Author Topic: SKY DEVIL, by surit87,  (Read 1532 times)

Offline DannicaAngel

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SKY DEVIL, by surit87,
« on: April 23, 2010, 08:51:59 PM »
Intro: Two pilots from World War I are transported into an alternate world which will forever change their lives.

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~Prologue~

If you sat down for a few minutes and thought about famous romantic heroes from a thousand lifetimes - the name T.E. Lawrence (as in "Lawrence of Arabia") - would probably cross your mind (that is if you're a history buff). Yes, Lawrence was one of those men who lived for the thrill of the chase and its splendor as well. Such men are often the exceptional ones in the history books because they are so much set apart from the rest. You would probably gape in disbelief as to how someone like Lawrence, who had a complete lack of discipline, could lead an entire Arab army and capture a stronghold like Aqaba. Simply unbelievable! But alas! Such men often come to tragic ends too early in their lives.

Let me for once, tell you about someone similar to Lawrence of Arabia. He was strikingly similar to Lawrence in physical appearance - blue eyes and blonde hair with an almost flawless face. Like Lawrence he belonged to the military. He was also a romantic and whereas Lawrence had his fascination with the desert this particular person had his with the skies. The name of this person was Bastian Scholz and he was a squadron commander with the German Luftstreitkräfte.

Scholz was a champion at what he did. He flew his Fokker triplane with ease and had an impressive record in the Air Force. He was a legend in the Air Force and in 1918 the Allied Fighters feared and respected this blonde German who flew like "a devil in the skies." Scholz had shot down more than a hundred enemy aircrafts over twenty missions and he was greatly reputed, even by the Kaiser in Germany. But few knew about Bastian's character which was like that of a dreamer and an adventurer. He thought of himself as a "poet in the skies" and even "an artist trapped inside his own creation." He simply loved to fly. But Bastian, with all his dread, loathed war. He hated killing. Those hundred plus aircrafts he had shot down. Each and every time he would try his level best to make sure the enemy pilot had plenty of time to bail because he simply hated killing. He wanted to be remembered for his flying but not for the hundred plus aircrafts he had shot down. He was an adventurer but not a killer.

***
~Western Europe~

As Scholz led his squadron of eight fighters over the European countryside the skies began to darken gradually. Dark clouds began to form and there were thunders clapping in the distance. The objective of the squadron was to intercept a group of British RNAS (Royal Naval Air Service) fighters sighted by a German platoon on the ground. Scholz did not know that the RNAS squadron was being led by a young wing commander led by Les Donovan. But Donovan, upon confronting, recognized instantly Bastian Scholz's Fokker aircraft by the personalized symbol on the wings - a simple red bordered black cross.

***
Les Donovan saw above himself and caught sight of the Fokkers approaching him from the sun. He grimaced. Obviously it was Rittmeister Scholz-- the feared nemesis of the Allied Air Forces. An encounter with him meant almost death. This was not what he had in mind.

Nevertheless Donovan checked his gun and readied for battle. He signaled his co-pilots to break up formation and pursue the enemy. He himself went after Scholz.

***
As Scholz saw the RNAS fighter coming after him he signaled his co-pilots to give chase. But he himself swerved his plane away and let Donovan Scholz chase him. He grinned as he did so knowing that this would be one heck of a fight. Scholz could see the eagerness of an ambitious fighter pilot once Donovan started chasing him. And he would teach this ambitious British pilot not to take things for granted.

***

Donovan harried the Fokker, criss-crossing the sky for him for about ten minutes. Damn this Hun! Scholz would not even allow himself into Donovan's crosshairs! Ten minutes had passed and only a couple of bullets would be fired from Donovan in vain only for Scholz to avoid them easily.

The German seemed to anticipate his rival's every move. Donovan became frustrated and finally realized that his aggression was getting him nowhere. Finally he became convinced that this bandit would have to be defeated by a deceitful tactic.
But how?

Play possum!

Donovan maneuvered his plane away giving the indication that he was fed up from the chase. Now Scholz turned and started in pursuit. Donovan thought about his next move. Whatever he did had worked and now the German thought he was tired.
What next? What next?

Donovan suddenly maneuvered his plane downwards and he spiraled downwards to the land below, hoping the enemy would do the same. Then he would roll his plane up at the last moment when he would look to be crashing into the landscape.

He sees the German now behind him.

A terrible thing happens. The Fokker fires earlier than usual... too early for Donovan too get out of the way.

Suddenly his wings tear apart and Donovan's aircraft starts spinning like a ball of inferno down to earth. Scholz's Fokker stops firing and pulls away.

No!

In a couple of seconds Donovan is drenched in his own sweat and feels the heat of his plane burning. He closes his eyes and all the memories of his infant days, his childhood, his college days, the love for his parents and his fiancée crossed his mind.


~Chapter 1~

When Donovan opened his eyes he saw himself lying on the ground. Slowly he got up. He was still in his flight jacket - battered and brittle from the heat now. A couple of yards away from him laid the wreckage of his plane. The smoke still emanated from the skeletal remains.

To his left was his plane but to his right was something that Donovan was not sure what it was. He could see that it looked like a flag pole bearing a bright red banner that fluttered in the wind.

Donovan move closer. His eyes caught a symbol of a skull with a slogan beneath it on the flag. He tried to read it.

"The Age is near - The Age of complete Obedience."

Something moved him. He turned around. It moved almost mechanically. Almost inhuman!
God!

He fell unconscious on the ground following a sickening blow to his head.

***

From far away Scholz saw a group of some five or seven pale men move an unconscious Les Donovan into the back of a metallic armored wagon. For some strange reason he did not feel elated at the sight of his enemy taken prisoner. For these captors did not remotely resemble any of his comrades.

Earlier Bastian Scholz, after he had shot down his British pursuer, felt the entire world around him - the weather, the landscape, everything - transform before his very eyes. It all happened as he turned upwards in his Fokker. In the blink of an eye it happened almost electrically and so unnaturally.

As soon as he realized that something was not right he looked for a spot where he could land his aircraft. He found a smooth area of land very soon where he landed his Fokker and it took him all his strength to quickly hide his aircraft behind a gathering of overgrown bushes.

Next, he raced quickly to the spot where he saw the RNAS fighter crash and, as soon as he saw that his British friend was not alone, he sank down and began to observe. When the convoy of three vehicles, two jeeps and the armored wagon began to move, Bastian followed. The German kept himself well out of sight.

***

It was probably hours later when Donovan regained consciousness. When he opened his eyes he saw the face of a young girl. Her eyes were large and pretty and they gazed into Donovan's with the innocence of a child.

"Who are you?" she asked slowly while slightly expressing her awe as if Donovan was some strange new toy.

"Les... Les Donovan." Donovan replied. "Where am I?" he asked, grimacing over a slight pain in his head.

"Oh I see." The girl spoke in the same "awe-struck" voice. "You're in the dungeon. They've brought us here for, God knows what!"

"They. Who are they?"

"Do you have amnesia or something?" The girl asked with curiosity.

Where am I? Donovan thought, am I dreaming ... or is this for real ... that Hun, Scholz ... shot me down and the next thing I know, my plane's crashed and something...something... knocked me out. These people don't look British and whoever knocked me out certainly doesn't look German. Don't think he even look human! I've got to get some clues... Got to find out where I am and how I got here.

"I think so." Donovan replied.

"You remember your name."

"...probably partial amnesia."

The girl shrugged and turned to another man standing in the corner who shrugged as well.

"What about you? Who are you people?" Donovan asked.

"Oh. I'm sorry." The girl said. "My name's Kiela and this is Menfarno."

Donovan looked around himself. They were locked in a small dark room. Probably a cell.

"You don't know why they've captured you. Do you?" Kiela remarked.

Donovan shook his head.

"That's bad. Real bad. You don't know things." Menfarno said. "And they'll probably torture you for answers."

"What? What!" Donovan's eyes widened in shock. The tension slowly started escalating.

"You really do have amnesia." Menfarno said.

***

Half an hour later there was a knock on the door followed by a grumpy voice which Donovan could not understand. All three of them became alarmed.

Donovan got up as Menfarno cautiously approached the door. There were no more noises and things became eerily silent for a while. Donovan, Kiela, and Menfarno, all held their breath.

Suddenly they heard some clinging noises. It sounded like keys. They heard a key move into the lock. A clicking sound followed. Slowly the door opened. That's it, Donovan thought, they're coming for me and they're going to take me away, and torture me for something I don't even know.

A tall figure stood in the doorway, draped in long black robe. His face was void of any emotion... which gave Donovan the chills... and it was completely pale. What scared Donovan even more was the reaction of Kiela and Menfarno upon seeing the man! They were frozen with fear.

The pale man slowly came forward and stopped as he gazed into Donovan's eyes. The eyes. They were hollow and lifeless. Looking at him Donovan thought his legs would buckle. The man had a sickle in his hand, a large sickle. He pointed at Donovan.

"Z'pren...abdha!" It was an inhuman voice but it meant something. And it didn't sound friendly at all.

Donovan clenched his fists. Suddenly a thud of a sickening blow came from behind the man. He dropped down on the floor limp.

Behind him that stood was none other than Bastian Scholz. He looked at Donovan and spoke.

"You are that British pilot. Aren't you?"

"And you're Scholz!" Donovan was astonished.

"Yes. You and your friends better follow me."

Both Kiela and Menfarno looked relieved.

"I thought we were all dead." Kiela sighed. "Dead for sure."

"Let's get going. They'll find out pretty soon." Menfarno said.

"What the hell are they?" Donovan still had the fright in him.

"They're not human. That's for sure." Kiela. "They're called Gonzolas. This means inhuman."

"Listen." Bastian said. "Why don't we start moving, otherwise more of your Gonzolas will be after us with sickles like these."

They started moving immediately.

***

They walked across the table into another room. This room was uninhabited and full of crates. Once they were all inside, Menfarno locked the door. The room was dimly illuminated by a yellow bulb. Large crates were stacked up in the corners. Menfarno wondered what these crates contained.

Bastian began to speak. "We should be able to get out from the windows beneath this floor. No guards are watching them."

"Did you get in that way?" Kiela asked.

"Yes. But I don't know if there are more guards outside."

Donovan noticed Bastian spoke English with a notable German accent. He was pleasantly surprised that everyone he had met, except the Gonzolas, used the good old language of his birth.

"We don't need the worry about the Gonzos anymore." Menfarno remarked. He held a rifle in his hand and grinned. "Plenty of these in these crates. Plus ammo."

"That's good." Kiela said. "Listen I have an idea. Why don't we split into two pairs? If we do that the chances of us all getting caught may be reduced."

"She's right." Bastian said. "If one group gets caught then the other can come back to free them. Also we can't move stealthily if we are together."

Menfarno frowned. "That's okay by me."

"Good then..." Kiela turned to Bastian. The German anticipated her question by the expression on her face.

"Bastian"

"Bastian." She repeated and smiled. "You and I, we'll move out from the way you came in." she then turned to Donovan and Menfarno. "You two, see if you can find an alternative exit. Don't worry. If you get caught we'll come back for you."

Menfarno nodded and handed a rifle to Donovan who took it curiously. Donovan took the gun and looked at it with a bit of confusion.

"Don't worry. You and I are comrades, my brother." With that Menfarno gave a rough slap on Donovan's shoulder, shaking the poor Brit with his mighty force of camaraderie.

***

There was absolutely no problem for Bastian and Kiela as they slipped out through the windows and out into a small yard behind the dungeon. The exit ahead of them, a block of gates, was guarded by at least a dozen Gonzolas. Pale, dark robed men, with submachine guns, they moved robotically with vapid faces.

Parked in the yard was something that reminded Bastian of the Benzes that moved around in Munich when he lived there before the war. Only the rich could afford the Benz automobiles and Bastian was no rich man. But he had once arranged for a Benz to be smuggled into his airbase and, once he drove in it with his wingmen around the field, he felt he could die a happy man.

But the thing in front of him wasn't a Benz at all. It almost resembled a mini-tank (what you would probably compare to a hummer) and it had a powerful machine gun affixed to its rear.

"Can you drive it?" Kiela asked.

Bastian looked at her in surprise. "Me?"

"Yes. You."

He thought for a moment. Well it can't be too hard now, can it? He nodded.
"Sure. But please guide me. I'm a little rusty."

"No problem." Kiela said and immediately jumped onto the rear of the jeep. Checking the machine gun, she cautiously turned it towards the Gonzolas guarding the gate.

Bastian was bewildered for this totally unhesitant move. He saw that the Gonzolas had noticed her and were screaming at her. What sent Bastian's heart pounding was how the Gonzolas wasted no time in firing their weapons at Kiela after ranting their threats. Scores of uncountable bullets darted all around him and he lunged behind the jeep for protection.
Kiela must be dead. Ripped apart from those bullets.

Bastian looked up. In the deafening noise of gunfire he saw Kiela completely composed and patiently taking her aim. Hails of bullets missed her as the Gonzolas kept on firing in their blind fury.

Finally she opened fire. The whole jeep vibrated as the machine gun vented its heavy explosive bullets on the Gonzolas, their limbs burst into pink clouds, and their blood splattered all around them.
It finally stopped.

"Hurry Bastian! Get on." Kiela cried.

Bastian got on and started the engine. With Kiela's guidance he clumsily drove the jeep away. The vehicle smashed through the gates and disappeared into the jungle.

***
~Chapter 2~


They had driven back to the spot where Bastian left his plane and now, surprisingly, it was taking a lot of time for Bastian to find his aircraft.

When Kiela saw Bastian scurrying around here and there amongst the bushes she became curious.

"What are you searching for?" she asked.

"My aircraft... I left it hidden here." Bastian replied.

"Aircraft!" Kiela was astonished. "You're a pilot?"

"Yes. I am. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm getting rather worried. Such a big thing like an aircraft can't just vanish into thin air and I'm pretty sure this is where I left it."

"I see." She was staring at Bastian in awe. A pilot, it couldn't be real!

The humidity of the forest rained down sweat on both their foreheads as Bastian became increasingly nervous while his search came to nothing. The air now filled with echoes of blades cutting in mechanical continuation. The sounds increased slowly and slowly. Suddenly Kiela and Bastian froze in their places. Then as the sounds deafened their ears, Kiela lunged on Bastian, pulling him down under the bushes. A helicopter, Gonzolas with machine guns inside, flew over them and disappeared seconds later.

"What was that monster?" Bastian gasped.

"Gonzola chopper. They were looking for us." Kiela replied.

For the moment both of them looked at each other while they lay in the bushes, clutching onto each other. There was almost no space between their lips.

"Bastian..."

"Yes"

"You really are a pilot. Aren't you?"

"Why do you doubt?"
He felt his body stiffen as she softly and slowly kissed his neck, then his cheek, and then she whispered in his ear.

"I love pilots."

***

Moments later Bastian found the tracks from the wheels of his plane. They drove away into the denseness of the jungle. Bastian decided to follow it. Kiela saw what he was doing and asked.

"Are you sure you want to follow that?"

Bastian looked at her face. "I can't just leave my plane. Can I?"

Deep down inside him a fear was growing that, most probably, the Gonzolas had spotted his plane and was using it as a bait to trap him.

Nevertheless he followed the trail. Soon the sun had set. Evening settled in.

***

As the darkness descended into the jungle, Bastian decided to stop and rest until dawn. They built a fire and, keeping their weapons close by, reclined around it on the rough carpet o leaves and twigs of the forest.

"Don't worry. Bastian." Kiela said. "Maybe our people have it... I mean your plane. We're pretty close to a village of the Sakaads."

"The Sakaads. Who are they?" Bastian asked.

"You don't know?" Kiela asked slowly. Her voice attracted Bastian quite a lot. She was so much like a child but yet so mature.


"I'm amnesiac." Bastian said with a smile on his lips.

"You're not the first person to tell me that today." Kiela said.

"Oh. That was a joke. Actually I'm a foreigner... an alien to these lands."

"Oh I see." Kiela took a featherweight twig and picked one end of it softly with her teeth. She stared at Bastian as she did so.

"Well. Will you tell me a little bit about yourself?" she asked.

Bastian shrugged, not knowing where to begin. He could tell her where he was from and she couldn't understand. Likewise he would be confused if he tried to find out where he was now. Maybe it would take him a long time to know where he had ended up and how. Wherever he was, he wasn't going to act out of place. That's for certain.

"What do you want to know?" Bastian asked.

"You could tell me how you ended up in a place like this."

"Well..." Bastian hesitated whether or not to tell her. If he did, she would double over and laugh uncontrollably. "That's a long story, maybe I'll tell you later."

"Why?"

"For starters... that's one story that even I, myself, could not fully understand. I know it's hard for you to believe that but trust me."

"Well, you could explain to me why you chose to be a pilot." She said with a smile.

Bastian smiled back. "What if I told you that you would laugh at that too?"

"Oh. Come on!"

Bastian told her after some seconds. "Let's just look at it this way. I fly so that I could be away from this cruel world."

***


~Chapter 3~

Soon they fell asleep and the crickets accompanied their slumber. The fire that they had built had faded away and there was complete darkness. The crickets made the only noises of the night as the forest remained largely quiet. Until suddenly there was a snap among the branches that sent away a chorus of fluttering sounds in the distance.

Bastian's eyes fell open. The moonlight fell clearly on their bodies and he could see Kiela's pale face, eyes wide open and staring at him.

"What was that?" she whispered hoarsely.

"We're being watched." Bastian replied.

"Who..."

"I'll go and check. You stay here." Bastian got up slowly.

He began circling where he had heard the sound originate. It was almost pitch black and the faintest of moonlight somehow kept his visibility up. Bastian wished he had a torch.

He came upon a broken branch lying on the ground. He leaned over it and observed it. There were marks on it. Fresh... like claws!
Something moved behind him.

Bastian turned around. His heart picked up adrenaline. In the dark he could see something enormous, like a huge bear. Fear gripped him tight. It moved like... almost like a human being. Bastian leveled his gun on the animal. The ‘thing' reacted and smote his arm. The gun fell from Bastian's hand. ‘It' gripped his throat and started to choke him.

In desperation, Bastian kicks its legs. ‘It' howled with pain and loosened him. Bastian fell down and scratched the ground continuously for the gun. Finally he found it, and aimed, and when he was about to squeeze the trigger...
Lord! That beastly ‘thing.'

"BASTIAN! NO!" Kiela cried. "Don't shoot. It's a Sakaadi."

Flashlights froze on all of them and more figures emerged from the trees. Only of them was human. The rest were all the Sakaadis.

Bastian saw the animal in front of him. It limped up to him and offered him a hand. He took it reluctantly and the ‘thing' pulled him up.

Its hairy body appeared demonic in the moonlight but its eyes distinguished it away from being an animal. It was almost human from its eyes. Red pupils stared at him. It even spoke in a human-like voice.

"I am sorry. I mistook you for a trespasser."

Bastian saw that there were other Sakaadis around him as well. But among them was a human who spoke to Kiela. All of them carried firearms.

"Bastian. These are Sakaadis. They are our friends." Kiela said.

"I'm sorry he attacked you. It's just that this is their village ground and they protect it very fearfully, especially with these Gonzos running around." The man among the Sakaadis said.

"That is past now." The Sakaadi nearest Bastian spoke. "We must be introduced. My name is Aasid. The human with me is Rufus."

"I am Bastian." The Sakaadi shook his hand roughly. "Pleased to meet you."
Whatever you are!

***

~Chapter 4~

Aasid, along with the rest of the Sakaadis, accompanied Bastian to their village.

"Do not worry about your plane. My human friends have taken it to a safe location." Aasid said as they walked on.

For the first time in a long time Bastian felt relief.

"Where is it?" Bastian asked.

"The land of Shiomm." Aasid replied.

"I never heard the name." Bastian said. "Would you mind telling me where it is?"

The Sakaadi gave a piercing glance toward Bastian. "In time we will reach there and you will know all there is to know."

"Also, I never met any of your kind until now." Bastian said.

Aasid smiled. His furry face flashed in the sunlight. "Come with me to our village. I promise, you will learn a lot about us."

Bastian turned around and saw Kiela walking behind him. Kiela turned to him and she saw him smiling at her. Bastian, Kiela could make out, did so suggestively. Kiela smiled back in a shy manner. For a moment her body touched his. It sent waves of infatuation through his body.

Some minutes later the party came to a halt.

"We rest here." Rufus said. "Twenty minutes. Then we move on."

***

When they approached the village, Gunfire thundered all around them. Bastian was startled but Kiela smiled.

"Those are Sakaadis greeting us. Don't be frightened." She said.

Soon they were engulfed by joyous Sakaadi horsemen, all raising their rifles and firing in the sky. Aasid greeted them back by raising his own rifle.

"Did you kill any Stanians?" One of the Sakaadi asked.

"No. There weren't any around." Aasid replied.

"Damn!"

Bastian noticed the straw houses made for the Sakaadi dwelling. There were also larger ones. Bastian assumed they were used as storage places. Around himself, Bastian saw Sakaadi women going about their daily chores. Some were tending to their children. Some were tending to their household work. Others were milking their cows (they looked piercingly at Bastian when he noticed them) and making pancakes of cow dung which surprised Bastian. Later he learnt the things were made for heating purposes.

At first, Bastian assumed that this was some sort of primitive culture, but later he would come to see that these people were a fierce and passionate warrior race.

Their children were taught from infancy to hunt and kill for food. The mothers and housewives were fiercely protective of these children. The men fought and defended their territory. A man's honor and pride was entirely based on his status as a warrior.

As monstrous as they were, Bastian came to know that the Sakaadis were very hospitable. The whole village wasted no time in throwing a banquet for Aasid and company. All of the men were seated together at an enormous table just besides the women's. The Sakaadi men chewed and dug mercilessly into fats of fried animal meat. A mountain of meat was roughly placed in front of a bewildered Bastian.

"Eat, human! Must get more strength into those feeble sissy bones." The serving Sakaadi remarked.

"Sissy bones!!!" Bastian replied back with venomous rage.

The Sakaadi laughed. "Ha! I see you are a man after all. Eat and don't feel shy."

Bastian glanced at the women's table and saw Kiela. She couldn't control her laughter.

***

After the banquet (or "meatfest" as Bastian liked to call it), Bastian and Kiela sat inside a straw house made especially for guests. At first they rested and slept a little, but awoke pretty soon.

"I keep wondering about Menfarno and Donovan. I hope they made it." Kiela said with her familiar slow rhythmic voice.

"Don't worry. I'm pretty sure they did." Bastian assured her.

"If they didn't then I'm going back for them."

Just then Rufus entered the house with a small boy who resembled a dwarfed bear.

"Pardon me. Not disturbing you, am I?" Rufus said.

"Not at all." Bastian replied.

"Well, I just came to give you some good news. Your two friends from back at the dungeon. They made it out and they're own their way to Shiomm even as we speak."

"That's wonderful!" Kiela exclaimed in a celebratory mood.

"Sure is... by the way, do you mind if I ask a favor from the two of you?" Rufus asked.

Bastian frowned in curiosity. "I guess no."

Rufus glanced at the small boy beside him. "This here is Panance. He's ‘alone' and he needs company."

The boy looked down as if he was being scolded. Bastian knew perfectly well what Rufus meant when he said ‘alone.' The boy was an orphan. A Sakaadi orphan. Bastian and Kiela glanced at each other.

"Listen. It's just if you really want to..." Rufus tried to say before Kiela interrupted him.

"Why, he's welcome to stay with us." Kiela said, bringing the boy closer to her.

"Us?" Bastian remarked.

"Yes. Us." Kiela hinted at a smile.

"Thanks." Rufus appeared to be relieved. "We've got a week's time to rest. Get yourselves relaxed and enjoy the company." He winked at Panance. "After that we're moving on."

"Moving on! To where?" Kiela asked.

"We're evacuating the whole village to Shiomm."

"But... why?"

"Even the brave Sakaadis can't hold off the mighty Stanian Air Force."

Rufus and Kiela continued their conversation. Meanwhile, Bastian whispered playfully in Panance's ear. "Hey kid. Ever been to Shiomm?"

"Yes, that's the only place where you can actually ride Unicorns." Panance said.

"Unicorns! Good God!"

***
It was extremely cold in the mountains to the north, where a group of men advanced further northwards through the mountain forests. Among those men were Les Donovan and Menfarno, accompanied by two humans and a Sakaadi.

Les Donovan appeared exhausted through these two days of non-stop running and walking. First he had to contend with a dogfight in the air that almost ended his life if not for a goddamn miracle. Then this miracle turned into another jackshit of a world where he meets up with walking zombies with machine guns and overgrown ape men (or Bigfoot, or whatever you wanna call it). And as for the icing on the cake, just moments ago he learns that there is another fucked-up war going on. All this shitty mess and not even one guarantee of him ever getting back to the US of A of his birth again! The only thing that makes some sense in his life is no sense at all!

"How long till we reach this Mom?" He asked

"That's Shiomm" One of the humans said.

"Whatever! Hey can't we just stop and rest for a moment."

"No time. We must move on." The Sakaadi said.

That's it. That's fucking it! What am I doing? What the fuck am I following around these people for? Am I freaking crazy or something?

"Well I'm stopping for a moment." Donovan said defiantly.

All of them stopped and turned to Donovan. The two humans seemed visibly irritated, but the Sakaadi looked composed albeit a little nervous. Menfarno seemed to have some concern on his face.

"Oh yeah. I'm not going one step forward." Donovan assured them threateningly.

"Do you want to get us killed! You moron!"

"Why the fuck are we running?" Donovan asked.

The Sakaadi came forward. He looked around and saw that twilight had already started to descend into the forest. Ever since he was a child, the Sakaadi had been taught to be fearful with the enemies but even more fearful of the world beneath the world. Those powerful and bizarre things that roamed the forests under cover of darkness. These things were not animals at all but these were guardians of places either too sinister or too beautiful.

"Listen to me. We must start moving at once. We are in extreme danger." The Sakaadi said.

"From whom, those Stanians you were talking about?"

"More than Stanians."

Just then the Sakaadi noticed that he was doing what he didn't notice all this time. He was quivering. The paleness of fear showed on his face. Donovan noticed it. What thing would possibly instill that kind of fear even in a Sakaadi? He had heard something.

"What's going on?" Donovan asked hoarsely.

"We're doomed. All because of you!" One human remarked fearfully.

"Let's start moving now. You stay with me." The Sakaadi said to Donovan.

They started to jog away quickly. Menfarno and the other two humans did the same but stayed behind a little. Donovan looked at the face of the Sakaadi as he ran.

"If you see anything move pick up speed at once. Keep watching sideways and watch out for ambushes." The Sakaadi whispered.

"What are they?" Donovan said as he kept glancing around.

"... And look mostly into the trees."

Behind them came a terrible scream that froze them both and silenced the songs of the forests. Then it became quiet... quiet as hell, Donovan thought. I should have stayed in the States.

***

They stopped and for a moment just stood there, afraid even to breath. By now darkness had fallen and the top of the trees were no longer visible. The Sakaadi had his gun aimed at a set of bushes behind him. He heard something again. The sound of something... like a slow and rusty fan. The Sakaadi was walking slowly towards the bushes now. The leaves rustled. Branches cracked.
Suddenly something jumped out from those bushes and lunged on the Sakaadi.

It took the Sakaadi down to the ground... but wait! It was Menfarno ... he was running and he collided with the Sakaadi. He was seriously wounded as well. His torso was bleeding profusely. His hand clutched the wound where he bled. His face was deathly pale.

"It got them." He said. "They're dead..."

As he was just about to finish, it finally came. Just from where he had fallen, a giant bat - straight from hell, flew in and snatched him away with its big claws, and flew away into the darkness. Quietness again.

The Sakaadi grabbed the collar of a stunned Donovan. "Move now."

They began to run. It seemed like ages. Then the bat caught up with them again and flew over them, knocking them both out. The Sakaadi fired a volley of bullets into the air. The jungle stayed somewhat quiet and gave no response, almost as if it pitied the bravery of the Sakaadi.

Donovan tried to get up. He felt dizzy. As he turned he saw the bat flying in from far away. Its large wings glided with ease, its beak smeared with blood, and its eyes looked as it would pop from the sockets. It came towards him and it pushed forward its claws as it neared him.

It will torture you first. Then maybe mercifully it will kill you before it eats you. Although it prefers to eat its victim alive, just like Menfarno.

Out of nowhere, some snowy thing sprang into the bat's flight and took the creature away from Donovan. Donovan had closed his eyes, knowing he was doomed. But when he opened his eyes... he saw the stillness of the forest and the Sakaadi just some inches from him.

A snowy wolf walked out into the clearing where they both lay. She looked into the eyes of Donovan with her glowing pupils and then disappeared into the darkness.

Donovan started to move again with the Sakaadi. They remained largely quiet on the rest of the journey. Later the Sakaadi would say that some things in this world were beyond the understanding of any mind. That was why his people called it "the world beneath the world."

***

~Chapter 5~

Bastian had a little dream before he woke up. But it wasn't the usual dream any person might have. It was rather a dream about a certain moment in his distant past. It was a certain moment from his childhood he spent in Alaska with his American mother.

He looked out the window and touched the frame with his small hand. Outside it was dark but a splendid lightshow of what his mother once described as the Northern Lights was on display in the skies. They were magnificent!

"Mother, can I touch it?" he asked in a soft voice.

His mother came and hugged the small boy in front of her. She was a beautiful woman with chestnut hair and velvet eyes.

"No Bastian. You can't from here." She replied.

The small boy looked at her in a slight expression of sadness. His mother came forward and kissed him on the cheeks. "Maybe one day you can. But I doubt you'll want to, when that day comes." She said.

The boy never truly understood what his mother meant to him at that time. But he never knew that one day he would.

***

When Bastian woke up he had forgotten about the dream and saw that it was still dark outside. Panance was still sleeping soundly beside him. Kiela however wasn't inside the hut. Bastian saw her bed empty with the sheet tossed aside.

Slowly he got up and went outside, careful not to wake up Panance. Kiela sat outside the hut. She shivered in the cold. When Bastian moved near her he could hear soft sobbing sounds. She was crying softly and gazed into the jungle.

"What's wrong? You aren't feeling sick, are you?" Bastian said.

Kiela turned around, a little startled to see him. "No. I just had a bad dream that's all." She said.

"You're hiding something from me."

She stood silent for a moment and looked away. Her eyes still wet with tears.

"I had a dream too. Although I can't remember most of it... think it has something to do with my childhood." Bastian said. "But you don't have to tell me yours. If it's too personal..."

"No, it's okay." She said. "When I was small, I only had my mom... I was her only child. She loved me a lot. Loved me more than any mother loves her only child. She taught me to survive in this harsh and violent world. It was her dream to go to Shiomm with me and live there."
"Innocence" he said, while his eyes fell away and slowly slid black irises to study the mist-laden woods around him.
"Losing your innocence, is like losing a limb."
The smile that appeared on his lips was neither cold nor warm - it was colourless.
"She crippled me"
"For that, I will cripple her.

Offline DannicaAngel

  • Kiloposter Society
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  • Posts: 1005
Re: SKY DEVIL, by surit87,
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2010, 08:52:25 PM »
She fell silent. She felt the tears coming again. "She couldn't make it... she died protecting me."

Bastian felt the urge to hug her and comfort her. Comfort her with his love. She came to him and he took her in his arms. She buried her tear-filled face in the warmth of his chest. He felt her delicate body... he felt the urge more and more.

"She loved me... and I don't know if there is anyone in this world... who can love me as much as she did." She said, sobbing uncontrollably.

She looked up at him. Her sadness disappeared all of a sudden as she looked at him. She moved his face closer to hers. Closer to her lips. And then she kissed him... kissed him with all the passion she could garner

***

At daybreak Bastian and Panance strolled a bit in the forests surrounding the Sakaadi village. Bastian came to know that little Panance was quite a boy to be with.

"So tell me about your parents Panance. What were they like?" Bastian asked casually.

"My father was a great warrior and my mother a great housewife." Panance replied.

"Hmmm... Interesting." Bastian remarked.

"Not that interesting among Sakaadis."

"Seems interesting to me." Bastian said playfully.

"I'll tell you something really interesting. Do you know the secrets of these forests?"

Bastian looked puzzled. "Secrets? Well, you did tell me about unicorns in Shiomm yesterday."

"No. Secrets. They're nothing like unicorns at all. We call them the Dahakanai - The World beneath the World."

"The World beneath the World?"

"Yes. Many times in this world you may find yourself in very dangerous situations. You know, situations that may decide your life. At times you may find some unknown force taking you out of these situations, out of danger, and, sometimes, you wouldn't notice it at all."

"I think that's called luck."

"No...No... It's not luck. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as luck. It's the force of good. Always the force of good!"

"Oh. Come on now! You cannot apply every coincidence with superstitious theories, Panance."

"Oh yeah? Well, let me tell you one of these coincidences... You ever seen a little pup?"

"Of course."

"Imagine that little pup dying without its mother and searching for milk in a jungle filled with wild beasts, all ready to tear it up into pieces."

"That pup wouldn't survive more than a day."

"But listen. Just listen. That pup, one day, is surrounded by hyenas. It's whelps out helplessly. It cries for help because it knows it's going to die. And as one of the hyenas move in for the kill, out of nowhere a tiger comes in and drives off the hyenas. A tiger saves the little pup!"

"The tiger probably wanted that pup for himself."

"Well, you know what happened later?"

Bastian looked even more puzzled.

"That tiger gave its milk to the pup. The tiger raised that pup all by herself and taught it to fight and kill for food, and defend itself from other wild beasts."

"That's insane!" Bastian looked astonished. "Stop joking, Panance." But Bastian saw that Panance was being as frank as frank can be.

"The pup now has grown up to be a wolf. It still roams the forests to this day, saving countless lives of those who are trapped by evil."

"I thought I told you to stop joking." Bastian couldn't, wouldn't, believe these words from the little Sakaadi's lips.

"What I'm saying is a well know fact known by all Sakaadi."

At that Bastian fell silent. He thought this world to be strange indeed. Stranger than his own. But he knew deep inside those things happened even in his own world too. And if someone gave an explanation like the one Panance gave, he would have been deemed a superstitious fanatic. But what Bastian heard, didn't seem superstitious at all. It seemed rather like a mystery... a great mystery, beyond the thinking of any scientific mind. Like in his world, Bastian knew, that a certain giant fish allowed little fishes to eat all the bacterial germs away from its body. Scientists could never explain why these things happened.

Now, here, all of a sudden, Bastian knew he would learn more about this world. He would learn wisdom from this small Sakaadi boy.

***

Ten minutes later they stopped and began to rest. Bastian could notice something bothering Panance.

"Something wrong?" he asked.

Panance looked a little embarrassed. "I have to take a leak."

Bastian laughed a little. "Go. When you're finished we'll start returning to the village."

He saw Panance waste little time and scurry off somewhere behind the trees. He sat on a dead branch and thought about the things the little boy had told him. He started to contemplate on this mystery of "the World beneath the World" and time began to pass. Bastian thought about where he had ended up and how he had ended up here. Any scientific or ‘rational' mind would surely dismiss that as a senseless babble. But the more he thought about it the more he was obvious. Could this unseen force have brought him to this place? But if it had, then why?

He continued to daydream as ten minutes passed away. Suddenly he broke off and saw around him. The boy had still not returned.

Slowly he got up. He looked around again carefully. Only the birds continued to sing and all the other weird things in the forest continued to chat. Bastian knew if something violent had happened then there would be a sudden rush in all of the nearby forest.

Thus, instinctively, he chose to keep quiet and not yell out the boy's name. He knew he had made the right decision when he came to the edge of a large clearing. In the center of the clearing he saw Panance, afraid but defiant, standing in front of a dazzling red-skinned man with a rifle. The man bent down in front of the boy and started to speak something.

***

The boy faced the man whose skin was more the scales of the reptile's than human. The man had large green eyes and his eyelids blinked from the sides of his eyeballs. He sort of grinned as he spoke to Panance.

"Listen kid. I know a village of yours exists somewhere near this place." He spoke with an almost reptile-like voice. "So tell me where it is and no one will get. Okay?" He added calmly.

Panance breathed slowly and fearfully. "You think I will ever trust Stanians. You killed my parents."

The man grinned even more. It resembled the grin of a lunatic.
"Trust me. I'm not like all the other Stanians. You think all of us want to exterminate you? Nah! Where's the fun if each and every other race is gone from this world?"

Panance said nothing and continued to stare. The Stanian sat down casually and checked his rifle. Then he pointed the rifle at Panance.

"Last chance, boy." He said. "Where's that little village of yours?"

Panance continued to stare and glanced momentarily behind the Stanian. The Stanian was startled by that sudden movement of the boy's eyes and as he was about to turn... Bastian lunged right onto him from behind.

The rifle fell from the Stanian's hands and Bastian immediately grabbed his neck and began to choke him as they both fell to the ground. The Stanian struggled to get out of the vice-like grip. Bastian grimaced as he nurtured all his strength to cut of the Stanian's air supply.

Panance picked up the rifle and aimed, trying to shoot the Stanian brute. But both of them rolled in desperation as if wrestling for their lives. The Stanian punched Bastian's ribs in an effort to get free. These punches felt like blows from a stallion's kick. Bastian held on desperately and tightened his grip. The Stanian started to cough wildly and gurgle. Then after some agonizing seconds later... finally... the Stanian succumbed.

Bastian let go when the Stanian was limp. He got up and hugged Panance who looked wildly frightened. Bastian himself breathed fast as he grabbed the boy and headed towards the village.

***

The first thing that Bastian received upon arrival was an affectionate hug and kiss from Kiela. It was as if she knew that both of them escaped the jaws of death in the forest back there. Then as Bastian told his story to Aasid he could see the faces of the Sakaadi tribesmen (a lot of them had gathered around them) grow excited.

When Bastian finished his story a huge commotion grew amongst the gatherers. Aasid noticed this.

"Silence!" He shouted. The commotion stopped at once.

"First of all, we must salute the bravery of these two...." Aasid continued.

"Aasid... it was nothing..." Bastian tried to interrupt.

"No, Bastian." Aasid said. "It was a display of extraordinariness. You and the boy, you will be remembered by us always from now on."

"Indeed!" A Sakaadi shouted and raised his rifle, firing into the air. The rest followed suit. At first Bastian thought it was for Aasid, but later he was astonished when he came to know they meant it for him.

"But this means also bad news for us all." Aasid remarked. The firing stopped. The faces of the Sakaadis turned grave. Aasid continued. "This means that the damned Stanians are coming closer and closer. We must evacuate as soon as possible or even the bravery of us all combined may not be able to stop their massive air force."

"He is right." One of them said. "We must move north to our sanctuary in Shiomm."

"I suggest that we start packing at once." Aasid said dismissively.

He came to Bastian and spoke. "I need you right now. I will be waiting for you at my house. It's very important"

Bastian nodded and Aasid went away. Kiela came up to him.

"I'm glad you saved the boy's life, Bastian." She said.

"Where is he now?" Bastian asked.

"He's in the hut. Don't worry, Rufus is with him."

"Guard him. I'll return soon."

***

Bastian followed Aasid into the forest. When they met earlier, the huge Sakaadi instructed him to follow and do just that, no asking questions. They continued deep into the forest. Deeper and deeper they went. Bastian could see the sun beginning its climb down into the horizon.

Soon they heard running water. When they got out into a clearing, they came to a stream. They followed the stream and finally they came to a dead-end of a small waterfall. Bastian could see some rocks sticking out from the stream that led into the outer side of the falls. The entrance to a cave.

"Follow me and watch your step." Aasid shouted and began to mount those rocks on the stream.

"Aasid..." Bastian began to protest.

"Just do what I say."

They walked into the cave. There was the faintest of light illuminating the path that led deeper into the cave. They walked on and soon the light became dimmer and dimmer until... finally they reached a small place like ... a room of some sort.

This room was illuminated softly by glow of light that seemed to be coming from one place. That place was a pile of stones that lay undisturbed in one corner. The place, Bastian saw, had a sense of sanctuary almost unknown to him. He had felt the same, back in those days when he saw the northern lights for the first time in his life.

"What... what is this place?" Bastian asked with awe.

"This, Bastian, is known as the Chamber of Legends." Aasid replied. "Back in ancient times," he sat down on a rock, "there were two more places just like this."

Bastian could not move his eyes away from those rocks that seemed to glow brighter and brighter but yet remained soft and vibrant.

"The other two were known as the Chambers of Conquests and Great Magicians. They were for great kings, rulers and sorcerers. But they vanished in the course of time by the will of the Creator."

Bastian could barely speak. He was mesmerized by the lights coming from the rocks. They appeared to him in more than just the shades of colors he knew.

"What is this place for?" He finally asked.

"This place was created for those... those who would sacrifice themselves for the lives of others."

Bastian looked at Aasid, marveling at what he said.

"Yes, Bastian, the Chamber of Legends is for People like you." Aasid said. "Out of the three chambers known to ancients, only this survived. Indeed it is a great mystery. This place has been here for a long time. Probably, even before time came to be. But still it lies here."

"You think I'm some kind of ... legend." Bastian said.

"I don't know if you are, Bastian. But I do know you have what legends are made of: Sacrifice. Your own words have testified to it when you told us how you saved the boy."

"No, I am not a legend."

"It doesn't matter what you know. The Creator knows everything. I am just an instrument of His, showing you the way."

"Creator! God." Bastian shook his head.

Aasid laughed. "Don't tell me you don't believe in a Creator. Then again what did you believe before you came here?"

Bastian looked at Aasid again. Yes, Bastian, what did you believe? Darwin, Science, Evolution, did you believe that?

"I myself ridiculed these things when I was a boy. But life, it seemed, taught me something else than to just ridicule. I thought I had all the answers. Turned out they were just make-believe answers." Aasid said. "No, Bastian, I don't know who you are or where you are from. But I do know that the Creator is with us forever, no matter how much we try to deny Him."

Bastian turned to the pile of stones; they glowed and invited him to partake of their glory. All of a sudden he knew what he must do, as if his mind was being controlled by a great and unknown force.

He reached out with his hand and carefully he touched the stones. The glowed their brightest when he touched them. For a moment, Bastian was filled with comfort and peace. Like the warmth of his mother. Like the love of Kiela. But it was more than just warmth and love. It was a supernatural force, assuring him that he was never alone and never would be.

"Just remember," Aasid said, "these stones do not indicate that you are a legend already. But rather, you have just taken your first steps like a small infant."

As they prepared to leave the chamber, Aasid patted on Bastian's shoulder and smiled.
"Also remember one more thing. You are the first human to enter this chamber. What you have seen and heard is for you and you alone."

***

~Chapter 6~

The journey to Shiomm was pretty much uneventful but Bastian was awestruck by the landscapes and the beauty of his surroundings. It was almost like the Alps of his world and at the same time it caught him as more than just mountains and scenery. The surroundings seemed to tell him about its history altogether. It told him that it stood there despite centuries of turmoil and suffering. It withstood the oppression of invading forces and still it was beautiful. But at the same time it was scarred.

They entered the forests through which Donovan and his guardians passed just days earlier. The day Bastian entered those forests with hundreds of evacuating Sakaadi villagers; he was taken in by the eerie atmosphere. One night when everyone around him slept soundly with their families and loved ones, Bastian stayed awake and looked on into the darkness behind the trees. He looked on and saw a snow white creature lurk behind those trees and stare at him with its eyes glowing like torches. The wolf seemed to roam around them, guarding them throughout the night.

"Bastian." A voice came from behind.

He turned around and saw it was Kiela.
"What are you doing this time of the night? You should be sleeping." She said.

Bastian shrugged and turned back to the spot where the wolf stood. It was gone. Bastian sighed.
"Have you ever had the feeling we're not alone here?" he asked.

"Yeah. Sure did." She replied. "But it makes me feel safe rather than afraid."

"Let's go back to sleep. I don't think there's any need for me to stay awake." Bastian said.

They slept soundly that night and there dreams were pleasant but forgotten the moment they woke up again in the morning.

***

Miles behind them, near the abandoned village of the Sakaadi, a group of red skinned men in jet-black leather uniforms scanned the grounds for their missing comrade. The leader of the group was not a foot soldier, but an air force commander by the name of Messon. He was accompanied by three foot soldiers who were earnestly roaming the grassy lands and cutting the overgrown weeds with large machetes.

Messon only stood and watched, until his ever alert nose caught the scent of rotting flesh which emanated from a place near where he stood. He started walking, slowly he did. His accomplices noticed Messon aroused by the smell and halted their search.

Messon sensed himself getting closer. Finally he caught he glimpse of a prostate body lying beneath the cover of overgrown grass. It was a Stanian, the one Bastian choked to death.

Moments later they discovered the village, empty and deserted. Messon smelled the scent again and tried to trace it. The scent was not rotten this time but it was something that had accompanied the dead man's scent from the clearing back there. Something human...

"Where do you think they fled?" One of them asked.

Messon's nose twitched as he felt the human's odor carry northwest by the strong winds. He smiled. No wonder that the high command felt he would be useful for the search party. He was, after all, known as the Bloodhound.

"They are like rats." Messon exclaimed. "Rats with an instinct for survival."

"So they are."

"But one of them is more than a rat. I can feel the smell... the one who killed Nero." Messon sniffed again. "The smell is that of a foreigner. A human... but not from these regions."

"Can you trace him?"

"Of course. But I doubt you'll meet him on ground." Messon sighed.

"What do you mean?"

"I know an airman when I smell one." Saying this, Messon walked away.

***

Bastian saw a humongous stone tower guarding a misty valley where they were about to enter. He looked behind and saw the exodus of villagers moving as cautiously as he was. Besides him Aasid spoke.

"Don't be afraid. Just stay close and don't get lost."

"Are we near?" Bastian asked.

"Very."

Bastian didn't feel safe at all. This place, this valley seemed far too much like a grave giant guarding an important place. As they moved on they saw more of the stone towers along the path they walked. Bastian could feel some crow like menace standing guard and watching from there.

At last he felt compelled to ask. "What are these towers?"

Aasid replied. "Very old. They are outposts made by a long and forgotten people. They are deserted now. Sometimes our people use them to stand watch in times of conflict."

"Were these people Sakaadi?"

"No, they're older than the Sakaadi. They were only known by their name - Krestus - the crow people."

An hour later, after walking through what seemed like an endless path filled with fog, they came to a place which at first seemed to Bastian like a garden. But it wasn't a garden, it was enormous. It was a place like heaven, filled with carpets of greenery, flowers, wild birds, flowing river. It was radiant in its colors and it almost struck Bastian blind.

Beyond the river, there was a large resort-like place complete with elegant stone houses and people waving at them. There were humans of all races, Caucasians, Mongoloid, Africans, and those more or less human - people who were Sakaadi and others who looked liked elves, dwarfs, and giants. Bastian couldn't believe his eyes. He felt like he was living a child's fairytale.

"This is ..." Bastian spoke.

"...Yes this is Shiomm. It's beautiful isn't it?" Kiela completed.

"The most beautiful place I have ever seen."

"Like me?" Kiela asked with a smile.

Bastian smiled back. "No not like you. You're more beautiful."

He turned and was pleasantly surprised to see Donovan waving at them from the other side of the river.

"Well, there's an old friend of ours!" Bastian said.

***

"We're doomed! Screwed! FUCKED!" Shouted a man, whose skin was all glossy blue, from head to toe.

Aasid was just finished having his dessert. He was obviously tired from the long journey. The cottage that sheltered him was warm and unusually elegant to him.

"What's wrong, Primo?" Aasid asked. "What seems to be bothering you?"

Primo looked grave. His blazing green eyes seemed to widen in horror and pain. He had had the same look when he strode into the room panic stricken. Kiela was there as well, she had finished eating long ago while Bastian was out conversing with Donovan.

"Our planes, Aasid..." Primo said. "There's too few of them! We can't mount a counter offensive if the Stanians decide to attack."

Aasid frowned. "Then I guess we'll have to use them defensively."

"That won't help us at all." Primo said. "We're totally outnumbered in the air!"

"What about those extra planes we have in our hangars?" Aasid asked.

"We don't have any pilots. For godsake we need pilots."

"I see." Aasid sighed and turned to Kiela. "Kiela." He said.

Kiela looked ready to answer. "Yes."

"Will you ask Bastian and Donovan to fly for us?"

Kiela thought for a while. "Sure. I think they'll agree."

Aasid turned again to Primo. "How many planes do we have?"

"Fifteen, including the human's triplane."

"Pilots?"

"Eight, minus those humans you mentioned."

"Then we can have ten fighters ready at our disposal."

Primo nodded.

"I hope the Creator is still on our side." Aasid remarked.

***

The evening before Bastian and the villagers arrived at Shiomm, Les Donovan sat at a gathering of people around a fire to watch a monthly ritual known as Dances of the Free World - the Kanaklia. Donovan was a little curious as he heard two humans start beating their drums in a slow and rhythmic tune. Two women, one human and one Hiraki - blue skinned humans, took to the center and starting dancing slowly. The women wore long silk dressed that appeared almost transparent in the light of the fire. Donovan could make out the curves of their bodies quite clearly as they danced in some ways resembling a smoother style of belly dancers.

For some strange reason, Donovan's eyes kept moving towards the Hiraki woman. She was a strange and eccentric being, with her blue flawless skin and cat-like green eyes. Her long hair was a lighter shade of purple and her face and body resembled those perfectionist statues of ancient Greece. Donovan saw her stare into his eyes as she danced, her hands above her face, and her waist swinging slowly as a pendulum.

A glass of grayish liquid was put in front of Donovan. He picked it up and drank without question, as he continued to watch the dance until it finally concluded.

Donovan could feel the effect of the drink when he entered a tent that looked like a gypsy's. He looked inside and saw the Hiraki woman dressed in a white silky gown and packing her clothes. Her back was turned towards him and her buttocks reached out for him innocently as she bent down.

"What's your name?" Donovan asked. The Hiraki was taken by surprise as she turned quickly.

"You." She remarked. Her voice was youthful.

"You didn't tell me your name." Donovan said.

"Mischa." She replied after a while.

Ten minutes later they were rolling in a bed after midnight. Donovan found out her blue naked body was a wonder. She was full of warmth and innocence. They kissed and caressed each other in bed for probably half an hour before Donovan got up in a sitting position on the bed with Mischa on his lap, preparing to thrust into her. He found the warm flesh between her legs welcoming him more and more as he went inside her. His hands clutched her breasts tightly as he kept digging more and more.

"Unhh...Unhh." Mischa kept moaning with her eyes half closed. Suddenly she felt her thighs stiffen as Donovan felt his body go loose. "What's wrong?" she asked.

Donovan grimaced. His hands almost squeezed her breasts. "It's gonna come. I can't hold it back anymore." She proved too much for him, to her innocent dismay.

"Wait..." she cried. "Don't cum inside me.... Don't" Her voice drowned in moans as he finally let go. She was defenseless and she succumbed to that warm wet feeling flooding inside her. She found out that she liked it.

"Oh Les..." She whispered. "I'm so sorry." Then she kissed him "I love you Les."

***

"NO. NO. NO. Absolutely not!" Bastian said, shaking his head.

"But why?" Kiela asked.

"Kiela. I know what it is like to watch everyone die around you. I cannot... I simply cannot."

"War is sometimes inevitable. People have to make a stand."

Bastian finally got up and moved towards her. "You don't understand. I DON"T LIKE KILLING. I HATE KILLING! I HATE WAR!" he shouted as his body shook with anger.

Kiela fell silent. "It's just that we're short of pilots." She said after some time.

Bastian finally began to breathe composure into himself. "Don't get me wrong. I could have helped you if it were possible for me... I have watched enough men die in front of me, all around me... I just can't do it any more." He turned to her. "I'm sorry."

"Donovan's agreed."

"Crazy British!" he remarked.

"It's okay. It doesn't matter." Kiela smiled.

That smile... so beautiful, Bastian thought.

"Only one thing matters." She said.

Bastian looked at her.

"Tell me if I am beautiful or not." She said through tears.

Bastian hugged her and kissed her. She should never stop crying, she's so beautiful. "Yes you are. More than anyone else in this world." He said.

Both of them were in tears again, when Bastian told her he had decided to leave and come back after their war was over.

***

It was almost midnight when Bastian showed up in Donovan's quarters. Mischa was getting ready to serve some of those grey drinks Donovan liked. Both of them sat near the fireplace as Bastian spoke. For Bastian and Donovan it was not unusual for them to converse even during the war but now it seemed unusually comforting to do that. Bastian knew it was the fact that Donovan was the only person from his own ‘world.' And he could finally discuss openly about the course of these few days ever since he had ‘transported' into this strange ‘realm.' Realm... Yes that was probably what this place is... A Realm... an Alternative Realm... to his own world! A distorted version of his own reality, which was exactly what this whole place was.

"This place. This entire world that we are in now has to be some kind of an alternate reality to our own, Donovan." Bastian said.

"Could be..." Donovan shrugged.

"But I can see the resemblances so clearly. Here people have the same emotions... the same feeling of logic... but in some strange way it's so much unlike our world."

"What are you saying?" Donovan asked with a mocking expression.

"I don't know. I wish I could explain."

"Well, I for once wish I could explain some of the things that have happened to me recently." Donovan said softly. He mind still echoed those visions of the wolf in the forest that saved his life. "And I wish I could figure out how I got here... and last but not least... I wish I could know why I think I belong with these people."

"Those are lots of wishes you have there." Bastian said with a smile.

"Well, I'm glad to say one of my wishes came true." Donovan said with a smile hinting at Mischa in the kitchen.

"Hmmm... It's going to be interesting to see how you're going to cope with a blue blooded wife." Bastian said. "And just why did you volunteer to fight for them?"

Donovan shook his head. "That's another ‘wish I could explains.'"

Bastian then told him that he had decided to leave next morning.

"Now, why the hell would you wanna do that?" Donovan asked dismayingly.

"I can't allow myself to be mixed up in another war. I've had enough."

Donovan was astonished. The great Devil in the Skies was a pacifist?!

"Where are you going to go?"

"I don't know." Bastian said. "Anywhere. Somewhere peaceful or somewhere lonely."

As Bastian got up and began to leave Donovan spoke again. "I never thanked you for saving our asses in that dungeon."

Bastian grinned. "Remember I also shot you down once."

***

~Chapter 7~

The hangar was cleverly tucked into a corner area of the settlement and in it were more than a dozen aircrafts, Bastian's Fokker Dr.1 among them. Among the lineup of airplanes, there were two silver monoplanes and the rest were all biplanes which Bastian took as the scout plane variety. Bastian's Fokker triplane was, in more ways than usual, an exception from the rest of the planes. It dazzled brightly in its snow-white camouflage color with red and white checkered wings. The sight told Bastian just how well his aircraft had been taken care of.

Bastian dressed in his flight jacket and cap, pulled on his protective goggles, and wrapped a long yellow scarf around his neck. He escorted two men, who had pushed his Fokker onto the runway, out of the hangar. Among the people who had gathered there was Panance, who had indeed taught Bastian more about this world than all the adults ever could. Besides Panance, stood Kiela, Aasid, Donovan, and Rufus. Donovan stood with his newly wed wife Mischa. Somehow, Bastian shared Donovan's fascination with the Hiraki woman. But the two persons to whom Bastian immediately turned to were Kiela and Panance. Both had tears in their eyes.

Bastian knelt down in front of Penance. The boy had Kiela's arms around him as he struggled to fight back tears. Children are all so innocent in a thousand different worlds, Bastian thought as he wiped the tears away from Panance's cheeks.

"Why must you go?" Panance asked.

Bastian found he was unable to answer now as he fought back tears of his own.

"Promise me you will come back." The boy said.

"Yes Penance. I promise." He got up and wiped the cheeks of Kiela as well. She said nothing. He knew she needn't be assured.

"Beautiful as ever." Bastian said and found a smile on her face.

He jumped into his plane's cockpit and seconds later the powerful Le Rhone engine began to hum loudly.

"Auf Wiedersehen, my friends." Bastian shouted and smiled.

"Same to you, buddy." Donovan said and casually saluted.

Kiela stood there and watched for about ten minutes as the aircraft flew into the horizon. The yellow scarf floated in the slipstream as the aircraft flew further and further away from them. Finally he was gone and the dawn of blue and orange covered the last speck of the plane.

***

Elsewhere Messon whistled a cherry tune as he readied for the flight he had demanded from his superiors. He had been the first to indicate the direction of Shiomm, thanks to Bastian's scent, thanks to the great bloodthirsty bloodhound. He deserved to fly his squadron over Shiomm. He deserved to play a little with the sorry air forces of the pitiful resistance. And most of all, he deserved to fight against this new human pilot.

Like Bastian, Messon cherished the thrill of the chase. But unlike Bastian, he cherished, even more, the kill. The climax of the hunt. The final shots, the burning fuselage, the pilot's screams in the flames - the crescendo to his tune.

He also liked music as well.

***

Kiela sat near the runway from where Bastian departed, she sat alone and contemplated. What now? There was the void inside her again. It was always there ever since her mother died and in these past few days Bastian had filled it with warmth and love. Now it was there again, leaving her cold and wanting. But Kiela wanted herself to be alone now. She wanted the emptiness now. Sometimes it seemed that people embrace what they fight for so long.

She thought of Bastian and she thought she would never see him again. Then her thoughts were dismissed by some distant noises of engines. She became elated momentarily. For once she thought it was Bastian returning. But wait! There were more of those noises. She looked to the South of the settlement, she looked to the skies. In the distance, yes, she saw it. And she was horrified and scared for her life.

In the distance, about twenty purple monoplanes were moving towards Shiomm. They flew in attacking formation. Leading them was Messon - the bloodthirsty bloodhound of Stania.

Kiela ran immediately towards the town center. Her immediate goal was to alarm the settlers. As she almost reached there, she was thrown to the ground by the impact of a powerful bomb. The debris of a smashed house flew all over her. After that she heard the reports of gunfire coming from the attacking planes. The settlers were shocked; some of them were blood splattered. Kiela tried to get up in the shellshock trauma, and as she did she saw severed limbs among the ruins of the house.

Above them, Messon was mowing down the fleeing settlers with machine guns. He dove at them and fired upon them. And he enjoyed doing so.

Civilians... they're killing unarmed civilians. Kiela found herself thrust by her hand into a house. She saw it was Panance. The boy took her to a corner of a deserted house where they cuddled up while the vibrations of the bomb impacts continued.

"Why don't we fight back?" Panance shouted.

"I'm sure we will, honey. Just stay close to me." Kiela said as she noticed that she was bleeding from her forehead.

***

Bastian saw something in front of him as he flew his Fokker. It was dazzling with beauty, like silent music among lights. It resembled the lights that he saw back in the cave. It captured him and mesmerized him. At first he thought he was seeing the Northern Lights, but something told him that this wasn't what he thought it to be. It seemed much more and something that led in a way towards something else.

Could this be the door?, Bastian thought. The lights in front of him invited him almost supernaturally to step through the portal. But Bastian saw himself being held back by something else. It was the wind that blew against him. But it wasn't just the wind. It was also his mind. The memories of a recent dream. It sprang up again. Bastian was astonished at what just entered his mind.

"Can I touch it, mother?"

"Maybe one day you can, Bastian. But I doubt you'll want to, when that day comes."

For seconds he was empty and ashamed. Ashamed at wanting to abandon for what he was destined. But then he found some force filling him with courage. His eyes closed and his fists clenched. Suddenly he knew what he must do.

***

Panance shivered in the arms of Kiela and sobbed bitterly. In the background the bombs thundered and shook the ground and gunfire sang dreadfully.

"Are we going to die?" Panance asked.

"I don't know, honey." Kiela said softly.

Seconds later the house vibrated so much that the foundations almost gave way. Debris fell all around them throwing up a mist of dust that didn't recede until almost two or three minutes later. When the dust cleared, both the faces of Kiela and Panance became pale at the sight of something that had dug into the ground at the center of the room where they had taken refuge.

It was a shell of a bomb, cracked in some of the areas, but still, somehow, intact. Kiela's eyes widened with horror. "We must get out of here." She said. She saw the planes diving outside and riddling the streets with bullets.

***

Nine pilots, among them Donovan, climbed onto the cockpits of their planes. The Hangar, in some parts, around them was in flames but they were glad the aircrafts were untouched. Quickly they strapped on their goggles. The leader of the squadron - a reputed man named Ortiz - nodded at Donovan. Donovan gestured that he was ready. The engines started and the planes began their take-off. Moments later they were in the sky.

Immediately the Stanians pursued them. Gunfire erupted as the first resistance aircraft caught fire but two more Stanians were shot immediately in retaliation. Donovan took pursuit of the enemy squadron leader along with Ortiz. He wished he had his Se5 with him as the aircraft he was flying would not respond to him sooner in maneuverability. However Ortiz's silver monoplane cut and turned quickly like a mosquito. They chased the Stanian in front of them. Messon looked back and grinned.
Ah. Company.

He began to turn rapidly but both Donovan and Ortiz banked and stuck with him. They chased and exchanged fire for some minutes before the Stanian suddenly dove into the village. Ortiz gave chase. Messon seemed to be flying straight into the town center, until suddenly he turned vertically and rolled over and into the rear of Ortiz. Ortiz looked back and saw the Stanian behind him. Messon grinned as the silver monoplane moved steadily into his gunsight.

He opened fire.

Ortiz's wings took damage and they began to dissemble in midair. Flames erupted from the fuselage near his cockpit. He screamed as the flame touched him and then he knew he was finished. His plane exploded to shreds seconds later.

Behind Messon, an enraged Donovan opened fire. The Stanian panicked for a moment as he banked to evade the bullets. He turned vertically again and found Donovan doing the same but slowly.

Damn, you piece of shit. Donovan was visibly frustrated by the slow response of his plane. He banked and tried hard not to let the Stanian behind him. But soon he found himself in an absurd position, his plane upside down and face to face with Messon's aircraft roaring towards him. He could see the Stanian grinning in his cockpit.

Messon opened fire. Donovan did likewise. They both screamed in fury and they flew headfirst towards each other, their guns blazing in rage. Donovan's wings took the bullets first. A second wave of bullets just missed his head. His plane immediately dove and caught the ground beneath. He crashed straight in and Donovan jumped out onto the ground as the dumb slow aircraft went on straight into a house and exploded.

Donovan got up and nestled his bruised and battered arms. He looked up and was relieved to see just about half a dozen Stanian fighters in the sky. Then he tried hard to catch a glimpse of any friendlies that may have survived. There were none to be found. All the resistance airplanes were shot down.

Messon had resumed his mauling of the ground peoples. He was impressed that some of the settlers below him had begun to fight at last. One of the Sakaadis ran under a turret and aimed the gun at him. It was Aasid.

"Come to me. Fight like a man, you butcher." Aasid shouted.

Messon dove in and fired. Aasid fired likewise. Both of them missed and Messon broke off. Another Stanian aircraft followed and dove. Aasid fired again, this time he had all the time he needed. The bullets smashed the cockpit into smithereens and the plane collided headfirst into the ground and exploded.

"DIEEEE......." Aasid yelled in triumph. Above him a Stanian dropped a shell that landed right near the turret. The bomb exploded and the impact threw Aasid right into the wall of the turret. His face had caught fire. He screamed and beat against himself in pain. Then he stopped moving when the pain had taken its toll. He lay still... dead.

Messon had resumed his butchery. He flew right over some fleeing groups of people. He saw their faces as he dove. Faces of women and children amongst them. He smiled grimly and opened fire.

***

Kiela and Panance stuck to each other as tightly as any two individuals could. They were poised to run... run for their lives, as they knew that death was right in front of them, disguised as some sort of harmless metal object.

"On count of three, Panance, run. Stick with me and run. You understand?"

Panance nodded. His face was full of tears but his expression had composure.

"One..."

The bomb lay still. But there was a faintest of sound that they could hear.

"...Two..."

The dust danced around them. The sound they could make out now was a slow tick tock like a clock. Tick...tock...tick...tock...

"THREE!"

They ran out of the house... past the bomb... through the door... right onto the dead center of the street.

Tick...tock...tick...tock... BOOM!

The explosion blew the house apart. A gigantic ball of fire rolled upwards and the remains of the house seemed to scream in agony from the flames that had grasped it from all over. The impact had caused Kiela to grab Panance and throw both of them prostate on the ground. They lay still for a moment.

Above them, Messon saw both of them dive from the explosion and signaled one of his pilots to move towards them. A Stanian fighter dove in and flew towards the two figures on the ground. Panance saw it and tugged Kiela's battered coat. She turned and saw the plane coming straight at them. Its image reflected on her pale blue eyes.

"GET DOWN! PANANCE." She yelled. Panance obeyed but she herself was frozen. Dead frozen. She was astonished as her body became paralyzed. She couldn't move herself... couldn't bulge an inch. Then in the midst of it all, she started laughing... laughing like a defeated, fatigued soldier.

The plane moved ever closer... and then, when it was about to fire, it exploded and blew apart. The wreckage headed straight for them both. Kiela caught hold of Panance's arms and both of them jumped away from the wreckage's path of agony.

It couldn't be... how can it just blow up in midair?

Then in a moment of triumph... she found the cause of the Stanian's destruction, the cause flew over them in the cockpit of a dazzling Fokker Dr.1 triplane. Bastian Scholz waved at them both, his yellow scarf floated gloriously behind him.

"BASTIAN" Panance shouted in wild cheer.

Messon was horrified. He could not believe the sight of a red triplane in the sky. But he instantly knew who this was. It was the human whom Messon had tracked. In all his years of service he had never felt fear for his life at the sight of the enemy. Now when he saw the Fokker turn and head toward him, he felt mortal fear. Mortal and dreadful. And he almost quivered.
No. No. This can't be happening.

"Yes. Butcher. Now you will pay for your murderous atrocities." Bastian said.

***


Two Stanians flew towards Bastian, one from the front and the other from the rear. The Stanian on the rear opened fire. Bastian dodged effectively, but stayed on the path waiting for the enemy in front of him to get closer. Then without any sign of preparation, Bastian whisked his plane away with ease. The Stanian firing his gun was bewildered to find himself shooting right on his comrade who was heading straight for him. They collided in midair, the explosion sent piles of debris racing toward the ground.

That's impossible. Messon thought, his face full of unbelief. In just a matter of seconds the triplane had effectively destroyed three of the most decorated fighters of his squadron. Even as he was thinking, Bastian headed straight for him. Messon signaled his comrade to break off and try to distract that demon of a plane.

The Stanian broke off and banked away, inviting Bastian to chase him. But Bastian fired sooner and the Stanian was spiraling towards the earth from only a few bullets fired and effectively conceded in the engine.

Messon wasted no time to pull into Bastian's rear. Bastian turned rapidly away and began to move into the Stanian's side. Messon came vividly into Bastian's gunsight and as Bastian pulled the trigger he heard only the dreaded ‘click.' His Spandau machine guns had jammed.
Blast it.

Bastian moved away and invited the Stanian to chase him. Messon accepted the invitation. They moved into the mist south of Shiomm. Messon chased the Fokker and tried hard to find Bastian in his gunsight. The Fokker was behaving like a goddam fly.
Stay put, you damned Devil from hell!

Then Messon got just what he asked for, the Fokker moved into his gunsight for a mere four or five seconds. Messon fired immediately. The bullets missed mostly. But some two or three had found its target.

Two had ruptured the fuselage, one had torn through and pierced straight into Bastian's side. The German shrieked in pain as the bullet hit him. Smoke came from the fuselage. His jacket was damp with the wetness of his blood. Bastian grimaced in agony as he tried hard to control his muscles. They were numb. He breathed slow, and carefully and barely was he able to fly his plane.

Behind him, Messon was elated. I'll tell of my accomplishments to my entire superiors, they'll have to make me Air Marshal. He was eager to fire and finish of the Fokker, which amazingly still maintained its path. The Mist grew thicker now, thicker than ever. Messon could now only see the outlines of the triplane and the black smoke it bled.

What are you doing fool? Finish him off now.

Messon felt the urge to fire... and fire... and fire with rage and blow the triplane to pieces. He would exact revenge for how the Fokker made him afraid.

"Die...."

Suddenly the triplane banked away and in its stead was the large and black outline of a tower which headed straight for him... or was it him that was headed straight for the tower?

"No...No...No...No...No...No...NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Messon crashed straight into the tower and his monoplane exploded with him into pieces.

***

Kiela saw the Fokker again, only this time it was badly damaged. Bastian waved towards her and the other people to clear the road on which they stood. They immediately did so and soon, somehow and someway, Bastian was able to land his Fokker. The inhabitants of Shiomm, badly shaken and still in trauma were tending to the injured and the dead.

Kiela and Panance ran towards Bastian as he struggled to climb out from his cockpit. Bastian saw them coming at him, the flow of blood almost ceased within his body making him numb and unable to think clearly. He could hear the pump of his heart begin to fade slowly. He was barely able to walk his first steps and then he fell to the ground. Kiela ran up to him, sat down and laid his head on her lap.

She felt for his body, it felt cold. She saw his face. It was not the face of a person in agony but it was, rather, the face of an exhausted man, longing to rest after a lifetime of enduring cruelty and torture. When he saw her, he felt peace at last. He saw both their faces and he saw the family of peace again.

"Kiela..." Bastian said hoarsely.

Kiela wept, she knew the minute she felt the coldness of his body that she was holding a dying man in her arms.

"Yes." She said through uncontrollable but silent tears.

"What do you do for something that is beautiful?" he asked.

What Kiela heard astonished her. She was moved to even more tears when she realized how much he had loved her.

"Fight for it, Bastian... Fight for it." She replied.

This time the tears of sadness mixed with the tears of joy. Never would she and Panance, once orphans, be alone again. Bastian assured both of them when he touched their tearful faces for the last time. He shed a tear and then breathed his last.

Further away in the distance, a snow white wolf watched and shed a tear of its own.

***

~Epilogue~

Now you may want to know what Bastian's sacrifice would possibly mean to these strange and eccentric people who were fighting for freedom. The answer is, a lot. Bastian's heroics would inspire a new generation of pilots and more advanced airplanes under the guidance of Les Donovan. Soon, and very soon, the resistance was finally on equal terms with the murderous and oppressive Stanians. The conflict was fought on for another decade before finally a truce was declared.

There was a change in the Stanian leadership. Finally they chose a leader who was humane and a seeker of peace and coexistence. The two sides embraced each other after centuries of conflict and war. The people from both sides moved on. And both sides honored the legend now known as Sky Devil.

***
"Innocence" he said, while his eyes fell away and slowly slid black irises to study the mist-laden woods around him.
"Losing your innocence, is like losing a limb."
The smile that appeared on his lips was neither cold nor warm - it was colourless.
"She crippled me"
"For that, I will cripple her.