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Chapter 1 edited

Today was the last day of Solstice 1.

The first of the three suns had successfully made the orbit to the planet's dark side without a catastrophic flare. There was a small festival planned for later tonight so that they could thank the Universe for sparing their new home. With the first sun on the opposite side of the planet, a rare delicacy would now bloom, and there would be a race to harvest it and bring back the delicious fruit. Cayleb's mouth watered at the thought. His family finished their supply earlier this year due to the extra guests that had stopped by to have their offspring blessed. This cycle was bountiful. His people had flourished in this new environment.

Not one of his people would ever take their new homeland for granted. They had learned a valuable lesson, one taught in bloodshed and destruction. Cayleb shook his head to clear his thoughts. It was much too early in the day to think of such hurt.

He walked across the open field, his palms outstretched, touching the waist-high blades of grass, the flowering plants, learning their makeup. A solid cool breeze whipped through the area stirring everything in its path. It felt good across his bare chest. He enjoyed listening to the sounds of life within the field. Brevas chirped as they flitted from tree to tree. Water rushed across rocks from the small stream that passed through the grassland up ahead. It teemed with fantastic fish and plant life that the new keepers of this land were still discovering and naming. Large tasty hoppers jumped in fantastic display as he moved through the meadow. A herding beast with newlings ate plants and shrubs close to the tree line.

Cayleb stopped walking and turned his head to the left. Smiling, he took off at a slow jog and launched himself into the air. He landed at the edge of the tree line that surrounded his home. Looking back, he was proud to see he had glided further today than ever before.

His father said that Gliders were revered on the home planet and came from a pure breed line of Raa-men. Cayleb was only half Raa-men. From his pure breed Raa-men father's side while his mother was pure breed Siam.

The story tells that his father was smitten with her as soon as she arrived from a neighboring kingdom. His father never stood a chance. His mother was a beauty to behold and had a regal grace about her. She was fiercely loyal and had fought by his father's side on numerous occasions.

Cayleb found out quite by accident he could glide. Gliding was a very rare trait. The hairy tufts under his arms hid small webbed flesh that acted like mini wings. He remembered first feeling them and being alarmed that he was suffering from some malformation. He suffered alone for an entire cycle, afraid to alert his parents until he saw if he got weak or sick. None of which happened. He continued to grow strong and healthy. Jumping from a high branch one late evening instead of landing, a gust of wind buffeted him into the lower tree limbs, where he crashed headlong onto the ground. His arms stuck out to his sides. The webbing stuck, fully opened. He studied it, touched it, and tried to force it closed. He could not go to his parents with his arms stuck out like a breva. His hearts raced as he tried to figure out what to do. Once he calmed down, he noticed that the webbing became pliable, and he was able to lower his arms again. He spent the rest of the day and many days after that jumping and gliding. His mother's cat-like bloodline already gave him many skills for jumping, climbing, balance, cunning, and speed. His father's superior bloodline gave him his larger size, healing abilities, ferocious fighting skills, and an unencumbered sense of duty. Cayleb looked around to make sure no one had seen him enter the wooded area.

Cayleb hurried along the path he memorized. From time to time, he climbed the trees to confuse anyone who might follow. After approximately five yerns, he veered right and came upon a large stone. He rolled the stone aside and stood at the small cave mouth. Ducking through the entrance, he turned and rolled the stone back into place. Cayleb blinked his eyes to adjust to the dark interior in stark contrast to the brilliant day it was outside. Squatting slightly, he made his way down the steep, rocky incline to the inner chamber. The air in this corridor was dusty and dry. He ran his hands lightly over the drawings on the walls, which were a mystery to him, written in some ancient language of another race. He wondered what happened to them. Did they die out or abandoned the planet for a more viable, race-sustaining one?

Once the corridor of rock opened up, the air was humid and warm, causing a sheen of sweat across Cayleb's body. At times like this, he was glad he had molted. Large mineral formations hung from the ceiling, and a pool of turbulent black water churned in the center. To his left and right were paths to other chambers. Many were still unexplored as of yet.

He sat next to the pool and watched the glassy surface of the water intently. His yellow eyes dilated as he searched the surface, waiting. He found that he enjoyed the solitude of the cave. His mind centered and settled. He was approaching the age of the change, and he was anxious. He had only one marking on his smooth muscular frame and curiously wondered what he would look like once the rest of his markings appeared. The firstborn on a new planet would bless him with unique talents from this world that weren't available from the world of his ancestors. He was already much more massive and taller than most of the males born on the dead planet that use to be his people's home. His upbringing taught him to respect this world as a living, breathing entity. He had always done so.

After sitting next to the black pool for a while, Cayleb grew impatient and decided nothing of interest would happen today and got up to leave.

"Leaving so soon, young one?" The sound of water churning, followed by a beautiful, serene voice, filled the cavernous room. Cayleb loved the sound. It was like the sound of nature on a beautiful morning, rippling waters and brevas singing the most harmonious melody they could. It was silk if the sound had a texture.

A smile played across his lips. Two could play at this game, and he continued to walk away from the pool as if not hearing the beautiful, seductive voice.

"You have kept me waiting long enough. I have duties to attend to and cannot play your silly games today," Cayleb said boldly, his tail twitching.

A rumble tore through the cavern, and chunks of rock tumbled from the walls crashing to the cavern floor. Cayleb stopped in his tracks, utterly shocked, and quickly dodged a large boulder barely missing him. Was she throwing a fit? he wondered.

"Surely one as important as you can pick and choose what you do and when," The voice countered slyly.

"You are the first I have spoken to in eons. Have I not made good use of your time, helped you understand the secrets of this world, allowed your people to live bountifully? Surely a few moments spent waiting for me is a small sacrifice and practice in patience. After all, young one, you were the one who disturbed my rest and woke me. I have chosen to be your guardian. Seeing to you as I would any other creature. I have watched over you from the time of your conception." The voice paused to allow Cayleb time to understand.

"You knew I was sitting here all this time, yet you refused to speak to me. Why?" He asked, agitation sweeping through him, a low growl in his throat.

"You amuse me, young one," Laughter filled the chamber, echoing and tinkling across the minerals.

"You are correct. I was aware of your presence. However, my allegiance is first to my planet. You will do well to remember that. I have much tending to do. The growing season has begun on the dark side of the terrene, as you well know. I was increasing the seed edge area so it could sustain your harvest. I have only done so because your people have shown honor and moderation in your harvest seasons as a gift to you. Please do not make me regret it.

I needed my full consciousness in one place. Keeping the planet in harmony is no small task, young one. As you are the firstborn here, the responsibility may one day fall to you.

"You needed time to settle your chaotic mind."The voice answered, "It is important that you do well tomorrow, young one. You must gain the trust and respect of your people. They will one day follow you."

Cayleb remained quiet. He had no word to apologize. It was a feeling he projected, his tail drooping, his head bowed. His mind was still a flurry of activity.

"I do not detect any calm in you, young one, but I accept your offering. " The voice said, "perhaps you should remain by the pool a little longer."

"I am fine." He assured the voice, "I know I should not be entering this place, but I cannot stay away. I am just concerned others will find me here."

"Why do you speak an untruth?" The voice questioned

Cayleb hung his head in shame, embarrassed at his true thoughts.

"You are worried they will not choose you. There shall be no untruths between us. Is this understood, young one?" The voice reprimanded gently. Cayleb barely inclined his head.

"Go now," said the voice. "I have much to do too."

Cayleb took a few steps toward the opening and stopped. "Will you be with me?"

"I cannot." the voice said soothingly.

Cayleb waited for more, but the churning water settled once more into a soft black glassy smoothness and quiet filled the cavern once more. She was gone.

Was that a fissure of disappointment he heard in her voice?
Cayleb did not have a lot of time to concern himself now with worry. He had to get moving. He raced up the steep incline and heaved the rock to the side. Replacing it gently, he started the journey home. The festivities would begin soon, and he had to accompany his family to the Gathering tree, where the celebration would begin.

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