Journal of Thomas Kilroy:
"All of the information I had been given only assured more confusion, the more I learnt the more I had to know, it was worse than exam time at school, our new friend Stilta waited patiently for me to get my thoughts in some sort of order, there was so much yet to learn and so many questions un-asked, my friends also stood around and waited, only Marco was his usual jittery self, never quite knowing if he should stand still or run around."
"Yes, Mirl Thomas."
"How are we going to learn everything, there's so much for us to know about your customs and other things, I'm sure at the moment most of us are trying to adjust to the fact we don't have any planet or even families any more but, for us to have to learn all about a new civilisation is not going to be easy?"
"You need have no fear Mirl Thomas, when you go back into the stasis beds for the remainder of the travel, the education programs will take over and, when we get to Khaladasian Prime, you will have all you need to know, for now though, if I may suggest, perhaps you would like to go and look over the games room, after all, you have five earth days too fill before the last leg to your new home."
"I looked around and saw that most of the others in the huge reception hall were also starting to wander away, some on their own and others in small groups with one of the Khaladasian youngsters with them, we, as a group, set off after Stilta, he seemed to be able to move through the large crowd of boys with consummate easy. As we moved into a long corridor I noticed the belt at my waist began too pulse, as it did, on the walls close to my side, a blue spot appeared and seemed to move along at the same pace, Stilta saw me looking at it."
"Mirl Thomas, that is your indicator, where ever you go on the ship, your belt contacts the central computer to keep track of where you are so that you don't become lost, if you need to get back to your accommodations, you just ask the computer and it will show you the direction to go, if you look at your friends, you will see that their colours are all different to yours for easy recognition."
"Thank you Stilta, tell me, how will we know if a Khaladasian is of the right age for, well you know, to have, uhm, well uhm, sex."
"Oh, that will be plainly evident Mirl Thomas, but, as a youngling I am not allowed to fully discuss it just yet, I'm sure it will be in your lessons when you sleep next."
"So why do you call yourself a 'youngling'?"
"We continued to walk down the long corridor as he answered."
"There are very few titles or terms of respect in our society, those we use most often are, for those of us that are not yet mature or in the throws of puberty, called Younglings, those that have passed puberty and are sexually active call each other Brother, those who are elders are most usually called Father, the governing seniors are of course called Elder, there is only one title above the Elders, it is rarely used and is kept for the most highest ranked in all the Khaladasian planets."
"Who are they Stilta?"
"I watched as a look of surprise came over the youths face as he stared around at those passing us."
"Why, you of course Mirl Thomas, the title of Most Revered Loved One, is the highest honour we have, too us you are the saviours of our race, your injection of new DNA will let us continue to survive for millennia too come."
"At this revelation I was almost struck dumb, ok so we now had no home to go back too, everyone we ever knew was now just a memory, this fact had still not hit a lot of us, we were so easily side tracked by our new surroundings but, I was sure that as soon as we sat and started to think things over, there would not be many dry eyes in our part of the ship. Just as I tried to get my head around what Stilta had told us, he made a gesture towards a wide open door from which the sounds of music and laughter were coming."
"When we entered the large, or should I say enormous, games room, there were scenes of fun and laughter all around us, the whole place looked like one huge games mall, there were places for dancing, massive games consoles even casino games, flashing lights advertised the types of games inside, nothing was as mundane as we had back on Earth, this was ultra tech, video games were full immersion games, if you wanted to play a battle game, you got suited up and entered a holo-deck and became part of the game itself not just like a spectator as we had been back home. Home! It suddenly struck me as I thought of that word, we no longer had a home, we were hundreds of years away, I could feel the first sadness settle in me as the true realisation began to hit, but as usual, it was the ever bright Marco that washed away the sudden sadness."
"Come on, you guys, lets go shoot something, I want too see what they have on the holo-deck."
"Marco well knew we rarely said no too him and so we all followed after his jumping form as he wriggle his ever so small butt in the oh so tight shorts that were almost not shorts, his narrow waist with plenty of skin showing, writhed as he moved, it was like watching some sort of boneless animal glide over the floor."
"Stilta explained to us that the games available on the holo-deck had a green light above the entrance, a yellow light meant it was full, as you could have up to fifty games going on at the same time, there were some holo-decks not being used, Marco headed for one that promised a jungle adventure, our ever vigilant Stilta began to explain what we had to do, he was turning out to be the best guide we could ever ask for."
"When we got inside, we were met by what appeared to be a small and very young boy, Stilta explained that it was an android and was controlled by the AI of the computer, it greeted us and asked for our thumb print, next it led us to a changing room filled with tall lockers, once opened, they revealed a suit of some sort of plastic, much like an old fashioned suit of armour but very light, on a hook was a variety of what I assumed were weapons, as we were going in as a group, we were only allowed to select one type of weapon each, as we progressed up the level of the game, we could add others, it was like a very highly upgraded game of Halo VII which had been the latest game released back on Earth, just before we came here."
"The object of the game was to retrieve something called a Cannelian Crystal, along the way we would have to battle terrible animals and other groups trying to get the Crystal as well, also there were some space travellers that were also enemies, they could pop up anywhere and anytime, even in the middle of another battle where they would take one side or the other, so in effect you could be fighting a small group of four and suddenly find yourself in a battle against many more, it looked as though it would be an interesting game. Stilta did point out that if we were hit, we would really feel the sting although our bodies would not actually be hurt, if we got hit, that part of our suit would no longer work until we got to a save point, there we could repower our suit, if more than 80% of the suit got damaged, we were considered dead and out of the game, this now really looked like fun."
"The suits were truly a marvel, if we had them back on Earth, they would have made someone very rich, the technology alone was more advanced than anything we ever had, the suits seemed to adjust to the wearer, you could feel some of the weight of them but they were essentially, very light, your selected weapon could be attached to the suit when not in use and while attached to the suit it would be recharged, if you ran out of charge during a battle, you would have to put it back on your suit and wait for the recharge, if you had no other weapon then you were a sitting duck so you had to watch you firing at all times."
"I looked at Stilta, he had been standing on the side and watching or explaining things to us, I suddenly realised he had not changed into a suit and so I asked him why not."
"But Mirl Thomas, I am only a youngling guide, it is not my place to interfere with your fun, I am here only to help you."
"That's bull shit Stilta, I'm sure the others feel the same way that you are now part of our group, guys! What do you think, should we have Stilta join us?"
"There was a resounding 'Yes' from all of them."
"There you are Stilta, now you are one of us so get suited up and let's go get that Crystal thingy."
"For the first time I saw what looked like a tear in Stilta's eye, he looked at each of us in turn and then reached out and hugged each one of us before saying."
"I will have to have the approval of Father Ketsika, it is not normally done."
"No problem Stilta, I'll ask him as soon as we see him next, from now on you are one of us, get suited and let's go shoot some bad guys."
"Stilta had a smile wider than his young face as he suited up, he still had a small tear in his eye and it would be some time before I knew why. Once we were all suited and had selected our weapons as well as talked tactics, we stepped into the holo-deck room itself, at first sight it was just a very large bare white room, I looked at Stilta as though in askance, he turned to one wall and said."
"Computer, start game Cannelian Crystal, group action."
"The room immediately changed into the most realistic jungle I had ever seen, although it was not like an Earth jungle and most of the trees and plants were different, the feel and sounds were real enough, even the heat built up along with the humidity, before us was a narrow dirt track, just wide enough for one person at a time, Romero was our selected scout/tracker so he went first, he was carrying a long thin tube with a single handle at one end, Stilta had said this was a laser rifle, next came myself and then Marco, behind him was Stilta and Noah with the twins bringing up the rear as tail end Charlies."
"Although the room we had entered was large it seemed to grow even larger as we made our way through the hologram, I also noticed that we seemed to be a lot lighter on our feet, even with the suits on, after asking Stilta why, he explained that the holo games were played in only half gravity, it meant we could jump and leap a lot more in the game, the down side was when the game finished we would feel the return of full gravity a little more for a few minutes."
"Í will not go into the details of the game here, needless to say, we were killed off one by one until only Stilta was left standing, he explained that he and other younglings often played the games here so had an advantage over our fist time, instead of continuing on to get the Crystal, Stilta called the computer to end the game, he said it would not be right for him to win the game for us, I took this as a sign he preferred to have us all win together, we still had five days to come back and complete our quest."
"It seemed that we only lasted about ten minutes in the game, so you can understand my surprise when we found out we had been battling monsters for over three hours, no wonder we were tired and ready for some rest, Stilta led us back to our room, we all sat and asked for a meal, most of us asked for hamburgers and fries, well what else would you eat after killing monsters?."
"After we had eaten, Stilta told us he was off duty and would go to his own room to rest, he would be back the next 'day' to take us around again. After a long hot shower, we all settled back onto the strange beds, asking the computer to dim the lights, I stared up at the vista of stars above us, even though we seemed to be standing still, I could see that the stars were moving past us quite rapidly, we were still moving towards Khaladasian although at a slower pace than before."
"When we awoke the next 'morning', Stilta was waiting for us, he had asked for a meeting with Father Ketsika so that we could formally ask for him to be our official guide and friend, we all showered quickly and went to see the old one, it was a formality that took less than five minutes, at the end, Stilta was officially named as a Companion of the Most Revered Loved Ones, unknown to us, this put Stilta's position above many others on the ship, including most of the crew and officers, no wonder he was so amazed yesterday when we asked him to be our friend."
"We decided to return to our room to make plans for the day, when we got there we were surprised to see that only seven beds were there, the other five had been removed in the short time we had been away, asking Stilta why, he replied."
"Mirl Thomas, as you have selected myself as your Official Companion, you are entitled to the privacy of your own room, as your Official Companion, I have to be here as well so I can fulfil any of your wishes at all times, therefore the seventh bed."
"I was just now starting to get the full implications of what we had done but, at the same time, I was glad we had asked him, as he loosened up he seemed more like us each day, with a loud yell of happiness, we all broke into laughter at the same time, Stilta started to see the funny side of what we had done and also threw his head back and laughed with us, as I glanced up at him, I saw something that, for a brief moment, scared the hell out of me, for, imbedded in his top palate, in what looked like four grooves, were four long white fangs, Stilta must have seen the shocked look on my face, he immediately stopped laughing and went to his knees, his hands clasped tightly across his middle and his head bowed."
"Mirl Thomas, please forgive me, I meant no disrespect by laughing, it was not directed at you but more to be a part of you, if I have offended you I will renounce my Official capacity and send someone else to look after you."
"It took me a while to realise what he had said, the others were looking at me as though I had gone insane."
"No Stilta, you had every right to laugh along with us, please, you did nothing wrong, it's just, well it's those things in your mouth, your fangs."
"At the mention of fangs, the others looked at me again as though I was some sort of idiot; I had been the only one in the right position to see them."
"My fangs? Of yes, those, we all have them, mine are still unusable because of my age but, when I reach puberty they will start to become effective."
"Stilta seemed totally unfazed by the event as he regained his feet, a slightly embarrassed look on his face; of course it was Marco that could not resist saying with a hint of glee in his young voice."
"Fangs, you have fangs, yay guys we have our own Vampire, let me see them, pleeease?"
"Stilta laughed again and opened his mouth for the others to look at his hidden fangs, when they had all had a good look, he asked."
"What's a Vampire, do you have them on Earth?"
"Of course this led to a long explanation about Vampires and the myths that surrounded them, Stilta laughed and told us he was not a blood sucking monster and then went on to explain the use of his fangs."
"When we are mature, our fangs become useable, the outer pair as you have seen are shorter, we can use them independently so when we are having sex, we and our partner extend them and we bite each other, they only just pierce the skin so don't go very deep, they then inject our partner with a small amount of endorphins to enhance the feelings we are having. The inner pair are for battle, while we, among the seventeen planets are at peace and never fight among ourselves, there are other civilisations that do try to attack us, the inner pair are part of our close fighting techniques, they can inject a very virulent poison into an enemy, he dies almost instantly, we also have other inbuilt weapons such as our claws but I can't show you those as I am too young yet to have them."
"We all stood and looked at Stilta with awe, this gentle nice polite boy was a walking arsenal, we were all glad he was on our side, 'reminder to self, don't get on Stilta's bad side' After we had all asked innumerable questions that I am sure poor Stilta was tired of, we decided to head back to the games room for the day and try out some of the other games and to look around some more, we also set a plan for the next day to go and look at as much of the ship as we could, it was not long before we had the rest of our days planned until we had to go back to sleep for the rest of the long voyage."
While the boys slept after their long day, the Khaladasian Research Cruiser Beltan V, ambled slowly through space at twenty seven thousand kilometres an hour, it had been normal for all Khaladasian ships to slow down half way through their long voyages for the purposes of checking all co-ordinates and look at the condition of the ship before finalising a voyage.
The full ship check usually took only three days but, due too their very valuable cargo, they had extended it too a full five days so the boys could get everything settled in the heads. The Khaladasians had been visiting Terra for many centuries; they had watched it develop from a backward and primitive lump of primeval dirt to a relatively modern world and now they had the last remnants of the destruction of the 21 st century, which as unbelievable as it was for the Khaladasians to try to understand, had been caused by the very people themselves, it was still a hotly debated topic around the ship.
It had pleased Father Ketsika greatly when one of the small groups of boys had asked for one of his own younglings to be their personal guide, although Ketsika held a high post both on the ship and on their home world of Khaladasian Prime, the new honour his family had gained by having a youngling selected as the first Guide, lifted their already high status too new heights, he only hoped that it would enable their large family to be selected to have some of the boys live with them on their large estates.
Father Ketsika, had he been a younger man, would have avidly pursued some of the boys himself, he found them not only extremely exotic but most were also beautiful in their many differences, unlike Khaladasians whom all looked very similar and there were only minor differences in each of them to distinguish one from another, this had been one of the main problems with their breeding, with the advent of the exotic new blood of these last Terrans, they would once again , after so many millennium, be able to have variety on all the worlds.
The ship had stayed around to watch the last moments of Terra, the boys had been put too sleep in their stasis beds and, over the next two months, Terra had once again descended into nothing more than a primeval world, the few humans that had survived had by now reverted to their basic instincts. Khaladasian would send another research ship some time in the future to see how it was re-growing, no scientist worth his salt would walk away from a planet after such a long history, their technology would keep their new saviours alive for many, many years, he only hoped they would find peace in their new home.
Ketsika had ordered all crew to watch for any sadness in the boys, he was well aware of what they had lost and the newness of their present situation would hit them soon, it was then they would have to be at their best, they could not afford too have even a single one lost, what surprised Ketsika most was the apparent ability of these Terran boys to adjust to their new surroundings, while there was surprise by the boys, it did not seem to faze them too much, he also knew that at some time some of the boys would truly realise their planet and all they knew and loved, was gone.
Ketsika looked up at the large wall display, it was all the sleeping rooms of the boys, he could select which ever room he wanted to view, his initial pride in the boys understanding and acceptance of their situation was enhanced when he happened to get a glimpse of his youngling's group talking about something to do with Stilta, he turned up the sound and caught the last of the conversation, the smallest boy in the group who, Ketsika thought was probably the most precocious of any of the boys he had seen, had just called out something about a species called Vampires, Ketsika would have to look it up in their massive library, it must be one of the species they had not collected.
What surprised Ketsika even more was the boys attitude to Stilta's fangs, it was another one of those differences they had not even thought about before collecting the boys, he wondered what these young Terrans would make of their other differences when they came to know about them, Ketsika brushed aside that thought, there would be time for that later, now he had to read through a mountain of reports about the readiness to proceed to their home world.
When the boys awoke the next morning, or what they assumed was morning, it was too see Stilta had a strange swirling mark on his forehead, when asked, he told them it was to mark his new position as the Official Companion to them, he explained then what an honour they had done, not only for himself, but for his whole extended family, of course Marco decided to change the subject with his usual enthusiasm.
Having decided to turn his suit into the barest of clothing, which meant a top so small and tight that every piece of him showed along with the smallest of short shorts that revealed half his tight smooth butt cheeks and nearly all of his hips apart from the thin strip no wider than two inches, Marco leapt into the very surprised Stilta's arms, wrapped his bare legs around the younglings waist and pleaded to see his Fangs again, everyone, including Stilta could only break out in laughter at Marco's antics, obligingly, Stilta lifted his head back and opened his mouth wide for Marco too look inside as he was not old enough to lower them for the ever lively boy.
Once satisfied, Marco leant in and gave Stilta a light kiss on the cheek before jumping to the floor laughing as he went to order his breakfast, his innate curiosity satisfied for the moment, the others followed his example and sat down to eat while they discussed what and where they would go today, as they finished their boys breakfast, nothing like what they would have been made to eat at home, it finally struck them all what and where they were.
There was a sudden silence as though they all had the same thought at the same time, eyes became misty with tears as their memories of people and places came to mind, tears began to fall silently until they could not be held back and their sobbing filled the large room, Stilta, although warned by Ketsika, his great, great Grandfather, that this could happen, was lost for what to do about it, he could only sit and watch as the boys shed tears for a long lost planet and all they knew and loved.
Stilta sat silently, there was nothing else he could do, he still had his world and all his many family members which ran into hundreds, he could feel for the boys but had no real idea how to help them, it was a situation he was totally unfamiliar with, watching them a great sadness also overcame him, not enough to produce tears but enough to tighten up his throat and make his stomach ache with longing, it was an unpleasant feeling, Stilta sat and waited.
The boys finally settled down, little did they know but the same scene had been played out in many of the other rooms where the last of 21 st century man now resided, after the excitement of their first day on a real space ship was over, the truth of their situation had hit them hard, of the 17,000 boys saved from Earth, there was hardly a dry eye, many were consoled by their friends, if they had no group friends, then others took it upon themselves to help those that were alone, it was a coming together of all nations for one purpose, it made no difference if the boy was Asian, Latin, European or African, they all realised they were all that was left of Earth, they had to stick together one way or the other.
The atmosphere on the ship that day was a very sombre one, as each group or boy passed one of their Earth brothers, they gave a small smile in recognition of their mutual situation, it was growing to be their own brotherhood, the last survivors of a dead planet off to one last adventure in the infinity of the vast reaches of space, something none of them ever thought they would do, it was this realisation that brought them all back from the brink of total depression, they were now the only Earth people to have travelled to the far reaches of space, most boys dream.
On the many screens in his control room, Ketsika had watched the Terran boys wake to their situation, he had had all his medical staff at the ready in case they were needed as he watched the many boys break down when they realised they were all that was left of the home planet, it had been a long and tense period while it occurred, their revival had been a wonder to Ketsika, he did not realise how strong these lost boys were when he saw them begin to shake off their tears and settle down to accept their new lives, he wondered if his fellow Khaladasian could have rallied as well if they had lost everything they knew.
For the rest of the few days left before continuing their voyage, Ketsika watched the boys rebuild their shattered lives, they went back to exploring the ship and making full use of the games rooms, at times Ketsika laughed loudly at his crew as they reported some of the places they found the Terran boys investigating, even the mundane refuse tubes were at times found to have boys wriggling along them to find out where they went or came from, the strangest of all was when an engineering crewman found a very young Asian teen walking along the top of one of the main drive turbines, occasionally tapping at the cover, completely unafraid to be fifty metres above the floor without any safety equipment, when asked by the crewman why he walked all the way up there, the boy had replied.
"I wanted to see what made this ship go fast, it doesn't look like much though, just a lot of red and blue lights, interesting but not exciting."
Ketsika had also found it amusing that the young boy would look at the power of his huge engines and call them 'not much' he thought of the power that was flowing through those engines and laughed to himself, if only the boy had realised that the red lights were in fact raw plasma collected from the space around them, the blue lights were the refined plasma and was known as Null Fusion, it was the result of the refinement and enabled them to travel at nearly twice the speed of light, therefore creating a small black hole around themselves, this enabled them to literally jump from one universe to another.
The final day of plasma collection arrived, the boys were all called to the main conference hall and told about what would happen next, after a large and sometimes hilarious party, the boys all slowly went back to their rooms and climbed into their stasis beds, they were followed shortly after by the crew and officers once the AI of the ship had taken control, they were now about to embark on their final jump to their new home on Khaladasian Prime and others of the seventeen planets that made up the Khaladasian system.
All over the ship, the Most Revered Loved Ones were stirring as they felt the last effects of their long sleep dissipate from their minds, their surroundings now seemed familiar and comforting, their bunk mates were also stirring and the need for food soon had most of them jumping from their beds to shower and then order food, above them, through the clear domed roof, they could see a new set of stars shining brightly, their new and temporary home was making a direct line for a planet ahead.
Most of the boys stopped eating long enough to inspect what they suspected as their new home, it was a world larger than the planet Earth, around it were three moons and what appeared to be two suns, both of different colours, one, the smallest, was a bright stabbing white, the other was further away and shone with a reddish yellow glow, the planet itself was mostly of a green colour unlike Earth that, from space looked blue and white, Khaladasian, if this were it, was mostly dark green and white, its atmosphere looked to be more of a shimmering pale green instead of blue, this was to be their new home.
Stilta was waiting for the band of boys in Thomas's group to awaken, he looked at them with a new fondness as they groaned and grunted as they awoke, Stilta was struck by the sameness to his own people when they were teens in that they usually had little desire to jump from sleep into wakefulness too quickly, Stilta waited patiently, he had already had his meeting with Ketsika and, now that all the rescued boys had been educated while sleeping, he was tensely waiting for them to come back to their full faculties.
Half an hour after deactivating the stasis beds, all the survivors were showered and fed, directed by their guides, they went to the large open observation deck to watch the approach to one of their new homes. It seemed no time at all before the ship was being nestled into a bay like structure above the atmosphere of Khaladasian, from here they would be shuttled down to the planets surface to be greeted officially by its residents, what was to greet them was far beyond anything they had ever expected, even though, now they had all the information about their new home from the sleep schooling.
As the newcomers filed from the locks of the huge ship, none of the boys were surprised to see older Khaladasian now wearing their usual attire and their extra pair of arms now freed from the confines of their uniforms, it had been done so the Terran boys would not be shocked or scared by the differences in the races.
It was easily recognised as to who were the important ones from this ship, although they had knowledge from the sleep lessons, it was still a shock when the whole dock area went totally silent, the officers and crew of the ship were lined up outside the doorway along with all of the staff of the docking facility, as the boys walked slowly from the massive ship and into the dock area, every Khaladasian bowed low and, it seemed as though in one single voice, called out.
"Welcome home Most Revered Loved Ones, our planet is your planet, ask what you will and it shall be yours."
By now all 17,000 boys were standing around the huge complex, the sound of the sincere voices echoed around the large curved walls as the younglings that had been detailed to attend to the Terran boys, took up their stations alongside the groups they had been set too look after, it did not go unnoticed that Stilta carried the mark of a Companion, even his own senior family member bowed to him now along with everyone that he came in contact with, he was still the only one that had been given the honour of Companion to the Most Revered Loved Ones.
With a last bow and salute, the boys were led off towards a Strato Liner, their shuttle to the planets surface, although reserved for the boys use only, it was a massive ship as well, not as large as the Cruiser they had travelled on but, by Earth standards, far bigger than anything they had ever seen, inside were three rows of very plush seats that were tiered in layers ten high with narrow walkways between each level, the seats each had plenty of space for each boy to sit and stretch out in, they were told that the trip to the surface would take thirty minutes but, if they wished, the crew would take them for a round trip of the planet before setting down, all agreed that that sounded like fun and so it was done.
Two hours after leaving the Galactic Cruiser, the Strato Liner was settling softly onto a huge cradle affair, through the wide windows around them, the boys saw that the landing area was packed to capacity with Khaladasians, running from underneath the Liner was a wide blue matting of some sort, it led all the way across the landing site to a large dais on which stood more than fifty adult Khaladasians.
By this time the boys were well aware that the addition of a Companion to Thomas's group gave them pride of place and so they were allowed to be the first of the Terran survivors to step off the Liner onto the soil of their new home, the tumultuous crowd awaiting them went into immediate and total silence as the first boys appeared at the open hatch and began to descend towards the blue walkway, as one, all those waiting for this moment, bowed low, the military wings drew themselves upright and saluted in their best manner.
The silence remained until all the boys were walking along the wide pathway towards the waiting dignitaries, it was a once in a life time event and none of the Khaladasians present wanted to miss a second of it, they all wanted to be able to tell their children's children that they were there when the saviours, The Most Revered Loved Ones, arrived on Khaladasian Prime.
The boys lined up haphazardly in front of the waiting dignitaries, thankfully, the speeches of welcome were short although very heart felt by all that were there, this was the first time the boys were able to make out the differences between the Khaladasian worlds as each of the seventeen home planets were represented before them.
The boys were all glad once the formal proceedings were over, they now felt a kinship of sorts for their hosts, the atmosphere around them seemed buoyant and light, the air was easy to breathe and the temperature was about the same as early summer on Earth, one thing they did not notice at first was that they felt stronger, their steps required less effort, later it was explained the Khaladasian Prime had a little less gravity than their old planet, some of the other planets in the system were even less and others a little more.
Recognising that the days long events may have tired the newcomers, the Khaladasian elders said they would be taken to a number of compounds set aside for their exclusive use until they had time to decide which of the seventeen home worlds they would like to live on, for the next four days, a lot longer than the days on the smaller planet Earth, the boys were allowed to inspect all aspects of the other planets in the system.
Nothing was with-held from them, any question they asked was answered honestly and in full, even the most intimate ones were unashamedly answered in full, slowly the different groups of boys began to make the decisions as to where they would like to make their new homes, Thomas's group of course wanted to stay on Khaladasian Prime, they had no intentions of taking Stilta away from his family or home planet and, as they now knew, where they went he was honour bound to follow as their Companion added to the fact that Marco had taken a particular liking to the youngling, even to the extent of not using his own bed anymore.
It sometimes amused the other boys to watch the antics between the two, Marco with his over the top exuberance and flamboyance alongside the more staid and sensible attitude of Stilta, it was also obvious to any that wanted to take notice, that Stilta was well and truly wrapped around Marcos little finger as proven when Marco wanted to do something that was not quite normal in Khaladasian society, Marco would look at Stilta in a certain way and the boys would watch the gleam in Stilta's eye become a sparkle, he would then cave instantly to Marco's request.
Slowly over the next three weeks, a long time on Khaladasian prime as their days were so much longer than on Earth, a day was thirty six hours long, a week being nine full days and a month was nearly five weeks, there were fourteen months in a year and, in the capital city of Khaladasian Prime, this gave the boys plenty of time to make decisions.
Simitare, the capital city of Khaladasian Prime, held more than seven million people but it was laid out in such a way and was so big, that it never seemed as though that many people lived there, everyone and everything seemed to be in some sort of harmony, traffic moved smoothly and without the congestion the boys had known back on Earth, the hardest thing for the boys to get used to was the way everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, would bow and smile as they passed.
Trying to buy something in a shop was a no go, even the slightest interest by one of the boys in something on a shelf and the owner would offer it as a gift in such a way that the boy would feel uncomfortable if he did not accept it, this led to the boys having to be very careful when out window shopping or they could end up with a cart load of gifts before they had gone ten metres along a street.
It was slowly beginning to really dawn on the many boys how they were truly perceived by the Khaladasians, everywhere they went they heard the whispers about the saviours of the people, it had also become common place for the boys to see people going about their business with all four arms showing.
Thomas asked Stilta about their military, all his life he had had an interest about militaria, although he should have known better, it came as little surprise when they were invited the very next day to go and look at a training camp outside the city, the word soon spread and, like all boys, anything that might hold some sort of fighting about it, they found themselves accompanied by another one hundred and fifty of the other boys.
The transport was quickly arranged for the extra boys and, early the next morning, the convoy of thirty white military cars was underway towards the military camp, the cars were relatively silent as they were driven by magnetic power plants and, as they used antigrav units, there was no need for wheels and so no road noise, the cars lifted to fifty metres and took off faster than a formula one race car back on Earth, below them the traffic ways and houses flashed by as though in a speeded up movie scene, within ten minutes the line of cars was settling down on a wide expanse of sealed ground, lined up around the square ground, three files deep, were about two thousand soldiers.
As the boys exited the cars, there came a very loud crashing of booted feet stamping on the ground as the soldiers came to attention, next a full throated roar went up as the troops all saluted the boys, it was an overpowering sight for the smaller boys, each soldier held a long clear rod with a handle at one end, just like the one they had used in the holo game, at their waist was another smaller version of the laser rifle and on the other hip was a wicked looking knife about twelve inches long with what looked like a glass blade, it had a serrated edge and some sort of white handle that may have been bone.
Once all the boys were on the ground, a small group of older men came up to them, they were introduced as the officer instructors, each saluted the boys in turn then the senior among them asked Thomas.
"Most Revered Loved One, Thomas, would you and your friends like to inspect the guard of honour?"
Thomas had no real idea what was expected but he had read about this sort of thing when a dignitary visited a country and so he said.
"Thank you Sir, we would like that very much."
The officer drew himself up taller and smiled widely, he then said.
"Most Revered Loved One, there is no need to call me Sir, it is I that should be giving you that honour, we are after all, just humble soldiers, but I thank you for your courtesy, if your group would like to follow me I will take you through the ranks and explain it too you if you require it."
The boys all trooped after the officers, as they went, the first officer explained that all of these troops were only newly turned Brothers, they were still in the first part of their training so were not fully up to the standard that they would reach in five years time, they were however, the only ones available at such short notice and he asked Thomas and the others to excuse their lack of training, and his apologies for not providing the best they had for them too see.
To the boys eyes, the officers words seemed unreal, the young troops lined up around the square looked perfect, they all stood like statues, their two upper arms holding the long laser rifle stiffly out from their bodies, below, the two lower arms were bent precisely so that their second hands were resting one on the hand grip of the sidearm the other gripping the handle of the glass like knife, they could all see now how four arms could be an advantage in a fight, the young recruits all kept their eyes directly in front of them as the boys passed close by.
After the inspection, the boys were led to a covered dais where there were chairs set out for them, once all of them were seated, the recruits began to march in step and perform various figures and manoeuvres on the hard topped square, the sound of their booted feet ringing around the parade ground.
After the demonstration of their marching skill by the recruits, the boys were taken to the mess hall where they were served lunch and invited to meet with some of the lucky recruits, after lunch they were taken to the area where the recruits were taught weapons and hand to hand combat techniques, while the boys had been told the new recruits were only just starting their training, the exhibition of skills they saw in the hand to hand combat were very high indeed.
The officer explained to them all that the knife was not glass but a special compound that, once it was charged, became a plasma knife able to cut through Plasteel up to 15 millimetres thick, of course this led to having to fully explain Plasteel to the boys as they watched the soldiers twist and turn as they sparred with each other, one of the boys in the group asked the officer if he could try it as he had done a lot of Martial Arts on Earth, the officer raised an eyebrow and asked what Martial Arts were.
"Most Revered Loved One, what is this 'Martial Arts' is it a form of painting or picture taking?"
The boy almost laughed and it was only with a great deal of self control that he kept a straight face although his bright green eyes twinkled with humour.
"No Sir, it is a form of defending ones self; many people on Earth practice it for sport and fitness."
"I see, but if you went to spar with the recruits you may be injured and that would not be good for any of us if you were to be hurt."
"Oh Sir, you don't have to worry about that, we get hurt all the time when we practice, it's all part of learning the art."
"But it would be a disaster if one of the Most Revered Loved Ones was injured, there would be an uproar all over the seventeen planets."
Unknown to the officer he was about to be hit with a weapon they had never come across before as the boy got what to an earth parent was the ultimate in teen weaponry when they wanted something, the boy looked at the officer, his head went down until the officer could only see the boys eyes under his low hanging fringe of dark hair, the eyes became slightly misty and he looked for all the world like a hurt little puppy, it was a devastating weapon in the hands of an experienced teen, within seconds the face of the officer took on a guilty look, only the slightest of smiles on the boys face let the others know he had won.
"Well Most Revered Loved One, I suppose we could try something as long as it was not too dangerous to your person, we have special training armour you could wear in case the recruit lost control of his knife hand, even unpowered the knife is still dangerous."
"Oh there's no need, besides armour would slow me down, I'm sure we will be ok, let me just do some stretching first and then you can ask four or five of the recruits if they want to spar with me."
"Four or five; Oh no, that's way too many for anyone to attempt let alone a Most Revered Loved One, you would be certain to be injured facing that many recruits, perhaps one, just as a demonstration."
"Sir, that would not be fair on the recruit, the style we use is able to be performed with more than one attacker, also I have discovered that I have a distinct advantage over your recruits."
"Well if you are totally sure you will not be injured, perhaps I can tell the recruits not too use their knives."
"That's ok Sir, they can have their knives, we're taught to defend against them."
"Well only if you are very sure, you do realise that if you get hurt we will all be in very big trouble."
"Sir, if I get hurt it will be my own fault, you are absolved from all blame as are the recruits that volunteer to be a part of the demonstration."
"Very well, but perhaps only two."
"I think five would be best, yes five is a good number."
Sighing deeply, the officer finally relented, he had a funny feeling he was not going to win any argument with one of the Revered Ones on this day, once agreed too, the boy smiled widely and winked at some of the other boys, it became apparent suddenly to Thomas that some of the other boys knew how good this one was, as a Martial Artist himself he was also interested to watch the other boys skills and try to judge his level.
The boy stood and went down to the training ground where the recruits stopped their sparring, slipping off his shirt too expose a very slender and trim body, the boy removed his footwear and began to do stretching exercises, some of which even astounded the other boys and totally confused the Khaladasian officers, after ten minutes of stretches and shadow sparring, the boy nodded to the officer to select his recruits, while the boy continued with deep breathing exercises.
It was difficult to find volunteers among the recruits, none of them wanted to be responsible for any injury to one of the special boys watching them, finally it was the boy himself who decided to select five opponents, the recruits selected did not look happy, they had already had more than six months of combat training and, while not up to expert level that they would reach in the time too come, they were however armed with their knives and not completely without skill.
The recruits also saw an advantage they had of the Most Revered Loved One, they had extra arms, he only had two to fight with, a distinct disadvantage when dealing with trained troops, reluctantly the recruits selected took up their fighting stances, the boy only looked them over carefully, he looked at their balance and stances, how they moved their four hands, sometimes in unison and sometimes independently of each other, with a quick glance at the officer, the boy nodded for them to begin, the officer called out to the recruits.
Instinctively the recruits went into fighting mode and attacked, their training taking over from their desire not too injure the Most Revered Loved One, they had their orders and attack they did. For the next ten minutes everyone saw a demonstration of skill and athleticism that the Khaladasian had never seen before, the concept of Martial Arts had never been seen by them.
Too the eyes of the Khaladasians, the boy seemed to virtually float then twist and turn in impossible ways as he out manoeuvred, out paced and out fought the five opponents, by the end of the ten minutes all five of the recruits were on the ground moaning or trying to regain their feet, the boy stood unharmed and only breathing slightly harder, some of the kicks and throws had been almost too fast for the Khaladasians eyes to follow, the boy had jumped higher than thought possible, he had spun faster than most could turn, his kicks were accurate and fast, by the end of the time, the Khaladasian officers were staring at the scene before them with their mouths wide open in surprise, they had never seen, in all their long years, such a devastating display of power and speed, what made it more unreal for them was the fact the boy had not only been outnumbered but was half the size of the recruits.
Smiling widely, the boy replaced his shirt and walked back to the dais to rejoin his friends, around the training ground there was total silence as the stunned recruits and training officers tried to take in what they had just seen, or thought they had seen, it finally began to sink in that these Most Revered Loved Ones were not defenceless, slowly there became a sense of relief from the officers, it now seemed there was still much to learn after all, they did not have all the answers they thought their long lives gave them.
Thomas was standing close when the boy began to explain to his friends why he was able to do it all so easily, not only was his long years of training an advantage to him, but he then told them about his discovery of being faster and stronger than when he was on Earth, he had discovered this when he was doing his daily exercises on the first morning of their arrival on the planet, the lighter gravity gave him a distinct advantage to those born here, his long training did the rest.
Thomas thought back to his own morning routine, he now came to understand why he seemed to also be faster and more light on his feet during his Bomsai and shadow sparring, Thomas smiled to himself, if only he had had this advantage in the last competition on Earth he may have won the final instead of being placed second, he sighed to himself, it was all gone now and he had a new life to live.
The senior officer approached the boy, his face showed plainly that he was more than impressed with what they all just seen.
"Most Revered Loved One, would you consider becoming a trainer in our military academy, we have never seen anything like that form of fighting skill before, are there others among you that know this style?"
"I don't know if I can teach, I'm still learning myself but, I'm sure there are others among all the boys that know other styles as well."
"Are you saying there are other ways of this style of fighting?"
"Oh yes, there are many different styles of Martial Arts, I'm sure there are other boys that know some, especially if you ask the Asian boys, too them it is almost a way of life."
"Which are the Asian boys, we thought only that all of you are the same species with different looks."
"No, we all come from different back grounds and races."
The boy looked around at the other one hundred and fifty boys; he quickly identified a number of Asian boys and pointed them out to the officer.
"Perhaps you could ask some of them, they are Asian, I'm sure many of them would understand and also be able to help."
After the demonstration, the rest of the day was called off and everyone returned to the large mess hall, the chatter and laughing filled the large room as the boys and recruits discussed what they had seen, even the beaten recruits joined in, their embarrassment long forgotten in their interest to learn how the boy had been able to beat them.
As the day began to draw to a close, the cars arrived and the boys were loaded for the return to the city, behind them the officers were still in deep discussion about the demonstration they had witnessed, one thing they all agreed, their troops needed to be trained like the boy, while their old ways were effective in most of the battles they fought, this new style would win many close battles for them, it was decided that it had to be taken to the Elders for further investigation.
On their return to the city, the boys were left to go to their respective accommondations, Thomas and his friends along with Stilta, were introduced to their own mansion sized house, the peaceful setting of the large grounds soon relaxed the boys after their long day out, Thomas thought that it was good to be home again, it then hit him that he already considered Khaladasian Prime as home, it was a new realisation, their old world was now more than a thousand years in the past, it was still hard for him to get his head around it as he still looked and felt like his normal sixteen.
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