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From Ashes
#31
Rikovi prattled on. He would have left too, if not for the sudden company. Morven accepted the Ascendancy’s words with a nod, though it was not like she could, or would, complain even if she’d wanted to. Unexpected, certainly, though she gave little evidence of it. Rikovi said Durante had been at the ball, which perhaps explained the interest from above. As it was there were questions on her tongue, but since those probably weren’t appropriate either she held on to those quietly as well. It was the mist monster she was thinking of, and how there was nothing quite like seeing someone that important in the flesh to realise how very mortal life was.

“Good,” she said to Nox. “Then you’ll know what to expect.”

It saved the explaining. His manner didn’t suggest he needed the coddling, particularly given his apparent background. Morven would have gone straight into it, but for the somewhat dramatic warning. Instead she sighed. “What does he mean, Durante?”
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#32
Allan smiled at the discussion that was about to start. "Darkness, light. You can't have one without the other. For what is a shadow but darkness caused by something blocking the light."

Nikoali Brandon liked philosophy. Among other things, but that had been their time spent together that the others didn't understand. Allan looked at Nox and the look on his face clearly said he was not a purveyor of philosophy. He wondered if he had any friendship or comradery with their commander.

Morven was immediately on to the Ascendancy's warning. The man wasn't worried from his attitude but there was a guilty look in Nox's eyes. Allan wanted to ask the same question now but he bit his tongue. He could theorize about it, but Nox was here to tell his own story.
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#33
The Ascendancy issued a cryptic warning that Nox now had to answer for. He'd have wished to tell her in a different manner, or not at all but such was the game. Nox smiled at the Ascendancy though it was filled with a hey thanks I appreciate it look - filled with sarcasm. "The female side of the power offers me nothing and doesn't bring out the darkness. I've yet to meet a powerful female. And the other desires well let's say the hoard only pushes what I desire." Which in this newfound revelation was not women and most specifically his attraction to Raffe. who he was missing right about now.

Nox turned to Morven with a brighter smile. "Our Ascendancy is alluding to the fact that in the bite that forced me to sever my arm also attached me to the collective mind of the thing that bit me. Dr. Weston and I hope the Atharim scientists will come to figure out what is happening. At least so it's known and possibly can be reversed in the future if we cannot eradicate them when we go hunting them - after I am capable of wielding this new arm." Nox sighed, he'd wandered off topic. "The proximity to power draws the darkness out, and the potential to lose control is higher. But if there is a worry I'd submit to the use of the drug I had here before, but I do not believe I can handle someone shielding me like at the gala. The abrupt nature probably would bring out the worst of the horde and since I wouldn't have my power it might come and rescue me"
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#34
“Well, since they dinae teach women that here, you don’t need to fear shielding from me,” she said somewhat drily.  “And you can keep your secrets and your life story, Durante. I only needed to know if it would interfere.” The last was said with an easy smile; Rikovi was the one filled to the brim with all the inappropriate questions, and Morven’s interest had been strictly professional. Since the Ascendancy threw the comment out with flippancy, she saw no reason for undue concern. At the same time, she should have been told upfront. Didn’t anyone bloody well think to ask if she could offer any insight?

“Let’s get on with it, shall we?” She cupped a hand over Nox’s forehead, pulled on the power in one swift motion, and smoothly poured the threads in. They wove in a deft net, feeding back information. Insignificant injuries paled beneath the obvious. The arm had been cleanly cauterised. But it was the unusual and frenetic activity in his brain that pursed her lips. She was aware, then, of the others in the room. Even though one of them was the Ascendancy himself, she would prefer privacy to speak with a patient on such things. "You said Doctor Weston is looking into this? she asked quietly. She’d offer to liaise with the woman. They must have already been running tests.

Then, without preamble. “I’ll heal the arm now.”
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#35
Morven was to the point. Aria would have liked her. She never really liked small talk either. And unfortunately, Nox had a bad habit of divulging too much information - usually when he was nervous. Not that there was reason here, but his mouth almost always ran away with him.

Nox visibly shivered as Morven embraced her power. "I don't know if I'll ever get used to that." he said off-handedly. He tried not to talk as she did her thing. Aurora use to yell at him when he spoke, so he chuffed himself for his slight words as she started. But it couldn't be helped. And the memories of healing was still the same. He'd been healed by others - Manix being the only one of note and it was a small healing just to see the weave. Nox didn't dare try it himself.

But he couldn't see what Morven did at all. And he'd never gotten to see Jensen James do his thing. Aria had. She'd been healed by him. "She is." Nox confirmed. Whatever she felt he didn't really want to know. He knew he was off. He didn't need it voiced.

"Go for it." He wasn't in a position to say no anyway not with the Ascendancy standing there with his gracious offer.

Nox closed his eyes. He didn't dare move now that she was going to heal him. The power he didn't feel but the act it performed on his body he did. And with it the toll of energy it took on him. He could feel the light-headedness. And when she lifted her hands, Nox shivered again from the lack of warmth on his skin. "That wasn't so bad." Though he sounded like he was as exhausted as a long sparring session.
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#36
Allan’s was an expected response. It sounded like something Nikolai might have uttered when he was young and optimistic about the world. It was endearing, and another reason why he liked Rikovi. Light-dark duality was a narrative as old as the foundations as the world. Greek philosophers called it enlightenment after all. “You are saying light and dark depend upon each other, for one cannot exist without the other. I argue they are indistinguishable. For at what point on the scale of shadows does one point and say that is light while that is dark? And then his neighbor defines such points differently. Neither are wrong, but neither are right. My light may be your dark. Your dark may be his,” -he pointed at Nox, “-light.”

About then, a chill flushed his skin in a way that he’d experienced rarely before. He turned, finding Nox to be similarly exposed to the cold. It was the mark of a woman channeling. He’d been told, but not acutely aware of the sensation in the moment it happened until now. The last time a woman channeled in his presence, he had been occupied by the Ijiraq. He paid no attention to anything other than the pain within.

He watched the entire ordeal with rapt attention.
“Fascinating,” he said to himself more than anyone else present. Nox looked better, although worn. “What did it feel like?” He asked. When he himself was healed by Jensen James, he’d been unconscious at the time, but when he woke, he was truly reinvigorated. Nox was obviously exhausted.
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#37
The tissue knit at haste, and the process did not take long. Her hand withdrew the moment it was done, and she released her hold on the power. “Try not to.” She grinned. Better he didn’t need the healing at all, though given the nature of some of those other minor scrapes and bruises, that was unlikely. “I want tae speak to you before you leave. Something personal,” she added. The words were quiet, but not furtive. Then her attention moved to assess their audience. No questions were asked of her, but with characteristic bluntness she spoke anyway.

“It takes a toll on the patient,” she said. “Essentially speeding the natural healing process, so requires the body’s resources for the work. Which is precisely why I asked Dominion Rikovi for his assistance in arranging Durante some sustenance. He will need it.” The directness of her gaze slid to the man in question, somewhat accusatory, but only mildly.

“All this talk on the nature of light and dark.” Morven didn’t much care for philosophizing, honestly. A frown rippled, but it was one of consideration. When she was not giving effort to make herself palatable, others often misconstrued her intensity for rudeness. A spectrum or a duality, she didn’t care, but it pushed her to ask the questions she had abided to silence before. Durante was healed now, and if she was reprimanded for insubordination for running her mouth, at least the words would be spoken. She might not get another chance to put them forth plain and straight to the source, at least not without layers of bureaucracy. It was to the Ascendancy she directed the words.

“Ye have barely any women here. None among the Dominions. None in your personal security, I’d warrant. Yet the powers are different. Rikovi says you were attacked at the fundraiser, that a creature possessed a woman and channeled through her. None of you would have been able to even see the flows, nor known she was a channeler before she went from a risk to a threat. That shouldn't be allowed to happen again.” She didn’t say it confrontationally, or she didn’t intend to. She knew from her conversation with Rikovi that things were being done about it -- or researching the creature itself anyway. There was no disparagement for that, and certainly no criticism. It was not like she was privy to any of the details, or had even known about it before the Dominion spilled, and clearly the security breach had been handled.

Rather, it was said with the fierceness of one who considered her loyalties paramount, and realised she was in a position to be of use. She didn’t expect the Ascendancy knew who she was beyond a name he had signed into the Facility, yet a closer perusal at her records would make it abundantly clear why she suspected she had been pulled from military training as a physician. She wasn’t just a healer. She would be wasted as such. It was allegiance she offered now.
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#38
Allan looked slightly guilty at the reprimand. He knew the costs of healing, he'd been injured enough times - though nothing like losing an arm. His were definitely small beans. But the more he learned about Nox, the more he became fascinated with him. He had a sister who could heal? So the power was likely genetic? But yet the still sexist - how did that manifest? What was the difference. All the philosophical talk about light and dark and it applied to their own powers as well. But he didn't delve into it. "I will make sure he is fed after he's done with him. I promise." Allan said quickly.

Morven's tone wasn't threatening but Allan stood up taller anyway. He'd been there protecting the Ascendancy. But he'd been of little use. The man sitting here in a daze knew more about what was happening, and he had been on the top priority watch list. Why he was even allowed in the gala had been a surprise. Knowing he was a channeler and he was Atharim. And he'd already been present on one assassination attempt and knew key details about others. He was dangerous - but he was still just a kid.
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#39
There was awe in the Ascendancy's voice. Not that it was very easy to detect, but the opposite sex was a unique barrier to learning. It sucked, but it is what it is. He asked how it felt and Nox chuckled. "It's like a thousand little ants crawling over your skin, while you are sprint a marathon in 30 seconds flat." Nox's stomach rumbled echoing Morven's statement about food. Hunger, and power, and exhaustion were not a good combination.

The man, doctor who was fiddling with the arm stood up shortly after Morven began about the gala. And she wanted to speak of something personal. Nox smile at her "Ask away, nothing I can tell you is worse than me being Atharim." Personal or not.

The doctor started unbandaging the arm and his whistle of admiration was for the neat and tidiness of the healing. "How's it feel."

Nox chuckled, "Like I'm missing an arm."

"That won't be much longer." He went about his business while the others talked. There were measurements and other things being taken. He was back and forth between his work bench and Nox. Nox wanted to close his eyes and sleep but he knew if he did that he'd pass out and be there for hours. And there was too much going on to let that happen here and now. Too much danger the darkness intoned in his head. But he wasn't not in danger - maybe he was the danger.
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