Kenzie was 9 years old, still very much a kitten. Just like every other summer day before morning learning sessions he played with his friends. The community where he was born was his family. His parents were everyone other kit's parents as much has they where his. So they often played out in the western fields where there was no adults watching. This day they played a game that one of the Humans in the community called "hide and seek". Kenzie had hid far back in the woods, farther in than he should have been. As a result he never heard the screams from his friends and the shouts from the adults. A forest fire was nearing the settlement he had come from. A modified troop transport was dropping a powdery foam material almost like heavy snow behind him. The powder would quickly coat the trees and ground, stopping a fire cold. Kenzie had seen the powder used before. One of the teachers had told him, "It's used to stop fires but don't go near it. That will melt your fur and make you sick " So he ran in the other direction from it until he saw the fire. The danger of the foam was immediately forgotten as he turned around and ran the other way.
He was found two hours later by the same transport that had been dropping foam. Kenzie's skin had been burned black and yet he had managed to work most of the way through out of the fire barrier and collapsed on foam covered grass. The crew of the transport carried him into the back of the cockpit. The thick blue smoke of ion engines being used illegally in an atmosphere followed them all the way to the best facilities in the entire expansive of the newly formed Orlan Empire, the Ancient's Mountain.
Kenzie was laid on a floating bed and brought deep into the mountain. His injuries were great, most of his skin was burned off, his skull at been fractured (possibly by a falling branch), and he had foam in most of his wounds and his lungs. Skin and lungs could be grown from his own DNA. Almost any part of the body could be grown. The greatest worry to the doctors after they stabilized him was his eyes. The foam had eaten through the delicate tissues and already close to his optic nerve. Carefully his eyes and part of his optic nerve was removed and the wounds cleansed.
It wasn't until days later that he finally regained consciousness. It was an odd sensation. The first thing he noticed was that he wasn't breathing and he couldn't speak. Panic seized him and then oddly went away, replaced by an odd euphoria. Slowly he noticed his mouth was dry and raw. Kenize cried or tried to, his tear ducts had been burned away by the foam. He finally determined that only his ears worked because there was a machine whirring softly next to him and that he knew for certain that someone was watching him but he didn't know how he knew. Every other sense was missing.
* * * * *
Sentinel Rayon turned away from the monitors that where linked to the cameras in the surgery area. "How bad are his injuries?" he asked the doctor next to him.
"He's lost all of his skin, both lungs, both eyes, and most of his olfactory receptors. We can regrow the lungs and the skin easily they should be ready in a week. However, he had a skull fracture which lead to brain damage. The swelling destroyed his visual cortex and some of the surrounding tissues. We are going to have to remove the damaged sections entirely.", the doctor reported. Then she suggested, "It might be possible to use some of the Ancient's technology to repair his brain."
Rayon turned around fast and nearly shouted, "No! We must not use that technology until we understand it and the principles it operates on." His ears pointed forward and a growl rumbled in his throat.
"He will never see again if you don't let me do something. You can take your damned science and your damned dreams of an empire and leave!" The doctor was furious. Too many people had died already. Many that could have been saved. Didn't they have too few Meeleks already?
The Sentinel's growl died in his throat. It wasn't his dream. He didn't want an empire but there wasn't any other way. The guardians of the Abyss would be leaving soon and the Meeleks would be at risk of slavery and the technology they guarded would be ripe for plundering if they weren't able to protect themselves. His first decree had been that no technology would be used until it and the sciences behind it was understood. Meeleks had lost most of that knowledge long ago and he knew that an empire built with half understood technology would fall. They had regained so much and so little at the same time. His eyes revealed just a hint of the memories that haunted him. Actions that had been taken in necessary haste. He replied very softly, "It's not my dream, doctor, and you know this. You also know we can't use the technology even once. However, I will make it my responsibility to see that he is cared for."
"Then you can explain to him why he will never be able to see again."
Rayon closed his eyes and sighed, "When the kit is older I will explain. He would not understand now."
"You explain to him now," the doctor ordered.
"No. I will explain later. Now, I will tell him that will never see again."
* * * * *
Kenize laid immobile. The euphoria had worn off and was replaced by a despair. He longed for his parents, even one of the community teachers. He longed for the cloth to be taken off his eyes. Who or what had been watching him had left or stopped. That presence had been a small comfort because at least he wasn't alone. Someone had cared enough to watch. Loneliness ate at him more than fear, so much that the lack of pain had gone unnoticed. Questions raced through his head. Where were his parents? Why couldn't he see? What was wrong with his arms and his legs? Would he disappear and never be seen again like one kitten that had broken it's back?
Footsteps brought him back to the small room and it's continuously whirring machine. There was someone there! Someone that maybe could help him! If only he could speak. He cried without tears as he had before. No great sobs, no droplets from his destroyed eyes, not even a sound, just a mind filled despair and hopelessness. A gasp came from outside the room, followed by crash. For an instant he could feel someone else's mind reeling in shock. He heard several more people outside his room. One of them had to come in here and help him! If he had heard someone else's mind maybe he could touch a mind instead. A half recalled afternoon lesson was his guide. Kenize emptied himself of every thought and focused on a single word: help. He took that word and reached. There was four shapes that he could sense. Curiosity took hold and he explored the shapes. Two of them felt like velvety fur of a newborn. One was rough, filled with prickly crevices and sharp edges. The final one was a smooth metal barrier to the fingers of his mind. He pushed on that barrier. It resisted. He pushed harder to no avail. Fatigue dragged at him and he gave up. It was too hard and now he was too tired to try again.
Sentinel Rayon stood outside Kenize's room. One of the nurses was on the floor with Doctor Amelia and another nurse gathering up scattered papers and equipment. The presence that had tried to push into his mind never stood a chance of getting through his barriers. Rayon was reasonably sure that the kit was responsible. If so, he possessed both telepathic and empathic abilities. His blood had revealed no known Old Breed genetic markers for psionics, which didn't mean much since the kit was a New Breed. Still, if the kit was a psion he would need to be trained soon.
"I hope you are going to find out what happened here," Amelia said pointedly.
Rayon frowned, "The kit has bloomed, if that's the proper word. He's a psion with at least telepathic and empathic abilities."
The sheets in the doctor's hand fell to the floor.