Jordan Price was like most boys on New Holland. He dreamed of dancing in the sky like the Sky Dancers. To fly among the clouds under his own power. There is only one problem. Only women could be Sky Dancers, and Jordan was a boy. Then came the day that would all change.
The Chamber of Cleansing.
As Jordan led Reverend Mother Katsumi into the Chamber of Cleansing she was brought up short. There before her were thirty-seven teenage boys, all naked as the day they were born. More than a few of them showed signs of abuse at the hands of their family. Jordan heard tales of abuse towards males in some Sky Dancer families, but had always put them down to stories told to frighten males in to behaving.
Here though was the truth of those stories. She also realized that she had been lied to. That was evident by the presence of the manacled and shackled young boys around the room. None of them had come here willingly.
Reverend Mother Katsumi had also realized they had been lied to. There were more than a few of them that were barely into their teens. Katsumi used her AI and contacted Sister Sara and Katlyn. After ordering them to meet them at the Cleansing Chamber, Katsumi turned to Jordan. “Tell me that the male children of Sky Dancers are not all treated in this horrid manner, Jordan.”
Jordan sighed and looked up at her. “No, Reverend Mother. Not all male children are treated such as these have been. In fact, I would say that these poor souls are the unlucky ones.”
“WHAT?” Katsumi’s surprise was clear as the upper skies to Jordan. Jordan also knew that she would have to explain, before Sara showed.
“Please try to understand Reverend Mother. I am the exception to the rule, when it comes to the Black symbiont. There have only been seventeen pairings in all our history. For all the power of the Flight Leaders, black symbionts scare them to their very core. This fear has been passed down to their children and the children of every Sky Dancer. The Blacks are so feared that the black symbiont eggs are normally placed off to one side where they cannot find a host and die, upon hatching.” Jordan left the rest unsaid. She did not have the heart to tell the Reverend Mother that these boys had been sent here in desperation.
“Are you telling me that the Flight Leaders sent these children to either survive or die trying?” Jordan just nodded her head to Katsumi’s question. Jordan didn’t have the courage to answer aloud. “How in the name of the Goddess can they call themselves mothers?”
“Reverend Mother, the answer to that is simple.” Sara’s voice with its bitter tone drew the attention of both Jordan and Katsumi. “They did this to give their people a fighting chance against the Sky Pirates. Most Sky Dancers do not look upon their sons as true members of the family. My own mother is Supreme Flight Leader Helen Campbell, and if I was still under the age of majority she would have sent me here to bond with a black.”
“How barbaric! How can a mother just sacrifice their child like? No mother should see their child as disposable? Tell me something Sister Sara. How did this attitude come about?” Katsumi had to fight to keep her anger in check. Not even during the last war did Empress Maiha force children to fight. Even among the Knights Maiha had gone out of her way to try and keep them out of the fighting.
“Please understand Reverend Mother. This attitude towards the males of the families took many generations to come about. The problem started when most of the symbionts would only bond with females. Over the generations daughters became preferred over sons in these families. So much so that the Gift of Life banks and the Temples no longer tell Sky Dancers the gender of a child until it is born. The legends of there being black symbiont pairings have been relegated to just that legends. No one wants to admit that they are true. To do that would-be heresy.” Sara let all the anger over the way the boys of Sky Dancers were treated fill her voice.
“I see. If that truly is the case then the Empress was right in sending me here to oversee the Bonding and training of these boys. What I want to know is why the Flight Leaders would send nothing but minors?” Katsumi was more concerned with this fact than the attitude of Sky Dancers.
“Because that was all there was to send Reverend Mother Katsumi.” Jordan saw no need to beat around the bush with the woman. She knew for a fact how many males were currently under the age of majority in all New Holland, but were old enough to face bonding with a symbiont.
“There is also the fact that certain Flight Leaders would not have sent the best candidates. The idea of supporting this endeavor goes against everything they stand for, so those Flight Leaders will do their best to ensure failure. Believe me Reverend Mother when I say we have an uphill fight on our hands, no matter what happens.”
“I see. Sister Sara, Sister Katlyn, see to these boys. I will be back in one hour. And if I see one fracking pair of shackles or cuffs you will both be spending the next two years on New Caledonia.” The threat of spending two years on one of the coldest planets in the Empire sent chills down the backs of the two nuns. “Jordan, how long do we have until the eggs hatch?”
Jordan looked down at the floor and thought about that question. Doing the math in her head Jordan didn’t like the numbers she was coming up with. “I will be right back, Reverend Mother Katsumi. I need to check something out on the glass.”
Before Katsumi could say anything, Jordan was out the door and heading for the arena glass. Once there Jordan went from egg to egg looking and feeling each one at a time. The more eggs she inspected the less the dread filled her. When Jordan realized that none of these eggs were ready to hatch she sighed in relief. “At least they didn’t drop Hatch ready eggs on our asses. We have time to get ready, at least forty-eighty hours. Thank the Goddess, for small blessings.”
Jordan hurried back to the Chamber of Cleansing. She wanted to be in time to tell the Reverend Mother the good news. Well as good as it got. All the eggs had been delivered and none of them would hatch within the next forty-eight hours. Now, all they needed was the rest of the candidates. They were still short seven boys, and Jordan had a bad feeling about the ages of the last ones for some reason. She had no idea of how prophetic that feeling would be.
As Jordan entered the Chamber of Cleansing, she was brought up short by what she found. Sara and Katlyn had all thirty-seven of the boys cleaned up and in Postulant robes. There was no sign of Reverend Mother Katsumi. This worried Jordan for a few seconds, until she remembered that Katsumi was in charge of this Bonding.
“Where’s the Reverend Mother, Sister Sara?”
“She went to the Temple, Jordan. She said something about getting enough trainers to help us out. I wouldn’t put it past her to come back with every available Ida-ten Knight at this outpost. Most of the ones in this Temple are combat veterans, so they will be the best trainers and teachers on all of New Holland.” Sara answered her truthfully. Sara didn’t tell her that was exactly what the Reverend Mother said she was going to do. Sara and Katlyn had heard of Reverend Mother Katsumi’s legendary temper, but had never seen it. Today they did.
It was said in hushed and reverent tones that the only persons to have a more violent temper was the Empress Maiha or the War Princess Alison. The two Nightingale nuns had no desire to piss off the Reverend Mother Superior any more than she already was. What set Katsumi off the most was when the youngest boy was asked his age. Not even Sara or Katlyn who were used to the attitude of the Sky Dancers expected the boy to say he was only thirteen years old.
“What happened while I was inspecting the symbiont eggs, Sister Katlyn?” Jordan asked the nun quickly.
Katlyn sighed and looked over at Jordan, then the gathered boys. “Reverend Mother Katsumi found out the real ages for all of the boys. Jordan, none of them have reached their majority. More than a few of them are barely into their teens, Jordan. Even the ones that are considered close are still a year or two away from their majority.”
Jordan sighed and looked down at her hands. “I’m not surprised. After all sons are nothing more than living sperm banks to most of the Sky Dancers. They figure that they will either die during Bonding or go insane forcing us to put them down. There is also the fact that these children are the only ones that the Flight Leaders would be able to get a hold of. Remember that when a male reaches his majority they leave home, sometimes just a few months before their Majority Day, Sister Katlyn. Some even leave the day after they turn seventeen.”
“She’s telling you truth, Katlyn. I myself left four months before my Majority.” Sara looked over at Jordan before asking. “How many of your brothers are still on New Holland, Jordan?”
“I only have one brother, Sister Sara. The last I heard from Robert he had signed on with one of the Crystal Mining Companies as a deep dive crab operator. That was over five years ago now.” Jordan’s very blunt admission of where she thought her brother was shook Katlyn to her core.
“Katlyn, I can count the number of family members I still have on New Holland on one hand and have fingers left over. They are all Sky Dancers, if you want to know. My own brother is now a Death Dealer as you know. That is the fate that awaits all male children of Sky Dancers. They either go to the mines or join the military. Most do both. They first go to the mines and work until they save enough credits to make the jump out of the system. After that they join whatever military force that will let them. The few that stay here, stay in the mines or join the Aerial Defense Force.” Sara knew that her friend was unsettled by this. The shock and discomfort was evident on Katlyn’s face.
Then one of the youngest boys there hugged Katlyn for no reason. “It’s okay, Sister. We all know what is going on. Most of us volunteered for this chance. If we die then that is the luck of the draw. Even our sisters face that fact when they bond with a symbiont.”
“What of the others?” Katlyn asked. “The ones that didn’t volunteer?”
Nine of the boys stood up, and Katlyn could tell that they were the oldest ones in the group. The oldest by his looks stepped forward. “We may not have volunteered like the hatchlings, but now that we’re here we’re all for it. Besides, it’s better than driving a crab looking for Casper Crystals in the lower levels. This way we either die or survive with a chance for something better in life.”
Katlyn sighed as she realized that the boys were doing the best they could in their current circumstances. Then she had a thought and looked over at Jordan and Sara. “Um… seeing as how you two are the only experts we have on Sky Dancers; can you explain why this place is called the Chamber of Cleansing to me?”
The boy that hugged her smiled up at her. “This is where we’re supposed to confess our sins, passions, and dreams. Once we’ve done that, we’re supposed to take this special bath of some kind. Other than that, your guess is as good as ours.”
Katlyn looked over at Sara and Jordan. Both just gave her sad smiles, but it was Jordan who answered for them. “Boys don’t ever get told what happens within this chamber, Sister Katlyn. I don’t know about what Sister Sara was told, but I know nothing beyond what the boy just told you.”
“Sorry, Katlyn. I can’t give you any more than they have. Even at my last sister’s ascension I was never allowed into this room. All I know is that my sisters would come here three days before the hatching. They did not leave once the outer doors were closed and sealed.” Sara explained.
“So, no one knows what the boys are supposed to do. That’s just fracking great. Can you two be of any more help?” Katlyn snapped sarcastically.
“They are not at fault, Nightingale.” The voice from the doorway was one that Jordan was not expecting to hear. She turned to see the person who the voice belonged to and almost shit herself. “Yes, my daughter, I have returned. I also have the Supreme Flight Leader’s blessing.”
“Why?” was all Jordan asked.
“Your Bonding happened without a proper Cleansing. The Supreme Flight Leader sent me to ensure that does not happen with these children. As for her reasons for sending me, there are a few.” Ileana just smiled at Jordan. “The most important is I am your mother.”
“No offence, mother, but I doubt that is the biggest reason.” The scorn in Jordan’s voice was palatable. Even Sara and the others could hear it. They all flinched at the harshness.
“Very well, I have stepped down as the Flight Leader for my old Flight.” This confession stopped Jordan cold. “I have gotten too old to truly lead Jordan. As it was I barely held control over my old flight. I no longer have the strength to fend off the challenges to my position. It is better this way. I can now spend my time teaching you, Raven, and your new Flight of Blacks. And I don’t mean just how to fly and fight either.”
“That is quite the confession Flight Leader Ileana. What brought about this change of heart?” All eyes turned to where Reverend Mother Katsumi stood in the doorway.
Ileana looked around the Cleansing Chamber at all the boys there and said just one word. “Them.”
Traditions and truths.
Reverend Mother Katsumi considered the face of Ileana Price and knew she spoke the truth. “What is it about these boys? What is it about this situation that has forced your change of heart?”
“Too many of the Flight Leaders are willing to throw the lives of these boys away to save their own. My child may have conquered a black, but that doesn’t mean these boys will be able to do the same. I want to give them the best chance of success that I can. That is why I am here.” Ileana knew that the Reverend Mother and two nuns lacked the knowledge to truly understand what was going on in the Sky Dancers, politically.
Katsumi could tell that Ileana was hiding something, but let it go for now. She knew that Jordan needed the help that only a Sky Dancer could give. The biggest help would be in how the traditions of Sky Dancers were passed on to the young men and boys. There were just certain rights, passages, and ceremonies that were known only to the Sky Dancers.
“Okay, mother. You can stay, but only until they take flight. Then you have to leave.” Jordan was going to lay down a few more rules, but Katsumi stopped her with a raised hand. “Reverend Mother, I bow to your judgement in this matter.”
“Thank you, Jordan. I believe that it would be best for your mother to stay and help you with training these young Thunder Hawks.” Katsumi looked over at the gathered boys and smiled. “They and you need the traditions that only your mother can teach you all. Starting with preparing them for the bonding tomorrow morning.”
“We have more time than that, Reverend Mother Katsumi. Those symbionts will not be ready for forty-eighty hours.” Ileana looked at the boys and smiled. “The first thing that needs to happen is give them all a bath.”
When the boys heard this they all groaned. None of them wanted to get into the flowery smelling water that filled the Cleansing Chambers bath. The bath was more like a shallow pool. As they slowly lowered themselves into the water Ileana began to walk around the outer edge. It was as if she was looking for the first signs of rebellion among her young charges.
“I know the water is hot and smells of flowers. I know that you want to dunk yourself deep in the warmth, but do not do it. Keep your heads above the water. Let the water soak into your skin. It will soften it and remove your body hair. Yes, you heard me correctly. The chemicals in the water are there to remove your body hair. When you step onto the glass you must be pure of body and soul. That means no body hair, no waist in your bowls, you must be totally clean inside and out. If you are not, your bonding will be needlessly painful. Remember, the symbiont is part of you from this day on, until your death. You become one with it, and it becomes one with you.” Ileana looked over at one boy who started to get out the pool. “I did not say that you can leave the water, Paul Andrews.”
“Flight Leader Ileana, I don’t think I can go through with this.” The teenage boy told her honestly.
“I know that you are afraid, Paul. I will be honest with you all, if I had to face what you will on the glass I too would be afraid. No woman has ever successfully bonded with a black. Everyone that tried has died. Only seventeen times in all our history has there been a successful bonding with a black, with my child being the eighteenth. Your mothers have sent you all here to do what they fear. Unlike the rest of the Flight Leaders, I believe in you, all of you. Every one of you is a promise of a better future for New Holland. Have any of your mothers told you of what happens in here?” Ileana was smiling as she addressed the boys.
As she talked to them Paul Andrews returned to his place in the pool. Seeing that she had all their attentions Ileana began to tell them of the ceremony that they would go through. “First, one baths in this pool for six hours. This is to allow the oils and chemicals to cleans your bodies. I know that most of you are used to just a few minutes taking a shower in the morning. You can no longer take such short baths. Once you have bonded with your symbiont bathing will be an important part of your daily life.”
One of the younger boys looked up at Ileana, and asked. “Why? Don’t the symbionts just get rid of our waste like everything?”
“No, Markus Allen. The symbionts take our waste and pass it through your skin. Failure to bath will affect your flight performance. Remember this fact young Thunder Hawks. Your survival in flight relies on being clean.” Ileana could see that the boys were giving her their undivided attention.
“Flight Leader, why have our mothers kept this knowledge from us?” One of the oldest boys asked. “What is so important that we couldn’t know what goes on in this chamber?”
Ileana sighed before answering. “Long ago, during the first bonding’s it was felt that we should keep the traditions of Sky Dancers from the outside people. The reasons behind this, were two-fold. The first of which was the level that our symbionts bond with us. Unlike the bio-armor of the Second-Generation Death Dealers our symbionts change us down to our DNA. When you bond with your symbionts you become a race other than human. The second reason is one that must be kept a secret. There is a reason that all FEMALE Sky Dancers who step onto the glass are virgins. When they bond with a symbiont it is very much like rape. The symbionts take our virginity as for the blood needed to make the bond.”
Ileana saw the looks of fear on the faces of the boys, so did Jordan. When they look to Jordan she knew that she could not lie to them. “My mother is telling you all the truth. That was how it was for me.”
“I too went through this seventy years ago, ten years before even Supreme Flight Leader Helen Campbell was born.” At the boys’ looks of amazement Ileana smiled. “Yes, children I am the oldest Sky Dancer in all of New Holland. I will celebrate my ninety-seventh Life-day in a few months. That is also something that you all have to look forward to. A very long, long life. What most citizens of New Holland do not know is how long Sky Dancers live. The exceptions are Flight Leaders. Most of us die during Challenge Flights for control over the individual Wings and Flights. A regular Sky Dancer can expect to live over one hundred and fifty years before being claimed by old age. If we don’t die while defending our city.”
“But Flight Leader, my mother has always told me that we are a peaceful people. That we do not make war. We only fight to defend the cities. That is why no Sky Dancer child joins the Death Dealers or Imperial Military.” Ileana knew who the boy’s mother was and knew where that Sky Dancer’s oldest son was. She decided it was time to put an end to the lies.
“That is what we try to teach you, Richard Lang, youngest son of Krystal Lang, Wing Second of the Bright Frost Flight. The truth has nothing to do with what we want. Even now, your older brother John, flies a First Strike Fighter with the Imperial Navy. He is not the only son of a Sky Dancer to join our Empire’s Military. My oldest son, is part of the five-twenty-first Jump Infantry Death Dealer Division on Calladonia. The Supreme Flight Leader also has a son who is a Death Dealer. I could stand here for the next forty hours giving you name after name of Sky Dancer sons who have left New Holland to join the Empire’s Military. All that would do is waste time. Now, as I was saying for the next six hours you will not leave this bath. If you should need to use the restroom then you can leave, but must return to the pool.”
What Ileana didn’t tell the boys was that after about one hour they would all need to use the facilities. One of the chemicals in the water made the body want to void. A need that was so strong there were eighty stalls in the Cleansing Camber just for that reason. Continuing her walk around the pool Ileana considered each boy in passing. As she looked each one in the eyes, Ileana saw the flickering of a fire. A fire that was their rage at being first sent here, and then abandoned. She remembered the words of her daughter Jordan.
“Now, those doors will be closed, locked, and sealed after the first six hours. If you are still in this chamber when that happens children you have only one path left to you.” Pointing at the doors that lead to the hallway for the glass Ileana lied. “That path is through those doors and onto the glass. After that point on, you live or die by your own will. This is truth. Do you have the fire inside of you to do what my own child did by chance?”
Every boy looked around the pool at the ones next them. Ileana could see that they all had the fire inside them, but were only looking to see that they were not alone. Ileana sat down on the edge of the pool placing her feet in the water. With a smile that reached her eyes in more ways than one Ileana placed her hand on the shoulder of the boy nearest her.
“Yes, I can see that you all do. Now, as I said at the start I will answer any, and all questions, little birds. What is your next question?”
One of the youngest boys raised his hand as if he was in a classroom. Ileana nodded her head for him to ask his question. “Why are the blacks so feared, Flight Leader? There has to be more to it than just their power.”
And there is was, the one question that Ileana had been waiting for. “What do you boys know about symbionts and their hosts?” at the blank looks Ileana knew the answer. Only her son now daughter showed any idea of what she was talking. “Jordan, would you be so kind to tell your Wing the first rule that I taught your sisters?”
“Emotion is deadly to Sky Dancers. ALL emotion must be controlled always. Your symbiont feeds on emotion, the more emotion the stronger it becomes. Never let your emotions rule you, because when you do you give control over to your symbiont and baser desires.” As Jordan recited the lesson, the one she heard her mother recite over and over to her sisters, the meaning behind it became clear.
Even Jordan could see the danger that she presented to the Flights. The Supreme Flight Leader had pointed to the fact that she needed to be able to control her emotions to control her symbiont. Jordan once again remembered something else her mother had taught her sisters. “Of all emotions, anger must be the one you control the most. Anger leads to rage, and rage leads to the berserker.”
“Very good Jordan. I always knew that you paid more attention than you let on.” Ileana smirked at the look on Jordan’s face. “Yes, Jordan, I always knew that you were eavesdropping on your sisters’ lessons. I also know about every time you slipped into the area to watch as I trained the Fledglings.” Looking over at the boy who asked the question. “AS my daughter has pointed out to you all. Emotion is deadly for Sky Dancers. While our symbionts are a part of us, we are a part of them. While our emotions are effected by the needs of the symbiont, our emotions effect the symbiont’s response to those emotions. The stronger the emotion the greater the response. Do you understand, children?”
Paul Andrews looked up at her. “So, if we feel angry, the symbiont amplifies the anger. Is that correct Flight Leader?”
“That is correct Paul. However, it is not only anger that is effected. Love, sadness, happiness, ALL our emotions are amplified by the symbiont. So much so that a symbiont could take over the mind of its host. That is the greatest fear for all Sky Dancers. That is why Flight Leaders gather at the outer edge of the glass at every bonding. We gather to stop an out of control symbiont. With the power that we Sky Dancers are gifted by our symbionts an out of control symbiont is far too deadly to even consider.” Ileana had the attention of every boy there. They had all seen what Ileana had just described to them.
“That doesn’t explain the fear of the blacks Flight Leader.” Paul said.
“The black symbiont is more than just the most powerful, Paul. It is the only symbiont that we know of that is male. It takes powerful emotions and iron will to control those emotions. That is the reason why Sky Dancer females are taught from the time we could walk to control our emotions. You, as males, were never taught this, and the reason why I believe that you can conquer the blacks so easily. You don’t hide your emotions, but use them. That is another reason why you have all been sent here.”
“Excuse me, Flight Leader, but where did the Hive Queens come from?” Ileana hadn’t expected this question, and most especially from the boy who asked it.
“You are David Steel, oldest child of Loran Steel, Wing Second with the Grand Illusion, correct?” the boy nodded his head yes. “A Hive Queen is more than just a symbiont. What do you know of the founding?”
“New Holland was founded a little over eight hundred years by a group of gas miners. The first city was nothing more than an outpost. That outpost specialized in hydrogen gas for the earlier jump engines. The found the first Casper Crystals by mistake while cleaning the filters. That one crystal paid off the original cost of migration for the colony. Everyone knows this, Flight Leader. The Sky Dancers appeared sometime around the forty-year mark after the founding.” David answered honestly.
“Well, that is only partially true David. In truth, the original colonist did more than just find the Casper Crystals. Among their number was a woman who was a biologist, geneticist, and bio-engineer, Doctor Alvilda Jørgensen. One of the biggest problems that our founders faced was how to get to the most valuable of Crystals. Crystals that could only be found in the deepest parts of New Hollands atmosphere. You all know about the deep dive mining crabs, well they were only the second part of the solution. The first part was the symbionts. These were the brain child of that woman. At first the founders tried to use both men and women as hosts. To this day, we don’t really know what went wrong, but none of the men survived the way you would expect. Their bodies were changed in such a way that only a few really lived. Now, please understand there were no black symbionts back then, but the other colors along with one more, the purples or royal symbionts. There were twenty of these royal symbionts, ten went to the men and ten went to the women. Only the males survived these bonding’s. Every female died on the glass. It was those ten, royal bonding’s with males that produced our Hive Queens. Yes, children, you heard correctly. The very first Hive Queens came from the bonding between men and purple symbionts. Over the next centuries only fifty-seven royal symbionts have been hatched and bonded to a host. One for each city.”
“Excuse me, mother, but are you saying that the Hive Queens are male?” Jordan asked the question on everyone’s mind.
“No, Jordan. The Hive Queens are both, male and female. The Hive Queens have always been of both sexes. Before you ask, there have been no new royal or purple symbionts in over five centuries. Why we don’t know. I have a theory about this, but no proof to back it.” Ileana didn’t want to go into what was one of the biggest nightmares of Sky Dancer politics.
Jordan caught the double meaning behind her mother’s words, and changed the direction of the conversation. “So, back during those first bonding’s, the symbionts were supposed to be some kind of protection against the pressure of the lower depths. What happened to change that?”
Ileana smiled at her daughter’s direction change. “The answer is simple. Pirates. Back then pirates were an even bigger threat to the cities, and mines. So, Doctor Jørgensen, went back to her lab. Once there she took the original DNA for the symbionts she had created and changed it.”
Jordan asked a one word question. That one word would have far reaching consequences. “How?”
Ileana was proud of how her daughter wasn’t backing away from the hard truths of Sky Dancers. “She combined the attributes of three animals. The Great North American Eagle, is where we Sky Dancers get our wings. From the Ballgahga Giant Bear, comes our strength. The last animal she used was the Black Eels of Heaven’s Frost. It was from these eels that we gained our electrical attacks. As for where the symbionts first came from no one knows really, only that Jørgensen produced the first ones in five months.”
“Where did the blacks come from then? If she didn’t make them who did?” asked one of the boys on the far side of the pool.
“The blacks come from the Hive Queens. They are the ones who made the black symbionts. You see children, the black symbiont is every color of symbiont in one. They are the most powerful of all symbionts, but they are also the second rarest of them all. The rarest being the purple or royal. Now before you ask after those first ten Hive Queens were hatched and bonded the rest came from a secondary bonding with a Gold.” Jordan’s eyes grow wide at hearing this from her mother.
“That would have been my fate if there was a purple on the glass anywhere on New Holland. When a Flight Leader becomes too old to hold on to their Flight they either die during a challenge or as I did step down with grace and dignity. If, however, there is a purple on the glass we are presented to the royal symbiont. From there it is a matter of will on whether we control the symbiont or it controls us. After the second bonding our bodies become the base for a new Hive Queen. Growing in size to that of a monster. We first lose the ability to move, let alone fly. Even the food for a Queen is brought in through special passages, to keep young eyes from seeing what we become. It is a fate that Flight Leaders and golden symbionts all fear. Thankfully, I have avoided that fate.” Ileana looked over at Jordan who had turned white as a sheet.
Jordan, like all sons of Sky Dancers, never knew about where the Hive Queens came from. Also, like all boys, he had sneaked down the tunnels to pear at the monstrosity that was the bloated body of the Hive Queen. From her memories came the image of that thing. The Neo Amsterdam Queen is just over three meters tall, with a tail that swelled to over five meters across and ten meters long. The things legs were withered and useless, while the arms were bent and ended in claws that would rip apart a man. The face of the thing looked nowhere human and more insect in appearance. There were no wings on the monster’s back, but what looked like stubs where the wings should be. All in all, a truly nightmarish sight. The thought of her mother becoming so hideous a thing sent a shiver down her spine.
“Flight Leader, how is it that the Sky Dancer females still have children well into their eighth or ninth decade? I have wondered about that from the first time I saw how wide the margin was between siblings in Sky Dancer families.” Sister Katlyn asked of Jordan’s mother.
“It has to do with the fact that ALL female Sky Dancers only come into season once every twelve months. Their first season is normally around their twenty-fifth Life-day. From that day on we can have one child every year until we are grounded for life due to old age. Which for most of us is around one hundred and twenty or so. Most of us though, try to space our children out. Having one every three to five years, with four being the average. I hope that answers your question Sister.”
“It does indeed Flight Leader.” Katlyn wasn’t the only surprised with the answer. Jordan had never expected her mother to be so open and honest.
“Mother why are you being so forthcoming with all these answers? You never would answer them at home. Why now?” Ileana smiled up at her daughter. She knew that Jordan wouldn’t back down now.
“We are in the one room that no Sky Dancer dare lie in. Nothing but truth may be spoken in the Cleansing Chamber. This is OUR Temple, Jordan. It is also the FINAL step in every Sky Dancers’ journey onto the glass. The exact same journey that all of you are now undertaking.” Ileana looked over at one of the younger boys who started to rub his stomach. “Leave the pool, Adam Muller. Your body has entered the first stage of cleansing. Use the stalls dear, but leave the door up.”
The boy left the pool and did as he was instructed. Ileana looked at the others. “From now, if you feel your stomach cramping just get out of the water and use the nearest open stall.”
The boys all nodded their heads hearing this. Another boy around Jordan’s age asked the next question. “Do the Hive Queens talk to each other, Flight Leader?”
Ileana smiled over at the boy before answering. “We know that they do communicate with each other, but not in any way that we understand. I for one have never had what you would call a conversation with a Queen.”
“Why would the Hive Queens make black symbionts if only men can bond with them Flight Leader?”
Ileana looked over at the boy who asked the question. She gave them a one word answer. “Protection.”
Jordan did a double take, along with all the other boys. Ileana could tell that none of them understood. So, she explained in a way they would.
“While Sky Dancers are powerful, we do have weaknesses. The first of which is we can be killed just like a normal human. We are not invulnerable. While we place our Hive Queens deep in the belly of every city, they can still be killed by a well-placed, or lucky, missile and torpedo shot.”
Unlike the others, Jordan had not seen the hole in the belly of Neo Geleen. Ileana, looked around the room, and saw the same thing in every boy’s eyes. Now, she truly smiled to herself, it was just as she figured it would happen. The moment these boys heard of what happened here they would be filled with a righteous rage. “Do any of your wish to leave now?”
Ileana sat there waiting for any of the boys to get out of the water and leave. She knew that the bonds of family would be a driving force for these boys, but not as strong as their need for justice. That was the one thing that every Sky Dancer child was drilled with. When none moved to get out of the water she asked. “Should I signal for the doors to be sealed?”
As one the boys all stood up and bowed to Ileana. Returning to the water the oldest of the boys moved across the water towards her. “Flight Leader seal the doors. You want warriors, you will have them in us.”
Ileana stood up and headed for the doorway that lead away from the Cleansing Chamber. Once she stood in the doorway Ileana called out in a voice clear as the noonday sky. “SEAL THE CHAMBER! LET NONE PASS WITHOUT BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS!”
There was a load thudding sound as the two massive doors to the Chamber were slammed shut. This was followed by the sounds of chain being pulled across heavy metal handles. All those inside the chamber could hear the order to ‘apply the seal’. Ileana returned to the poolside and once again sat with her feet in the water. Jordan seeing her mother do this joined her, by taking the spot next to her on the left.
“Excuse me, Flight Leader.” Ileana interrupted the boy by holding up his hand.
“Now that, we are alone children, please call me Ileana. Jordan, don’t even try it, I am still your mother.” The room full of boys could be knocked over with a feather. None of the boys believed they would ever call a Flight Leader by their first name. Ileana saw this and smiled. “Boys, you have all joined a very small and elite group of people the moment that door was sealed. Do any of you know why we are called Sky Dancers? Or how we came to be called that?”
“That was my question Flight…” The look from Ileana stopped the boy, and he quickly changed his address. “Ileana. I asked my mother once and she just said that I won’t understand. Then walked off.”
“As you know our symbionts were originally supposed to be nothing more than a way for us to survive the lower deeps. When we became the defensive force for the cities we became something more. The first few times we fought off the pirates those cities got lucky and didn’t lose anything. However, the Wings all had heavy losses. Not all the deaths came from the pirates but other fliers. Our founders were close to ending the project. If it had not been for a former member of the air-defense fighters we very well could have been nothing but a footnote in our history. This young man came to us and offered to teach the original Sky Dancers how to first fly in formation, how to fight in formation, and how to work as a unit. To help teach those very first Wings the young man used a loud-speaker and music. When the people of Neo Amsterdam first saw, the Wings flying to the music they started to call those fliers Sky Dancers. As they were dancing in the sky.” Ileana smiled as she told the story of the first training flights.
She didn’t realize the effect the story was having on the boys around her. Sara and Katlyn stood off to the side watching as the retired Flight Leader began to teach the new Wing. Even during their time as novices none of their teachers had the effect that Ileana was having on students. Jordan could only sit in stunned silence as her mother taught the secrets denied ALL men since the beginning of New Holland’s history.
“Once you have all bonded with your symbiont you to will be taught to fly the same way.” Looking over at Jordan, Ileana smiled to take the sting out of her next words. “Jordan, I know that you were taught by Ida-ten Knights how to fly as a single flier, but now you must learn to fly in formation with your Wing and lead your Flight. I will do my best to teach you this and other things that a Flight Leader needs to know.”
“Ileana, whatever happened to that young man?” Asked Sara.
“He died, during the pirate raids defending the glass during an ascension. He killed so many pirates that no one could pass him without climbing over the bodies of the fallen. The Flight Leader of the time for the Golden Halo took his last to honor him.” Ileana knew that Sara did not know the origin of her last name until now. “Oh, yes Sara Campbell, your family owes their name to a man.”
“Ileana, ma’am, you never finished saying how the black symbionts are better at protecting the Hive Queens.” Ileana looked over at the young boy who had asked the question.
“First of all, is their pure unchallengeable power. No Sky Dancer can match the raw power of the black symbiont. Just ask Jordan. My lightning bolts pale in comparison to her thunderbolts. Next up, is the speed that is at the command of a black. Jordan, routinely outpaced her escort when she flew between cities. She learned to maneuver in ways that exploited that speed. That maneuverability is also one of the greatest advantages that all blacks have. Jordan can easily out-maneuver any normal Sky Dancer. I have seen this myself. Then there is the fact that blacks are two to three times stronger than a normal Sky Dancer. In short, children, one Thunder Hawk is equal to two Golds or three Blues.”
One of the older boys raised his hand. “Ileana, why do you call a black, Thunder Hawk? Aren’t those some kind of mythical birds?”
Jordan just smiled as her mother looked over at her. “Would you care to answer this one, dear?”
“Yes ma’am.” Looking over at the boy who asked the question, Jordan sighed. “The answer to that last question is yes. It is also the reason why we are call Thunder Hawks. You see the Flight Leaders look upon us as the ultimate Sky Dancer weapon. We bring death and destruction in our wake to the enemy. While, we bring peace and justice to our people.”
Jordan was interrupted by the sound of a dumbwaiter arriving with the evening meal. Ileana decided to put all questions off to the next day. “Well, I believe that we have gone over enough for one day. We have more than enough time once you have bonded to answer more later. Eat, and get ready for bed. The next twenty-four hours will be very hard on you all. For starting tomorrow morning, you will each confess everything about your life and plans for the future.”
Confrontations and Confessions.
The next twenty-four hours were some of the hardest that Sisters Sara and Katlyn had ever dealt with. To the two Nightingale Nuns, the battlefield was easier to deal with. It started shortly after breakfast. By now the boys were fast getting over the fact that they were abandoned by their families. The problems came in two forms.
First there was the fighting between the older boys. None of them want to accept the fact that Jordan was going to be the Flight Leader. This was avoided by Ileana pointing out they were free to challenge Jordan at any time for the position of Flight Leader. When the oldest of the boys questioned Ileana what she meant, she smiled.
“All you have to do young Johann, is defeat Jordan in one on one combat. You do that and you can be Flight Leader. Now, seeing as how you feel that you have the right to question the orders of the Council’s Representative, you first have to get through me. Which, will be infinitely easier than taking on the only Thunder Hawk to ever be appointed Flight Leader.”
To drive the point home as to how hopeless that task would be, Ileana crushed a clay cup in her hand. Looking over at Jordan she smiled. Jordan got the hint and picked up one of the steel pitchers that held milk. With a slow steady squeeze of her hand Jordan crushed the pitcher. Johann backed down seeing that he was for now out-classed. As the boy backed away Ileana leaned over and whispered in Jordan’s ear.
“That one will need to be watched, Jordan. He or one of his friends will sooner or later try you. You’re forewarned, now be forearmed.”
Jordan answered the only way she could. “Understood, Instructor Ileana.”
It wasn’t long after that, that Jordan spotted the next confrontation. One that would have to be put down hard. Johann and his two friends started to threaten the younger boys. This time, she didn’t bother with subtlety. Jordan walked up behind Johann and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck. “I will not tolerate that type of bullshit in my Flight, Johann. You try it again and I will end you.”
Throwing him face first into the pool, Jordan turned to the gathered boys. “Let this be perfectly clear to all of you. There will be no dominance games within our Flight. Understand something, when we fight one of us will either die or be severely injured. We need every Thunder Hawk we can to fly. I don’t care what you think about how you wound up here, you’re here now; and part of this Flight. This is now your family. We live or die as a family. Understood?!”
Even as Johann was starting to climb out of the water the other boys all answered they understood. Jordan looked down at Johann. “This is your last chance Johann Thorn. Do not make me regret giving it to you.”
For some reason the shocking display by Jordan put a stop to the fights before they were even born. None of the boys thought that Jordan would take the stance that she had. The idea of obeying the Sky Dancer Council was totally beyond their comprehension. Even Sara and Katlyn were confused by Jordan’s actions. Only Ileana knew and understood what Jordan was doing. When Sara and Katlyn confronted her about this Ileana sighed.
Taking the two Nightingale Sisters off to one side Ileana explained. “There are two factions within the Sky Dancers. Just as there are in most political organizations there are conservatives and progressives. Only for us those two factions are the exclusionists and the inclusionists. The inclusion party wishes to bring in new blood from the rest of the population. In other words, throw open the assentation ceremonies to the general population. They also want to end certain practices. The first of which is forcing our sons to leave the nest just before their majority. Another thing they want is to end the Challenge Flights. Too many Sky Dancers have died in those. The inclusionists want to allow older Flight Leaders to retire peacefully, not to be forced into it. As you can tell by their name the exclusionist party what to keep the old ways firmly in place. As you may deduce, the exclusionists outnumber the inclusionists.”
“So, your other reason for being here is to ensure the success of the boys. That’s why you warned Jordan about certain Flight Leaders. I wish I had known this before Flight Leader Ileana.” Sara snapped.
“You were to be kept in the dark for as long as possible Sister Sara Campbell. Those are the orders of the Supreme Flight Leader. Orders that I will follow, even though I have stepped down from my former position. Do not assume otherwise. YOU, above all, should understand that there is more going on here than what I have said. Now, I need the two of you to do the one duty that neither I nor Jordan can perform.”
Sara looked at Ileana with mistrust. “What duty is this?”
“I need you to act in place of our Priestesses and hear the boys’ confessions. Can you do this for them?”
None of their training had prepared them to be the confessors for forty-four teenage boys. While it was difficult to hear the dreams, sins, and aspersions of the boys, the smell that came from the stalls was sickening. It filled the Cleansing Chambers with its foul presences and made the duty that much harder. When they asked Ileana, what was in the water of the cleansing pool, Ileana refused to answer with more than that it was for the boys own good. Little did the two nuns know that the boys’ bodies were being purged of all toxins. Both inside and out.
By the time the boys walked out onto the arena glass their bodies would be as pure as the day they left the womb. The biggest problem that the two nuns had was getting the boys to open up to them. They were still viewed as outsiders. It took Sara snapping at one point, and biting the head off of one the boys in Neo-Dutch to change this. All the boys heard Sara castigate the miscreant with merciless fluency of their native tongue.
As the two nuns heard the confessions of the boys, they came to realize that their dreams of the future all fell into two categories. The first was the one that belonged to the older boys. They all dreamed of joining the elite Death Dealer units. They had all heard of those men and women. This was the common dream for the sixteen and seventeen-year-old boys. Among the young boys, those who were between thirteen and fifteen, they still hoped to fly among the clouds of New Holland.
There was one common thread among all the boys that Sara understood all too well. They all felt betrayed by their families, and had a great deal of animosity directed towards them. Katlyn, not being from New Holland had a hard time grasping this fact. So hard, that she needed to talk with Jordan and Ileana to understand why the boys were even still here.
“Sister Katlyn, the answer you’re looking for is simple. They ALL want the same thing, revenge. They want to prove that they are not second class citizens. That they belong in the skies just as much as their sisters do. Trust me, tomorrow when they step out on to the glass, they will be afraid. Every one of them will be afraid, but they won’t run. No matter how hard or painful it becomes, they will fight to conquer the symbionts. They’ll do it just to prove that ALL men can to do it. Just to spit in the face of their mothers and sisters.” Jordan looked down at the floor for a moment then at her mother. “That’s what drove me, when my symbiont bonded with me, to conquer it.”
Ileana had known there was more to her daughter’s success in bonding with her black symbiont. Something that Jordan hadn’t wanted to admit to. “It will be the same for them as well Sister Katlyn. Jordan used her hatred to fuel her will to survive. The others here will do the same. I know that I too am guilty of treating my child in the manner she has described in the past. I will not use sweet words when I finally face my day of judgement to ease my soul. No I will face my sins for what they are and take my eternal punishment as being just.”
Needless to say, Jordan and Katlyn were shocked by Ileana’s confession. This one act was heard by the boys, and it opened the flood gates. Soon, the boys were opening up, more and more, to the two nuns. They also started to ask questions of Jordan. The most asked one being, ‘Are you a girl now?’. It took Jordan showing them that she still had her male sex organs before that question stopped being asked. The next one being ‘Will I look like you after the bonding?’ or ‘Will I look like a girl too?’.
Ileana and Jordan saw no reason to lie and answered truthfully. When one of the youngest cried and screamed, he didn’t want to be a girl
Jordan almost snapped. Her mother stepped in front of the boy and demanded to know what was so bad about being a girl. When the boy couldn’t answer her right away Ileana took the thirteen-year-old by the hand and walked off to one small area of the chamber. An hour and half later they came back and the boy apologized to everyone for being a crybaby. None of the boys held it against the youngster. Hell, most of them had felt the same way, but didn’t voice their own worries.
Close to three in the morning Sara and Katlyn called a halt to the confessions. Ileana agreed with them, along with Jordan. After sending the boys to bed for the last time in the chamber the four gathered at the table placed there for meals. Katlyn was the first to broach the subject.
“Ileana, how many of those boys do you believe will survive the bonding?”
“To be honest, Sister Katlyn, may be half. Of those forty-four candidates, I fear that we may have to kill one out of every two. I wish that were not the case, but there has never been a hatching of this many blacks in all our history. While they are the most powerful symbionts, they are also the most unstable and hardest to control.” Ileana was truthful and it hurt her to be so honest.
Jordan just sat there not saying anything. She knew just how hard it was to conquer her own symbiont. It was not until now that she realized that her mother would have been forced to kill her or even her sister if their symbionts had been the one in control. Even after centuries an out of control symbiont was still a very real fear for Sky Dancers. The question that faced Jordan and her mother now was how would they stop an out of control black symbiont.
Sara answered that unspoken question for them. “I’ll make the arrangements, Flight Leaders. Do not worry, there will be no out of control symbionts. You have my word on this.”
Blood on the glass.
Finally came the morning of hatching. Ileana led the forty-four boys over to a shelf cover with jars. Taking one down, she took off the lid and turned to the boys. “In this jar is neo-sight, or royal jelly. It is produced by the Hive Queens. You are to cover your bodies from the neck down. Do not miss one inch. Do not worry if the jar runs out, just come up here and get another jar. Understand, this is important. The jelly helps with the bonding process. It deadens the nerve ends and allows the symbiont to bond easier with the candidate. Be sure to coat the inside of your rectums as well boys.”
More than a few groaned hearing this last part. When one went to argue, Ileana shut him down. For the first time in the last forty-eight hours Ileana Price showed the cold hard stern Flight Leader that she was. “If you want to feel what is like to have a pole shoved up your ass feel free to ignore me. If you doubt that feeling ask Jordan. She did not have the chance to prepare her body the way that you do now. Her bonding was painful and was the closest thing to rape a male can experience. Help each other to ensure that you are all coated thoroughly.”
Once the boys had done as Ileana ordered she led them out the door and on to the area glass. The early morning sun glinted off the golden colored jelly that covered the boys. Taking each boy by the hand Ileana placed them before individual eggs. Once she had placed them where she felt best Ileana looked at them all saying. “Once the eggs start to hatch step into the symbiont. Let it flow up your legs. Once it has reached your waist throw off your robes. From this day on you will never again have need of clothing as your symbiont will forever provide the protection that clothes do. Whatever happens, do not fight the bonding, let it happen. The symbionts will not harm you unless you fight it. Let it cover you completely. Then use your emotions to win dominance over your symbiont. You will lose your virginity to the symbiont, boys. This is part of the bargain that you make with the symbiont. Your blood for its power.”
Ileana finished giving her last piece of advice and walked to the edge of the glass. She then waved for Jordan to walk out to the center of the glass. Jordan did as her mother ordered. Looking around at the gathered boys. Taking a deep breath Jordan called out. “Shortly the symbionts will emerge from their eggs. When they appear, do not show fear, brothers. Instead, let your anger fuel your will to survive. Our sisters and mothers fear the black symbiont for a reason. It takes the unbridled emotions of a man to conquer the blacks. Emotions they lack. It is time for the Thunder Hawks to rise and our rightful place among our people the Sky Dancers.”
Jordan looked at the faces of the youngest three. She could still see fear lingering in their eyes. Jordan went to each one in turn, placing her hand on their shoulder Jordan smiled. “I too, was afraid when my symbiont first came to me. I almost let it overwhelm me. It was my anger and desire to be free that allowed me to conquer my symbiont. Just remember that I am out here with you. You can do this.”
The boy she was standing next to, looked up into Jordan’s eyes. “Is it really that painful? Because I hate pain.”
“I won’t lie to you, Terry. The way I did it. Unprepared, fully clothed and totally off guard, felt like I was being split apart. You, and all your friends here have gone through a full cleansing. Both inside and out, not to mention spiritually. I bonded with my symbiont raw, and unwillingly. You go into your bonding ready for the challenge.” Jordan smiled and looked over at the others, then around the area glass. “You all are; do me and your families proud.”
Jordan walked over to join her mother as they waited for the eggs to hatch. “You did well, daughter. You calmed their fears, and fanned the flames of vengeance in your Wing. They shall make you proud when they take wing.”
“By the Goddess, mother. I hope you’re right.” Jordan looked over at the four Saint George Knights. “I just pray that we won’t need the Knights.”
“I hope that as well Jordan. We both know what is at stake here. Forty-four possible Thunder Hawks, all equal in power to you. The fear of an out of control black is far too real, as is the possibility of one. I was faced with the possibility of having to kill your sisters and yourself. This is the fate of all Flight Leaders, my dear. This is just one of your duties.” Ileana never took her eyes of the glass and the boys. Jordan heard the sad tone in her mother’s voice.
“Mother, how long did you have before you rose to the position of Flight Leader? Who did you have to fight for your old position?”
“I was a Flight Wing Second for nine years, under Flight Leader Racheal Pines, before rising to Flight Leader. She died during a pirate raid in my twelfth year as a Sky Dancer. No one challenged me at first. For thirty years, I went unchallenged. It was my own Wing Second, Gloria Remer, who first challenged me. She tried to force me into the City Watchtower during our Challenge Flight. She wasn’t expecting my roll-tuck or the lightning strike. She flew head first into the tower at top speed.” Ileana had to fight the tears that threatened to come at the memory of a onetime friend and lover, besides second in command who died at her hands.
“How many have died at your hands on the glass mom?” Jordan’s voice was just above a whisper in fear of hearing her mother’s answer.
“Fifteen. One of which was a sister, and one daughter.” This time Ileana just wiped the tears from her eyes. Even as Jordan wrapped her mother in a hug, she knew that one day, even today, she might have to do what her mother had.
“Mom, how can we tell if the symbiont is the one in control?” Jordan whispered in Ileana’s ear.
“Their faces, Jordan, their faces.” Ileana sniffled. “Remember the Hive Queen’s face? That is how we can tell. If our candidates look anything like that, then we must do our duty. And protect the rest of New Holland from an out of control symbiont. I pray that we do not have to go there.” The was a note of finality in Ileana’s voice that reached Jordan’s ears.
Jordan knew that is was up to them to do the right thing. She could clearly see the face of the Hive Queen in her mind. She also knew that the Queen might have started off as human, but there was nothing left there now. That, was why the Flight Leaders always said killing an out of control symbiont was a mercy.
Pulling back and looking her mother in the eyes. “I will do my duty, mom. As the only Thunder Hawk Flight Leader, it falls to me, not you. The Knights will not be needed, send them away.”
“No Jordan, this is one time that they may be the only way to stop an out of control symbiont. Remember, you withstood the attacks of four Golds. People who are as powerful as I am. No, if we have an out of control symbiont it will take the weapons of those Knights to stop it. All we can do is ensure that they target the right one. That is our duty, Jordan.” Ileana looked out at the boys, with a sadness that only someone who’s killed in mercy could have.
Before Jordan or Ileana could say more the sounds of an egg cracking echoed across the area glass. Both Sky Dancers scanned the glass searching for the hatching symbiont. The fearful look on Terry White, the youngest of all the candidates let Jordan know where the first hatching was taking place. Not thinking of the consequences Jordan hollered out to Terry.
“YOU ARE A THUNDER HAWK TERRY! YOU CAN CONQUER THE BLACK! YOU”RE MORE THAN STRONG ENOUGH! DON’T BACK DOWN, ATTACK IT!”
The boy looked up at Jordan then down at the egg in front of him. Ileana, and the other witnesses saw the change in the boy’s face. Fear was replaced with grim determination. Then in a load clear voice Terry stepped up to the egg throwing off his robe.
“I am Terrance Richard White! First son of Corah White, Red Sky Dancer, for the Boundless Skies Flight. AND I AM A THUNDER HAWK!”
The other boys looked at the youngest among them. The reactions varied among the older boys, but the most dominate was pride. Among the younger ones their looks were ones of ‘We can do this’. Every boy stepped up to their egg throwing off their robes the way Terry did. Names were hollered at the tops of voices, with the names of mothers and Flight Wings, all fallowed by I am a Thunder Hawk. Ileana did not realize at the time, but this one simple act would have far reaching and long term consequences. This one act would forever change the way ascensions and bonding ceremonies were conducted. What Ileana did see though was how this change helped the boys as the first symbionts left their eggs.
Instead of the fear locked candidates as would be seen with females, the boys were embracing the symbionts. They were not just letting the symbionts climb slowly up their bodies. No, the boys were squatting down placing their hands into the symbionts as if to embrace them. Instead of the statues of formless blobs, were solid forms of black humanoid shapes. Ileana could already tell that the boys were exercising their wills over the symbionts, and winning. Everywhere she looked on the glass Ileana could see the small drops of blood from the boys surrender to the symbionts. Unlike with the females these bonding’s would have far greater impact on the way life on New Holland.
“And a New Era begins.” Jordan looked over at her mother with questioning eyes. Ileana pointed to the glass. “There is the future of the Sky Dancers, daughter. We will no longer have to go to the Gift of Life banks for our children. The only problem we face now, is teaching your Flight of Thunder Hawks control until they are ready to mate. For most of them it will be several years, but, for a few that time will come sooner rather than later. Just as it is for you.”
It took Jordan a few seconds to realize what her mother was talking about. Then she remembered the day Supreme Flight Leader Helen first visited her. The fact that she barely controlled her symbiont still scared her to this day. No, she was not yet ready for her first mating flight. Neither were any of these Thunder Hawks. Jordan voiced her concerns. “How shall we prevent this mother?”
“And that is why Neo Geleen was chosen. The only Sky Dancers here are you and your Flight of Thunder Hawks, Flight Leader Jordan Price.”
----- to be continued -----
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