You awaken from cryo-sleep to find yourself in a whole new world.
|This assumes you have already read the intro.
You wake with a start, as is becoming a habit. Your eyes shoot open, and you almost headbutt someone peering down over you as you throw off a blanket and sit up. Startled by your sudden movement, they jump back a small distance.
This time, instead of an icy tomb, you’re greeted by a face. Not a human face, as one might expect, but a feline one. She has a completely furred, roughly triangular face. Her eyes are a light yellow with vertical slits for pupils, and her ears stand straight up. She looks to be the perfect description of a tabby cat but instead stands bipedally at a little less than 4 feet in height, by your estimate. She also wears crude clothing that looks to be sewn together from patches of other cloth, roughly imitating a T-shirt and cloth shorts.
You’ve found yourself in what appears to be a tent. It is a very small space, with only your small makeshift leather bed, a small table with two chairs, and whoever has awakened you.
The short cat-person lets out a lilting meow. It sounds odd, deeper than you expected. In the void, a ray of your sunshine makes contact with her dim light, and you know what she said; she said, “Why are you blue?”
At that moment, the shock from understanding hasn’t quite dawned on you yet. Instead, you look down at your hands to see them the same glacial blue as when you woke up. You had expected this to be temporary, some kind of effect from being so, so cold; however, your eyes bring evidence to the contrary.
You look back up and try to speak. The only sound you manage to make, however, is a pitiful croak. But with that simple, pitiful croak you manage to get across what you want to say. Not verbally, but through the void and that ray of sunshine connecting the both of you. You said, “What are you?”
Much like before, the feline is quite startled. Hearing your voice in her head causes her to casually jump over a foot in the air, some casual display of acrobatics. “Y-you can talk in m-my head?” The poor girl sounds terrified; she backs away towards the hide tent flaps.
Then, a roar is heard from outside the tent. Your companion looks as startled as you do, and darts outside. Immediately you stand up, looking for a weapon or a way out, besides the front entrance. Or, you would be, if a sense of crippling dizziness didn’t immediately make you fall back on your ass. You hear what seems to be a whimpering mewl as, outside, she says, “N-no!” The pegs that keep the tent down are staked outside, and it doesn’t look like you could crawl under the edges of the tent. There also appear to be no weapons. Not that I could use them, you suppose, I have a chronic case of being worthless.
The tent flaps are thrown open, and a similar-looking but taller tabby ducks inside. Instinctively, in the void, another ray reaches out to connect to her. As you shuffle back, she turns back towards the entrance and growls: “I hear you skulking back over here, La’Elena. You will leave or I will suspend more than your hunting privileges.” She turns back to look at you, huddling in fear of the aggressive tabby. She meows quietly, almost comfortingly, “I will not hurt you.” It sounds as if she is speaking to a baby or a beloved pet, someone who cannot understand more than tone of voice. Perhaps that would be true for others, but not you.
She approaches you holding a clay cup filled with water she poured from a jug on the table. “Drink,” she commands, in the same soft tone. You try to impress the word “thanks” through the ray, but nothing happens. So, you take the cup of water, and you drink. You drink, and the water tastes heavenly, better than water has any right to taste. It only lasts a moment before the cup is empty. You hand it back, and she pours you another. When you hand that one back, she shakes her head. The tabby points to your pillow and says, “Sleep.”
So you do. It is not long before the dark embrace of sleep has taken you once again, this time willingly. In trying to find your way to sleep, you instead find yourself in the endless expanse of the void. You see the connection between you and the two tabbies grow weak and eventually snap as they move further away. In the distance, there is the star that is another woman growing closer. While before she was so far away as to be almost ignored, now you can clearly see her light in the distance. Is she coming for me? You wonder, Who is she? If she is like me, maybe she can help me.
But then, you feel it. The presence of the eye, looking for you. It doesn’t see you just yet, so you shut down. You curl into a little ball and will it all away.
The next time you are woken up, she is there again, with the cup of water. You gratefully take it and sip in silence. It does not take long before you sleep again. This time, you do not play around in the void. You check your surroundings and then hide within yourself until the void falls away and you rest undisturbed.
This cycle continues of waking, drinking, occasionally eating and then sleeping for what feels like an eternity. Each time, you do not know how long you have slept. A few minutes, a few hours, a few days or weeks makes no difference to those who simply blink the passage of time away in an instant. Every time, however, you feel stronger. You no longer feel as though you could barely stand up; instead, you feel energized and ready to act. Every time you return to the void, you only spare the time to see how far away she is before you hide.
This time when you are awoken, you do not accept her offer of water. Instead you say, “Thank you,” and stand. Like before, however, it comes out as a croak; instead your message is sent over the ray of light. She jumps, but unlike the other tabby, is merely startled instead of downright terrified.
“You can… can… talk in my head?” She looks you up and down, appraising you as if she has only just seen you for the first time.
“I believe it is called telepathy, but yes, apparently I can,” you reply, raising your arms and stretching. It feels as if you have finally woken up from a deep sleep, and you are more rested than you have ever been. At least, you think; your memories are still blurry and patchy. Some things you can recall just fine, but other areas are completely blank, as if random pieces of your memory were damaged or wiped. “May I leave?” You have figured out that your telepathy is not purely based on will, you must still utilize your vocal cords in some fashion, even if you cannot speak.
“I.. suppose. But I must insist that you meet our Ra’Mora first,” she pauses, as if thinking. “He will want something, for saving you.”
“I.. had assumed that you and La’Elena were alone,”
“Have you understood us this whole time, and said nothing?” She looks confused, almost defensive. How you can tell that from a facial structure that is brand new to you, you can only assume is a product of your connection.
“..When I spoke to her, she nearly had a heart attack. I thought it would be smart to hold off and say nothing for a while. Besides, did she not tell you?” You realize the flaw in your own thinking after you vocalize it, but it didn’t occur to you before.
“No, she never said anything. My daughter can be.. Rebellious. Erratic.” She shakes her head.
You nod. Her behavior the first time you woke up makes sense now that you understand their relationship.
“Oh! I just realized, I never introduced myself. I am Ka’Zahra, your name is..?”
You take a moment to think.
“What, you do not know your name?”
“Well, no, not quite... my memory is patchy since waking up from cryo.” You shake your head. “I think my name is Esper.”
“Well then, Esper, what is ‘cryo?’”
You run your hands through your short, black hair. “It is.. The machine that I awoke from. Before I left that lab, and your people found me.”
Ka’Zahra nods. “We had someone watching that room, to come report if anyone else left the machines. You are the first that we have seen. I did not know what it was called. It has been nice.. ‘talking,’ and I have many, many more questions, but we best be off. He will be in the center of camp now,”
Outside the tent, you see that the one you have been residing in is tucked away in a far corner, a decent distance from any other tents or structures. Behind it is the woods, with thick vegetation and trees blocking any line of sight to anything else. Ahead of you is the rest of the camp where you can see rows and rows of other tents, with other catlike humanoids of all different heights and color patterns walking to and fro.
Many of the tents are small to medium sized, made of stitched hides, while others look more exotic, constructed with long poles and weaved bundles of fiber. In what appears to be the center of the camp there is a large clearing around a roughly circular wooden building with a large, sloped roof. You can clearly see many of the cat-people streaming in and out, many armed, some not.
As the two of you approach, a lot of them give you looks. Some are friendly or curious, and a few are hostile. Ka’Zahra leans in to whisper, “The tribe is currently experiencing some difficulty with the Canines.” You nod, as if you understand the significance of that in context, and enter the building. Like the square outside the center is largely empty save for a single stool, and the edges all have two rows of benches with gaps for entrances in all four directions. The benches are largely full, with more standing in front; instead of sitting on them, as you would expect, they are instead being stood on.
The room is oddly silent for one this full as everyone is focused with rapt attention on the man in the center. You suspect him to be Ra’Mora, the man Ka’Zahra told you about and some sort of leader. Instinctively a ray reaches out to connect to him, and as it does, you tune in to his speech.
“...They have expanded their attacks from just on those of us outside our territory to sending parties into ours. As you all know, in their last attack they killed four Felines and wounded six before they retreated. Ten Felines dead or injured in one cowardly ambush, where they did not even stay to fight.” He pauses for effect, and his eyes roam the crowds, before he locks on to you. You hold eye contact and he stares you down, as if appraising you. “All this for one sole reason,” he says, raising his hand and pointing at you.
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