Dreams of Dancing in the Sky -Part 4

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Dreams of dancing in the Sky

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

Chapter 13

Light and Shadows.

Arena glass for Neo Geleen

It would be serval hours later before the first of the new Thunder Hawks awoke from their fights with the symbionts. Just as happened with Jordan, once the boys had asserted their will over the symbionts they passed out. Sara, Katlyn, and the four Saint George Knights could only stand and watch during the hatching. As the only witnesses to the ceremony, besides Jordan and Ileana, they were amazed at the courage of the boys. The six members of the Ida-ten Temple were all battle-hardened veterans and seen bravery under fire. They had never seen a totally selfless act of bravery on this scale.

At first, they could see the fear in the eyes of the boys, but then Terry’s act of defiance spurred them all. There was no fear on the glass as the boys attacked the symbionts body and soul. One of the Black Swords turned to Sister Sara. “There are some of the bravest young men I have ever seen. They would make a fine addition to any unit anywhere, sister.”

Sara looked up at him and smiled. “For those forty-four young men, I feel that Uncommon Valor is going to be common place.”

Katlyn signaled for a group of litters. Unlike Sara and the others, she had figured for their need. She had remembered how Jordan had collapsed following her ascension. Looking down at the forty-four young Thunder Hawks Katlyn hid the sly smile that came to her face. She knew that there would be more than one confused and frightened young man among them.

As the sixteen Nightingale Sisters moved among the boys placing them on the gurneys, Jordan did her best not to smile. She knew that these boys would be the cutting edge of defense for the cities of New Holland. “Well, mother, you and the other Flight Leaders have your weapons. Now, all I have to do is train them.”

“I have faith that we shall be successful, oh daughter of mine. The problem child will still be Johann. Sooner or later that one will challenge you. And I fear she shall not be the only one.” Ileana left the hard truth that Jordan may have to set an example unsaid.

“Then when the time comes, mother, I will show no mercy. As it is, I fear that we will not have much time before the next pirate raid.”

“How do you figure that?” Ileana was curious as to how Jordan came to that conclusion. In all her time as a Flight Leader no one had ever figured out how, when, or where pirates would strike next.

“Simple. This city has no other defense force, besides us. The Aerial Defense Force here is down to only one squadron. The miners have not stopped bringing up Casper Crystals. There is a freighter due in about five weeks to pick up those crystals. In short, this city will be ripe for the picking in four weeks. That is why we don’t have much time left before the next raid.” Jordan laid out what she had learned from her time wondering the docks as child.

Ileana thought about what Jordan said. Everything that Jordan pointed out was true. Even the part about the freighter due in to pick up the crystals. “Jordan, I will return in a short while. I need to gather a few things from home. Do not let your flight take wing until I return.”

As Ileana turned to leave Jordan stopped her. “What are you going after mother?”

“Training materials. If what you say is even half way true. We’ll need every trick for training that I can come up with. Plus a few that haven’t been thought up yet.” Jordan noticed that her mother didn’t take wing instead walked over to the four Knights of Saint George. “Excuse me, sirs, but I have need of a high-speed transport to Neo Amsterdam.”

The ranking Knight looked at Ileana with questioning eyes. “Um… don’t Flight Leaders normally fly themselves around?”

“Normally, we do, sir. However, I cannot reach Neo Amsterdam in the time frame that I am under and return. Is there any way that I can impose upon you and your Order for that SST?”

Sara had overheard what Ileana was requesting. To say she was shocked was the least. “Brother James, arrange the transport. Instructor Ileana, needs training materials that we do not have here. Make it happen, understand?”

“Yes, Sister Sara.” The Knight turned to a young acolyte. “Brother Tomas go tell Brothers John, and Carl that they are needed on the flight line. Inform them this is a priority one flight. No restrictions on speed or fuel, understood?”

“Yes, Brother James.” The young man took off at a dead run. He knew that if Sir James had given those orders it was important.
James turned to Ileana. “Instructor Ileana, if you will follow me, I’ll take you to meet your flight. I do have one request. Can you pull in your wings?”

It took Ileana a second to realize what the Knight was asking, and blushed. It had been over sixty years since she had last folded her wings in, so it took her a few minutes to remember how. “Sorry, about that sir. I forgot how wide they are. You’ll have to forgive me, it has been sometime that I have folded my wings.”

“How long Instructor Ileana?” Sara asked hiding her smile with her hand.

“Over sixty years, Sister Sara.” Everyone looked at Ileana in shock. “WHAT? I was a Flight Leader for longer than most. I never had a reason to fold them.”

Hearing this caused the gathered members of Ida-ten to laugh. With bow and gesture Sir James Wright smiled. “Then let us get you home so you don’t have to be uncomfortable for too long.”

As Ileana and the Knight of Saint George walked away, the Reverend Mother Katsumi looked onto the arena glass from her hiding place. She was not alone in the shadows of the public entrance tunnel. Besides her stood four rather striking young women of unknown heritage. The main reason for this the bio-armor of a Second-Generation Death Dealer, and the heavy combat helmets with the visor down. The second most striking feature about the women were the three swords they carried, and the red on black color block pattern of their armor. Everything about the women screamed Personal Royal Bodyguard.

Without taking her eyes of the glass, Katsumi asked the women. “Was the Intelligence Raid successful, Lady Daniela?”

The mechanical voice that answered was one that few ever heard. “Yes, and no, Reverend Mother. Before you ask, the answer is simple. We gained the knowledge of where the pirates will attack next, but nothing on where their main bases are. The base we raided was nothing more than an outpost.”

“We were lucky that the Lady Nia was able to locate that one, Reverend Mother. We really need a dedicated Intelligence Service for this type of work. Has the Empress made any headway with the Hand of the Empire yet?” the woman to Katsumi’s left was just a mystery as the other four.

“No Lady Lisa, we haven’t, I am afraid. The Empress has been combing through thousands of personnel files hoping to find just one candidate. This is one time that I fear our Empress Maiha will fail.” Katsumi sighed heavily.

“Do we really need THAT type of warrior Reverend Mother? I know that my father more than once tried to push for such an organization.” The third woman’s voice did not have the mechanical tone or sound of the first two, but did hold one of iron, passion, and military baring.

“Lady Cassidy I know how you feel about not wanting a Secret Police within the Empire. But you must see the way of things in this matter. The Human Empire covers more than twenty-five percent of the known universe. We are just too massive of a nation for a normal policing force to cover. Not even our vaunted Brothers of Balance are able to do all that is needed.” Katsumi knew that this was a continuous point of contention between the Empress and these four women.

The last of the women sighed before commenting. “Reverend Mother, we know this, but it still doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. That program smacks of oppression on just too many levels. Can we really justify our actions in this?”

Not even Katsumi wanted to answer this question, but knew that it was her job to do so. After all, she was more than just the Head of the Temple, Katsumi was the spiritual and personal advisor to Empress Maiha, long with teacher to these four powerful young ladies. “This is one time we must make a deal with a devil Lady Sara. Sometimes, just sometimes, it is better to know the evil for what it is than to have it fester in the dark. Speaking of which, any word on the political factions within the Flight Leaders?”

All four young women shock their heads no, but it was Lisa who answered for them. “All we know is there are two factions, the inclusionists, and exclusionists, Reverend Mother. Outside of that, nothing. If we are to learn more, I fear we must go to former Flight Leader Ileana Price or young Jordan.”

“So once more, we fight a war of light and shadows.” Katsumi looked down at the arena glass one more time at the young Thunder Hawks. “I feel that those boys will drag the two factions into the light kicking and screaming. I also feel that we will need to be the guiding light for them. If not, then no matter how hard we try, those Thunder Hawks will take their revenge against the Sky Dancer Flights. There are far too many crimes those women have to answer for.”

The privet chambers of Flight Leader Ronda King, Neo Winterswijk

Ronda King paced the floor of her office almost in a fit of rage. Never had there been such an act of heresy in the history of the Sky Dancers. She could not believe that Supreme Flight Leader Helen Campbell had broken with tradition in such a dramatic fashion. The black symbiont eggs should have been destroyed. Not allowed to hatch and bond with unworthy males. Was she the only Flight Leader with the vision to see the danger these pairings presented to the Flights.

Despite all of Ronda’s warnings, the Supreme Flight Leader was ALLOWING these creatures to just walk around freely. To add insult to injury, Helen Campbell had been allowed to train those pitiful males in the ways of Sky Dancers. Everything was going against traditions, traditions that had kept the Sky Dancers in power since the early days of New Holland.

“Why couldn’t those damned inclusionists just accept the truth of things. Why do they have demand change when there is no need for it. Can’t they see that we are the rightful rulers of New Holland?” Ronda’s rant was heard only by bare walls.

She was interrupted by a knock at her office door. “Enter.”

Her office door was opened by the one person she didn’t want to see just then. There in front of her was one of the main reasons she was seething. Katlyn Price her Wing Second, and the sister to the first Thunder Hawk. The woman who had failed to carry out her orders to kill the filthy creature that was causing all this upheaval in the Flights and Sky Dancer Council. Ronda King wanted to call Katlyn out for a challenge flight, but had no grounds for one. In fact, her Wing Second had placed the problem squarely in her hands to deal with as a good Wing Second should have done. As Ronda’s orders went against those of the Supreme Flight Leader’s order of none interference towards the black bastards.

“Report.” Ronda snapped without looking at Katlyn.

Katlyn knew that her Flight Leader was angered at her for not killing her sister. Katlyn could tell by the tone in Ronda’s voice, if not by the look on the woman’s face. Sighing Katlyn stood tall and gave her report.

“Flight Leader, the hatching proceeded and was an unexpected success. All forty-four symbionts bonded with their hosts with none going out of control. From what our spies could see, the boys had almost no fear of the symbionts. That they were fully prepared for their ascensions as if they were real Sky Dancers.” Kathryn looked down at her notes before continuing. “Your son appears to have matched my brother’s accomplishment in conquering the black symbiont, Flight Leader.”

Katlyn ducked as the pitcher of water flew at her. “I SENT HIM THERE TO DIE! NOT TO BECOME SOME DAMNEDABLE THING! YOU WILL NEVER SPEAK OF THAT THING AGAIN TO ME! I WOULD NEVER HAVE LET SUPREME FLIGHT LEADER HELEN HAVE MY CHILD IF I THOUGHT HE WOULD SURVIVE! UNDERSTOOD?!”

Katlyn stood back up slowly, waiting for her Flight Leader to calm herself. She knew now that Flight Leader Ronda King was truly insane. Katlyn, also knew that her OWN safety in this Flight was at stake. If Ronda was willing to sacrifice her own son to forward her agenda then Katlyn was nothing but another pawn to her. Before Katlyn can answer her Flight Leader Ronda changes the topic.

“Tell me something, Wing Second. Is your mother teaching those things ALL of our ways? Be truthful, as your life depends upon it.” There was something frightening about the look in Ronda’s eyes to Katlyn.

Seeing this Katlyn thought to buy herself time. Time to first gather more information on Ronda’s plans, then to ensure her escape. “As far as I know Flight Leader. I have not had direct contact with my mother since my return from Neo Workum. I can make a guess though.”

“Then guess, Katlyn.” Ronda snapped.

“The answer is yes. My mother has never been one to skip over any part of training, when it comes to fledglings. She will take them through each aspect of our training. Starting with our traditions, and their meanings, to how we fly and fight. Starting off with Elements, then Squadrons, over to Groups, then Wings, and finally Flights. She will teach them how each level there is one Leader, and one Second. Trust in this Flight Leader, Ileana Price will follow our doctrines.”

Ronda looked at her Wing Second hard, trying to find any sign of depiction. When Ronda found none, she asked her next question. “Do you believe that these acts violate all of our traditions?”

Katlyn didn’t need to be reminded that her life depended on your answer. “Yes, Flight Leader I do, but they are at the orders of the Supreme Flight Leader. That is the only reason my mother would go against so many traditions.”

Ronda King once again tried to find any sign of depiction by her Wing Second, and again found none. The problem was Ronda felt she could not truly trust Katlyn Price. Ronda had been forced to take Katlyn into her Flight ten years ago by the Council. Of all the members of her Flight, only Katlyn was an unknown to Ronda. Ronda, knew that all her Flight were exclusionists. Katlyn has always been the one unknown factor in her plans, but she had always followed Ronda’s orders.

“Do you believe that your mother will instruct the black bastards in Challenge Flights or will she gloss over that part of their training?” A plan had started to form in Ronda’s mind. One that would allow her to control those powerful symbionts and their hosts.

“Yes, Flight Leader. My mother will not skip or delete any of their training.” Katlyn knew that her mother may not agree with the practice, but she would teach the Thunder Hawks all their ways. That included the formal ways of issuing a Challenge and how a Challenge Flight was conducted. Katlyn saw the slight smile that came to Ronda King’s face. “Does this help, Flight Leader?”

“Yes, it does, Wing Second Katlyn Price.” Ronda walked over to the window in her office and looked out at the dark red orange clouds. Then she thought about the information her Wing Second had given her. Not wanting this chance to slip passed Ronda gave her Wing Second her orders. “Wing Second Katlyn Price, you are to fly to Neo Geleen and insure that MY son is taught all of our ways. By that I mean he is instructed in the ways of Challenge Flights.”

Katlyn knew, then and there, Ronda King wanted control over the Thunder Hawks. That would be the only reason for Ronda’s son to challenge her little sister Jordan. Kathryn bowed to her Flight Leader. “I will leave at once, Flight Leader.”

Katlyn wanted to run from the Flight Leader’s office, but left with all the dignity her mother instilled in her. When Ronda was alone once more she pushed a button on her desk. The side to her office opened and let in Stephany King, Ronda’s oldest daughter. “I heard everything mother. Do you think that Richard will obey your orders if he can successfully defeat Jordan Price in a Challenge Flight? We both know that he has always been a willful child.”

“Oh, he will obey my orders daughter. Unlike the others that sent their sons, I took precautions. He will either do as he is told or he will die at my hands.”

Stephany looked at her mother in surprise. “What did you do mother?”

“Oh, just a small injection of a micro-explosive capsule at the base of his brain. A simple radio command and his head is removed from his body. Yes, daughter, I do not trust your brother to do want is in the best interests for OUR cause on his own. This way I KNOW he will do his duty.”

“If he should fail mother, I have the backup plan in place.”

“So, your friend over in the PDF/ADF was able to secure the weapons for us?”

“The thirteen-millimeter railgun rifles will be delivered at sundown five days from now, mother.” Stephany gave her mother a predatory smile.

“And the rest?” Ronda was almost elated hearing at hearing this. She knew that her daughter would be able to get the weapons. After all no mere male could fight the charms of a Sky Dancer.

“He’ll only be able to get us five cases of anti-armor rockets mother. That will gave us a total of twenty-eight eighty-four-millimeter anti-armor rockets. The pulse laser rifles will not arrive for another ten days, but there will be enough to finish outfitting the Flight. To be honest mother, why are you even thinking about using that stupid Challenge Flight ploy. We will have the firepower to face down those false Knights and put the Temple of Ida-ten in its place.”

“That may be so, Stephany, but if we have Richard challenge Jordan Price in view of all then he must accept. If Richard wins, then we will have a free hand in how that Flight is run. If he loses then he was not fit to be our rapier.” Ronda turned and looked back out at the clouds.

“Send your brother a message. He is to challenge Jordan Price the first chance he gets. Tell him he has only fifteen weeks. That should be enough time to learn what he needs to get the job done. After all he will have turned seventeen by then and should be the oldest. It is his right to be Flight Leader, he should not have to answer to some whelp.”

Both women laughed at this. They both had taken over their current positions from older Sky Dancers through Challenge Flights. That was how one gained power in the Flights. They believed that only the strongest had the right to command or rule.

Chapter 14

Training flights and unseen observers.

Once again Ileana stood on the training platform with the mike in her hand. Just as she had done for the past three weeks Ileana gave instructions to her newest pupils. Unlike Sky Dancers in the past the Thunder Hawks were learning faster than any students Ileana ever had.

On the last night of the second week Ileana commented to the Reverend Mother Katsumi, that the Thunder Hawks went from bounce to sonic boom overnight. Like all Instructors before her Ileana had started off with the simplest of exercises. No one expected the young Thunder Hawks to master the basics of flight in only a matter of days. By day four Ileana had them working in Elements, by the end of the second week she was doing her best to keep them at Squadrons level tactics and formations.

At first Ileana tried to hold the youngster back. She feared overstraining their new muscles and bodies. That was until Jordan and Sister Sara pulled her off to one-side following the third day of training. “Mother, I know that you believe that you have my Flight’s best interests at heart, but you’re not helping them.”

“How so daughter? What makes you believe that you know better than I in how to train young Sky Dancers? How many have YOU trained?” Ileana was not wanting to piss off her daughter, but she did have the knowledge and experience in this matter. More than fifty years to be exact.

Jordan sighed as she knew her mother was right, to a point. Thankfully Sister Sara stepped in at this point. “Instructor Ileana, please understand. We learned from training Jordan that the Thunder Hawk Sky Dancer is stronger, faster, and as much as I hate to say to you, far superior to your normal Sky Dancer. They heal at a rate only surpassed by Second Generation Death Dealers. Your new students can handle anything we throw at them, and then some. Right now, we need them focused on their training. Grind them down. Keep their minds on learning how to be the warriors that your cities need.”

Ileana picked up on the under currents of Sara’s plea. “Why? What is so important that those fledglings not have time to think?”

This time it was Sara who sighed. “It is their bodies.”

That was all Ileana needed to hear. She looked over at the table of feminine looking boys and sighed. Even to her they ALL looked remarkably like her own child Jordan. The only difference being in the appearance of age. Some were more mature in their figures than the others. The problem being that all the young Thunder Hawks had the same face as Jordan.

“I figured as much, Sister. Have you and your Sisters figured out how this happened? I mean forty-four people all appearing to be the same. What are the odds? Outside of clones this has never happened in human history.” Ileana felt the need to point out the obvious.

“The Reverend Mother Rachael of our Order has a theory. When Doctor Alvilda Jørgensen first engineered the symbionts, she had a limited genetic pool to work from. When she manipulated the symbionts further it cut down the genetic pool even further. When the Hive Queens made the first black symbiont, that pool was even smaller. So, small that the symbiont’s genetic makeup was a single strain. That single strain would always effect the appearance of every Thunder Hawk. Didn’t you have problems recognizing your own child after her assent?”
It took Ileana a few seconds to remember, but when she did, she had to fight to school her expression. “Too be honest, no I did not at first recognize Jordan on the glass. If it had not been for your mother’s description I would have been hard pressed to recognize Jordan in Neo Workum.”

“Now you see why we need for you to push this Flight harder than any other in the history of the Sky Dancers. This is for their own good. They need time to adjust to their new bodies and faces. Time that sadly we do not have.” Sara remembered her orders from Reverend Mother Katsumi, and kept the knowledge of the recent raids on pirate bases in the system.

Katlyn and Sara knew that something was in the works, but Katsumi wasn’t sharing. Nor were the Daughters of the Four Winds. Even as Sara thought about those four women a shiver ran down her back. It is said that only the Storm Dancer lance had killed more of the Black Rose and Crimson Shield in single combat. Every member of the Temple had seen them walking quietly through the halls making no sound in their passing. As if they were ghosts or phantoms.

“Tell me Sara Campbell, what troubles you so that you would refuse to share what you know with my daughter and I?”

“Instructor Ileana, this is one time that you must trust in only what I have told you, and nothing else.” Once again Jordan and Ileana caught the double meanings behind the Nightingale’s words.

Ileana was brought back to the here and now by the snap of wings. Looking up at the current Squadron coming overhead Ileana snapped out.
“Keep, your line straight Kendra. You fall back too far and you won’t be able to cover you wing second. When that happens, bodies pile up. Susan, pull in tighter to Karen. Teresa, keep your line on Lisa. Remember not to push yourself ahead of the others. You get too far ahead of the others and you’re just as dead if you took a direct hit to the head. This is where team work comes in to play. The only advantages we have in a fight against the pirates is maneuverability and combined firepower.”

The teens quickly complied with Ileana’s commands. Then as one they targeted the dummy gun turret and cut lose with their thunderbolts. Even with Teresa being the youngest of them all the Squadron hit the practice target and destroyed it completely. The next Squadron up was Johanna’s. Like the last Squadron they were a five-man team. Only this team was made up of all seventeen year olds. Also unlike the last Squadron, this one was almost perfect in their formation.

When they struck it was in harmony. “Good, keep it in tight and strike the target, together.” Ileana called out. She knew what awaited them over the next wall. She wasn’t disappointed. Each member of Johanna’s Squadron was hit by ten ten-millimeter paint balls. The Black Swords lived up to their reputation.

The next three Squadrons gave a better performance, but they too fell to the guns of the Black Knights. When the fifth group of teens came over Ileana was surprised by their formation. Instead of in-line or line-abreast they were in a Flying-V formation. Placing their outer elements forward of their center or Lead element. This formation had many advantages that the others didn’t. The problem was it also had a major disadvantage. That being their firepower was pulled to the rear and not concentrated forward. Then the unexpected happened.

The Squadron fired and their target was destroyed before her eyes with one strike. When the Black Knights moved to engage, they were taken down before they had a chance to engage. Each target and lance of Knights were taken down in order. This Squadron had shown what tactics and Intelligence could do.

It wasn’t until the Squadron had cleared the final obstacle that Ileana realized who was leading that group. Jordan had done what none of the other Leaders had. She had watched as each pervious squadron went through the gauntlet. She had used forethought and intuition to gain the upper hand. “Yes, my daughter. The Council was correct in assigning you to be this Flight of Thunder Hawks Flight Leader. You have learned your lessons well.”

Ileana’s whispered thoughts were heard by only two people. People that stood in the shadows watching the training session. The smaller of the two smiled wickedly as they walked away. “So, Instructor Ileana, your daughter is more than she appears. She has indeed learned her lessons, and not just the ones taught to her by my Knights, very good.”

The shadowy figures faded further into the shadows of the tunnel. No one even saw the figures enter the tunnel at the beginning of the session. Just as no one saw the figures fade into the darkness. “I know that we can now leave the fate of this world in her very capable hands. Time for us to get out of here Alice. I doubt that Captain Smyth will stand for holding our shuttle all day. You know how he gets, when we’re even just a few minutes late.”

The second figure just sighed. “You know something kitten. One of these days mama is going to find out about your little side trips. When she does you’re really going to be in for it. You know, that right? You know how she feels about you sticking your nose into Temple business.”

“Oh, but pussycat, this is not Temple business. This is just me being a concerned Ruler trying to ensure that outside parties do not interfere with what is an internal problem amongst the Planetary Defense Force.” Not even the War Princess Allison Nakatoma could keep a straight face at hearing this from her wife, the Empress Maiha Nakatoma. Better known as the Empress of Death or Death’s own Daughter. The two women giggled as they walked out unobserved by anyone.

Ileana never once took her eyes off the five member teams as they flew their drills. Nothing failed to escape her sharp eye and relentless dedication to her mission. Once all nine squadrons had flown the training patterns she called them in. She started her review over each flight, and she was just as relentless with one as she was with the whole squadron. She went over each mistake and explained what they should have done to avoid them. Ileana also pointed out where each squadron had performed correctly.

When she turned her review over to the Captain for the Knights of Saint George the man could only point to where the teams failed to take in the full picture. “Listen up you maggots! That was the most disgusting show of aerial combat awareness I have ever seen. If we had been using LIVE AMMO none of you would have lived. There was only one team that even came close to having a battle plan in this situation. Of the nine teams that made that attack run eight would have been sent home in body bags. If we could have retrieved the bodies!”

Looking over at Johanna Thorn the Captain leaned down in her face. “And you! What the frack were you thinking?! Holding a straight and level flight path following a strafing attack. What were you trying to do?! Died a hero’s death?! No, you were trying to be some kind of glory hound, fracking hero of heroes! That’s what you bunch were trying to do! Out there looking to collect medals is a sure-fire way to end up in an early FRACKING GRAVE!”

No one of the gathered teens said a word. They just sat there praying the crazed Captain didn’t land on them next. Taking a deep breath, the Captain sighed before continuing with his part of the lesson for the day. Walking over to a set of tarp covered objects he waved for their attention. Yanking off the first one the Captain called out to the teens.

“This, young ladies, is a twenty-millimeter Gatling anti-aircraft, eight-barrel cannon. This weapon has a fire-rate of one thousand rounds per minute. It is capable of punching through two inches of Carbon Ceramic Fiber Armor at fifteen hundred meters.” Stepping over to the next tarp and yanking it free the Captain exposed a second weapon. “This is a standard twenty-megavolt laser Calliope, ten-barrel, anti-aircraft emplacement, weapon system. Fire-rate is just over nine hundred pulses per minute.” By the time the Captain stepped up to the third trap the gun-crew had already removed it. “This, lovely weapon, is a one-twenty rapid- fire autocannon. Not to be confused with a standard autocannon, the rapid-fire autocannons fire rate is five rounds every three seconds, versus the standard rate of one every two seconds. The rapid-fire autocannons are perfect for anti-aircraft operations. Lastly, we have a standard twin-cycle pompom one-oh-five, radar controlled, and targeted, anti-aircraft battery. Most, if not ALL, of these weapon systems can be found on a Raider class dropship. I will not even begin to try to describe the anti-aircraft defense on a warship class dropship.”

The Captain pointed across the arena floor to a three-by-three piece of metal on a rail cart. “That, children, Composite Ferro Ceramic Fiber Armor three inches thick. Now, before you ask, at four hundred meters hitting a three-foot by three-foot piece of metal is not as easy as you think. When that block of metal starts its run down the track it will be traveling at just over two hundred and twenty miles per hour. If you think you can do it feel free to try after this demonstration. Gun crews man your weapons.”

The four gun crews ran to man their weapons. This was their time to drive the point home to the teens. Once the weapons were manned the Captain hit a button on the podium releasing the rail cart. The cart started out slow, but before it had reached the marked area for engagement its speed had reached the promised 220 mph. The Gatlin was the first to fire, followed quickly by the Calliope. Between the first two weapons the armor plate was holed in over three hundred points. When the 120mm raped-fire AC opened up chunks of armor started to fly off. The 105mm pompom made those holes even larger when it engaged. The last ten meters were a surprise for the teens as five High-speed missiles slammed into the armor plate. Those had not been talked about by the Captain.

“OH, did I forget to mention the standard seven-inch anti-aircraft missile system? My mistake.” The man had the poor graces to act embarrassed. “THAT, ladies, was a just a demonstration of a standard layer air-defense. You can take this to heart ladies. Those pirate Sky Raider transports have just as much firepower, if not more so, of a standard Raider class dropship. The next time we tell you to use your FRACKING maneuverability, DO IT! Class dismissed!”

The Captain along with the gun crews started breaking down the weapon systems as the forty-five teenagers left the training area. More than a few of the teens were white in the face. The prevailing thought for them all was one that none really wanted to face. That thought was if today had been for real none of them would still be breathing.

Chapter 15

Challenges and Consequences.

Jordan could not believe what she was hearing. Her mother had stopped Jordan just after dinner that night. “Jordan, have you heard what three of your flyers are demanding?” at Jordan’s blank look Ileana sighed. “They’re demanding to be taught the proper forms for a Challenge Flight.”

Jordan just sighed. “Which three mother?”

“I take that you are not surprised by my news. Very well, Regina King, Johanna Thorn, and Lara Snowden.” Ileana watched her daughter’s face as she told her the names for any signs of emotion. Seeing nothing but contempt for the three names Ileana wanted to smile. “So, you have been expecting something from these three?”

“Katlyn, came to my room shortly after she arrived here last night. She told me that her Flight Leader latterly ordered her here to ensure that her son was taught about Challenge Flights. What I don’t understand mother is why Katlyn would even let me know about her Flight Leader’s orders? Doesn’t that go against everything a Wing Second should do?”

Ileana started to chuckle, then outright laugh. Hearing what her oldest daughter had done was the perfect example of a Wing Second stepping in the Hive of another Flight. Once she regained control of herself Ileana smiled down at her daughter. “Oh, my dear Jordan, your sister did everything that a GOOD and PROPER Wing Second should do when visiting another Flight on the ORDERS of her Flight Leader.”

“Okay, mom. Just what does that mean?” Jordan had come to understand her mother far better over the last few weeks and her attitude towards men. Jordan, had even began to forgive her mother for a good deal of her treatment towards her younger self. “How is Katlyn telling me that her Flight Leader ordered her here, to ensure that her son was taught the proper forms of issuing a Challenge Flight, doing the right and proper thing for a Wing Second?”

“Think, child. Use that all too inquisitive mind of yours.” Ileana knew and always had known, that Jordan was far more intelligent than she let on.

Jordan gave her mother a glancing glare, then did as she was told. It took Jordan a few minutes, but she quickly began to piece the puzzle together. It was as if the lights of a long quiet theater were all turned on one at a time.

“Katlyn cannot just come right out and say that her Flight Leader is plotting against me. She can as a VISTOR tell me as the current Flight Leader her reason for her visit. Now, if she was ORDERED here by her Flight Leader that changes things. If, Katlyn agreed with her Flight Leader all she would have to say was that she was here to verify our training. Now, IF Katlyn doesn’t agree then she can truthfully tell me exactly WHY she is here. The question I have to face now, is why is the Neo Winterswijk Flight Leader so concerned about Challenge Flights?” Jordan knew that she was on to something here. She just needed a few more pieces to the puzzle. Thankfully her mother provided those pieces.

“Remember your lessons on OUR politics young Flight Leader. Are you an inclusionist or exclusionist? Will you side with the past, like Rhonda King? Or will you give Helen Campbell her needed leverage for change?” Ileana just quirked her lips at Jordan’s look of confusion then understanding.

“Rhonda King, is an exclusionist. She sent Kathryn here to make sure that her son would issue a Challenge. Only Rhonda King is also a TRADITIONALIST and must insure that the Challenge is done in the correct form. If, the Challenge is not issued correctly I can just kill Regina outright. Not that it will do Regina any good, once the Challenge has been accepted, I’ll just use all the dirty, nasty, and downright vicious tricks the Knights have taught me. I’ll latterly fly her into the arena glass.” Jordan let the confidence of all her training fill her voice.

“Jordan, there is one way that Regina King can change the odds in her favor. One that will place you at a major disadvantage making all your training worthless. It is called a Section Challenge. As the Flight Leader, you are the only member of your Section. Regina has her whole Section to call on. That places you in a three on one situation.” Ileana placed her hand on Jordan’s cheek. “As good as you are dear, I fear that they can and will be too much for you.”

This time was Jordan who had to keep from laughing in her mother’s face hearing this. “Mom, please don’t take this the wrong way, but I really do hope they make that big of a mistake. Remember, who were my first training instructors. Those men and women left me with more bruises than I care to comment on. The Knights of Ida-ten believe in force manipulation. They have always been outnumbered and their training reflects that. They made me go up against three to four fighters every time I took off for training. Trust me mom. If they want to use a Section Challenge to take me out, let them. All it will get them is dead.”

This last was delivered with a cold harshness that grabbed at Ileana’s heart. The fact that her child who was barely sixteen, was so willing to kill, terrified her. For the first-time Ileana realized that her child could kill without remorse. That Jordan wasn’t just a Sky Dancer, but a true warrior.

“As much as I wish that were not the case Jordan, I know it will happen now. I was hoping that YOUR Flight would be able to avoid those things. Along with the pity politics that so many of the other Flights deal with. I guess I was just too much of an optimist.” Ileana just wanted to shake her head in disappointment.

“No mother, you didn’t fail. The ones that failed are those that refuse to learn that we must step away from the old ways. They are the ones that still believe that Sky Dancers ARE entitled to piss on those we protect. They have done nothing but listen to their mothers and sisters about BLOOD PURITY. How the Sky Dancers should be RULING New Holland. That we are some kind of fracking super-race of humans. No mother, you have done everything you could to change that attitude among my Flight. For the most part you have succeeded. It only those three that are failures, and I know why more than you.”

“Enlighten me Jordan. How is it that you know where, when, and why I failed those boys? Because when the next group of trainees come through I want to be ready.”

“They want something more than to be just Thunder Hawks. Two of them want revenge against their mothers and families. The last wants power more than revenge. Just like someone else that you know personally.” Jordan let her disgust at the three members of her Flight fill her voice. Then she drove the point home. “I forgot one thing. All three of them come from exclusionist families.”

That was all Ileana needed to hear. “I will make sure that they learn the proper forms for issuing a Challenge, Jordan. Make an example of them ALL.”

“Do not worry, mother. I will be the only one coming home from that flight.”

Ileana did not smile as she left to give the one class she had been putting off for as long as possible. Jordan, turned and went looking for her sister Katlyn. She needed a little more dirt on her opponents, most specifically Regina King.

Jordan figured that she would not have to wait too long the next morning. As she looked around the dining room she spotted what had become the normal breakdown of the Flight. Squadrons were eating with Squadrons as one would expect. It was the two Sections that were off to the side that bothered her the most. One she knew she had to get rid of, the other protect.

The Section she needed to protect was composed of the three youngest members of the Flight. All three girls were no more than thirteen and they all looked up to her. In their eyes, Jordan had become their hero and big sister. Jordan shook her head and sighed. She was sure that those three were being effected by their symbionts, but her mother corrected that misconception. In the words of her mother, ‘they are fledglings looking for guidance Jordan. You are the only one who can provide that guidance. I can teach them our ways, but YOU lead them.’
Looking over at the other Section the one that held her problem children it took all of Jordan’s will power to not unleash a thunderbolt. “There they are now all I need is for one of them to do is get stupid. It should be too fracking long.”

Jordan’s words would be more prophetic than even she would know at the time. Jordan didn’t even have a chance to get her breakfast before the Challenge came. The only surprise was who issued the Challenge. Regina Thorn stood up and called out across the room, drawing everyone’s attention.

“Flight Leader Jordan Price, why are we wasting our time?! These training exercises are nothing like the real thing. We should be taking over the Flights. We deserve to rule not be placed in some backwater hell hole! Or do you lack the courage to standup for us? If you don’t we demand a true Leader!”

Jordan barely let the sly smile caress her lips as she replied. “Do you think that you know what true combat is like Regina King? DO you believe you know what we need to do better than I? You think that POWER gives you the right to rule. If that is the way you feel then issue your Challenge and be done with it.”

Jordan could tell that Regina wasn’t expecting that kind of reaction. Jordan was surprised a little at how fast Regina recovered. “By the Right of Wing Second and Section Leader for the Alpha Squadron. I stand as the Voice for my Section, WE hereby give voice to grievances that you have failed to address. I stand before you as this Sections Voice, we Challenge you by Section for the Right to lead this Flight. The choice of venue is yours by Right of the Challenged. How stand you Flight Leader? Do you stand by your choice?”

Regina didn’t know it but she had handed Jordan everything she needed to drive her point home, and get rid of the three biggest troublemakers in her Flight. “I accept your Challenge Section Leader. When the sun sets, we shall have our Flight.” Jordan turned to walk out of the room, but stopped looking back at Regina and the other two. “I hope you have made out your wills, this will be a fight to the death. Anything and everything goes. Just the way your mothers would want. You wanted a Challenge Flight Regina King, you have one now. I hope you have made your mother proud.”

Not even Ileana was expecting the cold harshness of Jordan’s voice. She knew that her daughter was going kill those three. Ileana also knew that Jordan would not feel one ounce of regret doing it. Katsumi, Sara, and Katlyn looked on showing no emotion. They had seen war and revolution; this would be no different. Unlike Ileana they knew the anger that Jordan fought so hard to control.

“Daughters prepare the field. I want no mistakes, and no interference with the Challenge Flight. Am I understood?” Katsumi never took her eyes off the scene before her. She knew that Jordan had the advantage over the three turncoats. Sara and Katlyn just bowed then left the dining room.

Regina King, Johanna Thorn, and Lara Snowden walked towards the arena just before sunset. The three of them had spent the day planning on how they would kill Jordan Price, and be done with the Temple of Ida-ten’s interference. In their minds Jordan price, the Knights, and Temple of Ida-ten were no better than their mothers. Instead of taking power as they should, they just let the people decide their own fate. They were the rightful rulers of New Holland. All they had to do now was take their rightful place.

As they entered the arena the trio noticed that the arena was more than half full. In fact, there were close to three hundred Sky Dancers of varying colors and ranks, with about one third of the Golds in attendance. Next, were the members of the Knights of Ida-ten, they made up the rest of those there. After that came the mayors for almost every city on New Holland. Not that it mattered to the trio, it just went on to prove that they were the rightful rulers of New Holland. What they had not known, but Jordan did, was that Ileana had sent word of the Challenge to every Flight, and city she could.

Katsumi stood among the stands with Sisters Sara and Katlyn. They were not alone. Ileana Price, and her two oldest daughters, Sylvia, and Katheryn stood just behind them. Katsumi never took her eyes off the arena floor, but did ask the one question on the minds of the three nuns.

“Ileana Price, can you tell me how you see this fight coming to an end?”

“With the three challengers dead on the glass, and my daughter vindicated as the rightful Flight Leader. After today, no one else will dare take up their cause. Jordan will end the challenges and put the fear of the Goddess in her Flight.”

The note of confidence in Ileana’s voice caused the three nuns to turn to look at her. Sara put their thoughts into words. “How do you see that happening Ileana Price? Jordan is outnumbered three to one.”

“The numbers will not matter, Sister Sara. This Challenge began and ended in the dining hall. This fight will be more of an execution than a true Challenge. As it should be in all honesty.” Once again Ileana’s tone said more than her words.

“You will have to explain this to me Ileana Price. Why should this be an execution?” Katsumi really wanted to know. She knew that Ileana’s perspective had a lot to play with the politics of New Holland.

Ileana answered by asking a question. “Kathern, Sylvia, what are the rules governing all Challenge Flights?”

“No one section can challenge another without the Flight Leader’s approval. All challenges must be overseen by the Flight Leader. No Section can challenge a Section from another Squadron or Group.” Kathern answered.

“No Section may challenge directly the Flight Leader’s position. To do so is open rebellion. ALL Challenges for Flight Leader are one-to-one, and personal. No outside influences are to be tolerated. Those that defy this are considered Outlaws, and are to be put to death.” Sylvia saw where her sister and mother were going and thought that she should provide the rest.

“Excuse me, but are you telling us that Jordan doesn’t have to follow any rules? That she can just show up and shoot those three?” Katlyn asked in total surprise.

“No. What we are saying is that the moment the sun sets Jordan will enter the arena at highspeed and kill those three before they can even take wing.” Ileana told them with pure venom.

“Ileana Price, I am a little surprised by the venom of your words. What has happened to drive you and your family to this point?” Katsumi asked.

“As the only current Flight Leader in our family, a challenge to Jordan’s authority is a challenge to our family. Among Sky Dancers you do not challenge a family and walk away. Even if those three were to be victorious, they would not live long enough to celebrate.” To drive the point home Sylvia and Kathern each held up a ten-millimeter Gorgon assault rifle. The three nuns needed nothing further to convince them that this was indeed a fight to the death.

Before either of the nuns could say another word a gong rang out across the arena. Regina, Johanna, and Lara stepped fully onto the arena floor. Then just as Ileana had predicted Jordan entered the arena in a steep dive from above and behind the three Outlaws. They never saw her coming as three fast thunderbolts slammed into them. The pure power of the strikes drove the three to the ground.

Jordan pulled up into a tight highspeed climb and rose to just over two hundred feet before snapping over in a wing tip turn. A turn that brought her back into another dive lining her up for her next attack. This time Jordan released two powerful thunderbolts that traced a crisscross path over the injured Outlaws. The two thunderbolts had been focused down to almost pinpoint beams of pure plasma. Once again Jordan pulled up out of her dive and climbed for the skies. And once again she winged over in a wingtip turn and dove on her enemy.

At just over one hundred feet Jordan released a final attack on the bodies of the Outlaws. One that was so powerful, it’s thunder drowned out the cracks of the two previous attacks. This one attack smashed the glass under the bodies of the three Outlaws and turned their bodies to ash. This was Jordan’s last and final attack. An attack that had more than proved her right to lead the Thunder Hawk Flight.

Jordan gently landed in front of where the three Outlaws had once stood. Her landing was so slow and light, it appeared as if she flouted to the arena floor. Where only moments before, Jordan was the ravaging angle of Death, she was now, a beautiful swan landing before the masses. Even her sisters were stunned by the grace that Jordan showed. They had seen Jordan walk threw the halls of the Temple and the back areas of the arena, but she had never shown this much grace in her movements. It was as if their younger sister had always been exactly that, their sister and not brother. Jordan turned and walked to the center of the arena.

In a voice filled with more than just anger Jordan called out to the gathered peoples. “WHO AMONG YOU WOULD CHALLENGE MY RIGHT TO LEAD NOW?”

No one answered her challenge. Not even among the most radical exclusionists there wanted to challenge this demon in angle clothing. Everyone had seen her three attacks, and the devastation those attacks delivered. Only one person in attendance knew the secret of Jordan’s powerful attacks. Ileana Price was not about to give that information away.

Ronda King could not believe her eyes. The upstart had not only eliminated the threat her child presented, but had left no doubt as to who was the Flight Leader here. Nodding to her daughter Stephany, Ronda led the four members of her Flight from the arena. Once they were out of sight Ronda rounded on them.

“We must resort to our alternate plan now. Stephany, have our weapons arrived?”

“Yes mother. I saw them unloaded from the HST from Neo Winterswijk just this morning. They will be delivered to the safe house this evening.”
Ronda looked over at the only other Gold in her party, Jessica Winter. “Jessica, is the safe house secure?”

“Yes, Flight Leader. We have more than enough supplies to last five weeks. I was even able to secure the extra munitions you suggested.”

“Lisa, have you been able to secure a copy of the training flight schedule?”

“Yes, Flight Leader. You are not going to like it though.” Lisa answered Ronda.

“Why?”

“The monsters are not scheduled to fly for the next five days. It is in honor of some ceremony that the Temple of Ida-ten holds.” Lisa sighed and pointed out the white elephant in the room. “We are to be off Neo Geleen by the end of tomorrow.”

Ronda just smiled at the young woman. “Oh, but we won’t have to leave. Not that I now know about this ceremony. We will pay our own respects by not flying during the next five days. I just have to inform Ileana Price and all will be well. Now, return to our dwelling and I will meet you later.”

With that Ronda King went to find Ileana. Little did the woman know the outcome she was hoping for from that meeting would not be the one she wanted. The two Wing Seconds however had a feeling that their Flight Leader was in for a rude awakening. Especially when it would be Jordan Price that would put an end to her plans.

Chapter 16

Jordan’s first conquest.

Jordan stood off to one side as the groundskeepers for the arena clean the arena glass. He knew that the Challenge had been legal in some respects, when it was anything but legal. In truth, the Challenge would never have happened if not for one family’s need for power. This something that Jordan knew all too well. She had spent more than enough time over the past few days with her oldest sister to grasp Ronda King’s desire to rule New Holland.

“Tell me, little sister, did you really go all out?” Katlyn asked from behind her. Jordan didn’t want to lie to her, but knew she had to.

“Yes, Katlyn, I went all out. I held nothing back in this Challenge Flight. I had to drive home the point that the Thunder Hawks were not, and are not, the playthings of the Council. To do otherwise would have encouraged other Flight Leaders to have their sons Challenge me.”

Katlyn was nobodies dummy and saw through the lie for what it was. “You can lie to mother, little bird, but not to me. I saw you release more power in our little chase than you did here today. I am more than willing to wager on that.”

Jordan knew she had been caught out by her sister and just sighed. “Very well, yes, I held back, Katlyn. I only did that so the Flight Leaders and their Seconds, did not know the full extent of our power. I want Thunder Hawks to be respected not feared. If I truly went all out there would be a massive hole in the glass.”

“I thought as much. Have you ever gone all out? I mean before that one time we chased you.”

“I have Katlyn. Only that chase we had wasn’t me going all out. The only time I ever went all out was against the pirate raider. To be honest, I am a little afraid of letting loose. I fear that I may never come back. That is how strong the black symbiont is. Thunder Hawks are truly a partnership with our symbionts.”

Jordan’s little speech must have rattled Katlyn. Jordan watched as she shivered at Jordan’s cutting words. For someone like her and all female Sky Dancers, the thought of being out of control is terrifying. All their lives they have taught to control their emotions. That they needed that self-control to control their symbionts. Here though they are being shown that lack control is needed to control a black symbiont. Jordan was the prime example of that.

Before they could go further in their little discussion a voice that Jordan would rather not hear just then called out to her. “Jordan Price where is your mother?”

As Jordan turned she saw Ronda King standing on the other side of the glass. Before Jordan can answer her though, she noticed something about the woman. There is a bluish shadowing to Ronda just as the red she had been shown shortly after she first woke up in the Neo Amsterdam Temple, only much darker. Jordan hissed out something that she was not yet ready for, and drove fear into every Sky Dancer still within hearing.

“You are mine for the taking, bitch. Fly or die.” Hearing this Ronda King felt a fear that had never crossed soul, and an animal instinct fill her. An instinct that she was unable to fight. With all her might Ronda King took wing and strove for the highest clouds. She flew as if the very hounds of hell were hot on her heels, and gaining ground. Never, before had she felt so completely out of control and lost to her symbiont’s needs.

A hungry sneer crossed young Jordan’s face as she watched her pray climb for the clouds. With each passing moment Jordan’s dormant masculine self, rose to the surface. With it came the obvious sign of his true sex. Katlyn for all her years a Wing Second was at a loss for what to do. Nothing had ever prepared her for what she was now seeing. In truth, none of the living Sky Dancers had ever seen what was about to happen, not even the Supreme Flight Leader Helen Campbell was ready. And she had known that this could happen.

Even as the Knights heard the outcry of panic it was too late. For Jordan had taken off at a speed that no gold could match. He was lost to his raw and uncontrolled need to mate with Ronda King, just she was lost in need and fear for it to happen. Even as she climbed, Ronda felt her neither regions begin to moisten. Looking down at Jordan all she saw was her first true mating partner. All it took was the one look to drive the remaining part of Ronda King’s human mind to the back of her consciousness. All that was left was her symbiont.

With a flick of her wings Ronda dove past Jordan in a dive that would take her through a thunder cloud. Jordan had long since given into his symbionts needs and gave chase. Down they dove through the first of many thunder clouds, only to climb out after four or five lighting strikes. With each strike their sexual arousal grew, and grow it did by leap and bounds. For more than ten minutes Jordan played with Ronda, and she with him.

Slowly though Jordan started to regain control over his symbiont. Just enough to know that he had to end this mating flight soon. Before he or Ronda were injured or killed by the climbing electrical charge held within their bodies. Releasing all but a tiniest amount of his energy Jordan forced Ronda to change flight and into his waiting arms. Ronda tried to prolong her mating dance with her lover by filling him with all the electrical power she had stored so far, but this only invigorated him more. Sensing that surrender was her only option Ronda gave herself to the young Thunder Hawk that held her in his arms.

Rolling over and spreading her wings to help keep them in flight Ronda presented herself to Jordan. Somewhere during this briefest of time Jordan sensed her surrender and acceptance. With the care of a true lover Jordan matched his wing strokes with hers before entering her most private of orifices. As he entered Ronda, Jordan felt the two symbionts merge from the waist down forming their legs into one massive unite. He also felt her arms cross her breast and fuse. It was as if he was carrying a mummy in his arms as they flew.

For Ronda King, the mating flight soon became more than she could ever have hoped for. The sexual pleasures and orgasms filled her with a need to endlessly mate. Even as her symbiont sealed away the use of hers arms Ronda did not care. Just so long as the Thunder Hawk dominated her. Used her for his sexual release she just did not care. To her this was truly heaven. With each successive orgasm, Ronda King lost more and more of her individuality and independence. Even as Ronda lost her ability to speak, then see, and finally hear, she just didn’t care. To the outside world, it was as if Ronda King was slowly mummified in midair. Only her wings remained unbounded by her symbiont.

Jordan finally regained enough control to realize that he had been mating with Ronda King for more than two hours. During that time, he had more orgasms than he believed possible in his young life. With this realization also came clarity. With one last final orgasm Jordan withdrew from Ronda King. After withdrawing his member Jordan was again in control of herself. It was at this point that she realized that she had a problem. Even though she was no longer conjoined with Ronda, Ronda had not returned to her human shape. In short, Ronda King now resembled an ancient Egyptian mummy with wings.

With all the control and skill, she had learned over the past months Jordan flew towards the Neo Geleen arena. In their mating flight, Jordan and Ronda had flown more than two hundred miles away. As she flew, Jordan thought about what had happened to her. The last thing she truly remembered was Ronda King demanding to know where her mother was. Then very little after that. It was this very disturbing loss of memory that worried Jordan more than anything else. Soon though Jordan had another worry as Ronda’s wings pulled in and folded across her back. No sooner had this happened, then Ronda’s body truly started to take on the appearance of a mummy, or butterfly inside of its cocoon.

What Jordan did not know at that time, was Ronda’s symbiont was sealing her away to protect the three children that she now carried. It would not be until she had landed that she would learn the full impact of her sudden mating with Ronda would have on the future of the Flights. With all the strength of a Thunder Hawk Jordan carried the mummified body of Ronda King the rest of the way to Neo Geleen.

With heavy strokes of her wings Jordan slowly descended onto the arena glass. Laying Ronda at her feet Jordan waited for the first of the Flight Leaders to converge on her. She didn’t have to wait long. Nor was she surprised by the first one to reach her. Supreme Flight Leader Helen Campbell practically charged her.

“WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? YOU WERE EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN MATING FLIGHTS!” the woman was besides herself in her anger over what had happened. Jordan just looked at her and quirked her lips before answering.

“Oh, I know what you said. I also know that you let Ronda King attend this little show today, knowing her condition. So, DO NOT YELL AT ME FLIGHT LEADER HELEN CAMPBELL!” Jordan stopped herself before she lost total control. Taking a deeply needed breath Jordan looked the woman in the eyes. “You were hoping for this. All of it. You wanted me to get rid of those three members of my Flight in a very public and brutal way just to force Flight Leader Ronda King into a confrontation with me. With her being in season, you knew that I would force her into a Mating Flight. My only real question is why. You had no way of knowing that I could control the flight.”

Helen sighed as she knew she had been caught. “You are correct Jordan Price, Flight Leader of the Thunder Hawks. Ronda King and her Flight was a detriment to not only my Flight, but the Government of New Holland. With her grounded with child her plans go to ground as well. I gambled with her life and yours. All in the hopes that you had gained enough control over your symbiont. I will not apologize for doing what must be done to save our world from the exclusionist faction. Not now, nor never. If that means I have to send you to your death then so be it. If I have to sacrifice this Flight, then I will. I will do all that and more, may the Goddess have mercy on my soul for it.”

“Well the Goddess may show you mercy Supreme Flight Leader, but for me and my Flight there will be none shown. You try playing games with our lives again. I will personally hunt you down and gut you with my bare hands. Right now I suggest you take Ronda King and leave. Begone from my sight before I lose what little is left of my control.” Jordan turned and started to walk away but looked back at Helen Campbell with cold dead eyes. “Never let your politics interfere with my Flight again. From now on Thunder Hawks are not your play toys. Remember, we are killers, and that is all there is to it.”

Helen Campbell and the remaining Flight Leaders watched as Jordan Price walked away. Not one of them thought about challenging the young woman about her show of very blunt and total lack of respect to Helen Campbell. They knew without doubt that Jordan would kill them. Kill them all, and not show one bit of remorse. One of the youngest Flight Leaders stepped up behind Helen.

“No offence Supreme Flight Leader, but if you were hoping to control that one through family ties, you made a monumental frack up.”

Helen Campbell turned to look at the young Flight Leader before sighing sadly. “No, Marsha Leaks, that was not my hope or my plan. In truth, I only wished to have Jordan Price remove Ronda King from the political field. Yes, I knew that Ronda had come into season, and I hoped that Jordan would get her to rise. I did not have plans for the deaths of those three boys. That, I place at the feet of Ronda King. does that explain my motives to your satisfaction?”

“It does, but what of Ronda King and her Flight?”

“The Neo Winterswijk Flight shall be broken down and spread throughout the other Flights and Hives. A new Flight will be formed from Sections and Groups brought in from other Flights, with a new Flight Leader appointed by the Council. As for Ronda King, she will be returned to Neo Winterswijk where she will be allowed to give birth to her child and raise it over the next seven years until her wings return.” At the looks of confusion on the faces of the gathered Flight Leaders Helen Campbell sighed. “None of you have studied the old texts, have you? Never mind answering I know you haven’t. A mating with a Thunder Hawk grounds any Sky Dancer until the child is born, but a mating with a gold will forces that Sky Dancer to spend the next seven years grounded. All to ensure that the child is cared for until it is ready to take wing for the first time.”

“You mean, that if we mate with a Thunder Hawk we will be forced to raise our children for the next seven years?” Asked a very stunned Flight Leader.

“Yes, Grace Hightower. The reason is the children of those mating’s are pure Sky Dancers and will be born with wings. They will be just as we are, only without the needed time to mature. That is why we will be grounded until they are ready for their first flight. Now, someone go find Ronda’s Section. They need to return their former Flight Leader to Neo Winterswijk.” With that Helen Campbell walked away. As she was leaving the arena Helen knew that change had finally came to New Holland and the Sky Dancers.



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