Just A Pretty Face

Just A Pretty Face
by Wendy Darling (Wiebke)

Story Notes

This story was written as part of a round-robin several years ago. The concept was that there was a har named Alessi circulating a blank book around Fallsend so different hara could write out their life stories and/or spill their darkest secrets into it. The project lost steam but my two segments form a complete story, so I thought I’d might as well share it. I forgot to post it to my own fanfic site.

Summary: A har at rock bottom, given up on life after abuse by Varrs, is selling his body in Fallsend when a chance encounter changes everything.

Characters: Original Characters

Ratings & Warnings: R, for adult harrish content; angst; mention of physical, sexual abuse.

Spoilers: Fulfilments… but before Cal reached Immanion and Fallsend presumedly became a nicer place.

Note: I don’t know if the kind of procedure mentioned in this story is anatomically possible, but that was what I was thinking at the time. Just suspend your disbelief 🙂

Author email: wdarling@abraxis.com

Web site: http://www.metrogirl.com/procreation/

Part 1

I have a pretty face but a pretty face can’t get you everything you want, especially if that’s all you have. Don’t think I’m saying I’m stupid, some empty-headed bauble. I’m not. I’m saying I have a pretty face. And that’s all. Everything else has been taken from me.

Originally I come from the Froia tribe, though that life is far behind me, locked in a room far away in a place I will never find again. I exist now and dreams alone are all that can really bring me back. I could never make it there now and even if I could, I wouldn’t want to. I couldn’t face it. Not anymore.

Because I am Froia and people know that, they do not question my long robes with their long sleeves and hem down to my feet. They don’t question the gloves I wear on my hands or my high collar. To them I am only a strange shy creature, beaten down like many of here in Fallsend.

Other hara do not ask me questions, just as I ask none of them. Although it is painful for me that they do not know the truth, I know in my heart that the truth would be even worse.

I don’t want to face the truth, but in this book, writing for Allessi, I will do it. I am not speaking to any particular har, but to all hara, and it makes me think that for one moment I can drop away my robes and show myself for what I am – a pretty face and something more, or nothing more, depending.

If I lifted up the hem of my robe you would see it on my legs. If I pulled up my sleeves you would see it. If I untied my belt you would see it on my chest, my back, every part of me, except my face, such a pretty face.

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Deliverance

Deliverance
by Wendy Darling (Wiebke)

Story Notes

1st out of 5 segments in the Rescued Lives series (Deliverance, Obstacle Course, Ripening Fruit, That Was Then, This is Now, Generation Gap.

In this, the opening story in Rescued Lives, we’re introduced to a Dera, har in need of rescue. Dera not only gets rescue, he gets a whole new start on life, and gives a whole new life as well.

Characters
All original characters (main characters Dera, Fafa, Arafa), with concepts, vocabulary, etc., borrowed from Storm Constantine.

Spoilers
No spoilers for any specific book in the Wraeththu trilogy, but it is imagined that this entire storyline takes place after the Ascension. There are still original incepted hara, but Wraeththu civilization has stablized.

Chapter 1

Water.

A hand upon my sweat-drenched forehead, fingers brushing through my tangled hair, rousing me into consciousness, and it was the first thought on my mind.

Water.

I must have murmured the word aloud. My throat and lips were so dry it was a wonder anyone understood me, but someone must have, because a moment later I felt the cold of glass pressed against my mouth.

“How long do you think he’s been out here?” I heard someone ask. The voice was far away. My eyes were closed. I could not see the speaker.

I felt the water trickle over my tongue and I wanted it so desperately. Yet when I tried to swallow I nearly choked. It had been days since anything liquid or solid had passed down my throat.

“Careful!” a voice exhorted. It could have been the same voice or before or it could have been a different one.

“Here, this is a better way!” I heard, and then a long tube was gently pushed back until the water flowed directly down and all I could do was swallow.

I had never nursed from a human mother. I had never been a human. I was a pure-born har. Still, I think I knew then what it must be like for human infants, sucking at sustenance as if their lives depend on it. At that moment, water meant life.

Water.

I swallowed down as much as they gave me.

Meanwhile I felt hands touching me, my faraway body, examining me. There were murmured comments, indistinct as the sound of swallowing filled my ears.

By the time the water stopped flowing, the tube removed, I was able to understand the voice more clearly.

“Look at his face, the way it’s burned,” one said. “He must have been out here in the sun for days.”

“The salt on his cheek,” another said, running a finger under my eye. “He must have been crying.”

“Yes, yes,” the first voice returned. “Of course he was crying. Wouldn’t you have cried?”

I suddenly felt it. Time to face up. I opened my eyes.

Slowly the world came into focus. The hideously blue sky of midday, the scorched red earth. And two hara, crouched down and staring at me worriedly.

“You’re awake!” the light-haired one exclaimed.

I was too weak to answer. I barely managed a nod.

“How do you feel?” asked the other. He had black hair and green eyes. From the way his hand now rested on my neck, I knew he was the one who had touched my tears.

This time I decided to struggle with words. I had to force sounds out of my throat. I pushed the air upwards, towards my lips. “Alive,” I managed, my voice sounding like a cough.

My rescuers smiled. “Yes, you are alive,” the second one responded. He then glanced down at my body. “But this…” he began, looking troubled, “what about this blood?”

I turned my eyes to where he was looking. They had propped me up so I could drink and now I could see the blood oozing through my shirt.

“I wanted to ask you while you were awake,” he explained. “We wanted to know if we were hurting you by moving you.” He began to unfasten my buttons. “Now I’m going to take away your shirt so I can have a look and see what’s the matter.”

The other har came up behind me, the perfect nurse, and worked the shirt off my shoulders, pulling my arms out of the sleeves.

“By Aghama,” muttered the one examining me in front. I saw the slash in my body, about half way down my torso, just at the bottom of my rib cage. It was knife wound, I knew. I knew it was bad. The wound had festered. Little squirming things had attached themselves to my rotting flesh.

When at last I thought about it, connected my body and mind, I realized that it hurt. Really hurt. Hurt as if all the pain in he world had been concentrated into that one spot.

Then there was another thought. a terrifying thought — worse than the thought of dying of thirst, dying of hunger, or the pain of the knife wound. Much worse.

The pearl.

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Obstacle Course

Obstacle Course
by Wendy Darling (Wiebke)

Story Notes

2nd out of 5 segments in the Rescued Lives series (Deliverance, Obstacle Course, Ripening Fruit, That Was Then, This is Now, Generation Gap).

The second story is the tearjerker of the series but it has its heart-warming moments as well. A follow-up on family life and the fickle unfairness of life. One warning: Contains some major angst.

Characters
All original characters (main characters Dera, Fafa, Arafa, other hara and harlings), with concepts, vocabulary, etc., borrowed from Storm Constantine.

Spoilers
Obviously the previous story, Deliverance. No spoilers for any specific book in the Wraeththu trilogy, but it is imagined that this entire storyline takes place after the Ascension. There are still original incepted hara, but Wraeththu civilization has stablized.

Chapter 1

“Oh, please, please, oh, oh, could you–”

My cry of passion was cut off by my lover’s fingers, pressed across my lips. His eyes said, “Quiet.” So did his silent voice.

I willed myself into the mode Fafara desired, speaking to him using the powers he had helped me to develop. “Is this better?” I asked him.

“Of course, my sweet.” His mind-touch, as always, sent shivers of delight down my spine. To be so very connected!

“Finally you begin to master the technique,” he continued.

I had to laugh out loud but I managed to keep any actual words unspoken. “No, you’re the one who’s mastered the technique!” His mouth had fastened to my ouana-lim and in just a few seconds he had worked me to the point where a laugh was entirely inappropriate. Once again, I cried out loud in ecstasy.

“Oh, Dera,” he moaned silently, “what am I going to do with you?”

By now ouana-lim was throbbing with desire and ready to bury itself in Fafara’s warm, willing flesh. As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t what he was going to do with me, but what I was going to do to him. That was the plan for the evening; we were to conceive a child.

Gently I moved his tender lips away from my organ and drew him down on the bed so he lay down beneath me.

“I love you,” I said, and almost immediately he was soume for me. Slowly lowering myself down, I eased into him and began the dance that we hoped would create a new life.

We ceased speaking, out loud or otherwise. As was necessary for conception, this would be a spiritual experience and we would need to tune into our most refined powers in order for our union to bear fruit.

Gradually the heat began to rise, the pleasure pulsed in waves, and I felt the climax building to the fever pitch that would bring us to the next level. We were so close!

Suddenly, a swath of light appeared across the bed. Someone had apparently opened the door.

Letting out a groan, I stopped what I was doing. In the increased light, I could see Fafara’s look of disappointment.

“Dede?” called out a small, familiar voice. Ilafa, our two-year-old harling, was using his special nickname for me. “What are you doing?” he asked.

I was tempted to tell him that I was trying to make him a new brother, but before I could get a single word out, Fafara withdrew out from under me and pulled himself to a sitting position at the side of the bed.

“Come here, Ila,” he said. My son crept over from the door, looking at me anxiously, obviously tuned in to the fact that I was rather annoyed. Fafara would not have any such negative emotions spilling over onto the child.

Pulling Ilafa up on his lap, Fafara gave him a hug and assured him that “Dede” and “Fafa” had simply been playing in bed before going to sleep. The two of us had agreed that it was still too early to discuss aruna with the child, and so Fafara wove a clever excuse.

Ilafa, being a two-year-old harling, had a few questions, such as why, a few minutes ago, he had heard me crying out as if someone had hurt me. He had been standing just outside the door the whole time.

We came up with answers, enough to satisfy him, and then finally I got around to asking him what he had been doing not only awake, but hanging outside our bedroom eavesdropping.

Hadn’t Arafa been watching him? Arafa had known our plans for the evening and had been instructed to keep the child occupied.

“He was playing with me and reading me a book when he fell asleep!” Ilafa explained. At first I found it hard to believe but then I remembered that Arafa had been pursuing his own romantic attachment. He had related to me how he had engaged in some rather strenuous aruna the night before. On top of that, just that afternoon, gone out on a house call a long horse ride away. No wonder he had fallen asleep on the job!

After all that talking, my aruna-thoughts had just about disappeared when Fafara leaned forward and attempted to share breath. I accepted his gesture briefly before pulling away.

“Not now,” I told him. “I have to put this one to bed.” I scooped up my small, sometimes inconvenient package and, waving poor Fafara goodbye, went off to put things in order for the night.

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Ripening Fruit

Ripening Fruit
by Wendy Darling (Wiebke)

Story Notes

3rd out of 5 segments in the Rescued Lives series (Deliverance, Obstacle Course, Ripening Fruit, That Was Then, This is Now, Generation Gap).

Set a few years after Obstacle Course, this is a little tale of coming of age and the maturing of the family. This story is very much character-driven, not plot driven.

Characters
All original characters (main characters Dera, Fafa, Arafa, Ilafa, and Adelna), with concepts, vocabulary, etc., borrowed from Storm Constantine.

Spoilers
Obviously the two previous story, Deliverance and Obstacle Course. No spoilers for any specific book in the Wraeththu trilogy, but it is imagined that this entire storyline takes place after the Ascension. There are still original incepted hara, but Wraeththu civilization has stablized.

Chapter 1

It was mid-afternoon when the sun came out from behind the clouds, catching Adelna’s shining auburn hair. My youngest son took after me in looks and now, he approached six years old, the resemblance was becoming more and more striking. He was out in the yard creating some sort of sculpture. He’d been working on the project for some day. All along I had decided not to look too closely, as I was sure he’d rather have the final product come as a surprise. I was looking at him out the window of my workroom, having just completed a long string of orders on my jewelry.

Fafara was sitting in his usual chair in the corner. He’d come by twenty minutes before to talk to me and I’d told him I needed to complete my work. Still observing Adelna, I signalled the end of my work hours with a question.

“I haven’t seen Ilafa out there or heard from him in a few hours. Do you know where he’s gone off to?”

I put away one last tool and turned to face the corner. Fafara sighed.

“Yes, Dera, I do.” A slight smile twisted his lip. “In fact, that’s what I came by to speak to you about.”

I stepped over and slid down on the floor in front of his chair. I always loved to lean back into his legs. “Oh, I see. So where is he?”

Fafara’s hands began to play with my hair as he replied. “It’s not so much where he is as what he’s doing.”

I turned my head around swiftly enough that my hair snagged on Fafara’s fingers. “Ouch!” I muttered.

“Do I have your attention now?” he asked, grinning.

I nodded. He always knows just how to get to me and at that particular moment, he was doing a splendid job.

“He’s off in his room, Dera. He’s been spending more and more time there. Have you noticed?”

I thought about it and nodded again. “Yes, I have. I thought he was just tired.”

Fafara shook his head slowly form side to side. “It’s more than that, Dera.”

Suddenly it dawned on me. Feybraiha.

As always, Fafara knew just what I was thinking. “Time flies, doesn’t it?”

I stared at him, feeling a bit stunned. My son was soon to become har, no longer harling. I still remembered him as my mewling little one, the child I had borne out of such grief, his father killed in a random assault in the desert while he was but a pearl. Now he was hiding in his bedroom, about to become an adult.

I sighed. “I feel like such a bad hostling! I didn’t even notice!”

Fafara patted my head. “It’s all right. He’s just barely begun to show the signs.”

“Then how can you be sure?”

“Oh, I can tell,” he said, his fingers by now twining through my hair again. “I saw five of my own go through it, don’t forget. You learn to pick up on things.”

“Like what?” I asked. Unlike Fafara, who had been incepted as a human teenager, I was pure-born and had gone through Feybraiha myself. Still, he had many years more experience and in our years together, I had learned to trust in his ability to make judgements that were beyond me.

“Various signs,” he replied. “Like sitting out in the garden staring at the clouds. Not finishing his lunch because he’d rather go lay in the bath. Showing a bit of temper with Adelna. You know, small things.”

I turned my head forward and settled my shoulders between his knees. “Yes, I know. I remember when my own time came. Our house was always such a bustle of activity that no one noticed anything until one day I had a fit at dinner and threw a plate through the window.”

“Oh, my!” Fafara laughed. “Let’s hope that doesn’t run in the family!”

“Yes, let’s hope,” I said, laughing a bit myself. “Actually I think we might be fine, because I remember Ilana telling me that his experience had been relatively mild. I actually knew him then and my memory of his house during that time doesn’t include any smash windows.”

Fafara chuckled. “Good, Dera.” He moved his hands down and began to give my shoulders a serious massage. “Still, there are some important matters we will need to discuss.”

I nodded in understanding. “We need to talk to him, of course.”

“Of course,” he agreed, sending a ripple of pleasure down my back as he squeezed the tightness out of my muscles. “We can do that tonight. In the meantime, we have to make some decisions.”

All at once I knew what he was talking about. Someone would need to be brought in for the occasion, the ritual aruna that would mark my son’s coming of age. This was most often a known, often close, friend of the family, someone agreed upon by the parents. Occasionally harlings overrode their parents’ decisions, either disliking the choice or having one of their own. In our case, however, I was certain our choice and my son’s would coincide quite nicely.

“Arafa,” I said.

Fafara gave my shoulders a tight but affectionate squeeze. “Agreed. Arafa.”

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That Was Then, This Is Now

That Was Then, This Is Now
by Wendy Darling (Wiebke)

Story Notes

4th out of 5 segments in the Rescued Lives series (Deliverance, Obstacle Course, Ripening Fruit, That Was Then, This is Now, Generation Gap).

Characters
All original characters (main characters Dera, Fafa, other hara and harlings), with concepts, vocabulary, etc., borrowed from Storm Constantine.

Spoilers
Obviously the previous stories, Deliverance, Obstacle Course, and Ripening Fruit. No spoilers for any specific book in the Wraeththu trilogy, but it is imagined that this entire storyline takes place after the Ascension. There are still original incepted hara, but Wraeththu civilization has stablized.

Chapter 1

I closed the door and heaved a sigh of relief. My workroom was empty and it seemed I would be afforded at least a couple of hours time to get back to work.

My orders were falling behind and the cabinets and counters were slipping into a state of disarray. Managing my business was providing more difficult than I had imagined.

It wasn’t simply the volume of business or the fact that Ilafa was on vacation. No, the problem I faced was one of timing.

First, my little Adelna was in the middle of his Feybraiha. Just as with Ilafa and all my sons, I’d been spending hours taking care of him, offering whatever comforts his tormented body desired — medicinal teas, salves, baths, massages. That afternoon had been particularly hard on him and I’d spent an hour simply forcing him to stop scratching at himself and then another hour getting him undressed and settling him into a bath. By the time I was through, not only was he almost asleep, but so was I.

I hadn’t been able to rest, however, because afterward, when I went by Dera’s workroom, I caught him listing on his chair, half-asleep. Our pearl was only two weeks along, but already I could see that his energy was being drained. I personally had no such troubles during my hostings but as with his first time, Dera seemed to be having difficulty coping with the particular demands of the pearl.

Telling him to give up work, I had carried him outside to a hammock under the trees and told him to have a nap. We’d shared breath for just a moment and I’d given him what must have been the last of my remaining strength, for afterward, as I rose to go, I was feeling even more exhausted. I had almost gone for a nap but I had my business to tend to.

I took a seat on my stool and pulled over my in box to see what orders had arrived. There were two orders for medicines that could be prepared that day and I laid these aside. It was then that I saw it.

A letter, apparently dropped off by our housekeeper while I was attending my wards.

A beige envelope with my name on it, and not just my name, but my full name, the name I never used.

Not anymore.

Fafara Dishtana Radanash.

With trembling hands, I picked up the letter. My name… in familiar handwriting. It was– Oh, no, it couldn’t be! But it was–

I slid a long nail under the seal and opened it with almost scientific caution. Inside, a folded piece of paper. I took it between my fingers and pulled it out.

I opened it and turned the words to face me. As soon as I saw the endearment, let alone the first line, I knew my plans of working that afternoon were through.

Fafarandash,

It is I, Tishrana. I’m sure you never thought you would hear from me again. You thought me dead. I was not.

Please, do not be angry with me. Do not be hurt that I am only now telling you. My absence has surely been a matter of supreme difficulty for you.

I am presently in our old hometown, Ferenga. I came here as soon as I was able and once again beheld our beautiful sons. I regret that I was not able to be a parent to them.

Immediately I asked for you. I was told you had moved away years ago and begun a new life with a new partner. I will be spending a week here in Ferenga and then I will arrive in Delia with your son Ilafa and our grandson — to think we have a grandson! — Ilam.

All will be explained to you. Do not believe that I wanted to be parted. I did not! I pray you will be willing to hear my story.

With the love you always knew,
Tishrana

Never in my life, except perhaps at the moment of what I had thought was Tishrana’s death, had I been so shocked. My brain processed the words but for a few moments they were mere symbols, devoid of meaning. I stared at the paper, waiting for my emotions to kick back in. What did I feel? What did it mean?

Suddenly I felt it. The power and pain of memory rolled over me like a giant ocean wave, and I felt myself pulled under.

There I stood, at the edge of the canyon that seemed to have no bottom. Overheard a heavy rain fell and the ground beneath my feet was washing away — just like the ground that had once been beneath Tishrana’s feet. That ground was gone, gone down the cliffside, and the canyon had grown wider.

Tishrana was dead, swallowed by the forces of the wild earth, so enormous and so lacking in compassion. He had been walking in front of me on our way back to our camp when suddenly I saw him fall, fall so quickly and so far I did not see where he landed. I heard him scream and I felt his soul cry out to me. Then there was silence. He was gone.

I stared at the letter, life rushing back, my heart beating, my lungs breathing. He was alive. He was coming to see me. What on earth was I going to do?

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