By The Dragons of Trikell
by Fur and Fantasy
PG-13 for Gen
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

"*Good morning, little one.*" A completely unfamiliar but warm and caring female mind gently touched his when he was awake but pretending not to be.

He didn't know where he was. He didn't know who this was. He was sure, however, that he was a long ways from Citadel. He was resting in a nest of silky cloth ribbons and feathers, with a large, warm-blooded creature covered with fine scales cradling him between it's ... her ... forelimbs.

"*I know you are awake.*" She added with a trace of amusement.

Nathan's first reaction was to bolt and scramble away. He was half surprised that the dragon-kin did nothing to stop him. Her scales were deep blue metallic and the mane that trailed down her long slender neck like a horse's mane was an even darker blue and she regarded him calmly with unnaturally bright eyes. Her wings were folded along her flanks and back in a gossamer cape.

For all he knew these were the offworlders he'd heard controlled Citadel. He'd heard other kits talk, and nobody knew what they looked like. He quickly surveyed the area looking for exits and found two windows large enough for the dragon-kin to crawl threw, they were open. Two much larger sets of double doors were present, but closed. The room itself was sparsely decorated and furnished, but what was there was colorful, fanciful and of very high craftsmanship.

"My name is Tal'srt'a Mython, Nathan SwiftClaw. You are welcomed to call me Tala, however." The dragon-kin spoke out loud in a softly rumbling voice that was much like her mental voice.

"Who are you?" Nathan asked, dropping to the defensive stance his father had taught him. "What are you?" He asked, not recognizing her from any of the pictures Cazi had shown him of the various Alliance races. "Where is this place?" He asked, annoyed at having been abducted before he'd been able to work out an escape plan from Citadel.

"I am First Seer to the Queen Mother of Trikell. An advisor to Her Majesty. I am a Drakon, though we are of no real relation to the Dracon of Queen StarFire of Draconea. This is my sleeping den in the Royal Spires of Trikell." She answered easily and relaxed her very dragon-like form in the nest of feathers and cloth ribbons. "You did not belong where you were."

"No kidding." Nathan snorted at the statement of the obvious. "I don't exactly belong here either." He said pointedly. "Why did you bring me here?"

"Because we have not found your family and I could not leave you there."

"Well, unless you're looking in the afterworld, you're not gonna find them anytime soon." Nathan growled. "My family is dead."

"Not exactly." Tala said a bit cryptically. "It will take some time to sort that out, however. In the meantime, you do need somewhere to grow up."

"So why'd you decide to help me?" He asked suspiciously. "There were lots of orphans at Citadel."

"Because you are unusually special." The edges of her mouth curled up slightly in a draconic smile. "You are strong enough to demand your freedom so intensely I heard it."

"Probably the last time I told an instructor off." Nathan smirked mischievously. "Grabbed his bullhorn and yelled right back at him."

"That is the spirit I just could not allow to be silenced." Tala dipped the tip of her sharply angular head slightly. "You deserve better, and the chance to heal."

"Heal?" Nathan looked at her curiously. "I already spent a week in the infirmary. I haven't got any more injuries."

"Your mind, your soul," she explained gently. "From the loss of your family."

"Oh." Nathan said quietly, trying to ignore the hurt that came every time he thought about them. The people at Citadel had told him that he was supposed to deal with the pain and move on. It wasn't the place of the living to waste time on the dead. "I'm supposed to be over that." He said quietly.

"Would you come here, little one?" Tala asked gently, her concern and desire to help singing loudly to his empathy.

There was a brief war between Nathan's suspicion of this entire situation and one of the things Ebon had taught him, which was when your head isn't sure go with your heart. His heart was telling him that this Tala was okay, even though his head still had serious reservations. Eventually, he slowly walked back over to her and looked at the nest uncertainly when she patted the space between her forepaws.

"Come, let me keep you warm." She said softly, a bit of awkwardness at the traditional offer of comfort to a hatchling translated to this alien.

Nathan thought it was a strange thing to say, given that he wasn't cold, but he felt it was meant kindly enough. He walked over and sat down between the forepaws, though it was clearly a bit hesitant and his guard was definitely still up as she made a smaller nest of her forearms and the bedding, then gently licked his forehead with a slender, forked tongue.

"Grief takes it's own time to heal, Nathan." Tala crooned to him. "And it is a painful thing. But it is not as painful or injurious as not healing your heart from the loss of ones you love."

The little Tiger looked up at her, clearly a bit confused. He knew it was painful, but he just wasn't convinced it was going to heal. He'd been concentrating on just pushing the pain back far enough where no one at Citadel would see it.

"Oh, hatchling." Tala crooned sadly. "The pain will lessen in time as your heart and soul heal. Pushing it away only makes it worse in the long run. I do not wish you to hurt so."

"Why do you care?" Nathan asked suspiciously, though it was more honest confusion than accusation. No one but his family had ever cared about him, and he understood why they did; it was what family was about. No one since had really cared about him, as long as he did what they said. And if he didn't, they still didn't care, they just got mad.

"It is my nature to care." She smiled and nuzzled him gently. "Particularly about those who's distress can echo in my head so clearly as yours."

"I'm sorry." Nathan said quietly. "I'm not trying to be loud." He apologized, wondering if this was some set up to punish him for making an interplanetary racket.

"Don't be sorry, Nathan." She told him gently. "It was not your fault. The universe likes to point things out to me that it wishes me to attend to. It is rarely so personally involved as raising a youngster, but I can hardly object to it. You show so much promise they were destroying."

"They said I had a lot of promise too, if I'd just focus on my training properly." He muttered in annoyance. "Who needed to focus, they were just teaching stuff I knew already."

"And not teaching you what will help you grow into a strong, healthy young male."

"Oh, I think they had that down." He shook his head. "It was mostly exercise and combat routines, but my dad had already been teaching me self-defense."

"Healthy, Nathan." She sighed in something akin to frustration, though it was clearly not directed at him. "Mental health is at least as imortant as physical health, and your mental health was not being seen to."

"Oh, I don't think they cared as long as did as I was told." Nathan said curiously. "I still wasn't very good at that."

"I have little doubt." She chuckled and nuzzled him a little more. "You are not the obedient type. Intensely loyal when you decide to be, but never obedient."

"What they were telling me didn't make sense." He shook his head. "That I just needed to do as told, and not worry about the why of it. That 'why' was something that leaders worried about not followers. I didn't like that."

"Neither do I." She rumbled deeply, vibrating the entire nest.

"Seer?" A light female voice called from behind the closed door.

"I am fine, Kil'frs'mi." Tala called back.

"It's usually what got me in trouble." He shook his head. "I asked too many questions, according to them. But mother always said the only way to learn is by asking questions."

"Well, questions are encouraged here." Tala said firmly in a tone that brooked no argument. "And your mother is right, though I would add observation also being a valuable way to learn."

"I think she was trying to get me to talk at the time." Nathan smiled fondly, as his attention drifted away from the present and into memories. "I was a little slow actually talking, I kept using mind-speech."

"Ah," Tala nodded. "That makes sense. Kil'frs'mi Judyn is my Keeper. An aid who sees that I do not forget my other needs when my gifts keep too much of my attention. Your health is her concern as well, now."

"Sounds like Mother when Dad Cazi spent too much time tinkering in his workshop." Nathan smiled fondly, willing to take the pain with the good memories.

"Very likely, though she is younger than I." Tala chuckled and nuzzled him. "Not that I am at all old. Not even old enough to be a mother yet myself. Accepting the pain for the good memories is an excellent start, Nathan."

"Mother was younger than Cazi by a bit." Nathan said easily. "But dad Ebon was older than both of them, though you couldn't really tell."

"Yes, the fatherless one." She said with a faint smile. "He is quite extraordinary."

"Yeah, I miss him." Nathan admitted softly, something he couldn't remember saying before. He knew he shouldn't be admitting it to anyone, but still he needed to tell someone.

"It is natural to miss those you care for when they are gone." Tala told him gently.

"They said letting others know your feelings was a weakness." He said, clearly referring to the SG. "A weakness others would exploit."

"Only them and those like them." She told him firmly. "Knowing your feelings makes one less blindly obedient. It is the rare individual who can have full contact with their emotions and not let others know what they are feeling to some extent."

"They like blind obedience." Nathan muttered in annoyance. "Something Dad Ebon warned me about. Never follow blindly."

"Your father Ebon is a very wise cat." Tala nodded with a slight smile. "Here, even what looks like, and admittedly occasionally is, blind obedience is founded on trust and long experience with the one giving orders. It is personal, rather than official."

"That's more like my father's team." Nathan said quietly. "But its different when you know the person, and it's not just some random officer."

"Yes it it." She smiled and nuzzled him gently. "Random officers require respect and obedience, but not blindly."

"If you think they require respect, you haven't met the ones I have." Nathan snorted derisively.

"No, I haven't." She agreed quietly. "But here you will not find that kind. The Queen Mother simply would not permit it."

"That's good to know." Nathan said, a bit surprised. He wondered if they had more officers like his father, but he wasn't going to ask that right away. He wasn't really convinced he wanted to be military anymore, no matter whose military it was.

"Yes, though it is not something for you to concern yourself with for at least a decade, if not two." She informed him gently. "You are too young to be concerned with a career anytime soon."

"I am?" Nathan asked in surprise, looking at her curiously. "So what do I do for the next decade or two?"

"You learn." She smiled gently. "About people, your options, your gifts, what you enjoy and what you want of your life and your relationships. It is a time for self exploration under little pressure."

Nathan found that all very confusing. It didn't sound like meeting goals, completing tasks and all the other things the Citadel instructors talked about. "But isn't pressure the only way to find out what you're really capable of?" Nathan asked, remembering something all the Citadel instructors repeated daily.

"If you are seeking to find out what you can do under pressure, yes." She nodded slightly. "But 'under pressure' is not how one should live their life. Those who truly excel are doing what they love and are good at. You can not learn about those things under pressure."

"Oh." Nathan said a bit surprised. What Tala was saying was so completely opposite of what he'd been told for the last few months. It might be close to what his parents would say, but he just wasn't sure. They'd never talked to him about these things. He sighed, just wanting things to go back to the way they were before the universe had blown up on him. He closed his eyes like he had a hundred times before, wishing that all this would be a bad dream and that he'd find himself back home with everything the way it was supposed to be.

"That I can not do little one, but I will do my best to give you the opportunity for a good life as your parents would."

"I know, no one can." He sighed deeply. "I'm not even sure what a good life would be." He admitted, not sure what it could be with everything he knew gone.

"Oh, Nathan." Tala crooned softly. "That is what youth is for learning. But it is one where you are doing what you enjoy and are overall content with your life."

Nathan looked down and noticed for the first time that he wasn't wearing his uniform, but instead something much less restrictive. "Thank you for the new clothes." He said politely. "I didn't really like the uniform."

"I know," she nuzzled him and licked one ear with her slender tongue. "I am glad you like the new ones. I am afraid we have very little experience with clothing."

"Yeah, I can see that." He nodded. "So what's the weather like around here?" He asked curiously.

"The Spires are high in the mountains, so it is frequently foggy and chill. At least according to those who do not live here."

"Yeah, mountains can be like that." Nathan nodded. "The ones around home always got snow earlier than the valley did." He added wistfully.

"You will see them again." Tala promised. "When you are old and strong enough to stop the SG from capturing you again."

"I'm not sure I really want to." Nathan said quietly. "With everyone gone, it's just a place."

"But it is a place that is still important to you. That is not to be ignored for too long."

"I guess." Nathan said uncertainly. He wasn't sure that going back would be anything but painful. "I don't even know where it is exactly."

"It will come, in time." She said simply. "Do not worry about it much."

"Okay." Nathan said easily, not planning on worrying about it at all. There were other things to worry about, like what to do with himself for a couple of decades. He wasn't really sure that this self-exploration stuff would occupy quite that much time.

"Would you like something to eat?"

"Yes, please." Nathan said, as he realized that it was past meal-time, though he'd lost enough meals to his 'insubordinate' behavior to not notice just one.

"Do you like meat?" She asked quietly, honestly uncertain what a Felsin should eat.

"Yes, Felsin are carnivores by heritage." He smiled, surprised that he actually knew something she didn't. "Though we're more omnivores these days. Fancy way of saying we'll eat the plants as well as the animals." He snickered.

"That makes things easier. Do you prefer your meat cooked?"

"Definitely." Nathan said, not managing to hide the kind of grossed out look that the thought of eating uncooked meat caused. He knew shifters did that in Primal occasionally, but that was a different set of physical equipment entirely.

"Of course." She nuzzled him. "Kil'frs'mi!" She raised her voice into a deep rumble, at least to Nathan's ears, though he suspected it was light and feminine locally.

"Yes, Seer?" The smaller, slender dark blue female appeared almost instantly.

"Nathan eats meat and plants. See that the meat is well cooked." Tala instructed evenly.

"Yes, Seer." Kil'frs'mi bowed her head even lower before moving with quick grace from the room to carry out her orders.

"Thank you." Nathan said politely. Though thinking about Primals made him wonder if he'd ever get his shapeshift back. Mother hadn't been sure, but she said sometimes it took till maturity for the shift to kick in.

"You are welcome, little one. Everyone needs to eat. Do not be reluctant to say if something does not taste good. The kitchen has very rarely dealt with your kind of diet."

"Not many felines around I take it." Nathan said quietly. He'd never spent much time with non-Felines, well not counting that Cazi was half-Dracon, but he looked like a Felsin, most of the time. And everyone at Citadel was Felsin.

"We are the only common race on Trikell." Tala explained softly. "And we have very few visitors."

"You must be really out of the way then." Nathan said quietly, wondering just how far from Alliance space he was.

"What the Dracons told us, is that Trikell is in the far arm of the galaxy from the Mephit, their primary enemy."

"Well, being on the opposite side of the Alliance from the Mephit is a good thing." Nathan said easily. "But yeah, that's out a ways. I think that puts you on the far side of Dracon territory from everyone else in the Alliance."

"And well away from anyone else, as far as we know." She nodded easily.

"That must make contact rather difficult." He said curiously. It did explain why he'd never heard of them before though.

"I expect it would, if we hand any care to." Tala said softly. "We are not fond of travel."

"Oh, neither are the Ferrin." Nathan commented curiously, remembering Cazi talk about them. "Well, mostly. I guess mostly people go to them. Of course, that wouldn't exactly be easy as you're way out here and nobody knows that." He said wondering.

"Which suits us." Tala nuzzled him. "Aliens are not something we desire to see much of. Not yet at least."

"The SG doesn't much care for aliens either." Nathan said suspiciously, and then began to wonder why he was here if they didn't like aliens. He began to wonder if maybe this was some sort of simulator test, something to check his loyalty perhaps.

"The differences is in the why." Tala rumbled softly, controlling most of her reaction to being compared to the Shadow Government of Felsinor. "And how we are dealing with it. They are driven by fear and outside forces. We are simply not ready to become part of the greater society. Those aliens that come are not attacked or punished. We ask them to leave, when they can. The Dracon are very respectful of worlds not yet ready to look beyond themselves yet."

"Oh." Nathan said, uncertainly. Part of him was still a bit suspicious but another part was willing to let it pass if it was okay with the Dracons. He wasn't sure why, but he was pretty sure it had something to do with Cazi being part Dracon.

Before Tala replied, the largest double door opened to admit Kil'frs'mi and her burden, a covered tray that emitted very intresting smells of many things, but primarily a large piece of cooked meat.

"Your meal, Nathan." the smaller Drakon spoke respectfully as she set the tray on the table.

"Thank you." He said very politely, remembering his mother's instructions on good manners. He lifted the cover to let his nose get a better sample of the smells of fresh roast fowl, fresh fruit and vegetables in a cream sauce.

"You are welcome, Nathan." She dipped her head and left them to their meal.

"This is good." Nathan said between bites. Though half of why it tasted good, was because it didn't have the unmistakable taste of the Citadel cafeteria.

"Excellent." Tala rumbled, passing the information on to the kitchen that they had done well.

"Guess maybe we're not quite so different after all." Nathan smiled. "Either that or you're cook made a really good guess."

"We are carnivores as well." Tala chuckled lightly. "Who eat some fruits and vegetables. We simply do not cook most of it."

"We don't usually eat uncooked stuff, except for shifters who occasionally eat uncooked stuff in Primal." Nathan nodded between bites.

"I am sure the kitchen will get used to it in time. It is not unknown, simply rarely used. Only a few dishes call for cooking like that."

"Well, they sure got it right this time." Nathan grinned, as he continued eating happily. It didn't take him long to finish the hearty portion.

"So, would you like to see the Spires?" Tala offered as she stretched in her nest.

"Sure." He said, happily full and willing to do some sightseeing.

"Is there anything that interests you in general?" Tala asked as she hopped from her nest to give him a good look at her sleek draconic body and the fact that her shoulder wouldn't reach a destron's. It also made it clear that she was larger than her servant.

"Before things fell apart I used to explore the valley we lived in, and swim in the lake." He said softly. "Uncle Tracker was teaching me to hunt, on the off chance that my shapeshift came back. He said hunting was an important Primal skill."

By The Dragons of Trikell

PG-13 for Gen

22 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Closed-Unfinished
Written April 29, 2004 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Todd McCall

Setting: Dragons of Trikell, Galactic Alliance

Primary Races: Drakon, Felsin

Contents: Furry. Gen. Alternate Universe

Pairings: None

Blurb: Nathan SwiftClaw has become the interest of more than just the Triad and the Star Palace. He has drawn the attention of a respected member of Trikell's Royal Court and spurred the actions of this reclusive and secretive world.

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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