"Hai, Ts'yen! Good news! I have a treatment plan ready for you.
It is attached to this message. Just wanted to say, be gentle. Those 'Scho'la Pro'genium' things are brutal. Someone wrote an account of what they do to their inductees. I have attached that as well.
Good luck with this Ts'yen.
"What you are going through is called Da'cova'ran. It is caused by a traumatic event, sometimes recent, sometimes quite some ways in the past."
The Por was trying her best to keep my attention. I hadn't been sleeping, these last few nights. I rubbed my eyes.
"An acquaintance of mine put together a treatment plan. Purely hypothetical, but based on recent studies, both here and in the Empire, it should work."
I looked over to where Alyss was standing against the wall, long black hair falling past her shoulders, almost covering her blue eyes.
She smiled supportively.
"What does it involve?" I asked, absently fiddling with my tunic. "You would have to go on leave. It involves travel to locations around the Enclaves and, if relations improve, the Tau Empire."
"If relation improve? I thought after the defence of Agrellan we had good relations, especially with the death of Aun'va"
She changed the subject.
"Never mind that. You will gradually be introduced back into combat roles, at first quiet ones."
"Before you go back on duty, we will need to get rid of this condition. That will mean you have to tell experts about possibly traumatic events in your past."
I stayed silent.
"....Traumatic events in your past."
Drake just sat there, digesting that last statement.
I knew exactly what was going on in his head at that moment.
I stepped forwards, laid a hand on the Por'vre's shoulder.
"For us, what is in the past should stay buried."
The Por looked confused.
"All Militarum Tempestus soldiers are orphans. We had to make peace with that before we could serve."
Drake's amber-coloured eyes thanked me from across the low table.
"Besides, usually we were so young we don't remember them."
The Por swiftly moved on from the point.
"In a few rotaa, you will be transferred over and given leave."
Drake cut in.
"Will anybody be coming with me?"
"Given your obvious bond, Gue'anda Alyss will be on leave too and will accompany you in 1 rotaa to Vior'los."
My heart leapt with joy. "She was coming with me!"
She flashed a smile, making it abundantly clear that she had arranged that little surprise.
"If it's not a combat zone, what will we wear? I mean, armour probably isn't appropriate in a nonmilitary zone."
The Por'vre looked down at the slim datapad he was holding for a second, and looked back up.
"A dress uniform will be provided, as well as pairs of fatigues for less formal occasions."
"Glad to see that everything has been taken care of."
"This seems all preplanned. I wonder if they know how deep this scar goes in me, and if they think this will help."
"Gue'anda, you are both dismissed."
That was the Por'vre again.
I had gone back to the squad's quarters once the Por had judged I was stable enough to move out of the isolation room.
I walked along the corridor, crimson fatigues contrasting sharply with the clean lines of the ship.
I turned, and there she was, just standing there.
She seemed unsure about what to say.
"I know that....."
She shook her head, seeming annoyed at herself.
"I can't put it right."
She took a breath.
"I know you were a noble from Tarasque Secundus, same as me.
I know you were on that last shuttle. But what haunts you about that? Your family didn't make it, just like mine. At least that's what I was told. What happened? Why has it scarred you so deeply?"
Images of that day flashed behind my eyelids, small snippets of memory playing over and over in my head, a whirlwind of loss and grief. I wasn't ready to tell her. I wasn't sure if I would ever be ready.
He stared past me, thinking. His fingers drummed a beat on his leg.
He looked towards me.
"We need somewhere to talk. And not now. Tomorrow, on the shuttle."
I put a note of steel into my voice.
"Now. In the barracks."
His mouth quirked in a small smile.
"I'm not a recruit, Alyss"
"No. you're not. I am Gue'vre Alyss Gray.
And we will be talking now."
His face looked perplexed.
"For my actions last deployment. Took a while for it to be processed."
He gave a wry smile.
"Well done, 'Vre"
"To the barracks now."
"Of course, 'Vre"
"Don't mock me!"
I punched him on the shoulder.
I sat on my bed, with my head down. We were in our squad's shared barracks. Of course, for now, we were the squad. After we went planetside, the barracks would be cleaned and the next squad would move in.
"I remember it vividly, as though it was etched into my mind. The dust swirling through the air, the screams of the dying ripping through the air as the genestealer cult made themselves known. Of course, I was only young, and so I had no idea what genestealers were. We had cleared the main city. We were running through the misty plains beyond, to get to the only shuttles off-planet."
I took a deep breath, my mind preparing itself to dive deeper into the memory.
"It was misty, unusually misty for that late in the day. Ma and Da were running ahead, leading the way for me and my sister. She would have been the heiress, you know. To House Corosyn. We reached the entrance to the launch bay, and my parents stayed at the entrance, to buy time and watch for stragglers, they said. They always were noble, at least as far as I remember."
I realised tears were running down my cheeks.
I took another breath, this one ragged and choked.
"They tore them apart. I was facing backwards as my sister carried me. I had twisted my ankle, and I couldn't walk.
I had to watch. We had a few metres to go to the shuttle.
She pushed me up, onto the rising deck of the passenger bay. They caught up to her. They....."
"They tore her limbs off.
I was watching. I couldn't not."
Alyss came over from where she had been leaning against the wall, and sat down beside me.
"That was the last I saw of Tarasque. Her, killed. My only sister."
She put an arm around me, eyes filled with kindness.
"Hell, Drake. You've been keeping this from everyone all these years? It's a miracle you kept going as long as you did."
"How did you?"
"I don't know."
She shifted a little.
"I don't know how I would keep going."
I was still crying. It felt good to finally let this out. Somehow, it actually did.
She rose, heading to her own personal quarters in the corner.