Chapter 1:


The Legacy of Xaero: Refrain from Reminiscence

 Doctor Adero Orr always admired the stars. Beautiful at night, mysterious and elusive during the day. Yet they were never really gone. A constant in a world of ever changing vari­ables. They comforted her in ways her peers and family never could. Cooking in their primordial soup was the DNA of life itself, yet could easily kill at a moment’s notice. As an Unimus, the par­allels felt striking.

Ordinarily, it would be a mark of pride for Adero. But that pride withered away to shame and embarrassment the moment King Argo declared his war of conquest against the Republic, severing ties as an electorate. A war that quickly pulled the elves and the cait sith into the fray as the self proclaimed TechnoKing made enemies of everyone and ruined the reputation of Unimus everywhere and the lives of those who just wanted to live and love and laugh, only to die for a government that pretended to care in a trench far away from home. Abandoned by family and country.

Or at least, that’s how Adero’s current patient and future coworker at Eclipse Academy, Doctor Janus Harvey felt.

Born to a middle class family in the Republic, Janus was a pale blonde man with green and brown eyes. His life should have been one of comfort and security the moment he acquired his doctorate. Instead, his life was shattered as he enlisted to protect the country he loved, and returned as a mentally broken man as the sole survivor of his unit.

The chevrons he fiddled with in his hands indicated his rank as a lieutenant. Tears and blood had stained the fabric from steely gray to a black-red hue.

“I forgot to ask during our last session, Harv,” Adero chimed in, smiling reassuringly to the human. “Do you prefer to be called Doctor, or Lieutenant?”

Janus flinched, as if unaware he had been in the room with her. “Oh, sorry,” He mur­mured, blushing. “W-what did you say?”

“I asked if you prefer to be called Doctor or –”

“No, did you call me Harv?” he interrupted. “No one calls me that.”

Adero frowned. “No one? But you said you preferred it last time we met,”

Now it was Janus’ turn to frown. “I… I did?” He asked. “I-I don’t remember.”

“Memory retention can be a byproduct of traumatic events,” Adero reminded him. “It’s a victory you remembered to come at all.” She smiled, narrowing her gaze. “Even if you forgot your glasses.”

The human blanched, which prompted Adero to start writing down on her clipboard. Or­dinarily she would have recorded the information on her personal bio-holo, Adero wanted to minimize any and all reminders to the poor man that she was the same race as the soldiers that got him here in the first place.

The man was a wreck. One day he’d be the most confident person to exist, as­sertive to a fault and barely polite. The next, nervous and anxious at the slightest sound. Nor­mally a sign of bipolar disorder, but Adero wasn’t so sure. It could just be the overlying trauma of war still maintaining a grip on his psyche; that would certainly account for his rapidly changing demeanor. But that wouldn’t explain every little quirk Janus Harvey was now exhibiting.

Over the course of their second session, Adero quickly realized just how much help Janus needed. Where he was previously assertive, almost aggressive, and dismissive of her, now he acted almost dependent. What was most concerning however, was that Janus claimed to have no memory of their previous meeting together, at all. When Adero read back some of the comments and notes, Janus seemed stricken and embarrassed at the thought of saying what he said and did.

Towards the end of their second session, Adero felt even more intrigued by Janus than ever. It was almost like she had been speaking with two completely different people. While she was starting to develop a clearer picture of what the discharged lieutenant was going through, she still needed to collate more data to be sure.

“This has been wonderfully enlightening, Janus,” Doctor Orr exclaimed as they con­cluded their meeting. “Will this time next week work for you?” She made a mental note to herself to bring some snacks for their next meeting. She did have some candies for her younger clients, but wanted to procure something else just for him.

“I suppose so,” Janus stammered. “I just hope my medical license gets reinstated soon.”

Adero clicked her tongue. “And I’m sure it will happen soon, we just need to find out what else might have affected you during your time serving, big guy.”

As she finished speaking, Janus’ eyes became unfocused for a moment. When they re­turned her gaze, his eyes became different. Gone was the nervous tic and projection of anxiety. All that was left was confidence.

“Hey, doc,” The man replied. “What are we doing here?”

His question caught her off guard. Where had this come from?

“What do you mean,” Adero asked cautiously. “We’ve been finishing our scheduled ther­apy for you Janus –”

“I told you to call me Harv,” He interrupted coolly. “Janus is the little guy. I’m the big guy.”

Neither of them said anything at first. Adero stared dumbfounded at Janus – no, Harv, all the while the synapses in her neural network began to reanalyze their past two meetings to­gether.

Dissociative identity disorder!

Harv grunted, as if acknowledging the silent epiphany she just received. “You weren’t hurting Jan, were you?” He said gruffly. Producing a pair of glasses, the man’s brown and green eyes bored into her.

“What? No!” Adero exclaimed, her clipboard falling from her hands onto the cushions. “I would never want to hurt you – either of you!

“How long have you been looking out for Janus?” She continued, feeling a great deal of excitement well up inside her.

Her client leaned forward, continuing to stare daggers at her. After a moment, he an­swered. “First thing I actively remember was getting Jan out of the trenches,” He answered. “Been keeping an eye on the little guy ever since. But I think I was around a little bit before that. Helping him in basic training and whatnot. He’s the doc between the two of us. I’m the lieu­tenant.”

“And does Janus know about how you’ve been protecting him?” Adero asked, reaching for her clipboard to scribble furiously.

“No, or at least I don’t think so.” Harv replied, leaning back in his cushion. “I’ve been try­ing to let him take the lead for the most part. Didn’t want to give him anymore stress than he al­ready got with having to come home from battle.”

“But you’ll eventually facilitate dialogue with your other half?”

“Someday. But right now he needs to get better,” Harv insisted. “You can bet Hao’s left ass cheek that I’ll make sure nothing and no one hurts him while I’m around. I just need to get a better handle on tuning in without taking the wheel is all.”

“Fascinating.” Adero breathed. “And would you mind if I could speak to you and Janus during these meetings? Perhaps eventually assist with communication when the both of you are ready?”


With that tentative promise, Harv excused himself, leaving Adero alone with her thoughts. She took a moment to regain her composure, realizing just how dramatic an impact witnesses Janus switch alters in front of her had been. It really did feel like he had been re­placed with another person.

Despite Harv’s claims to manifest during Janus’ enlistment in the military, Adero had some doubts. It was entirely possible that the human always had this condition throughout his life, and basic training had only given Harv the strength to exert his own influence from the men­tal walls between himself and Janus. Did the Harvey’s know about their son’s condition? The doctor made a note to herself to follow up on that in their next meeting.

Doctor Orr sighed in satisfaction as she concluded reviewing her notes. Ordinarily it would be time for a break, but she had one other appointment about to start, and it was one she was looking forward to. Taking a moment to make herself presentable, Adero left her office to greet her next patient in the waiting room.

“Crystal, I’m ready if you are,” She announced.

The little girl beamed at her from her chair, and leaped to the floor, racing into her office. Her chaperone, the giant beauty of a Cait Sith, chuckled and stood up.

“Doctor Orr, a pleasure as always,” Alinyah said, looking down on her.

Adero’s neck hurt from always having to look up to Alinyah. She was around average height, while the Cait Sith was almost eight feet tall, maybe more. “Likewise,” Adero replied. “Will you be joining us for Crystal’s session today?”

The cat woman shook her head, her beautiful mane flying in the air from the motion. “I have to prepare to get back to the war,” She admitted. “I’ve been away long enough as it is, helping Crystal adjust to life with my stepson.”

“Already?” Doctor Orr asked, incredulously. “Is that smart, with Crystal only seven years old and Ridley being in his sixties?”

Alinyah waved her concern aside. “My youngest daughter, Nikoly, will be moving in to provide any help either of them could need.” She explained. “It’ll give my daughter something to do while I’m gone.”

“That’s a relief. I just feel terrible about the whole thing,” Adero confessed. “Has there been any other changes I should be made aware of?”

The giant woman pursed her lips, her ears twitching. “Well, she’s been fine during the day,” Alinyah admitted. “But at night she’s refused to sleep in her bed and joins me in mine. Hopefully my kids will be able to deal with any stress that results from my leaving.”

Adero reached up to clasp Alinyah’s arm in solidarity. The woman’s anxious expression turned to confidence, though Adero might have perceived some reluctance behind it.

The two quickly bade each other goodbye and Adero returned to her office to be with the little girl. Squirming in her chair, Crystal exuded an infectious confidence, like a bubbling pot ready to boil over. She smiled as the Unimus came in, and Adero felt her soul brighten in re­sponse so much that she couldn’t help but return Crystal’s smile with her own.

“Hi, Adero!” Crystal exclaimed, almost shouting with glee. “Alinyah said I’ll get a sister tonight!”

“A sister?” She exclaimed, going along with the child’s enthusiasm. “That’s wonderful! Will she be an older or a younger sister?”

Crystal paused, folding her arms to think. Her exuberance making way for an intense face as she thought for a moment. “Nikki is an older sister!” She declared, raising her fist in the air for emphasis.

“That’s great,” Adero replied, grinning. “You’re so lucky, Crystal. I’m jealous. I don’t have any brothers or sisters to play with.”

“Then maybe we can be sisters too?” the little girl asked suddenly. Adero froze, feeling her heart melt a little. Such earnest and honesty. A child that lived for months at a time as a weapon to predict the TechnoKing’s plans on the front lines. Yet it was as if her time in a war zone hadn’t affected her at all.

But Adero knew better. Underneath Crystal’s bubbly personality was a child hiding away the pain of losing her parents and being taken away from her guardian. The trauma of living at the forefront of a war, it was too much for the girl; she had only been six years old when Taiberias had taken her to the front! At the very least, Adero was glad that it seemed like Crystal was slowly beginning to partially improve.

It seemed that part of the problem stemmed from Crystal’s innate talent for foresight. While her ocular prowess for discerning the future was highly precise – Adero noted that Crys­tal’s premonitions were at eighty-five percent accurate at the very least – there was no obvious way for Crystal to control when she could use them.

For the time being, Adero had prescribed some light medication containing Appendaisy pollen to mitigate the amount of visions Crystal received. Thankfully, what was once a daily, sometimes twice a day event, was now relegated to every other week. However, it seemed that with their increased irregularity, the accuracy had changed from eighty-five percent to nearly one hundred percent accuracy. Adero hoped the war would end soon, as she was completely unqualified to teaching Crystal how to manage her magykal abilities and wanted Alister to return to the Academy and help his prodigy of a granddaughter with her peculiar powers.

“I’d love to be sisters,” Adero answered, feeling a lump in her throat. That was a new one. Something she hadn’t experienced in her ten years of life; the unadulterated love of a child. It felt nice.

Crystal whooped in response, jumping from her chair and running around the office, arms splayed wide in imitation of flight. Adero couldn’t help but chuckle for a moment before gently shepherding the girl back to her chair.

“So sis,” she started, making Crystal giggle. “Alinyah told me that you’ve been having some troubles sleeping in your own bed. Can you tell me more about that?”

“I had a vision a bit ago,” Crystal admitted. “I know Alinyah is leaving soon and she was feeling bad about it. I wanted her to feel better about going to fight the robots, the Unimus I mean.

“Does it feel weird?” She asked suddenly, startling Adero in the middle of her taking notes. “That we’re fighting your people?”

“Well…” Adero hesitated. The doctor realized just how sensitive a subject Crystal asked. In a way, she was asking why Adero was here and not fighting for the Electorate. “A lot of Unimus are just following the orders of King Argo,” Doctor Orr confessed. “Even though there are humans living over there and Unimus living over here, our loyalty isn’t to our race, but to the people we see as family. I don’t know the Unimus over there, so it doesn’t feel weird to be help­ing you and the Republic. I feel like I’m doing my part, just as I’m sure the Unimus we’re fighting are doing theirs.”

“so you don’t hate them?”

“I… I want to,” She confessed. Adero wondered if she was going too far with her an­swers. The funny thing was that her sessions with Crystal were like this more often than not. She was supposed to be helping the little girl, but it felt like they were helping each other. “They hurt you, and I want the people who did to pay for what they did. But I don’t hate them.”

Adero hesitated, then asked the question she was afraid to say, but knew she needed to. “Do you hate the Unimus?”

“No.” Crystal said quietly. “I don’t hate them. I don’t know them, so why should I hate them?” She looked up and smiled wanly. “I don’t hate you either, ‘Dero.”

If there was one thing about Adero’s employment she found odd or nervewracking, it was that while she reported directly to the acting Headmaster Duolo Mane, her orders and requests were effectively being sent by a clairvoyant currently fighting on the front lines of a war; often before she was even hired by the academy. At the end of every session, she was to make her report, and if she was lucky, Crystal’s grandfather would find the time to step away from the war to discuss it with her.

Today was one of those days.

“This seems all well and good Doctor Orr,” Alister commented. “But I’m afraid suppressing my granddaughter’s foresight isn’t the solution you believe or what she needs.”

Adero had a moment of Déjà vu; she and the Headmaster had had this conversation many times before, she recalled. During their first communication, Adero had asked Alister why he’s lead her along by the nose with notes and hints to the actions she needed to take regarding Crystal after being so clear at the onset and he had told her it was twofold, though admittedly only shared one such reason.

“Firstly, I realize my methods may seem unorthodox, ” Alister had assured her. His large full moon glasses seemed to bore into her, but she had a faint impression he was more amused than annoyed. “but I assure you that there is a method to my madness. Prove to me and yourself that you are competent enough to be my granddaughter’s therapist and figure it out. I look forward to seeing your answer as to why my visions changed from disturbing clarity to frustrating ambiguity.

“Secondly, I derive a great deal of satisfaction observing the disruption my visions can produce in the lives of others. It’s one of the few pleasures I can still indulge in at my age.”

Normally their conversation would have ended there, but today Alister seemed to be in a chatty mood, or perhaps he had more time to devote to their meetings, but the man glanced over to something unseen from Adero’s side of the scrying mirror and added, “I’ve been made aware that you have been assigned as Lieutenant Harvey’s therapist,” It was not a question. He glared, and Adero suddenly felt uneasy. “I had the privilege of working alongside him during our campaign at Wif. Take good care of him.” Alister paused, then removed his glasses. Adero couldn’t help but gasp at his milky unseeing eyes. “If you hurt him, I will have to reconsider your employment with the Academy.”

Somehow Adero managed to shake off enough of her surprise to sound at least somewhat believable. “With all due respect, but I don’t think I’m at liberty to discuss Janus or Harvey’s recovery with you,” She retorted. “I’d be more comfortable discussing your granddaughter instead.”

Alister placed his glasses back over his eyes and Adero felt her unease start to fade. He grinned wolfishly. “There’s that fire that brought you to my attention. I’ve noticed you’ve started to present yourself as human. While I understand your reasons, have you stopped to consider that you could stand as a paragon of Republic patriotism by embracing your race as an Unimus and your nationality for the Republic? As a member of Eclipse, you would have all the protection needed to live without fear of reprisal.” With that final comment, Alister made a sideways motion and the scrying mirror disconnected, returning Adero’s reflection.

His suggestion caught her off guard. Not many knew that Adero was an Unimus at Eclipse Academy. She had taken mea­sures to hide almost every indication of her biomechanical nature once she had entered the hal­lowed halls. With the war reaching it’s fourth year, tensions have started to develop among the Republic’s diverse races, and with it, resentment and distrust against their Unimus neighbors, even if they were loyal citizens of the Republic. While in college, a teacher had to be escorted off campus for claiming Adero had personally slaughtered his son in the war, and many of her human and elvish friends had distanced themselves from her after the fact. She couldn’t blame them. Even though she had been born and raised in Orodin, many began to wonder if she or any of the other Unimus was Electorate sympathizers seeking to destabilize the government or terrorize the neighborhoods. And some did. Unimus that Adero had known personally lashed out against the prejudice, even if they weren’t conspiring with the enemy.

So Adero changed. She made herself look more human. She toned down the brightness of her eyes and the saturation in her hair. The serving sizes Adero normally consumed began to shrink, and the pride she took in her heritage was hidden away. Only a select few now knew the truth that she was not human.

Sometimes, Adero worried about her parents. She had cut off all contact when she had rebranded herself as human to avoid any suspicion that she was an Unimus, but Doctor Orr knew that her family was suffering prejudice for remaining proud to their lineage. She wished she was as brave as they were.

With the restrictions that have now been levied against the Unimus for the safety of the entire Republic, Adero doubted she’d even be able to communicate with her family at all. Ru­mors have begun to spread that Julian Decker, the Minister of Internal Affairs, has been lobby­ing for the development of Sanctuary Cities for protecting native Unimus from reprisal by the citi­zens of the Republic. Would that include the protection of the Unimus’ cousin and ancestor, the slime-like Remis, some of whom are just as sapient as the rest of them, but lacking the proper methods of communication or bipedal bodies? Adero didn’t know, but while she hoped that Min­ister Decker had her people’s best interests at heart, she worried that it would only paint a big­ger target on their back at the same time.

Janus, or rather his more aggressive alter Harvey, had easily identified her as an Unimus during their first therapy session together. It had been something he had learned how to intuit during his time in the war, and had allowed him to save his squad a few times from am­bush behind enemy lines.

The fact that neither Janus nor Harvey seemed to hold any form of grudge against her for the actions of her people gratified Adero. She was, no pun intended, of two minds regarding the man. He was an anachronism; perfectly sound in minds and body, with Janus slowly becom­ing aware of Harvey, and Adero there to help them both come to terms with their new life to­gether, and it has been an exhilarating gift to help the two halves separately and together. But also, she began to worry she might have failed as a therapist. As their meetings progressed, she began to notice more and more peculiar behaviors between the two of them. Adero thought of Janus and Harvey often ­– how coul­d she not as their therapist – in an unprofessional man­ner. Meetings would end where she realized she had been doodling the human’s name or she’d dis­tractedly think about him while in therapy sessions with other clients.

Trying to justify it as a natural concern felt pointless when it was distracting her from her own duties as a therapist to her other patients. Janus and Harvey were… fascinating to her. She felt a connection to them unlike anyone else she had felt with before. Not only was their dissociative state incredibly appealing, but she began to genuinely appreciate each of them as individuals, and eagerly anticipated next time their paths would cross. Adero believed she knew what was happening, and was had an idea on what to do for her next course of action.

Crystal was another matter entirely, however. Having seemingly inherited her grandfather’s and mother’s powers of foresight, the girl had amazing powers of precognition with very little training. The day they first met, Crystal had demanded to know why Alister hadn’t arrived either, and was sadly informed that he couldn’t make it. What she didn’t know was that

Alister had originally intended to come to the meeting, and had been stalled by an enemy ambush that had led to the campaign against the Electorate city of Wif. This discrepancy disturbed Adero until she finally realized the truth: the future wasn’t set in stone; or at the very least, could still be manipulated while settling, and explained why Alister had been so adamant on removing his granddaughter from the battlefield after the death of her parents. Divining the future wasn’t meant to be the comprehensive answer as to what to do next, but rather a possible answer. One that still retained the risks and dangers any other plan could entail.

In all honesty, Adero felt out of her depth regarding the girl. Alister was expecting her to help process Crystal’s traumas from losing her parents, living in the middle of an active battlefield, adjusting to life on the floating island and control her powers of divination. If she had understood this was what Alister had in store for her, she might not have taken the job!

Adero’s magical expertise involved metallurgy, thanks to her combined proficiency from earth and lightning. Meanwhile, Crystal’s skill set was more involved with the spiritual nature of magyk, and that her studies informed her that the name was actually a misnomer and had no aptitude for. The realm of the ethereal was a gateway seemingly forever closed to her, so why was Alister expecting her to train his granddaughter in it?

All Adero had going for her was the hope she would have some kind of breakthrough, or anyone of the faculty here at Eclipse knew more on the subject of spiritual magyk. Alister made no mention of enlisting the aide of her coworkers, but it never hurt to reach out to others.

“Doctor Orr, what a welcome surprise,” Deputy Headmaster Mane replied after answering the knock at his door. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

As Alister’s designated representative for the Academy during the war, Duolo, like Adero, regularly reported on the goings on and any circumstances he considers worth sharing. While he wasn’t the longest sitting member at the school, his position necessitated frequent contact with the faculty; something she hoped she could use to expedite Crystal’s training. Duolo prepared the both of them some tea as she explained her issue, making sure not to disclose any confidential issues as she vented about Alister’s request to train his granddaughter.

“Hmm, an interesting dilemma,” Duolo agreed, eyeing his drink. He paused to grab an ice cube and plop it into his cup. Adero felt herself die a little inside at his diluting the taste. If she wasn’t on a mission she would have considered berating the human. “Well we can rule out Professors Darkfur, Izar, and Oakley; they’re either participating in the war or have no practical knowledge regarding spirit magyk. You might have some luck with our newer hires though. Venus Nimbus has formally withdrawn as a participant in the war and has taken up a job here while she’s looking after her nephew. There’s also Juniper Long,” He grimaced, though from saying the name or drinking the tea, Adero couldn’t tell. “I don’t know much about Professor Long, to be honest. I don’t really understand them at all, really.”


“What’s so odd about Professor Long?” She couldn’t help but ask.

“It’s better if you see for yourself,” Duolo insisted, waving her question aside. “Juniper is a bit antisocial I think. But Long has been filling in for Alinyah Darkfur teaching alchemy and artifice, so you can likely find him there.”

“And what about Professor Nimbus?” Adero asked, noting down the classroom.

The deputy headmaster took a swig from his tea and breathed in the aroma deeply before answering with a somber tone. “Professor Nimbus holds her classes in the courtyard, where she doesn’t need to climb any stairs or steps.”

“Oh, does she have some problem with her legs?”

“You could say that.” Duolo conceded. “She was fighting Unimus when she lost them.”