Candidates for Bretheran Warriors
This is a spin-off of Pilot Companion.
An elderly Betheran woman standing on the sidewalk pointed skyward. As the seven bright lights darted around the northeastern sector of sky she shouted, "Thank God. The Betheran Warriors have arrived. We are saved." Everyone on the street cheered.
Inside the dome city of Bale, the little peoples relocated city from Earth and who are known to the Betheran giants as Earthies, fifteen year old Cyril watched with friends the Betheran Warriors on their monitors. "Yeah! Kick some invader butt!" exclaimed one of Cyril’s pals.
The high resolution scanners zoomed in on the Betheran Warriors fighters. A blue and white fighter shot into view. "Fighter Three! That’s Commander Kelp and Pilot Companion Ted’s fighter!" shouted Cyril. "Man, they are good. And I wish I was up there with them."
On the other end of the great Betheran city, fifteen year old Jifi was watching from a park. His sharp eyes observed their maneuvers. A brightly glinting object began to appear coming down from the sky. And it was heading his way. As it drew closer, Jifi could see its flight path was unsteady. "Jult!" (betheran word meaning: whoa) shouted Jifi as he threw himself to the ground. The immense shadow of the fighter roared overhead. The crippled fighter slammed into the ground sending dirt and parts of the forest thousands of feet into the air.
Spitting out dirt and grass from his mouth, Jifi lifted his head up. Coming from the opposite direction a dark hideous form. "An invader," said Jifi under his breath and gritting his teeth. The colossal creature hovered above the injured fighter and began to whip its tentacles savagely against the hull.
As Jifi slowly stood up he heard, "Get back down Jifi. And don’t move."
"What, who? How do you know my name?" Looking up, Jifi saw the robotic face of another Betheran Fighter.
"You are safe. Just need to do as I say Jifi. I know you. We met. I’m Commander Yalor." Jifi nodded his head and got back down onto the ground. The great fighter moved on and engaged the target in battle. Soon another Betheran Fighter joined in the fight to rescue their injured comrades.
Standing up turning off the monitor, Cyril said with pride, "Once again we can thank our Betheran Warriors."
One of Cyril’s pals, called Bryan asked, "Have you heard from the academy yet?"
Rubbing his two hands together nervously, Cyril replied, "Not yet."
"They probably have high standards to judge by. So I wouldn’t be disappointed if you’re turned down," remarked another pal.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence."
"I’m not putting you down Cyril. Its just the way I think things are. And I’m proud of you buddy for pursuing it. No matter what happens." Cyril nodded. His eyes though looked off away from his friend---toward the window and upwards.
Jifi stayed in the park and watched the fighters remove the creature. "I hope the crew is ok," thought Jifi. As he was about to leave, he spotted something in the dirt. Jifi crouched down. His eyes widened in an uneasy question. Sticking out of the displaced soil were what appeared to be tiny legs. Jifi slowly touched the right leg with his finger. He let out a sigh. It was plastic. Jifi pulled out the toy and laid it flat on his hand. "Some kid’s toy," he said to himself. The toy that was in his hand was bigger than a live Earthie he had held two years ago. "I wonder how Cyril is doing?" Jifi began to snicker. He remembered how scared Cyril was of him and other Betherans at first. Jifi tossed the toy back onto the ground. "I hope I hear from the academy," said Jifi out loud.
That night before going to bed, Cyril looked at the picture Jifi had sent him shortly after the recruitment program that took place at the Cadet Academy. He hung it on one of his bedroom walls which completely covered it. It shows Jifi and himself standing in the Betheran teen’s hand. He hadn’t heard or seen the titanic teen since then. Climbing into bed, Cyril thought about the giant pilots and their Earthie pilot companions. His mind went back to Jifi. Cyril knew he wanted to be a pilot. "I wonder if he had applied. Maybe he’s there now?" thought Cyril. "He wasn’t a bad guy. Maybe bit of a jock. But something about him made me not want to run away and try not to be afraid." Cyril chuckled, "Being called a puny bug is a great incentive. Still, I wonder how we would be as a team?"
Jifi changing into his pajamas crawled into bed. On a night stand next to his illuminating panel, was a scale model of a Betheran Fighter. Leaning up against it was a picture of him and Cyril. "How tiny and frail Earthies are"
He and a few others who went to the recruitment program thought as Jifi did at first, it was almost laughable such diminutive beings could help in warding off a planetary threat. Jifi still had pals who thought Earthies would be cool pets to have. Their tiny size making them an ease to keep and handle. Yet, since they could reason could communicate with. Jffi could imagine the herds of Earthies running away from the colossal giants. Some giants gathering as many as they could in order to sell them at wholesale. "I have to remind my buddies of the service they are given our people. Without Earthies we couldn’t fight the enemy."
Jifi’s mind became serious. He remembered that almost life like toy he found in the dirt. It almost looked like the way a dead Earthie could seem. Jifi lifted up his huge hands and studied them. With both compassion and in his own brashness thought, "These hands could be the salvation of Earthies". He could imagine them sweeping up the frail humans in safety and protecting them." They would jump up and down in thankfulness or kneel down in humility.
His eyebrows began to dance around on his forehead as he remembered what Commander Kelp had said about the trust he had in his tiny Earthie Pilot Companion. And how his life was in those tiny hands. Jifi stared intently at his hand and imagined a very tiny hand in his. Jifi slowly closed his hand.
In the morning, as Cyril rubbed the sleep from his eyes, he couldn’t help and think, ‘Would today be the day I hear?" The liaison between the Earthie teens interested in becoming pilot companions and the Betheran admissions at the Cadet Academy told him it can take several cycles. (betheran term: for months.)
Getting dressed, Cyril then hurried down to the kitchen. He gulped his food down. As he was leaving the dwelling, Cyril’s mother told him, "Have a good day dear." Cyril was about to respond when he gave out a loud, wet burp. "Thanks.," said the mother jokingly.
"Sorry mom. See ya later."
Jifi after getting out of bed, worked out for a few minutes. After building a good sweat, he went and showered. When he was finished, Jifi groomed himself up for school. Fidgeting with his brown and gold colored hair, Jifi thought, "Must look good for the girls." Walking into the kitchen with his self-assured swagger, "Morning dad." Jifi put together his breakfast. After sitting down and making sure he had his food essentials, Jifi ate. Once Jifi had completed his meal, he cleaned and put them away.
When he was heading for the door, Jifi’s father put a hand on his son’s shoulder, "I’m proud of you Jifi."
"Thanks dad. But I haven’t received word yet." The father gave his son a paternal slap to the back and Jifi left the dwelling.
As he neared school, Cyril saw a group of teens fighting. They appeared to be ganging up on one student. "I hate to see that," thought Cyril. He began to move on.
Jifi on his way to school past a group of young children playing. Two of them were holding models of Betheran Fighters. One boy as he was making circles around his pal, Jifi noticed something fall out of his back pocket. "Hey, you dropped something there pilot," said Jifi to the boy who ran after his pal..
Reaching down, Jifi picked it up. It was a toy action figure dressed in the green uniform of a Cadet. Warrior. On the back of the figure read: Officially Approved Pilot Companion Action Figure. Jifi smirked for the toy was bigger than a real Earthie.
As Jifi looked at it, his mind went to Cyril. "Are you still apprehensive?"
Cyril turned back around. "I really hate to see someone picked on." Cyril began to feel unsure of himself.
Jifi continued to think about Cyril, "When challenged I think you will rise to the occasion."
Blood spurting from the boy’s nose and his frightened expression made Cyril angry. "Leave him alone!" hollered Cyril who ran up to the group. Going up to the teen holding the boy, Cyril pulled him off and belted him in the nose.
The group of boys began yelling at Cyril. "Yeah, you’re all tough guys by picking on one who is smaller and alone." Cyril made motions with his hand to the boy to leave while he could.
The teen Cyril had pounced grabbed him by the collar, "You think you are so !#$%^&* cool cause you went to a recruitment program and applied to be pilot companion. You make me sick. Your just a runt." The teen spate in Cyril’s face.
"I maybe a-a-a runt but I don’t pick on someone smaller than me."
Shaking his head, Jifi as he continued to look at the toy remembered with a smile how when they said goodbye, Cyril was so timid. When he had asked Cyril, "Lets have our picture taken together. And I’ll send you a copy."
Cyril responded, "I don’t want to be any bother."
"No bother," Jifi replied as he picked Cyril up. Jifi remembered hearing a tiny squeak after he had wrapped his fingers around Cyril. "Ausx (betheran phrase meaning: oh crap.) Did I hurt you?" Cyril shook his head shyly. "Are you sure? I didn’t mean too."
"Its ok Jifi. And I’m looking forward to our picture," replied Cyril turning his eyes away as if he was asking too much.
The fist zooming through the air hit its target---Cyril’s stomach. Letting out a cough, Cyril stumbled back on to the ground. He was about to get up, when the bully placed his foot down on Cyril. The bully and his pals spate on Cyril. Cyril then was released from the bullies foot. Turning his head, Cyril tried to fight back the tears.
Jifi placed the toy upright in his hand. "Little runt. I kind of would like to see you again." At first Jifi had despised Cyril’s timid nature. At the and of the recruitment program he saw a fighting spirit in that uncertain tiny teen.
The boy whose back pocket the toy had fallen out of ran up to Jifi. Handing it back, the boy replied to Jifi, "Thanks mister."
"Pilot Companions are important part of the team. Take better care of yours." The boy smiled shyly and ran back off.
Full of anger and humiliation, Cyril stood back up.
Jifi became rather concerned. For some reason Cyril was coming to his mind very strongly and deeply to his heart. "Timid little runt. Are you ok?"
Cyril walked sorely, both in body and sprit to the entrance to the school. Putting his right foot on first step, Cyril sighed and removed it. Turning away, Cyril couldn’t face school. He was of conflicting moods and thoughts.
Jifi put two energetic hands on his pals shoulders as they entered their facility for learning. His smaller friends took up the rear behind Jifi and his crew.
With hands deep in pockets, Cyril walked alone down the city sidewalk. He could lift his head up. Cyril couldn’t stomach looking at another. "I did the right thing?" Cyril’s face grew tense. "Why spit on me?" Cyril’s face continued to contort into a question. "If I know I’m not to blame. I’m not the bullies, why can’t I face anyone?" Cyril chuckled, "Idiot, you just got spate on."
"Hi Jifi," said several attractive teenage girls in unison as Jifi swaggered on by. Turning, Jifi gave them a four finger salute. And his swagger became even more pronounced.
One girl remarked with a giggle, "Can you picture him in a cadet uniform?"
"I think I would die," replied another girl looking at the receding figure of Jifi with Zork’s eyes (Betheran term for: lambs eyes)
Taking the cable car, Cyril decided to go to a place that had always given him peace. Hill of peace. A manmade hill created by the Betheran giants for the Earthies of Bale. As Cyril’s body swayed slightly to the motion of the trolley, he gently smiled as he watched a young couple looking lovingly down at their new born baby.
Entering the classroom, Jifi passed a model of the Earthie city of Bale. He stopped in front of it and peered in.
Getting off the trolley, Cyril proceeded to the trail. The hillside had recently been watered and now had a fresh sweet scent. Many insects buzzed around the still glistening wet blades of grass. Cyril, adjusting his book bag began to climb.
As his eyes scanned the model city, Jifi’s eyes landed upon the Hill of Peace. There was a speck of a model person climbing the trail. The painted on expression struck Jifi as one of bewilderment. The look reminded him of Cyril. As earlier, Cyril seemed to press upon Jifi’s mind and heart. "I have to see in getting permission to visit him."
"I wish I could arrange to visit Jifi," thought Cyril as he climbed the hill. "He seems to make everything he does look so easy." Cyril’s face crumpled up again, "Nah, he’s probably busy." His face softening up again, "I wonder what he would have thought of me helping that kid? Why should I care what Jifi thinks? But I do."
"That little runt was so happy. His tiny insect size face beaming with joy over finding the courage to stay with me. I wouldn’t tell the Earthie runt but I’m glad he did. Little runt didn’t even asked for my help. He does want to try. Hmm, I wonder how far Cyril can go?"
Reaching the summit, Cyril walked over to the observation platform. The wind driven by the underground vents caused Cyril’s hair and shirt collar to flap. With a siren and directed face, Cyril gazed upon the city. It looked so small and fragile. Cyril stretched his hand out over the city. His tiny hand now appeared like that of a giants. Even bigger than Jifi’s. Cyril’s heart warmed up when he thought of his hand as a protection for the city. A hand that wouldn’t let any danger pass.
Letting his hand fall limply by his side, Cyril thought, "This is no way to act. I have to be strong." Talking out loud, "Ill go back."
The wind began to suddenly blow all around Cyril. He heard all manner of strange whisperings. "You must go back," said one voice.
Another voice, one that was deeper and kind of child like spoke, "You tiny. But don’t think of tiny heart. But still scared. I big found strength in one small like you. You can find strength in one big like me."
"My big Betheran brother is right. You have the wings that can soar. All you need is one to help you find the heart. Two hearts that will expand them."
"My tiny brother knows good. Big, small hearts go good together."
The wind subsided and the strange whisperings ended. Cyril, a bit confused head back for school.
Sitting at his desk, Jifi noticed a small bug crawling by. He picked it up between two fingers. Tiny eight legs wiggled between the huge fingers. Jifi thought, "Don’t worry I won’t squish you. Get going." Jifi placed it back on his desk and watch it hurry across the shiny surface.
Hurrying to school, Cyril wondered about what had transpired on top of the hill.
Feeling like a dog with his tails between his legs, Cyril entered the school. Cyril thought as he made his way down the corridor, "I can’t run away. Not if I want to be a plot companion."
Jifi was in an advance mathematics class studying the history of Betheran Configuration Theorem. His mind was sharp and directed.
After school, Cyril saw the teachers of the two classes he had missed. He received the homework and would make up the absence with an extra credit paper for both classes.
When he had returned home, Cyril’s father who had been away for a few days on the other side of Bale; attending an civic convention of engineers had just returned. Standing outside of the house with his bags, Cyril’s father was surrounded by several of Cyril’s school chums. Cyril stopped. His eyes grew wide as did his mouth. His father was speaking and was actually smiling and seemed very engaged by what the teens were saying. He never had seen his father smile at him with such affection---not at least for several years. Cyril forced himself forward.
Coming up to his group of pals, Cyril said hello. "I better get in and unpack," spoke the father warmly to the teens. Turning to Cyril he said dryly, "Oh hi Cyril."
Trying not to let his father’s cold attitude get to him, Cyril said to his pals, "Man, I’ll be glad either way when I get the news from the academy."
A friend of Cyril’s, a warm thoughtful girl named Mary Ellen asked, "Where were you? I didn’t see you at homeroom."
"I got up late for school," replied Cyril sinking into himself.
Another pal, "Cyril, I heard what happened to you on the way to school.." Cyril sank even further into himself. "Hey, don’t feel bad. The kid you helped told us what came down." Cyril smiled shyly.
Jifi standing outside of a store with a pal was itching his ear when he heard, "He looks up to you."
"Huh?" asked Jifi.
I said, "Huh?"
"What?" replied the pal.
"Did you say something?" asked Jifi a tiny bit exasperated The friend shook his head. "I guess it must be this itching in my ear then."
After his friends had left, Cyril entered the house. He went and said hello to his father. Looking over the household accounts, Cyril’s father looked up and asked plainly, "Hear from the academy?"
"No, not yet. I’m hoping soon," replied Cyril in his rather squeaky, diffused adolescent voice.
"Well, don’t be disappointed when they turn you down. It takes a special breed of man. You gave it a good try." Cyril silently nodded.
After dinner, Cyril went up to his room to do his homework. He kept looking at his model of a Betheran Fighter. His mind quickly changed to those voices on the hill he had heard.
When Jifi had completed his educational requirements for his classes, Jifi did several light workouts. Cleaning up, he climbed into bed.
Making several huge yawns, Cyril closed his work books, quickly cleaned up and jumped into bed. Turning onto his back, Cyril looked up at the ceiling to his bedroom. "Will I ever find a place that is me. And I can really consider home?"
Jifi walked through an odd angled metal construction site. At first he thought it was a model of some sort, because of its small size. The crossing section of thin black girders were finely detailed. Jifi carefully touched it. "Earthie dwelling construction?" he questioned.
The thin steel frame began to shake. Jifi began to hear the high pitch screams of Earthies. He stepped back from the quiver metal frame. Like a building of twigs that children make, so fell the metal superstructure. As Jifi watched the pieces come apart. He saw a tiny object circling madly about trying to escape the falling pieces. Getting on hands and knees, Jifi squinted his eyes. "Cyril?" As he spoke the name, the tiny figure was crushed beneath a girder. A minute drop of blood splattered on his hand.
Waking up, Jifi shook his head. The image of the tiny frightened Cyril vainly trying to escape being crushed to death troubled him.
In the morning, as usual, Cyril had to rush through breakfast. On the way to class, two of his friends wanted to walk pass the construction site of a new high rise. He agreed.
During breakfast, Jifi was deeply troubled by his dream. And the last couple of days, Cyril had been repeatedly coming to mind. "You better get moving Jifi or you’ll be late for school," said his mother.
"I have a communication to make."
Cyril and his two buddies walked by the construction site. Paul, a short stocky teen ran past and under the yellow tape. "Hey Paul get back here. It isn’t safe," hollered Cyril.
"You worry too much. There‘s no one around," said his other friend Alex who ran after Paul.
The blaring of horns began from way up top of the building. Cyril began to hear the sounds of falling and creaking metal. Looking upwards, Cyril saw a beam that was making its way like a metal ball in a pinball machine towards his pals.. He began shouting after them as he quickly ran over. The sound of the falling beam became louder. "Paul! Alex! Get out! Your in danger!"
His two pals looked dazed as they gazed upward. Grabbing them, Cyril began to shove them forward. Feeling a downward draft, Cyril looked up, without thinking, he jumped backwards just barely from getting crushed. "Cyril you ok!?" shouted his pals.
"Yeah!" replied Cyril getting back off from the ground.
Jifi had just arrived at the giants entrance to the domed Earthie city. As the entrance opened, Jifi heard sirens. He made his way quickly by stepping over small buildings.
Several smaller pieces had fallen around Cyril, trapping him in. His pals tried climbing over the pieces to help him. "It no use," shouted Cyril. "Get back!"
One huge metal girder had broken off the top of the building. It destroyed many other girders as it came roaring down like a demented freight train of death. "Cyril!!" screamed his pals.
Cyril just closed his eyes. He heard a muted thud which was followed by a very loud, "Ouch!"
Slowly opening his eyes, Cyril found himself beneath a tanned object that radiated warmth. For a minute he stared up at the mammoth object. Cyril, after another minute accepted what he was looking upon. A giant hand.
The huge girder was placed safely off to the side by another huge hand. When the hand that was above him had moved away, a gigantic face came and took it its place. "We finally meet again runt," said a very sincere, thoughtful Jifi. Cyril just looked up and smiled.
Cyril was going through many levels of emotions. Relief that his pals were safe. Happy he was still alive. And even more elated by the fact it was by the one he had hoped to see again---Jifi.
The construction foreman and a policeman ran up to Cyril and began to yell at him. Cyril looked back and forth as mean spirited words were hurled at him. Paul and Alex ran up and defended their friend. They told the policeman and the site foreman it wasn’t Cyril’s fault. It was theirs. Cyril risked his life for them.
Listening to the high pitch squeaks, Jifi nodded his head approvingly when he heard how Cyril rescued his pals.
Jifi began to lower his hand down to Cyril, causing the policeman and foreman to quickly retreat from the gigantic tree size fingers that glided in silently and powerfully toward them. For a brief second, Jifi was tempted to flick them away because of their rude treatment of Cyril, however, he refrained.
After the landmass that was Jifi’s hand had settled down before Cyril, Jifi said, "Climb on." Jifi made a slight grin when the tiny Earthie teen who before was scared to death of him before now gladly jumped on. Rising his hand up to his face Jifi looked down at the insect size human that was beginning to take command of his heart. "I’m really proud of you runt."
Cyril’s uncertain, bruised little heart glowed to the words. "You are!?" squeaked Cyril. Jifi nodded his head in that kind of cool way teens can.
"I guess I better get going. "I’m late for school," remarked Jifi. "Glad you’re ok ru…Cyril."
"Wait! Before you go. How did you know? What brought you hear at this particular time?"
"I’ll tell ya one of these days. Now, I really do have to go."
After Cyril jumped off Jifi’s hand, he stared up at the titanic teen. Paul and Alex came up on either side of him looking up wide mouth at the incredibly huge Betheran teen. Jifi gave Cyril and a slight wave. Before turning to go, Jifi told the policeman and other officials who had just arrived, "Go easy on Cyril’s pals. I think he is owed that much." Jifi turned his huge bulk and began to walk away creating low base rumbling sounds and vibrations.
Cyril wished he could go with Jifi.
The officials did abide by the request of the Betheran teen. For trespassing it was ordered Alex and Paul would have to do four weekends of community service.
Later that day at home, Cyril’s mother made a special dinner for him. "The papers are calling you a hero Cyril. Maybe its not too late for you to become a man," replied the father with his face still buried in the paper.
His father’s words didn’t bother Cyril, he just kept remembering what Jifi said, "I’m proud of you."
Jifi sat down to a grand meal prepared by his mother. "Son we are both honored by your actions today," said the father
"And it is really strange, if not a little felock (betheran word meaning: spooky) that the Earthie teen you saved was the one you met two years ago at the recruitment weekend," remarked the mother.
That night, Cyril didn’t muse over how close to death he came, rather on the praise he received from Jifi. Slowly, Cyril went to sleep. Cyril stared out at the figures of towns that zipped by him on the trolley car. Sitting around him in shadows were other people. One figure in the shadows asked, "Your smiling?"
"I was praised by Jifi."
Another shadowy figure asked, "Jifi is your father?"
"NO! Jifi is a friend. A friend who is proud of me."
In unison the figures questioned, "And your father is not?"
"My father doesn’t even know who I am!" snapped back Cyril angrily."
"Your smiling again," said the first shadowy figure.
"I was praised by Jifi."
In unison they asked, "Is that all?"
"Is that all?"
"Jifi saved my life. I’m a nothing. And his great hand saved me. I was praised by Jifi."
A female shaped shadow asked, "His praise of you sounds more important than his saving you?"
"They both are the same to me."
The next day at school, Cyril was the topic of conversation. The students were in awe of him. Cyril took the adulation with shyness.
During English class, an assistant from the principle’s office came into the room. All the students eyes were on the middle-aged man. The assistant spoke quietly for a few minutes to the teacher. When they were through, the teacher told Cyril, "You have two people who would like to talk to you Cyril. You are dismissed from class." As Cyril stood up to leave the class, everyone began to look at him and whisper.
The assistant put a hand on Cyril’s shoulder, "You nervous?"
"Should I be?"
Entering the principle’s office, Cyril saw two representatives from the Cadet Academy.
Cyril’s heart was beating a mile-a-minute. A tall thin man in an academy dress uniform extended his hand out to Cyril, "It is my happy mission to announce your acceptance into the Cadet Academy." As Cyril shook the officers hand, his mind was spinning.
In the tradition of Betheran Culture, Jifi had a close friend come with him to the school’s director’s office to hear the important news. As the words, "You have been accepted into Cadet Academy," was spoken, Jifi thought he must be in a dream. It seemed so unreal.
"Congratulations Buddy," said his Pal shaking Jifi by the shoulder.
When Cyril returned to classes, the teacher announced, "Class I would like to inform you that our own classmate Cyril has been accepted into Cadet Academy." The class applauded while others couldn’t believe their ears.
After school, Cyril went off by himself to Hill of Peace. Sitting down on the ground, he looked out over the city. He knew the reason he was joining was to see there would always be an Earthie City of Bale. And its adoptive giants of Betherea. Closing his eyes, Cyril thought, "I hope I can do this." Re-opening his eyes, Cyril continued to look serenely out unaware of the huge shimmering outlines of a giant Betheran and Earthie Warriors sitting next to him.
A group of pals took Jifi out to a side walk café. "Hey?" asked one of Jifi‘s friends. "Are you the only one accepted at this time?"
"No, there are three others. And I‘m assuming the same number of Earthies."
"Cyril! There you are. Kristine said you would be up here," exclaimed his pal Paul. His four friends came up and put their arms around him.
They also kidded him. "When you are a hot shot pilot companion, will you still remember us?"
"Yeeesss," replied Cyril shyly sinking his head down between his shoulders.
Upon returning home, the young earnest candidate found himself surrounded by colorful streamers and the vigorous voices of relatives he hadn’t seen in years. Jifi executed a facial function he hadn’t done in a few years---blush. "Congratulations Son," said the parents.
The father said thoughtfully in demeanor and manor of speech---one whose seriousness caught on everyone’s affections for Jifi. "This is a very bitter-sweet time for us son."
"Jifi, while we are pleased for you, as parents there is the tug of the heart. No parent wants to see their children placed in harms way. While we admire your noble ambitions, we too, truthfully, cry inside."
Lifting his arms up, Jifi placed one arm around his mother and the other around his father. "Mom, dad. I know. And I’m aware of what I’m choosing."
As Cyril went back home, his pals created a circle around him. And as they past people on the street, his pals told the citizens the news---Cyril was accepted as candidate for Pilot Companion.
When he said goodbye to his pals, Cyril entered his home. His parents greeted him. His mother ran up to him and kissed him. His father said, "I swear when we received the call you were accepted into the academy, you could have knocked me down with a feather."
When his father turned around, Cyril put his thumb to his nose and waved his fingers toward him.
"Oh I didn’t think this soon," spoke Jifi’s mother.
"What is it mom?"
"It says here you will finish up your school cycles at the academy. They really must want to get you cadets training as soon as possible."
Jifi’s father sighed, "We are at war."
At the dinner table, Cyril’s father told his son, "We were informed your schooling for the rest of this season will be at the academy. Looks like your off ina few days. Oh, pass me the gravy will you please son."
Jifi’s parents sat silently with their son. It was early morning. And eight days after receiving word of his acceptance. The night before they had a party with relatives and friends. When the buzzer to the dwelling signaled, Jifi’s mother said with sadness, "Oh---their here."
They all stood up. Jifi kissed his mother and father. Hoisting his duffle bag up on to his huge muscular shoulder, Jifi ran a quick finger under his nose as he sniffed. The father opened the door. His eyes were red. Jifi looked straight ahead and hurried down the front stairs to the house. A cadet from the academy opened the side door to the hover disc. Jifi climbed in and sat down. The parents watched the door close and the hover disc ascend up. And finally vanishing into the sky.
Cyril sat alone on the front porch. His mother found his leaving too emotionally draining. His father had a few last minute reports to do. As Cyril looked out serenely, a wind blew up around him. "You tiny. But have big friend. You small can be big too. You know that be great team. Team as soldiers and pals."
Cyril moved his eyes around. "Reminds me of the voice I heard on Hill of Peace," Cyril thought to himself.
Cyril stiffened when he saw the mini-bus pull up. He didn’t bother to say a word to his parents. With his small suite case, Cyril went down the stairs and to the van. "Welcome Candidate Cyril," said a young female cadet from the academy. She opened the door and after Cyril climbed in, shut the door. There were three other candidates in the van. Three males the same age as Cyril.
"Is that it!" said one of the new candidates for pilots as he looked out the window to the hover disc.
"That’s the academy," replied the cadet driver. The four new candidates looked out with opened eagar eyes.
A round gray metal circle near the main complex of buildings began to open up as the hover disc descended.
A teen with reddish hair and silver eyes asked, "When do we meet the Earthies?"
"Not for a few several training half periods."
"Hey, Jifi you have meet Earthies before?"
"Yes, many times. I even recently been to their city of Bale," replied Jifi trying to sound like an authority on them.
"I can’t wait to be given an Earthie to keep," remarked the red haired teen.
"Their not pets that are given out." The driver chuckled. "You green recruits are all the same. You think of Earthies as pets."
"Don’t you? Questioned the teen.
"No, they are fellow comrades. And I have many that are pals. You will come to understand."
After the disc had landed the driver told the candidates, "Welcome to your new home. And my the spirit of light guide you in your training."
"We are about to leave our city candidates if you want one final look," said the cadet driver. The other three candidates turned to look as they passed through the protecting envelope of the city. Cyril kept his eyes forward.
"When do we meet our pilots?" asked a blond haired boy with red freckles.
"No for a few weeks. There are classes on Betherans first. Candidate Cyril, you have met Betherans before right?"
"Ah, yeah. That’s right. I attended a recruitment program."
"I hear they are really gigantic," spoke another candidate.
"Yeah, they are."
After the mini-bus had left the domed city of Bale, a transport vehicle from the academy came and picked up the Earthies.
Going down the main corridor to the reception hall, Jifi and the others past cadets and several Betheran Warriors. One Betheran pilot who had dark hair that formed several thick poles of hair pointed at Jifi. "We meet again."
"Sorry sir," replied Jifi. "I’m not following you."
"We meet at recruitment weekend. Two years ago."
Commander Yalor smiled slightly and nodded his head. "You have one who needs you and will be there for you. Hope you both synch."
"Are you talking about my Earthie pilot companion. Yalor just stared at him for a moment and then went on his way.
"That one is a weirdo," remarked the red haired teen.
"Cut the gossiping you two and hurry along," said a reception officer.
As Jifi was walking down the hallway, he had to tell himself its actually happening---he is at the Cadet Academy. Entering a small assembly hall, Jifi saw two other recruits who had arrived several days before. The Reception Officer went and stood before a podium. "Chief of Cadet Training Florx will be here shortly to speak with you and officially welcome you."
The academy transportation craft landed at the Earthie entrance of the academy. "Guys we’re here. You will be taken to the reception hall for the official welcome by Cadet Earthie Instructor Sorenson. I wish you the best of luck. And I think you will find this a great place." The Cadet went silent for a moment. She added, "And you of course know why you joined--- to preserve our world."
"Welcome to Bethera Cadet Academy. I will be in charge of your Cadet Training. Later we will be working in tandem with Earthie Cadet Instructor Sorenson. The first phase of instruction will be getting familiar with your Earthie counterpart. This will begin with classroom instruction, You will learn Earthie physiology. You will be teamed up with your partner. And you both will undergo memory merging. The Earthies play an intrinsic part in our defense against the invader. Without them there would be no defense. The memory merger is a way for both Betheran and Earthie to get to know each other. And to get over the prejudices of size. To some of you, Earthies may seem like cute humanoid creatures that you see and treat as pets. They are much more."
Chief of Earthie Cadet Instruction Sorenson spoke to the new recruits. "We will begin instruction with our Betheran comrades. There will be a brief meeting of your giant counterparts. This will be followed, based on tests, our observations and recommendations the pairing up. After you have been assigned to your partner, you both will be placed in a condition called Memory Merging. That is: you and your partner will enter each others dreams. It is away for both of you to get familiar with the other." .
Cyril knew Jifi had applied to the Academy, though of late, not that he had entered the same time as he. "I wish Jifi was here. I would love to be teamed up with him."
Chief of Cadet Training Florx continued, "There is still paper work for you to sign which will be witness by our notaries. And this evening will be the swearing in as Cadets. And again welcome."
Cyril and the three other candidates signed more paper work. The four young man became somewhat excited when the academy tailors began taking their measurements for their cadet uniforms. After they were fitted, the candidates were allowed to go to the first level cafeteria. First level cafeteria was designated for guests though Academy officers could be seen taking meals there with family members And visitors.
Jifi as he was being fitted, saw two cadets walk by the fitting room. The two cadets gave him a quick nod of their heads. Jifi could over hear them say, "We have new greenies."
The four Earthie candidates became nervous as the clock neared five. It was at five when the Swearing in Ceremony will take place in front of the entire Earthie Cadet Community.
In the great hanging of the Betheran Fighters, Commander Kelp and Pilot Companion Ted were reviewing modification to their craft. Standing up in Kelp’s vest pocket, Ted said, "I’ll be attending the Swearing in Ceremony for the new greenies."
"Cool. I think Commander Yalor was chosen to be present at the Betheran new greenies swearing in."
Ted replied, "That will be an interesting introduction." Jokingly, Kelp jiggled his vest pocket causing Ted to fall down. From the bottom of the pocket came a muffled squeak, "Very funny."
Commander Yalor was just finishing a light meal with his close friend and Earthie Pilot Companion Will when he sensed Cyril’s deep anxiety. "One so uncertain still. Heart hurt him. When heart good."
"You picking up on another Earthie Yalor?" asked Will.
In a dreamy voice Yalor replied, "Yeessss."
Will walked over to Yalor’s giant hand and sat on a finger. Rubbing his tiny speck of a hand over the leathery feeling like flesh to Yalor’s finger shouted up to his soul friend, "Lion of a warrior and heart of an innocent."
Yalor picking Will up, placed his tiny pal’s head against his forehead, "One so tiny give me great strength and joy."
Dropping his pants in a box, Jifi said, "So long old life." Jifi with great pride put on the green cadet shorts. Next the white lined long green vest..
As Jifi was putting on his black work shoes, one of the other candidates remarked, "Hey, there’s a small folding chair in my vest pocket."
An attendant replied, "That is for your pilot companion. Most of the time your Earthie will ride in your vest pocket. In the pockets of your shorts you will find other things to give to your Earthies when the time comes."
Marveling over the tiny chair he held between his fingers, the candidate said, "They are small."
Stripped down to their underwear, the four Earthies with a kind of reverence put on their green cadet uniform. One candidate, named Bryan asked the attendant, "Our uniform is identical to the giant cadets yes?"
"That is correct."
The six Betheran Candidates looked at each other nervously for a moment. Taking in deep breaths they walked out in front of the entire cadet community. It was, to the candidates, a sea of green. Up on the podium with them were the academy officials and Commander Yalor in his dress uniform sporting the colors of his fighter. When Jifi spotted him he thought, "A pilot."
Commander Yalor did make a slight comical impression with his rather unconventional hair. While the rest of the academy wore more conservative types of haircuts, Yalor’s dark hair shot out in spikes. Nonetheless, Yalor had a reputation as a brave and skilled warrior.
The six candidates lined up before the insignia of Bethera and the flag of the academy. Chief of Cadet Training Florx read the candidates the laws and articles of the academy.
The Earthie candidates now a total of six, who were joined by two others who had arrived the week before, walked out onto the platform. Cyril’s eye went immediately to the white and blue flight uniform of Pilot Companion Ted who he had met and talked to at the recruitment program two years earlier. Spotting Cyril and recognizing him, Ted gave Cyril a friendly nod of the head.
When the ceremony had ended there was an informal dinner in the pilot companion recreation room. "I’m glad to see ya here Cadet Cyril," said Ted.
"I think I owe you for that?"
Pouring himself a cup of soda, Ted replied, "How so?"
"You told me not to run away when I was here for that recruitment weekend two years ago. I was petrified of the giants." Suddenly very animated, Cyril said, "Oh, just last week Jifi the Betheran I was teamed up with two years ago saved my life!"
"I heard about a situation in the city. That was you and him? It is a small world even when living among giants." Ted moved on to welcome the other new candidates for pilot companion.
Jifi and the new pilot candidates were congratulated by the cadets. None of the pilots had their pilot companions with them. The new candidates were told until they are teamed up with their Earthies, they are to have no contact with the cadets and their tiny human partners. The classes in the beginning will just include the new recruits.
Spotting Commander Yalor, Jifi went over to him. "Honor to meet with you again face to face Commander," spoke Jifi very officially.
Yalor smiled slightly, "It’s a celebration of sorts now. Just call me Yalor."
"Ah, yeah Yalor. I was thrilled to see you in action a couple of weeks ago in the park."
"I remember Jifi. Don’t forget our success was joint with our Earthie Pilot Companions. I feel naked without my friend with me." Yalor went silent and stared at Jifi’s right hand.
As Yalor looked down intently at Jifi’s hand one of the new cadets, a red haired teen named Lumit walked behind Yalor and rolled his eyes and shook his head. Jifi gave Lumit a scowl
"What is it?" asked Jifi.
"That hand saved an Earthie. One who trusts you. You don’t understand the great deed you did cause he was so tiny?"
"Actually, I kind of respect that tiny runt."
"You on road, maybe great warrior. Warriors don’t only destroy but save." Yalor closed his eyes and his face hardened. "I feel his anguish spirit." Yalor’s face soften again. "Anguish spirit pleasing cause great warmth and warrior spirit it posses."
"I’m losing you," replied Jifi. Yalor just smiled and walked away.
Lumit came back up to Jifi, "That Commander Yalor is such a squns (betheran word meaning: flake)
"Yeah, he maybe but he still deserves our respect. He and his Earthie have fought bravely to protect our world. Just don’t ever in my presence make fun of him again," replied Jifi. Lumit nodded.
Joining in the informal dinner was Pilot Companion Sally. Going up to Ted, she gently nudged him "It’s hard to separate you from the new greenies." Ted turned to her and smiled broadly.
"I was disappointed you weren’t here for the ceremony. I know how you like to put your two cents into everything."
"I just don’t want our new recruits turned off by an idiot," replied Sally giving Ted the lambs eyes. Becoming serious, "We were having technical trouble with our bio-interface module. Commander Florn and I had to create a new matrix."
"Systems all operational?"
"They are now."
"How do they seem to you Ted?"
"I like them."
Cyril, after some prodding by his fellow new cadets went and mingled with the others. Cyril just looked from side to side nervously thinking of something to say. "Ah,ur-was it hard getting use to your giant pilot?"
A short sandy haired teen named Roger replied, "Not as much as you would think. Sometimes it does strike you how immense they are. I found after the memory-merging I could more easily relate to my pilot."
"Yeah, I heard mentioned many times this memory merging technique." Cyril stopped talking. He started to pick up a rather strong odor coming off of Roger. It was kind of a bodily smell. It reminded him of two years ago when returning home after the recruitment weekend, he had this scent. A scent he had acquired from close proximity with the Betheran giant Jifi.
As he started to feel a little more comfortable in circulating around, Cyril could pick off of other cadets the strong scents of their giants.
After the dinner, Jifi and the new cadets were taken to their temporary dorm room. The dorm associate read them the rules. They were given a timetable of the day. "This will be your rooms till you move into the main academy dorm complex which will take place after you are paired up with your Earthie. Jifi and the others looked around their room. They were now Betheran cadets.
Cyril and his group of new cadets were taken to their temporarily dorm rooms in the Earthies visitors section. They were just putting their stuff away, when the general alarms sounded!
Jifi and the new cadets looked at each other. "We’re under attack!" exclaimed Lumit.
"I wish I could join the Warriors," said Jifi.
Beneath the academy great technical feats of advance engineering came into play!
In the launch and briefing room, the twenty six pilots and Pilot Companions were giving the report. "Eighteen targets are approaching Bethera," reported the flight mission controller. "We will be launching Fighters one through twenty. Pilots board your fighters."
The twenty pilots and pilot companions reported to their craft. Leading the assault against the enemy, was Fighter Three: Commander Kelp and Pilot Companion Ted’s vessel. As Commander Kelp strapped himself into his flight seat, Pilot Companion Ted climbed into the insertion capsule. Connecting his body to the capsule, Companion Ted began programming in technical data on the approaching targets into on board fight simulator computers. He began his safety checks of all primary ships functions.
"Pilot Companion report on launch go status."
"Five by five. And preparing for capsule insertion."
"I green that Companion."
Given green on all bio-monitors, Pilot Companion Ted activated the capsule insertion apparatus. Micro openings in capsule receptacle plate implanted into Commander Kelp’s skull opened up; allowing passage of Pilot Companion Ted’s capsule safe entry into capsule receptacle implanted in the center of Commander Kelp’s brain. "Commander Kelp insertion completed and we have all operational on all system readouts."
"Pilot Companion we are clear to go."
"Five by five commander."
The twenty great robotic fighters on their magnetic platforms moved to direct launch bay.
On the monitors in the new recruits room, the fresh candidates, both Betheran and Earthie watched as the magnificent robotic fighters took position for launch ascension. Their eyes, minds and hearts were on the Pilots and Pilot companions. The monitor screens went white as the incredible powerful propulsion motors conceived by Bethera technology, lifted the fighters up.
Jifi crossed his arms as the fighters blazed like comets of the God’s across the Betheran sky. Cyril looked intently at the tiny specks the fighters made in front of the great plasma glow of the rockets. Both Jifi and Cyril in spirit were with the fighters!
The entire academy as they went into the next day, kept their hopes and prayers with their comrades who above the planet were still in fierce combat.
Commander Yalor swung his fighter with the new data provided by his Pilot Companion Will into a attack against the class two target. "Companion, good strategy setting and timing. Double check flux."
"Five by five Commander," replied Pilot Companion Will. Their fighter was just above the gravitational flux and precise timing of the lasers; taking in account of magnetic radiation had to be pinpointed to an exact point. "Commander on my mark."
"I green that companion."
"Three, two one---fire!!"
Commander Yalor fired sending a precise stream of rotating alternating laser beams into the brain of the target. Over their monitor headsets, Commander Yalor and Pilot Companion Will could hear the death screams of the target.
"I have zero-life signs of target commander."
"Good work companion." For one second Pilot Yalor closed his eyes in thanks. And prayed Commander Kelner and Pilot Companion Maximilian watch over their comrades.
Fighter Three: Commander Kelp’s fighter was entering the thick of battle. "Commander, Pilot Yalor destroyed the class two target."
"I green that companion."
"I’m plotting new course in attack targets approach. Fighter Sixteen will be joining us in five two seconds."
"Five by five."
Like a well oiled machine, Fighter Three and Commander Florn’s fighter joined up to form a super laser blast. Linking their fighters lasers in synch, they created a deadly volley. From the other side of the planet fighters engaged with other targets were bathed in the red glare generated by the combined laser strike.
In there classroom, Jifi thought, "This has been going on over seventeen hours." Jifi returned or tried to; his mind to what the instructor was teaching.
Cyril tried to keep his mind on the class. The teacher was about to continue when a communication device signaled. Going over to her desk, the teacher picked it up. "I see. That is good news----right."
After the teacher finished her communication, she informed the class, "The battle is over. There was no casualties. Except for a few damaged fighters no one was harmed. They are coming back!"
Everyone let out loud shouts of cheers. One student offered his hand to Cyril. For a moment Cyril hesitated. Tensing his face up, Cyril shook the cadet’s hand.
Jifi and the other new cadets gave each other several hard slaps on the backs and a few minutes of riotous hooting. The instructor allowed them a moment of male exuberance after which he told the class firmly, "Cadets." They all returned to attention. "I think we have covered about all we were scheduled for today on Earthie anatomy. Your homework will be to study the central nervous system part A. Lets go onto the roof and watch the return of our comrades," informed the instructor.
"Your homework will be studying chapters One and Two on sensory interface of Betheran and Earthie. Any questions?" Cyril raised his hand. "Yes Cadet Cyril."
"I have noticed both on myself and others who have had contact with the giants, scents or odors."
The teacher smiled. "Yes, this is due of course to their greater size in proximity compared to Earthie mass. And the Betheran race especially the males have a high degree of sensory and secreting glands. You will learn how to use their gland secretions to relieve pain in your partner. They will learn how it can be used as a sedative for---Earthies."
"How is this achieved?" asked Cadet Bryan."
"We will have a special course on it. It’s something that can’t be explained in a moment. Now let us go to the assemble room and watch the return of our comrades in arms."
On the roof of the temporary dorm, Jifi and the other new cadets watched the sky. Pinpoints of light began to appear as they grew in size the building they were standing on began to vibrate. "It always takes my breath seeing them return," commented the instructor wiping a tear from his eye. The cadets had to hang on to the roof’s safety rail as the fighters drew nearer.
"Fantastic!" shouted Lumit as three huge robotic fighters flew over.
Six fighters landed just outside of the academy in sentry position. "Instructor, why are six of them standing outside rather than entering the hanger as the others?"
"Cadet, it is a new procedure. Several fighters stay on alert till others have returned safely to underground launch bay." Jifi nodded his head and looked out with awe and admiration at the colossal robotic fighters.
One of the cadets took out of his vest pocket a scale model of anatomically correct Earthie. Showing the tiny transparent model to his fellow cadets said, "And these tiny creatures are an essential part in the piloting our great fighters. Hard to believe."
"Yes class. As hard it may still seem to believe--- yet is factual. There will be other surprises for you concerning our Earthie brethren," spoke the instructor. The cadets returned to watching the return of the twenty fighters.
They observed two fighters bringing in an crippled one. The cadets cheered. Waving their arms they shouted, "Victory is yours Betheran Warriors!"
In the Earthie cadet assembly room, the new cadets watched the return. Cadet Cyril smiled when he saw the slightly grazed fighter of Pilot Companion Ted’s returning.
The entire cadet body, minus the new recruits, lined up to salute the returning warriors. Coming out of their command centers were the pilots and the tiny pilot companions sitting in their hands.
"If you feel up to it later Ted, I could use a good neck massage," said Kelp moving his head around.
"Glad to but I’ll need a nerve massage first. The extended battle irritated the endings."
"I should have thought of that first Ted. You bet," replied Kelp gently rubbing with a finger Ted’s legs. Seeing his pal in discomfort, Kelp rubbed a finger behind his left ear. Gently he ran the finger with the oil under Ted’s chin. Ted slowly drifted off to sleep.
Sally had her arm wrapped around Florn’s thumb. "That was a tough one," commented Sally to her friend and commander.
Florn took her finger and rubbed Sally’s back with it. "As always Sally, you make me proud to serve with you."
Will who was leaning up against the pads to Yalor’s index finger was totally exhausted. Yalor placed the tip of his other index finger on top of his comrade’s head softly saying, "Tiny friend rest in safety of hand. You bravely put out."
Kelp walking groggily up to Yalor said, "Proud fight."
"Proud Fight," replied Yalor.
Looking down at Ted, Kelp said, "I sometimes forget how hard these battles can be on our pals."
"Yes tiny ones bodies suffer for us. Yet, their hearts shine true," responded Yalor
Recreation for the pilots and pilot companions were very low key for the next several days. The near twenty hour (earthie form of time taking) battle took a great toll on all. It did bring home to the Betherans the trauma the fighting can have on Earthie physiology. The pilots had a renewed respect for their miniature people.
Seven of the tiny Earthie Pilot Companions had to be hospitalized for extreme exhaustion. Yalor who has the "special ways with Earthies" visited them and showed their pilots resting techniques to help in the recuperation of their Earthies. One Earthie Yalor gently pressed the side of his had against her face. "Tiny brave one look in my eyes. You fall and body relax. Pain medicine then work. You recover good." Little tears flowed from her eyes. The tiny face softened as she looked into the deep dark eyes of Yalor.
Seeing her pilot companion’s pain easing, Pilot Cyxi went up to Yalor. Taking his firm hand into hers, "Thank you, thank you."
"Me glad to serve."
Ted whose nervous system had been weakened from those alien attacks over two years ago was especially vulnerable to the ravages of extended fighting. As long as he could still fight, Ted would be at his Commander and pal’s side. Feeling more comfortable, Ted in the cadets steam room massaged his gigantic buddies neck. "Are you sure your up to it Ted?"
"Yeah, I’m stronger now. And thanks for the constant care."
"Cut the crap. We’re pals."
Once on Kelp’s back, Ted began with the sonic muscle softener.
Commander Florn and Pilot Companion Sally spent quiet time together. And with the other female Pilots and pilot companions, later went to the pool to talk and just relax.
Commander Yalor with permission had a day’s furlough with companion Will. Before going out into the city for their needed R and R, they both paid their respects at the only pilot and pilot companion grave site. Stooping over the plaque inscribed with the names of Kelner and Maximilian, Yalor and Will thanked their fallen mates for looking after them and the others during battle. Standing back up, Yalor told Will, "I place you on top of my head."
Shyly Will replied, "You don’t have to do that. Its silly."
"No silly. You find fun. You make me glad you relax me. Me warm to have pal find joy in me."
"Oh---ok," said Will as if he really didn’t want to be placed on Yalor’s head. Yalor smiled as he placed the very tiny Earthie soul mate on his head, for he could feel the innocent joy radiating from his comrade. Holding tightly to one of yalor’s pole like strnd of hair said silently, "I do find joy in you friend. And in your life." Yalor with a slight, warm smile appearing on his face proceeded into the city.
Jifi’s class of raw recruits, continued to get instructions on the physical and emotional make up of Earthies. They were appreciating to a small extent at this point, the dedication of the Earthie Pilot Companion. Still, it would take the Memory-Merger technique for them to fully grasp the Earthie as an equal. Jifi on a small extent had already begun that journey. On breaks the cadets couldn’t help and talk as if receiving a special present when the time was drawing nearer for their Earthie partner. A couple of the new cadets spoke of the Earthies as pets. Especially Cadet Lumit.
Cyril and his fellow raw recruits began getting butterflies in their stomachs thinking very shortly, they will be teamed up with the colossal Betherans. And would be among the other titanic teens. The cadets were having leading up to this monumental pairing, psychology classes in: Understanding the Shelf. It could be an easy trap to fall into of inferiority when your partner is over several hundred feet tall. Cyril, wondered about the Betheran Cadet he would be teamed up with. He still had no idea that Jifi was at the academy. Cyril thought, "I wish I could be teamed up with Jifi. I-I really like him. I trust him?"
Jifi began to think seriously about his Earthie he would be teamed up with. Stretched out on his bed with arms folded behind his head, Jifi thought, "Their so tiny. I’ll have to be careful with him. They do have spirit." Jifi started thinking about Cyril. "He and I even though different would I think could hit it off." Jifi scratched his chin as he continued to reflect over the matter. "That little runt was the kind of guy I never liked. Weak and unsure of himself." Still scratching his chin, "Ha-ha he did, I will hand it to him get over his fear of me. Or tried to."
Jifi still not tired, wanted to try something. Climbing out of bed gently, so not to disturb the others; after putting on a robe went out of the room down the hall to the simulation booth. Jifi wanted to see how he really looks to an Earthie. Programming size, weight optical angle, Jifi created the program. "Whoa!" exclaimed a startled Jifi. "I didn’t think I would look so imposing." Jifi flexed his arm muscles. Puffed out his chest. Reached down with his hands. Made all sorts of facial grimaces. Jifi blurted out a goofy laugh when he thought as he fixed his hair, "I must look like a God to the Earthie women." Jifi let out a few more goofy snickers.
Turning off the simulator, Jifi returned to his room.
Back in his bed, Jifi carried on reflecting about the Earthie Cyril. "Hmm, I guess it did take a lot of courage for the runt to want to get to know me. But if I am so grand a sight, maybe it wasn’t courage on Cyril’s end. Maybe, it was a natural response of the weaker seeking protection of one so powerful.?" Jifi’s mind began to get confused. "Is he brave or not?" Jifi thought about the incident at the Earthie City of Bale. "His pals told me Cyril ordered them away, when it seemed they couldn’t help him. Cyril didn’t want them to die. He was ready to die all alone. His pals came first." Jifi’s heart began to soften again for Cyril. "After I saved him, the authorities blamed Cyril. He didn’t point any finger, even though it was his pals that started the whole mess." Jifi looked at the hand that saved Cyril. "Well runt I wish you well."
Cyril tossed around in bed. He grabbed his pillow. He opened his eyes up in the darkness. It was quiet. Quiet except for the snoring of his bunkmates. Cyril sat up. Part of him longed for the safety of Jifi’s type hand. He became angry at himself. "I’m a candidate for pilot companion." Cyril slapped his forehead with his hand. "Companion you fool. I’m their for my pilot to help him in battle. And if I can, as a pal. I want to give to my giant pal." Cyril gave out a sigh and laid back down.
Several days later Jifi’s group of cadets had simulation of how they appear to Earthies. Jifi had secretly already did this on his own. The cadets were impressed by how imposing they looked. While they could understand better the Earthies view point, they still felt in awe of themselves. The instructor pointed out, "I understand how you can feel impressed by how you must seem to the Earthies, still, you must too be impress by their bravery and trust of us who tower over them. And I stress our dependent on them.
During these past instructional periods, we have been at the academy assessing basic outlines of your personality and traits. Traits that would confirm your compatibility as pilots. Once you are teamed up with your Earthie, we will be testing and evaluating both yours and the Earthies capability to go on into training as pilots and pilot companions. A decision will be made before implantation.
Your relationship with your Earthie is as implied in their title: Pilot Companion. They will be your companion and hopefully your close comrade. They are your pilot. They don’t only connect your bio-impulses to the ships computers and systems, they direct your assaults, they create fight scenarios and flight data. Your lives will be in their hands.
Once both Betheran and Earthie have been deemed suitable, implantation will be implemented. The procedures for implantation can be a painful one. It is a more excruciating operation for your pilot companion. And this is where a good emotional connection to them is critical."
Earthie Cadet’s were placed in pairs and were given an opportunity to see how they appear to the Betherans. Each cadet took turns. "I didn’t realize how tiny and frail we look to the Betherans," remarked Cadet Bryan.
"As covered in Chapter Seven, you will be given the greatest opportunity to discover each other in the Memory-Merger." said the teacher.
Another student asked, "When will we have implantation?"
"Implantation will take place after a review by the Academy Leadership and Bio-Psych Units on your suitability to become pilot companion. We will in-depth, along with your pilot discuss the procedure once you have past the review."
The cadets both Earthie and Betherans were waiting on pins and needles. For they were a day away from the pairing up. Cyril and his fellow cadets talked about what it could be like. "When I was at the recruitment program, the giants seemed like great guys. Yeah, a few saw us as possible pets."
"Pets?" questioned one cadet named Larry with a look of disgust on his face. "I would hate to be seen as some kind of pet. How weird that would be."
"That’s why we have the Memory-Merger," responded Cyril.
"I hope that works," remarked a stocky rather muscular teen named Steve. "I’m no ones pet or toy."
The Betheran Cadets talked about the Earthies. Lumit said, "I’ll be gentle but firm with my Earthie. I’ll snap him into good fighting shape."
Jifi didn’t say much. He had ideas how his pilot companion should act but it came home to him the path they were under taking.
Both set of cadets went to bed wondering about the next day.
The Earthie Cadets were taken to the main academy complex which will be their permanent home. The cadets were taken by hover craft into a huge cavern of a room. By the gigantic articles of furniture they knew this was a Betheran Officials office. Earthie Instructor Sorenson meet them on the titanic desk.. They had a brief orientation. The next phase was meeting a Betheran giant; Chief of Cadet Training Florx. The Earthie cadets were speechless. Except for simulations this was for most of the new cadets their first contact with a Betheran giant. "My young candidates welcome. I understand while you have under gone cultural indoctrination the real thing is still a sobering experience. Try, as will your pilots who you shall be meeting shortly---see we are one community."
"Hey Cadet Jifi," said Lumit. "I heard the Earthie Cadet’s are in the academy now."
Jifi while nervous wanted to be as focused as best he could. Still, there was a part of him that felt like a child about to receive a surprise.
Kelp, Yalor and several other pilots were in the hanger reviewing maintenance on their fighters. "New ones. Earthies meet their pilots," spoke Yalor.
"Yes I heard. It’s always rather comical and kind of moving when these new cadets meet those who will be their comrades and soul mates," said Kelp.
"Small or big they carry each others lives and I hope heart," replied Yalor.
Chief of cadet Training Florx pressed a button on his desk. Six young Betheran Cadets came marching in. "These cadets will take you each to a private cubical, " said Earthie Instructor Sorenson. The new cadets bent their heads back and looked up at the giant teen cadets. The Betheran giants gazed down at the tiny Earthies and gave them a friendly smile. Six giant hands came down right after the other before each Earthie Cadet.. Before climbing on, Cyril and the other cadets looked at each other. "Cadets Forward ," directed Instructor Sorenson. The Earthie cadets stepped onto the giant hands. Slowly lifting their hands up, the giant cadets left the room.
"I can imagine this must be strange for you," said the Betheran Cadet who held Cyril.
"It is though I had attended one of your recruitment programs."
The cadet replied, "Is that a fact. You will find we are a family here and look out for each other."
"Family," thought Cyril.
Cyril was placed on a gigantic table. "Your new partner will be in shortly. And welcome." The Betheran Teen left the room. Cyril was too nervous to sit down.
For a few minutes Cyril paced back and forth. "I know I can do this. Must think positive."
When Cyril felt the vibrations of giant steps coming his way, he began to freeze up. A thin teen entered the room. "Is this my partner?" questioned Cyril to himself. The teen observed Cyril ,was thin. He had short brown hair that was cut; making a circle around the forehead. The Betheran teen had an ample amount of freckles around his nose. And under his eyes. The features were rather short. The nose, however, slanted slightly upwards.
In a few seconds the giant teen was a vast green blur before Cyril. The teen smiled seeing the very tiny Earthie staring up at him. "Its hard to get over how small you are Cadet." Bending over and placing his hands on both knees, "I am Cadet Ujim. Happy to meet you." The giant Cadet extended a finger.
Cyril was going to take the tip of the giant finger with both hands but declined. "I’m Cadet Cyril. Nice to meet you. So we get teamed up at last," shouted up Cyril.
"Oh, I’m not your pilot. Yours had been detained for a minute. I think he had to go to the bathroom. They just sent me in to explain to you. However, its possible we may be roommates. And we are fellow cadets," responded Ujim.
Cyril liked Ujim’s manner. It was gentle and friendly. Cyril asked, "You seem very young. How old are you? If you don’t mind me asking."
"I recently turned fourteen."
Cyril looked into the huge copper colored eyes. Cupping his hands around his mouth, "It will be a honor to be a cadet with you."
"Thank you Cadet Cyril." Ujim turned around for a moment. Turning back, "I hear someone coming. I will see you later Cadet Cyril." The giant teen left the room.
Cyril was somewhat disappointed that Ujim wasn’t his partner. Another colossal form entered the room. In somewhat disbelief, Cyril said, "It can’t be."
With somewhat of a swaggering step coming up to the table was Jifi. "You!?" said Jifi in a rather loud voice. The thunderous voice hurt Cyril’s ears, though he tried not to show it.
"My tiny Earthie cadet, I think I’m as surprised as you are. I had no idea." Cyril shyly nodded. Jifi pulled a chair over. The sound was deep and caused the insides of Cyril to vibrate. Jifi sat down. He placed his huge muscular arm down in front of the tiny frail looking Earthie. Part of Jifi, while he was scrutinizing his new partner with his eyes, seeing the minuscule teen in his cadet uniform made him want to say, "Oh how cute you look." Jifi, however told himself, "No, this is my partner, one I will have to trust in battle. I can’t let his small size keep making him seem like a cute little pet to me. Jifi was surprised how warm inside he felt seeing the rather uncertain teen. He wanted to express his joy. However, Jifi simply couldn’t find the way.
The ringing in Cyril’s ears started to subside. The light was bouncing of Jifi’s’ brown and gold colored hair which gave it a sparkling, surreal look. Jifi’s arm was the height of a wall and resting on it was the colossal teen’s face. The features filled Cyril’s vision. He felt like he wanted to jump up and down for joy, he knew that could seem very weird to the planetary size Jifi. In a nervous voice, "Its real good to see you again. I-I feel…"
Wanting to help the shy teen, Jifi broke in, "Its hard to really accept it happened. You are a candidate and we will, hopefully engage in battle?"
Giving out a nervous chuckle, Cyril replied, "Yeah. How is if for you Jifi?"
"Oh well, you know its all very strange."
Cyril full of very happy feelings and like Jifi was unsure on how to express them---rocked back and forth nervously on his new shoes. With wide eyes, Cyril looked into the eyes of one he admired and wanted to imitate. Part of him wanted to be protected from all the hurts of life by this God like giant. Cyril’s heart became serious in that presently imperfect love he had for Jifi. It was imperfect for Cyril, since he never allowed himself to really love someone before. In his imperfect love of Jifi, Cyril felt a responsibility. A responsibility toward his idol and who he hope would be a close pal. Putting his hand on the side of Jifi’s arm, Cyril said, "I know this sounds funny coming from someone so small compared to you, I will do what I can to serve and safe-guard the life of my pilot." Cyril gave Jifi a shy yet warm smile from the heart.
Jifi was smirking slightly seeing the almost indistinguishable little hand against his arm whose muscles dwarf the Earthie became very sober for he knew this Cadet Cyril meant what he said. The Earthie would sacrifice his own life for his. Jifi thought, "Would I be as brave?" His eyes looked tenderly down at Cyril. Sitting up, Jifi told Cyril, "Time we get going. I think they will have a special supper for us." Putting his hand down before Cyril, "Jump aboard Cadet Cyril."
"Five by five Cadet Jifi." And with an excited and warm feeling, Cyril jumped on the very huge hand. Cyril sat down and propped his elbow up on the side of Jifi’s thumb.
Jifi lifted his hand up. Cyril looked around as he was elevated up across from Jifi’s cliff size chest with its well formed muscles that seemed like it was about at any moment to break through the material of the vest. His own vest hung limply off his narrow shoulders.
Going down the hallway, Jifi met up with his fellow cadets with their new Earthie partners.
Cadet Cyril’s eyes lit up when he saw Cadet Ujim, Sitting in his palm was Cadet Steve. "Interesting pairing. I think they could work well off each other," thought Cyril.
Cadet Bryan was paired up with the arrogant Betheran Cadet Lumit.
The Earthie Cadet’s began shouting to one another from the huge hands they were in. The Betherean Cadets smiled at each other as their diminutive companions communicated to each other in their high pitch, muted sounding voices.
Two attending teen cadets stood before the doors to the main dining hall. "Welcome new recruits," said both Dining hall Attendants.
"Thanks," replied Cadet Lumit.
"We mean both Betheran and Earthie," said one of the Dining Hall Attendants. Cadet Lumit’s face turned red.
When the six pilot candidates with their pilot companion candidates entered the hall, all the cadets and pilots were in attention at their seats. Turning toward the new recruits they all exploded into clapping. The new cadets blushed. The hall attendants ushered them to the empty seats at the front. One pilot said good humouredly, "Enjoy the honor now, come tomorrow you fresh recruits are bottom of the fesnect. (betheran meaning: bottom of the barrel)
Set up next to the gigantic plates of the candidates for pilots were tiny tables and chairs for their pilot companions.
Jifi sat down next to a pilot named Naif. His pilot companion named Bob went and introduced himself to Cyril. "Welcome." Spreading his arms around, Companion Bob asked, "Getting use to the shock of these giants?"
Cyril replied shyly, "Yeah."
Ujim tilted his head in understanding manner when he saw Steve was looking white as he stood rigid. Picking Steve up, Ujim said simply and compassionately, "We had simulations on how we Betherans would appear to you Earthies. Try and not let it bother you. You are among friends here. Anything I can do to help?"
Taking his index finger and wiping his nose with it, "I guess I’m ok. You can put me down. And-and thanks Ujim." Ujim smiled slightly.
Cyril was taken up with all the excitement and all the rows of the gigantic Betheran Cadets and Pilots. Earthie waitresses and waiters pushing carts of food stopped in front of each Earthie. Jifi chuckled seeing all the busy miniature people on the table. One cadet picked up both a waitress and food cart in his hand. Putting her hands on her hips, the Earthie waitress asked, "Anything I can get you?"
"Sorry," spoke the cadet. "I haven’t seen a live Earthie before today. Its not hard to see you as toys. I know your not." He placed the waitress and cart back down. "Again I met no disrespect."
Adjusting her uniform the waitress shouted up, "None taken. And welcome." The cadet smiled at the pretty Earthie female with big eyes.
Many of the graduated Pilot Companions made their rounds meeting and welcoming the new Earthie and Betheran Cadets. Pilot Companion Sally came up to Cadet Cyril. "Welcome."
"So what do you think of our big friends?"
"Its different. Of course two years ago I attended one of your recruitment programs. And I met my pilot Cadet Jifi back then too."
"So, you’re an old hand at this."
"I won’t say that."
Waving up at Jifi, "Hello big fella welcome!"
"Pilot Companion Sally".
Jifi lowered a finger. "Honor to meet you Companion Sally." Sally took hold of the finger tip and pressed down on it."
After releasing the finger, Sally stepped up closer to Cyril, "Its only your first day. Its an adjustment that takes time. Just be yourself and be open to Jifi. The Memory-Merger will be very important in opening up both your hearts. All the best of luck cadet."
"All the best of luck to you Cadet Jifi!"
Cadet Lumit was watching what Cadet Bryan was eating. Bryan was in wonderment of the situation with his new Betheran partner and the other giants. "I want you to eat those orange spirals Bryan. Their good for building muscles. If you eat them, I will let you have desert," spoke Lumit somewhat commandingly.
Cyril saw Ujim and Steve conversing animatedly with a pilot companion and his pilot. Jifi looked down and sent a finger that gently patted his back, "Pretty something right?’
"Yeah!" shouted up Cyril.
"I’m going up to get something more. Be right back," Jifi said. Cyril hung on to his table as he shook under the minor quake Jifi’s getting up caused. Several pilot companions came over to Cyril.
Taking another helping of a dish he liked, Yalor came over to Jifi. Several other new cadets were also at the serving table. "How’s your Earthie Jifi? Seems kind of thin and on edge," spoke one cadet.
Glancing over at the tiny form of Cyril, "Yes, he does need structural improvements. He is, though, full of potential." With pride building in his voice. "When I first met him a few years back, he was the type I didn’t like. Dirt under my feet. I did see bravery in him. And first hand his willing to sacrifice for pals. He’s my companion. And I’m his pilot."
After the Betheran Cadets moved on, Pilot Yalor stepped up. "You speak well of tiny feeble."
"My runt has more in him. Funny, he is everything I deplored in a person. Yet, I have an affection for him? Strange isn’t it," spoke Jifi scratching his chin.
"You like he runt that weak goes big indeed. Like when building fall. You wonder could you rise. He fearful yet his heart really big. He is weak yet still Jifi. He lone in mind still could destroy him. You could be his heart never thought of. You fearful too. You big small but Cyril you big in good ways to him. He values you. Cyril value of you gift in universe."
Still scratching his chin, Jifi tried to understand Yalor, "I do see a good pilot companion in him. I know he looks up to me."
Yalor spoke more to Jifi, "You I think good pilot you too. But both have bridges yet find." Yalor gave Jifi a quiet smile and left to mingle with other new cadets.
Jifi went back over to his seat. "So you zekzing? (betheran meaning: pigging out)
"Your not now?"
"Wanted to wait for my pilot before continuing." His voice becoming softer, "You’re my comrade." Cyril sank into his shoulders.
"Thanks my little runt. I see you are loyal."
Yalor seeing Lumit at a table with refreshing liquids went over to him. "Welcome fresh Cadet Lumit."
"Thank you Commander Yalor. Oh where’s you little guy?"
"My little? I know he is small explain."
Lumit was lost at what Yalor was asking. And wondered if he was a bit crazy. "Your pilot companion, I just was asking where the little thing was."
"You had training in Earthies yes?"
Yalor replied, "You reply with respect to me. My Earthie who I feel as brother love you condescending in his being. I here and many times here cause Companion Will saved me and other fighters many. Your new Earthie tiny. Not thing being as you must respect. Or no pilot you. Be open man. Not close man who old but just image closed to specials of life. And die mere image of man not more."
"Sorry Commander I meant no disrespect to Pilot Companion Will. Excuse me, must get back to my table."
Commander Kelp and Companion Ted made their rounds. "Cadet Jifi, greetings!" shouted up Companion Ted.
"Great to see you. So how do I look?"
"Ha-ha, you look like a real professional Cadet."
"Thank you Companion Ted."
Extending a hand to Cyril, "Welcome Cadet Cyril."
"Thank you Companion Ted. You know how grateful I am to you."
"Forget it. Just get to know your Betheran partner. And speaking of partners there’s mine."
Cyril hollered up, "Commander Kelp great to see you!"
"Hi Cadet Cyril." Shaking Cadet’s Jifi’s hand, "Watch over this pgu-zu-xut." (betheran word meaning: jock) Commander Kelp leaned in closer to Jifi, "Let him watch over you. And you him." Jifi nodded.
The tiny pilot companion candidates throats were getting sore speaking over the loud voices of their giant partners.
Pushing her food cart, the waitress who had been picked up by the new cadet was passing him again. She looked up for a fleeting glance. She resumed to pushing her cart when she heard, "Hi little Earthie." She smiled. Stopping she turned around and bent her head back and shouted up, "Enjoying the dinner?"
"I am." Lowering his finger the giant cadet told her, "I didn’t introduce myself. Cadet Mandil. Regards."
Grasping the end of the very big and powerful finger, "April. Regards." The finger was warm to the touch. Bending her head back she felt herself becoming charmed by Mandil’s sweet smile. It wasn’t full. It was shy; just showing several of the top and bottom rows of teeth. He had big puffy cheeks which warmly, April wish she could pinch.
Letting go she turned. As she was about to move her cart a landmass of a hand came quietly down before her. April turned around again and looked up. "Will I see you again?" asked Mandil who turned his hand over flat hoping April would climb on. When to his sweet delight she did, Cadet Mandil brought her up slowly before his face. April he saw seemed around his age of sixteen. Her short hair, Mandil observed was what Earthie’s call auburn color. She had a frail quality about her. And a round Zaspis (betheran word meaning: angelic) face.
"Maybe at the next function Cadet"
"No, please call me Mandil."
"I mean Mandil.. I do help out at times in the dietary division of the Earthie and Betheran Medical Center" They both were silent. "I better get going." Cadet Mandil nodded his head. He gently brought his hand back down. As April was climbing off, she stopped and put her hand on a boulder size knuckle. Shouting up again, "Please take care of yourself Cadet Mandil." A few tears appeared in her eyes as she placed her hands on the cart.
Part of Mandil wanted, as he saw April moving away with her food cart, wish he could reach down pick her up and place her safely away in his pocket. "He just whispered under his breath, "You take good care too."
Chief of cadet Training Florx had stopped by and gave his regards. An officer who was with Chief Florx commented, "It had been quiet out on the Solar Rim. That last attack all and nothing. Their last fling? You think they give up?"
"Officer Reki, they didn‘t sacrifice all their members just to give up. What worries me is, what will they try next?"
When the special welcoming dinner had ended, the cadets were taken to their new quarters in the main academy living section. Bunking together would be Betheran Cadets: Jifi, Ujim and Lumit. The quarters were spacious. The bed arrangements were already assigned by the names on the bed. They were given a package containing pajamas, slippers and bathrobe with the academy insignia.
Built into the headboards were the beds and bathrooms for the Earthie Cadets. Reading a list of what should be in the bedroom, Cadet Ujim said, "According to this, our pilot companions beds had been designed to contour to their bodies. They think of everything. Even a tiny bathroom" Ujim slid the tiny door back and forth.
The Betherans and Earthies looked over their new sleeping quarters. Cadet Lumit wanted to know his Earthie new how to operate everything. "We Earthies aren’t idiots. Back on our home planet Earth we landed on our moon. Sent probes into space," spoke Bryan a bit annoyed at Lumit’s arrogance.
Lumit patted him on the head, "Ok, ok sorry for hurting your feelings" Lifting Bryan up by his shirt collar he placed him onto his bed. "Change into your night clothing. Then if you wish we can talk." Bryan just let out an exasperated gasp.
"I guess we better change in our night clothing too," said Jifi. After the two had changed, Jifi stretched out on his bed. He placed Cyril down on his chest. "I never had a person standing on my chest before. I guess its kind of cool."
"And I never stood on a giant’s chest before."
"You cool with it Cyril?"
"What’s it like?" asked Jifi.
"Well," Cyril squeaked. "Its like standing on a light blue rolling field. The muscles from your pecs create beneath the cotton material on either side of me, two massive rounded mounds. Behind me your body stretches and narrows out to half a neighborhood block to me." Cyril smiled shyly as he looked into the serious gaze of Jifi, "It makes me feel safe." Sinking his head down, "I hope you don’t mind."
"Don’t be stupid. We’re suppose to look out for one another" With an air of self-confidence, "I can see you would feel that way. I’m bigger and stronger. Only normal I be the protector. And even among my own kind I am a force to be reckon with."
Cyril in his high shrill Earthie voice replied somewhat like a small child to his father, "I know you are. You’re the greatest."
Jifi’s heart softened again for the minute human standing on his chest. "Now keep your balance," said Jifi. Cyril’s eyebrows knitted together into a question. A loud sound of rushing air commenced as Jifi took in a deep breath. Cyril found himself rising up on the colossal chest. Another sound of rushing air strated. Forming his lips into a circle, Jifi exhaled. Cyril as his hair blew back and his pajamas rustled in the gale force wind put up his arms in reflex against the hot air. He found himself blown off his feet and fell over backwards. Cyril was rolling over the warm material. Jifi chuckling placed his hand down and caught Cyril. "You ok my companion. Just a little kidding with a pal."
Sitting up in the huge muscular hand, Cyril repeated the words, "Pal." Cyril looked up at the smiling face of Jifi; his big several foot long white teeth glistening under the ceiling lights. "I will have to find a prank to pull on you," he shouted nervously.
"I will be expecting it," replied Jifi in a somewhat firm manner.
The pads and muscles to Jifi’s hand surround Cyril. He felt such protection. He wished as a boy he could have escaped to such hands. "No, I’m a cadet," Cyril thought to himself. Looking up at the mammoth face of Jifi, "I want to be a great protecting pilot companion."
"Cyril, " said Jifi. "I think I show feelings ok. Maybe not a lot. I do expect much from myself. And feeling you have potential will expect it from you too." His face tightened up. "I may at times seem indifferent to you. And I hope I won’t come off that way. I don’t feel indifferent to you. I want this to work between us. I want to be a very competent pilot. And team.
In his Earthie squeak, Cyril shouted up, "I want this to work too. I want to be a skilled pilot companion."
Jifi brought his hand closer to his face so he could lower his voice, "You asked me a question back in the cubicle where we met earlier today. I ‘m a bit scared. I know all this work and study is toward fighting. I hope not, but it’s a fact we could die in battle and or our fellow comrades. We are here to safe guard our world. Have to say that responsibility scares me. I hope I can desnump ( betheran word meaning: cut it)
"That’s why we must be as you say Jifi competent. And I want to be a great companion for you. Cause I think you are so great." Cyril lowered his head.
"Thanks," replied Jifi softly. "Lets get some sleep. We can talk more between classes."
Dietitian April returned to her quarters after a busy night witnessing for the welcoming dinner. Her roommate Celine asked, "So how did go?"
"Great, though very busy. With the increase in pilot companions there is more work in preparation and clean up. Still, so edifying seeing those brave pilot companions. Their so eager and sincere.
Passing her roommate, Celine asked, "Were you handled by a Betherans?"
"Yes. Oh, am I giving off a scent?"
Her friend nodded, "A bit."
"I‘ll take a shower."
"So," asked Celine. "Were they cute?"
"Just one actually."
"Yes, a real cute new candidate."
Taking April‘s arms and pulling her over to a coach, "So tell me all about it."
"Well, his name is Cadet Mandil. He‘s ever so cute and nice." April blushed as she looked down for a moment. "He has the sweetest smile. And big baby cheeks. His hair is light brown. I can imagine its so soft and light. I noticed he has this lovely star shaped mold on his right arm. And Mandil has a very open and gentle manner." April looked off for a moment. Turning back to Celine, "I guess I better take that shower."
Getting up, April went over to her drawer. She took out of a drawer a silk scarf her mother had given her. Gently, April ran it up her arm in order to capture that scent of the one who only fleeting, she felt bonded with. Looking toward the window, April could see the bright lights of the academy, "Please be safe."
Cadet Mandil’s thought as his pilot companion was changing into his night clothing. As he waited for his tiny companion, Mandil studied the hand he had held April in with rapt attention. "Such a lovely flower. So tiny and delicate. Her small size meant nothing to me. All that mattered was her. I felt I held in my hand the largest of the most beautiful orbs. How can one so tiny make me feel so weak and powerful all at once. When I held her tiny form, I felt as if my heart took each beat just for her. A song of life just for her."
Coming out of his tiny bathroom, Pilot Companion Vic shouted to the gargantuan form of Mandil, "Want to talk for a few minutes?"
Cadet Mandil turned to his new companion. A very tiny Earthie, "Sure." He placed a hand over to Cadet Vic and watched how with trust the Earthie jumped into his palm.
Looking up at the huge face, "You look lost in thought."
"I was just thinking of something that can’t be."
Cadet Ujim was on his stomach and cradling his head on closed fingers, as he talked to Earthie Cadet Steve who was standing on his pillow.. "Ujim, I noticed you sometimes baby your left arm by the way you carry that shoulder. Did you hurt it at any point?"
Ujim rolled his eyes up to think. "Yes, when I was a kid I fell off a recreational glider."
"Up to applying, I have played in many sports and learned about physical therapy. My father is a registered body therapist. I would like a report on that shoulder. Maybe, we can work on strengthening it. Just take a few basic exercises."
Cadet Lumit who was at his dresser and observing the conversation, went over to Jifi, "Isn’t that cute. The Earthie wants to help his better." Both Jifi and Cyril gave Lumit a frustrated look.
"Ujim, you also hold you head at an angle Does your neck tire easy?"
"I don’t think so Steve. But I get headaches."
"That’s not good. We can work on that too."
Lumit putting a hand to his mouth snickered and shook his head. "Your Earthie is so wanting to be a big shot in front of his pilot."
Cadet Ujim just ignored him. Putting his hand to his neck, "Its right here that it hurts Steve."
"Place me on that spot Ujim." Picking Steve up, Ujim place him on the lower right side of his neck."
Lumit gibed , "This is just too cute."
Crawling around the base of the enormous neck, "Yep, I feel the lump. Its posture Ujim. That’s all." Ujim placed Steve back on his pillow.
"Thanks Steve," said Ujim laying his head down on the pillow and giving his tiny partner a look of admiration.
Patting the top of the twelve foot long lip, Steve replied, "Its my job to look out for my pilot and new pal."
Bryan covered his head when Lumit‘s two fingers came rushing down and picked him up by his collar. Placing Bryan on the bridge of his nose, Lumit said while making a stupid face, "Hey, look at this." Cadet Bryan struggled to hang on tightly with his arms and legs to the giant nose.
"Put-him-down," said Jifi slow and deliberately.
Lumit plucked Bryan from off his nose and placed him in his hand.
Going up to Lumit, Jifi told him in a aggressive voice, "If I ever see you treat your Earthie like that again, I will…"
Cutting him off, Lamut said, "You will what?"
"Its ok Cadet Jifi. Lumit was just kidding," squeaked Bryan. For a couple of minutes Jifi and Lumit stared at each other angrily. Lumit turned and went to his bed.
Jifi went back over to his bed.
Placing Bryan in his sleeping cubicle, "Thanks for speaking up for me Bryan," said Lumit with a little affection in his voice.
Jifi gently picked Cyril up and him in his sleeping cubicle. "Night Cadet Cyril."
"Good night Cadet Jifi." Cyril listened to the deep rustling sounds made by Jifi’s huge bulk as he settled into bed. It soon went quiet.
After several minutes, a loud, deep rustling sound commenced again. "Cyril."
Cyril quickly sat up. In fact, too much so that he strained his neck. "Yeah, Cadet Jifi.," he replied expectantly while rubbing his neck.
"We’re a team. And if there‘s anything on your mind, I don‘t care what it is, I’ll be here to listen."
In the darkness Cyril smiled, "Thanks I will. A-a and same with you."
"Thanks runt. Ok, see you in the morning." Jifi smiled to himself. He figured Cyril was probably very overjoyed in what he had just told him---which he meant.
In the morning the three sets of roommates climb proudly into their green cadet uniforms. Once Cyril was all set, Jifi placed him into his vest pocket. As Jifi was leaving the room he felt Lumit’s hostile gaze. Under his breath Jifi muttered, "Idiot." Cyril heard this.
As they were going down to the cafeteria to have breakfast, Cyril shouted up, "Maybe you should challenge Cadet Lumit to a good physical sport. I’m hoping this would ward off any actions that could result in penal repercussions."
Jifi looked warmly down at Cyril, He thought and put on a stern face. "Ward off any actions that could result in penal repercussions? Are you someone who I can fit in my pocket telling me what to do?"
"Yes-ah, no. I mean yes. No. I just wanted to…Sorry Jifi," replied Cyril sinking into the vest pocket.
Jifi’s face softened again. Reaching into his pocket, Jifi pulled Cyril back up again. He chuckled. "You need to relax. Thank you Cyril. We’re a team. And your right. I could loose my temper. It’s a good idea" In a softer voice, "Thanks for thinking about me."
With tiny hands grasping the thick lip of the pocket, Cyril responded earnestly, "That’s what I’m here for."
Jifi making a fist; slightly putting it up into the air replied, "Way to go Cyril."
Once in the cafiteria, Jifi took a tray and picked up utensils for himself and Cyril. "So what do you feel like?"
"I’ll have whatever your having Jifi."
Jifi tried to remember from two years ago what Cyril had at the recruitment program. He remembered. He picked up an Earthie plate of pancakes and eggs. And he picked up a bowl of flakes and Betheran fruit."
Cadet Mandil as he went to get his and Companion Vic’s food asked a Betheran Dietary Technician, "Do you ever see Earthie Technician April.?"
"I have met her a few times. Only on occasions where their serving with us. I have heard the possibility of implementing Earthies serving at dinner due to the increase of fighter crews. What are you smiling at?" Cadet Mandil left for a table with a big grin.
Cadet Lumit took Cadet Bryan out of his vest pocket and placed him at a spot at the table. He told Bryan, "Now stay." Bryan shook his head wearily.
"Why so glum?" asked a voice from way above Cadet Bryan. Bending his back and neck, Bryan looked up. He saw the giant face of a female pilot smiling down at him. "You can’t be comfortable looking up like that." The giant lowered her hand down before Bryan. "Please." Bryan thought for a moment. He then jumped on. The Betheran pilot lifted her hand to her face. "I’m Commander Lutha."
Bowing Bryan introduced himself, "Cadet Bryan."
"Are you new here cadet?"
"Yes. Yesterday I teamed up with my candidate for pilot."
"Hmm, I guess I didn’t see you at the banquet last night. Anyway, how is it going? Though, I know its too soon to make any intelligent assessment."
Commander Lutha replied warmly, "Just ok?" Her big clear burgundy colored eyes looked intently and sincerely at Bryan.
"I think by the way my pilot treats me. I’m nothing more than a small pet to him. A helpful pet."
"Well, that’s no fun or good. Bryan, the Memory-Merger should help That’s the reason for it. I would say rough it out till then. You do have peers to give you support. And staff trained in this issue which is not uncommon. If I can be of any help I would gladly like to be. However, it would be unofficial"
"Thank you Commander. Just what you have told me has helped." Commander Lutha nodded her head slightly. "Oh, where is your pilot companion?"
"My Pilot Companion Rachael, is in our fighter doing a cycle evaluation of the Pilot Companion Capsule. After breakfast I will go down and bring her food." Being silent for a moment. "Each pilots relationship to their companion is different. Still, wait and see what happens after the Memory-Merger." Giving Bryan a very warm smile, "Ok Cadet?" Bryan nodded. Commander Lutha placed Bryan back on the table.
Coming back over to the table, Cadet Lumit placed his plate and utensils down. Near the giant utensils was Bryan’s food. Bryan as he was passing a fifteen foot long knife, Lumit took his hand and pushed Bryan away. Bryan by the way he was pushed had to move side ways like a comic---he felt like an idiot. Several cadets from the other side of the table laughed. "Those utensils are too big for you to be near. Now sit in your chair and I will give you your food," spoke Cadet Lumit.
After Cadet Ujim had set down their food, cadet Steve asked Ujim, "How’s your neck? Move it slightly. When Ujim did, it cracked. "Yeah, just posture we’ll get that fixed up."
"Thanks Steve," said Ujim as he placed a spoon in a piece of Betheran fruit that looked similar to an Earthie grapefruit. As he dug in with the spoon a stream of liquid shot out knocking cadet Steve out of his chair. Laughing a little bit Ujim said as he picked up Steve between two fingers, "Are you ok?"
"Yeah, I guess I had my shower for today."
Ujim as he held Steve, wiped him off. Steve felt so fragile between his fingers. He could feel the thumping of his tiny heart against the side of his fingers. The bones to Steve’s ribcage felt so brittle. Ujim’s first thought that came to mind was to place him back in the safety of his pocket. This fragile human would be his fighter partner. And even while so tiny, so almost nothing compared to him, a colossus by comparison, this tiny Earthie would use his skills to protect and help him. Ujim viewed his companion with affection. Still, he had the urge to want to place him in an area or container of safety.
At the beginning of the first class the Betheran instructor welcomed the new recruits. "We shall be continuing on with your previous classes on Betheran and Earthie physiology. During these next two weeks we hope you will get to know each other. At the end of the two week period you will undergo the Memory-Merger Procedure you have heard so much about. You will be in addition having physical classes in Bio-Synchronization."
After the morning classes of Betheran and Earthie biology and psychology, their was a short interval for lunch.
The cadets were hooked up to monitors as each candies took turns matching their physical movements to the partner. Jifi had to match his muscular movements to that of Cyril. Jifi found it both interesting and frustrating adapting his body to the Bio-Stimulation and Electrical Synchronization to that of his Earthie companion. Cyril adapted in the latter part of the class, his body to the movements of Jifi.
They both worked up a sweat. After classes the cadets took the Sonic and Wet Shower Treatment. It combined the utilization of sonic frequencies and water. Both Cyril and Jifi were rather amused by their first encounter of each other in their natural clothing. There was some rather good natured male humor spread among the cadets in the shower treatment room. Cadet Ujim being the thinnest had to hear jokes like, "Don’t turn the water on too hard or you will flush yourself down the drain." He took it with good humor.
Steve slapping the enormous side of Ujim’s thigh shouted up to his partner, "Don’t listen to those girls."
Lumit looked down at Bryan flexed his arms. "This is what real muscles look like."
Jifi frowning, picked Cyril up by the shoulder. Cyril felt rather puny being held by one who appeared as a great well built cosmic God. Gently Jifi touched Cyril’s chest with the tip of his finger. "Even with your frame you should have more mass. I would like to see you add several times a week a class in mass increase. I think you would benefit from it. And feel better too."
He placed Cyril back down on the bench next to him. Looking at each other the two began to laugh. "Little runt," said Jifi chuckling.
"Big brute," replied Cyril sending a tiny fist into Jifi’s thigh. After he did, Cyril had to shake his hand, the firm muscle hurt his hand. They still both laughed.
One cadet said, as steam built up in the shower room, "Hey you guys better be careful. Don’t want to sit down and squash your companions by mistake." Laughter filled the place.
Afterwards, the cadets went to the main dinner hall to have supper.
In the dining hall, all the pilots and cadets stood in attention till the roll-call was finished and any messages of the day. When this function was completed, everyone relaxed. And sat down. Cadet Mandil hoped Earthies would begin serving at dinner, maybe he would have then, more opportunities to see April.
Behind the scenes, April as she began preparation for tomorrows meal thought about Cadet Mandil. "If I saw him again would I feel the same way?" A smile appeared on her face as she let out a deep sigh.
Pilot Florn and Pilot Companion Sally sat down next to Cadets Jifi and Cyril. "Welcome," said Commander Florn placing a napkin in her lap.
"Thank you. So cool as an Earthie would say to be here," replied Jifi.
"Cadet Cyril, good evening," spoke Pilot Companion Sally with her usually puckish grin. .
Cyril replied shyly, "Hi."
Sally leaned over and squeezed one of Cyril’s arm. "You need to build up my young cadet."
Putting his arms down between his legs, Cyril goofily responded, "Yeah."
"Hey, Jifi!" shouted up Pilot Companion Sally. When Jifi looked down. "You need to build up your pilot companion’s body mass.
"I have already mentioned it to him. We will be starting a building mass program."
"Good thinking cadet." And Sally gave Cyril a friendly slap to the back.
Cadets Ujim and Steve were busily talking and joking with each other. "Let me show you what I mean," shouted Steve. Cadet Ujim placed his hand down and opened it up before Cadet Steve. "Ok, here we go watch. And also watch the movements of my feet." Steve began to punch the center of the giant hand. Ujim smiled when he thought, "Steve looks so cute punching my hand. No, no must concentrate. He’s showing me a good technique. He‘s not a pet. He‘s my friend and comrade in arms."
When he stopped Steve wiped the sweat from off his forehead. "When we fix up your shoulder these boxing exercises are great for your wind and coordination." Steve stepping backwards started boxing. Continuing to back up further, Steve tripped over a fold in the table cloth and fell into a giant dish of butter.
Cadet Ujim thought to himself, "Please Great Spirit of Light, keep me from breaking out into a laugh." Seeing Cadet Steve was having a hard time getting himself out of the butter, Ujim reached down and picking Steve up by his left leg pulled him out and up onto his hand. Of course everyone who saw this was laughing. Cocking his head sideways, Ujim commented, "My poor Earthie pal."
Cadets Lumit and Bryan sat quietly. Cadet Bryan wanted to say something to his pilot. Everyone else seemed to be enjoying each others company. Bryan thought, "It could simply be we are not compatible. Strange the academy would make such a blunder."
Bryan stood up. He was going to go over and pick up more food. As he started to leave a giant hand came down sideways before him. The giant pads and creases created an impassable wall before him. Frustrated, Bryan backed up and tried to go around it. The hand slide back in front of him. Turning around and looking up, Bryan shouted rather irritably, "What!"
"I just wanted to know where you were going," said Lumit.
"Just to get a little more food."
"You may get the extra food. But stay away from the giant hot dishes," instructed Lumit.
Pilot Yalor who sat across and a few seats down from Cadets Lumit and Bryan watched them with thoughtful eyes. He next looked down at his Earthie Companion Will. "You we finish our game. Miss playing with you. Part light felt gone."
"Oh yeah, would love to. I feel better now. With you looking after me how can I not," replied Will.
"You companion. You body weak. I weak too. Not too weak concern to strengthen pal. You finger wrap as shown me?" asked Pilot Yalor.
Pilot Companion Will smiled. Getting out of his chair he went over to Yalor’s gigantic hand. Going up to the little finger, Yalor wrapped it around Will. "We cool pals Earthie say."
"You bet Yalor," replied Will smacking with his hand the four foot wide finger nail.
Pilot Yalor became aware of negative energy. Looking up he saw Cadet Lumit scowling at him. Lifting a hand up, Yalor pointed his index finger at Cadet Lumit. "You are afraid."
Lumit looking nervously from side to side returned his sights on Yalor and replied, "I’m not afraid. Never ran from a fight."
"I don’t doubt you fight but you are afraid of the most common and sometimes deadly battle. Heart scared. Heart you scared." Yalor’s eyes grew wide. "Your afraid could cause life loss." Yalor sat back in his chair.
Rubbing Yalor’s finger, Will said, "Its ok. He will learn. Its ok." Will placed his head down on his pals finger.
Cadet Lumit said under his breath, "A raging brain lapse." (betheran for: mental case)
Walking past giant plates, hands and fellow candidates for pilot companions, Bryan heard, "Hello cadet Bryan."
"Pilot Lutha hi!"
Pilot Lutha brought her face down, "You still seem glum. Your pilot?"
"What did I tell you earlier this morning?"
"I should rough it out. And wait till the Memory-Merger."
"I was seeing everyone having such a goodtime," explained Bryan.
"Ok, still you have pals around. Bryan if you can rough it out and deal with it objectively, I think it not only will help you as a pilot companion but just in general."
Lutha ran a fraternal finger over the top of Bryan’s head. Reaching into a pocket of her uniform, Lutha pulled out a scarf. "This was given to me by a close friend to keep and to remind me when ever I am feeling down, I have a friend wishing me well." Lutha tore off a very tiny piece. Handing it to Cadet Bryan, "When you feel down look at this and know you have someone who cares."
"Thanks Lutha," replied Bryan taking the piece from between the two enormous finger tips.
Lifting Bryan’s chin up with the top of a finger "I expect in return for you to try hard and ride this out well. Deal.?"
"I have have to get back to my seat. Take care Cadet Bryan."
"You too Commander Lutha."
All at once the lights started flashing red! "Pilots to launch-briefing room immediately!" announced the voice over the academy intercom.
Before Lutha was out of his range, Cadet Bryan Shouted, "Safe and successful fight!" Commander Lutha gave Bryan the Earthies thumps up
In the ready and Briefing Room the tactical Officer explained the situation. Ten targets are approaching Bethera. Six of them of a configuration not encountered before. We are predicting it’s a new deployment in their high frequency weapon or structural increase in their fighting mode. They are approaching in two waves. Twenty fighters will be sent. Leading the assault against the first wave will be Commander Ragon The second low orbital assault will be lead by Commander Yalor. Pilots prepare for launch.
As the pilots prepared for launch, the cadets were shuttled to preparation launch area. They would view the preparation from a balcony above the pilots walkway. For the new recruits this will be their first time viewing the mighty robotic fighters. "This is totally incredible, " said one cadet looking up at the building size fighters. Looking over the handrail, Cadet Ujim watched the service technicians completing their final adjustments and last minutes checks over their consoles.
"There they are!" exclaimed a cadet pointing. The entire assembly of cadets clapped. Marching down the walkway were the twenty pilots with their pilot companions in hand. Each pilot stood outside the entranceway to their fighter.
Over the intercom came the voice from Main Mission: "Pilots board your fighters."
Cadet Bryan from Cadet’s Lumit’s hand, watched Commander Lutha entered her fighter, "Please come back," he said under his breath.
All the fighters entered their Command Center. "Here you go Companion Stanton," said Commander Ragon as he placed his pilot companion next to the insertion capsule.
Pilot Companion Will connected himself to his capsule as Commander Yalor strapped himself into his seat. "Commander, I have all operational on systems."
"Five by five companion."
"Starting capsule insertion." Advance apparatus came into play as the Pilot Companion’s Capsule was inserted into the capsule receptacle positioned in the center of Commander Yalor’s brain. "I have all operational on bio-connections."
I green that companion. We are clear to go."
The preparation launch area shook and hummed as the colossal fighters were moved to launch direct bay. All the cadets, especially the new recruits gazed with wide eyes as the vast fighters were moved on their huge anti gravitational platforms.
Once positioned in launch direct bay, the rest of the launch was viewed on a huge screen that was lowered in the preparation launch area.
As if the universe was giving new birth such was the suggestion of the glow the mighty propulsion engines gave off.
On Main Mission Control the personal tracked the progress of the fighters as they left the atmosphere. Fighter two, Commander Ragon’s ship was making perfect flight time.
"Commander Ragon, I am setting up simulation for possible attacks from first wave targets. I am adjusting the screens for maximum duration."
"Five by five companion."
Commander Yalor spun his fighter into low elliptical orbit. "Companion report."
"Setting up stations for assault based on trajectory of targets. Extrapolating variance degree for flux ratio based on pervious target approaches"
Five by five.".
Several hours past of heavy fighting. "Commander Ragon, I’m reading a build up of high energy plasma flux. I’m adjusting the screens."
"Five by five companion. I am bringing in fighters one and seventeen as back up."
"I roger that Commander and setting synch coordinates to fighters."
In low orbit around Bethera doing battle with the enemy the entire sector was lit up. "Companion," queried Commander Yalor. "Give me status on Commander Ragon’s ship and intensity of targets assault"
"Five by five commander. Fighter Two’s screens weakening. Enemies attack five point one increase than previous."
Slowly, the brave Betheran Warriors were defeating the enemy.
In fighter Two. "Companion my interface weaponry is damaged."
"Can rely signal through capsule."
"Companion---Stanton, you can hold out only with one of the last intensity of the targets blast."
"If we can just hold off a little longer commander we can give more time and protection to assault fighters."
Having cleared the first wave, Commander Yalor commanded all fighters to assist Commander Ragon’s squadron.
Approaching the fighting, a huge blast filled their flight paths. Over their headsets was the voice of Commander Ragon, "Companion!"
Hours later the fighters returned successfully to home base. Commander Ragon was rushed to Medical Center. The ejection apparatus in the fighter failed to operate. Many pilots came into the operating room, headed by Commander Yalor.
Commander Ragon was in shock. The doctors stabilized his nervous system. The pilot companion’s capsule was ejected. Earthie doctors opened the hatch. All the pilots and their pilot companions waited on edge to find the status of their comrade.
A group of cadets including the new recruits entered near the back of the room. Seeing the new recruits, Yalor waved them in closer.
Commander Ragon became conscious. "Companion," he muttered. The doctors helped him up. Putting a hand to his forehead, "Stanton how is Stanton."
Pilot companion Stanton was removed from the capsule, many pilots turned their faces away. Yalor closed his eyes for a moment. The new recruits looked on horrified. Doctors began injecting Companion Stanton and applying life plates. The life signs were fading.
Pilot Companion Stanton was brought next to Commander Ragon. "Oh no. Companion." Tears formed in Pilot Ragon’s eyes as he looked upon Stanton whose body was that of a wrinkled up skeleton. Slowly, Companion Stanton tried to lift a hand up to Ragon. "Easy pal," said Ragon taking two fingers and holding Stanton’s withered hand in between.. "You did it. You saved the two fighters."
Yalor put a hand on Ragon’s shoulder. "He make it no more. Tell him service done him go."
Looking up at Yalor, Ragon replied with tears streaming down his face, "He’s my pal. I love him. I don’t want him to go." Ragon turned back to Stanton and placed a finger under his buddy’s head.
Meanwhile, Lumit observing all this stood with open eyes. He slowly pressed on his vest pocket that held Bryan.
"Ragon," spoke Yalor softly, "Your friend pain. Have him stay in pain? Or let go he must and to peace he deserves? Only you can peace his soul go."
Ragon nodded his head. "He deserves peace." Leaning his head in closer to Stanton. "You completed mission above call of duty. Stand down. "
"We have zero life signs," reported Earthie doctors.
Ragon placed the tiny arm across his companion’s chest. He gently kissed his comrade’s body. Straightening up, Ragon gave the academy salute. Ragon was about to fall to the floor in mental anguish when Yalor grabbed him. "Your love spark him on. Spark another on too. You can’t know Stanton’s peace yet. You must grieve my comrade. I grieve too." Yalor put his arm around Ragon and walked the sobbing, broken hearted pilot out of the operating room.
All the pilots placed their pilot companions around their fallen comrade’s body. Holding hands, the Pilots created a circle around the table. They started chanting songs popular and part of Betheran Teens passage in death. One pilot breaking out of the circle placing her hand on the body, "Your duty gave me continuance of life. I who live salute you." She went back into the circle.
Another pilot saved by Pilot Companion Stanton’s bravery stepped out of the circle. "Your duty gave me continuance of life. Your name will be forever part of mine and future generations."
Commander Kelp stepped out placing his hand over the body, "Go my friend and fellow comrade join Kelner and Maximilian they will guide you on the road for brave souls. To eternal peace."
Stepping out of the circle was Commander Lutha, "Dear beautiful Stanton, go to that land of creation. And send blessings on your friend and commander who now suffers your loss."
After all the pilots had spoken over the body---with arms in the air still holding hands their dance became one of joy and song.
Lumit went out in the hall and sat down feeling cold all over.
Lumit slowly reached into his vest pocket. He felt his fingers grasp the warm, tiny fragile form of Bryan He pulled him out and placed Bryan on his leg near his lap.
Bryan found himself on a the edge of a lap that was wider than a house. Bryan couldn’t bend back far enough to see Lumit’s face. All he could managed to view was Lumit’s vest that expanded into the air. "It’s hard not to feel puny standing on a leg that is seven or more times wider than my height. And a lap wider than a two family home. I feel ridicules in part. Another part thinks how cool to be friends with one so powerful. But I want to be friends for the right reasons. And to be a good comrade. A good pilot companion."
Jifi came over to Lumit as did Ujim as their tiny Earthies dangled their hands over the lip to the vest pockets they were in.
Jifi put a hand on Lumit’s shoulder, "I’m sure Pilot Companion Stanton is at peace. Ee sent him off well."
"No, its not that," replied Lumit sniffling.
From Ujim’s vest pocket, Steve shouted in an Earthie squeak, "You saw that Earthies are more than funny tiny creatures."
Lumit looked up with red eyes at Steve, "Yeah, something like that."
"If you want to be a pilot you must get over this prejudice of Earthies size," said Ujim.
Scratching his head nervously, "I know but in there."
"I know we all were affected in what happened," responded Jifi.
"I respect Earthies but because of their frail size I blanked them out and I guess saw them more as just tiny creatures we need," explained Lumit.
"I don’t understand," squeaked Bryan.
Lumit looked down at Bryan, "If I think of you just as a tiny funny creature, I don’t have to worry as much. As I would if I realize you are a real person. When I was a kid I had a frail pal. He was adventurous despite his weakened condition. Once he began to do something out of his capacity. I was a little distance away, when I heard him calling for me. I ran to him. He was in a real bind. A bind even when I tried, I couldn’t help him."
"Did he die?" asked Jifi.
"No, though he maimed himself permanently. Since then, I have stayed away from frail people. Not that I have anything against them. Just I’m afraid if they need me, I wouldn’t be able to help them. So it has been with the Earthies who are so tiny and easily squish-able, ( all the Earthies shivered to that phrase: squish-able) I distanced myself in mind from them. Seeing what happened in there( Lumit pointed to the operation and trauma room) I‘m confused now."
"Lumit," shouted Bryan. "I volunteered to be a candidate for pilot companion. I know what the risks are. And as pilot companion, I want to do the best to lower the odds. Still, it’s a reality. I would hate to fight with one who doesn’t respect or distance them from me."
"Yeah…" Jifi stopped for a moment. "You see, I’m starting to talk like my little runt (jifi tapped Cyril gently on top of the head with his index finger) Earthie. Honestly, don’t deprive yourself of a friend."
"I know. Its just getting over how frail they seem against such odds."
Ujim looked down at his vest pocket and the tiny person that was in it. He too felt a protectiveness for his Earthie companion Steve.
"Can you try," shouted up Bryan.
"Can you help me?"
Bryan chuckled, "As small as I am I will. Just one favor Lumit."
"Please don’t use that phrase again: Easily squish-able." All the Cadet Earthies shook their heads.
"Ok Bryan, you have yourself a deal."
Yalor sat with a greatly grieving Ragon. "I have gone through physical pain before. Nothing like this. I feel such sorrow. I feel my heart once to burst."
"Proud you should be of heart that beat for friend. Gone from you he is hurts. I can say he with you deeper. Still, you can’t hear yet. Don’t keep pain in. Ragon tell me about Stanton."
"Yalor I can’t."
"Tell me his memory free you. He wants that."
"Well, when I had suffered a gash in chest from explosion during mission, Stanton once we were back and in medical center; massaged nerves to help pain medicine and avoid system neo-shock and…" Ragon just wept. Yalor held him in his arms.
"You have more can tell me?"
"Well, I wanted to get back to advance training but still in pain. Stanton advised against it. We always fought. Jokingly I mean. ‘You’re so freak-in headstrong,’ he would tell me. So he massaged my nerves. I went to class. However, the nerves he massaged created a form of drunkenness in me. I went to class and acted like a complete idiot. Boy, I was mad at him. Good he did it , cause I was still very sick and any pressure on nerves would…" Ragon broke into tears again.
Jifi as he walked down the hallway back to his dorm room; lifted the hand that he used to save Cyril back in the Earthie city of Bale. He looked at it with great concern. "I felt so good saving the tiny guy. I was kind of like a God around those tiny Earthies. The great young savior." Jifi’s fun thoughts turned into somber ones. "Will there come a time I might not be able to save him? He‘s so trusting. My little runt. Why must this runt of mine be in a universe of darkness?"
Cyril as he hung on to the wide stitching to the lip of the pocket, looked affectionately up at Jifi. "I hope I will be as brave and proficient as Pilot Companion Stanton. I would want to save guard Jifi." Sliding down into the warm darkness of the pocket, "I want to be able always to pilot him to life."
Lumit held Bryan in his hand. "How small and so incredibly frail he looks as he hangs on with both his minuscule hands to my thumb. A thumb that is wider and a shade shorter than he is." Lumit smiled to himself, "Hanging on to my thumb, Bryan reminds me of my pet Zargon. He loved to hang on to my thumb. Wagging his four tails. Teachers use to scold me for bring him to school. Oh, I forgot how I would hide him in my pocket. Then he would jump out and I would have to try and catch him in class." Lumit felt that coldness in his body again. "Bryan is no pocket pet. He’s like me but smaller. He choose to be here. Put his life in danger for others. I must. We must look out for one another. I can’t be afraid of being his pal."
Yalor, seeing Ragon had fallen asleep from exhaustion gently laid him against the stairs to the solarium.
Standing up Yalor stretched his arms. Coming into the pleasure room was Pilot Kelp. "How is he?"
"Our pal in deep pain of heart."
"I know when Ted almost died, I felt as if I would too."
"Funny thing love. Warm and painful. In length of spirit wonder heaven it brings."
"Yalor I have a question for you?"
"Kelp one direct and steady you guide. Your words never a waste for ears."
"Huh? Anyway, you had the new greenies come to witness Pilot Companion Stanton’s death. You think wise? Though, I trust you. And your wisdom my friend."
"Your words lighten my feelings. I took chance, raw recruits still need push in Earthie love. Death they must know part life Betheran Warrior. Know death they may meet. Life they can help make them strong in ways."
Kelp with hand covering his mouth wanted to shield his smile. He respects Yalor. Just sometimes his manner of speech is so amusing. "Your saying, seeing such a devoted friend and warrior who sacrificed for others help new recruits bond with their companions? And seeing death sobers them up to knowing both lives are in each others hand?"
For a moment, Yalor just stared at Kelp with his quiet smile. "Did thought say to you. This fact."
Putting a hand on Yalor’s shoulder, Kelp replied, "You did. Good friend. Thanks for looking after Pilot Ragon. What would we do here at the academy without a man like you?"
"You go on," responded Yalor simply. "Sad still period of pain Ragon must suffer time yet."
"This event makes me cherish my friendship and love of Ted."
"Yes, sadness brings heart to level plane that is true and lined to light. As speak I miss Will. Glad once he in hand. My companion part me."
In the dorm room, Ujim placed his Earthie on his bed and stretched out sideways next to him. Steve in some wonder of the huge young teen too felt in his heart---tugs. "Good guy Ujim. So huge yet listens to me sincerely despite if I may sound like a mouse to him. He’s so earnest. Kind of a vulnerable quality about him. I hope I can be there for him. I would want to be." Steve walked somewhat unsteadily over the uneven surface of a blanket and its many folds to underneath Ujim‘s huge chin. He didn’t know what to say. Some things from the heart can’t be translated well. Putting his arm up and stretching, Steve touching the chin with his fingers, "Partners through all."
Putting two fingers on Steve’s back, Ujim repeated, "Partners through all."
Ragon when ready for bed went to guest quarters. He couldn’t bear right now seeing his companions things. Yalor stopped in to see how he was. "Doctors give me for you agent help you sleep if wish."
"Thanks Yalor I rather not. It just hides the pain for another day."
"You wise to see. I have things to reveal yet you not ready. Can say you have all thinking you in their minds."
"I guess I’ll try to get some sleep. Stanton’s family is coming for the funeral tomorrow. I want to be as fresh as possible for them." Yalor nodded and left the room. As Ragon took off the top portion of his uniform, he looked at the vest pocket that so many times carried his pal and pilot companion Stanton. He sighed.
Cyril was sitting on Jifi’s chest as they talked. "I’m really looking forward to the physical mass increase program for you Cyril. I think it will make you feel better about yourself too as we have talked about before. Also, the way you carry yourself can be of help too. Stand up." Cyril stood up. "Hold your head up high. Try to think of your head floating on top of water and the rest of your body dangling under. Hmm, that’s it. Now try walking with an attitude. Walk with confidence." Jifi wanted to chuckle when Cyril tried to walk with confidence. He looked comical as he walked on his chest swinging his arms with his puny chest that just couldn’t stick out. "That’s enough it getting late. Ah, Cyril I thought if you don’t mind, maybe you can sleep in my breast pocket."
Cyril saluted and walked up the incline of Jifi’s chest. Reaching the pocket, Cyril got on hands and knees and crawled under the flannel like material. As Jifi faded off to sleep he prayed, "Please honorable spirits of Kelner, Maximilian and Stanton guide me to be a great Betheran Warrior." Jifi too, gently patted his pocket.
Cyril prayed, "Admirable souls of Maximilian and Stanton watch over me that I may perform my duties as pilot companion with skill."
At the funeral, Commander Ragon with all the pilots were in attendance. The pilot companions were also in attendance. Ragon knelt behind the Earthie family of Stanton as he was placed to rest. Instructor Sorenson gave in a case with the academy‘s colors, Companion Stanton’s possessions and his cadet uniform. The flight suite was buried with Companion Stanton. Chief of cadet training Florx said words during the ceremony and spoke to the family.
When the ceremonies were over Commander Ragon had a chance to talk privately with the family. After, he went back to the grave site to think.
At dinner, Ragon joined the academy. As he sat down, he saw many sympathetic eyes. Ragon too saw Pilots with their pilot companions. Walking past a gigantic dish of fruit was a cadet. His head seemed down. Cadet please come here. The cadet turned and began to walk over. Commander Ragon noticed something strange about the cadets legs they were silver. He also walked in a strange titling manner. When he came up to his plate, he realized the cadet had false legs. Commander Ragon didn’t want to get personal about the legs so he just asked the cadet why he seemed down. "Cadet you seem lost. Misplaced your candidate pilot," Ragon said jokingly
"My pilot had to leave the academy for personal reasons commander. I don‘t have a pilot. At least at this time."
"Oh I see. Oh, I’m Pilot Ragon."
"Commander Ragon? My condolences sir. You must won’t to be alone." And the cadet began to leave.
"Wait cadet. Eat with me---please." The cadet came back over. "What is your name?"
"I am Cadet Chris sir."
Leaning over to another pilot, Ragon asked, "Could you hand me that extra Earthie chair and table?" The pilot reached over picking up the miniature chair and table. He handed it over to Ragon. After setting it down, Ragon told the cadet, "Please sit down cadet." Ragon observed how the cadet had to make several adjustments to sit down. He was rather impressed by him. "Chris, if I may be informal with you?"
"May I ask how you injured your legs.?"
"I was born without legs. A birth defect."
"You must have encountered many difficulties."
Cadet Chris replied, "It wasn’t easy. I couldn’t keep up with the other kids. In sports I mean. And when I was young I had many infections."
"And your hear?"
Once I received the artificial limbs and could navigate with them, I wanted to try for my desire to be a pilot companion."
"You are very brave."
"Not really sir."
Commander Ragon looked down at the blond hair teen with admiration.
"Sir if I may ask…"
"Call me Ragon," he interjected.
"Ragon what will be your next step?"
"I assume be teamed up with a new companion. First, I’m being sent on leave. I need time to--- well---just time."
Commander Yalor who was not far down the table witnessed the exchange between Ragon and Cadet Chris. "Will, I see our departed friend look down with concern and blessings on his suffering friend. Don’t know what opens. Still new factors. I see compassion in work."
Further down the table, Cadet Mandil asked one of the dinner attendants, "I heard they may start introducing Earthie attendants at dinner."
"Yes, matter of fact in several days."
"Thank you," replied Cadet Mandil who felt all warm inside.
Commander Kelp after swallowing his drink looked down at Companion Ted. "Pechu is coming in two days from his school to visit. They are having a day’s holiday off and gave him permission to come."
"Great!" replied Ted with joy. "He’s living at school isn’t he?"
"Yes, he’s attending a very good academy. He’s turning out to be a bright guy."
"And he still wants to see us," responded Ted teasingly.
The next morning, Commanders Yalor, Kelp and Florn and their pilot companions saw Commander Ragon off the academy property. "Have fun at your brothers." They told him.
Commander Yalor told Ragon, "We sorry you go even it short. You do we know must rest and grips with Stanton passing you must. Must you bring in heart for you to go on pilot great. Peace in learning more heart learns you. I pray you leave with one of friend who thinks you often."
Ragon gave Yalor a tight hug, "I love you guy."
"Love you I. Know you come back with rest of heart and soul."
Hoisting his carry-all onto his shoulder, Ragon told his pal, "See you soon. And I hope while away it will be peaceful. No incidents from our pals above." Ragon walked off.
Yalor stayed to watch Ragon get in transportation disc. Looking down at Will who sat in his hand. "Ragon close pal. You too tiny Will close to my heart brother be and more. All my life give I would. So dear and fun a pal I hold."
Will patted Yalor’s thumb. "You know I don’t need say. But with truth this tiny life is yours."
Commander Kelp and Companion Ted riding in Kelp’s vest pocket went to the visitor section. "It has been a year since we have last seen Pecku," squeaked Ted.
"I know. That little guy is getting older."
When they entered the visitors lounge, they saw a boy with his back to them looking at a painting of one of the fighters. "Pecku!" exclaimed Kelp in a loud friendly voice. The young pre-teen turned around. Pecku was dressed in the uniform of his school. He wore a long burgundy colored coat that was open. The length of the coat went down to his ankles. In the middle of the coat and hanging off to the sides, was the ends to the thick brown leather belt. He wore burgundy colored shorts that went down to his knees. And a dark blue shirt that at the collar was white. Pechu wore standard black shoes with burgundy colored knee socks.
"Cousin Kelp, I mean Commander Kelp!" Squinting his eyes. "Companion Ted!" Pechu quickly came over. Kelp gave his young cousin a hug.
"Easy there!" shouted Ted finding himself pushed into the material of Pechu’s coat. Steeping back, Kelp took Ted out of his vest pocket and placed him in Pecku’s eager hand. Cupping his hands around his mouth, Ted shouted, "Man, its really, really, really, good to see you again. Wow, you look quite the scholar."
Pechu’s face turned red. "I don’t know what a scholar is. But I don’t think I’m one. Its so Aituran you both again." (betheran word used when haven’t seen a close friend(s) a longtime )
Placing an arm around his cousin, "You must be hungry. Let’s go to the fighters and cadets cafeteria."
"Really Kelp? The fighters cafeteria!"
"Kelp was given permission," squeaked Ted who was now sitting in the boy’s great palm.
As they walked down the academy hallway, Pechu said, "I always followed all your many missions." Pechu put one arm around Kelps waist as he continued, "And was glad to hear when you both returned. The last one was pretty intense." Pechu’s words became more deliberate, "I heard you lost a comrade."
"Yes," spoke Kelp. "An Earthie pilot companion named Stanton. The pilot is on leave. They were very close."
As Ted sat in Pecku’s hand he felt an energy go through him. It was very peaceful. It reminded him of the times he had spent in Pilot Kelp’s hand.
Taking a finger, Pecku gently passed it over Ted’s head. "I hope your legs and nervous system hasn’t been causing you any problems?" Ted just gave a silly smile and slowly fell to his side on the giant, warm hand and fell asleep. "Oh?"
"Your becoming strong in the ways of the Earthies as Commander Yalor would say," spoke Kelp.
"I guess. I haven’t been in any contact with Earthies for a year. My skills must be growing. I should see in visiting Bale again, I have pals their." Looking down at Ted. "I forget sometimes how fragile they are."
"Yes," replied Kelp. "However, you be surprised how resilient they can be."
Pechu’s eyes widen as he entered the pilots cafeteria. There was the green uniforms of the cadets. And multi-colored uniforms of the pilots. He could hear the high shrills of the Earthie pilot companions. It was all very exciting.
"Better wake Ted up," suggested Kelp.
Very gently Pecku nudged Ted. Slowly waking up and running a sleepy hand over his face, "Huh? What happened?"
"You lazy bum you feel asleep," replied Kelp.
"I did?" Both Kelp and Pechu laughed. Ted slowly climbed off of Pechu’s hand.
"I’ll get us some breakfast. Pecku you hungry?"
"Yeah! You bet I am! Imagine eating with the pilots!"
Kelp asked, "Anything special?"
"I’ll have what you two are having." Kelp went off.
Pecku leaned in closer and placed his chin down on his two folded hands. "I think of you often Ted."
Going up to the gigantic face and stretching, Ted pulled down on Pechu’s lower lip and let it go. "I think often of you too."
"I think Ted with all the missions you and Cousin Kelp have been on that would be enough. I have thought maybe you could come and live with me at the school. I would take good care of you."
"Thanks but Kelp and I are warriors. I want to keep being a warrior until I can’t do it anymore. It doesn’t mean your not in my love. And part of that love means I want to protect the planet your on."
"Thanks Ted. Still, be great if you could stay with me," responded Pecku looking at the very tiny Earthie he knows to be very brave. "Oh, did you hear?"
"School is off for two days. And I have permission to spend overnight with you guys."
"Kelp didn’t tell me. Probably waiting to spring it on me as a surprise. It is good news Pechu" Pechu lifted his head off his hands and gently poked Ted who began slapping the sides of the tree width finger. They both laughed as they played around.
"Ok, whose hungry," spoke Kelp with the tray of food. "And we have two extinguished guests sitting with us.".
"High Commander Florn," said Pechu warmly. Sitting down Florn took Companion Sally out of her vest pocket.
Going up Ted, Sally gave him an affectionate nudge. Looking up at Pechu, "Well look at you aren’t you the handsome young man. Must have a following of girlfriends."
Turning away shyly, "Maybe one or two."
Looking at Ted then back at Pechu, "So tell me Pechu, were you able to have an intelligent conversation with Ted." Pechu smiled.
"Your always the joker," said Ted.
Giving a light slap to the side of Ted’s face, Sally replied, "Who says I’m joking."
Commander Ragon had spent the morning with his brother. As his brother had to go to work Ragon went for a walk. Not far from where his brother lived was the sanctuary of souls. A shrine situated on top of a mountain where the teens of the city go to pray for their family and friends. Ragon decided to go. Being a beautiful day the climb was most enjoyable.
Climbing the narrow stone steps his mind and heart went to Stanton. Ragon too thought of the Cadet Chris and his false legs. "What drive and bravery he had to overcome such obstacles," thought Ragon.
Reaching the top, an elderly man in white robes and a gently flowing beard greeted him. "Welcome my young pilgrim. May I assist you?"
"Ah, just hear to think of a friend who died."
"Enter temple and pray to him. The ones who have gone on still take an active interest in those on this side of eternity."
Ragon walked into the shrine. There were several teens in their kneeling before images of friends who had died. Lighting a candle, Ragon knelt down before a great image of the Spirit of Light. Ragon tried to pray. His heart became sorrowful again. He stood up and left.
Stepping out of the shrine the elderly priest told Ragon, "Rejoice your friend is in the light from whence he originally came." Ragon just went into a field and sat down. The elderly priest just smiled knowingly and warmly at the lone figure sitting in the field. He turned and went back into the shrine.
"I miss you so much. I wish this pain could go. I just have that last image of you Stanton in my mind. Its not the way I had envisioned it for us."
A light breeze began to blow around Ragon. "You were always stubborn," spoke a gentle wispy voice.
"Huh?" questioned Ragon looking up confused.
"When we met you had set ideas of how things should be. When other cadets didn’t follow the norm it irritated you so. You would get red face."
Starting to warm up inside, "You calmed me down. You told me they still were dedicated. You always could tell me when I was getting too egocentric was that the word you once used."
"It was. And only cause I knew you are a great pilot."
"I would laugh at you. You smaller than most of my fingers was telling me when I was being a jerk."
"Not a jerk Ragon. Just too rigid."
In front of Ragon a blue mist appeared in the form of Stanton. "I miss you so much friend."
"I miss you. Yet, I will be always with you. I can’t explain it. Just I will be."
"Can’t you come back?" The image of Stanton shook his head.
"Yalor gave you an answer Ragon. About the heart. In between those beats I will be their. If you get full of yourself, I will be their shaking my head at you. If you are in fear, I will be their guarding you. You still and always will mean so very much to me. My heaven will not be complete until the time you come."
"So you are ok. No pain?"
"Yes Ragon, see how I look. I show you truth. I know you grieve, I hope now you know I am at peace and watching you."
"I’m so relieved."
"Ragon I’m in your heart and you in mine. Your heart has much room for others too." Ragon nodded . "I must go so I can be with you even deeper."
Appearing before Ragon was the spirits of Kelner and Maximilian. Floating over to them. Stanton turned, smiled and waved to Ragon. Putting an arm around Stanton, Maximilian gave Stanton the academy salute. The three spirits vanished. Ragon stood there looking off.
Kelp, Ted and Pechu met up with Commander Yalor. "How it gladdens heart to see young friend. You look fine in clothing of where you learn."
"Commander Yalor," replied Pechu who gave Yalor a hug. "Where’s Pilot Companion Will?"
"Up hear my friend Pecku." Looking up, Pechu saw Will on top of Yalor’s head hanging on to one of his pal’s thick spikes of black hair.
"Good to see you again," said Pechu warmly and amused seeing the tiny Earthie in Yalor’s hair.
"Pechu how have you progressed in the ways of the Earthies?"
Lifting his shoulders up, Pechu replied, "I guess I have grown. Haven’t in the last year have any contact with Earthies."
A group of Earthie pilot companions just had implantation very painful. Young friend you want to relieve them suffer some bit?" Pechu looked up at Kelp. "You have permission. I must warm you they do suffer in this."
Kneading his eyebrows together, Pechu said, "Ill go."
"You big heart of boy. Me know proud. You have ways."
Yalor, Kelp and Pechu after getting clearance entered the medical wing where Earthies were recovering from implantation. There was moaning and in a few cases screaming. Pechu hesitated for a moment before entering. Clenching his fists Pechu went in.
From the top of Yalor’s head, Will shouted down to his friend, "Pechu is really an amazing boy."
"Yes he Pechu given many gifts.
Many of the pilot companions were in the hands of their pilots who tried to give comfort. One cadet pilot’s companion touched Pechu’s heart. "May I place fingers on him?" asked Pechu. The pilot nodded. Pechu smiled at the tiny Earthie companion who was struggling with pain. Pechu placed a finger on the top of the head and one gently on the chest. He whispered a few words to the Earthie.
Slowly the face of pain change to one of calm on the Earthie. "Thank you," said a grateful candidate for pilot.
Yalor meanwhile, went among the Earthies relieving them of their pain.
One Earthie was walking and suddenly bent over in pain. Pechu swept his hand in and took the Earthie up in his hand. The Earthie crouched over falling on the warm muscle pads to the huge hand. She turned looking up into Pechu’s deep, caring eyes. Pechu placed a finger on the side of the pilot companions face. The Earthie sat up. "Thank you," she said in a low voice. Pechu lifted his hand up and placed the female pilot companion against the side of his face whispering a few words.
One pilot companion who was screaming because of an infection in the implants, Pechu said to him, "Look at me." The pilot opened his eyes. For a moment the pilot companion felt displaced from his own body. Pechu placed the sides of his two hands on the infected area. He closed his eyes. Pechu re-opened them.
The tiny Earthie extended his arm and told Pechu, "The pain is going." Pechu took the miniature hand between two fingers.
After they had finished in the medical unit they left. Yalor said to Pechu, "I much moved and admire your skill. Much today suffering end you. Much proud you be."
"I don’t feel proud over it Commander Yalor. I just did what I could," replied Pechu simply.
"Me so glad you say such thing. Your skill will many fold be."
Before leaving the medical center many of the pilots thanked Pechu. The boy’s face just turned red and he moved his right foot nervously from side to side. Kelp gave his cousin a hearty arm around his side. "Strong in the ways of Earthies he becomes," commented Yalor
Because of his service, Chief of Cadet Training Florx gave Pechu permission to go to Launch Preparation Bay and view the fighters close up. Many of the service technicians who passed Pechu on the opposite service elevators called over to him, "What do we have here a new recruit?".
Cadet Chris was playing tennis with a fellow cadet. Others who were watching were amazed by how agile Chris was on his false legs. Near the end the end of the match Chris was becoming sore where the legs attach to the flesh. Still, he played the full game. Finished, Chris when over to net and thanked his teammate Florin.
Drying off with his towel Florin asked, "Any news about a new Betheran to team up with yet?"
"I haven’t heard. Though, Instructor Sorenson told me they are working on it."
"Your at the top of your class. "I’m sure in now time you will be matched up," responded cadet Florin.
Commander Ragon returned down the hill feeling more secure inside. He will miss his friend as he knew him, however, he had peace knowing his friend still continued and was happy.
"Wow!" exclaimed Pechu as he grabbed hold to the guard rail of the elevator as the enormous fighters came into view.
The elevator stopped. When the door opened the three Betheran’s steeped out. From the top of Yalor’s head Will said, "Pretty impressive huh?"
"It sure is!" Pechu gazed up at the Betheran’s ultimate fighting weapons.
Earthie Dietician April’s face was beaming when she heard that tonight she would be serving dinner to the Earthie Companions. Her main joy was in the fact she would have a chance to see candidate for pilot Mandil. Seeing no one was in the work area; taking a stalk of celery April spun around with it thinking of the brave and handsome Betheran teen. "Ouch!" she shouted out loud as she spun right into the side of a metal work table. Rubbing her side, April went back to work feeling like a fool. Still, she couldn’t take the smile off her face.
Pechu was admiring the imposing fighters when the sirens began to sound. "Fighters to Ready and Preparation Room"
Kelp took Pechu over to a technician, "Bring him to the Visitor’s Quarters." Looking down at Pechu, "Its ok."
In the Ready and Preparation Room director of flights explained the situation. "We have forty targets and their trajectory is the academy. We have already begun ground assault operations. All twenty five fighters will be called into operation. No matter what happens, we must protect this base. Pilots prepare for combat."
Within minutes the pilots were in their flight suites rushing for their fighters.
Commander Ragon had a communication device on him. Told of the situation he immediately rushed back to the academy.
The pilots stood in front of their fighters waiting for the go from the service technicians. "Pilots board your fighters."
All the cadets were wondering what was up with all the artillery that began appeared on the academy grounds.
Cadet Mandil was on the grounds with a fellow cadet and friend when the conflict started. "We better hurry back inside," he told his friend.
Strapped in his chair, Commander Kelp said, "Report on status."
All operational Commander. Preparing for capsule insertion."
"I clear that companion."
A citizen flew Commander Ragon to the academy. "Thanks, now you better head quickly for cover." Once inside, Commander Ragon headed for Operations.
From out of the under ground bunker came the fabulous fighters!
Nearing a door, Cadets Mandil’s friend pointed up and asked, "What’s that?" A huge dark object with several tendrils began lowering itself.
"It’s the enemy. Hurry we must get inside."
The creature hurled an energy bolt at one of the academy buildings. Turning around, Cadet Mandil’s eyes widen in shock, the building being destroyed was the Earthies section. "Get inside."
"What about you?"
"Just get inside," replied Cadet Mandil who ran for the burning building.
Inside, all the Earthies were trying to dig themselves out from the debris. In the dietary section. April was helping an injured assistant.
Cadet Mandil was running toward the ruins when the creature fired another energy bolt. He jumped to the ground.
Inside the dietary section, April heard a loud cracking sound. She was pushing the assistant out when debris began to fall on top of her.
Cadet Mandil was wiping dirt and bits of debris off of himself when his friend returned. "You ok Mandil?"
"Yeah. Thanks for coming back. We need to help the Earthies," said Mandil to his fellow cadet. The two ran for the heap of burning scrap.
From out of the sky came Commander Yalor’s fighter who using his robotic arms grabbed the creature.
Pechu in the Visitor’s Section, feeling the academy under siege thought, "The medical Center. Maybe, I can help." He made his way through the now empty hallways.
An officer ran up to the boy. "You must turn back. I’ll take you to safety."
"No," pleaded Pechu. "You don’t understand I’m commander Kelp’s cousin. And I have Commander Yalor’s abilities. I can be useful in Medical Center---please."
The officer thought for a moment, "Ok."
Blood pouring down her face, April tried to move. She could not. Her thoughts went to Mandil, "I hope you’re safe."
"How can we get in?" questioned Mandil’s pal.
"There are several service ducts here. We find them we can get in." The two Betheran Cadets moved and kicked the debris away.
Four more targets came in blasting the academy. Commander Ragon was getting near to Operations when he heard, "The cadets need you." He stopped. Commander Ragon quickly headed for the cadets dorm quarters.
The sky above the academy was filled with fire from the fierce fighting that was taking place.
Finding a duct Mandil and his fellow cadet began to crawl inside. "Poor tiny people. They probably don’t have a chance," commented Mandil’s friend.
"Don’t say that!"
When Pechu arrived at Medical center it still was relatively quiet. He went to both Betheran and Earthie patients to give them peace.
Entering the area that connects to the dorm section of the academy, Commander Ragon found it blocked by debris. He began to clear it away.
On the other side the cadets were having a hard tome getting the main doors to open. "It maybe a short in the system. Damn if we only had tools to reach the main junction point in the control panel," said Jifi who was leading the group.
"Could an Earthie fit in?" asked Cyril
"Yeah!" spoke another cadet.
Jifi scratched his chin, "I guess. You think you can do it?"
"I can try."
"He might do better with a partner," shouted Bryan from Lumit’s vest pocket.
"Bryan?" questioned Lumit.
"I am proficient with electronics. Cyril is thinner and can probable navigate better. But he will need someone to guide him in the work.," said Bryan who looked up at Lumit.
"If you think you can. Do it Bryan," spoke Cadet Lumit.
Several cadets broke bits of the wall off to get at the main control annex station.
Breaking bits of a wall, Mandil and his friend came out into room of sorts. They had to stay on hands and knees. There was crying and moaning. They looked with shook at the tiny forms of the Earthies sprawled about. In a somber voice, Mandil told his friend "Gather up the ones that are still living, I will move up ahead . Slowly his friend began to carefully pick up the still living Earthies in his colossal hands.
Moving slowly over the rubble, Mandil heard a muffled squeaky voice, "Help me, help me." Moving bits of plaster and metal, he saw a technician in a blue jumper. Carefully he picked him up. "Its ok. Your safe now," spoke Mandil to the Earthie. He placed him in a side pocket to his shorts. Moving along, he found and saved other Earthies. His mind and heart too was on April. Tears began to fill his eyes thinking about her.
With the access panel removed, Cyril was ready to go in. "Cyril, I-I well, good luck," spoke Jifi with grave heart.
Standing at the tips to Jifi’s huge fingers Cyril said jokingly, "See being a runt does pay off."
Giving Cyril a weak smile Jifi replied, "Just be careful my tiny runt. Please."
Ujim moved up over to Jifi, "We’re all behind you Cyril. Good luck."
Cyril crawled off of Jifi’s fingers into the conduit of wires and computer chips. Cadet Bryan was next
"Watch over Cyril and yourself," said Lumit.
I will." Bryan crawled off his giant hand into the semi-darkness of the conduit. Lumit watched the tiny being that was slowly becoming his friend, disappear into the circuitry.
Commander Ragon, wet with sweat had made good progress in removing the obstructions to the entrance way.
High above, the fighters were battling the enemy. Several targets had changed course for the city. Parts of the enemy began to rain down on the city in a form of gory rain.
Mandil was moving along when he felt something brush the side of his right leg. Stopping and looking down, he saw two pair of arms. His heart froze for a moment. He just in case removed the debris. He shook his head and placed a hand to his forehead. "No must think straight. There are others" He was about to move on when a Earthie female came running around. She held her hands up to him. She appeared in shock. He picked her up. "Its ok."
"I tried to help. The stuff kept coming down. I tried to help. The stuff kept coming down," the distraught woman kept repeating.
Mandil placed a finger for a moment on her face. "You did what you could." Taking the same finger and rubbing behind the back of his ear, Mandil placed the skin secretion on her face. It had a numbing affect; calming her down. He next placed her in his pocket with the others. .
Mandil’s friend was being lead by several Earthies to a spot were they last saw their pals. He carefully removed debris. Both the giant cadet and the group of Earthies let out a sigh when they found them unharmed.
In Medical Center, casualties began to flow in. Pechu helped in acting as an orderly to nurses and doctors. To the Earthies that came in, used his abilities to alleviate their pain.
Ground assault fired at approaching targets. Several fighters swooped in for the attack. On the tactical screen in Main Mission, the enemy targets began to head upward. For space. Several fighters were sent in pursuit.
Cadet Mandil broke his way through a wall. He looked down and saw all sorts of miniature cooking utensils and equipment. "April," he said. At first he could not see anything. Near a broken entrance way, Mandil saw a figure covered with dust. The tiny Earthie was half buried with debris. Using his fingers, he removed the debris. Slowly, and carefully he picked up the Earthie. Turning the tiny person around in his hand, Mandil’s heart began to pound with fear. It was April. "Please be alive," he said. The tiny figure began to move. "Thank you Spirit of Light." Mandil wetted a finger with his tongue and wiped off April’s face. "April can you hear me? Its Mandil."
"Mandil," replied April in a tired out voice. She opened her eyes. The face seemed familiar. She could pick up on the scent. Her tiny heart began to beat with joy. She tried to lift a hand up.
"No, just stay still." Mandil was moved with emotion. "Oh my tiny April. My tiny April." He gave her several quick kisses. "I’m going to place you in my pocket. You will find many of your friends in there." Before placing her in his pocket, Mandil lightly pressed her against the side of his face.
Cadet Chris, who was caught in the Earthie recreation gym during the attack, worked with others to help keep fellow cadets who had been injured safe.
Cadets Cyril and Bryan made their way to main junction point. As they neared, Bryan instructed Cyril, "This is what you need to do."
Commander Ragon continued to clear more and more rubble away from the entranceway. He began to hear voices on the other side. The seventeen year old commander tried to quicken his mission.
"Its been a while now I hope their ok," commented cadet Ujim.
A light blue smoke began to float out of the conduit pipe. "Cyril, Bryan you ok," called Jifi. A faint voice replied back. "It sounded like they said their on their way out.," reported Jifi.
The battle in the air still raged on. Commanders Yalor and Lutha leading a squadron destroyed and drove back the enemy in the atmosphere as Commanders Florn and Kelp lead their squadrons into space above Bethera.
"I have plotted attack coordinates Commander; to take affect in three points one."
"Five by five" Pilot Kelp pulled his fighter in for the attack position. Zeroing on the six targets, Commander Kelp launched the lazar shroud. "I have fired."
"I green that commander." Pilot Companion Ted watched on his monitors as the laze bolt opened to form a wide deadly netting over the six targets. When the targets vanished from his screens, companion reported, "We have termination of targets. Good shooting commander."
"Good plotting companion."
Commander Yalor in pursuit of a class one target over the city shot out his pair of grappling hooks. "Commander I have connect."
"I green that companion. Releasing energy surge." Commander Yalor released through the grappling cables a high form of plasma energy designed to burn out the enemies nervous system."
"You have positive on nero-burn. Target destroyed."
"Five by five."
The smoke began to thicken as it came out of the conduit. "I think I can see some movement," said Jifi.
"Bryan, Cyril you ok?" shouted Lumit. Flexing his right hand and arm Lumit said, "I’m going in."
"Huh?" questioned Ujim.
"I mean with my arm. Its part of a fighting technique I learned." Lumit constricted his muscles as best he could as he rammed his arm into the conduit. Everyone could see the pain on his face.
"Can you find then?" asked Jifi.
Lumit’s face just contorted in pain. "I think I have them." Slowly he pulled his cut and bloody arm out. Jifi ,Ujim and Steve from Ujim’s vest pocket looked anxiously down at Lumit’s clenched fist.
Opening his hand were Cyril and Bryan. They weren’t moving. "It could be smoke inhalation," said Ujim. "We need to get fresh air into their lungs.".
"I can help," spoke Steve. "I know Earthie CPR." Ujim removed Steve from his pocket and placed him in Lumit’s hand.
Lumit felt anxiety building up inside of him as he stared down at the motionless, fragile form of Bryan. Jifi too was worried. He feared for Cyril. Steve began on Bryan.
In the remains of the Earthies quarters, the two Betheran Cadets made one quick search for Earthies before leaving. As they headed for the Medical Center, Mandil’s friend remarked, "I never thought I would save people with my pockets."
They rushed into a still functioning entrance way while holding their pockets to keep jostling of the wounded Earthies to a minimum.
Once in Medical Center, the two cadets found the place littered with injured Betherans. "I have many injured Earthies that need attention," spoke Mandil to a doctor.
Pointing to the far right end of the room, the doctor told Mandil, "The Earthies doctors are there". Mandil and his fellow cadet going over to the special medical table emptied their pockets of the wounded Earthies.
"I wish Commander Yalor was here. He has the ways with Earthies," said Mandil out loud.
"Cadet there is," shouted up an Earthie doctor. "A Betheran boy is here who has the ways."
"I’ll be right back." Meanwhile, Mandil’s friend asked the Earthie doctors if he can be of any help.
Slowly Bryan began to come around. Steve immediately went over to Cyril. "Come on Cyril start breathing," thought Jifi. Cyril gave out a few coughs. Jifi closed his eyes for a moment in relief. Jifi gently removed a few pieces of wire and fiber optics that were wrapped around his tiny partner. "Thanks Steve. "I’m grateful."
"Me too Steve," added Lumit.
Ujim picked up his tiny Earthie with Pride. And placed Steve down in his hand.
Picking Cyril up, Jifi said, "My runt. Real proud of you." He placed Cyril in his vest pocket.
As Bryan came around, he noticed the cuts on Lumit’s hand and arm. Looking up at Lumit, "What happened?"
Ujim leaned over Bryan, "He was saving his friend---you."
Leaning up against Lumit’s thumb Bryan shouted, "Lumit thanks. I really wan…" Bryan couldn’t finish his words. Instead, began coughing.
"Don’t talk. You’re my friend what else should I have done," replied Lumit.
Cadet Mandil spotted Pechu. Going up to him, "I have many injured Earthies. I heard you have the way with Earthies."
"I do. Ok take me to them," replied Pechu.
When they arrived at the table, the doctors were busily attending to the injured. Mandil went near April and passed a gentle finger over the side of her face. April began talking. Her voice was too weak for Mandil to hear. He leaned in. "My brave rescuer," she told him.
April lifted up her arms. Mandil brought down a finger for April to hold. "I’m hear my tiny flower." Lowering her arms, April kissed the tip to Mandil’s finger.
Going over to the door, Jifi said, "Lets see if the door works. Ujim, Lumit and the other cadets stepped in closer. Pushing the button, the door made a loud, metallic shrieking sound as it began to separate. As it slowly opened, the cadets were met with a surprise---Commnader Ragon’s smiling face.
"Cadet! Am I glad to see you guys are safe. I have a little more to clear from the door then we can get out of here."
One cadet asked Ragon, "How bad is the damage?"
"We were hit hard."
In the Earthie Cadet Recreation Center, Cadet Chris had organized the water and food. Using towels had the wounded covered and pressed up against each other for warmth. His concern was post traumatic shock. One of the cadets was able to get a message off to Main Mission.
In Medical Center, Pechu used his skills in calming and in healing the Earthies. As they recovered they told the doctors how Mandil and the other giant cadet saved their lives.
On the tactical screens in Main Mission, the enemy targets were dissipating Command would keep a squadron on active duty till the academy was safely secured.
After April was looked after by a doctor. Mandil carefully picked up April and wrapped her in a handkerchief. Sitting down on the floor. He would take care of her.
Once the door to the dorm quarters were cleared, the cadets were able to vacate the area.
In the Earthie Recreational Center, everyone was waiting to be rescued. "It might be sometime, so we all need is to relax," said Cadet Chris.
One cadet mentioned, "I’m feeling strange." Another said she felt the same way.
A cold thought ran through Chris’s mind. "Cadet Bob, could you check the air vent."
Bob went over and put his hand up, "I’m not getting anything. Let me try another. Still nothing."
Chris ran a nervous hand over his face, "They know we are hear. Shelia had connected main Mission." The lights began to flicker.
In Medical Center, for the time being things began to settle down. The cadet who had helped Mandil rescue the Earthies was standing next to one of the Earthie Emergency tables when he felt something poking at his leg. Turning and looking down he saw several of the Earthies he had rescued trying to get his attention. Stooping down so he would be face level with the miniature people asked, "Something I can do for you?"
"We just want to thank you for saving our lives," replied the Earthies.
"Don’t need to thank me. Part of my job."
"No, we do," responded a woman with short brown hair. "And what is your name our colossal hero."
"I’m Cadet Dabaku."
"Cadet Dabaku could you bring your face down. No, lower." The Earthie female gave the gigantic cadet a kiss on his enormous cheek." Dabaku’s face turned red.
On the floor leaning up against the wall, Mandil looked fondly down at April; wrapped up in his handkerchief. "How are you feeling?"
"A little chilled."
"Oh." Mandil placed April inside his vest against his chest.
April in a low voice squeaked, "I’m glad it was you."
"I was glad it was you who found me."
Mandil gently pressed April against his warm chest. "I’m glad I found you. You mean a lot to me."
"I was also afraid you might have been hurt." April began to sob.
"No, no. Its ok. We are both ok. And together. You must rest now." Her face against the warm flesh, April found it comforting to be with her giant love and the thumping of his heart lulled her away to a peaceful, safe sleep.
Pechu in a chair had slumbered off from all his activity. A nurse placed a blanket on him.
In the academy hallway, Commander Ragon was leading the small band of cadets to safety. On their way they came across a few injured cadets. Jifi and Lumit helped them along. Over Ragon’s communicator came a message.
In the Earthie Recreational Center, the lights had gone out except for two emergency lamps. A Cadet named Laura came over to Chris, "Mind if I sit down next to you."
"No go ahead."
"The next request probably too weird."
"Can I put my arm around you. I’m pretty scared."
"Sure. And I’m scared too. We all are."
The cadet placed an arm around Chris. "I never seen you before cadet," said Chris. "What is your station?"
"My function is in Earthie Medical. I’m a dentist. I‘m cadet Laura."
"Regards. Wish it was under better circumstances."
Feeling her shaking. "Its ok, we‘ll get out of here."
"Not being a very brave warrior."
Chris replied, "I think you’re doing great. And the lack of oxygen doesn‘t help."
"Funny," Laura commented. "I have always been afraid of the dark."
"You want to hear something funnier."
"I have always been afraid of dentists." They both laughed..
Out in space, the Betheran Warriors destroyed more targets. The remaining targets flew off to where they had came from. Commander Kelp and Florn lead their squadrons back home to Bethera.
Chris was sweating and having a hard time breathing. As he looked around everyone was slumped over. Gently he said, "I never dreamt it would end like this. I commend my soul to the eternal sea of warriors." Chris began to hear barking. "Chips?" On the other side of the room he saw a dog. It was his pet that he had as a kid. The dog began doing tricks. Putting his hands to both sides of his face, Chris began to laugh. "Ha-ha-ha-ha!!"
There was a loud sound of moving concrete. A light flashed in on him. A rush of cool air flooded in.
Holding a flashlight light, Lumit told the others, "I see them."
In a sleepy daze, Chris watched the hole and light getting bigger. A giant face peered in, "You ok?"
Trying to think rationally in his present state, all Chris could say, "Are you death?"
"You are going to be just fine. You and your friends," said the voice of Commander Ragon. "Can you get up and come my way?"
"NO! There are injured people here. Them first," replied Chris with more clarity.
A gigantic hand reached in and gently began picking up the wounded. Ragon past the injured Earthies to Lumit and Ujim.
When all were past through, Ragon told Chris, "Ok, come on."
"No, I want to do a quick check. I don’t want to leave anyone behind."
Ragon smiled at the bravery and honor of Chris. He also picked up on a little stubbornness. He remembered how Stanton use to tell him he was stubborn. "Ok, Chris hurry up. That is an order."
"I guess we’re clear," replied Chris. With great difficulty he climbed over the debris till Ragon‘s huge hand came sailing in and engulfing him in his palm.
When Ragon removed his hand, he opened it up. The frail, sweaty, dirt covered form of an Earthie met his eyes. And a brave one. The tiny cadet tried to sit up. "Just stay as you are Chris."
"How is everybody?" squeaked Chris in that high pitch Earthie voice.
"Don’t know. However, we are taking them to Medical Center."
The great fighters came back to base with their gallant crews. On their monitors the pilots and pilot companions could see the extensive damage to the academy. Fortunately, the underground launch bay and maintenance area went unscathed.
After pilot companion Will ejected from the capsule receptacle, Yalor and his companion left the craft. With Will in his hand, Yalor said, "We once more come back to fight again. Glad you my pal we still here. Will me thank you. You skill always fight our best. Me think too, much pain and brave of spirit fought as we fought high."
BETHERAN PERSONEL: Eighteen.
EARTHIE PERSONEL: Twenty Six.
From all over Bethera help came. Construction was under way within days after the attack. Cadet Mandil felt guilt over not being with his pilot companion during the crises. His Pilot Companion Vic told Mandil he understood. And was proud of his pilot for saving his fellow Earthies. "Thanks. I still felt I should have been with you too."
Earthie April was recovering nicely. And did have frequent visits from Mandil.
Pecku was flown back to his school with academy honors. Though, he would be flown back for a special ceremony that was going to take place.
A new candidate, an energetic, burly and personable sixteen year old Betheran teen named Nekou had just arrived. Wanting to be of service, he was put to work in the Medical Center. He helped in clean up and in caring for Betheran and Earthie patients. No partner was selected for him at present. And he didn’t have to wait for the training classes in preparation for contact with Earthies due to the prevailing circumstances.
Spotting Earthie Cadet Chris, Nekou wiped his hands off on the side of his shorts and went over. Cadet Chris was exercising his legs that had become infected by debris. Losing his balance, Chris found himself falling to the floor when he was hoisted suddenly up into the air. Chris came back down to rest in a giant hand. The hand was remarkable strong and he found himself surrounded by large muscle pads. "Are you ok? If you need anything just ask me. That’s what I’m here for Cadet Chris," said the giant voice a mile a minute.
Chris looked up at the huge sincere face. The vivid olive green eyes of the giant looked down at him. "No thanks. I’m fine cadet."
Looking down at the tiny Earthie who was partly submerged in the creases and muscles of his hand remarked, "I can’t get over you Earthie size. I was dying to see one up close. I’m looking forward to mine. Oh, I don’t mean mine in ownership or anything. Just in becoming a warrior team. Gosh your tiny. Your Cadet Chris. I heard of you. I was hoping to meet you. And here you fall into my hand. Well, kind of. I heard about your bravery," went on Cadet Nekou at light speed.
Cracking a smile at Cadet Nekou’s high spirits, "I’m no braver than anyone else here."
"I guess you would have to say that. I admire you. And how you overcame the odds of your legs to be a pilot companion. I respect that. I have in my room a badge of honor. I won it several years ago at school. I would gladly give it to you."
"Thanks. You keep it. You earned it.."
"I’m going to take a quick break and go outside. Would you like to join me. I’ll ask the doctor." Before he could answer Cadet Chris found himself being whisked away to the doctor on duty’s booth.
In a make shift dorm room, Cadet Lumit watched as his minute partner climbed around his arm that dwarfed his partner dressing several of the wounds to his arm. "Bryan you don’t need to do that."
"I want to. You’re my partner. And it’s the least I could can do to the one who saved me and Cyril." Not knowing what to say, Lumit just nodded his head.
Jifi and Cyril in his vest pocket looked out at the construction taking place. "What a mess," said Jifi.
With his hands holding on to the lip of the pocket, Cyril replied, "Yeah."
Looking down at Cyril, "Did I tell you how you once more made me proud of you.."
Face beaming, Cyril replied, "I did Jifi!"
"You did. And other cadets are proud of you too. Little runt."
Cadet Nekou’s break was about over and as he was turning around he found himself face to face with Commander Yalor. "Oh!" said Cadet Nekou with a start. "I didn’t hear you."
"You enjoying air and rebuilding?"
Nekou’s forehead wrinkled up as he replied, "Yes." Cadet Chris was amused by how the fast talker Nekou was lost for words with the very singular Yalor.
No, " replied Yalor. Lifting his hand up, "I took cadet Chris out for air. I thought he could use it."
"You took shine to Chris."
"I really think he’s so brave. If I can do anything to help. Its my pleasure."
From the top of Yalor’s head, Companion Will called down, "Nice work cadet."
"Thanks!" Shouted up Chris.
"Keep me not from duties. Me lighten inside Chris you up. And with cadet."
Cadet Nekou gave Commander Yalor a polite bow and with a nervous smile left. "He’s different. I didn’t know what to say. I was hoping I wouldn’t act like an idiot. I heard he is a great pilot. A great pilot like Commander Kelp. Have you met Pilot Kelp?"
"A few times. And Commander Yalor is a great pilot. He just has a different way of speaking. When you get use to it. You will see what a great guy he is."
Several days later, the whole academy gathered for the funeral of those who died in the attack. Present too were members of the deceased.
As he was attending, Commander Yalor said under his breath, A Betheran and Earthie funeral. Symbol of compassion and respect. A long finger of tragic fate stretching across space. Where does the heart begin? Where does it end?"
For the next several months reconstruction took place The new quarters throughout the academy, were redesigned. They could be brought down on anti gravitational lifts below ground level. The buildings were reinforced. Stationed all around the academy were a series of discs when activated could create a protective force field---bubble that would encase the entire complex.
Slowly, classes for the new cadets resumed. Cadets Jifi and Cyril would be having their Memory-Merger within five weeks. And scheduled implantation for senior cadets in the program would be in six week period.
Four months after the attack, the Academy had their first ceremony in the recently rebuilt Main Assembly Hall. Commander Kelp’s cousin Pechu was flown in with his family. Accompanying him was several of his friends from school. Trustees of the educational institution. Families of the cadets were put up in the new visitor quarters still under construction.
The day of the ceremony was full of excitement and work. The the grounds were decorated with ballons and laser streamers. The pilots put on their dress uniform. Cadets had their uniforms cleaned and mended. In dietary, April was back to work preparing food for the Earthie cadets. She kept with her a piece of Mandil’s handkerchief that she was wrapped in. She made a neck scarf out of the piece of white material.
After the citizenry was seated, the guests of honor that included the pilots, Cadets Mandil and Dabaku Commander Ragon, were seated in front. Pilot Candidates included, Chris, Cyril and Bryan. They sat on the shoulders of their giant partners.
Chief of cadet Training Florx began the proceedings. "I first want to express my personal gratitude and love to the entire academy body. I haven’t prouder than I am of all of you. You who rose to the occasion. One of great heartache and personal risk. I officially send the gratitude of the academy and people of Bethera. Before we start the awards ceremony Principle Guardian of Bethera his Lord Rydke."
Lord Rydke spoke to the academy about their heroism and sacrifice. After his speech dignitaries from all over Bethera came and spoke of their gratitude. Dignitaries from the Earthie city of Bale gave praise to the valor of the pilots and cadets.
After the addresses there was a thirty minute intermission before the awards ceremony. Pechu and his friends mingled with the pilots and cadets. His friends couldn’t help and stare at the Earthies. Cadet Mandil with his companion Vic went over to get refreshments. "I feel strange being with you when you get the award," commented Vic.
"Don’t we’re a team. Anyway, I heard how you shoveled out the remains of several Earthies. Not an easy task. I’m proud of you. I hope Vic it isn’t causing you any---well---ah distress. If it is please tell me."
"I will Mandil."
Once at the table, Cadet Mandil looked for Earthie April. When he did spot her, "Hi April."
April shouted up, "Hi my giant hero." Vic lowered himself down into the bottom of the vest pocket so his comrade could have his privacy.
"I know your busy. So I won’t say much. Just always great to see you. And seeing you up and around."
Seeing no one was looking in her direction, April blew a kiss to Mandil. "I better go."
As April walked off Mandil let out a sigh. Tapping his pocket, "You can come back out now Vic." When his friend’s head popped out, "Thanks." Mandil picked up a few culinary delights for Vic and a few for himself.
With Cyril in hand, Jifi asked, "What can I get you my teeny-tiny hero."
"Ah, whatever your having Jifi"
"Ok, you can eat off my plate. Cyril, did your parents come?"
"No," replied Cyril dryly.
"Not everyone’s parents could make it."
"Its ok Jifi. I don’t want to see them anyway."
"Well, I want you to meet mine. Matter of fact I see them. Mom, dad," said Jifi loudly waving his hands. "Mom, dad this is my pilot companion Cyril."
"Cyril. Congratulations! You’re a good man."
Cyril’s eyes lighted up, "Th-th-thanks."
"Here’s the thing you wanted," said the father passing a small envelope to Jifi.
"I hope Jifi isn’t working you too hard Cyril."
"No. But he is going to help me build up my weight," replied Cyril.
The lights began flashing.
"We’ll see you later son. And you too Cyril," spoke the father.
After everyone had reseated Chief Florx stood back up at the podium. "Bravery comes in all sizes and ages. Which brings me to our first award for bravery. This young man came to us to visit his cousin."
Pechu began to turn bright red. Commander Yalor, noticing this commented to Companion Will, "Our young friend I think feels in battle again. Different kind. One I think he wish he could run from. He know I hope deserves award. He young and noble mixed."
"In the midst of a serve odds this mere boy in matter of seconds grew to status of an adult. With his special abilities he choose to bring out of chaos---life." Looking down at Pechu warmly, Chief Florx said to him, "Pechu please step up. The whole assemble applauded. Commander Kelp whistled and clapped vigorously. Pechu’s pals stood up. Soon the entire assembly of people stood up. Pechu looked out stunned at all the people cheering and clapping for him. Chief Florx stooping down and holding him by the shoulders, whispered to the boy, "Its all real. You deserve it. Many lives owe thanks to you." Pechu smiled shyly and gave a slight wave. Standing back up, Chief Florx said, "Commander Kelp, will you do the honors."
"Me?" responded Kelp, not believing what he just heard. Kelp went up the stairs to the podium.
Chief Florx told Kelp. "I think it would be a greater honor for Pechu if you placed the Seal of Bravery on him."
An assistant came stood before Kelp with the case containing the Seal of Bravery. Kelp tried to fight off the tears of admiration and love he was feeling for his young cousin. Opening the box Kelp solemnly removed the Seal of bravery that was attached to a platinum chain. The assistant backed away.
Lord Rydke came and placed a hand on Commander Kelp’s shoulder. "In your own words son."
"On behalf of the people of Bethera and the lives of those you saved, it is with deep honor, I place this Seal of Bravery on you." Kelp placed the chain over Pechu’s head. The assemble exploded once more into applauds. Kelp hugged his cousin.
Pechu with great pride went back to his chair. He shifted around his seat showing his parents and friends his medal.
Returning to the podium, Chief Florx continued, "Acting as true heroes these next two individuals acting on their own choose to put the lives of others before their own. Seeing the destruction of the Earthies quarters, Cadets Mandil and Dabaku taking great risk entered the fallen structure. Using their greater size, Cadet Mandil and Cadet Dabaku saved may lives. Cadets please step up and receive your award. To rousing applauds Mandil and dabaku walked up and onto the podium.
On hovering discs, dignitaries from the Earthie city of Bale came to take part in the presentation. The two Betheran cadets stood in attention. The Earthie dignitaries hovered up before the colossal teen cadets. "With gratitude and love from your Earthie friends, we thank you." The dignitaries extended their hands. Cadets Mandil and Dabaku extended an index finger down to the Earthies Ambassadors.
Two assistants followed behind Chief Florx as he came and stood before the cadets. Turning to assistant number one, Chief Florx opened the case and took out the medal. Stepping in front of Cadet Mandil, "For your bravery in the preservation of life, I with great pleasure and honor bestow on upon you the Medal of Bravery." Chief Florx placed the medal on the brave Betheran Cadet.
April from the refreshment table observed the solemn ceremony from an over head monitor. She clapped as tears ran down her face. "You my love are a titan. And not just because of your size."
Opening the second case, Chief Florx removed the medal. Standing before Dabaku, Chief Florx said, "You have the love of those you saved and of their countrymen. Which in the greater reality, is the highest honor. Brave Cadet Dabaku I bestow on you the Medal of Bravery."
In the Medical Center, many of the Earthies Cadet Dabaku saved, clapped and cheered. Several of them shouted from their beds toward the monitor, "We love you Cadet Babaku!"
The two brave cadets bowed before Lord Rydke and turned toward the assemble. Mandil and Dabaku were greeted with a standing ovation.
Returning to their seats the brave cadets were given many hand shakes and slaps on their backs from their fellow comrades. Many of the Earthies they saved were placed on their massive shoulders and laps.
"Bravery comes in all sizes," spoke Chief Florx. We have given honors to those who have saved our smaller citizens. Let us honor two who saved their giant comrades. Cadet Cyril and Cadet Bryan please step up. Cadets Jifi and Lumit with their Earthie Companions in their hands stepped up. Zooming up next to Chief Florx on a hover disc with two assistants was Earthie Instructor Sorenson.
Cadets Lumit and Jifi in attention looked down with admiration at their two miniature comrades.
Instructor Sorenson bringing the disc level with the giant hands said, "I have the honor and truthfully tell you cadets that this is from my heart a true honor to be able serve you an symbol of our two people’s appreciation for your valor. Opening the case held in the first assistants hand, Instructor Sorensen picked up the Medal of Bravery. "Cadet Cyril with gratitude from your fellow comrades both Betheran and Earthies I place this medal on you."
In the city of Bale, at Cyril’s parents home, the father witnessing the event turned to his wife and remarked, "If anyone had told me someday Cyril would be receiving a medal for bravery, you could have knocked me over with a feather."
Jifi as he watched Cyril bending his scrawny neck down to receive the medal, just wanted to be able to jump up and say, "Yes!!" Jifi had such great affection for his brave tiny companion.
Once the medal was placed around his neck, Cyril lowered his head down and smiled shyly. Seeing the medal was slightly askew, Jifi using the tip of his index finger, centered it on Cyril’s thin tiny chest.
Gliding over before cadet Lumit’s giant hand, Instructor Sorenson removed from the case in the second assistant’s hand the second Medal of bravery. "With high esteem and affection from both Betheran and Earthie I place the highest honor of Bethera: The Medal of Bravery on you."
Cadet Lumit looked down at the very tiny Earthie in his hand. "Here stands in my hand a tiny person. But in my mind he’s the giant."
Cadets Cyril and Bryan were giving a round of applauds.
"Our next Earthie Comrade trapped in uncertain odds worked heroically and selflessly, and these are the words of those who were trapped with him, to save every single person. I was told by one of the cadets who found the trapped Earthie Cadets that Cadet Chris refused to be rescued first. He made sure the injured had been taken first. And was the very last one to leave and only after he took a one final sweep of the area for any other victims. Cadet Chris please come to the podium."
Cadet Chris having no partner asked that Betheran Cadet Nekou be his partner at the ceremony. Standing up with Cadet Chris in his hand, Cadet Nekou approached the podium. Flying up to Cadet Nekou’s hand and holding the Medal of Bravery, Instructor Sorenson said, "Cadet Chris with this continued honor I have to award such men of honor, I give you the thanks of the peoples Bethera and your Earthie countrymen." Cadet Chris was given hardy applauds from the assembly.
Raw recruit Cadet Nekou, felt so very honored to have been able to share in the award given to the brave Earthie that he held in his hand.
Speaking, Cadet Florx said, "This next Betheran Warrior has proven himself time and time again a hero in combat. Recently suffering a loss of a comrade and friend, Commander Ragon on leave, hearing about the attack on the academy rushed back. With minutes of arriving, Commander Ragon went to rescuing a group of trapped cadets. And with the freed cadets went and helped others including Cadet Chris. Commander Ragon please approach."
Stepping up to the podium, Commander Ragon thought about his fallen comrade Stanton. "I wish you were here with me. I suppose you are."
Taking the Medal of Bravery from the case, Chief Florx as he placed it over Commander Ragon’s head, "With the thanks of the people of Bethera and the love of your comrades." Commander Ragon was giving a round of applauds.
Next the entire squad of Commanders and their Pilot Companions went up to receive the Medal of Bravery. All around Bethera, balloons were let loose. Fireworks filled the sky. Music was performed. And bells were rung as the pilots received their Medal of Bravery.
Life was returning its previous norm of routine except in different ways the body pf the academy had changed and grown emotionally. The conflict had strengthened the bond between Betheran and Earthies. In the young Betherans, there was still a tendency to want to keep an Earthie as a pet. One of Pechu’s pals when they were boarding the hover disc to go back to school asked, "Since you helped save many Earthies, how come they wouldn’t let you keep one?"
"Togua," replied Pechu, "Their people. There just very tiny."
It was the night before Jifi was to enter Memory-Merge with Cadet Cyril. Jifi however, was finding in the tiny, fragile demeanor of Cyril a true warrior. Still, he had questions about Cyril and his almost sterile attitude toward his parents.
Before going to bed Jifi liked to do a few sit ups and other exercises. As he was doing his physical fitness drills, Cyril who was sitting on Jifi’s big toe patiently waited for his comrade to finish. Swinging his arms from side to side Jifi said, "You don’t have to wait for me."
"I know," shouted Cyril to his gyrating mountain size buddy. Jifi smiled.
When he was done, Jifi took Cyril off of his big toe and took him over to his sleeping cubicle. As he watched his pal climbing into his tiny bed and draw his tiny blankets, Jifi hit his forehead with his hand and told Cyril, "Oh, I forget my parents at the awards ceremony gave me something to give to you. I forgot all about it."
Going over to his dresser, Jifi took out of a drawer the small envelope his parents had given him. Going back over to his bed, Jifi opened it up. He pulled out a small square blue fabric material. "Cyril this is for you." Jifi handed Cyril the blanket size material."
"What is it?"
"If you want you can use it as a bed spread. Its from part of my robe I wore during a religious ceremony. When Betherans reach the age of twelve, we enter into the knowledge of the Spirit of Light. With close friends you can give a piece as a symbol of spiritual brotherhood. I know we haven’t flown yet or have done any of the intensive training. With everything that has happened between us before coming here and during the crises, I think I would like to give this to you now."
Cyril blinked his eyes. He held the fabric solemnly in his hands. "Jifi thanks. I don’t know what to say."
"You said thanks. That’s enough for me." Jifi could see it really meant deeply to Cyril. Squinting his eyes Jifi saw Cyril trying to say something. "Cyril don’t try to think of a proper response. All that matters it is something I want to share with you. Even if you’re a runt." Cyril nodded.
Holding tightly to the fabric, Cyril whispered with a smile. "I’m your runt that actually belongs.."
In the morning, Jifi and Cyril reported to the new Cadet Advance Training Center. A Betheran Psychology and Bio Enhancement Specialist explained the procedure to Jifi and what to expect in terms of physical and emotional experiences. "The experiences can range from: pleasurable and traumatic past memory impulses of subject. To rudimentary images of emotions. The results vary from subject to subject. A Betheran technician attached Jifi’s temple implant while a Earthie technician attacked Cyril’s.
Cyril was given a mild sedation and dream amplifier. Jifi was given a neo-sedation to let his mind readily open to the stimulants of Cyril’s brain patterns.
The first images that Jifi registered was swirling colorful lights that would start to form images and quickly dissolve back into light. A chaotic image formed. Jifi found himself at ground level running past and around Earthie furniture. He could hear a distorted screaming voice. He appeared to fall. Turing around, Jifi observed an angry adult face. The face was distorted in an almost mad grimace. A hand came swinging into vision. The vision became distorted. Jifi in this next image of madness, found himself entering a garbage can. And from above that face of madness began to send more slaps and fists down. Another face appeared later. Through Cyril’s eyes of memory, he saw a very young looking hand reaching up toward the adult face. The face frowned and slapped away the hand. Another image was that of being thrown up against a wall many times.
When Jifi awoke from the Memory-Merge he was deeply troubled. Turning over on his side he gazed upon Cyril. "What did they do to you?" He placed a gentle finger on Cyril’s chest. Jifi felt very emotionally strained and troubled.
Fully conscious, Jifi met with the Memory-Merge Psychologist to discuss what he saw. Jifi asked the psychologist, "Can dreams me manipulated to make them pleasant?"
"If you referring to those traumatic images of Cadet Cyril no. All data will be reviewed by the consulting staff. I’m thinking though, of holographic therapy with Cyril. And as his partner, I would advise you participate."
After his consolation, Jifi took Cyril outside to the Academy Botanical Gardens. Stretched out on the warm grass, Jifi placed Cyril on his chest. He couldn’t think of anything to say. All he knew he was Cyril’s friend.
There was a special recreation day of Betheran and Earthie personal. The special recreation was held outdoors in the spacious Academy Botanical gardens.
After Pilot Companion Vic had gone off to talk to his other friends, Cadet Mandil looked for April. Squinting his eyes he saw his tiny love with her backed turned as she studied several giant Betheran Flowers. "Even gazing upon her back melts my heart," thought Mandil to himself.
April enjoying the fragrance of the giant blossom became aware of a slight tremor beneath her. This was followed by a shadow that engulfed her. In the darkness of the shadow she lowered her head. April smiled. A prickly energy ran through her body. Turning around an Earthie transport size black shoe greeted her eyes. Bending her head back a tower size tan muscular leg rose a dozen or more stories into the air. The strong, titanic leg disappeared into the darkness of the leg opening to the green shorts. Higher still, was the beginning of a green vest that covered an impressive chest. April couldn’t look up any further save getting down on her back to finish her gaze upward.
Mandil’s heart pounded its quickening beats of love within deep his chest. Seeing his minute friend could look no further up he began to kneel down.
It was always awe inspiring for April when all this male godliness began to descend to her. April felt the pressure of the current of air that was filled with Mandil’s scent flow over her. On one side of hercame down a sixty foot knee that shook the ground as it came to rest. On the either side of her several stories in the air was the op of the other leg that jetted out. She was surrounded by Mandil’s colossal form. She felt peacefully lost in his presence. A tree width finger came down and despite its powerful size, gently and lovingly passed over the side of her face. She was charmed that something so powerful could be so tender. "April," echoed the voice that melted her heart.
Holding the sides of the giant finger with her hands, April rested the side of her face against the tip. "Mandil," she whispered.
"I’ll back up so I can rest on the ground and be closer to you," said Mandil. April let go of the finger. She giggled as all that handsome bulk stretched out in front of her like a neighborhood block. Stretched out flat on the cool lush green grass, Mandil lowered his head onto the top of his folded hands. He opened his mouth slightly sighing in delight as he gazed upon his tiny flower.
The sigh from Mandil’s slightly opened cave of a mouth, generated a small gale force wind that pushed April back a few yards. Fixing her hair back she returned closer to the her handsome giant guy’s face. Neither said a word at first. They just looked lovingly at each other. April went up to the base of the boulder size chin and ran a hand under it. "Mmm," cooed Mandil. In a far away voice Mandil, said, "I wish I could lock you away in the heart of my soul. Always protected and ever near."
Giving a kiss to the chin, "Always think of you in my heart too." April went silent for a moment. "I sometimes think its funny you are so much bigger than me. And I am just a little larger than your small finger Is it silly then?"
"What? You think our love is silly?" questioned Mandil.
"No! When I think about you somehow the difference in size surprisingly doesn’t seem to matter."
Mandil scratched his field of hair and replied, "I guess I thought about the difference in our size. But only for a moment. Finding you in the debris and being with you in the hospital I have no doubts."
"I don’t either my brave Betheran Warrior I was just commenting." Hugging the bottom of his chin April told him, "All there is and ever has been it seems to me is you. You are my heaven. You are the reason the sun shines in my heart. I know there are things only you and I can share like no other."
Mandil looking intently at his beautiful tiny earthie, "Even if this world was to end as we know it, I could bear it knowing you will always be there in my heart. Oh, April I love you so."
"I love you more than anything. Ha-ha, I even love the way your cute nose kind of turns up into a bulge," replied April.
Oh, you do huh," replied Mandil lifting his house size head up. Playfully and carefully he nudged April with his nose. She laughed and giggled. Moving his head away, Mandil sat up. April with lambs eyes watched her love expand into the heavens. Lowering his right index finger he told April, "Place your right hand against the tip."
Going over to the huge finger that hung motionlessly and mightily before her, April placed her right hand against it. "I have faith your love for me is as strong as mine is for you."
"Mandil it is," April shouted up.
"Now keep you hand pressed up against my finger and think of me as I think of you." Slowly Mandil lifted her his finger up. April felt her feet leaving the ground.
"Mandil! I’m floating!!"
Chuckling Mandil replied, "I know. Just keep your hand against my finger." Higher and higher Mandil lifted his finger. When he stopped, "No let go."
"Trust me April."
"I do." April slowly pulled her hand back from the giant finger. With an opened mouth she looked down at the ground way down below and back up into Mandil’s slightly glowing dark eyes. April began to float up higher and over Mandil’s head. Spreading her arms, "I’m flying!" She found herself gliding over the soft field of Mandil’s hair. Swooping back into the front of his enormous face, she kissed the tip of his nose. April glided up and ran her hands over Mandil’s several foot long eyelashes. Gliding back down, April kissed the top of his lip
Placing his landmass of a hand beneath April, Mandil watched he float slowly down onto the center of his palm. With the index finger from his other hand, Mandil made circles with it around April. Tiny sparks of white light began to burst forth from April. They spun up into a funnel where Mandil gently inhaled them into himself.
As the tiny sparks of light faded into Mandil, he moved his hand over to his face and gently kissed the top of April’s head.
Slowly Mandil returned his hand to the ground. "I wish I could stowaway in your pocket my giant love."
"Me too." Mandil then said, "I will be getting into more intensive training. And there will be the implantation of the Pilot Companion Capsule Receptacle. Except for when I see you serving at dinner, we shall be a part for a while."
"Mandil. You are a pilot. I understand. I will miss you. But-but-now and I don’t understand it, I will be really in your heart as you are in mine."
Mandil stood up and went back over to the other cadets. April began slowly to walk away. She stopped. Spinning around April shouted, "I love, I love, I love Mandil."
Cadet Cyril had just entered Cadet Jifi’s memory. Many images swirled and passed him. Images of actual past events mixed with images created from the subconscious that created many a fanciful landscape. Many were created from pleasant biorhythms, others from fears and stress.
During his mind Memory-Merge journey, Cyril found himself on a long barren stretch of highway. In this twilight setting were many long rows of people walking emotionlessly along. Running up from behind Cyril was Jifi who began asking the people for help. The people in their monotonous stride made no awareness of Jifi. Grabbing a few by the arm, Jifi yelled, "Why don’t you answer me? All at once the silent denizens of this land of the psyche began in triple step; clicking their heels as they rushed off into the darkness.
Melting and reforming, Cyril found himself floating in a clear blue sky. The sound of animated conversation began as people or half people that better described what Cyril saw, floated past him. Like the rising of a planet was the form of Jifi. The half-people bumped and floated off of him like bubbles. Reaching to touch one, Jif found they popped indeed like bubbles. "No don’t go," said Jifi trying land one in his hand. In a short time all the half-people vanished leaving Jifi alone in the sky.
Cyril’s head was aching slightly as he came out of the Memory-Merge induced sleep. After the Earthie doctor removed the temple implants, he turned and looked at the immense form of Jifi that was still asleep. Cyril, said softly, "I would never leave you alone. I hope I can be there."
Getting up, Cyril walked over the firm and soft surface to the stretcher they were placed on and went over to the thirty foot high side of Jifi’s head. The thick strands of his golden and brownish hair were darkened from sweat. He leaned up against the warm skin and waited for his pal to awaken.
Cyril fell over backwards when upon awaking Jifi sat up. "Hey, where’s Cyril?" asked Jifi in a still sleepy state. Hearing a faint squeak, Jifi turned around Laying on his back giving his dopey wave was Cyril. Picking Cyril by the sides of his chest he placed him down in his hand. "So how was it in there? See anything?" Cyril just shook his head. "Huh?" Again Cyril shook his head. "You didn’t see anything?"
"Nope. It was completely empty. Kind of a wasted trip."
Jifi narrowed his eyes, Cyril busted out into a high shrill of a laugh. Jifi chuckled. He was also amazed and happy to see the usually shy, not-not-wanting-to-bother-anyone Cyril taking kind of a emotional risk like that. Jifi knew for Cyril, that was a risk. "Does he trust me well enough to know he can joke with me without the anxiety and fear that he has of losing those he likes.? What a battle to win," thought Jifi with brotherly respect.
"My tiny runt didn’t find ( jifi knocked on his forehead with his other hand) anything in here. Your not the first."
"I really pulled one on you didn‘t I?"
"Your sure did (jifi moved his face right in on Cyril) runt."
Placing Cyril in his vest pocket , Jifi after leaver the center cut through medical. As he was walking down the hallway, he heard several high screaming shrieks. It was Earthies who had just completed Connector Implantation Surgery. He placed his hand over his vest pocket hoping Cyril wouldn’t hear. Jifi knew Cyril was going to have to face this shortly.
In the main academy cafeteria Jifi picked a tray of food for himself and Cyril he went over to a table where Cadets, Lumit, Ujim and several all cadets were eating.
"Cyril learn anything new about your giant pal?" asked Cadet Steve.
Shyly, Cyril replied, "Nothing too much."
"I couldn’t imagine they would be much to see in Jifi’s head," said Lumit jokingly.
A Betheran Cadet Named Sahu told the group, "Hey, some of the other pilots are going to play cetruts for a few points. We thought if our companions don’t mind, it be neat if we use them as board pieces."
Companion Bryan looked up at Cadet Sahu, "That sounds weird."
"It is that’s why we thought it would be fun. Again, only if our companions don’t mind."
"What do you think Cyril?" asked Jifi.
"I guess it would be ok."
The other companions agreed.
The game of Cetruts took place in the Cadet Recreational Room. The game consists of six players. Participating in the game included, Jifi, Sahu Lumit, and several female pilots and their companions. On the vast two colored playing board, the pilot companions walked up to each other wishing each other a good game, even though they would be just basically standing around. The giant Betheran teens looked down with amusement as their tiny pals who walked around the game board getting familiar with it.
Just before the game started, the pilots made their augus ( betheran for bet/ wager). As did those sitting around the six pilots observing the game.
The six companions all stood on different colored blocks. Instead of dice, as used in Earthie board games, the Betherans used a centrifuge that hovered above the board. The first to move was a female cadet named Sesra. Picking up her pilot companion, Sesra moved her down five ovals and on to a triple sided block. When it was Jifi’s turn, he moved Cyril down two ovals and on to a concave shaped block.
A short while later the six companions were at different ovals along the board. Two tree width fingers came down next to Cyril depositing their companion and game piece. "Hi I’m Lucy, Pilot Eia’s companion." Cyril was about to extend his hand to Lucy when Jifi picked him up and placed him two ovals down from where he had been.
"Shouting over to Lucy, "I’m Cyril." And pointing up at Jifi, "That’s my pilot Jifi," said Cyril with deep pride.
"Hey you two. The game pieces are to remain quiet. You’ll distract the players," spoke one of the cadet spectators and who had a nice size augus on the game.
As the game progressed the laughter and conversation of the giants became louder and more animated. Halfway through the game on the section of the board that was a different color the sport became more heated. A few times Cyril had to put his hands to ears to block the high decimals of hooting. The fist player who lost was Cadet Sahu. The victor according to the game is the player before the last. The player before was Sesra who took Sahu’s companion and placed him next to her companion.
As the game went on, it came down between Jifi and Sasra who now had all the other players companions. "Come on Jifi, I have ten points riding on this," said a cadet.
Coming in to observe the remainder of the game was Cadet Ujim with Companion Steve who was sitting at the edge of his hand. Seeing them, Cyril gave them his big dopey friendly wave. Ujim gave Cyril a warm hand wave back. Cyril observed how Ujim’s shoulders had increased in size and seem straighter and less curved. "Ujim’s physical enhancement must be going well," said Cyril to himself.
Jifi was sweating and a few drops fell like buckets over Cyril when Jifi reached over to move him down several ovals. It was getting close and Cyril was keeping his fingers crossed for Jifi. "Please, please, please may he win," thought Cyril to himself.
When the game ended cadet Sasra was the victor. Jifi extended his hand and thanked cadet Sasra for an enjoyable game. The pilot companions for their patience as living board pieces were given a special desert and a round of applauds.
As they were settling their debts Pilot Yalor came in, "Me not in time to see game. Living pieces don’t mind? Different game sure." Going up to Jifi who was holding Cyril in his hand, "You two well. Cyril I see spark. Spark been there. Now out more. Me please to see team that closes in strength and friendship. Many of new teams link up well." Yalor moved his head sideways, "You Cyril have such pride in pilot. And for right ways. Much strength. You both please me."
Scratching his chin, Jifi replied, "Thank you Commander Yalor." Looking up at the top of Yalor’s head, "Hi Companion Will." Leaning up against one of Yalor’s pole size spikes of hair, Will waved back.
It was a day for great anticipation and anxiety for the selected candidates. It was the final review which would determine if a candidate(s) would progress further or be terminated. Jifi, Ujim and Lumit sitting at the table in the Review Board Conference Room were on pins and needles Their candidates for Pilot Companions talked nervously to one another. Sitting on Ujim’s thumb, Steve said, "I would be surprised if any of us didn’t get the green to advance."
Lumit responding to the tiny Earthie’s comment, "You would think. Still, there’s always could be a flaw. A flaw we weren’t aware of."
"I’d be surprised too after how everyone here stood up bravely to the attack," responded Jifi.
Steve, crossing his arms in a determined fashion, "I for one, am confident my pilot Ujim will be advanced."
"Thanks Steve. Only if your advance with me." Ujim wrapped his tiny finger around Steve which has now become the symbol of closeness between the pilot and pilot companion.
"No one I rather go into battle with," replied Steve looking up at Ujim.
Cyril looking up at Jifi shouted, "I feel the same way. It’s together or not."
Lumit and Jifi wrapped their tiny fingers around their Earthies.
When the review board entered, the cadets stood in attention. The review board consisted of Chief of Cadet Training Florx, Earthie Instructor Sorenson two Betheran and Earthie Evaluators.
"Stand down cadets," said Chief Florx. The six cadets looked on at the review board.
Once in the hallway, the three Betheran Cadets jumped up giving each the Earthie High-Five Ritual. "We made it!" shouted Jifi. "Yeah!!"
Their Earthie Companions had to hang on tightly to the folds of the vest pocket as their colossal comrades released their excitement.
To release all their youthful exuberance the six cadets went to the gym. They all changed into a pair of gym shorts and tank tops. Ujim worked on his upper body under the tiny watchful eye of Steve. Lumit and Bryan did push ups. As Jifi did sit ups, Cyril scaled the side of his huge foot to work on building up his arms and legs. Once Cyril reach the top; sitting on his pal’s big toe and with use of a megaphone give cadence.
Riding up and down on the weights, Steve would instruct Ujim if he was rushing or not positioning himself correctly on the lift platform.
Bryan wanted to be able to do hand claps as Lumit could do during pushups. When he tried, Bryan fell flat on his face. Lumit stopped and picking Bryan up by the sides of his chest placed him down in his hand. "Nice try. But I think its to early for that." Quickly moving his eyes around the room and seeing everyone else was preoccupied, "I’m glad we both are going for the final stretch. I too feel that even if you are tiny (lumit’s face tightened in thought) I’m…feel confident that…I proud…"
"Lumit," interjected, "I’m proud to go into battle with you Lumit and be your pal." Lumit wrapped his tiny finger around Bryan and closing his eyes nodded his head.
When Ujim was done Steve had him stretch out on the floor. Using a recently modified Betheran device now made for Earthie hands, Steve climbed onto Ujim’s chest and took measurements and readings. It was somewhat trying for Steve, after the physical workout Ujim’s giant scent was very overpowering. He coughed a few times.
Ujim smirked occasionally as he felt Steve walking across his chest. "Your making excellent progress Ujim." Slamming his foot down on a portion of Ujim’s right pectoral muscle, "Nice and firm. Good work."
"Really Steve? Ouch."
"What’s the matter?"
"The right side of my neck is a bit tender."
Walking up and over the collar bone, Steve went up to the right side of Ujim’s huge neck. "Oh yeah, its strained." Pushing his hands into the knotted muscle, Steve began to massage it. Shouting, "How does that feel!?"
"Feeling better," replied Ujim.
Cyril standing on Jifi’s right hand did pouncing exercises against the side of Jifi’s other hand that was placed down before him. "Cyril, keeping your feet firmly planted, now turn from your waist. You will find you have more force. And think of your arm as a screw turning just before you strike." Cyril nodded. "That’s it now. Go, harsendt." (betheran phrase that is the equivalent to the earthie phrase: go get them tiger)
After Steve was finished massaging Ujim’s neck, he was placed in his friend’s hand. "I think the problem was due to the way you held yourself doing weight lifting. That aside you are doing well." Taking his free arm, Ujim flexed it and gritting his teeth made a growling sound. "That’s my giant warrior."
Lumit slapped Ujim on the back and said kidding, "I think your creating a monster Steve."
The six cadets were about to leave the gym for the showers when they spotted Commander Yalor doing his Defensive fighting techniques. Wrapped around his spikes of hair was a white cloth with the insignia of his family line. Yalor executed many difficult positions and summersaults. The cadets just stood their admiring the skill of this Betheran Warrior. Stopping, Yalor turned to the cadets, "One you like to team with me?"
Yalor known for his gentleness was acknowledged too for being an authority in hand to hand combat. Giving Cyril over to Ujim, Jifi went up to Yalor. Standing across from each other on the blue pad, Yalor bowed to Jifi. Reaching into his hair, Yalor brought out Will. "You had Will in your hair as you did all your techniques?" asked Jifi rather astonished, puzzled and amused.
"Of course. We are a team. And we are pals acting as one. Now you two fight." Yalor stepped behind Will.
All the cadets looked at each other with questioning faces. Jifi looked down at the very, very tiny Earthie standing in front of Yalor‘s gigantic feet looking so fragile. "I know Pilot Companion Will is a brave and skilled warrior. However, all I have to do his lift my foot and I can easily pin him to the ground."
"You can try," squeaked Companion Will.
"I will be disrespecting Companion Will if I do," replied Jifi sincerely.
"Be sign of disrespect if you don’t," shouted up Companion Will.
Jifi lifting up his right foot began to slowly and gently press down on Companion Will. "I feel stupid," said Jifi. The next sensation Jifi had was falling onto his back.
"How did he do that?" questioned the cadets in unison.
Yalor bending over Jifi and helping him up replied, "Something taught me my warm close friend. Jifi brave and soft of heart that good, nothing is ever static we think in creation."
"I guess," replied Jifi scratching his chin. Kneeling down before Companion Will, "Wow that was something."
"As Yalor told you it was something he taught me. If I didn’t respect and love my pal as I do, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. And please don‘t feel embarrassed Jifi."
Picking Will up, Yalor placed him back on top of his head. Yalor smiled, "Don’t worry thinking now you on path with Cyril you learn Will said."
Ujim handed Cyril back over to Jifi. No one didn’t know what to say. The six went to the showers. As always the case when taking showers together, their was much good natured male teasing.
Accepted to advance, the next phase in the cadets training will be the implantation. The cadet pilot companions began having classes on the implantation. The pilots classes on what the experience will be for their companions. "The procedure of implantation has the hardest affect on the Earthies," explaind the instructor.
On one class the cadet pilots were taken to the medical Center where five Earthies had implantation of their connector points. The cadets had seen other Earthies who had undergone implantation, only this time it was in more detail. There eyes widen as they entered the room full of high squeaks of suffering. It was sobering and unsettling. Cadet Ujim tried to fight back the tears. It was a very moving scene. The tiny feeble looking Earthies whose bodies were black and blue from the recent implants being cradled in the hands of their pilots. One Earth hung on tight to the finger of his pilot as he twisted and screamed in agony.
Tears streaming down his face," Ujim asked, "Can’t you give them something for the pain it seems so cruel."
The instructor replied, "Research is always working on this matter."
A hand gently took hold of Ujim’s shoulder. "Commander Kelp?"
"I can only tell you what I tell the others, just being with your companion is a big help to them. It will be a challenge for you. You will be taught certain techniques that will help decrease the pain. Observe." The cadets watched as one pilot made gentle circular movements with their finger on the top of their companion’s head. The Earthie settled down somewhat.
"So how you feel about it?" asked Jif.
Cyril looking up at Jifi from his enormous hand, "Excited because its bringing me closer to being a pilot. And also very scared."
"I don’t blame you. But I’ll be there with you."
Ujim hearing Jifi’s words told Steve, "I’ll be there the whole time with you too Steve. Just remember I will be there. No matter what you feel you won’t be alone."
Putting his hand on top of the car door size finger nail Steve responded, "Thanks. I’ll try to handle it."
"Don’t even worry about that. Just get through it," said Ujim still haunted by the screams of agony by the Earthies he had seen after implantation..
Lumit told his companion, "As Jifi and Ujim said, I be there for ya Bryan."
"I suppose this week will fly by then it will happen," said Cyril trying to keep a stiff upper-lip.
During dinner, Mandil as his companion Vic was down the table talking to fellow companions; spotted Sally. "Hi"
"Hi" shouted up April giving Mandil the lambs eyes.
For a moment Mandil just feasted his eyes on his tiny love. "In five days from now, Vic gets Connector Implantation surgery. I want to be there; all for him. So might be a few weeks before you see me again."
"If you would do anything different, I would wonder why? Oh, I have been gathering from their pilots and I want you to tell me your companions favorite food. I want them to have everything they like to eat. Least we can do. Naturally when they will be able to keep their food down. But when they can, I want to stuff them with their tastes delights."
Mandil shook his head approvingly and told April, "You really are the best. The best" April went up to the tip of one of Mandil’s fingers and kissed it.
After dinner and during Cadet Recreation, Ujim spotting Commander Yalor at a desert table told Steve, "I want to see Commander Yalor about something. I’ll be back in a few minutes." Going up to him. "Commander Yalor could I see you for a moment. If you are free." Yalor gave Ujim a quiet nod of the head and took him over to an area of the room they could speak in private.
"You troubled? Pleased warm you think I could help. See if I am worthy," spoke Yalor to Ujim.
"I’m afraid I might not be any comfort to Steve after implantation."
Yalor was silent for a moment. "You afraid to be no comfort? Or afraid to see your pal in deep pain that scares you? You are really scared by that truth?"
"Yes, I don’t know if I can handle it. When I saw recently those Earthies suffering it scared me."
"Normal fresh cadet scared of suffering, many people are. I know to you don’t want your friend in pain. This battle for you and heart. I know you close to Steve. Yes, it will scare you and be hard. But think of him and your heart there for him to give. Then you come strong for you and him. I would tell you something different if I could, no I can’t. There with him you must. But have peace you are helping him. You are warrior not just in fighter craft in everything. Warrior I say to you, use your heart and surround friend who be very vulnerable. If tears flow, do not be shamed, be grateful you can. Only if tears flow you into yourself that wrong. Flow out and give pal. I still know it tough and I with are with you be."
"Thanks Commander Yalor."
Yalor nodded, "Now enjoy free time with your Earthie and others. And know my young warrior, it’s a big and feeling heart that powers drive."
The day before the implantation the Earthie Cadets were rightly nervous though they put on a brave front. They were given tranquilizing pills to ease the anxiety. They all tried to weather it out. However, their pilots insisted. "I want to be strong in this Jifi," replied Cyril to Jifi‘s request to take the pill
"Its not a case in being strong, it’s a case for you to relax yourself before the implantation. There will be more than enough time for you to brave it out then. Now come on." Cyril was steadfast. "If I have too, I will make it an order."
"I want to tough it out."
Crossing his huge arms, "Ok then. Cyril, as your future commander, I am ordering you to take the tranquilizer." Cyril nodded his head. "Before it starts to take affect, I want to make a suggestion. After the implantation Cyril, whatever happens I want you to remember the incident at the Earthie building. Remember how you thought it was over for you?"
"Remember how I blocked the girder with my hand."
"I do Jifi. And I will never forget it."
"Good, because no matter how hard it might get, I will be their with you. As dark it may seem I will be looking over you. And couple of more things. Your my pal and I love you. And don’t ever brave out something in a dumb way. I mean, there is a reason for the tranquilizer. I know I sometimes I have been known to be that way too."
"Thanks Jifi. Your right. It was just foolish bravado. And I love you too." Cyril began to giggle.
"Oh, I see its having its affect."
Shortly, the giant pilots were surrounded by the high pitch Earthie laughter of their companions.
Steve started jumping around in Ujim’s hands in a drunken stupor. Bryan was running around the floor wanted to play hide and seek while Lumit kept an annoyed and watchful eye on him. Cyril running down the full expanse of Jifi’s leg, climbed up his foot and started using his toes as punching bags.
Chuckling Ujim commented, "Cute aren’t they." They knew all too well this will be the last time their comrades will feel like laughing for a while.
At bedtime, Cyril slept in Jifi’s breast pocket. He pulled on the folds of the warm, Jifi scented material and buried himself in it. Jifi could feel the tiny living movements of Cyril. His tiny body burrowing into the fabric of his pajama top. Another creature finding solace with another.
Steve slept in the warm confines of Ujim’s hand. Bryan, on Lumit’s pillow found slumber once his pal covered him with his enormous hand.
When Ujim opened his eyes and saw it was morning, he felt anxiety over what was facing the miniature, living person that sought comfort in his hand. Opening his hand up, still sleeping serenely was Steve. So very tiny. Ujim, still thought it was so unjust they had to go through this suffering.
The soft, hot, slightly moist skin to Ujim’s hand was soothing to Steve who awoke. He felt a chill knowing what the day will bring. He hated to lift his head off the muscle pad that was his pillow. Encased in the creases and muscles of his pal’s giant hand was a sanctuary he had not known could exist. Slowly, Steve pushed himself up in the huge, warm hand. When he turned around he was met with Ujim’s two moon size compassionate eyes.
"I hope you had a good sleep," said Ujim.
"I did. Ujim, I know I come off seeming tough..."
"You are," interjected Ujim.
"Maybe. I want to tell you about your peaceful, kindhearted strength. Never have I felt as secure and safe as I did last night in your hand. I don’t look forward to this. I’m scared. Yet in the hand of my pal it was for a time suspended."
"You’re my comrade. And, that safety you felt is always there. After the implantation if it gives you peace, it will be your bed."
Cyril crawled out of the warm confines of the pocket. "Morning," said Jifi softly. Jifi saw how white Cyril looked. Taking two fingers, he very carefully rubbed Cyril’s face. "Lets get the circulation going." He placed Cyril in his hand. Cyril suddenly collapsed and out of fear got sick.
"Sorry," squeaked Cyril.
Sending a finger over Cyril’s back, Jifi told his distraught pal, "Its ok. I do want you to remember what I told you last night. No matter how you feel, remember the time at Bale. I‘m with you."
Lumit asked Bryan, "Can I do anything for you? ( cracking a smile) I’m kind of a thick head. So you’ll have to spell it out to me."
Bryan just shook his head. Lumit picked Bryan up, "Ok. I’m here just the same."
Once dressed the pilots took their pilot companions to Medical Center. Outside of the Implantation and Intensive Care Unit, a group of pilots and pilot companions who had gone through implantation cheered them on.
The cadets entered the prepping room. Seeing Bryan literally shaking, Lumit rubbed behind his ear with his finger and coated Bryan’s face with the skin secretion that quelled the tiny Earthie’s fear.
Before the doctor took Cyril, Jifi wrapped his tiny finger around Cyril, "Remember."
Ujim, afraid if he said something; might start bawling, gently pressed down on Steve with his hand.
Like expectant fathers the Betheran Cadets paced around the hallways. Commanders Florn and Kelp came up to the cadets. "You still have several hours. Come get a good breakfast. You’ll need your strength. Your companions will need your strength," said Commander Kelp thoughtfully.
"Its an order guys," added Commander Florn.
Jifi scratched his chin, "Guess you’re right."
Lumit stiffened up and nodded.
Ujim followed behind with quivering lip.
"It seems unnatural I know. But I really want you guys to have a big breakfast. Think of it as part of battle training, " said Commander Florn sincerely.
"Where’s your companions?" asked Jifi.
We both thought it might be easier if it was just us," replied Commander Kelp.
Ujim felt strange not seeing his tiny pal’s arms dangling over the lip to his vest pocket. Jifi and Lumit too felt naked without their companions.
After getting trays of food, the five Betheran Giant Teens went to a table. Ujim was about to take a mouthful when the thought of his less than three inch pal (earthie measurement) going through the implantation began to swell up inside of him again. His body began to rack with mental anguish when he felt a finger press on his forehead. A calming sensation ran through Ujim’s body. "You feel better concerned one?" asked Commander Yalor.
"I do now," replied Ujim in a slightly spacey voice.
"Me see you cadets later. In medical I help. But help big you come from."
After their breakfast Commanders Florn and Kelp took the cadets for a walk and explained certain techniques that they should have learned to help their Earthies.
Finally came the time to return to Medical Center. The three pilot candidates went to the Trauma Intensive care Unit and waited. Shortly, the pilot companions were brought in and placed on their beds. Earthie doctors and nurses attended. The companions were still sleeping from connector surgery anesthetic The pilots noticed how pale the tiny Earthies faces were.
The nurses showed the pilots the companions new implants. Lumit rolled his eyes and fell to the floor. Jifi and Ujim felt as if someone had socked them in the stomach. The tiny bodies were all black and blue with a few traces of blood seepage. Both sides of the bodies had the silver connector points. Ujim took position next to the table that held Steve. Jifi took his position.
Two Betheran nurses helped Lumit up. "You want to lay down?" asked a young nurse warmly.
"No, I’m ok." Lumit took his position.
For most of the day the patients slept soundly. In the middle of the night slowly the pain began to show. When Cyril began to moan, Jifi just gently sent a finger along the side of his face.
The pilots were surprised how relatively peaceful their companions seemed. It wasn’t until several days later when sterilization took place they saw the suffering of their pals. The pain was so intense that the Earthie Companions would sit up screaming and convulsing. Ujim picked up Steve. He performed the recommended procedures. It was tearing at his heart as his tiny pal’s body lost all motor control due to the severe pain. Ujim didn’t hold back, he let the tears flow. At one point Steve grabbed his tiny finger screaming, "The pain!!" Soon the body just too exhausted from the hurting would give a brief respite to the companion. Ujim softly spoke to Steve. A few buckets of his warm tears fell down onto Steve. Steve was aware of warm wetness. In his mind, he was in a dense green forest. The vegetation glistened with drops of rain. Like a sort of Peter Pan was the gigantic form of Ujim that appeared above the forest. In this dream, Steve shouted, "I’m down here. Look! Look! I’m down here!" Steve smiled and felt saved when the gentle Peter Ujim Pan stooped down. Steve found that he was starting to float up to the kindly giant.
"Come fly with me Steve," spoke the dream Ujim.
Jifi as Cyril had his pain seizures, tried to remain calm and told Cyril, "The girder Cyril remember? Remember I was there for you? And I‘m here now." Cyril in delirium of pain found himself in a landscape of falling buildings. He jumped turned rolled to avoid the crushing death. Jifi trying to remain steady spoke firmly to Cyril, "Cyril look up. Look up Cyril. See I’m here." On his hands and knees in the land of his dreams, Cyril looked up. Descending down among the pandemonium was the floating living island. The island being Jifi’s hand. Raining down from the bottom of the gigantic hand was streams of light.
Lumit was finding it hard to find words to say. He felt useless as Bryan squirmed in pain. Hearing and picking up on what Jifi and Ujim were doing, Lumit told Bryan, "Stay where you are. I’m coming for you. I’m coming for you through the tunnel. The tunnel Bryan. Look down that tunnel. I’m coming for you. Like I did before."
Between screams, Bryan said, "Wh-what tunnel?"
"The tunnel Bryan. Wait for me. I’m coming."
Using the secretion produced by the glands behind his ears, Lumit rubbed it on Bryan. The tranquilizing affect helped Bryan relax to enter more fully the levels of cognitive and dream centers. Bryan, in a long semi-lighted tunnel of twirling, pulsating fibers, vaguely heard the somewhat familiar voice. Alone, tired in pain, Bryan stood among the rotating strands of light. A sudden blinding pain caused Bryan to fall and be violently buffeted about against the sides of the spinning tunnel.
Lumit became frustrated with emotions of helplessness as Bryan collapsed in his hand shrieking in pain. He didn’t know if he should place a finger on him. The intense suffering of his miniature partner was emotional overwhelming for him. "Nurse, nurse!" shouted Lumit.
As the Betheran nurse was coming over, an index finger came softly down onto Bryan’s belly. Two teeny-tiny hands grasped the sides. "Don’t be afraid contact. Important for your friend in pain have support," spoke Yalor from behind Lumit. "Talk to pal. Lead him through pain you can."
"I was trying."
"What you say?"
"I picked up the idea from the others. I was using the time I pulled Cyril out of the conduit during the attack."
"Why then did you do it young cadet?"
"I was afraid he would die."
"With same force go in and help you comrade." Yalor removed his finger.
Lumit taking his index finger gently touched Bryan’s chest. "Now do as you wanted. Go get suffering pal."
"Bryan, I’m in the tunnel. I’m going to get you. You hear me?"
Sliding down off the rotating sides, Bryan groggily replied, "Yes." From the far end of the tunnel he began to see the tips of immense fingers.
"I came for you before Bryan. Trust me, I’m coming for you now."
Commander Yalor moved on down the line. Several other cadets he helped give out to their suffering plas.
Jifi was noticing an increase in seepage around Cyril’s implants. Spotting Commander Yalor, Jifi shouted, "Commander Yalor please come over here!"
Placing a hand on Jifi’s shoulder, "Calm my worried comrade." Yalor spotting the seepage put two fingers on top of Cyril’s head and told Jifi, "Stay close with Cyril. Tell him to look to the travelers pals."
"Just do I say. Tell him pals of travels we known. I get doctor." Yalor removed his fingers.
"Cyril, Cyril who hear me. Ah, stay close with pals." Jifi didn’t understand what Yalor meant. Trusting Yalor he continued to tell Cyril to stay with the travelers."
Cyril reaching for the lights that fall down from the gigantic hand of Jifi found he could no longer reach for them. They began to fade. He heard Jifi’s voice and replied weakly, "What people Jifi?"
A Betheran doctor holding an Earthie doctor came over. Placed in Jifi’s hand, the doctor examined Cyril, "He has level three infection.
"What does that mean?" asked Jifi with mounting anxiety.
"We need to put him on ant-infection drip."
Jifi felt helpless as Cyril was removed from his hand.
Cyril feeling cold, walked through the dark barren land. Jif looked on anxiously as Cyril was being hooked up to medical monitors. Yalor who was doing "his way" for the other Earthies would occasionally look up toward Jifi.
Once the doctors stabilized Cyril, Jifi asked, "How is he?"
"He’s very weak. Life functions borderline" Jifi’s resolve for his friend strengthened. "Cyril, if you can hear me hang in there. I’m right here."
A slight smile appeared on Cyril’s face as he approached this field while the light around him grew. The field he observed was the top of a mountain that over looked a beautiful valley. Cyril followed a narrow path that descended down.
The monitors began to ring. The Earthie doctors began injected needles into the IV’S and adjusting the life support equipment. "Cyril don’t go. Please hang in," pleaded Jifi. "We have come through so much."
Another warning signal. "We need heart massage!" shouted the nurse. The doctor applied electric shock to the heart.
The beauty of the village down below in the valley was drawing Cyril. However, he thought of Jifi. He thought of his duty. Cyril stopped his descent. He sat down on the edge of the trail.
"Life functions stabilizing," reported the nurse.
"You have him doctor? Questioned Jifi.
Jifi leaned over Cyril placing the side of his arm next to his miniature comrade’s bed. "Your breaking my heart."
Several groups of people started coming down the path. A few asked Cyril, "You coming?"
"I don’t know if I should."
"What’s keeping you?" asked a middle aged woman. "You will be entering a beautiful place. You will be part of a loving family."
"Family? Loving?" Cyril stood up.
"Life signals fading doctor."
Jifi told Cyril, "I thought we were a family. I though we were going to protect families. You told me you would be there for me like I have been for you."
"I have a promise to keep," replied Cyril to the crowd of people.
Running up the trail from the valley, Cyril saw two figures. One was dressed in green and another in various colors. As they drew near he saw they wore the uniform of a cadet and pilot companion. "So what are you doing?" asked the cadet.
"I’m torn between the valley and my pal," replied Cyril.
The pilot responded, "You don’t have much time. But the choice is still yours."
"Yes Cyril, you can go back if you want," said the cadet companion.
"You are the two Earthie companions that have died in battle aren’t you?"
"Yes. "I’m Pilot Companion Maximilian.
The other Earthie in the official Pilot Companion uniform, extending his hand, "Companion Stanton. Cyril," spoke Companion Stanton. "We can’t tell you what to do. Just to ask you to consider. To consider your promises."
"Promises to friends Cyril," added Maximilian.
"I’m sorry Jifi his life signs are continuing to drop."
Cyril, slowly walking back up the hill, told Stanton and Maximilian, "Thanks for coming guys. You reminded me of my duty. My duty to my people and to my friend. And who is my family and my brother. My heaven at this time is at Jifi’s side."
Gazing up at the top of the mountain, Cyril began running and shouting, "I’m coming Jifi. I’m coming!"
"I’m sorry Jifi. We just lost Cyril," said the doctor.
Jifi stood up. As he was about to turn away, the nurse called for the doctor. Jifi whipped his head back around and squinted his eyes as he leaned in. Cyril began to move his head. Opening his eyes, Cyril for a moment looked around. Seeing the enormous, concerned face of Jifi, he smiled. He tried to shout up to Jifi. His voice was too weak.
"Doctor, what is he saying?" asked Jifi.
The doctor shouted up to Jifi, "He asks if he was gone long?"
"No not long Cyril," replied Jifi. feeling as if the weight of the universe had just been release off of him.
Cyril spoke more words. The doctor relaying them told Jifi, "Your companion apologizes for leaving his post." Grabbing the sleeve to the doctors coat Cyril uttered more words. "He wants you to know Jifi, he will never leave your side again."
Cyril slowly began reaching out with his hands. Jifi placed his right index finger down so Cyril could hold onto the sides. "You better not leave my side again runt. We are a team. And brothers."
Yalor stepping up, placed a fraternal hand on Jifi’s shouler. "Flow of life bumpy and painful times be. But the true honest heart knows who it can ride it out with. Me proud of both." As Yalor turned away to attend back to others whispered, "Thanks our venerable comrades from other side."
Standing in Cadet Mandil’s hand, April looked out at all the pilot companions enjoying their dinners. "Wow, they’re really enjoying dinner. Look at their tiny hands go. That was great of you to get volunteers from Bale to come serve them dinners. And entertain them," commented Mandil.
"I think its going to be a permanent volunteer program," replied April. Looking up at the underside of Mandil’s huge face, "You look gaunt and so tired."
"Its been a long two weeks. I better get back to Vic."
"Rubbing the top of his thumb, April responded, "I hate to think about your upcoming implant surgery."
"I’m not looking forward to it. Fortunately, for us Betherans, the procedure isn’t as nearly as painful as it is for our companions." Lifting his hand up to his lips, he gave April a kiss. April giggled when her face submerged into his warm, slightly moist, rubbery feeling lips.
A young volunteer who wore a funny hat on her head, handed Cyril, who was stretched out on Jifi’s lap, a bowl of his favorite ice-cream. Jifi picked the volunteer back up and placed her on the travel disc. Giving a comic salute, the volunteer sped off to another companion.
"How’s (yawn) the ice-cream?"
"Its great," shouted up Cyril. Seeing and hearing how tired he was, Cyril told Jifi, "Why not recline back and sleep. You look beat."
"I guess (yawn) your (yawn) right." Jifi pressed a button on the recliner and tilted the back slightly. Adjusting the pillow behind his head, Jifi found himself quickly fading off.
When Cyril was done with the ice-cream, he put the bowl aside and curled up and rested. With his face against the warm material to Jifi’s vest thought, "Right by your side Jifi. If please the Great Spirit of Light, I would only leave your side if it meant your life could be spared.. The pain and future pain I give freely for your life."
Ujim after Steve had finished his meal took him and placed Steve in his hand. With his other hand, Ujim applied by use of a finger tip, the sanitizing and skin revitalizing ointment. Steve was impressed how gentle Ujim was. Steve leaning up against the base to Ujim’s index finger pressed on two nerve points that ran up the side of the giant finger with his hands. "Hey, what are you doing?" asked Ujim starting to feel spacey.
"I’m just relaxing you up my giant care giver. Its trying to give something back for all your tending." Ujim’s face softened up and he began to quietly hum to himself. Smiling, Steve laid his head against a finger pad. His face became serious when he thought about his duties as Pilot Companion. Shifting his eyes up to the young face many, many stories in the air Steve thought to himself, "I can’t cradle you in my hands, but I can cradle your life with my skills. And my innocent, enlarge pal, I will put all I have to achieve optimum skill levels."
Chuckling, Lumit told Bryan as he gently pressed on his miniature buddy’s stomach, "I hope you didn’t stuff yourself. I don’t want you to come down with a case of indigestion."
"Don’t worry, I won’t vomit in your hand again like I did last night." Bryan wasn’t just thrilled that the pain from implantation was ebbing, he was really happy in the change in Lumit. They were more and more interacting as equals.
A volunteer on her travel disc zoomed down and took Bryan’s dishes. As she flew above the huge expanse of Lumit’s head, she released a group of multi-colored balloons that floated around in front of Lumit and down upon Bryan.
Several other pilots in the ward, walked slowly around with their companions in hand. As with Jifi, Ujim and Lumit they all looked physically and emotionally worn. The volunteers came up around their heads seeing if they needed anything before they whooshed off.
In the Medical Center’s Earthie Dietary department, April was thanking all the volunteers. "Thanks gang. You all did another super job."
One volunteer mentioned, "I think I’m getting use to the giants scents."
"You do get use to it," replied April. Thinking about Mandil, she added, "You’ll even grow to love it. Anticipate it like the smell of spring flowers."
In the Academy Governing Suites and in Chief of Cadet Training Florx’s office, Cadet Chris with new Betheran recruit Nekou were having a private conference. "Based on our computer findings and observations, we have decided you both would make a suitable pairing," spoke Chief Florx.
Cadet Chris standing on Chief’s Florx’s desk looked down and smiled. In his energetic manner, Cadet Nekou, "Thank you sir. We will make an excellent team."
"Yes Cadet Nekou, I think you both will. You now may stand down. An officer will take you to your cadet dorm room. Congratulations gentlemen."
Cheeks puffed out from Nekou’s broad smile. Nekou placed a hand down before Chris. With admiration and a warm heart, Nekou watched as Chris climbed up unto his hand with the lights of the office glinting off of his silver false legs. "My pals back home would probably look upon you as a cute tiny person climbing in my hand like a prospective pet. But I see a tiny Earthie who has beaten the odds and I’m proud to be teamed up with such a person," thought Nekou.
Sitting down in the huge powerful hand, Chris looking up at the totally sincere face thought, "I think it will be an honor to be his friend and pilot companion."
Waking up, Jifi rubbed his eyes and yawned. Gazing down upon his lap he saw the curled up Cyril sleeping soundly. Looking at his time indicator, Jifi reached over to a table and removed a sanitizing wash cloth. Gently, Jifi began to give Cyril a cleaning.
The impressive work of scientific accomplishment realized by the right of every creature----for self preservation was made factual with the transporting of the twenty robotic fighters. Gliding on their anti-gravity platforms these magnificent massive images of hope took position in Launch Direct Bay.
"Yes!" shouted Jifi sitting up in his hospital bed. Putting a hand to his head, "Ouch."
Jumping from the top of the pillow to his shoulder, Cyril shouted up, "You got to take it easy there Jifi!"
"Yeah, your right," he replied settling back in his bed. Cyril turned toward the monitor and watched with mounting excitement as the fighters were about to launch to face the enemy.
Rubbing his forehead, Jifi said, "Oh, getting a headache again."
Cyril stretching up began to rub a nerve pressure point on his pal’s neck. "How’s your head feeling now?"
"I guess (chuckle) better." Cyril kept rubbing the nerve pressure point till his colossal friend was just laying still with a big dazed look on his face.
Steve on hands and knees pushed down on pressure points on top of Ujim’s left hand. "I hate for him to miss the launchings but he needs his rest." A Betheran Nurse came by and applied sanitizing cream on the recently implanted plate cover and entrance way to the Capsule Receptacle. Bending his head back, Steve thought too, looking up at Ujim, "Poor Ujim, I still see the stress of pain in his furrowed forehead. Part of me is filled with honor to be able to fight with you. The other part wishes you, my warm hearted giant; you wouldn’t be placed in harms way." Steve smiled seeing how Ujim had increased the mass to his neck and shoulders. His gigantic pal took his advice. The advice of a tiny Earthie.
The impressive humanoid fighters took position one right next to the other. Over the head sets of the pilots and pilot companions were the voices of Main Mission:
"Releasing primary shutter restraints."
"Second shutter restraints released."
"Relaying all tactical information to fighters."
Lumit with his head against his pillow watched the monitors as Bryan crawling on top of the giant head applied portions of the sanitizing cream. It turned Bryan’s stomach as he crawled on the bare skin of the head around the dark purple blotches from the implant. However, after Lumit’s care he wanted to repay in kind.
"Bryan? Can you do that trick again? Asked Lumit.
"Ah, ok. Just have your hand in position this time. I don’t care to roll down your chest."
Lumit giggled, "It tickled. And looked funny."
"Medicated and under my nerve pressure therapy, Lumit is like a big child," Bryan commented to himself. Lumit whose head was in a sloping angle; Bryan began to inch his way to the top of the forehead. Letting out a sigh, "Ok hear goes." Bryan pushed himself over and down the forehead. He next found himself hitting the bridge of the nose where flew off into Lumit’s waiting hand.
Lumit gave out a loud, deep base laugh. "Do it again Bryan," said Lumit who placed Bryan back on top of his head. Bryan obligingly pushed himself off again. Hitting the bridge, he flew off. Instead of placing his hand under Bryan, Lumit pulled on the collar of his pajama top where Bryan fell into.
Bryan hit the warm surface of the skin where he rolled over and around the contours to Lumit’s chest till he reached the bottom. "Lumit you…" thought Bryan with irritation.
Reaching in under his pajama top, Lumit pulled out Bryan. He held Bryan by his vest across from his face. "Your not angry are you?" asked Lumit in a slightly sedated sounding voice. Bryan crossed his arms. Taking the index finger from his other hand, Lumit patted his very teeny pal on the top of the head. Lumit gave out a big yawn. Bryan’s vision was filled with the cavern size mouth and its huge glistening pink tongue and rows of the several feet width teeth. Warm draught air rushed over Bryan. The sound of the yawn to Bryan was that of some unknown alien primal beast.
Placing Bryan down in his hand, Lumit lowered the top portion of his bed. Placing Bryan down on his pillow, he laid his enormous head across from his companion. A big groggy smile appeared on his face. "Your so small. Moving his face closer to Bryan as he shut his eyes. Thanks for insisting on being with in the operating room with me till they knocked me out. I was so (yawn) scared. You (chuckle) small (yawn) made me feel at ease. You won’t tell anyone I cried the night before?"
Walking up to the tip of the giant nose and placing a hand on it, Bryan told Lumit, "No, I would never. You’re my buddy."
"Thannkkss," replied Lumit fading off to sleep.
Bursting forth with immense power, were the twenty fighters from the underground hanger. Citizens from the nearby sprawling metropolis cheered as the brightly glowing mechanized chariots of defense zoomed into the sky. A young Betheran father holding his little girl said, "May the great Spirit of Light look after you noble Betheran Warriors." His little girl waved her hands toward the receding glowing specks.
Cadet Nekou, observing the action along with the other cadets on a monitor screen in class, kept extending his arm into the air, "Yes, yes go brave warriors---go!" Cadet Chris found himself being jostled about at the bottom to Nekou’s vest pocket.
April received permission to visit cadet Mandil. Before she asked Mandil’s superiors, April had asked Cadet Vic if he wouldn’t mind her visiting his pilot. Vic told her he had no problem with that.
Flying on a hover disc, April’s heart both became excited and began to hurt when she saw her enormous love in his hospital bed with the top portion of his head shaven. And now where the ceiling lights of the recovery ward glinted off of his newly implanted entrance plate. April moved her hover disc in front of Mandil’s face. She reached out and slowly ran her hand over the top of his giant lip. "How it hurts me to see you like this," she said softly. "Your pain is my pain."
Mandil opened his eyes. "April." His huge lips stretched to form a smile that once more melted April’s heart. "At first I thought I was seeing a tiny angel." He placed his hand in front of the disc. April jumped onto the living landmass.
Running with fever pitch to the other side of the huge hand, April pressed herself up against the warm skin to Mandil’s cheek where she began kissing him. "I was so (kiss) worried (kiss) about (kiss-kiss) you. Your doing ok?" (kiss-kiss-kiss)
"I am. Vic has been doing a great job looking after me. And now I feel even better that you are here." He lowered his hand and pressed April against his chest.
High above Bethera, the great fighters grouped up into attack formation. Commander Kelp and Pilot Companion Ted in Fighter Three led their squad into attack. "Setting up projected attack plan commander."
"Five by five companion."
"Six of our targets are of class three strength."
"I green that companion. Relaying attack operations to fighters."
Commander Yalor’s companion Will reported, "Computer predictions of erratic flight plan suggests decoy maneuver. Suggest leaving fighters six, eight and eleven in orbit synch sector nine."
"I green that companion."
"We will be going in for attack in five point one seconds commander."
"Five by five."
Cadet Dabaku had many Earthie visitors. The Earthies he and Cadet Mandil had saved during the attack on the academy.
A group of them stood on his lap asking if there was anything they could do for him. Looking down at the small crowd on his lap, Dabaku was both filled with amusement and appreciation for their love and concern. Several spirited girls ran across the top of his leg. Upon reaching his gigantic foot, they began to massage his toes. Dabaku felt really embarrassed and a little uneasy by the out pouring of emotion. Though the toe massage did feel good. His mind also went with his comrades up in space fighting the enemy.
One teen tried to climb up Dabaku’s huge arm. Feeling the tickling attempts, Dabaku picked up the teen and placed him down in his hand. Lifting his hand to his face, "I wanted to tell," said the teen who then stopped and went over to the edge of the hand looking down.
"I’ll move my hand over to my ear so you can talk to me in private," said Dabaku sensing the teen didn’t want the others to hear him.
"What’s your name?"
Dabaku moved his hand over to his right ear. Going up to the ear that was a little taller than himself, told Nekou. "I’m really indebted to you for saving me and the others."
"Don’t need to thank me."
"I knew you would say that. I saw several coworkers I had become friends with die. I thought I was going to die. Trapped under all that rubble. Then, like a God you appeared. (joe began to weep) All I can think of is you. And I wake up almost every night screaming thinking I’m suffocating. Then I think of you. I guess I sound pretty strange to you."
Dabaku moved his hand back to the front of his face. "No, you don’t. I’m glad I saved you. But Joe, the simple truth is we must go on. I guess I can understand since I removed you from the horror, I would be special to you. Ah, Joe the fact you are having bad nights…can I suggest you see a counselor to help you with that. It was a distressing experience you went through."
Joe moving toward a finger crumpled down. "I’m afraid of being buried again." He wrapped his arms around the finger.
Dabaku thought, "I wish Yalor was here." Spotting a nurse, he called her over. He explained the situation. The nurse left and came back a few minutes later with an Earthie doctor in her hands.
The doctor climbed off the hand and went up to the young man. Looking up at Dabaku the doctor shouted, "He’s having a breakdown! Could you give him a secretion?" Rubbing a finger behind his ear, Dabaku rubbed the oils onto the doctors hand. The doctor placed the oils on Joe’s face which relaxed the distraught young man. A short time later the doctor and the nurse took the young man away.
Before the doctor took Joe away, Dabaku asked, "You will be able to help him?"
"I think we can. He’s suffering a severe post traumatic syndrome." The doctor and nurse left.
And in space the protection of Bethera continued.
It is fourteen hours (earthie measure of time) into the fighting.
The mighty robotic fighters glided and zoomed with excellent precision under the piloting of the brave Betheran Warriors. Commander Kelp’s squadron engaged the enemy targets deep in space as Commanders Florn and Yalor’s squadrons took care of the targets trying to break into Bethera’s atmosphere.
"Tracking two class one targets coming in over sector grid four commander. Suggest laser synch shroud in quarter tiny plus three. Extrapolating, degree of field shroud. Total of three fighters for ninety four percent of termination of targets.."
"I green that companion. Contact fighters in proximity for laser synch shroud."
"Computed and programmed. And done."
Smiling to himself at the diligence of his pilot companion, Pilot Yalor replied, "Five by five. And good work companion."
"It will be good work when targets are destroyed commander."
April woke up screaming. After several minutes of calming down, she climbed out of bed and went to the washroom to wipe the sweat from off her face. Her roommate came into .the bathroom yawning as she said, "April what’s wrong?"
"Nothing. Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up."
"Would you like to talk about it?"
April’s face twisted up in thought. "Part of me would rather forget."
"My mom use to tell if you get the dream off your mind it won’t seem as bad."
April went over to her bed and sat down. Her roommate joined her. "I had a dream of Mandil laying among ruins…" April lowered her head.
"And?" questioned her roommate gently.
"He was dead." April broke into tears. Her roommate hugged her.
"Its nothing but a bad dream. You said how it hurt you to see him in Medical Center. And with the present battle going on, its probably stress. And you have been working hard on that new volunteer program. You have over worked yourself."
"You think so?" replied April wiping off her tears.
"Yeah that’s all it is. Now get some sleep."
Above the outer atmosphere of Bethera Three colossal fighters now linked together under the lead of Commander Yalor prepare for Laser Synch Shroud countdown. "Commander we will release shroud in four-two milo-points."
"I green that companion."
Three streams of green laser energy emerged from the fighters linking up at a precise point they converged to create a mushrooming effect that engulfed the two class one targets.
Even from the surface of Bethera the glow of the Laser Synch Shroud could be seen.
In space Commander Kelp with four other fighters destroyed their targets. Coming over their headsets was a signal that they and the rest of the fighters dreaded---the Requiem Signal. A fighter had been destroyed. The downed fighter was coming into proximity of Commander Kelp’s vessel. "Fighter Twenty Four Commander. It was virtually vaporized" reported companion Ted.
"Lets collect what we can and bring it back home," replied Kelp both angrily and sadly. Commander Kelp moved his fighter toward the spinning piece of purple shredded hull plating that spun effortlessly in the gravity less void.
"Twenty six hours. I hope they can hold in their," remarked Jifi watching a monitor screen.
The images on the screen stopped as an announcement came, "The battle has ended and the enemy is in retreat." All the cadets in Medical Center cheered until another announcement. "Fighter Twenty Four under the Command of Pilot Lutch and Pilot Companion Sara has been destroyed." The atmosphere in the Medical Center changed from adulation to one of sorrow.
After Commander Kelp returned the piece to Repair Engineering, he and Companion Ted joined the other nineteen pilots in the massive storage hanger were the piece of hull was transported to. The pilots and their pilot companions stood in attention as the piece was lowered into the hanger. They all saluted. The academy theme was played. After, each pilot and companion paid their respects. Commander Yalor touched the purple scorched metal, "Two lives given so many lives that will never known them may live. They will not know your last moments. Now friends peace you earn."
Another pilot putting his fist to his chest, "We who live and fight on salute you."
Commander Florn and Companion Sally were personal friends of Lutch and Sara. Both kissed reverently the metal.
April and the rest of the dietary personal monitored the pilot crews respects of fighter twenty four. The image of Mandil from her dream still haunted April. When break time came she hurried down to Medical Center. Giving Mandil and April private time, pilot companion Vic went to visit the other cadets.
"April your seem troubled? Is it over fighter twenty four?" asked Mandil concerned for his tiny love. She was about to respond, instead, reached her tooth pick size arms out to Mandil. He pressed her against his chest. April felt the deep, steady beating of his heart. "My tiny flower whatever its is I’m here."
She kissed his flesh and thought, "Please Great Spirit of Light protect all our pilots and companions. And please never separate me from Mandil I couldn’t bare living in a world without him."
The nineteen pilots plus their companions all gathered in the main recreation room. After twenty six hours in fight and high adrenaline rush, everyone was beat. They were so exhausted, no one could sleep. Commander Kelp laid his head on a table. Pilot Companion Ted sat down and leaned up against the enormous side to his pal’s face.
Through weary eyes, Ted saw Companion Sally. Straining to get up, he managed to stagger over to her. "Sally," Ted said in slurred speech.
Trying to crack a joke, Sally remarked, "Are you drunk?"
"Don’t I wish," replied Ted on legs that felt like wet noodles. "I wanted to express my condolences over the deaths of Commanders Lutch and Companion Sara. I know you were close to them." Ted’s legs buckled in under him. "Aaaahh," moaned Ted as he fell to the floor.
Catching Ted, Sally fell to the floor too. Cradling Ted’s head. "Its your legs isn’t it?"
"Yeah, long flights take a toll on them. But as long (yawn) they can hang in there for battle that all that matters."
"Oh Ted, your such a fool. But one I love."
"Ted? Ted?" Boomed the deep, rumbling, groggy voice of Kelp who raised his head looking for Ted.
"Its ok Commander. Ted is with me!" shouted Sally with what little strength she had left. Kelp mumbled a few inaudible words and laid his head back down on the table.
"I better get back over to Kelp." Sally helped Ted over to the house size head and placed him against a cheek.
Betheran and Earthie doctors came in and gave all the pilots and pilot companions injections that would help them sleep. New cadets came in and gathered up the tired Earthies into their hands as academy attendants took the pilots to their rooms. Nekou who helped carried four Earthies in his big hands. "I feel so bad for our miniature comrades."
Another cadet replied, "I know. They look so feeble and vulnerable."
One Earthie in Nekou’s hand; pressing down on the thumb lifted himself up and shouted, "Where’s Camko? Camko!!"
"Its ok, he’s safe. I’ll take you to him after I drop off your other comrade. You must rest." Nekou rubbing an index finger behind an ear; using the secretion oils, gently rubbed it on the worried pilot companion’s face. He next pushed the Earthie back down into sleeping position.
"I heard Earthies are loyal to their pilots. And the two have a close bond," remarked the cadet.
Nekou replied, "At least these Earthies do."
In Kelp’s and Ted’s room the attendant laid Kelp down on his bed. Shortly, another cadet came in and placed Ted in his bed. Half a sleep, Ted climbed out of his bed wanting to be close to Kelp. He fell onto the mound size pillow where he dragged himself next to Kelp’s head.
In Commander Yalor’s room, Yalor stretched out on his bed and put a hand to his head. "Yalor, your not asleep?" asked Will.
"No worry me. Sleep come soon just a minor headache."
Will instructed his colossal pal, "Place you head back down on the pillow." Grabbing hold to several thick strands of black hair, Will climbed up the side of Yalor’s head. Making his way onto the warm surface of the forehead, Will began rubbing key nerve points.
"Caring pal should rest."
"I’ll rest when you are resting. "Now shut up."
"Ha-ha, you tell your commander, and you so one that is tiny tell shut up. Me moved by your brave concern."
"I said shut up my great hearted giant."
"I will shut up and this giant is all yours."
Will trying to muster all his strength which wasn’t easy with the sedation running through his veins was determined to alleviate the galaxy size hearted Yalor of his headache so his pal could fall asleep. After a short while, Yalor slumbered off. Totally exhausted, Will collapsed into sleep right on Yalor’s forehead.
Deep in the sprawling city not far from the academy, was Pechu’s private school. Pechu was relieved that the fatalities were minimum and his cousin Kelp and Ted were ok. Still, he and the entire student body remembered in a special silence the crew of fighter twenty four who bravely lost their lives in protecting the planet.
In Medical Center, the cadets were looking forward in leaving the hospital and to return to training. And to see their fighters that were nearing completion. Steve was glad his giant Ujim was fast recovering.
Cyril sat on a giant of a boulder upper arm muscle giving cadence. "Pretty good huh Cyril?"
"Yeah Jifi," replied Cyril ascending and descending on the muscle. "Now its time to stop."
"Just a few more."
"No that’s enough. You don’t want to get another headache."
"I won’t and ouch!"
"Sorry Jifi. Too much isn’t wise at this point."
Rubbing his arm as Cyril sat serenely on his muscle asked, "What the heck did you do?"
"Something they taught us in class. Sorry to have to do that but I don’t want to see you in pain."
"Don’t want to see me in pain huh." Cyril jokingly placed his hands over his head as if he was scared when Jifi’s tree size fingers came picking him up by the collar. Bringing his tiny companion before his face, "Don’t want to see me in any pain. Well, that thing you did hurt."
"Yeah Jifi but its probably gone now."
"Yes it is."
Cyril waved his arms around. "What’s the matter?" asked Jifi.
"You. I think its time for you to get another bath."
"Hmm, I don’t know if I like a ogric (betheran for: three inches) size person telling me I stink. Jifi’s eyes began to sparkle. Jifi placed Cyril on a side table. Taking an empty plastic cup, Jifi placed it over Cyril.
"Hey, let me out of here," hollered Cyril tapping on the side of the cup.
Jifi placed his hands behind his head and smiling replied, "That will teach you for saying I stink---runt."
The next several days the pilots and pilot companions had a holiday. It started with a meeting in the Main Assembly Hall. Speaking to the fighter crews was Chief of Cadet Training Florx. "As always you do honor to us all with your bravery and self sacrifice. We grieve for the loss of fighter twenty four. (ted looked over at sally. When she looked over, he gave her a sympathetic look) You all have your own ways to deal with the loss. I just won’t t wish you all a great holiday. And---I love you all. I really do. That’s all."
In the cadet dorm section, Nekou getting ready, saw Cadet Chris dragging himself along the floor in his compartment. Moving in closer, noticed Chris was without his false legs. Nekou very carefully picked up the false legs that were leaning up against the side of the compartment and handed it to Chris. "You don’t have to crawl over to get your legs. I’ll be very happy to get them for you. And I will help in treating your stubs," said Nekou very plainly and in his energetic manner. Chris looked down for a movement. "I guess its very personal to you."
Chris looked back up at the gargantuan size and sincere face. "It is personal. I never wanted to seem any different from anybody else. As a kid I kind of had to prove to others I could cut it."
"I understand. I just want to be of any help I can to you. You’re my companion and friend. That means something to me. And I respect how tough you are. I maybe big in size but am I as strong as you? I don’t know?"
After finishing putting on his legs extensions, Chris reached out with his arms. Placing an index finger down to Chris, Nekou lifted his finger back up after Chris took hold. Nekou placed his partner down in his hand. Thoughtfully Nekou told Chris, "Don’t ever think you have to go it alone. We are a team."
"Thanks," replied Chris using the tip of Nekou’s thumb nail as an arm rest.
On his hospital bed looking forward to leaving, Mandil looked at the finger he had shared with April. He smiled. "April."
In Earthie dietary, Mandil came to April’s mind. She lifted the hand she had placed against Mandil’s finger that day in the gardens. She placed the hand against her mouth and whispered, "Oh Mandil."
"How I love you so." April giggled and went back to her work.
Mandil lowered his finger.
Jifi, Ujim and Lumit, with their pilot companions in their vest pockets were on their way to maintenance engineering. Hanging on to the lip of the pocket with his hands, Cyril shouted up to Jifi, "Our fighters. I can’t believe we are actually going to see them!"
As the elevated emerged from the end of the travel tube, all three teens pressed against the safety rails. "What we waited, trained and suffered for Cyril," said Jifi feeling extremely moved.
"Their magnificent pieces of engineering," remarked Ujim.
"It looks like me!" exclaimed Lumit.
After the elevator stopped, the three young Betheran Warriors stepped out. A Betheran technician who held a computer pad under his arm came up to the teens. "Greetings cadets. I’m Senior Technician Oz." Reaching into the breast pocket of his blue jumper, Oz took out an .Earthie.
The Earthie in similar attire shouted up to the colossal cadets, "I’m assistant Andy."
"You have an Earthie too?" asked Ujim.
"Of course, Andy helps me in the fitting of your companions insertion capsule. All of the technicians have an Earthie assistant. Please come this way." The cadets followed Oz to the building size robotic fighters.
The cadets had to bend their heads back to view the pure scope of the powerful and imposing exterior. "Those arms look like they could knock down a skyscraper," said Bryan.
Oz turned around and replied to Bryan with pride, "Your right."
Stopping in front of an orange and red fighter and looking down at his computer pad, "This is fighter number twenty eight. Pilot Jifi and Pilot Companion Cyril. Are its crew."
With eyes as wide as dinner plates, Jifi asked, "May we look inside?"
"Certainly." Technician Oz went over to a computer console and opened the entrance way to the craft’s command center. With reverence, Jifi stepped in the immense fighter.
"Technician Oz, I don’t see any other work crews," questioned Ujim.
"There down the line working on other fighters. Yours are ready to be transported to Standby Launch Bay."
Jifi slowly walked around the Command Center; gently running his hands over the flight instruments. Cyril from the vest pocket gazed about with awe.
Going over to the command seat, Jifi sat down. He slowly put his arms on the arm rests. "This is where it will all takes place Cyril."
"And lets not forget in your head too," squeaked Cyril.
Jifi chuckled. "Yes, I guess I can’t forget that." With several fingers, Jifi pulled out of his vest pocket his minuscule companion and friend. He watched as Cyril made himself comfortable by sitting on a muscle pad. The tiny thin legs stretching out as the equally thin arms kept Cyril’s main body propped up. "All this engineering masterpieces and the pure planetary power of the fighters would be useless without the aid of these fragile bug size beings," thought Jifi pondering it all.
Cyril smiled when now he knew in which hands what muscle pads made for a better cushion to sit upon. "Such an immense being. You could describe Jifi as being God like," thought Cyril. "In some other part of the galaxy there could be beings where Jifi would just be a tiny creature in comparison. Still, to me he’s an impressive being. And one I can actually call a friend." Cyril looked around at the sapling size fingers that slightly curled about and over him. "It could take nothing at all for Jifi to crush me. Not that he would. Wow, such a person who took me into his heart. And what a noble heart it is."
"Puny little runt. You looked wanting to be my pal even at first when I thought you were kind of like a bug. Bugs that even by accident, I can’t help and crush as I walk through a park or field. But you little bug, simply and bravely met the challenges. Hmm, tiny bug, you never asked me to use my size or power to increase your status among your kind. This tiny bug that sits in my hand. (jifi chuckled) a bug whose friendship and love I honor. I know less and less of this universe."
Oz in front of fighter twenty nine: Ujim’s craft, punched up on his computer pad an image of the fighter so both Ujim and Steve could have a more complete look. "Its face looks like yours Ujim. Very heroic."
Shyly looking down at Steve, "Not so heroic.."
"It even has the brown coloring of your hair," said Steve laying length wise across Ujim’s index finger gazing upon the image.
Lifting his index finger up across from his face, Ujim told Steve, "Facing the challenges and dangers together."
Slowly backing up, Steve once in the center of the hand stood up and turning around, looked up at Ujim, "Together."
Lumit with Bryan standing in the center of his hand said, "Hard to imagine we will be joining the rest to do battle. I want this fighter to take down as many enemy targets as it can."
"All we can do is try."
"I know we can do it. I have" Lumit was silent for a minute. "We can and will cause, I have a brave pilot companion."
Two weeks had passed since the extended battle. Many pilots and pilot companions still needed time to recuperate. The Academy directors had extended rest leave. Deep space probes scanned the galactic plane. At present---negative signs of enemy targets. Those who were deemed rested, were placed back on active duty.
During this period, Cadet Mandil and Earthie Dietician April had decided to express their love for one another to high command. Mandil assured command his love for April would in no way interfere with his obligations as pilot or his commitment to his Earthie Companion Vic. April too explained she was in service to the Academy. Both April and Mandil didn’t know what the final decision would be.
After the two week period of not knowing, Cadet Mandil and Earthie April were allowed to see each other.
Mandil went to the Academy’s Botanical Gardens. He sat down on the warm fresh grass. His nervous hands of anticipation rubbed together for a moment. Near his right shoe was a blade of grass that shot up. It was just about the size of his affection---April. "It on a rational level seems crazy," thought Mandil. "I have gone over this time and time again in my mind. I can’t find an answer other than I do love April."
The Betheran Cadet thought about what Commander Yalor had told him. "To find all answers to life or motivations we end up nothing. Nothing with big headache. Why enemy attack us? They keep dying. Our people die. No logic. Why you spirit longs for spirit so small can’t say. Do know counts is, both have created spirit that in true form love. Guide can help. Guide be honesty. Love for nothing but love of other. No secret wants that hide under love. If love is matched for love we can’t argue with spirit. Love one who tiny say silly. Love silly if just outward. You and April decide if outward or spirit. If spirit, you are touching on the creative love that made matter"
Mandil sighed as he looked up at the trees and the branches that swayed slightly under the wind. Even the rustling of the leaves seemed to whisper sweetly---April. Mandil slowly in want of thought slowly rubbed his finger against his lips. He reached into the pocket of his shorts to take out a piece of candy. He unwrapped the candy. Mandil thought, "Strange, that pocket had held many injured Earthies that I placed in there during the attack. A few had died. At least they died not alone or feeling abandoned" Mandil placed the candy in his mouth and started eating it. " Many more lived. I saw two who work in Medical Center helping the Earthie Companions during implantation." Mandil pulling up his legs, stretched out on the grass. "Life is a mystery." He smiled. "April."
April slowly walked down the Earthie trail. Several times the ground shock violently and the air around her thundered as the gigantic shoes of Betheran Cadets and Pilots walked by her. After a few minutes, April was making her way around the bend next to a building size hedge. She stopped. Her heart began to race. "Even the back of his head can make me want to cry," spoke April to herself. She slowly walked over the grass to the forty foot high head. The hair, thanks to the accelerant had come in nicely around the entrance plate. April stood before the hanging garden of Mandil’s dark hair. She took in the fragrance of the hair and of the giant scent that surrounded her like the divine perfume of a God. April made her way around to the side of the giant head. Going up to the twelve foot tall ear, she slowly ran her hand down its side. She could feel the peach like hairs. April leaned into the cavity of the ear, she was about say a few words when the joy of being in Mandil’s presence surged up in her and her verbal words became words of the heart---words of the heart in form of tears.
Mandil felt a presence. A calm, loving, warm presence. His heart began to pound.
April, hearing the muted kettledrum sounds of Mandil’s beating heart, held her hands together tightly. And she shook and even jumped up and down with excited, beautiful, liberating joy. The ground beneath her trembled ever so slightly as the great bulk of Mandil began to sit up. She took her clasped hands and placed them over her mouth as she began to giggle with a deep joy.
Mandil as he sat up turned his head and looked down among the short blades. Among the blades of grass was beauty of the cosmos. Beauty in the form of April. He turned onto his side. He extended his hand and taking his index finger, Mandil gently rubbed the side of April’s petite face with it. "Such beauty is food to intoxicate the soul."
"Oh Mandil, that is so beautiful."
Shyly, Mandil replied, "An Earthie fiend of mine Timothy told me that. But I mean it. When I see you April, I know the Great Spirit of Light had meant beauty to be in creation."
April wrapped an arm around the tip of the finger and leaned her head against the side. Seeing his hearts affection leaning her head against his finger, Mandil gave out a boyish, goofy sounding chuckle.
Commander Kelp and Pilot Companion Ted were still on leave. Ted curled up among the warm folds of the inner-lining of the pocket. The heat and security of being with his pal seemed to lessen the pain he was having with his legs.
The two had gone into the city. As has been the case before the denizens of the metropolis gave bows of the head and tip of the hat to the brave Betheran Warrior. Kelp went into a new theme restaurant he heard about. The theme was: Betheran Warriors. Kelp went up to the seating attendant. "Table for one and one Earthie."
Kelp felt a tug on his white and blue vest. Turning around he saw a little boy. "So little guy what can I do for you?"
"I heard you say Earthie. Where is your pilot companion?"
Kelp gently tapped the small bulge at the base of the pocket to his shorts. "He’s right there."
"Can I meet him Commander sir?"
Chuckling, "Just call me Kelp."
"Kelp!?" The boy turned at light speed around to his parents who were seated at a table. "Did you hear that! This is the great Commander Kelp! And in his pocket the famous Earthie Companion Ted!" The boy at super speed turned back looking up at Kelp with big eyes of admiration.
The father came over and placed his hand on his young son’s shoulder who kept looking up at Kelp with eyes of veneration. "Come Qestle. The commander wants to eat in peace." The boy kept turning around looking back at Kelp as his father pushed him to the table.
Kelp was taken to a small table. "Do you have a small pad my friend could sit on?"
"I believe we do carry Earthie seat pads commander. I’ll be right back." Kelp meanwhile looked at the menu. When the seating attendant came he placed a small white pad down next to Kelp’s utensils. "I’ll be right back your companions utensils."
"Thank you." Kelp reaching into the side pocket of his shorts pulled out Ted. He plaved him down slowly on the pad. "How’s the legs?"
"They still hurt and are weak."
Running a fraternal finger up and down Ted’s back, "They’ll get better."
"He took his Earthie out!" shouted Qestle from his parents table. Several of the restaurant’s patrons gave the boy and his parents an annoyed look.
"We have a fan," said Kelp to Ted.
Mandil and April for a few minutes just enjoyed each others company in silence. Removing her head and arm from Mandil’s finger she just gazed up at him. Without thinking, Mandil lifted up his finger. As he did, April who was still staring up at the life of her heart began to float up perpendicular to the finger. "April," remarked Mandil with awe in his voice.
"Wow, I mean again," responded April looking down at the ground below. She looked back up and into Mandil’s eyes. "Your eyes are deep wells I could fall into and never want to be rescued from."
Slowly, April began to circle Mandil’s head like an orbiting moon. Mandil lifted his arms up and cupping each hand that was turned upwards, several multicolored beams of light sprang forth from the right palm. The lights made an arch over his head and down into his left palm.
"Excuse me commander and companion, may I take an optical of you two to place on our lobby wall?"
Kelp replied, "I don’t have that authority. And I don’t think it would be right."
"What do you mean?" asked the seating attendant.
Ted replied, "It makes us out to be the only warriors. It’s a group effort. If we are up on the wall, then ALL should be on your wall. And not to mention those who have given their lives in the course of service. Its wrong."
The seating attendant starting to turn red, "Sorry, I honestly meant no disrespect."
"We know that. We’re just telling you how we feel on the matter," responded Kelp.
The boy with his parents were leaving their table. The boy quickly went up to Kelp’s table. "Qestle!" said the father sharply.
"Its ok," said Kelp.
"I want to tell you warriors, I pray for you when you go into battle. I have gone several times to the Youth Shrine and prayed to my ancestors to look after all of you."
Ted looked up at Kelp then back at the Qestle, "We thank you for that." And Ted gave him a salute.
Extending his arm, Kelp told Qestle, "I thank you too. And on behalf of my fellow warriors." Qestle as he shook hands with Kelp, was very deeply moved by Kelp’s words, that his eyes grew wet.
The father took his son’s hand As they were leaving, Qestle kept turning around waving. Goodbye. Kelp waved back. Going back over to the table, Kelp sat down. After the minor quake caused by Kelp’s placing his arms on the table, Ted said, "Its for those we drag ourselves through exhaustion and all matter of pain."
"Yes," nodded Kelp. When the food came, Kelp sniffed the aroma rising from the hot food, "Aaaaahh!"
"My mouth is already watering," responded Ted as he watched his plate of food being brought down between a pair of gigantic finger tips.
April slowly drifted down into Mandil’s waiting hand. April shouted up, "That was beautiful."
"Not as beautiful as you." Mandil moved in his face. April placed both hands on the side of his nose and kissed the tip. Mandil playfully nudged her with his nose. "What the?" questioned Mandil in a slightly annoyed voice. A rainbow colored Betheran Butterfly with six wings fluttered around Mandil’s face. He tried to gently move it away with his other hand. April giggled. "Come on move away." The butterfly just kept fluttering its wings in the cadet’s face.
"I think it has a crush on you?"
"Sorry sweetheart, I’m not your type," replied Mandil brushing the butterfly away.
April clapped her hands together and laughed as the butterfly became caught in Mandil’s hair. "Be careful with it," remarked April.
After a couple of minutes (earthie measure of time) Mandil removed the insect from his hair. With it fluttering between his fingers, Mandil placed it on a flower. "Now go pollinate something." Scratching his head and looking down at April with a slight smirk, "We blew it. An otherwise bensitle." (betheran Word Meaning : special-intimate- closeness of time)
After a morning of classes, Nekou and Chris went to the Cadets Physical Fitness Gym. With his hands grasping the top of Nekou vest pocket and listening to the giant explosive steps, Cadet Chris thought, "My own giant." Chris recalled as a child when he was confined to a wheel chair or confined to a hospital bed with infections to his stubs how he wished a giant would come and be his friend. "I felt so out of the loop with the other kids back then. But to have a giant, someone so powerful who would take an interest in me seemed lights years from true possibilities. And now I have a giant pal. And one who also needs me."
Cadet Nekou upon arriving at the fitness gym went into the changing room where he and Chris changed into their athletic gear. With Chris in his hand, Nekou went out into the workout room. Going over to the inside Earthie lap track, Nekou placed Chris down on the track. Kneeling down before the teeny tiny cadet, "Have a good run. I’m going to work on my upper body. I haven‘t done it for a while. I think I should," said Nekou.
Lost in Nekou’s shadow and standing before the colossal muscular bulk of his comrade, Chris shouted up in the familiar (to betheran giants) Earthie high, squeaky voice, "Ok. Don’t think you need to improve upon your bulk. But I know how much you like to push yourself."
Nekou nodded and stood up which to Chris, seemed to take several minutes as the teen kept extending upwards into the air. Chris almost lost his balance when another cadet who caused an earthquake for the Earthies by the pounding of his feet ran up to Nekou and grabbed him by the wrist. The two seemingly vast giants began to good humouredly spar with each other. "Can’t get free can you?" said the other blond haired giant.
"You think so huh," replied Nekou taking hold of the other cadet’s wrist. Nekou’s huge arm muscles and veins began to bulge as he pried off his buddies fingers from around his wrist.
Laughing the two gargantuan cadets began to shove each other. Nekou’s huge socked foot began to slide onto the Earthie lap track. Several Earthie Cadets slammed into Nekou’s huge socked foot. Several began kicking at the semi-truck size foot in anger.
Seeing a potential problem here, Chris ran up to his energetic and big hearted jock of a pal’s foot. Chris had to be careful that he didn’t get squished from the giant foot the kept sliding and lifting. The feet and shoes of these Betheran giants can be such a frightening encounter for the miniature Earthies. Jumping onto the side of the rocking and sliding foot, Chris went and pulling on the warm, thick cotton sock began to scale it. Gazing upward, Chris was impressed by the pure scope and power of the tan colored leg that rose majestically above him.
Meanwhile, the other cadets backed away from the sparing atlases. Several Earthie instructors shouted and screamed up at the two cadets who were lost in adolescent display of power.
Reaching the top of the sock, Chris hung on to the thick cotton with one hand and with the other pulled on one of the black leg hairs that curled over the top. "Hey." bellowed a voice from the heavens. Chris felt a current of air as two tree size fingers reached down toward him. After the giant fingers had clamped on either side of him, Chris was lifted up to the heights of the giants. "What’s up Chris?" asked Nekou breathing heavily from his playful exertions.
"Nekou you and your friend were sliding right on top of us Earthies."
Gazing down, Nekou saw all the tiny Earthies around his foot. Stooping down, Nekou placed Chris back on the track and apologized to the others. There was no bad feelings. Before lumbering off, Nekou gave Chris a big broad smile and a quick wave. Chris waved back.
Kneeling down on the grass, Mandil placed April back on the ground. "I guess we go back to our work," spoke Mandil softly as he sent a loving finger down the side to April’s face. For a moment, April wrapped an arm around the tip. She kissed it and let go. The huge finger silently and powerfully retreated back. April looked on and upwards as her giant love stood up. April sighed as she feasted her eyes upon all that gigantic male loveliness. After Mandil had walked away she spun around in the garden.
Chris was working up a sweat as he ran the laps. His thin silver poles he ran on became a blur. Several cadets called him the silver bullet. Smiling, Chris enjoyed the satisfaction he got from feeling his body in good sync.
Nekou after he was done with the weights dried himself off. Going over to the water bar (as the cadets jokingly called it) Nekou grabbed himself a cold bottle of water. As he was drinking it, he noticed a tiny glinting silver object on the Earthie lap track. He squinted his eyes. "Yeah!" shouted Nekou out loud. He next slapped a cadet that was standing next to him drinking. "Look at him go!"
The cadet who spilled his water all over himself replied to Nekou with some irritation, "What are you going on about?"
Pointing down to the glinting silver light moving along the track, "That’s my companion. Even with false legs he’s beating the rest!" Making a triumphant fist, "And he’s my Earthie."
Nekou went right over to the track and got down on his hands and knees. Several Earthie cadets gave out a startled cry at such a fast approach of one so big. "Looking good Chris."
Chris gave Nekou a tiny arm in the air of acknowledgement. When he was done he ran up to and placed a hand on Nekou’s knee as he gathered his breath. "You are a real sdbusi-emensu-cosmosie," said Nekou looking proudly down at Chris.
"What does that mean Nekou?" asked Chris.
"It means: tiny, silver speeding comet."
Many of the Earthies moved away from Nekou because of the strong scent he had built up during his weight lifting. Chris coughed a few times but shrugged it off. "You never cease to amaze and humble me Chris." Nekou placed his hand down before the tiny cadet. He watched with pride as his tiny companion climbed on.
Wiping his mouth off with a napkin, Kelp commented, "That was a great meal."
"Yep, I’m stuffed," replied Ted patting his stomach.
Once they were ready to leave; standing up, Kelp picked up Ted and placed him in the pocket of his shorts. "Did you enjoy your meal?" asked the seating attendant.
"I hope you will tell your comrades about our eatery. We would be honored to serve them," said the seating attendant very earnestly.
"I’ll tell them to check your restaurant out." The seating attendant gave Kelp a polite bow.
Leaving the establishment, Kelp could feel Ted moving about in his pocket finding a more comfortable travel position. "Poor little guy. I hate for him to be in any pain." He patted the slight bulge at the base of his pocket. Ted in the warm darkness and security of the pocket punched back at the huge caring fingers that pressed in.
Looking toward the large oval and cone shaped buildings of the city, Kelp thought, "What will the future bring?"
The next several weeks went smoothly and gratefully quiet for the academy. The Betheran Warriors were now close to thirty five active pilots.
During a day at midweek in the Earthie Dietary Section of the academy, April was busily finishing up preparations for pilots and cadets dinner. Her assistant, a sandy haired girl named Cathy was asking her supervisor about her giant boy friend. "So tell me?" asked Cathy wiping her hands off on a drying sensor. "Any news about Cadet Mandil?"
A slight smile crossed April’s face, "He has just recently seen the fighter he shall command." Her face became serious. "It does remind, very soon he will be joining the other warriors on missions." Her face lit up again. "I’ll be seeing him shortly." A buzzer sounded. Almost jumping up, April told Cathy, "That must be him now."
"April, are you sure about Cadet Mandil’s sense of humor?"
"I’m sure." Cathy began to punch in figures on a small black box she carried on her belt. "What’s that?"
"It’s the new Portable Recreational Hologram." Doing a few more adjustments, Cathy created a hologram of April around her.
Mandil knelt before the back fire exit of the building. Placing his hands on the top part of his legs, he waited joyfully for April to appear. Feeling a slight hitting sensation down at his hip, Mandil looked down. Two tiny Earthie maintenance personal waved up from the side of his gigantic hip. Teasingly, putting his thumb and forefinger together as if to flick, Mandil placed his fingers right before the miniature people. "What a bunch of strange looking bugs. I’ll just brush them away." The faces of the two maintenance personal reflected off the giant finger nail. "Whoops, your not bugs your Ben and Garrison. Hi guys." Mandil moved his hand away. "On break? Or just goofing off?"
"You know us Mandil, just ducking out of work," replied Ben. Mandil chuckled.
Garrison shouted up, "Here to see April?"
"I am. So, you guys going to do any work?"
"We know when we are not wanted," said Ben.
"Hey Mandil, could you place us on the roof? We‘re fixing a fan vent."
"Sure." Mandil lowered a hand. The Earthie men climbed up into the giant hand. Lifting them up, Mandil moved his hand over and down on the roof.
"Thanks!" shouted the men jumping off his palm.
Mandil turned his gaze down toward the door. When the door opened, Mandil felt the beats of his heart quickening. Out of the door stepped April. And to his surprise came out another. "Ok, which one is it?"
"You mean you can’t tell?" asked the real April.
"Of course I can tell. That hologram can only last for five of your Earthie minutes."
"Why wait," said the fake April.
"What do you have in mind?" Mandil lowered his hand before the two Aprils. They both jumped on. Mandil lifted his hand across from his face. The real April walked across the hand right up to the huge lips and kissed the top. "Hmm," commented Mandil with a grin. The fake April walked up and holding on to the lip with both her hands gave Mandil a kiss. She then walked back next to April.
"Well," said the real April.
"Yes, Well," said the fake.
"Its simple," commented Mandil. "There is absolutely no difference."
"Oh you," said April. "I take back anything good I ever said about you."
Mandil chuckling, pointed to April, "You and I have a date." Pointing to the fake April, "You better turn that off."
"You knew?" said April shaking a fist at Mandil. He gave her a big cocky smile.
After Cathy turned it off, she gave Mandil a funny salute, "Very good commander." Mandil placed her back on the metal landing.
Bringing his hand back up to his face, April walked over and pulled on Mandil’s lower lip, "No difference huh?" Mandil just gave her a dopey grin.
In Main Mission sensors were indicating a grouping of targets just at the boarder of the solar rim. "When did this begin?" asked the officer of the day.
"Not long sir. Just started."
"Right. I’ll alert Central Command. Keep me posted."
In Medical Canter, Cadet Dabaku went to the Betheran and Earthie Mental Heath Unit. Going up to reception, "I’m Cadet Dabaku, I was asked by Earthie Doctor Nelson to visit Joe."
"Yes Cadet I have you down. One moment please."
Shortly, a nurse came with Doctor Nelson standing in her hand. "Cadet Dabaku, so nice for you to come. Joe has made excellent progress. And he asked to see you. I’m grateful that you made time to come."
"I’m glad to help doctor. Oh, I forgot." Reaching into the right pocket of his shorts, Dabaku brought out two Earthies and placed them on the receptionists desk. "Can my pals wait here for me."
"Sure they can. I’ll get them any refreshments if they feel so inclined."
"I’ll see you shortly, Sheila and Shinji."
"We’ll be waiting Dabaku," said the two Earthies bending their heads back and looking up at the giant cadet with respect and love.
Taking the doctor into his hand, Dabako went down the hallway to the room where Joe was staying. "He’s sharing a room with two other Earthies and a Betheran Pilot who had mental fatigue. So, I see you have other Earthie fans."
"Yes, their Earthies I had pulled out of the debris during the raid. They wanted to stay in contact with me. And we have become friends. I guess I kind of feel protective of them. But I have tried not to smother them with my affection or let them smother me. And I have to keep myself from seeing myself as a great saving warrior. Sometimes its hard not to sort of ponder those thoughts."
"Yes, it is important to keep things in perspective. If we don’t, we set ourselves up for failure. And it is important that both you and your Earthie friends lives must go on as before. Well, it seems cadet you are very self aware."
When Cadet Dabaku entered the room, he first went up to the Betheran Commander and saluted him. Sitting on the commander’s shoulder was his Earthie Companion who was playing a string instrument. When the Earthie stopped to give greetings to the cadet, Dabaku asked, "What kind of instrument is that companion?"
The pilot companion, replied, "We call it a Cello."
"Its very soothing," replied the pilot.
Cadet Dabaku went over to a table that contained three tiny Earthie beds. Seeing Dabaku, Joe extended an arm. Taking the hard to see hand between two fingers, Dabaku asked, "How you doing?"
"Better. I of course think of you often Dabaku. I tell the others your were like a giant saving angel."
"Thanks. But I was a warrior doing my duty. And I’m glad you are here and doing better. Your like a warrior too Joe. You survived a great battle. Now the key is the going on with your life."
Commander Yalor with his Pilot Comapnion Will were walking and conversing in the great and beautiful Academy Botanical Gardens. As they were rounding a corner, they saw Cadet Mandil who was stretched out on the ground as April who was also stretched out and on his nose tickling him with flowers. The two seasoned Betheran Warriors turned around as not to disturb the young lovers.
Playfully, April kept tickling Mandil by running a long stem of flowers she held, just inside his nostrils. "You tease. Better hope I don’t sneeze. Otherwise, I might just blow you off my nose."
She kissed the tip of his nose. "Never have I known such happiness Mandil."
"Did you squeak?"
Slapping the top of his nose, April shouted, "I said I never have known such happiness you big goof."
Mandil gave a deep, rumbling chuckle that vibrated through April’s body. "Me too. April I wish my heart could whisper the sensations and joy that you bring whenever your near."
"As long as you want me I will always be near your heart." April kissed the top of his nose several more times. She laid her head down on the warm skin. She smiled.
"April I didn’t tell you yet. I received an official letter from the major and leaders of your Earthie city Bale."
April lifted her head up. "What did they say?"
"They have heard of us and would like me to visit them in a few days. What do you think?"
"I think sweetheart, they will meet a giant, dearest, handsome, wonderful man." April sat up. Turning around, she scooted up the bridge of his nose. As Mandil’s two moon size olive colored eyes crossed in, April very lightly ran her hands over Mandil’s silk like eyelashes.
Back in Main Mission, more enemy targets had been detected gathering outside the solar rim.
The sensors at Main Mission continued to indicate a build up of enemy targets at the Outer Solar Rim.
Jifi and Cyril waited to see Chief of Cadet Training Florx. "I’m sure we did well," said Jifi to Cyril who was sitting on his knee with slight anxiety in his voice.
"Yeah," squeaked Cyril in reply. "I know we have passed our tests and survival-sync solos"
Trying not to smirk, Jifi in a menacing voice told Cyril, "If we don’t pass, I’m going to squish you."
Cyril stood up. And walking off the knee, bent over and pulled hard on a leg hair. "You can try."
"Ouch," said Jifi. "I guess I won’t squish you then." He give Cyril a couple of gentle pokes to the stomach as Cyril punched at the finger tip.
At that moment, the door to Chief Florx’s Office opened up. Jifi quickly picked up Cyril and stood in attention. "Please come in cadets," said Chief Florx. Seeing Cadet Cyril dangling by his vest collar between Jifi’s fingers Chief Florx made a slight smile.
Jifi set Cyril down in his hand. And they went into the office. "Stand down cadets and please make yourselves comfortable." After Cadet Jifi sat down, he told them, "To end your anxieties, you both pass with high scores." Jif looking down at Cyril and Cyril looking up at Jifi; gave each other the Earthies thumbs up. "You both scored well on academic, and physical requirements. You also have bonded naturally. I know your relationship is quite unique. Being, you knew each other before the academy. And Cadet Jifi you saved you Cadet Cyril in the Earthie city of Bale. You both come from two completely different situations. You both have grown and over come personal obstacles. You over came them with forbearance, humor and bravery. And I think importantly---as a team. It of course goes without saying you showed your metal as did many of the other cadets during the attack on the academy. Its my real pleasure to welcome you to the family of Betheran Warriors." Chief Florx stood up and coming around his desk shook Jifi and Cyril’s hands.
After leaving Chief Florx’s Office, Jifi raised his free arm into the air, "We did it!!"
Cyril standing on a muscle pad to Jifi’s palm, shot his arm into the air very robustly shouting, "Yeah!" His vigorously thrust of the arm into the air caused Cyril to loose his balance on the uneven flesh and fall down.
In Cadets Nekou and Chris’s dorm room, the two talked about Chris’s upcoming implant surgery. Nekou hated the idea of his friend having to go through the pain that will come. However, he tried not to show his worry. "Have you taken your tranquilizing pill?"
"Not yet." Being silent for a moment Chris spoke, "I don’t want anyone to see me cry or scream."
"I don’t think you should waste time worrying about that. Besides people will be to busy with their own pain to worry about yours. And no one would see it as a weakness," replied Nekou. Making a fist, "Anyone who would dare to better look out. You’re a tough hombre. You have nothing to prove."
Chris chuckled as he asked Nekou, "Hombre? Where did you pick that Earthie expression up?"
"Oh, from an Earthie Cadet. My point, you have proved yourself many times and I think to worry is pointless." Nekou took his index finger and pushed up on Chris’s right fist that held the tranquilizer. Chris looked up at the colossal earnest face, nodded his head and took the pill. "Good. I know you have and felt you had to prove yourself to others but you don’t need to anymore."
Chris responded, "I guess its me." Looking sheepishly down for a moment then up, "If I do, I don’t mind if you are there with me."
Making a fist, Nekou placed it down before Chris who almost fell over from the impact caused by his ever energetic giant pal.. "Try and break through it Chris."
Chris walking up to the fist that was almost twice his height, placed a hand on one of the fingers. "I don’t think I can. Its rock solid."
"That’s right it’s a rock. A rock for you. I will be their as a rock. You can count on that." Nekou opened the hand up. Chris found himself before a living wall. "Step up." Chris walked right up to the hand that emitted a warmth. Chris found himself wrapped in the great fingers. They opened up again. "This rock is always opened and their to protect you."
"Thanks Nekou," responded Chris starting to feel his head spin under the affects of the tranquilizer.
Jifi and Cyril went to the main cafeteria. After placing Cyril on the table, "Ujim and Lumit should be joining us before long. Their having their review also. We can order when they arrive. Hey, before they come; want a game of finger wrestling?"
Jifi smiled as he thought, "Cyril is always ready to please. He never ceases wanting to be all he can for me. And nothing means more to me than wanting to look out for this Earthie runt."
Cyril got on his hands and knees. Placing his right hand down before Cyril, Jifi spread his fingers. Several cadets walking by stopped to watch.
Slowly crawling in between the index and forefinger, Cyril lifted up the finger and pinned it down with one leg. One of the cadets from the vest pocket of his pilot and cupping his hands around his mouth shouted, "Keep him pinned Cyril." Other Earthies from their pilots pockets rooted for Cyril.
Jifi using the finger next to the forefinger tried to brush off Cyril. However, Cyril just ducked and laid low as he increased his grip. Cyril was now bending the tip back. "Ok, capitulate."
"No," replied Jifi straining to push his finger back down."
Come on you stubborn giant, surrender."
"Jifi its going break---capitulate." The Earthie Cadets meanwhile were going wild.
"I said never."
"Ok then." Cyril released the finger. As he did, Jif quickly crossed his fingers trapping Cyril, between them.
"That was a mistake. You should have broken the finger." Jifi lifted his hand up with Cyril wedged in between the two crossed fingers. Cyril tried to speak but his face was pressed against the top of the finger. Jifi placed his hand back down and released Cyril. "Good game Cyril. You really had me. You still lack the killer instinct."
Cyril shouted up to Jifi, "I’m just a nice guy."
Coming up to the table was Lumit and Ujim. "We passed!!" shouted an enthusiastic Lumit.
"We both did," added Ujim.
The six happy cadets went to get their food.
Far at the other end of the Betheran city near the academy was Pechu’s private school. Pechu was packing a few things for his visit to the Academy. "I wish I was going," said his roommate.
"Maybe you can at some point."
Pechu’s roommate’s eyes lit up. "That would be so neat." The boy picked up a sock from off the floor. "Those Earthies, so small they could fit in my sock."
Pechu twisted his face, "Why would an Earthie want to be in your stinky sock?"
"Nooooo. I don’t mean a dirty one, a clean one. It would be like a big sleeping roll to them." Pechu just smiled and shook his head. Shutting the lid to the cloth transport. "I guess I’ll be seeing you in a couple of days."
"Sorry to see you go Pechu. But I think its delkuia (betheran word meaning: fantastic) you have special ways with the Earthies. Its pretty great to an official Academy transport is picking you up." Going out of his room Pechu waved to his friend,.
Commander Kelp and Companion Ted waited in the Academy visitors section for Pechu’s arrival. There was the sound of an elevator. When the door opened there was Pechu with his cloth transport in hand and dressed in his school uniform. Kelp went up and gave his cousin a hug.
The next day Cadet Mandil saw April before leaving for the Earthie City of Bale. April ran a hand over the top of Mandil’s lip. "I hate to see you go."
"I’m just going for a couple of hours."
April smiled shyly, "I know. Oh, is your companion Vic going to come with you?"
"No, he will stay behind checking out the insertion capsule for adjustments."
Cadet Nekou with a solemn Chris in his hand went to Medical Center. Nekou placed Chris down with other Earthie Cadets waiting for implantation. Nekou sat down next to the table with the other giants. Chris climbed out of his clothing. Nervous, Chris found it hard to put on his Johnny. "Nekou could you help me?"
"You bet buddy."
Mandil waited for the Bale Betheran entrance to open up. As the Plexiglas doors opened, Mandil stepped in. Several hover discs came up to him. "Welcome Cadet to our city." Mandil bowed and replied, "Thank you for inviting me."
"It is way over due to one who saved many of our people during the attack on the Academy," spoke a Bale dignitary.
Mandil replied, "I didn’t act alone. There was my friend Cadet Dabaku"
"Please come this way," said the dignitary turning his hover disc around. From rooftops people waved.. Running next Mandil’s immense shoes were a flock of people.
When the nurse came to take Chris, Nekou asked, "May I be with my Chris as you put him under---please."
The nurse conferred for a moment with the doctors. "Yes you may," said the nurse. Chris looked exceptionally fragile just in his hospital Johnny felt Nekou.
"I know it seems strange Nekou. I can survive trapped in a room without air yet an operation has me on edge," spoke Chris.
The nurse told Chris, "Not at all. Its very common. And you have nothing to feel bad about Cadet."
Nekou watched as Chris was placed on the prepping table. His tiny, thin silver false legs glinting under the light. Nekou felt really moved and concerned for his pal. Making a fist he placed it over Chris, "Remember Chris. Remember this fist. Its here for you."
"Thanks Nekou." Nekou placed an assuring finger on Chris’s chest as his friend went under.
In Main Mission, warning lights began to flash. The targets had begun to move from out of the Solar Rim. The academy went into high alert.
Kelp and Ted were with Pechu when the alarms sounded. "Never a peaceful time when you come, " said Kelp jokingly. An attendant came for Pechu as Kelp and Ted rushed off to the Ready and Briefing room.
On their way down, Kelp asked Ted, "You ok my friend."
"I am Kelp. You can count on me."
Sirens blared in the city of Bale. "I better get back to the academy," said Mandil.
"Its too late. Under attacks the city exits are closed down," replied the Major.
In the Ready and Briefing room, the pilots were informed of eighteen class one targets approaching Bethera. "Fighters one through Twenty six will be all operational. Commanders Kelp and Florn will lead the deep space attack. Commanders Yalor and Luth will lead low orbital and high atmosphere assaults. Good luck," said the Mission Director.
Within minutes the brave Pilots and Pilot Companions were before their crafts. "All pilots board your crafts," echoed the command throughout Launch Ready Bay.
Stepping into his insertion capsule, Companion Ted began connecting himself up. "Commander I have green on all bio and computer systems. Please verify commander."
Five by five companion. I have clear. We are good to go."
Commander Yalor stood ready as his companion was inserted into capsule receptacle. "Plotted projected course trajectory of targets and on tactical screen commander."
"I green that companion."
The twenty six great pieces of engineering triumph moved to Launch Direct Bay. In Main Mission all fighters glowed green operational.
Sprouting forth like seeds of cosmic energy were the fighters from the under ground bunker.
Mandil felt hapless sitting on the park mall. And his mind went to April.
High above the battle began. Many enemy targets headed for the great city near the Academy. Commander Yalor brought his squadron in close pursuit.
A violent quake shook Bale. Standing up, Mandil commented, "They must be close." People began to be frightened. "Do not panic. Go to the shelters you have."
Another violent quake struck the city. It was of such intensity it knocked Mandil off his feet. He came crashing down onto a fountain and a small grove of trees. He hoped he hadn’t fallen on anyone.
Part of a small (to mandil) building began to fall. Mandil immediately returned to his feet and rushed over. Jumping over trees and hollering for people to get out of his way, Mandil made his way to the danger zone. Getting down on hands and knees, Mandil using his body, shielded a dozen people from the falling debris.
A mother with her two children was desperately trying to dodge the falling fragments. Mandil reached out over with one hand and covered the woman and her children. Many sharp objects fell into his skin. The mother crouched under the hand with her children close to her chest, watched as outside the hand debris kept raining down.
High above cracks began to form in the dome.
Brave Love Mandil: Requiem For A Hero.
The Betheran fighters flew in low formation over the city, both to the joy and uneasiness of the citizens. Their great robotic crafts created dark shadows and streams of gale forced finds as they pursed the targets. The enemy targets with their thick, constantly modulating tentacles severed the tops of many buildings. One class one target was making a swoop when Commander Yalor and another fighter coming in on either side of the giant creature, fired grappling hooks into the side of the enormous, ferocious creature. Sending a stream of highly charge particles into the target, the fighters pulled the enemy in two.
In the Earthie city of Bale, Cadet Mandil shook his head off of the debris. The Earthies he had covered with his body were group together under his chest alive and unharmed. The hand that he placed over the woman and her two children was covered with building fragments. He removed the jagged objects, many that. had dug into the top of his hand. Mandil, as he lifted his had was relieved to see the mother and her children were safe.
Slowly, Mandil got up and moved back onto his heels. He surveyed his surroundings. There was significant damage to the area. Many of the Earthies stayed close to the colossal Betheran teen.
Back at the Academy, the whole complex had been secured with the new anti-attack force field. News about Bale had spread through the Academy. Dietician April hoped Mandil was safe as with her Earthie countrymen. She nervously touched the white piece of Mandil’s handkerchief she wore around her neck. "You’re a brave and able cadet You will be fine. And I know you are helping the Earthies." April started to feel a small amount of peace knowing her love was doing what he does best---saving others.
Mandil rubbed particles from out of his eyes and eyelashes. Eyelashes that a few days before his love April had touched with her hands. A crowd of Earthies had gathered around his giant knees; many pressing up against them for security. "I will clear a path for you to get to your shelters. The injured I will carry."
Several hover discs came up to Mandil, "Anything you can do to help, we would appreciate Cadet Mandil. Our rescue crews are all out in the field," spoke one tired rescue supervisor.
"I’ll do what I can. The attack seems to have ended." Mandil slowly stood up. A living mountain of hope for the miniature people.
Several attendants ran into the Dietician Center, and told April the good news. "The Betheran Warriors have driven off the targets. Their sending help to Bale," reported an Earthie Representative for the Academy.
"Oh thank the Great Spirit of Light," replied April with relief.
Commanders Kelp and Florn were engaging the targets in space. "Fighter three to all fighters remain in formation group six and precede for engagement in four point two. Companion report on simulation success of attack."
Pilot Companion Ted reported, "I green ninety percent success termination of targets one through nine. All operational on present flight plan and assault."
"Five by five companion."
Commander Luth and two fighters engaged the enemy that had made landfall outside of the city. Using the massive robotic arms they fought hand to tentacle.
Mandil slowly cleared felled metal, mortal and steel girding away. On hands and knees he cleared with his fingers, debris from the entrance to a shelter. Before he would let anyone by, Mandil peeked in as best he could and called, "Is everyone ok?"
There was no answer. Shortly, a short, stout man appeared at the entrance, "Yes, everyone is fine."
"Glad to hear it. You have more joining you." Before Mandil could tell the crowd, a line had already started coming our from under him. He chuckled. A large line of people had formed walking between his huge kneeling legs. It was amusing and moving seeing all these people coming out from under him to safety.
One tall man pushed his way through the crowd knocking down another man who was on a makeshift crutch. Mandil lifting up his left arm reached over the crowd and grabbed the man as he ran down the stairs. Bringing the man who was held firmly between his thumb and forefinger told him, "What do you think your doing? I should squish you." The man began to squeal. "Your going in last. And as you wait, you should thank the Great Spirit of Light that I didn’t squish you." Mandil placed the man in his vest pocket.
Coming out from under his chest with the others, was the woman with the two children he had saved. The woman stopped and went over to his giant hand. Climbing onto the top, she walked to the wrist and kissed it. "I can never thank you enough," she shouted up. Mandil smiled shyly.
One of her children who was grasping the tip of his thumb was shouting something, however, Mandil could not hear what she was saying. The mother hollered up and told him, "She wants to know if you’re a Guardian Angel?"
"No, I’m a Betheran Warrior to be."
The little girl kept shouting. "No, my daughter says you’re a giant Guardian Angel."
"Thank you. Hey, you better get inside," replied Mandil. He watched the woman climb down off his hand and take her two children away.
At that moment, a tiny white dove flew close to Mandil’s face. He had never seen such a dazzling white bird before.
After the crowd had entered, Mandil removed the man from his vest pocket. "Ok, you can go in now." Mandil placed him down. The man flew down the stairs. Mandil returned to his feet. High above his head cracks continued to spread throughout the dome.
Stepping over rubble, Mandil made his way through the crippled city. Soon he began to hear several high terrified sounding squeaks. Or squeals. Turning, he saw a smoking building and above on its roof a dozen or more people who were waving to him. Going over to the burning building that was twice his size, Mandil found he couldn’t reach up to the people. An idea entered his mind. "I will stand very still and right up against the building. I want you in groups of fours to jump down onto my head. My hair will cushion you. And you must act face." The first group of four jumped off and into his hair. Once the first four had jumped onto his head, Mandil plucked them out of his hair and placed them in his vest pocket. He then instructed the second group to jump. When his vest pocket couldn’t hold anymore, Mandil started putting them into the pockets of his shorts.
All the people save for one, was safely in his pockets. "Come on jump don’t be afraid," spoke Mandil in an assuring voice to the last Earthie who was looking over the edge.
"I’m afraid," responded the Earthie.
The building began making buckling sounds. Tired and knowing there wasn’t much time left, Mandil jabbed his elbow into the side of the building. It created a shock wave which brought down the roof. The Earthie fell over the side. Mandil caught the Earthie in his hands and placed them in his pocket.
Walking away from the building, Mandil heard it make its death scream as it collapsed. Mandil shaking his head, "That was close." He was just about to move on, when he saw that tiny dazzling white dove again.
A rescue supervisor on a hover disc came up to Mandil, "We have people trapped on a metal walkway. We need you."
"Ok, first I have a pocket full of people I need to get to safety. Where is there another shelter?"
"Not far from here. I will lead you." Mandil followed close behind. Meanwhile, small fragments of the dome began to fall.
Upon arriving at the shelter, Mandil knelt down and emptied his pockets. The people waved their tiny tooth pick size arms up at him. He waved back. Standing back up, Mandil told the rescue supervisor, "Ok lets go."
April putting together a list of special food she wanted to prepare for the return of the companions from battle, felt a chill run through her. He mind and heart went to Mandil. She placed a hand over her mouth to stifle a cry. An assistant ran up to April. "Are you ok? Here, why don’t you sit down."
"No I’m ok," she replied. April thought to herself, "Mandil I love you."
In front of Mandil lay a huge piece of black girding from a bridge that had connected two high rise buildings. For a moment, Mandil thought he heard April’s voice. Mandil began picking up pieces of the down bridge, so Earthie rescue workers could remove the trapped people.
Three Betheran Warriors with rescue packs just entered through the entrance to the city.
Large chunks began to fall. Mandil remained and kept removing huge chunks of the bridge. A rescue worker on a hover disc was struck with a piece of falling Plexiglas. Mandil caught the man in his hands.
Chunks began to fall on top of Mandil. Getting back down on his hands and knees, Mandil used his body once more as a shield for the Earthies. One large piece broke away and came smashing down onto Mandil’s neck. He felt no pain. Only surprise. Slowly his eyes turned opaque
In the kitchen, April suddenly fainted.
When the deluge of falling dome material ended, people ran out from beneath Mandil and up to his hands and face. One man shouted," Hang in there cadet."
"This man was truly a hero," remarked one woman.
The Earthies went silent as Mandil uttered one word. And the word was, "April." Everyone lowered their heads and removed their hats. Many Earthies walked up to the gigantic fingertips and kissed them.
The Earthies bent their heads back as the three Betheran Warriors appeared on the scene. Seeing their fallen comrade they ran up to him.
Over the communication headsets of the Betheran Warriors came the---Requiem Signal.
Together At Last
The three Betheran Warriors prepared Cadet Mandil’s body to be transported back to the Academy. Many Earthies the meanwhile, came up and took clips of Mandil’s hair. Others touched his fingers and the side of his face. They too kept a solemn vigil around his body.
April went into shock upon hearing the news. The doctors felt a presence; such as Commander Yalor would be very beneficial considering his "Earthie Ways." Commander Yalor still hadn’t return from the engagement with the enemy. A nurse who was aware of Commander Kelp’s cousin Pecku’s visit and knew of his special ways with Earthies suggested the boy. Pechu was contacted and agreed. He came to Medical Center to see if he could help.
April, somewhat conscious was till greatly grieving. And she was pale and gaunt. Placing the side of a finger against April’s face, Pechu remained silent as he concentrated on her. April began to cry. Pechu sensed she needed this release more than just words. He too was moved--- feeling and understanding the situation.
Grasping Pechu’s finger with both hands, April sobbed, "I-I-I can’t bear the thought he’s-he’s-gone. My beautiful, giant hearted love. He wa-wa-was my world. Everything to me." Tears began to form in Pechu’s eyes. There was no easy way to relieve the intense suffering April was experiencing.
After a few minutes of silence, April looked up at Pechu and asked in a highly anxious voice, "He didn’t suffer? Did he? DID HE!?"
An Earthie nurse came up and explained to April, "No, he didn’t suffer. And I’m telling you what eyewitnesses had told us."
"I’m glad." April next started to have a hard time swallowing and began choking. The nurse quickly gave her an injection to sedate her again. Pechu gently lifted April up in his hands and placed her against his check.
Even under sedation, April began to become conscious. Pechu very gently as he kept her next to his cheek, told her, "Mandil’s last word was April---you. His love was so great for you that at the moment of his going on, you were lone on his soul. He will be with you April always. I know right now its hard to understand." The peace emanating from Pechu gave some solace to April.
Mandil’s body when brought back to the Academy was laid in the Cadet Recreational Room. That evening a special wake was planned as in Betheran tradition.
After the pilots had returned, they had a quick dinner. They after met in the recreational Room where Cadet Mandil’s body had been prepared. Commander Yalor closed his eyes for a moment and whispered a few words to himself. Pre-combative cadets were already in vigil around Mandil’s body including his close friend Dabaku, Jifi, Ujim and Lumit. Pilot Companion Vic was kneeling in prayer.
The Academy Officials with the officials of Bale brought in several dozen Earthies from the damaged city.
When all had gathered, the Betheran teen giants stood up and placing a hand on each others shoulders began to move slowly in a circle around the body as they chanted Betheran songs for the dead.
Commander Yalor was the first to come out of the circle to speak over Cadet Mandil. Placing his hands gently on his fallen comrade’s shoulders, "I sad in a deep way never felt before. You so young. Me know many men who live many times your age, will never be the fraction of the man you were in such a brief of time. Go peace. Now many, lives live and will produce lives cause you bravery." Yalor stepped back into the circle.
Cadet Dabaku stepped out and bent over the body of his friend. "I can’t find the words I feel for you. There is so much to honor you with. I will miss you buddy." For a moment, Dabaku looked down at the Earthies that had gathered near the body and glared angrily at them. He softened his face as he returned his gaze to Mandil and returned to the circle.
Commander Florn stepped up to the body. She went and kissed Mandil’s forehead. "Always sad when a comrade leaves us. You had not yet flown into battle but will shine as one of our great heroes I think. You thought of nothing of putting your life on the line for many. Your heart shines brightly now in creation. Please send rays of that love into mine."
The room suddenly became silent when a Betheran Nurse, followed by Pechu brought in a mildly sedated April. The nurse placed April next to Mandil’s hand. Yalor closed his eyes once more; whispering silent words that only his heart could decipher.
April on unsteady legs walked up to Mandil’s thumb. She sat down next to it. Placing a hand on the thumb she leaned her head up against it. Looking toward all the sympathetic faces April shouted, "Why stop! Go on!" Rubbing the side of his thumb with her hands and in a softer voice, "He deserves your praise."
Present at the wake was Chief of Cadet Training Florx. "To repeat part of Commander Florns words, it is always sad when we say goodbye to a comrade. I especially feel the sorrow. Twice Cadet Mandil risked his life and used his advantages---namely size to protect those at a disadvantage. As Yalor pointed out to us, because of this brave man many lives were spared and many new lives will be brought into the world because of him." Taking a gold box out of his dress Academy jacket, Chief Florx removed from the box, a medal. Pinning it on Cadet Mandil’s vest, "I give posthumously the medal: "Protector of Bethera." Chief Florx saluted (everyone in the room saluted) and kissed both Cadet Mandil’s cheeks. Turning and looking down at April, "Please, if there is anything I can do, never hesitate to ask me." April nodded.
Other pilots stepped out giving their thoughts on Cadet Mandil. Many Eathies stepped forward. One of the guests was the mother of the two children Mandil had saved. Going up to April, "Your brave man saved me and my two children. Because of him they have a future. I will make sure they will never forget the name of Cadet Mandil." She placed an arm around April and gave her a kiss.
Many more Earthies stepped forward and gave their thoughts. After, several groups of women threw tiny rose pedals onto Mandil‘s body. And the Bale Youth Choir sang songs of valor.
When all had spoken Cadet Dabaku stepping out of the circle took a bottle and began pouring drinks. Smaller version of the Betheran drink was given among the Earthies. The female pilots taking their funeral scarf’s lifted them over their heads and began chanting lively tunes. Dabaku began telling amusing stories about Mandil.
Once the drink was finished, the Betheran teens back into a circle and holding each others hands, lifted them up and began dancing and singing songs of life and friends. The room rocked with laughter and joy. Chief Florx clapping his hands began singing ancient songs of bravery he had been taught by his grandparents. Clapping his hands even more vigorously, Chief Florx moved within the dancing circle and around Cadet Mandil’s body. "Yaw-yaw-yaw," he chanted.
Slowly the celebration eased. An Earthie went up to April who had become very still. Turning around he shouted, "We need a doctor here!"
Many pilots and Pilot Companions waited on news about April in Medical Center. Everyone became alert when a Betheran doctor came out to speak to them. "I’m sorry. I’m afraid April was dead on arrival."
Pilot Companion Ted asked, "What was the cause doctor?"
"It was her heart. It just couldn’t stand the strain." The doctor added. "In a way it was a mercy. I think had April lived, her life without Cadet Mandil would have been a living hell for her. Again, I’m sorry."
Everyone was just devastated. Cadet Ujim asked Mandil’s Companion Vic to stay with them.
Commander Yalor went back to the Cadet Recreational Room. Standing over the body, he thought, "I know death in life. Especially in life soldier. You saved many lives. Now gone. And April close to you gone. I can’t figure. I should. I can’t. Please help me Mandil who has gone on to home. Please too April be you. She was close to your being. So very close." Coming into the room was Pechu. "Young one, long day you need rest. We all do."
"I can’t. I wish I could have done more to help April." Emotions began building in Pechu. "I know she suffered and I couldn’t help her." Pechu began crying.
Yalor went and hugged Pechu. "I know me sad too. Wish could have done something." Wiping Pechu’s tears away with his fingers, "You good man me know. You have much in your future you peace bring many. Go sleep with words of Cadet Mandil’s goodness. And April’s love."
"I’ll try Yalor," replied Pechu wiping his nose with a finger.
Two days later was the funeral. Dietician April was buried with Cadet Mandil. She was placed on his chest and covered by his hand. Full Academy honors was given Cadet Mandil.
That night in his bedroom, with hands beneath his head, Yalor thought as his Companion Will sat on his chest. "I always seemed to know answers. Me troubled by Mandil and April. Seems not fair Will."
Placing a hand on the bottom of his commander and friend’s chin, "Maybe we can’t or not meant to know everything. But had Mandil not loved April, maybe he would not have been invited to Bale where he had saved the people."
"You tiny one become the master. Right my friend?"
Will chuckled, "No Yalor, you’re the master. I am always learning from you."
"Thanks my close heart pal. I am troubled still."
"I know Yalor, me too. It does seem so unjust." Seeing the look of tension on his friend’s face, Will going over to the small island of a hand, began rubbing key pressure points to relax Yalor.
"You trying to calm Yalor are you? Never ending true pilot companion."
Will replied, "I’m not acting as pilot companion but as your friend."
In the morning, by himself, with hands deep in his pockets, Yalor went to the Academy Botanical Gardens where Cadet Mandil and April had spent many happy moments.
As he went around the hedge to the grove of flowers, Yalor saw in a glare of light a cadet kneeling down before a group of flowers. The light of the sun was in the wrong direction for there to be a glare. Stepping closer, Yalor’s heart began to quicken and soften. The cadet was that of Mandil. The spectral image placed his hand down. Stepping out from among the beautiful and colorful flowers was the spectral image of April who jumped into Mandil’s hand.
Yalor feeling peace once more enter his heart, spoke to the two spirits. "Me glad you two are together at last." Mandil stood up and turned toward Yalor. Both he and April waved to Yalor as they slowly vanished. Waving back, "Peaceful journey home where you can love each other for eternity."
A couple of days after the funeral, the Academy and especially the cadets tried as best they could; deal with the loss of Cadet Mandil and April. Cadet Dabaku, however, felt the void more intently. Several of the Earthies Dabaku had rescued during the attack on the Academy and who he had become friends with---he stopped seeing. His Pilot Companion Patrick noticed a coldness in him which was surprising since both of them had grown close.
Pechu, after the funeral was asked to stay on a few days to help in the city of Bale. Having visited the city several times before, both Betheran and Earthie officials thought he could give good assistance.
One morning, Cadet Patrick was on Dabaku’s bed as his giant companion was getting into his clothing. All at once, Patrick heard a whooshing sound coming in over him. Looking up, he saw a giant pair of shorts bearing down on him.. Patrick tried on the uneven bedding; outrun the falling bulk of cotton. He was forced down by the weight of the undergarment. With difficulty, Patrick crawled and after a few minutes, out from underneath the dank scented fabric. Stories above, Dabaku’s said dryly, "Sorry, didn’t see you. Ha, you looked like a struggling bug under it." Patrick just brushed it off.
To other Betheran Cadets, Dabaku was short tempered and slightly combative. During lunch, Patrick could feel the tenseness coming from Dabaku. He wondered how he could help his pal. Patrick could see the emotional pain in Dabaku’s eyes. Shouting up, "Oh Dabaku ,I heard from Sheila."
"What does she want," replied Dabaku coldly.
"She just wanted to know how you were doing."
Instead of replying, the giant teen just took a gulp of his nutritional drink.
Pechu in work clothing, helped the Betheran Cadet volunteers who came to help in the clearing of the Earthie city. With a group of frightened citizens in his hands, Pechu calmed their spirits. Once they were in control, he gently placed them on the ground. Pechu looked up as robot construction units started repairing the dome.
In an area of a fallen building that had been cleared by Betheran Warriors; was still a section of the building’s right quarter wall. It creaked and moaned. "We need to get a brace for that," remarked a giant cadet. The cadets were in the process of analyzing the ruins for Earthie life signs with their scanners when they were asked to give immediate aid. The Betheran Cadets quickly left to give assistance.
Four Earthies were trapped underneath the building during the attack. One of the trapped Earthies, a man named Harry, began to feel fresh air pouring down over him. And not far, he saw several slivers of welcome light. Going over to his fellow Earthies, Harry gently slapped or jiggled them awake. One woman ask, "What?"
With a smile on his face, "I think we’re saved. Come on." Revitalized by the air and the prospect of rescue, the four Earthies headed for the light. Slowly, they began removing debris they could handle in order to create an opening from which to escape through.
Pechu moved his way slowly through the devastation. Areas where Earthies had been removed had glowing green markers.
From out of the darkness of their twisted carnage, the four Earthies began to emerge. Harry outside of the hole gave assistance. The last was emerging when the remaining wall of the building began to make a loud, ear piecing shriek. Looking up, Harry saw to his distress, the remaining wall twisting into a macabre dance of death as it began to fall towards him and the others. He gave out a cry of abject frustration. Everyone closed their eyes.
The noise stopped. For several minutes the four Earthies just remained still waiting for the end. When a longer amount of time had passed than expected, Harry looked up toward the wall fragment. In its center was an open hand. Harry turned following the hand that was attached to a long giant arm. When he came to the gray shirted chest, Harry moved his bloodshot eyes upward. The tired, youthful face of Pechu gazed benignly down upon him. "You better move quickly. Its kind of heavy," instructed Pechu. Harry gave out a nervous laugh and nodded his head. Gathering his friends, they hurried on to safer land. Pechu let the wall fall.
Wiping his hands off on the sides of his pants, Pechu stood up. He walked over carefully to the four teeny-tiny Earthies. The four, dust covered people looked up at the towering boy. He was now to them, a giant harbinger of life. Pechu’s eyes transmitted to them a peace. A peace that spoke of continued existence. Stooping down, Pechu reached to take them all up in his hand. The four Earthies looked at each other with grateful eyes and smiles as the giant fingers engulfed them. Pechu took the four people to a nearby medical tent.
A bedtime, Companion Patrick wanted to talk with his giant Dabaku. In his night clothing Dabaku stepped near his bed. Down below he saw his tiny companion placing his hard to see hands around his mouth. When he heard Patrick’s high pitch, Earthie squeak, he yawned and drowned out the words. Patrick placed his hands down feeling frustrated.
Patrick was tempted to try and speak again when he saw Dabaku commence to sit down. Falling as he tried to run out from underneath the descending backside, Patrick fell and had to scamper away on hands and knees. Patrick escaped the descending bulk. The huge mass caused a depression in the mattress which had Patrick rolling into the side of Dabaku’s giant hip. Grabbing hold to the thick, light blue flannel material, Patrick pulled himself up. He then kicked the side with his foot yelling, "What is wrong with you!? I know your upset about Mandil." Patrick let his anger subside before going on. "Oh, come on Dabaku. Open up to me. You always had before."
For a movement, Dabaku felt bad at his treatment of Patrick. "Never mind. I just want to sleep." He added. "And I did see you. I wouldn’t have sat on you." Swinging his legs up, Dabaku stretched out on his bed. He next turned over onto his belly and began thinking.
Usually Dabaku would have picked Patrick up and placed him in his bed cubical. Patrick now had to walk next to the full expanse of his buddy’s body over the thick folds of bedding.
When Patrick was nearing Dabaku’s huge hand, his giant pilot moved that hand to scratch his nose. Being next to the side of the bed, Patrick was accidental knocked off by the giant hand. As he was falling, Patrick was able to grab hold to a part of the blanket that hung over the cliff like side of the bed. Holding on with only one hand, Patrick swung his body around so he could grab hold with the other. However, he lost his grip and fell rest of the way to the floor. Patrick heard a sickening snap. Opening his eyes, he slowly with a sore body tried to stand up. Feeling a burning pain in his right leg he fell, Patrick down again. Patrick had broken a leg. With the side of his face against the cold floor, he mumbled, "Dabaku look for me." Patrick fainted.
Dabaku unaware what had happened fell asleep.
In the morning, Dabaku raised his head, he noticed Patrick wasn’t in the sleeping cubicle. He checked around his pillow. Dabaku carefully lifted up the folds to his blanket and top sheet. "Patrick?" questioned Dabaku as he turned around under his sheets surveying the top of his bed with his eyes and hands. Removing his covers, Dabaku moved around on his bed and placed his feet on the floor. His fellow room mate turned on a light. Dabaku was about to stand up when he noticed something small next to his left foot. For a moment it took him a moment with a still groggy mind to comprehend what he was staring at. "Oh no," said Dabaku with alarm.
HI fellow cadet replied, "What’s up?"
Dabaku didn’t answer. He stood up and moving behind the frail, tiny form stooped down. "Patrick," said Dabaku gently touching the side of his companion. He felt the beating of the heart and saw movement. His heart began to calm down.
"What happened?" asked Dabaku’s roomate.
"I must have knocked him off my bed by mistake."
"You have been acting pretty weird lately, commented the cadet angrily"
"Yeah, I know. Call medical. I don’t want to move Patrick." A real chill ran through Dabaku when he thought how close his left foot had come down next to Patrick. Any closer, Dabaku chased those thoughts away.
When Betheran and Earthie Medical Team arrived, they placed Cadet Patrick on a special bio-stretcher.
Cadet Dabaku waited in a hallway for several hours. In that time he was questioned by several doctors and a member of the Academy. When a nurse came walking up, Dabaku asked, "Patrick, how is he?"
"Cadet Patrick has a broken right leg and a few fractured ribs."
"He didn’t hurt his head or spine," questioned Dabaku."
"No, we expect full recover," replied the nurse to Dabaku who looked emotionally drawn.
"Can I…does he mind if I come in?"
The nurse smiled, "He asked for you."
Very sheepishly, Dabaku walked into the room. Going over to the table, Dabaku saw to his sadness, Patrick in a bed with his leg in a metal cast mender. "Patrick, I’m sorry. I really didn’t know I had knocked you off. And I know…Is there away we can be friends again?"
"Again? Dabaku, I’m your companion and friend. It takes more than a cold shoulder and brush off to get rid of me. Though, I did have a few choice words for you when I woke up."
Dabaku smiled slightly, "I bet. And about the cold shoulder. It wasn’t you. I mean, it was and wasn’t. I was mad at everybody."
"I figured that."
"Patrick what can I do to make this up to you?"
"You don’t have to do anything."
"Patrick, I think I do. I don’t know if I can go on in training if I can’t find away." Dabaku sat in a chair and slapped his forehead with his hand, "I was so unmanly the way I was acting. And you hurt because of it."
Shouting over, Patrick asked, "You didn’t brush me off the bed on purpose right?"
"NO! It was by accident."
"Then forget it Dabaku."
"I can’t Patrick." Dabaku suddenly became aware of a hand on his shoulder. In front of him he saw a shadow that broke up into eight spikes. "Commander Yalor?" said Dabaku turning around in his chair.
"Your companion will mend nicely. He strong his heart does not need mending. You lucky man."
"I know I am. And…I wish I could make up for my treatment."
"Dabaku, please I don’t need…" said Patrick who was motioned by Yalor to stop in mid- sentence.
"How you join me in sport of Pangko."
Dabaku scratched the back of his neck, "I don’t know Commander Yalor what kind of partner I would be. You’re the master."
"You still want try? I as officer wish it."
Yalor nodded his head. Going over to Patrick, he placed a hand over Patrick that dulled the pain. "I sense you mend very well. You top for pilot companion." Whispering, "Dabaku’s heart sorry to you. Still needs to clear. Must for him to move. He yours once more. He can’t your forgiveness since he can’t him."
"Thanks Commander Yalor."
In the changing room of the Sparing Gym, Yalor put on a sleeveless, black lined, burgundy colored tunic. He took out of a brown leather pouch a white head band that had the colors of his rank and family line---wrapping it around his forehead.
He handed Dabaku a white fighters strap. "I always feel half naked wearing these athletic straps," commented Dabaku.
"They bind and give freedom one needs in fighting."
Once out on the large blue mats they took fighting positions. "Commander Yalor"
"Call me Yalor during fight Dabaku."
"Yalor, you brought me here not just to spar with you."
Jumping up, Yalor somersaulted over Dabaku, coming down behind and lifting a foot knocked the cadet to the floor. "You think right Dabaku. Why Earthies you hate."
Holding his left side, Dabaku stood up and giving Yalor a jab in the stomach ."I don’t hate Earthies. I saved many remember."
Taking the Dabaku’s hand spun him around and over his shoulder, "I know but you changed. You blame them for Mandil’s death me think."
Dabaku’s face turned red, "Not true!" replied Dabaku trying to kick Yalor to the floor. "Not logical."
"Me know not logical. The enemy responsible for Mandil’s death not Earthies." Yalor grabbed Dabaku and threw him to the floor.
Jumping back to his feet, Dabaku sent a couple of quick jabs to Yalor’s chest. "I know they are."
"No you blame them. Or use them cover pain you flee from."
"I don’t flee from anything Yalor. I’m a Betheran Warrior." Dabaku jumped and made an impressive summersault over Yalor coming down behind him.
Quickly turning and putting his arms up in a defensive mode, "You do flee and it will follow you. Enemy killed Mandil. Mandil with brave heart saved defenseless people you hate."
Ramming Yalor with his head, Dabakou asked, "How can you say that?"
"Your love of Earthies smeared by grief." Yalor spun and wrapped his arms tightly around Dabaku’s neck.
"I couldn’t make the enemy pay for Mandil’s death, so I hated the ones he saved because of the enemy." Dabaku slowly fell to his knees. "Mandil was my close pal. A real brother. I miss him. It seems so unfair."
"Life unfair at times. Me now tell you truth. Truth not silly sentiments from heart. Your love very powerful. Love of heart nothing more powerful. Heart can if love turns inward destroy one and those we love around us. Mandil still with you. He here now. Face pain so he can be help on life. Your Earthie pals help on path. Bring them to you once more."
With clenched teeth, Dabaku replied, "You think I don’t know that." Dabaku jumped back up and sent a hard blow to Yalor’s right pectoral muscle. It was for Dabaku like hitting steal. Yalor just looked serenely on. "What are your muscles made of?" said Dabaku starting to chuckle.
Knocking Dabaku to the ground with a quick jab, Yalor replied, "Practice and knowing their a member of my body if I let them can protect me. So are your fellow pilots and tiny Earthies who are your shields."
Catching his breath, Dabaku nodded his head. "I just missed Mandil so much and that’s all I saw. And my pain."
"You seeing again Dabaku. "
"You’re a good man Cadet Dabaku," spoke a tiny Earthie voice.
Looking around, Dabaku tried see where the voice came from. "Will my tiny pal happy too for you," said Yalor.
Looking up at the top of Yalor’s head, he saw the tiny form of Will peeking around one Yalor’s columns of hair. "He was in your hair the entire time?" asked Dabaku with surprise in his voice
"Of course. We pals together. We synch together. Me strength knowing pal fight with me. I strong and feel strength Will‘s friendship give me Yalor substance."
Dabaku couldn’t help laughing as he shook his head. He than gave Yalor a sincere bow.
In Medical Center, Patrick upon seeing Dabaku entering the room, "What happened to you?"
"Just sparing with Commander Yalor."
"Your face is all black and blue and swollen. Want me to call a nurse?"
"No, I’m ok Patrick. I’m sorry for everything. Instead of facing my loss, I wanted to take it out on others. Can you forgive me?"
"You big Nushii (betheran word meaning: thick headed dope) there’s nothing to forgive. I was and am your friend."
"I still wish there was something I could do."
Patrick signaled for Dabaku to bring his face in closer. When the giant face was in range, Patrick took a hard jab with his fist and punched one of the boulder size swollen bruises. "OUCH!!" Dabaku roared.
"There my giant pal. Now do you feel the score is settled?"
Dabaku rubbed the wound and replied, "Yes, I do. And pretty good jab." He placed his small finger very carefully around Patrick’s chest. Any pain Patrick felt was nothing compared to the giant joy he felt at the peace Dabaku once more possessed.
No one saw it, a vague outline of Mandil appeared behind Dabaku with his hands on his friend’s shoulders.
Cadet Dabaku went to the burial ground of the Betheran Warriors. He knelt down at the recently dug grave. With a slight rise of emotion, Dabaku gazed at marker that had the name of Cadet Mandil and April inscribed on it. Dabaku patted the cool soil with his hand. "I can’t say it still doesn’t hurt." Dabaku went silent for a moment "As long as your at peace with April that’s all that really matters. Still, life doesn’t seem the same. I do ask you to think of me and all the other pilots and pilot companions." Dabaku continued, "Companion Patrick is really a great pal. I took my frustrations out on him. And by accident knocked him off my bed causing him to break his arm. But he forgave me. And I am glad and honored he did."
Silently, kneeling at the grave site, Dabaku became aware of a humming sound behind him. Turning around, he saw an Earthie hover disc with several people on it. "Sheila and Shinji!" said Dabaku with joy and excitement in his voice. Excitement that created a strong wind for a moment that gushed over the tiny Earthies. "I was going to contact you after I left here. I owe you an explanation for my behavior."
"No you don’t Dabaku," responded Sheila, and Shinji who nodded his head. "We didn’t mean to disturb you but we wanted to see you."
"Thanks. I’m glad you’re here."
Shinji asked, "Where’s Patrick?"
"He’s in Launch standby bay, checking out his insertion capsule. Poor guy. I was rough on him."
"You two are fine? I mean, I know you had been close," questioned Sheila.
"We still are."
Placing his hand before the hover disc, Dabaku told his miniature friends, "Can I have the honor of carrying my pals once again on my person?" Sheila and Shinji eagerly and joyfully jumped into his giant teen hand. The hover operator saluted Cadet Dabaku and whooshed his transport disc away.
In Bale, which was a buzz with reconstruction, Pechu was preparing to leave. First, he went to the manmade mountain and placing his backpack down, he stretched out on part of the mountain’s side to take a nap. When he awoke, he found a large group had formed around him. Many of his age. Chuckling from the sight of the Earthies who had climbed up on to the tops of his shoes and legs asked, "What are you doing?"
"One teenage girl told him, "We’re sorry to see you go. We wish you could stay here all the time." All the voices erupted in overall agreement.
"I wish I could. I do have school to go back to and classes to make up."
Several other Earthies shouted, "Maybe you could take us with you?"
"Maybe sometime I can have you come out for a visit," replied Pechu.
Three young Earthies from the orphanage who had met with Pechu several times made a decision---they would stowaway in his back pack. Hiding among the thick folds to the dark blue backpack, the three boys pushed themselves through an opening in the zipper.
After the Earthies had climbed off his shoes and legs, Pechu instructed them to gather together. Sitting up and kneeling before the crowd, Pechu ran his hands gently over all the Earthies heads. They all felt the peace of Pechu.
A Betheran Warrior came, "Time to go Pechu." The lad stood up and created an awe inspiring shadow over the youthful Earthies. Pechu gave them a serene smile and a wave. He picked up his backpack and went over to the Betheran Warrior who had a couple of his Earthie pals in his vest pocket. As the two towering titans walked to the exit, many people came running up and jumping near the massive moving shoes.
"They love you very much," remarked the warrior.
"I guess," replied Pechu bashfully.
Just before leaving the dome, Pechu looked back and made a sniffling sound. Putting his arm around Pechu the warrior said, "You’ll be back. And the next time will be under happier circumstances."
At the academy, Jifi, Ujim and Lumit and their companions were looking forward to the upcoming graduation. In their dorm room, the six Betheran Warriors were relaxing. Jifi was doing arm exercises as Cyril took rides on his biceps. "I’m doing all the work and your just enjoying the ride," said Jifi good-humouredly. Cyril chuckled.
Ujim and Steve were deep in conversation. And Lumit and Bryan were going over their fighter’s systems.
Cadets Nekou and Chris went to the gym for the first time since their implants and the recent engagement with the enemy. Speaking from Nekou’s vest pocket, Chris squeaked, "How’s the implant headaches? Are they lessening?"
"Last night was the first sleep I had without one occurring. And thanks for those scalp rubs. I don’t think I could have come through as well as I did without them."
"That’s what I’m here for---buddy. Though, was weird at first crawling around on your giant scalp. Oh, almost forget to tell you. The infection you had around the implant has cleared nicely," replied Chris.
"Yeah, boy I’m really looking forward in working out again. My body feels so weak," commented Nekou.
"Nekou, remember what we spoke about last night," said Chris with a touch of sternness in his voice.
"Ok, I’ll try and not over do it."
Chris holding on to the lip of the pocket with his hands smiled to himself. He was very impressed and humbled by Nekou’s earnest reply. Even though they are friends. Still,Chris knew he was so very small in comparison that it must or could seem comical to Nekou a teeny Earthie saying what he should or should not do. Chris’s face went serious. "I’m his pilot companion its my job to see everything works to his advantage. In our engagements with the enemy its my duty to make sure we are successful and create high odds for his return back to Bethera. And as his friend, that life is precious."
Nekou with wide and clear eyes looked down at the tiny person in his pocket that is looking out for him. Sometimes, Nekou found the impulse not to listen or to see him as a cute kind of thing. Nekou as he thought about it, his face went serious, "Once we are out on missions, I know if I want to come back I have to take him seriously. And as his friend, I want us to return back again." .
Once in the gym, both Chris and Nekou changed into their gym clothing. Nekou placed his tiny fragile companion down on the Earthie Lap Track. Nekou always remembers true toughness when he sees the frail looking Chris with his false legs who had beat the odds with slight tenaciousness of will.
Chris looking up at the muscular Nekou always is reminded of humanity with this huge slight jock of a pilot. With all that size and strength there is such a good and gentle person. In his struggle to beat the odds and prove himself, Chris sometimes in the past found himself cutting himself off to simple basic emotions such as: taking pleasure in another.
Nekou stood up and thundered off to the other giant pilots. Chris began his laps.
Pechu was flown back to his school by Academy Transport. On his lap was his backpack. And little did Pechu know of the tiny people who had stowed away in it. He did however, as his hands lay on top of it had this feeling of Earthies. Pechu thought he was picking up the Earthies who were with several of the Betheran repair people.
Nekou after doing a few simple weight lifting, met up with a fellow pilot he sometimes had wrestled matches with. He did look over across the fitness room and saw his companion running the course. Several other Earthies were close buy him. Every time Nekou saw other runners get too close, he felt like taking his hand and pushing them away from Chris. Nekou shook his head as he thought, "I’m as bad as an over protective parent. Show them how its done Chris."
One Earthie tripped and fell into Chris causing him to fall. Nekou squinted his eyes, he wanted to make sure Chris was ok. Seeing Chris get quickly back up, he felt relieved. He turned back to his wrestling mate.
When Chris was done with his laps, he dried off with a towel and had a bottle of water. Glancing over at the other end of the fitness room, he saw Nekou in a heated wrestling match with another pilot. "Come on Nekou, its still to early," thought Chris with irritation.
Chris began to run over to his overly high-spirited pal. Chris who was worried about his friend forgot he was running into the path of giant feet. "Hey, watch were you going," spoke one pilot as he saw Chris zoom past his foot. Another instance, Chris jumped up and over an oncoming foot. And another time; in-between two colossal white socked feet.
The floor thundered beneath him as he neared the two battling man mountains. Chris was beginning to wonder if this was such a good idea especially when a giant leg came swooping toward him. He tried to out run the huge leg that cam bearing down upon him. As the wall of flesh was just about on top of him, Chris turned and as the leg pushed into him grabbed hold to several leg hairs. When the gigantic leg of Nekou’s opponent stopped moving, Chris jumped down and ran toward the house size head of Nekou.
Chris crossed his arms. Nekou when he turned his head that way, and saw his tiny companion stopped. "Ah, hi Chris-ah…" Nekou stopped, rolled his eyes and told his opponent he had to go.
Chris thought, "I don’t want to embarrass Nekou." He then shouted, "I’m having a leg spasm could you help me?"
"You bet I can," replied Nekou.
"Aren’t their Earthie Assistants that could have helped you?" asked Nekou’s wrestling partner.
Chris replied, "I only trust Nekou."
"Another time then," said Nekou’s partner who slapped his buddy on the back sending buckets of sweat down upon Chris.
Picking Chris up, Nekou took him to the changing room. "Sorry Nekou, I didn’t mean to spoil your game. I really hated to think of you getting those headaches again. Just doing my duty I guess."
"Ha, I know. Actually you made me look pretty good in front of my partner. Your right though, I was over doing it again."
Pechu, once at school went to his room. He placed his backpack on a table. Pechu unzipped it. As he was about to remove his stuff, he blinked his eyes a few times when he saw the three Earthies in his backpack sitting on a shirt waving up at him.
Commander Yalor and companion Will were down in Launch Ready Bay. Will was on the surface of the preparation computer consol. Yalor with hands behind his back was looking up at his fighter. "The time is drawing near Will. I can sense it." Turning around and looking down at his companion and friend, "My calculations concur with yours?"
"Good we can peace knowing future be. I ask you cause do I have right to include you. Its your life too."
"Yalor, for one, you need an Earthie to interface with the ship. Secondly, I’m your companion. And thirdly, I’m your brother. I could not even fathom the prospect of continuing on here without you. Could you really leave me?"
Placing his small finger around his companion, "No, we are souls twined. Me proud and could not be blessed by the Great Spirit of Light more."
"Yeah, me too Yalor." Will ran a hand over the thick skin to Yalor’s finger. "Had any friend in the universe had such as you?" Full of feeling and laying his head down on the finger, "I would follow you into a Super Nova." Will chuckled, "In a way that’s what we will be doing."
Placing a finger on the side of his friend‘s face, "Power is the sacredness of friendship. I last night sent personal close family items to Pechu. He strong Earthie ways. I want him who strong to have them."
Pechu looked down into his backpack. "What are you guys doing in there?"
One boy with light brown hair shouted up, "We wanted to be with you. Your like our brother."
"Yeah, your family to us. Please let us stay with you," pleaded another boy.
The third nodded his head.
Pechu gave out a frustrated smile, "I---trust me, I wouldn’t have left you if there was any danger still there. And I do consider you family." Pechu reached in and gathered up the three Earthies.
Coming into the room at that moment was Pechu’s roommate Optra. "Hi! I heard you just came back" Optra‘s keen eyes went to Pechu‘s cupped hands. "What you have there Pechu?"
In the main Cafeteria, Ted was looking at his newly acquired leg brace. "I hate to have to wear this Kelp."
"Its for your advantage. You need it to make up for the nerve damage in your legs," replied Kelp plainly.
Coming up to their table was Commander Florn and Companion Sally. Florn placed Sally down next to a giant fork. Kelp giving Florn a nod both went over to get their breakfast. Ted looked on as Kelp walked away. Turning his eyes studied the form of Sally who was bathed in the light being reflected off the fork. Slowly Sally moved towards him.
"Hi," said Ted.
Sally, who usually comes out with the wise cracks was serious, "You bear the marks of a true brave Betheran Warrior."
"No braver than anyone else."
Sally placed a hand on Ted’s chest, "Did I ever tell you I think you’re the sexiest companion around."
Trying to smile, Ted replied, "No, but I knew you thought it." Sally gave him a pinch in the arm.
"Sally, in here, in the Academy, there are thoughts we cannot afford to have." For a moment they just remained quiet. "Still." Ted moved in closer and the two kissed.
"Ted," whispered Sally. "I secretly worry each time you go out on a mission now. I see the price you pay."
"I don’t ( giving sally a kiss) want you to worry. I after all I’m a pilot companion. Kelp’s Companion as long as I can carry out the missions. That’s what I shall be. Nonetheless Sally, you are the one that fills my heart."
"I have always known you were first and foremost a Pilot Companion. As I am. Its that love that joins you and I and all of us together. Ted, just hold me tight."
"Earthies! Can I have one Pechu," asked Optra as his face loomed right over the three miniature boys in his roommate’s hand..
"Optra, their people. And my friends."
Not really listening, "Can I hold one Pechu, please-please."
"Ask one of them."
"Hi I’m Optra, I never seen you Earthies before. I have seen images but you are first live ones. Can I hold one of you? I want hurt you."
Pechu’s three tiny friends looked up at him. "He doesn’t really understand. Optra is ok. He won’t hurt you."
One boy with wavy black hair squeaked, "I guess you can pick me up."
"Thanks Terry," said Pechu.
Optra wiggled his fingers with lively joy. Andy’s two pals backed away as the tree size fingers descended down toward Terry. Optra picked Terry up between his thumb and forefinger. Bringing the Earthie close to his face, Optra scrutinized the tiny person. "Wow, they are so small and delicate looking. I have stepped on bugs bigger than this Earthie named Terry."
"Optra!" snapped Pechu with irritation in his voice.
"Sorry, I didn’t mean you’re a bug or anything."
"Its ok Optra," said Terry.
"He spoke to me Pechu! Did you hear that?"
"I heard. Ah, why don’t you place him in your hand Terry would be more comfortable." Optra slowly placed Terry down in his hand.
"Pechu what about their parents?"
"They have no parents."
Optra‘s eyes lit up. "Maybe then, we can keep them and look after them. Kind of like big brothers." Both Pechu and Terry smiled. Turning to Pechu to see what he thought about his idea, Optra suddenly asked, "What happened to your hair?"
"My hair?" questioned Pechu.
"You have two short twisted spokes near the back of your head."
Commander Yalor and Companion Will did their last minute checks. "We have a seventy percent chance success rate of keeping the force field activated over the base once we launch."
"Good, me want to spare the others. If they launch they will be caught up in blast."
An elevator just arrived in Launch Standby Bay and stepping out was Cadets Jifi and Cyril. "Me asked them to come. Did not tell them plan. Wanted to speak to them," said Yalor to Will.
"Morning Commander Yalor and Companion Will," spoke Jifi.
"Yeah Morning," waved Cyril from Jifi’s hand.
"Glad you two came. I just wanted to tell you how pleased in progress you both made as Warriors and friends. From beginning you both had a special path together. And one I see becoming even stronger."
Looking down at Cyril and back up again at Yalor, Jifi replied, "I guess we do. And I’m honored Commander you think so highly of the two of us."
Cyril added, "I agree. Your praise holds much weight with us."
Yalor nodded. "As with Will and me. You both to have linked together strongly. Always cherish this."
"Commander Yalor, is there something we need to know?" Asked Cyril.
"Companion Cyril," said Pilot Companion Will. "Yalor just wanted to express how we both feel."
Commander Yalor closed his eyes for a moment. Reopening them he told Jifi and Cyril, "This is what I wanted to say. You both may go. Will and I have work to perform."
Feeling a bit confused, Jifi replied, "Ah sure. We will see you later."
After the two cadets disappeared into the elevator, Yalor told Will, "The time has come. Our time dear Will"
"I reprogrammed security code. We will be able keep Launch Bay sealed for several minutes. Long enough to be ready for launch," said Will.
Commander Yalor and Will entered their craft..
Pechu was explaining both to Optra and his Earthie pals about returning to the city when he stopped and said, "Yalor."
In Main Mission warning lights began to flash. "We have---impossible!" exclaimed a space tracker.
"Just calm down, What do you track?" asked the officer on duty.
"Sir, I track over one thousand enemy targets heading for Bethera."
The entire academy went into high alert. Meanwhile, Commander Yalor’s craft was moving into Launch Direct Bay.
In Main Mission the tense situation was made tougher and graver by the failure of the crews able to enter Launch Standby. All resources went into solving the problem. Chief of Cadet Training Florx was on the scene.
The great propulsion motors began to hum aboard the fighter. "Companion we in four point one, enter into our destiny."
"I green that Commander. And Yalor, I haven’t felt more prouder and closer to you than I feel now."
The great robotic ship launched.
Main Mission tracked the launching and signaled the quickly accelerating ship. Speaking directly to Yalor‘s ship---Chief Florx demanded answers. "Yalor, what are you doing!?!"
"Sorry for deception only way. One needed to stop enemy."
"Yalor, your ship is one against thousands. Please send access code override."
Will’s override code to the Launch Standby Bay was broken. All pilots ran to their crafts. The force field still remained active---preventing launch.
Commander Kelp asked Main Mission to be channeled to Yalor’s ship. "Yalor. What are you doing? You have left Bethera defenseless."
"No, we are Bethera’s only option. Will and I have programmed destruct to main power cell. The explosion will react with the energy flux field generated by the increase frequencies of the many number of enemy. A chain event will occur. That is why I have prevented the launchings."
"Yalor, no other way?" asked a distraught Kelp.
"Only other option is for all to see it differently."
Everyone looked at each other. "Yalor, I don’t understand."
"We are not static. Creation is not static. It is fluid. We are fluid. That is the beauty of creation."
Kelp just stood there---silent.
"Yalor," spoke Will solemnly. "Destruct point nine."
All personnel in Main Mission watched the signal from Yalor’s ship converge on the mass of targets. The signal disappeared.
In the sky of Bethera, a second sun blazed.
Kelp fell to his knees. "What was Yalor talking about. Someone tell me! How can we change what just happened?" All the pilots and companions stared off in thought.
Grand Finale: That Starts.
The Academy hosted a grand celebration. The enemy targets had all but disappeared. In the Great Hall a banquet was served. Companion Ted in Commander Kelp’s hand was talking when he turned and saw Cadet Mandil fooling with April. "Hey Kelp, look at Mandil and April." Looking in their direction, Kelp saw April kissing the tip to Mandil’s nose. "What do you think, they’ll become one?" asked Ted.
"I don’t know. Speaking of which…," replied Kelp pointing down to the table. A smile appeared on Ted’s face when he saw Companion Sally. Kelp lowered his hand down.
Jumping off the hand Ted ran up to Sally. The two embraced.
Pechu was about to get himself desert when he felt a hand going over the back of his head. "Commander Yalor!" shouted Pechu with joy as he hugged him.
"Pechu’s hair becoming like Yalor’s You strong in Earthies ways. Me so very proud of young one.
"Hey Pechu!" shouted Companion Will waving from the top of Yalor’s head.
Another Earthie voice squeaked. And this voice came from the top of Pechu’s head. "I have heard all about you Commander Yalor. Now I can see you in person."
"Commander Yalor and Will like you to meet my special Earthie friend Terry."
Stepping out from behind one of Pechu’s brown cones of hair was his pal Terry. "So cool to meet you all!"
Jifi, Ujim and Lumit were playing a board game using their companions and pals as pieces. Coming over to the table was Cadet Dabaku and his companion Patrick. "Whose winning? Asked Dabaku who removed several of his other Earthie pals from the pocket to his shorts and placed them on the table.
From the game board Companion Steve answered, "Ujim and I"
"I don’t know looks like Companion Bryan is catching up to you Steve," commented Cadet Nekou who just joined the group. "I think my Companion Chris could beat the lot of you," said Nekou proudly as he gazed down at Chris who was in his vest pocket.
Mandil sent a gentle finger down upon his tiny love April. Extending her arm, April reached out to touch the great tip of the finger. As she reached, April began to float up. "Oh Mandil," said April gently laughing. Mandil made a goofy grin. As April hovered across from her giant loves, big beautiful eyes, she glided both her hands back and forth over his eyelashes. "So fine and soft like silk." Mandil closed and open his eyes several times brushing April with his lashes. April cooed.
Laughter and the voices of friends filled the air at the Academy.