any sense?"

"Yes, you are." Korim smiled. "And from what we've heard, something the NightBlades struggled with after they 'retired'. How to have a 'normal' life, and ignore the drive that was imposed on them. Of course, that in itself was a focus." He chuckled.

"It sounds like limbo." Kell said quietly. "I don't intend to live in limbo."

"Not limbo, but the struggle to reclaim themselves from anything the SG had imposed on them." Korim said simply. "Some struggles are simply more difficult than others. And worthwhile ones are always difficult. However, what we make of ourselves is a choice that must be made for ourselves."

He nodded, slowly considering a statement that only kind of made sense to him. "And made when one is ready."

"Exactly, choices made prematurely are rarely made well." Korim nodded. "And few choices need stand for an entire lifetime. There is always time to reconsider a choice."

Kell nodded again, his mind swimming with the information and implications of what had come from a simple request to go outside for awhile.

"I'm going to see if Nathan wants to go with me." He said in the momentary silence, not wanting to have any more to think about just yet.

"Try the southeast tower, I know he was planning on talking to Seeress Derlawney, and she's usually in the Observation Tower this time of day." Korim suggested.

"Thank you, father." He inclined his head. "I will let you know if he is coming with me or not." He promised before leaving to seek his brother out.

Kell's breath caught at the vistas visible past Nathan's small frame at the highest point of the entire castle, the Observation Tower.

The small Tiger was standing at the west side of the Tower leaning on the balcony and looking out over the mountains through the magical shields that made falling from the Tower impossible without blocking the view like a physical wall. He seemed unaware of Kell's presence, or much of anything else.

It was a rare enough occurrence to strike the spotted kit as unnatural and set all his senses on alert for what was wrong as he slowly approached his friend.

"Hi, Kell." Nathan said quietly, when his friend had got considerably closer.

"Hi," he edged closer, seeking a scent clue as to what was up. "Something happen?"

"You might say that." Nathan said quietly, his scent a subdued mix of the longing and pain that usually came from discussing his parents. "Friend of Cazi's stopped by to see me."

"Oh," Kell nodded and slipped behind his friend to wrap the other kit in a supportive hug. "Was there anything good of it?"

"Kind of." Nathan said thoughtfully. "It was like meeting a cousin I never knew I had. He showed me how to turn memories into three dimensional pictures you can look at with your eyes, and how to clear up the fogginess that memory gets with time. He even showed me some pictures of Cazi when he was my age."

"It sounds like it was a good meeting, overall." Kell nodded against Nathan's darker fur. "Was he a short kit?"

"He was at the time." Nathan smiled thoughtfully. "But he's as versatile a shifter as Cazi, so he is what he wants to be. But I think that was his 'normal' form."

"As versatile as Cazi?" He looked at his friend very curiously. "Nate ... no mortal is that versatile."

"Who said it was a mortal?" Nathan said quietly. "It was Caito."

"He was that close to Cazi, that he's your cousin if a sort?" Kell asked quietly, accepting the identification without question.

"It's how it felt." Nathan explained. "He just seemed more like someone I could hang out with. Cousin was the best word I could come up with, 'cause he just visits so he's not a brother." The young Tiger said, trying to explain something that he'd gotten to by feeling not logic. "And he and Cazi are that close, at least on a relationship level."

"Did he say why he didn't help you or Cazi when all that went down?" Kell asked gently.

"Something big was going down on the celestial level." Nathan nodded. "Had been for about four years when Maxwell happened, and only just cleared up."

"Sounds like a really nasty round of Power politics." Kell tried to smile and be at ease about it. "At least you have him on your friends list now."

"Apparently, I always did." Nathan chuckled weakly. "I guess he used to visit when I was real little, but I don't remember it very well." He shook his head. "It was just weird, him walking in through the wall here, like it wasn't here."

"I bet." Kell nuzzled his friend. "Did he say if he'd come by often?"

"No promises." Nathan grinned. "But I wouldn't be surprised. Though he did say he couldn't think of a safer place to be."

"Can't say I disagree. Even if something happens, you know father will fix it quite permanently." He giggled. "I like that feeling."

"And I don't know of anyone stupid enough to try and mess with the defenses of both the Castle and the planet." Nathan snickered. "Even the Mephits don't try that."

"Though you have to admit it would be a suitably explosive end to that threat to the Alliance. Mother StarFire would never tolerate it."

"Of course, I don't think they'd get so close." Nathan nodded. "One or more of the True Dragons would be on them as soon as they entered the system."

"Debatable which would cause more explosions. That they had the audacity to try, or that they got that far into the Alliance." Kell shook his head and snickered. "I think it'd cause quite a backlash."

"Well, I suppose they might have some sort of magic cloaking that could get a small number of ships past Alliance detection." Nathan said thoughtfully. "Not too many or the amount of magic in the cloaking would itself be detectable."

"And it's not our worry for a few decades." Kell said firmly, as much to himself as his friend. "We have better things to do, like go to the waterfall lake I told you about."

"Oh, who'd you talk into flying us there?" Nathan asked curiously.

"Umm, I'm going on my own wings." He said quietly. "If you wanted to come, the flight instructor will probably take you, or maybe one of the others." He shuffled a little. "I wasn't sure if you'd even want to come."

"Your wings?" Nathan asked curiously looking at him. "Feeling like playing with transformation magic?"

"Natural form." Kell shook his head, his voice low. "I'm a shifter."

"You are, that's great." Nathan said, clearly trying very hard to happy for his best friend like he knew he should be. But it was hard to miss the pain lying beneath the surface. The pain of a long-standing frustration thrust to the forefront again.

"Thanks," he hugged the other kit. "You'll come into yours. We just don't know when."

"We don't know if." Nathan said quietly. "There's no guarantees. After all, sixty percent of Felsin don't shift." He mumbled.

"Sixty percent of Felsin do not have three gifted shifters as parents." Kell reminded him. "The odds that you did not inherit some shifting ability is bordering on impossible. There is no where for it to come from."

"At least one of Cazi's parents wasn't a shifter, didn't even have the shifter gene." Nathan pointed out. "I'm not sure about Mother's parents."

"Those genes weren't passed on." Kell sighed. "It's your parents that count. A shifter can hardly pass on a non-shifter gene."

"With Gen 0 engineering in the mix?" Nathan shook his head. "No one knows what is possible, it wasn't supposed to happen. I wasn't supposed to happen." He muttered frustrated. It was the same frustration he'd felt since he'd become stuck in Felsin form. The same pain that he'd felt that one time he'd met his mother's father and learned that in some people's eyes he was a freak.

"Nathan, father is so convinced that you are a shifter that if it doesn't happen naturally he's going to find out why."

"Father doesn't like the universe to prove him wrong." Nathan smiled weakly. "And he's more than willing to argue with it."

"He's good at winning too." Kell hugged him. "You'll see, it'll come in time. And father said that you're aging like a Dracon, so it might be ... well, a lot longer than it'll take me for you to mature. Shifting comes with adolescence as often as earlier."

"Guess that's not surprising." Nathan sighed leaning into the hug. "Caito did say I reminded him of Cazi, though he didn't explain why."

"Could be anything, or everything." He nuzzled the bigger kit. "Sometimes reminders are little things. Or maybe it's just your spirit."

"Well, its obviously not big things." Nathan chuckled. "I sure don't look like him, except maybe height-wise."

"And slow maturity." Kell grinned a bit. "Sense of humor too."

"Well, if I've got a Dracon's growth rate, I can expect a growth spurt around twenty-five." He snickered.

"Maybe you will, and maybe I'll manage not to be the shortest adult in the entire castle." Kell smirked at him. "That would be nice, I think."

"We're in a castle full of Dracons." Nathan smirked. "I think one or the other of us is always going to be shortest adult here."

"Yeah, I know. Kinda funny though." He grinned. "We're the smallest, and probably the most powerful in potential."

"Which is saying something considering some of the power here." Nathan nodded.

"Many of those have less potential, but much more training, so they can do a lot more than us for now. We can hardly compare to the skill of centuries of practice."

"But there's still some with incredible potential beyond their centuries of practice. Says something when you can be practicing for centuries and still not have fully exploited your potential."

"Not uncommon with Nobles. I think." Kell paused, trying to think of just what percentage of Nobles could say that. "I think at least your Psi potential is even greater than my magical one."

"If I take after Cazi or mother that's not surprising." Nathan chuckled lightly. "Of course, if I have Cazi's psi-gifts I won't read people very well, but I'll be able to use the computer in our room without touching it."

"Either would be very cool." Kell grinned. "Maybe you'll even have both."

"Well, I guess that's on the wait and see list." Nathan shrugged.

"Yeah." He moved closer to draw Nathan close. "Want to go outside for a while?"

"Sure." Nathan said easily.

"Cool. Lets go track down that instructor." Kell grinned and headed off with the Tiger in tow.

Brothers by Design 4: Testing Your Wings

PG for Gen

24 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written March 29, 2004 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Todd McCall

Setting: Galactic Alliance

Primary Races: Dracon, Felsin

Contents: Furry. Gen. Alternate Universe

Blurb: Kell forgets that his Father doesn't know everything about him, and a simple request to go outside for a few hours turns into a rather serious conversation.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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