Jan's Dragon                        Katinka's Dragon

Kalhar Journy

Janís story began one sunny afternoon on a small farm on a colonised world. He was born to two normal peasants and was raised to follow in their footsteps, but Faith chose a different path for Jan.
When he was 14 Jan met Master Magician Helian. Helian was an old man, short white hair, tiny beard and a laugh that could smash windows. He had retreated from others on the small planet. He lived in a small cottage and was known to the others as a wealthy exporter who needed some rest. Janís mother had sent Jan to the new neighbour to get acquainted. Helian had seen the potential in Jan, the glowing power of his will waiting to be touched. Jan knew there was more to the universe than this one world, but he didnít have the knowledge to see or use it. Helian did.
After his 5 years of training with Helian Jan left Zephir, never to return. He travelled far and wide, using technology and magic, seeing what was out there. He liked his life outside the ordinary. Although sometimes the ordinary lives of his parents made him long for the traditional values. Wife, children, house, dog. He could smile about his dream. He was a Magician! He could see and do everything he wanted and all he dreamed off was live the life his parents had hoped he'd have.
Jan was on a huge planet called Kalhar, a desert-like planet with little vegetation and only a small ocean in the North. It was frequented by tourists because of itís gambling and exotic dancers. Kalhar was something you had to have experienced to be found a real traveller. Jan had seen better, this world lacked magic and appeal.

Katinka's story began one long cold night on her home planet. Kalhar wasn't a nice place. But then, her mother wasn't a normal woman either. Serny was one of the many exotic dancers on Kalhar, and a successful one too. She had prided herself on being pure and untouched... that is until Katinka's father came along. He had been a handsome and charming man. Tall and slender with a fierceness in his deep green eyes that had hypnotised many woman. One night of passion was all he had granted her.
Embarrassed by her weakness, Serny returned to work and tried to forget about that night. A few months later that turned out to be impossible. Katinka was born another 5 months later. She was a small baby with pretty green eyes and a soft kind of black hair covering her head. The gynaecologists had thought she was a stillborn when she didn't make a sound. They tried to get her too breed, and finally they did get a noise out of her, a soft meow, almost like a sob.

"Katinka! You are wanted in the back room!" Master Berlin yelled.
Katinka sighed. She didn't like it, but on Kalhar every woman had her prise and hers was low because she was a freak. Her own mother hadn't even wanted her. She had tried to strangle her own daughter in maternity ward at night...that was how horrible she was. Even though she was cheap, not many men wanted her once they told her what could happen to her...so she usually only waited tables. But not tonight apparently.
She slid through the curtains and watched as her master sat at his "business" table with another man. Katinka didn't like him the instant she saw him. He reeked of liquor and had an angry look in his eyes. He looked at her with a rage she hadn't thought possible in a man.
"Katinka, this is your new master, Master Frenk." Master Berlin said.
Katinka gasped for air, terrified. Berlin must have seen it because he said: "Don't worry girl. You'll do about the same work you do here. I can't keep you, you just don't make any kind of profit."
Those words made her afraid even more. She was traded as an old cow who wouldn't give milk anymore. She was a thing. Well, she wouldn't give them the pleasure of seeing her cry. 

Outside her new master smiled at her and spit on the ground. 
"It'll soon be over for ya, freak. We don't need ones like you around. You kind only sicken the rest of us."
Again he glared at her with a rage unknown to her. He must really hate her. She tried to swallow, but her mouth was too dry. At least she didn't cry..yet. He put her hands, legs and neck in shackles and dragged her over the ground. Her clothes soon  became rags and her skin started to bleed. Suddenly she realised she was going to die. The thought didn't panic her...it felt more like her destiny, something unavoidable and unchangeable. She accepted it. Frenk dragged her onto the street, others soon followed him.
"See that freak? Those are my associates. They'll help me with you. We'll get ya good."
A burst of panic finally reached her. A quick dead was one thing, but these six weren't going to give her that. They would make her suffer. She saw one lick his mouth when he looked at her face.
"Da's een knappe, kan ni wachten om haar eens goe te pakken." He said. The language was unknown to her, but she felt it couldn't be nice. He came closer and went down her spine with one finger. 
"God yoh! Wat ben je van plan... je wilt haar toch niet echt...?" A second replied, the disgust in his voice all-saying.
Frenk suddenly smiled... Katinka had never seen such an evil smile and the fear inside her grew.
"Please.." she whispered, but no-one listened.
That's when she saw him. A young man, and nowhere near as strong as any of these, but he did look at her. His eyes were large and blue, without a hint of bad in them. She couldn't make out the rest of him because now she was crying. The world around turned blurry. She embraced the darkness when it came for her and fainted, temporarily leaving her situation behind.

He was sitting in one of the more decent establishments when he saw them. Five man dragging a young slender girl by a leash around her neck. The girl looked around, hoping to find a kind bystander to free her, but no-one looked. Kalhar was a planet where rules and law were dirty words. She noticed Jan watching her and held out her hands. There was something wrong with her eyes, they were a bright kind of green, almost luminescent. He couldnít put her eyes out of his mind. Heíd better check on her, this might all be one big misunderstanding, maybe she just invited him to join the show, who knew? But this wasn't the time for second thoughts. Jan stood up and followed the men out.

Of course Katinka couldn't escape long enough in that darkness, not yet. It seemed to her she would be getting it soon enough. The thought of dieing wasn't too bad, but thinking about what would come before made her skin crawl. She had regained consciousness in a dark alley. For all she knew she could be halfway across town. She kept as still as she could, hoping they wouldn't hurt her while she was unconscious.
That didn't work out. They started slapping her and yelled for her to change. Katinka tried to stay focused and calm, holding on to her human form as long as she could...but too soon the panic ran free in her body, changing her.
The men whooped in excitement and held her tight as she squirmed to get away. She was sure she clawed one or two of them, but they didn't seem to care.
Suddenly she froze. They were holding her above a tank of water!

In an alley, away from the lights, Jan saw the reason of her green eyes. The men kicked her and spit on her, yelling to change. And she did, she shrunk, until she was just a little furry ball. Then she opened her eyes, the yellowish green glowing in inexistent moonlight. She tried to escape, but the men had nets, they caught her. She struggled and managed to scratch some of the men when they pulled her out of the sack. Jan saw the barrels of water, reservoirs for drier times and figured out what they wanted to do. The girl-cat screamed and fought, trying to keep herself out of the water, but she couldnít fight off five men. Jan wasnít to fond of the idea either. On the other hand, he wasnít fond of the idea of leaving her alone too. He stepped into the alley and coughed.

Katinka was ready to faint again and give up when the coughing sounded. All heads, including Katinka's turned toward the sound.
"What ya doing 'ere!" Frenk yelled.
Katinka's heart leaped as she recognised her handsome stranger from the bar. Had he come to save her?
"You can't drown her." He said. Jan swallowed as he saw the big hairy creature that once had been human approach him. He must be crazy, there were 5 of them and only one of him. If they got to him before he could speak he'd get them both killed. How he wished he was more eloquent, yes he knew words like eloquent, but he just couldn't use them in a conversation with people other than himself. 
Katinka's  hopes sank quicker than concrete. He wasn't heroic at all!! What good would he do her, besides giving her company when she died? She wriggled free as the grip of the man holding her loosened and ran off. At least she was free now.
Somehow she couldn't leave the stranger alone though. It was her fault he was there in the first place.
She turned and hid behind some of the big tanks, waiting to see what happened. He was doomed. No-one could face 5 Kalhar men on his own and hope to get away unharmed. 
Jan had never been a violent man, but he wasn't a pacifist either. He did want to get out with his body still intact. All 5 thugs circled around him, probably waiting for him to try and run. Jan knew he could solve this easy enough with a mental shield, but he thought he was allowed to do something more. He had liked to turn the men into rats or something, but that was too much for his nature. A nice defeat would be enough. 
He let them get real close. Knowing they'd be eager. Then he whispered the one word that would save him. "Dormitans." They instantly dropped and fell asleep. Jan smiled, almost like babies, so vulnerable. They'd be hurting like hell tomorrow though and probably they wouldn't have any item left, and less organs. Kalhar was indeed a hard place. 

Suddenly Jan felt very tired. He got back to his hotel and went up to his room. He was trying to decide whether or not to take a shower before he went to bed when he noticed his door was open. Now how did that happen? His travel agent had assured him that these hotel owners still had some dignity. Maybe the travel agent was just a trap. Nothing would surprise him about Kalhar anymore. 
It was her... She sat on the bed and looked at him. "Why?" she asked.
"Because I couldn't walk away."
"Noble men aren't seen often around here...I should thank you." She started to undress.
She stopped when she noticed his expression. She blushed and looked down. Jan approached her and said:
"All you owe me is to tell me your name."
"Katinka."
"Strange name for a strange girl..." Jan mumbled.
He had found the one other magical entity on all of Kalhar. Mission accomplished. It was a good thing he wasn't tired anymore, he didn't get much sleep that night. Maybe he would make his parents proud one day and get married to this strange, but magnificent young girl.

"Jan." Katinka whispered in his ear.
"Yes?" his eyes were shut, but he was awake enough to answer her.
"I don't want to stay here." she said.
"Neither do I." Jan said, although the the thought of spending more nights in the hotel did appeal to him. But Kalhar wasn't a planet he wanted to spend the rest of his life on.
"How soon?" she asked.
"This afternoon."

"All passengers for flight x1-D35F, please go to the boarding hall." a metallic voice sounded through the speakers.
"That's our flight." Jan said as he got up from one of those small plastic chairs.
"Where are we going?" Katinka asked.
"I honestly don't know, it was the first flight out of here."
"anything will be better than this."

"Welcome to the Iridea Felix." the captain said.
"Thank you. Where can we put our luggage?" Jan asked, not that they had a lot of luggage. Katinka had nothing other than the clothes she was wearing and Jan was used to travelling light, but he wanted to see their cabins. The ship wasn't looking all that great and he hoped the rooms were more than empty storage rooms.
They weren't. Jan couldn't believe his eyes when he saw the big metallic room. It was empty aside from one chest and one bed. A big bed, but still. After the captain had left them alone, Jan turned to Katinka and said:
"We've got ourselves a real dump."
"But look at all the room! I could run for hours!" she answered.
"If it's fine with you, I'm ok. I only hope it's a short trick, because if the room is this bad, the food is worse."
"I can always catch mice." Katinka said and smiled.
Jan shook his head and sat on the bed.
"I'll think I'll take a nap, wake me when it's time for diner, will you?"
Katinka waved as she was already busy exploring the walls. Jan closed his eyes and dosed off.

Katinka hopped onto the bed, agile as ever in her cat form, and started licking his ear. When that didn't wake him she bit his ear and started to washe her paws innocently when he awoke.
"You didn't have to bite me, you know."
Prrr.
"Can you become human so you can tell me why you woke me up?"
Steadily the girl started changeing back.
"Food is almost ready, I can smell it." she said.
"How come you can change now? You didn't seem to be able in that alley."
"I'm safe here." she said and shrugged.
There was a knock on their door. Jan jumped off the bed and straightened his clothes. He walked to the door and opened it just an inch, so the man outside wouldn't see Katinka laying naked on the bed.
"Yes?" he asked.
"Diner is ready."
Jan closed the door again and looked at Katinka. She looked back.
"So, are we going to eat?" she asked.
"Maybe, but currently you would cause some damage." he smiled and pointed.
"ow...yeah, this feels right though." she said.
"Is there anything else I should know?"
"About me? No."

The diner was quite good for a cargo ship. When he complimented the captain about it he smiled and told them about their great cook. A second cousin from a woman who had been his aunt... family. Jan talked all the way through the diner and Katinka listened, and ate. It was amazing how much food she could eat.
When the diner was almost over the captain asked if they would like to see the command room.
"Ooh, yes." Katinka said, "I've never seen one."
The captain nodded and led them through some small hallways to the front of the ship. While Katinka looked out at the stars, Jan turned to the captain and asked:
"So where are we going?"
"Nowhere in particular. Our first stop is one of those nexus places that keep moving outside time. We're crossing the coordinates and we've promised to drop of some supplies."
"Outside time? That sounds interesting."
"The places creep me out, with all those dragons, no just give me plain folk like you two."
Katinka smiled, pointed out into space and said:
"I spot a cat in the stars! Look there's his eye."
"She loves cats eh? Most women do."
Jan nodded and said: "I'm getting tired, I think I better go back and get some sleep."
"Good night." the captain said.
"Katinka are you coming?"
"Hmm? oh yes!" the girl said and raced after him.

"Did you listen to the converstaion?" he asked her outside.
"Not really, why?"
"The captain is dropping us off at a place where they have dragons?"
Katinka's eyes grew big. "You mean there are things like dragons out there?"
"Oh, yes, I've heard about these places, but I have never seen one. It would be thrilling to see a dragon up close, don't you think."
"What if I get scared?"
"Then you've got me to protect you."
"True." she said and embraced him.

Continue
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The Dragon Soul
Cathair Fionabhainn

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