Chapter 1: A New Beginning
The first thing I remember is noticing that my head hurt. Then it was that everything hurt. I groaned and tried to sit up, but something that felt much heavier than it should have been was holding me down.
“Ah, there you are. We were beginning to worry that you wouldn’t wake up.”
I opened my eyes and winced at the bright light. “What happened?”
“We crashed, and you ended up on the wrong side of the console. That is, underneath it.” The male’s voice was detached, calm. As if he was relaying the weather, instead of the news that our ship, the only home we had, had crashed out of the sky like a wounded trellak.
“We WHAT?” I sat up through pure force of shock, throwing off the heavy blanket (it had been a blanket that was holding me down? Felt more like an Elekk hide…). The Captain! The Prophet! Are they-?”
“Lay. DOWN, Pilot.” It was then that I caught sight of the medical officer’s scars. He was missing his right eye and the horns on his brow were both broken. He limped as he turned toward me and I realized with a shock that one of his legs ended in a crudely fashioned peg rather than the proud hoof he’d had the last time I saw him. I obeyed and lay back down – he was worse off than I was and ordering me to relax… I was going to listen to him. “I have to clear you before you sit up like that.”
“How long was I out?” I asked, wincing as pain shot through me again. I automatically adjusted so I wouldn’t be lying on my long hair, only to realize that I was sporting a rather ragged haircut that didn’t even reach my shoulders any longer. The ends of my hair smelled of smoke and I could see the singeing on the tips.
“Two weeks,” the doctor responded as he ran a spanner over my body slowly, reading the display as the device checked my vital functions. “Like I said – we believed you to have been a lost cause.”
“Another failure,” I muttered. Pilot of the Exodar had not been my first post aboard the great ship. I’d worked as everything from a security officer to a galley cook. I’d manned the temples of the Naaru in the Terrace of Light, (and nearly burned the Prophet to death when a manafire I had been tending blazed up out of control), I’d worked the reception desk of the Inn just inside the main entrance to the ship (and succeeded in destroying the records almost beyond repair). No matter what I tried, I failed. I grasped concepts, I understood what I was to do, but when I went about the execution of the task, no matter how much I believed that THIS would be the time I would succeed, inevitably I failed. I failed in harnessing magic as I grew up, and therefore only had the most minimal magical abilities, which disqualified me from many potential careers within the Draenai homeship. My only magical gift was an inordinately powerful Kalva de Marsek, or as it would come to be called, “Gift of the Naaru,” or simply Gift. And while this would seem to indicate that I was meant to be a healer, my bedside manner was non-existent and I could barely remember all the organs I had in my body, much less aid someone else with damage to THEIRS.
The doctor smirked at me, though. “The crash was hardly your fault, kaldori.” The affectionate term, Draenaic for “child,” no matter how it was meant, always made me tense. I hadn’t been a child for many years, but as I hadn’t yet settled into a life path, it was how most Elders referred to me. “Unless, that is, you bear a Mark of Kil’jaeden somewhere on your person. And believe me, if you did, I would have found it by now.”
I laughed in spite of myself, and winced when something in my ribs caught at the action. “No. Besides… I would most likely only fail as a saboteur and therefore end up a hero to our people instead.”
“Well, then perhaps that’s the career you should pursue.” His one eye twinkled, but then he sobered. “I would prefer if you rested one more day, but there is nothing life-threateningly wrong with you any longer, and the Prophet has ordered all able-bodied Draenai to aid in eking out as much of a living here as we can while the Exodar is repaired. Therefore, I release you to active duty.” He motioned for me to sit up, and nodded to me when I did. “Good luck, kaldori.”
I did my best not to flinch. “Thank you, Malketar.” The sad thing was that it had taken our entire exchange for me to remember his name. I stood shakily to my hooves and took stock of my own body as I walked out of what I now realized was actually a broken off piece of the ship that had embedded itself in the spongy ground of whatever planet we had crashed on. There were more like “structures” scattered around the area, but the Exodar itself was nowhere in sight.
It didn’t look anything like Draenor, even before the cursed Legion found us and ripped it apart. The grass was a deep green with blue highlights and the trees were tall evergreens with thick trunks. Scattered all over were what I recognized with a shock as Draenaic Crystals – part of the matrix that drove the Exodar. If they were just lying around like this, embedded in the ground after their high speed crash, sticking out at odd angles, then that meant that the crash was worse than I’d imagined. The ship hadn’t simply crashed – its heart had been torn open in the process. These delicate crystals were corrupted and unrecoverable. I’d worked in the ship’s engines during one of my many failed jobs – I knew that the ship couldn’t make escape velocity, let alone burrow into the Twisting Nether, without a full complement of Draenaic crystals. Crystals that had been salvaged and carefully grown from our original planet. Crystals that had no source other than those tended by knowledgeable Draenai who had devoted their lives to the practice of crystalline cultivation. Crystals who’s only source was back on Draenor, assuming that the Legion hadn’t destroyed them by now. My mouth went dry as I took in what that meant. We hadn’t simply crashed – the last surviving Draenai in the universe were trapped here…
Wherever here was.