Over the years, since the destruction of Auraea, we had been regarded within our people with awe and envy. Our powers were unique and rare, and many expressed the desire at times to possess it. But, if they knew what having our gifts was truly like, then they might think twice.
Fyan’s do not reproduce easily, long-living as we are, as our physiology is changeable and indescribably complex, even to our own doctors. As a result, children are highly valued, which is why all ‘fledgelings’, or children, were hidden beneath the city when the attack began.
By comparison, Twins are even rarer. It was estimated that twins were born only every three or four generations. And as far as was known, there have been no more born in the years since the attack on our race. We were the only pair left. We were unique.
If couples were able to have a child, they were usually blessed enough. But if a second child was born to them, then this child was almost always taken away from the parents at birth. These children were called the Alaari*, the ‘Marked Ones’. The children all possessed certain gifts and abilities, which had proved to be very dangerous since the dawn of our species, if not carefully monitored and tested.
It was never explained how Alaari came to be, or why it was always a second child, never a first. There has never been a third child born to a couple, so some theories could never be proven.
In any case, these children were removed to remote parts of Auron, where they remained for many, many years, gradually learning about their powers and slowly, ever-so-slowly, proving to their guardians that they could be trusted with such abilities. These guardians, called only as Sentinels by name. They had another name in our language, but no one called them that anymore. It was a name regarded with fear and apprehension.
Only Sentinels could allow an Alaari to enter back into society, and they always accompanied them, where-ever they went. Alaari were never, ever, left alone. This hardly ever mattered; not many Alaari ever got that far.
Our pataani knew what we were from the moment we were born. It was never discussed who was first born, Andreat or I, because even though we were stronger together, we had individual talents as well. They hid our identity from everyone, and taught us to do the same the moment we could understand the importance of it. Had they informed the council, they would have done what had always been done; taken us away, and separated from each other. Until they mastered their respective talents, Alaari were never allowed to interact.
So until the Cyrian attack, our identities remained secret.
The moment Elder Kael released us from the protective chambers, he knew. Once, as a younger being, he had been trained as a Sentinel. But after a few years of his lifetime, he gave it up, and became an Elder instead. He never explained to us why he gave it up, only that from now on, he would train us only as we needed it. We were mostly left to ourselves, and over the years, gained control over our powers. It was not complete control, but we were always improving. And best of all, it meant we could stay together.
There were times when even Andreat and I could still be in the dark about how our ‘abilities’ worked. We assumed that how they worked inside the ‘Lantean city was the extent of them.
However, once we left, the world expanded at our psychic command, at an exponential rate.
It was amazing. It was incredible.
It was terrifying.
The thoughts, secrets and desires of those around us and those within our range presented themselves without the knowledge of their owners. We knew everything about them, all at once.
The moment Andreat and I realise what had happened, we became concerned. Our safety had always been limited to what we could do and how we could handle our ‘gifts’. In Atlanta, if we tried hard enough, we would be able to glean anything we wanted from the minds of our people, even Elder Kael, who had mental barriers like no-one else in the city. If we tried hard enough, even he couldn’t keep us out. But he knew us, perhaps even better than we knew ourselves.
Knowledge was power, he often told us, and power made people strong. But, he added, it could also make people arrogant.
Arrogance was how we met our downfall against the Cyriens. And over the years, we had learnt from that mistake.
And because we had the ability to know everything about everyone in Atlanta, there were some who eventually became to be wary of us. They thought that we could destroy everyone with the knowledge we could extract from the minds around us. But Elder Kael put these fears to rest when he introduced a chemical into the air of the city. It formed a protective…aura, around the mind of the individual. After a time, it limited how much we could see within that mind. Thus, with our powers new limitations, the rest of the population breathed easier.
And we were relieved, because was useful as our abilities could be, we were scared of them.
Knowledge was power, Kael has said, and power could make people arrogant.
And, power could corrupt.
The moment we left Atlanta behind us, the rest of the Atlantic’s crew and mission specialists chattering excitedly to each other, Andreat and I felt the fog of constraints which had leashed our powers lift, and we immediately knew everything about the five other people inside the craft, our awareness naturally dipping in and around our beings as it had done our whole lives. We had never feared to rein them in before.
The shock of the information outburst in our minds sent us reeling. And our area of influence and control did not stop there.
The ‘awareness’, as we had come to know, came from how far away we could be for our powers to manifest. Within a certain range, we had power. Outside that range, we had little to no power. And that was how we preferred it.
Outside Atlanta, the awareness abruptly expanded. It came all at once. It was….it seemed….infinite.
Too much. Too much…
It was too much!
We excused ourselves from the group, and hurried to the living quarters, around the centre of the ship. A willing ear was needed. Someone who could give some answers…
“What is it, Sachan*?” came Elder Kael’s voice from the monitor. The visual interface had been shut down to conserve power for the flight to our destination.
“Elder Kael, something has happened-“ I began to say, until Andreat broke in.
“Our powers are no longer being dampened.”
There was a brief silence, while the quiet thrum of the craft brushed our ears softly in the large space.
“How much have they grown?” came his eventual reply, his voice revealing nothing.
“We know everything” Andreat said in a quiet voice, “we didn’t even have to try. There….there aren’t any mind-barriers at all!”
“And that’s not all” I interjected, my voice an octave louder than Andreat’s. “Not only have they grown, we can hear at a greater distance, and…I think….I think we can hear humans.”
At first, we thought the constant murmuring and mutterings Andreat and I could hear from around us were simply from the Atlantic crew members. But, then we realised that the different mental voices were far too numerous to be from the five other people, and from the silent Carleon. Being a machine, we could not hear what the Android ‘thought’, or knew, but it hardly mattered; being our Syphon*, she kept nothing from us.
Thus, we came to the conclusion that the voices we were hearing were the mental murmurings of the millions of humans far below us.
Elder Kael was silent as he let this information sink in.
When he finally did speak, what he said stunned us.
“This is good.”
His voice betrayed his slight amusement at the shock in our voices. “I had been wondering for some time if your abilities only affected those of our race, or if they could be widened to include all beings of a sentient, but organic nature. This confirms my suspicions.”
“You truly didn’t know?” I asked.
“No” he admitted. “The fact that you can hear them is proof of how important your role is in the mission.” His voice softened.
“You must stop fearing your abilities, Sachan. They set you apart from the rest of us, yes, but they are still an essential part of your very beings.”
The older Fyan’s gentle voice soothed us somewhat, and we shared a smile.
“And besides” Elder Kael continued briskly, “the two of you have a vital role to play in the mission. Your powers will be needed, and you must not fear to use them.”
“Ina!” we sang dutifully, and the monitor let out a quiet ‘click’ as the line disconnected.
The two of us sat back in the chair and leant against each other, as we entwined our minds together to allow each other’s thoughts to ease across our join consciousness; a practice that never failed to sooth us both when we felt unsettled.
The mission had just gotten far more interesting.
But little did we know, that our growing powers would be the catalyst to something not even Elder Kael could have predicted.
Alaari - The Marked Ones. Children not firstborn, who possess strong psychic powers.
Sachan - Girls
Syphon - Personal serving machine/companion. Designed to obey only who they are programmed to.