Song of the Aenar @thylekshran
Destined

Prologue

While the rest of the crew seemed to be adjusting to life in The Expanse, coping their own ways with the endless stretches of stress and misery, Hoshi just couldn't seem to find a way of her own to shake the terror from her mind. She’d learned an entire language since they'd got here a month and a half ago. Usually, that would calm her, but it had been no good this time.

She lay on her side, propped up on an elbow with a padd in front of her, idly scrolling through languages in the Vulcan database seeking a new project. There were a few atypical configurations but nothing she wanted to put her mind to.

The chime of the communication monitor made her jump. Her finger must have slipped off the next page button, because after a short conversation with T’Pol about meditating together tomorrow at 1800 hours, the padd was open to the page on Ancient Andorii.

It sang a gentle melody when she picked it up, and the display informed her that this was a re-creation of the centuries-dead language. There was something hauntingly beautiful in it, and she couldn't tear herself away. Life finally gave her an escape.

The chime of the communication monitor made her jump. Her finger must have slipped off the next page button, because after a short conversation with T’Pol about meditating together tomorrow at 1800 hours, the padd was open to the page on Ancient Andorii.

Chapter 1. Destined

Hoshi shivers and holds herself tightly. Shran is saying something about the cold to Captain Archer in his usual flirty tone, and somewhere in the back of her mind she wonders when they’re going to resolve the tension that had been building since they met. But mostly she’s annoyed at him for enjoying the ice that creeps into her bones even through the several jackets she has on.

It’s enough to make her wish she’d never learned Ancient Andorii to begin with; she certainly never imagined they would be seeking the aid of a mythologized subspecies of Andorians that just so happened to be 1. real and 2. the last living speakers of a presumed dead language she studied on a whim last year.

Andoria is certainly beautiful, in a harsh and unforgiving way. As they make their way through the extensive cave networks underground, she can’t help but admire the way they've made such an inhospitable planet into a home.

“Shran!” The Captain’s panicked voice swings her around from where she's been looking at the holes left by ice bores and she sees the small blue alien impaled on an icicle through the leg. Captain Archer rushes to his side and Hoshi makes to follow him, but feels a sudden shock, like electricity, and notices a pale woman with antennae like Shran’s watching her from around a corner. It appears the Aenar have found them before they could find the Aenar.

“Hello.” Hoshi hums out in greeting to their observer. She startles, and Hoshi tries to smile reassuringly. “We were hoping to talk to you about a ship we encountered with one of your people aboard.” The Aenar woman tilts her head curiously, then moves so fluidly out of sight that Hoshi could have sworn she was transported.

She doesn’t reappear for several minutes, and when she does she’s accompanied by two other Aenar and stays silent, against a wall, while the Captain has Hoshi negotiate help for Shran from her companions.

Still, Hoshi feels strangely like the girl is watching her, even with her eyes deliberately cast elsewhere. The feeling of vaguely ominous fascination that she’d felt when her padd had seemed to open itself to Ancient Andorii returns, and Hoshi can’t keep herself from stealing glances at the mysterious woman. For some reason, she hopes she can sense it.

--

Jhamel had never seen an alien before this Andorian and his friends came to their home. She longs to let her telepathy loose in the twists and sparks of their minds that she can feel pressing against the edges of her awareness, but has no permission to do so. She’s sure they would be sent away by morning and no chance would ever come again, and so she braves the wrath of her leaders and steps with all the courage in her heart into the doorway of the living quarters assigned to the zhen that had been speaking to her back in the caves. Or is she a shen? It was hard to tell from just the accidental brush with her thoughts she had at their first encounter.

“Hello,” Jhamel says, moving through the threshold. She feels the alien’s eyes turn toward her.

“Hello again,” the alien replies. Jhamel can hear the smile in her speech and returns it shyly.

“I came to apologize.”

“What for?”

“Earlier, when I found you and the others, I experienced several of your thoughts without meaning to. I would have asked permission had I known you were there. I am sorry for this violation of your privacy.”

“That's okay,” says the alien. “Let’s start over. My name is Hoshi.”

“I am called Jhamel.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Hoshi hums. Her voice is so open and friendly, and Jhamel feels drawn to it like ice bores to thermal pockets.

“May I ask,” Jhamel starts. But there are so many questions she wishes to ask. “How is it you came to know our language?”

“There’s a database of languages from Vulcan. Yours is the same as the one Andorians spoke long ago, so there was a record of it for me to study. It’s a beautiful language.”

“I never thought of it that way until I heard it from your tongue,” Jhamel says without thinking. She blushes furiously when she realizes exactly what she just expressed to the alien, and in the familiar tense no less! With a zhen (shen?) she just met! The blood rises in her cheeks until she’s sure she must look the same shade as the Andorian Hoshi arrived with.

Hoshi giggles. “You’re very kind. Learning it got me through a... hard time in my life, so I have a special fondness for it.”

“How many languages do you know?” Jhamel questions, trying to keep the awe in her voice to a minimum so as not to further embarrass herself.

“Oh, I don’t keep count,” Hoshi says bashfully. “I know the majority of languages from my home planet, and I’ve learned at least six alien languages fluently since we left. Bits and pieces of others, as needed.”

The urge to see into Hoshi’s mind grows stronger the more Jhamel learns about her. All of that talent in one person… Jhamel can only guess at what she would behold, a tapestry of knowledge woven from her passion and skill, bright and colorful and huge. Unintentionally, she extends her consciousness out to the edges of Hoshi’s presence.

Hoshi must have felt it, because her mind lights up from the touch. Jhamel hears her gasp softly. “Is that you?”

“I’m sorry!” Jhamel quickly withdraws, but Hoshi’s telepathic field (something all creatures possess, but few can manipulate) seems to chase her. Jhamel can’t tell if Hoshi knows she’s doing it, but even if the action is subconscious it reveals impressive control.

“Wait, please!” Hoshi says. “I give you permission, as long as it will let me see you too.”

“It is a mutual connection,” Jhamel says. “It would be an honor to share my thoughts with you.”

Her antennae pick up movement, and Hoshi takes her hand. “A physical element is not necessary,” she manages to stammer out, but Hoshi just smiles.

“But it’s nice, isn’t it?”

“Yes.

“Good.” Her consciousness presses warmly up to Jhamel’s. “Let’s talk.”

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