Magpie’s First Flight: Part V

Ian Coleman
Nineteen Years Ago — October 1997

Just like John had said, I found myself attending school for the first time in a few months. The island’s only school was Havenport High, which despite the name served all students of the island K-12.

Thankfully John had somehow strong armed the school into admitting me as Ian Coleman and also sign me down as a guy; including using the men’s bathroom and locker room. Some people seemed a bit off put, asking some questions as I didn’t really pass for male, but I just brushed them off. Although it could get hard dealing with it, I tried to stay positive: It was just temporary, soon I’d be able to fix my stupid body…

Although Michael attended the same school as I did, he was a few grades higher than me so we shared no classes and had different lunch periods. The only time we crossed each other were when we came in and left. after our initial introduction I didn’t want to be his friend and he didn’t seem to want me to. But at least just went along calling me Ian, even if he slipped up a few times on my new pronouns.

After my first week was over, John took me back to New York. This time however we barely stayed within the city, heading straight for the Legion headquarter and then into the basement. I was about to ask where we were going when we stepped into a room with a giant shimmering vortex suspended within a frame made of technological components.

“Teleporter. Fastest way to travel.”

“We’re not going to be like blown to atoms and reassembled right?”

“No, it’s more of a wormhole really. It folds space on itself to connect two points together. No disassembly or anything, we come in and out in one piece.”

“Oh okay.”

He stepped toward the rift and I half-heartedly followed him into it. I expected something; a buzzing, a chill, anything really but nothing came. We just stepped through and walked into another room. It was similar enough but different enough that I knew we’d gotten someplace else.

I took a few steps off the platform and saw massive windows. What I saw beyond them, I wasn’t ready. There was earth, floating in space. I turned to the other side and another window showed me the moon.

“Wait, we’re in space?” I exclaimed.

“That we are. Welcome to Gateway kiddo.” John said. “The true headquarter of the legion.”

“How is there even gravity?” I asked, jumping up. I went higher than I would have on earth but I still reconnected with the ground.

“Gateway is actually a torus, which means it’s shaped like a donut.” A guy said. I turned around and saw him. The guy who’d just spoken was a Filipino guy in his late teens. He wore a red simple jumpsuit with the word ‘FORGE’ branded across his chest.“The station rotates on itself and the centrifugal force cause us to be lightly pressed against the outer hull which serves as the deck of the station. What we see as above us is actually the center of the station. If you run straight ahead, you’ll come back to this spot eventually.”

“Woah.” The idea of being on a space station blew my mind. At the moment, I had nothing left in it except how cool it was and how much I wanted to see more of it.

“Well, we better get going so you can see the doc.” John said, bringing me back to reality.

“Oh sorry, I get excited when people ask questions about my magnum opus.”

“You built this?”

“Yes I did. I’ve been working on these kinds of things since I was twelve. It’s the benefit of being an inventor-type mutant. Oh but where are my manners, I’m Forge, but you can call me Alejandro.”

“I’m Ian.”

“Oh you’re John’s newest bird, eh?”

“Guess so.”

“Come on birdy.” John yelled from the other side of the room. In the seconds I’d taken to speak to Alejandro, he’d moved all the way across the room.

“Coming!” I ran to catch up to him.

Although it wasn’t quite the tour I was craving, the walk to the doctor carried us through a series of living quarters and other accommodations including a large cafeteria and a rec room. We stopped in front of a door with a red cross painted on it along with another symbol I didn’t recognize and John pressed the bell.

A moment later, the door opened and a blue lizard-like alien came out. Although I’d heard plenty about Venusians, it’d been a decade or so since they’d first been discovered, it was my first time seeing one in the flesh.

“Hello!” It said in a jovial tone. “You must be Ian. I’m doctor Sij. I’m female in case you were wondering.”

“You’re the doctor?” I asked, surprised.

“I am. Although I’m new here, I’ve been practicing medicine on Earth bet for nearly fifty two years now. I’m a pediatrician, obstetrician-gynecologist, endocrinology, psychiatrist, surgeon, general practitioner and also a specialist in infectious diseases.”

“For real?”

“For real.” She confirmed. “Unlike humans we venusians need only about two to three hours of rest per day and I enjoy my job so I don’t typically require much time off, so in addition to my practice I’ve been keeping studying full time. But enough about me, let’s talk about you. If you would please sit down.”

She guided me to a set of chairs and we both sat down. She took a note pad and pen out before facing me.

“Mr. Coleman told me you were seeking assistance for gender transition from female to male. I’d like your input on that.”

“It’s just that I’ve never felt like a girl…” I said, muttering the answers. The four eyed-gaze of the doctor felt heavy, like I was being judged. “I’ve always wanted to be a boy, like that was my biggest dream… And I think hormones would help me be more comfortable in my body, because right now it just grosses me out…” As I spoke, the doctor took some notes on her pad in some strange squiggly alphabet. “So yeah… I really need your help.”

“Alright.” She said before spinning her chair around and opening a drawer and taking a stack of papers. “I have here a document I’d like you to read and sign, it explains the changes that would accompany hormonal transition as well as some of the risks. Of course I’d like to point out that many of the risk highlighted here are perfectly standard and are the same cisgender males experience.”

I took the papers and gave them a look over. They went through a lot of what I was expecting; deeper voice, stronger hair growth, increased growth, increase in energy and sex drive and etc. It also highlighted a bunch of risks, ranging from male pattern baldness to potential increase in cardiovascular risks, but I didn’t worry too much. Once I was done reading I took a pen that Doctor Sij handed me and signed the paper. She took it, looked it over and then took out a small pad and began writing something down.

“What are you doing?” I asked, leaning forward to see.

“Writing you a prescription for injectable testosterone. I could prescribe you pills if you are truly uncomfortable with needles but I have to warn you that they may be slower to take effect, may not stop your menstrual cycle and there is a risk that they may negatively impact renal and liver function.”

“Wait, so you’re not like going to ask me a whole lot of questions and stuff or make me see a shrink?”

“I believe that you are old enough to understand the risk and benefits of hormone therapy and that you know what is best for your own physical and mental well being and that you aren’t doing this on a whim. Of course if you’d like to talk about your feelings or about transitioning, I’d be happy to.”

“Oh wow… Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome. Although if you don’t mind I’d like to ask you a few questions about your mental well being. Would you be okay with that?”

“Sure I guess…” I answered with a shrug.

So like that she questioned me on a bunch of things; if I ever experience hallucinations, ever had delusions, if I ever happened to lose control and be within a dream-like state, as if someone else was in control of my body. Then came more mundane questions; my relationship with food, the stability of my mood, whether I was lacking energy, motivation or focus. For the most part, everything was fine. The only thing that caused me any emotional distress really was my body and people’s reaction to being trans…

“Well, I think have everything I need to be a hundred percent confident in ethically prescribing you hormones replacement therapy.” She said, giving me a smile. “The injections are scheduled to be performed once a month for now, on the upper thigh or buttock, it will most likely cause the area to be raised and sore for as few days. Mr. Coleman is trained in first aid and should be able to help you with your injections, although I’m always happy to assist if you would prefer I do it myself.”

“Alright… So is that all?”

“Well, if you’d allow it, I could administer your first dose. I keep some testosterone on hand for reasons I cannot disclose. Although I’d prefer if I could first perform a comprehensive check up as to establish a baseline for your health.”

“That would be perfect.”

Although I didn’t really know how to read Venusian emotions, I had a feeling that the idea of giving me a checkup and a shot made her really kind of happy. Although I normally dreaded doctors and examinations, the idea of getting my first shot kept all my doubts and anxiety at bay as she proceeded with everything.

Within a half hour, I found myself with my first shot done and being given a cherry lollipop courtesy of the doctor which I couldn’t resist and was dismissed although with a strong suggestion to come back for regular physical and mental examination, just to be safe. Just like she said, the place where she’d injected me remained sore as hell for a few days, but damn it, it was worth any amount of pain.

Advertisements

The Starborn Knight: Part V

Shekaree, Chevalier

Three years ago — August 2013

After a chilling cold season, the comfortable warmth of summer came back again. Although the humans seemed to feel like the days were burning, it wasn’t much above the intermediate season of Resh. Despite my fears, the humans mainly left us alone, barring the handful who would camp at the gate of our city, protesting our existence. I hadn’t mastered any of their languages yet, but I’d learned to recognize their insults; Bone-faces, space pigs, low brows, alien scum, xeno freaks.

That day, I did what I did whenever I had free time; sit atop the wall, which had long since been moved to accommodate the growth of our camp. In the square, I passed a mother nursing her young. It was odd to think about it, children born on this world, who would never know Resh, but despite everything we’d gone through we carried on, rebuilt, reorganized.

When I arrived at the gate, the usual ruckus was stronger than average. I climbed atop the wall only to see Sikara walking among the crowd of humans who were yelling insults at her, or at least she tried as they were surrounding her, blocking the way.

I didn’t think. I jumped down and rushed to her side. Some of the humans tried to block me but I let out a roar and bared my claws and fangs which sent them cowering like the stupid cowards that they were. Dozens of them against us two adolescents and they were afraid of a fight. I grabbed Sikara by the arm and dragged her past the gate to the camp.

What were you doing outside?” I snapped. “Don’t you know it’s dangerous?

I went to the village.

Again, unarmed?

You know master Kiorga doesn’t allow weapons outside of camp. Speaking of her, have you seen her?

She left about a krut ago with one of those powered humans.” I answered with a sigh.

You do remember that she wants us to use earth terms now, right?

Right.” I sighed. “About an hour and a half ago. She’s spending more and more time with those humans, she seems to forget her duties here…

If it leaves us more time for ourselves, I won’t complain. Beside, everything is working well.” She answered with a grin. “You could come with me, visit the village. It’d help with your Spanish.

English then Spanish and then what was it the third one, Frank?

French.” She corrected me.

Why do humans have so many cursed languages.

That’s what makes them so charming. They’re so wild and strange. Beside, you know we used to be just like them.

They could learn some things from us.” I grumbled.

Where’s your sense of wonder and discovery? We’re the first Tzari to mingle with humanity

I must have left it in my other uniform back on the fleet.

Ha-ha.” She said, faking a laugh. “Very funny. Come on, I need to get changed and we can then skip over by the mess hall.

She grabbed my arm and dragged me along with her, like she’d so often done in the past few months. We went back to our quarters and she dropped her bag before changing out of her dusty uniform and putting on something more casual. Unlike me she had taken to wearing the native’s clothing.

I have something for you. I found it earlier.” She said before going to her bag.

She got the thing and then raised her arms, which held the thing covered for a moment before she revealed a pink colored flower, one I’d seen a thousand time before.

By the ancestors…” I muttered. “Where did you get a desnal?” I raised my hand and with the tip of my claws caressed the flower, which was all too real.

I didn’t. It’s a plant native to this world. I found it when walking to town and I asked one of the human which told me that it’s called a Peony or at least I think that’s what they said… Although the flower is almost identical, the plant it grows from is nothing like a stringy spikey desnal bush.” She said with a smile. “Since it was Lord Iren’s emblem, I thought you’d appreciate it.

Thank you.” I muttered, my throat feeling tighter than ever.

I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore and broke down in front of her. She brought me closer with one arm and I rested my face against her shoulder, crying until the tears stopped. When I let go she held my hand for a second and kept me close before taking the flower and tying it to my hair.

I know Lord Iren would be proud of you.

He’d be embarrassed, I keep breaking down and crying at nothing.” I said with a self-mocking growl before looking away.

Sikara wouldn’t have it that way however. Taking my hands in hers.

“You’ve never stopped fighting for our people Shekaree, you have been working harder than anyone else in the camp even the adults. That’s what it means to be Tzari. Although you still ache, you keep carrying on.

I dared to look up and back at her. She held her head proudly and met my gaze, I could see it in her eyes, she was proud of me, even if I wasn’t… I looked back down and saw our hands still entwined. I let go and looked back at her, her mouth had morphed into a smile.

It was then our lips met for the first time. Her hand moved up and caressed the back of my head as she pressed her tusks and upper teeth gently against my lower lip, sending shivers all over my body… Her other hand wandered, tracing the edge of my shapes, her touch lit fires all through my body. It all happened in a moment; we lost our clothes and found ourselves in bed.

The Starborn Knight: Part IV

Shekaree, Chevalier

Four years ago — June 2012

After spending the night in the human’s facility, we were brought to the south of the land and into the mountainous range. There stood a camp, a few dozen modular structures of Tzari design.

I recognize this place.” I said. “Master Iren and I landed around here. We spent some time in this camp.

The humans have agreed to let us stay here and use the surrounding lands. Although they’ve seized most of the weapons that were left behind. We’ll relocate all of our people here and build a home.

I considered her words for a moment.

Master?

What is it Shekaree?

Are we prisoners here?

It’s difficult to say.” She sighed. “Things are very unstable right now, the humans are scared of us and they have every reason to be. But for now, we have more urgent business to take care of. Are you ready to work?

Yes master.” I said, bringing my fist to my chest.

The next few days became hectic and crazy as hundreds of other Tzari poured into our camp from all over the world as my new Master tried to organize the chaos and reform the corps into their new order. But thankfully it left me with very little time to think about our situation as I raced around, bringing my master’s orders to new members of the camp.

My new master and I claimed one of the larger building as our command center and living quarters. However despite apprenticeship tradition, Master Kiorga assigned me my own room. But that didn’t mean I remained alone as we were soon joined by two more apprentices who had lost their masters in the war. Karune son of Urak who had served under Lord Krenru and then there was Sikara daughter of Velka, who had been lord Ruathan’s apprentice and who also came to share the same room as I did.

***

August 2012

A few weeks later, I woke up before everyone else as I always did. Ever since the end of the war, my dreams wouldn’t let me sleep in peace anymore, instead I’d wake in the middle of the night, sweaty and on alert with the smell of burnt flesh and the sound of thunder still fresh in my memories…

The sun was still quite a way before it would rise. I didn’t try to sleep again, instead getting up and putting on my apprentice’s uniform. As I took it out of the rack, my finger traced the emblem that adorned the collar; two concentric circles, the twin moons of Resh. Master Kiorga’s heraldry, gone was the blooming desnal flower of Master Iren… Gone like he was…

I couldn’t think about it. I bit my lip, until I tasted blood, and focused on the pain. Anything not to think of what had happened. I had to be strong, I couldn’t break. I had to carry on, for master Iren…

I wiped my lip, leaving a green trail of blood on my claws. On the bed above mine Sikara still slept, letting out a heavy snore, so I decided to wake her up.

Kara, it’s time to wake up.” I said shaking her up which caused her to growl at me.

What time is it?

About a krut before sunrise.

She rose from her bunk and glared at me, her face half covered by her hair. “And you’re waking me now? We don’t have to report to Master Kiorga for another two krut...”

We have a lot of things to do. I thought we could take a head start.

In answer she threw a cushion at me.

Go back to sleep Karee.” She snarled before covering her head with her blanket.

I rolled my eyes but didn’t press the issue any further. Admittedly, we didn’t have to work for a while, but it was best not to be alone… I went back to preparing for the day ahead; cleaning my hair and drying it before braiding it.

Why do you always do your hair like this?” Sikara asked, coming up behind me. “Don’t you know any other way?” She then added with a chuckle.

You’re up now?

It’s not like I can sleep with you around. So, what’s with the hair?

It was how Master Iren would always braid it…” I admitted, feeling a tightness in my chest at the memory of him.

You liked him didn’t you?

Of course, he was strong and brave and—

What I meant was; you wanted to mate with him, didn’t you?” She clarified, a mischievous grin on her lips.

How can you suggest something so–” I asked, flustered at the question.

Oh please, show me an apprentice who didn’t want to mate with their master and I’ll show you a liar. I know I did…

But wasn’t master Ruathan…

Female? Yes, she was.”

Oh…” I felt the warm rush of blood to my face at the thought. Although I knew people who mated with others of their genders, the thought had never crossed my own mind before.

So, have you ever mated with someone before?

How can you ask me that?” I said, spinning around to face her.

I’m bored and you owe me for waking me up.

Only once…” I muttered, fiddling with my half finished braid.  

“Who was it with?”

“A boy who lived in my district before I was recruited. We were curious… What about you?

I had a few experience before being recruited as Master Ruathan’s apprentice. And then there were a few other apprentices I met along the way.

I nodded and there was a moment of silence that settled between us.

Alright, let me do your hair.” She said.

But-

You woke me up, let me at least have my fun.

I sighed. “Alright.

I turned my back to her and she took my hair in her hands, undoing my half finished braid. Rather than do the one like usually would, she made multiple ones.

Why do you always make your hair so complex?

It’s something my mom taught me as a girl. My ancestors, the Qurhal, had an art, a language even. Not with words but with hair; every braid, every twist, every matte, every piece of jewelry had a meaning.” She explained as she braided and twisted strands of hair into shape, sometimes adding in a bead or ring from her own belongings. “With it the tribe proudly spoke of who they were so that all could know.

What do you think?” She asked once she was done, her operation having taken about half a krut.

It’s different. But what does it mean?

That you are Karee, warrior without rest.

Very funny.

But appropriate.” She answered with a grin.

She quickly prepared herself and we left the command center. We didn’t bother waking Karune. Outside, a cool night breeze blew over the hills. In the weeks since we’d settled there, the camp had grown exponentially. A mix of tents, cargo containers and prefabricated modular structures salvaged from other camps had sprouted everywhere to shelter the influx of stranded Tzaries who had joined us.

Sikara didn’t question me when I headed for the perimeter wall of the camp and climbed atop the rampart, beginning to patrol, looking for signs of trouble in the darkness.

Can you even believe it’s the warm season?” Sikara asked. “I shudder to think what the cold season will be like.

Master Iren said that at this latitude it shouldn’t get too cold but apparently it snows in the northern regions during the cold season.

Did he know a lot about this world?

I nodded. “He used to read me intelligence reports every night. Said it was important to know the land and the people…” I felt a tightness in my throat. Rather than think about it, I recited what Master Iren had taught me “The locals call this region ‘Andalusia.’ Do you see the mountains behind us? They’re called the Sierra Morena.” I said pointing toward them.

You miss him, don’t you?” She asked, putting a hand on my arm.

Of course…

She let go of my arm only to take my finger in hers.

Karee, have you visited the shrine to pay your respect?

I’ve had other things to do…

Like patrolling the walls in the dead of the night? Or cleaning Master Kiorga’s armor over and over?

I’ve—

Been trying to avoid it, have you?

Maybe…” I answered, my ears folding down and back in shame.

We still have some time before we need to report to our master. Why don’t we go pay our respect?

I didn’t protest and still holding my hand she lead us toward the shrine to the ancestor that had been established in one of the largest and nicest structure. The inside still smelled like incense and smoke, the fire pit at the center of the room still held glowing embers.

She walked to the altar and took the pitcher, pouring three tiny cups of alcohol, giving one to me and took the other two before sitting down before the fire with me.

Hear us Ancestors.” Sikara began. “We remember; Iren, Son of–” She stopped, looking at me.

Son of Rakisa, of clan Viok.” I continued. “Honorable lord and dutiful master. We—” The words didn’t leave my throat so Sikara picked up once more.

We commend his spirit to the Creator, so that he may join the honored ancestors in guiding us. We pray for his spirit, so that it may find deserved rest in the plains of light.

She raised her cup and so did I. Together we drank, the alcohol bringing a burning sensation to my throat as it went down. She then took the last cup and raised it to me. I took it and slowly poured its content over the still burning embers, which went up in a puff of blue flames.

Blessed is the Creator who gave us life.” Sikara began and I followed just a second after her. “Blessed are the ancestors who watch over us. May their light and memory never fade.

It’s done.” Sikara said, getting up. “How do you feel?

I thought it would be harder… Thank you for doing this with me, I don’t think I could have done it alone.

It was no problem, Karee.

There’s still time before we have to report.

Maybe you should try to commune with him?” She walked to the altar and picked up the jar of kirun resin, the smoke of which brought for visions of the ancestors, and opened it, taking one of the pungent cube and bringing it to my hand.

I’m sure it would help you, I’ll be by your side if you’d like. I’m sure Master Kiorga would understand if we’re late for this.

I can’t…

Karee…” She put an arm on my shoulder.

I don’t think I can handle seeing him. Not yet.

She didn’t say a word. Instead she wrapped her arms around me, holding me tight. I couldn’t hold it in anymore, I cried in her arms. Letting out weeks worth of feelings I’d bottled down and did my best to ignore.

The Starborn Knight: Part III

Shekaree, Chevalier

Four years ago — June 2012

Sometimes later, I woke up in a tiny cell, only a few steps across in width. I didn’t know where I was, I couldn’t see anything outside as the only entrance was barred by a heavy metal door. The aliens had taken the time to strip me as I no longer wore my apprentice’s uniform, instead they’d dressed me into some loose orange one-piece outfit.

I spent a few minutes trying to remember everything that had happened and take the layout of my cell, which featured two devices I wasn’t familiar with, although I guessed they were to obtain water and dispose of body wastes, and a mattress I was lying on…

“Oh my god, she’s awake.” I heard an alien say in its language just beyond my door, the sound muffled but clear enough that I could hear it. Still I came closer to the door and set my ear against it. “Jeez. How long has it been, Two days?”

“She must be starving. Dave, get us something for her.” Another alien said.

“What is she doing?”

“Obviously she’s trying to listen. Now go get the food.”

“Oh man, why do I always have to make the run?”

“It’s called I outrank your ass. Now skedaddle.”

I heard one of the alien run away, its position given away by the drumming of its feet against what had to be metal tiles. A few minutes later the alien returned and I heard the mechanism of the door open so I retreated to the corner of the room, looking for a weapon, but I couldn’t find anything. The only thing I stood a chance of moving was the mattress I’d woken up on.

Two aliens came into my cell, wearing heavy armor on their body. Their faces were left visible behind clear helmets. One of them held a large baton while the other had a tray in its arms. They carefully advanced a few steps into the room and the tray carrying alien set it down on the floor before sliding it toward me. Although I didn’t recognize the content of the tray, the smell of it had my stomach growling within seconds. I wasn’t sure when I’d last eaten anything…

Hesitantly I sat beside the tray and my captors seemed pleased. On it was some strange white paste, something I presumed was a slice of grilled meat, orange-colored disks, tiny mushy-looking green balls and a sealed cup of white goop. Everything except the cup had this brown liquid dousing it.

“It’s food.” One of the alien told me.

I didn’t know their language but I wasn’t stupid and knew he wanted me to eat it. As strange and unappetizing as it looked, I was starving… I dipped a finger in the white mush and brought it closer to my face, smelling it. I brought it to my lips and tasted the mixture, licking it off my finger. It was odd, but edible.

I was about to try something else when I saw my captors’ expressions, satisfied grins. The hunger faded away. Replaced with disgust. I was doing what they wanted… Doing what the ones who’d murdered master Iren wanted.

So I grabbed the tray and threw it at them. Growling in defiance. I tried to advance but the alien with the stick poked me with it and I fell down, feeling a shock through my whole body which gave them the time to escape and close the door.

Through the few next days — or so I assumed, I couldn’t tell the time within my cell — The aliens kept bringing more food but every time I refused to even touch it. Sure, my stomach hurt from hunger and every hour was like torture, but at least I took comfort in knowing that the aliens couldn’t break me. Even in their captivity I was in control, I was a Tzari, I wasn’t going to stop fighting, no matter how it meant I had to.

One day I woke up to the sound of the door opening. But this time it wasn’t the aliens who came through the door. Rather another Tzari did. Although she didn’t wear her armor, I recognized her, having met her before on the Tzari flagship.

Lord Kiorga.” I painfully brought myself to stand and kneeled before her. “Have the aliens captured you too?

Stand up apprentice.” She said and I obeyed, although in my state I couldn’t stand straight. Thankfully she caught me before I fell. “What is your name?

Shekaree, daughter of Kirath of clan Izret.

The Humans tell me you haven’t been eating. Why?”

I refuse to bow down to the enemy. I said, snarling reflexively. “Apologies, I didn’t mean to be rude my lord.

Shekaree, the Humans aren’t our enemy anymore… The war is over.

But…

The fleet has retreated back to Resh.

We lost?

In a way… The dishonorable actions of High Lord Kuthal forced me to assume the position of high lord and I had to order the fleet and the remaining warriors to leave.

But we’re still here.

I’m sorry, I didn’t know of your presence in the human’s captivity until after the fleet departed. There are a few thousands of us who couldn’t make it back. I chose to remain behind to account for the actions of our kind.

What will happen to us?

For now, we’ll get you out of this cell and feed you. You’ll need all your strength for the trials ahead.

She turned toward the exit, which had been left open, and together we walked out of the cell. Although the alien guards were around, they didn’t react to us leaving. I didn’t understand why, but I went along with lord Kiorga. One of the alien guided us into a large room full of tables which I assumed was some form of mess hall.

Kiorga sat me down on one of the table before leaving to fetch food. She came back carrying a tray filled with alien foods and set it down before me.

Don’t worry, the food of Earth is safe for us to eat.” She said.

“Earth?”

It’s what some of the aliens call this world. They call themselves humans. One of them has been teaching me some of their words.

I nodded and with some initial reluctance dug into the food she’s given me. Although it was all so strange, I didn’t mind. I shoved it all down my mouth until the whole tray was clean.

Glad to see you didn’t lose your appetite.

Lord Kiorga, may I ask a question?”

“Of course.”

What will happen to me? I’ve lost my master… And we can’t go home…

I know our circumstances are not ideal, but if you’ll allow me, I’d like to take you as my own apprentice. There are many of us stranded on this world, they’ll need direction.

You’ll take me as your apprentice?

I’ll need someone at my side in the coming days and you have the fight within you that I need. Even if it could have been channelled a little less self-destructively. Will you be my apprentice?”

“Yes.” I got up and then back onto my knees, which had her smile. “Before the ancestors, I pledge my life and service onto you. I swear by my ancestors to be faithful, loyal and honorable in deed and words to you Master Kiorga.”

She got up, leaned down and kissed my head. “Shekaree, daughter of Kirath of clan Izret, I accept you as my apprentice. I swear before the ancestor to shelter you, to care for you and to teach you the way of our people so that you may one day stand among us as one of the lords. Now rise, apprentice.

As she commanded, I got up to my feet and faced her.

There is much work ahead of us. We better get started.

Yes master.” I said, bringing my fist to my chest.

The Starborn Knight: Part II

Shekaree, Chevalier

Four years ago — June 2012

It didn’t take long on the alien’s world for us to encounter the first sign of resistance. Thankfully the aliens were no match for us, their technology still relying on primitive chemical payload to propel metallic projectiles.

Master Iren and I however remained largely away from the worst of the engagements, although lords were formidable opponents, our duty was to oversee the operation on the regional scale and ensure the different corps were working together.

On the third day, we were on our way to meet with an assault division within one of the aliens’ cities when I heard a loud buzzing coming from around us.

What’s that sound?” I asked.

Drones. We should take cover before it sees us. There might be more.” Master Iren said.

Immediately one of the warriors following us opened the entrance of one of the nearby buildings and we took cover. It was some kind of mess hall, with tables all over and a large counter on one end.

Although the others remained on guard, curiosity got the better of me and I explored the area. In a corner I found a stack of plastified sheets which were covered in scribbles I didn’t know how to decypher along with pictures of meals. I continued my look around and stepped into another room at the back, this one holding equipment which I assumed served to prepare meals. I examined everything, some items were alien in designs but others similar enough to what we used on Resh. My search however was interrupted by a loud yell.

“Alien Scum!”

I turned around and saw one of the aliens, screaming at me as he held a weapon. I hadn’t seen him and somehow he’d sneaked up on me, seeing one so closely for the first time, I froze and he levelled the weapon at me and he was about to fire when Master Iren came to the rescue, slicing the alien’s arm off with his photonic saber before stabbing it in the chest.

Shekaree are you alright?

Yes Master.

He let out a breath of relief and put his gloved hand on my head.

“You had me worried there. Stay close to me and get your weapon out, there might be more.”

I nodded and took out my plasma handgun. I looked at the ground where the dead alien lied and once more curiosity got the better of me. I picked up his weapon and examined it. It was a simple design; when the trigger was pressed a pin would activate the cartridge.

Master?

What is it?

This weapon only holds one cartridge… He had to have heard there were many of us, why did he attack, he couldn’t have possibly won…

Maybe it was scared, it didn’t think straight.

I nodded and took the words in. I looked around and noticed a door that hadn’t been open when I’d first come in, leading to a large metal box, which now hung partially open. I notified one of the warriors and we investigated quickly.

A cry alerted us and at once both the warrior and I raised our weapons at the potential danger. But that wasn’t what we found. There in the box was one of the aliens, a female by the looks of it, clutching one of their juvenile in its arms which it tried to keep silent. Red splotches on its outfit betrayed the presence of a wound. Unlike us Tzaries, the aliens bleed red… Had the alien attacked us to protect its family?

Lower your weapons, they’re non-combatants.” Master Iren ordered, coming up behind us.

The warrior and I obeyed my the order and Master Iren walked closer to the aliens, which caused the adult one to try to crawl away, even if it was in a dead end but it couldn’t, letting out an injured cry.

Healer!” He snapped and one of the warriors with us came forward. “Give me your nano spray.” The healer didn’t protest and handed over the spray which we used to seal wounds.

Master Iren approached the aliens but once more it try to move away, fear clear in its expression. But he slowly raised his hands, trying to appear non-threatening to the alien. Once it calmed down ever so slightly, he motioned to the blood, then to his ribs, then to the alien and then to the spray.

The alien seemed to understand as it didn’t react when he came a little closer. It even raised the side of its stained outfit and revealed the hole within her flesh which was covered with soaked bandages. I could tell it hadn’t been done by one of our weapons but rather by the aliens’ own primitive projectiles, victims of friendly fire… Master Iren applied the nano spray to the alien’s side, which likely helped her, although nothing was certain; the spray wasn’t made for aliens, but should have sealed the wound and sterilized it regardless.

We should go.” Master Iren said, solemnly once his operation was done.

What about the aliens?

We’ll leave them be.

I didn’t question his orders and left the kitchen of the alien building. A few minutes later we were given the all clear and left, resuming our route to meet with the 764th assault company.

Once our business concluded, Master Iren opted to camp with the 764th for the night, taking refuge in one of the buildings the 76th had secured for their operations. Although I tried to sleep, the event of the day kept playing through my mind on repeat… And how I’d failed given my first chance at real combat…

Master Iren, are you still awake?

What is it Shekaree?” He replied a moment later. I apparently wasn’t the only one who couldn’t find sleep…

I got up and went to his side, sitting down by his sleeping cot.

I’m sorry I froze earlier…” I said, looking down at the ground in shame.

It’s alright, these things happen.

But…

Shekaree you are the youngest apprentice on the battlefield, you’ve only had a few months of training before you were thrown into the Svren’s den. Many in your position would have panicked, ran away or disobeyed orders, but you haven’t.”

“You’ve done exceptionally well, I couldn’t have asked for a better apprentice.” He said, gently running his claws through my hair before bringing me closer against him. “Now we better catch some rest. We have to move at first light.” He extended his blanket over the two of us and closed his eyes. 

I laid against him, my head resting against the protective mesh of his under armor garment. I could feel his plates through the fabric. His body was warm and moved softly to the rhythm of his breathing. And I caught myself thinking of thoughts that weren’t appropriate… Of things improper for an apprentice to want of their master…

***

I was awoken by the crashing sound of thunder, my brain snapped awake and just outside the building we’d taken shelter in I saw an explosion of lights soon followed by screams. I shook my master awake, but he was already on alert. We hopped to our feet and began arming ourselves.

My master was only halfway armored up when the doors of our shelter exploded open. One of the aliens stepped through, dressed in a strange white and gold costume and wreathed in lightning. It was one of the aliens’ powered being.

Shekaree. Stay behind me.” Master Iren snarled, clutching his weapon.

My heart started beating faster than ever and what then happened did so simultaneous mind bogglingly fast and yet horrifyingly slow… The Alien charged at us, only to be intercepted by my master, using his blade to keep it at bay. But that didn’t work as lightning erupted from the alien’s fingers and struck the blade, which exploded in Master Iren’s hand. He didn’t have time to recover that the alien punched him, sending him flying away to crash against the wall.

“Master!” I screamed rushing to his side.

But I didn’t reach him before another streak of lightning hit him. Soon followed by the smell of burning flesh… Around him the ground had been blackened only to be then stained by the green tint of his blood… When I reached him only a second later, he wasn’t moving and I couldn’t hear his breath either…

“Master…”

A shadow formed over me and I looked up, seeing the thunder-alien standing above me with its towering height. I didn’t think. I took out my knife and aimed at his guts, only for the blade to harmlessly slide over it. It answered with a backhanded strike which sent me down on my back. It readied another charge of its lightning and I closed my eyes, muttering a prayer to the ancestors. I knew I was about to die and that there was nothing I could do about it…

The lightning bolt never hit me although the thundering clap of it did. I opened my eye only to see another of the aliens, standing between the thunder-alien and I, a shimmering barrier between the two of us.

“Mais putain Thunder, C’est juste un enfant!” The alien who’d saved me said in its language.

“I don’t fucking speak French, mate.” The thunder-powered alien answered.

I didn’t know what they were saying. I knew I had to do something, but I couldn’t think of anything, as my body just froze once more… beside had I done anything, I’d have been fried by the thunder-alien…

Another alien came toward me, this one in an indigo colored suit. She raised a hand toward me. I tried to resist but found my body numb.

“I’m sorry, child. You shouldn’t have been involved in this…” It said. “But for now, just sleep.”

My eyes felt heavy and I couldn’t keep them open. It didn’t take more than a few seconds for everything to go blank in my mind.

Magpie’s First Flight: Part IV

Ian Coleman
Nineteen Years Ago — September 1997

As promised, John took me out to do some shopping at the island’s only shopping center, a small strip mall. Best of all he was perfectly content letting me buy whatever I wanted. He didn’t object to my choice of clothes or even when I opted to stop by the local game store and pillage the shelves.

Thankfully we had John’s entourage to help us carry everything. While they dropped everything back at the car, we stopped by a the mall’s Mcdonald, the only chain restaurant on the whole island, for some food.

“So, have you thought of what you’d like to be called?” He asked once we were sat down. “Because you flinch whenever we call you Maggie…”

“I don’t know… I’ve always had a few names but I never really felt like committing to one…”

“What kind of names?”

“Well, I like Michael, but there’s like way too many of those, plus it’d be totally confusing with the other Michael in the house. Uh, there was also Sebastian, I like it but it is — was — the name of my best friend so it’d be weird to call myself that.” I said, trying to think of other names. “Oh there’s Ian. It’s really short, but I really like the way it sounds.”

Off the top of my head I listed a few more names that had caught my ear; Jeremy, Logan, Dean. Gordon… “But I don’t know… Guess I still have to think some more about it.” I said with a shrug.

“Alright.”

We finished our burger just as John’s entourage came back from the car and we followed them back home. Immediately I rushed upstairs to get changed out of the clothes John had given me the day before. They were nice but ill fitted and not quite my style.

Although I liked the new clothes, I was keenly aware of how they fit me. Of the way they sat on my chest. The wrongness of it only made me shudder. I took off my shirt, leaving my chest bare. Even before I’d ran away, I’d never been able to wear a bra without wanting to hurt myself…

Without my shirt on, the reflection staring back at me only sickened me further. I couldn’t help but stare at my breasts and see them as disgusting lumps of flesh that didn’t belong there, to me they were like a tumor…

I just wanted to rip them out…

In the pharmaceutical cabinet I found razors, I didn’t know who they belonged to but I didn’t care… Blade between my finger, I ran the blade against my skin, cutting into the flesh… It wasn’t the first time I’d done it either… It was my own little vengeance, punishing my body for being so wrong and it brought a disgusting mix of relief and sickness to my brain…

But my ritual was interrupted by knocking on the door.

“Kiddo, are you alright?”

“Yeah… I’m coming out.”

In a panic I cleaned the razor and hid it before throwing on my shirt and stumbling out of the bathroom and practically running to my room. I didn’t make it as John grabbed me by the arm.

“Is that blood? Oh my god what happened?” He asked. I looked down and saw that the blood that had oozed out of the cuts had already stained my shirt… I cursed under my breath for choosing a pale shirt to wear…

“Nothing…” I muttered, crossing my arms over the stains. I jerked his hand away and I practically ran to my room but he followed me. Sitting down beside me on the bed.

“Maggie, did you do this to yourself?” He asked, the concern in his voice clear as day.

I didn’t answer him, instead just looking down in shame, expecting a scolding. The anger and words my dad had screamed at me after he’d found me cutting coming back and only making me clam up further…  So I braced for another round… But it never came. Instead he put his arms around me and pulled me closer, holding me.

“It’s going to be alright, we’re going to get you some help.” The words instantly brought me to panic and I pushed him away before standing up to face him. He stood up and I flinched.

“No help…” I screamed out. “I don’t want to get treated…”

“Maggie… Please, calm down.”

“I don’t want to be fixed.”

“We’re not going to try to fix you or force you to be a girl. My friend Karina knows a good doctor specialized in helping people like you, we’re going to help you be more comfortable and if that means helping you become a boy, then so be it.”

“You’re not lying, are you?”

“Of course not. Look, I don’t know a whole lot about being how you are. I don’t know the right words and terms, the reasons and everything, but it doesn’t matter. If being a boy is what makes you happy and being a woman is what made Karina happy, then that’s good enough. If it doesn’t hurt anybody, then it can’t be wrong.”

“Thank you…” I said. “I don’t know how to thank you.”

“Just doing my job as mentor. Beside someone’s got to take care of you. But now get some early rest, we’re beginning your training tomorrow at dawn.”

“Yes sir.”

“Goodnight kiddo.”

***

Just like he’d promised, we began my training at the break of day after a light breakfast. Sadly, before I could learn any of the cool stuff, John wanted me to get stronger, faster and more agile. So it was all about running, flexibility training and basic strength and endurance stuff.

It continued like that for a few days, it was hard work but John was a patient and encouraging mentor while Michael did his best not to interact with me which was perfectly fine. When the weekend came and I finished my post training shower, John ambushed me outside the bathroom.

“I have something for you.” He said, holding a box under his arm. We went into my room and he set it down on the bed. I opened it and found something that looked a bit like a sport bra…

“Is that a bra?” I asked, feeling uncomfortable.

“No, not quite. It’s actually a binder. I asked Karina and she directed me to someone who helped me.”

“What does it do?”

“It helps flatten the chest. Hopefully it can help you be more comfortable.”

“Oh…”

“Why don’t you try it on?”

I picked it up and he quietly left the room, closing the door behind himself to give me some privacy. It took me awhile to get the thing on correctly, it was harder to put on than I thought but eventually I got it right. It was weird wearing the thing, feeling it compressing my torso down, but the flat look it gave my chest made me at ease. I opened the door and faced John who had waited outside.

“How does it look?” I asked.

“You look great.” He said with a grin. “But the real question is; how does it fit?”

“It’s a little weird, but I think I’ll get used to it.” I said before squirming a little.

“Well, it’s only temporary, with any luck you won’t need it by your next birthday. I already got that gender-specialist doctor booked for you next week. We should be able to cut through the red tape and get you on hormone treatments.”

The idea of being on testosterone made my chest catch fire and my mouth split apart with a fierce uncontrollable grin. It was everything I’d ever wanted…

“I have something else for you…” He picked up a folder he’d left on the nearby cabinet in the hallway and gave it to me. “I had to take some liberties, but if need be we can make some alterations before it all get processed.”

I opened the folder and looked at the first paper. It was a school enrollment form for the local school, perfectly mundane except that the name at the top caught my attention; Ian Coleman.

“Ian Coleman?”

“You said that you liked the name and I liked it too. Of course we can change it if you’re not satisfied.”

“No… It’s perfect. Ian Coleman… I like the sound of it.”

“Welcome to the family kiddo.” He said ruffling my hair. “And don’t you worry, I’ll handle Michael, make sure he’s cool. In the meantime, you better get ready for school because you’re starting monday morning.”

“Yes Dad.” I answered which made him smile.