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The Births and Deaths of Stars

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Dean Warlic of G.E.A.R.S University is almost never impressed.

It’s not that he doesn’t care about the accomplishments and skills of those around him – he cares very much. He cares about the young ones he meets, each of them brimming with so much potential, he cares about the ones in their primes, having seized their potential like the fuel it is and using it to burn bright as they blaze trails through the world, he cares about the ones who have grown old and are ready to stop blazing a trail and let their fires blaze outwards and around instead, making a clearing for themselves and others to rest in.

He cares about every life he ever meets, that ever crosses his path, no matter the species, deeply and honestly. That’s the reason he founded G.E.A.R.S – to prepare those around him for the stars, to help them be ready for stepping out and reaching and growing, because he cares about them and wants to provide the help that he can and give them a safe place to do these things. (And, yes, maybe he did it to get help finding the dragons too, but even that is tied to care, he cares what happened to them and wants to bring them home.) Caring is the reason that when Slugwrath betrays them all and Odessa steps up to take her place as Queenadent, he steps up too to be a leader of the forces. He is a scholar, a teacher, not a general, but these times do not allow for such distinctions and he is already a leader to those left to be their fighters.

There has never been a question that Dean Warlic doesn’t care. Perhaps, if circumstances were different, if they hadn’t invaded so many times, hadn’t killed and harmed and destroyed so many and so much, if they had ever, ever had any thought but total conquest on their minds… he could have even grown to care about the Shadowscythe. Though that is a very big perhaps.

But.

He’s old, to be frank. He knows that he is, it’s a simple fact. He is very, very old. Older than anyone else he has yet to meet. He has seen stars be born, he has seen stars die (though, they were not the same stars. He isn’t quite that old). He remembers the days of the dragons; though he was but a child when they left (he remembers a night full of stars and a blinding white light and darkness. He remembers waking in a hospital bed and a nurse hovering over him and “You poor thing, what a way to discover chronosensitivity,”). He was there, when Loreon was first transformed from a barren wasteland with a toxic atmosphere to a place where people could live, if not comfortably. He was there, when barren ground began to flourish and grow. He was there as cities and towns sprung up and grew and he was there as a totally flat world began to develop features of the land through the influence of the people and naturally on its own.

So, as he knows that young children would say, as he knows a few of his students and even a certain member of his teaching staff would say, he is positively ancient.

And when you’re as old as that, many things just… don’t have the same impact as they once would have.

(How can you be impressed at the speed with which another masters a new skill when you have seen so many before them do the same, so many do it faster even?)

It’s hard to be impressed by anything when you’ve seen it all before.

But every so often, something comes along that does just that. Something…

…or someone.

There is a name on a printout, next to a set of scores, just like every other one. But this one, he can tell, is different. There is something significant about this new student, something resonating through magic and the fabric of space-time, poking at the edges of his awareness and his chronosensitivity, but not quite giving the details.

(He can’t help but wonder what on Lore this prospective student is going to do in the who-knows-how-far-off future that it is going to ripple as far back as it feels like it has.)

He points out their name specifically, going through their sheet. He says that they show promise. He is not surprised in the least when flipping the paper over reveals a report from Sys-Zero on missions completed on board over the voyage and most of them are attributed to that name.

There is an excitement he hasn’t felt in a long time and an almost giddy anticipation thrumming under his skin that makes him feel a couple of hundred years younger.

Well then, he thinks, glancing out the window to watch the dropship come in let’s see if you can impress me, shall we?