The Twilight Galaxy Motel

                                            By 

                                         Arthur 

 CHAPTER 2


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Journal of Thomas Kilroy:

"All of the information I had been given only assured more confusion, the
more I learnt the more I had to know, it was worse than exam time at
school, our new friend Stilta waited patiently for me to get my thoughts in
some sort of order, there was so much yet to learn and so many questions
un-asked, my friends also stood around and waited, only Marco was his usual
jittery self, never quite knowing if he should stand still or run around."

"Stilta?"

"Yes, Mirl Thomas."

"How are we going to learn everything, there's so much for us to know about
your customs and other things, I'm sure at the moment most of us are trying
to adjust to the fact we don't have any planet or even families any more
but, for us to have to learn all about a new civilisation is not going to
be easy?"

"You need have no fear Mirl Thomas, when you go back into the stasis beds
for the remainder of the travel, the education programs will take over and,
when we get to Khaladasian Prime, you will have all you need to know, for
now though, if I may suggest, perhaps you would like to go and look over
the games room, after all, you have five earth days too fill before the
last leg to your new home."

"I looked around and saw that most of the others in the huge reception hall
were also starting to wander away, some on their own and others in small
groups with one of the Khaladasian youngsters with them, we, as a group,
set off after Stilta, he seemed to be able to move through the large crowd
of boys with consummate easy. As we moved into a long corridor I noticed
the belt at my waist begin too pulse, as it did, on the walls close to my
side, a blue spot appeared and seemed to move along at the same pace,
Stilta saw me looking at it."

"Mirl Thomas, that is your indicator, where ever you go on the ship, your
belt contacts the central computer to keep track of where you are so that
you don't become lost, if you need to get back to your accommodations, you
just ask the computer and it will show you the direction to go, if you look
at your friends, you will see that their colours are all different to yours
for easy recognition."

"Thank you Stilta, tell me, how will we know if a Khaladasian is of the
right age for, well you know, to have, uhm, well uhm, sex."

"Oh, that will be plainly evident Mirl Thomas, but, as a youngling I am not
allowed to fully discuss it just yet, I'm sure it will be in your lessons
when you sleep next."

"So why do you call yourself a `youngling'?"

"We continued to walk down the long corridor as he answered."

"There are very few titles or terms of respect in our society, those we use
most often are, for those of us that are not yet mature or in the throws of
puberty, called Younglings, those that have passed puberty and are sexually
active call each other Brother, those who are elders are most usually
called Father, the governing seniors are of course called Elder, there is
only one title above the Elders, it is rarely used and is kept for the most
highest ranked in all the Khaladasian planets."

"Who are they Stilta?"

"I watched as a look of surprise came over the youths face as he stared
around at those passing us."

"Why, you of course Mirl Thomas, the title of Most Revered Loved One, is
the highest honour we have, too us you are the saviours of our race, your
injection of new DNA will let us continue to survive for millennia too
come."

"At this revelation I was almost struck dumb, ok so we now had no home to
go back too, everyone we ever knew was now just a memory, this fact had
still not hit a lot of us, we were so easily side tracked by our new
surroundings but, I was sure that as soon as we sat and started to think
things over, there would not be many dry eyes in our part of the ship. Just
as I tried to get my head around what Stilta had told us, he made a gesture
towards a wide open door from which the sounds of music and laughter were
coming."

"When we entered the large, or should I say enormous, games room, there
were scenes of fun and laughter all around us, the whole place looked like
one huge games mall, there were places for dancing, massive games consoles
even casino games, flashing lights advertised the types of games inside,
nothing was as mundane as we had back on Earth, this was ultra tech, video
games were full emersion games, if you wanted to play a battle game, you
got suited up and entered a holo-deck and became part of the game itself
not just like a spectator as we had been back home. Home! It suddenly
struck me as I thought of that word, we no longer had a home, we were
hundreds of years away, I could feel the first sadness settle in me as the
true realisation began to hit, but as usual, it was the ever bright Marco
that washed away the sudden sadness."

"Come on, you guys, lets go shoot something, I want too see what they have
on the holo-deck."

"Marco well knew we rarely said no too him and so we all followed after his
jumping form as he wriggle his ever so small butt in the oh so tight shorts
that were almost not shorts, his narrow waist with plenty of skin showing,
writhed as he moved, it was like watching some sort of boneless animal
glide over the floor."

"Stilta explained to us that the games available on the holo-deck had a
green light above the entrance, a yellow light meant it was full, as you
could have up to fifty games going on at the same time, there were some
holo-decks not being used, Marco headed for one that promised a jungle
adventure, our ever vigilant Stilta began to explain what we had to do, he
was turning out to be the best guide we could ever ask for."

"When we got inside, we were met by what appeared to be a small and very
young boy, Stilta explained that it was an android and was controlled by
the AI of the computer, it greeted us and asked for our thumb print, next
it led us to a changing room filled with tall lockers, once opened, they
revealed a suit of some sort of plastic, much like an old fashioned suit of
armour but very light, on a hook was a variety of what I assumed were
weapons, as we were going in as a group, we were only allowed to select one
type of weapon each, as we progressed up the level of the game, we could
add others, it was like a very highly upgraded game of Halo VII which had
been the latest game released back on Earth, just before we came here."

"The object of the game was to retrieve something called a Cannelian
Crystal, along the way we would have to battle terrible animals and other
groups trying to get the Crystal as well, also there were some space
travellers that were also enemies, they could pop up anywhere and anytime,
even in the middle of another battle where they would take one side or the
other, so in effect you could be fighting a small group of four and
suddenly find yourself in a battle against many more, it looked as though
it would be an interesting game. Stilta did point out that if we were hit,
we would really feel the sting although our bodies would not actually be
hurt, if we got hit, that part of our suit would no longer work until we
got to a save point, there we could repower our suit, if more than 80% of
the suit got damaged, we were considered dead and out of the game, this now
really looked like fun."

"The suits were truly a marvel, if we had them back on Earth, they would
have made someone very rich, the technology alone was more advanced than
anything we ever had, the suits seemed to adjust to the wearer, you could
feel some of the weight of them but they were essentially, very light, your
selected weapon could be attached to the suit when not in use and while
attached to the suit it would be recharged, if you ran out of charge during
a battle, you would have to put it back on your suit and wait for the
recharge, if you had no other weapon then you were a sitting duck so you
had to watch you firing at all times."

"I looked at Stilta, he had been standing on the side and watching or
explaining things to us, I suddenly realised he had not changed into a suit
and so I asked him why not."

"But Mirl Thomas, I am only a youngling guide, it is not my place to
interfere with your fun, I am here only to help you."

"That's bull shit Stilta, I'm sure the others feel the same way that you
are now part of our group, guys! What do you think, should we have Stilta
join us?"

"There was a resounding `Yes' from all of them."

"There you are Stilta, now you are one of us so get suited up and let's go
get that Crystal thingy."

"For the first time I saw what looked like a tear in Stilta's eye, he
looked at each of us in turn and then reached out and hugged each one of us
before saying."

"I will have to have the approval of Father Ketsika, it is not normally
done."

"No problem Stilta, I'll ask him as soon as we see him next, from now on
you are one of us, get suited and let's go shoot some bad guys."

"Stilta had a smile wider than his young face as he suited up, he still had
a small tear in his eye and it would be some time before I knew why. Once
we were all suited and had selected our weapons as well as talked tactics,
we stepped into the holo-deck room itself, at first sight it was just a
very large bare white room, I looked at Stilta as though in askance, he
turned to one wall and said."

"Computer, start game Cannelian Crystal, group action."

"The room immediately changed into the most realistic jungle I had ever
seen, although it was not like an Earth jungle and most of the trees and
plants were different, the feel and sounds were real enough, even the heat
built up along with the humidity, before us was a narrow dirt track, just
wide enough for one person at a time, Romero was our selected scout/tracker
so he went first, he was carrying a long thin tube with a single handle at
one end,

Stilta had said this was a laser rifle, next came myself and then Marco,
behind him was Stilta and Noah with the twins bringing up the rear as tail
end Charlies."

"Although the room we had entered was large it seemed to grow even larger
as we made our way through the hologram, I also noticed that we seemed to
be a lot lighter on our feet, even with the suits on, after asking Stilta
why, he explained that the holo games were played in only half gravity, it
meant we could jump and leap a lot more in the game, the down side was when
the game finished we would feel the return of full gravity a little more
for a few minutes."

"Í will not go into the details of the game here, needless to say, we
were killed off one by one until only Stilta was left standing, he
explained that he and other younglings often played the games here so had
an advantage over our fist time, instead of continuing on to get the
Crystal, Stilta called the computer to end the game, he said it would not
be right for him to win the game for us, I took this as a sign he preferred
to have us all win together, we still had five days to come back and
complete our quest."

"It seemed that we only lasted about ten minutes in the game, so you can
understand my surprise when we found out we had been battling monsters for
over three hours, no wonder we were tired and ready for some rest, Stilta
led us back to our room, we all sat and asked for a meal, most of us asked
for hamburgers and fries, well what else would you eat after killing
monsters?."

"After we had eaten, Stilta told us he was off duty and would go to his own
room to rest, he would be back the next `day' to take us around
again. After a long hot shower, we all settled back onto the strange beds,
asking the computer to dim the lights, I stared up at the vista of stars
above us, even though we seemed to be standing still, I could see that the
stars were moving past us quite rapidly, we were still moving towards
Khaladasian although at a slower pace than before."

"When we awoke the next `morning', Stilta was waiting for us, he had asked
for a meeting with Father Ketsika so that we could formally ask for him to
be our official guide and friend, we all showered quickly and went to see
the old one, it was a formality that took less than five minutes, at the
end, Stilta was officially named as a Companion of the Most Revered Loved
Ones, unknown to us, this put Stilta's position above many others on the
ship, including most of the crew and officers, no wonder he was so amazed
yesterday when we asked him to be our friend."

"We decided to return to our room to make plans for the day, when we got
there we were surprised to see that only seven beds were there, the other
five had been removed in the short time we had been away, asking Stilta
why, he replied."

"Mirl Thomas, as you have selected myself as your Official Companion, you
are entitled to the privacy of your own room, as your Official Companion, I
have to be here as well so I can fulfil any of your wishes at all times,
therefore the seventh bed."

"I was just now starting to get the full implications of what we had done
but, at the same time, I was glad we had asked him, as he loosened up he
seemed more like us each day, with a loud yell of happiness, we all broke
into laughter at the same time, Stilta started to see the funny side of
what we had done and also threw his head back and laughed with us, as I
glanced up at him, I saw something that, for a brief moment, scared the
hell out of me, for, imbedded in his top palate, in what looked like four
grooves, were four long white fangs, Stilta must have seen the shocked look
on my face, he immediately stopped laughing and went to his knees, his
hands clasped tightly across his middle and his head bowed."

"Mirl Thomas, please forgive me, I meant no disrespect by laughing, it was
not directed at you but more to be a part of you, if I have offended you I
will renounce my Official capacity and send someone else to look after
you."

"It took me a while to realise what he had said, the others were looking at
me as though I had gone insane."

"No Stilta, you had every right to laugh along with us, please, you did
nothing wrong, it's just, well it's those things in your mouth, your
fangs."

"At the mention of fangs, the others looked at me again as though I was
some sort of idiot; I had been the only one in the right position to see
them."

"My fangs? Of yes, those, we all have them, mine are still unusable because
of my age but, when I reach puberty they will start to become effective."

"Stilta seemed totally unfazed by the event as he regained his feet, a
slightly embarrassed look on his face; of course it was Marco that could
not resist saying with a hint of glee in his young voice."

"Fangs, you have fangs, yay guys we have our own Vampire, let me see them,
pleeease?"

"Stilta laughed again and opened his mouth for the others to look at his
hidden fangs, when they had all had a good look, he asked."

"What's a Vampire, do you have them on Earth?"

"Of course this led to a long explanation about Vampires and the myths that
surrounded them, Stilta laughed and told us he was not a blood sucking
monster and then went on to explain the use of his fangs."

"When we are mature, our fangs become useable, the outer pair as you have
seen are shorter, we can use them independently so when we are having sex,
we and our partner extend them and we bite each other, they only just
pierce the skin so don't go very deep, they then inject our partner with a
small amount of endorphins to enhance the feelings we are having. The inner
pair are for battle, while we, among the seventeen planets are at peace and
never fight among ourselves, there are other civilisations that do try to
attack us, the inner pair are part of our close fighting techniques, they
can inject a very virulent poison into an enemy, he dies almost instantly,
we also have other inbuilt weapons such as our claws but I can't show you
those as I am too young yet to have them."

"We all stood and looked at Stilta with awe, this gentle nice polite boy
was a walking arsenal, we were all glad he was on our side, `reminder to
self, don't get on Stilta's bad side' After we had all asked innumerable
questions that I am sure poor Stilta was tired of, we decided to head back
to the games room for the day and try out some of the other games and to
look around some more, we also set a plan for the next day to go and look
at as much of the ship as we could, it was not long before we had the rest
of our days planned until we had to go back to sleep for the rest of the
long voyage."


NARATOR:


While the boys slept after their long day, the Khaladasian Research Cruiser
Beltan V, ambled slowly through space at twenty seven thousand kilometres
an hour, it had been normal for all Khaladasian ships to slow down half way
through their long voyages for the purposes of checking all co-ordinates
and look at the condition of the ship before finalising a voyage.

The full ship check usually took only three days but, due too their very
valuable cargo, they had extended it too a full five days so the boys could
get everything settled in the heads. The Khaladasians had been visiting
Terra for many centuries; they had watched it develop from a backward and
primitive lump of primeval dirt to a relatively modern world and now they
had the last remnants of the destruction of the 21st century, which as
unbelievable as it was for the Khaladasians to try to understand, had been
caused by the very people themselves, it was still a hotly debated topic
around the ship.

It had pleased Father Ketsika greatly when one of the small groups of boys
had asked for one of his own younglings to be their personal guide,
although Ketsika held a high post both on the ship and on their home world
of Khaladasian Prime, the new honour his family had gained by having a
youngling selected as the first Guide, lifted their already high status too
new heights, he only hoped that it would enable their large family to be
selected to have some of the boys live with them on their large estates.

Father Ketsika, had he been a younger man, would have avidly pursued some
of the boys himself, he found them not only extremely exotic but most were
also beautiful in their many differences, unlike Khaladasians whom all
looked very similar and there were only minor differences in each of them
to distinguish one from another, this had been one of the main problems
with their breeding, with the advent of the exotic new blood of these last
Terrans, they would once again , after so many millennium, be able to have
variety on all the worlds.

The ship had stayed around to watch the last moments of Terra, the boys had
been put too sleep in their stasis beds and, over the next two months,
Terra had once again descended into nothing more than a primeval world, the
few humans that had survived had by now reverted to their basic instincts.
Khaladasian would send another research ship some time in the future to see
how it was re-growing, no scientist worth his salt would walk away from a
planet after such a long history, their technology would keep their new
saviours alive for many many years, he only hoped they would find peace in
their new home.

Ketsika had ordered all crew to watch for any sadness in the boys, he was
well aware of what they had lost and the newness of their present situation
would hit them soon, it was then they would have to be at their best, they
could not afford too have even a single one lost, what surprised Ketsika
most was the apparent ability of these Terran boys to adjust to their new
surroundings, while there was surprise by the boys, it did not seem to faze
them too much, he also knew that at some time some of the boys would truly
realise their planet and all they knew and loved, was gone.

Ketsika looked up at the large wall display, it was all the sleeping rooms
of the boys, he could select which ever room he wanted to view, his initial
pride in the boys understanding and acceptance of their situation was
enhanced when he happened to get a glimpse of his youngling's group talking
about something to do with Stilta, he turned up the sound and caught the
last of the conversation, the smallest boy in the group who, Ketsika
thought was probably the most precocious of any of the boys he had seen,
had just called out something about a species called Vampires, Ketsika
would have to look it up in their massive library, it must be one of the
species they had not collected.

What surprised Ketsika even more was the boys attitude to Stilta's fangs,
it was another one of those differences they had not even thought about
before collecting the boys, he wondered what these young Terrans would make
of their other differences when they came to know about them, Ketsika
brushed aside that thought, there would be time for that later, now he had
to read through a mountain of reports about the readiness to proceed to
their home world.

When the boys awoke the next morning, or what they assumed was morning, it
was too see Stilta had a strange swirling mark on his forehead, when asked,
he told them it was to mark his new position as the Official Companion to
them, he explained then what an honour they had done, not only for himself,
but for his whole extended family, of course Marco decided to change the
subject with his usual enthusiasm.

Having decided to turn his suit into the barest of clothing, which meant a
top so small and tight that every piece of him showed along with the
smallest of short shorts that revealed half his tight smooth butt cheeks
and nearly all of his hips apart from the thin strip no wider than two
inches, Marco leapt into the very surprised Stilta's arms, wrapped his bare
legs around the younglings waist and pleaded to see his Fangs again,
everyone, including Stilta could only break out in laughter at Marco's
antics, obligingly, Stilta lifted his head back and opened his mouth wide
for Marco too look inside as he was not old enough to lower them for the
ever lively boy.

Once satisfied, Marco leant in and gave Stilta a light kiss on the cheek
before jumping to the floor laughing as he went to order his breakfast, his
innate curiosity satisfied for the moment, the others followed his example
and sat down to eat while they discussed what and where they would go
today, as they finished their boys breakfast, nothing like what they would
have been made to eat at home, it finally struck them all what and where
they were.

There was a sudden silence as though they all had the same thought at the
same time, eyes became misty with tears as their memories of people and
places came to mind, tears began to fall silently until they could not be
held back and their sobbing filled the large room, Stilta, although warned
by Ketsika, his great, great Grandfather, that this could happen, was lost
for what to do about it, he could only sit and watch as the boys shed tears
for a long lost planet and all they knew and loved.

Stilta sat silently, there was nothing else he could do, he still had his
world and all his many family members which ran into hundreds, he could
feel for the boys but had no real idea how to help them, it was a situation
he was totally unfamiliar with, watching them a great sadness also overcame
him, not enough to produce tears but enough to tighten up his throat and
make his stomach ache with longing, it was an unpleasant feeling, Stilta
sat and waited.

The boys finally settled down, little did they know but the same scene had
been played out in many of the other rooms where the last of 21st century
man now resided, after the excitement of their first day on a real space
ship was over, the truth of their situation had hit them hard, of the
17,000 boys saved from Earth, there was hardly a dry eye, many were
consoled by their friends, if they had no group friends, then others took
it upon themselves to help those that were alone, it was a coming together
of all nations for one purpose, it made no difference if the boy was Asian,
Latin, European or African, they all realised they were all that was left
of Earth, they had to stick together one way or the other.

The atmosphere on the ship that day was a very sombre one, as each group or
boy passed one of their Earth brothers, they gave a small smile in
recognition of their mutual situation, it was growing to be their own
brotherhood, the last survivors of a dead planet off to one last adventure
in the infinity of the vast reaches of space, something none of them ever
thought they would do, it was this realisation that brought them all back
from the brink of total depression, they were now the only Earth people to
have travelled to the far reaches of space, most boys dream.

On the many screens in his control room, Ketsika had watched the Terran
boys wake to their situation, he had had all his medical staff at the ready
in case they were needed as he watched the many boys break down when they
realised they were all that was left of the home planet, it had been a long
and tense period while it occurred, their revival had been a wonder to
Ketsika, he did not realise how strong these lost boys were when he saw
then begin to shake off their tears and settle down to accept their new
lives, he wondered if his fellow Khaladasian could have rallied as well if
they had lost everything they knew.

For the rest of the few days left before continuing their voyage, Ketsika
watched the boys rebuild their shattered lives, they went back to exploring
the ship and making full use of the games rooms, at times Ketsika laughed
loudly at his crew as they reported some of the places they found the
Terran boys investigating, even the mundane refuse tubes were at times
found to have boys wriggling along them to find out where they went or came
from, the strangest of all was when a engineering crewman found a very
young Asian teen walking along the top of one of the main drive turbines,
occasionally tapping at the cover, completely unafraid to be fifty metres
above the floor without any safety equipment, when asked by the crewman why
he walked all the way up there, the boy had replied.

"I wanted to see what made this ship go fast, it doesn't look like much
though, just a lot of red and blue lights, interesting but not exciting."

Ketsika had also found it amusing that the young boy would look at the
power of his huge engines and call them `not much' he thought of the power
that was flowing through those engines and laughed to himself, if only the
boy had realised that the red lights were in fact raw plasma collected from
the space around them, the blue lights were the refined plasma and was
known as Null Fusion, it was the result of the refinement and enabled them
to travel at nearly twice the speed of light, therefore creating a small
black hole around themselves, this enabled them to literally jump from one
universe to another.

The final day of plasma collection arrived, the boys were all called to the
main conference hall and told about what would happen next, after a large
and sometimes hilarious party, the boys all slowly went back to their rooms
and climbed into their stasis beds, they were followed shortly after by the
crew and officers once the AI of the ship had taken control, they were now
about to embark on their final jump to their new home on Khaladasian Prime
and others of the seventeen planets that made up the Khaladasian system.

All over the ship, the Most Revered Loved Ones were stirring as they felt
the last effects of their long sleep dissipate from their minds, their
surroundings now seemed familiar and comforting, their bunk mates were also
stirring and the need for food soon had most of them jumping from their
beds to shower and then order food, above them, through the clear domed
roof, they could see a new set of stars shining brightly, their new and
temporary home was making a direct line for a planet ahead.

Most of the boys stopped eating long enough to inspect what they suspected
as their new home, it was a world larger than the planet Earth, around it
were three moons and what appeared to be two suns, both of different
colours, one, the smallest, was a bright stabbing white, the other was
further away and shone with a reddish yellow glow, the planet itself was
mostly of a green colour unlike Earth that, from space looked blue and
white, Khaladasian, if this were it, was mostly dark green and white, its
atmosphere looked to be more of a shimmering pale green instead of blue,
this was to be their new home.

Stilta was waiting for the band of boys in Thomas's group to awaken, he
looked at them with a new fondness as they groaned and grunted as they
awoke, Stilta was struck by the sameness to his own people when they were
teens in that they usually had little desire to jump from sleep into
wakefulness too quickly, Stilta waited patiently, he had already had his
meeting with Ketsika and, now that all the rescued boys had been educated
while sleeping, he was tensely waiting for them to come back to their full
faculties.

Half an hour after deactivating the stasis beds, all the survivors were
showered and fed, directed by their guides, they went to the large open
observation deck to watch the approach to one of their new homes. It seemed
no time at all before the ship was being nestled into a bay like structure
above the atmosphere of Khaladasian, from here they would be shuttled down
to the planets surface to be greeted officially by its residents, what was
to greet them was far beyond anything they had ever expected, even though,
now they had all the information about their new home from the sleep
schooling.

As the newcomers filed from the locks of the huge ship, none of the boys
were surprised to see older Khaladasian now wearing their usual attire and
their extra pair of arms now freed from the confines of their uniforms, it
had been done so the Terran boys would not be shocked or scared by the
differences in the races.

It was easily recognised as to who were the important ones from this ship,
although they had knowledge from the sleep lessons, it was still a shock
when the whole dock area went totally silent, the officers and crew of the
ship were lined up outside the doorway along with all of the staff of the
docking facility, as the boys walked slowly from the massive ship and into
the dock area, every Khaladasian bowed low and, it seemed as though in one
single voice, called out.

"Welcome home Most Revered Loved Ones, our planet is your planet, ask what
you will and it shall be yours."

By now all 17,000 boys were standing around the huge complex, the sound of
the sincere voices echoed around the large curved walls as the younglings
that had been detailed to attend to the Terran boys, took up their stations
alongside the groups they had been set too look after, it did not go
unnoticed that Stilta carried the mark of a Companion, even his own senior
family member bowed to him now along with everyone that he came in contact
with, he was still the only one that had been given the honour of Companion
to the Most Revered Loved Ones.

With a last bow and salute, the boys were led off towards a Strato Liner,
their shuttle to the planets surface, although reserved for the boys use
only, it was a massive ship as well, not as large as the Cruiser they had
travelled on but, by Earth standards, far bigger than anything they had
ever seen, inside were three rows of very plush seats that were tiered in
layers ten high with narrow walkways between each level, the seats each had
plenty of space for each boy to sit and stretch out in, they were told that
the trip to the surface would take thirty minutes but, if they wished, the
crew would take them for a round trip of the planet before setting down,
all agreed that that sounded like fun and so it was done.

Two hours after leaving the Galactic Cruiser, the Strato Liner was settling
softly onto a huge cradle affair, through the wide windows around them, the
boys saw that the landing area was packed to capacity with Khaladasians,
running from underneath the Liner was a wide blue matting of some sort, it
led all the way across the landing site to a large dais on which stood more
than fifty adult Khaladasians.

By this time the boys were well aware that the addition of a Companion to
Thomas's group gave them pride of place and so they were allowed to be the
first of the Terran survivors to step off the Liner onto the soil of their
new home, the tumultuous crowd awaiting them went into immediate and total
silence as the first boys appeared at the open hatch and began to descend
towards the blue walkway, as one, all those waiting for this moment, bowed
low, the military wings drew themselves upright and saluted in their best
manner.

The silence remained until all the boys were walking along the wide pathway
towards the waiting dignitaries, it was a once in a life time event and
none of the Khaladasians present wanted to miss a second of it, they all
wanted to be able to tell their children's children that they were there
when the saviours, The Most Revered Loved Ones, arrived on Khaladasian
Prime.

The boys lined up haphazardly in front of the waiting dignitaries,
thankfully, the speeches of welcome were short although very heart felt by
all that were there, this was the first time the boys were able to make out
the differences between the Khaladasian worlds as each of the seventeen
home planets were represented before them.

The boys were all glad once the formal proceedings were over, they now felt
a kinship of sorts for their hosts, the atmosphere around them seemed
buoyant and light, the air was easy to breathe and the temperature was
about the same as early summer on Earth, one thing they did not notice at
first was that they felt stronger, their steps required less effort, later
it was explained the Khaladasian Prime had a little less gravity than their
old planet, some of the other planets in the system were even less and
others a little more.

Recognising that the days long events may have tired the newcomers, the
Khaladasian elders said they would be taken to a number of compounds set
aside for their exclusive use until they had time to decide which of the
seventeen home worlds they would like to live on, for the next four days, a
lot longer than the days on the smaller planet Earth, the boys were allowed
to inspect all aspects of the other planets in the system.

Nothing was with-held from them, any question they asked was answered
honestly and in full, even the most intimate ones were unashamedly answered
in full, slowly the different groups of boys began to make the decisions as
to where they would like to make their new homes, Thomas's group of course
wanted to stay on Khaladasian Prime, they had no intentions of taking
Stilta away from his family or home planet and, as they now knew, where
they went he was honour bound to follow as their Companion added to the
fact that Marco had taken a particular liking to the youngling, even to the
extent of not using his own bed anymore.

It sometimes amused the other boys to watch the antics between the two,
Marco with his over the top exuberance and flamboyance alongside the more
staid and sensible attitude of Stilta, it was also obvious to any that
wanted to take notice, that Stilta was well and truly wrapped around Marcos
little finger as proven when Marco wanted to do something that was not
quite normal in Khaladasian society, Marco would look at Stilta in a
certain way and the boys would watch the gleam in Stilta's eye become a
sparkle, he would then cave instantly to Marco's request.

Slowly over the next three weeks, a long time on Khaladasian prime as their
days were so much longer than on Earth, a day was thirty six hours long, a
week being nine full days and a month was nearly five weeks, there were
fourteen months in a year and, in the capital city of Khaladasian Prime,
this gave the boys plenty of time to make decisions.

Simitare, the capital city of Khaladasian Prime, held more than seven
million people but it was laid out in such a way and was so big, that it
never seemed as though that many people lived there, everyone and
everything seemed to be in some sort of harmony, traffic moved smoothly and
without the congestion the boys had known back on Earth, the hardest thing
for the boys to get used to was the way everyone, from the youngest to the
oldest, would bow and smile as they passed.

Trying to buy something in a shop was a no go, even the slightest interest
by one of the boys in something on a shelf and the owner would offer it as
a gift in such a way that the boy would feel uncomfortable if he did not
accept it, this led to the boys having to be very careful when out window
shopping or they could end up with a cart load of gifts before they had
gone ten metres along a street.

It was slowly beginning to really dawn on the many boys how they were truly
perceived by the Khaladasians, everywhere they went they heard the whispers
about the saviours of the people, it had also become common place for the
boys to see people going about their business with all four arms showing.

Thomas asked Stilta about their military, all his life he had had an
interest about militaria, although he should have known better, it came as
little surprise when they were invited the very next day to go and look at
a training camp outside the city, the word soon spread and, like all boys,
anything that might hold some sort of fighting about it, they found
themselves accompanied by another one hundred and fifty of the other boys.

The transport was quickly arranged for the extra boys and, early the next
morning, the convoy of thirty white military cars was underway towards the
military camp, the cars were relatively silent as they were driven by
magnetic power plants and, as they used antigrav units, there was no need
for wheels and so no road noise, the cars lifted to fifty metres and took
off faster than a formula one race car back on Earth, below them the
traffic ways and houses flashed by as though in a speeded up movie scene,
within ten minutes the line of cars was settling down on a wide expanse of
sealed ground, lined up around the square ground, three files deep, were
about two thousand soldiers.

As the boys exited the cars, there came a very loud crashing of booted feet
stamping on the ground as the soldiers came to attention, next a full
throated roar went up as the troops all saluted the boys, it was an
overpowering sight for the smaller boys, each soldier held a long clear rod
with a handle at one end, just like the one they had used in the holo game,
at their waist was another smaller version of the laser rifle and on the
other hip was a wicked looking knife about twelve inches long with what
looked like a glass blade, it had a serrated edge and some sort of white
handle that may have been bone.

Once all the boys were on the ground, a small group of older men came up to
them, they were introduced as the officer instructors, each saluted the
boys in turn them the senior among them asked Thomas.

"Most Revered Loved One, Thomas, would you and your friends like to inspect
the guard of honour?"

Thomas had no real idea what was expected but he had read about this sort
of thing when a dignitary visited a country and so he said.

"Thank you Sir, we would like that very much."

The officer drew himself up taller and smiled widely, he then said.

"Most Revered Loved One, there is no need to call me Sir, it is I that
should be giving you that honour, we are after all, just humble soldiers,
but I thank you for your courtesy, if your group would like to follow me I
will take you through the ranks and explain it too you if you require it."

"Thank you."

The boys all trooped after the officers, as they went, the first officer
explained that all of these troops were only newly turned Brothers, they
were still in the first part of their training so were not fully up to the
standard that they would reach in five years time, they were however, the
only ones available at such short notice and he asked Thomas and the others
to excuse their lack of training, and his apologies for not providing the
best they had for them too see.

To the boys eyes, the officers words seemed unreal, the young troops lined
up around the square looked perfect, they all stood like statues, their two
upper arms holding the long laser rifle stiffly out from their bodies,
below, the two lower arms were bent precisely so that their second hands
were resting one on the hand grip of the sidearm the other gripping the
handle of the glass like knife, they could all see now how four arms could
be an advantage in a fight, the young recruits all kept their eyes directly
in front of them as the boys passed close by.

After the inspection, the boys were led to a covered dais where there were
chairs set out for them, once all of them were seated, the recruits began
to march in step and perform various figures and manoeuvres on the hard
topped square, the sound of their booted feet ringing around the parade
ground.

After the demonstration of their marching skill by the recruits, the boys
were taken to the mess hall where they were served lunch and invited to
meet with some of the lucky recruits, after lunch they were taken to the
area where the recruits were taught weapons and hand to hand combat
techniques, while the boys had been told the new recruits were only just
starting their training, the exhibition of skills they saw in the hand to
hand combat were very high indeed.

The officer explained to them all that the knife was not glass but a
special compound that, once it was charged, became a plasma knife able to
cut through Plasteel up to 15 millimetres thick, of course this led to
having to fully explain Plasteel to the boys as they watched the soldiers
twist and turn as they sparred with each other, one of the boys in the
group asked the officer if he could try it as he had done a lot of Martial
Arts on Earth, the officer raised an eyebrow and asked what Martial Arts
were.

"Most Revered Loved One, what is this `Martial Arts' is it a form of
painting or picture taking?"

The boy almost laughed and it was only with a great deal of self control
that he kept a straight face although his bright green eyes twinkled with
humour.

"No Sir, it is a form of defending ones self; many people on Earth practice
it for sport and fitness."

"I see, but if you went to spar with the recruits you may be injured and
that would not be good for any of us if you were to be hurt."

"Oh Sir, you don't have to worry about that, we get hurt all the time when
we practice, it's all part of learning the art."

"But it would be a disaster if one of the Most Revered Loved Ones was
injured, there would be an uproar all over the seventeen planets."

Unknown to the officer he was about to be hit with a weapon they had never
come across before as the boy got what to an earth parent was the ultimate
in teen weaponry when they wanted something, the boy looked at the officer,
his head went down until the officer could only see the boys eyes under his
low hanging fringe of dark hair, the eyes became slightly misty and he
looked for all the world like a hurt little puppy, it was a devastating
weapon in the hands of an experienced teen, within seconds the face of the
officer took on a guilty look, only the slightest of smiles on the boys
face let the others know he had won.

"Well Most Revered Loved One, I suppose we could try something as long as
it was not too dangerous to your person, we have special training armour
you could wear in case the recruit lost control of his knife hand, even
unpowered the knife is still dangerous."

"Oh there's no need, besides armour would slow me down, I'm sure we will be
ok, let me just do some stretching first and then you can ask four or five
of the recruits if they want to spar with me."

"Four or five; Oh no, that's way too many for anyone to attempt let alone a
Most Revered Loved One, you would be certain to be injured facing that many
recruits, perhaps one, just as a demonstration."

"Sir, that would not be fair on the recruit, the style we use is able to be
performed with more than one attacker, also I have discovered that I have a
distinct advantage over your recruits."

"Well if you are totally sure you will not be injured, perhaps I can tell
the recruits not too use their knives."

"That's ok Sir, they can have their knives, we're taught to defend against
them."

"Well only if you are very sure, you do realise that if you get hurt we
will all be in very big trouble."

"Sir, if I get hurt it will be my own fault, you are absolved from all
blame as are the recruits that volunteer to be a part of the
demonstration."

"Very well, but perhaps only two."

"I think five would be best, yes five is a good number."

Sighing deeply, the officer finally relented, he had a funny feeling he was
not going to win any argument with one of the Revered Ones on this day,
once agreed too, the boy smiled widely and winked at some of the other
boys, it became apparent suddenly to Thomas that some of the other boys
knew how good this one was, as a Martial Artist himself he was also
interested to watch the other boys skills and try to judge his level.

The boy stood and went down to the training ground where the recruits
stopped their sparring, slipping off his shirt too expose a very slender
and trim body, the boy removed his footwear and began to do stretching
exercises, some of which even astounded the other boys and totally confused
the Khaladasian officers, after ten minutes of stretches and shadow
sparring, the boy nodded to the officer to select his recruits, while the
boy continued with deep breathing exercises.

It was difficult to find volunteers among the recruits, none of them wanted
to be responsible for any injury to one of the special boys watching them,
finally it was the boy himself who decided to select five opponents, the
recruits selected did not look happy, they had already had more than six
months of combat training and, while not up to expert level that they would
reach in the time too come, they were however armed with their knives and
not completely without skill.

The recruits also saw an advantage they had of the Most Revered Loved One,
they had extra arms, he only had two to fight with, a distinct disadvantage
when dealing with trained troops, reluctantly the recruits selected took up
their fighting stances, the boy only looked them over carefully, he looked
at their balance and stances, how they moved their four hands, sometimes in
unison and sometimes independently of each other, with a quick glance at
the officer, the boy nodded for them to begin, the officer called out to
the recruits.

"Attack."

Instinctively the recruits went into fighting mode and attacked, their
training taking over from their desire not too injure the Most Revered
Loved One, they had their orders and attack they did. For the next ten
minutes everyone saw a demonstration of skill and athleticism that the
Khaladasian had never seen before, the concept of Martial Arts had never
been seen by them.

Too the eyes of the Khaladasians, the boy seemed to virtually float then
twist and turn in impossible ways as he out manoeuvred, out paced and out
fought the five opponents, by the end of the ten minutes all five of the
recruits were on the ground moaning or trying to regain their feet, the boy
stood unharmed and only breathing slightly harder, some of the kicks and
throws had been almost too fast for the Khaladasians eyes to follow, the
boy had jumped higher than thought possible, he had spun faster than most
could turn, his kicks were accurate and fast, by the end of the time, the
Khaladasian officers were staring at the scene before them with their
mouths wide open in surprise, they had never seen, in all their long years,
such a devastating display of power and speed, what made it more unreal for
them was the fact the boy had not only been outnumbered but was half the
size of the recruits.

Smiling widely, the boy replaced his shirt and walked back to the dais to
rejoin his friends, around the training ground there was total silence as
the stunned recruits and training officers tried to take in what they had
just seen, or thought they had seen, it finally began to sink in that these
Most Revered Loved Ones were not defenceless, slowly there became a sense
of relief from the officers, it now seemed there was still much to learn
after all, they did not have all the answers they thought their long lives
gave them.

Thomas was standing close when the boy began to explain to his friends why
he was able to do it all so easily, not only was his long years of training
an advantage to him, but he then told them about his discovery of being
faster and stronger than when he was on Earth, he had discovered this when
he was doing his daily exercises on the first morning of their arrival on
the planet, the lighter gravity gave him a distinct advantage to those born
here, his long training did the rest.

Thomas thought back to his own morning routine, he now came to understand
why he seemed to also be faster and more light on his feet during his
Bomsai and shadow sparring, Thomas smiled to himself, if only he had had
this advantage in the last competition on Earth he may have won the final
instead of being placed second, he sighed to himself, it was all gone now
and he had a new life to live.

The senior officer approached the boy, his face showed plainly that he was
more than impressed with what they all just seen.

"Most Revered Loved One, would you consider becoming a trainer in our
military academy, we have never seen anything like that form of fighting
skill before, are there others among you that know this style?"

"I don't know if I can teach, I'm still learning myself but, I'm sure there
are others among all the boys that know other styles as well."

"Are you saying there are other ways of this style of fighting?"

"Oh yes, there are many different styles of Martial Arts, I'm sure there
are other boys that know some, especially if you ask the Asian boys, too
them it is almost a way of life."

"Which are the Asian boys, we thought only that all of you are the same
species with different looks."

"No, we all come from different back grounds and races."

The boy looked around at the other one hundred and fifty boys; he quickly
identified a number of Asian boys and pointed them out to the officer.

"Perhaps you could ask some of them, they are Asian, I'm sure many of them
would understand and also be able to help."

After the demonstration, the rest of the day was called off and everyone
returned to the large mess hall, the chatter and laughing filled the large
room as the boys and recruits discussed what they had seen, even the beaten
recruits joined in, their embarrassment long forgotten in their interest to
learn how the boy had been able to beat them.

As the day began to draw to a close, the cars arrived and the boys were
loaded for the return to the city, behind them the officers were still in
deep discussion about the demonstration they had witnessed, one thing they
all agreed, their troops needed to be trained like the boy, while their old
ways were effective in most of the battles they fought, this new style
would win many close battles for them, it was decided that it had to be
taken to the Elders for further investigation.

On their return to the city, the boys were left to go to their respective
accommondations, Thomas and his friends along with Stilta, were introduced
to their own mansion sized house, the peaceful setting of the large grounds
soon relaxed the boys after their long day out, Thomas thought that it was
good to be home again, it then hit him that he already considered
Khaladasian Prime as home, it was a new realisation, their old world was
now more than a thousand years in the past, it was still hard for him to
get his head around it as he still looked and felt like his normal sixteen.


TBC.


Artcart65@vodafone.co.nz


 

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