by Paul D
Continuation of Cleo's story.
|*Note - Cleo was first introduced in Anelkisterlas: Day of Disaster. This is a continuation of her story.*
Into nothingness, I fall. My screams echo and reecho, but no one hears. Let there be an end, please.
Cleo! I'm coming.
Fierce Storm's strong voice awakened Cleo. "I've never had a dream as bad as that one," she muttered.
She heard Fierce Storm enter her cave, but it was much too dark to make out more than a shady outline of his large presence. His head almost touched the top of the tall cave. "You did not need to come. I am okay now."
Nonsense. I can read your mind, and you are extremely upset--even if you refuse to admit it.
Cleo wept. Three days earlier, she'd asked the Fyrsouls for help to drive the aliens away from Anelkisterlas. In theory, she understood that any of them could die, but with the deaths of Rolling Rock, Granite, and Avalanche, she came to understand the painful reality of death. "When will this pain go away?"
We're all hurting, little one. I worry for when you are bonded to Red Petal. You'll feel her pain as well. That could be too much for you.
"I will not change my mind, Fierce Storm. Red Petal lost her mate Rolling Rock. She needs us right now. You will become her mate today, and we'll all be bonded as a family."
The ceremony begins in two hours with the rising of the sun. Fierce Storm left.
By all rights, Cleo should be dead as well. Six weeks earlier, she lay near death after a shuttle crash, and Fierce Storm found her. He bonded with her, giving her the strength she needed to survive. But in their bond, she was tied to him for the rest of her life.
After she was mostly healed, she needed to talk to her brother Alex to let him know she was alive. Their emotional reunion was shortened when she learned that her other brother Matt had been killed when aliens had taken Anelkisterlas. Her sorrow became a terrible anger, then she left and asked the Fyrsouls for help against the aliens. She would always remember those who died.
With only a few hours left before the ceremony, there was no point in trying to sleep any more. As well, she feared having another dream. The sensation from the last one still lingered on the periphery of her mind.
Cleo walked by herself on the bank of a small stream. The bonding ceremony earlier that day was so beautiful. Fierce Storm and Red Petal were perfect for one another. She had talked to Alex only once since the aliens were driven away. His voice brought back so many painful memories. She didn't think the hole in her heart left by Matt's death could ever be healed.
She took walks daily, which she found helpful to relax and think. She enjoyed living in this beautiful place, but in moments like this, she missed having someone that she could hug and who would hug her in return. The Fyrsouls were so huge that it just wasn't the same.
She felt a thump on the ground and turned to see Fierce Storm, folding his black wings with silver and red splotches against his silver and black body. I heard you Cleo. You are feeling alone?
You need a mate.
"I have you and Red Petal."
It is not the same. Petal is bringing you someone.
Have you stopped listening?
"She can't do that."
She's too far away to call her back now.
"I don't believe you."
Soon, you will.
* * *
Forrest Graves left the Vertical Lifting Craft and walked along the river. His parents were dead, and his other relatives were on Earth. He'd seriously considered returning to Earth, for a time, but the expense was high.
He liked Gemistal, which was beautiful but lonely. He had difficulty socializing, preferring books instead of people. He sat on a log near the river, staring at the slow moving water. A loud thump on the ground startled him, and he turned to see a huge red dragon as tall as the trees.
Hi, I'm Red Petal.
He almost fell off the log. Am I losing my mind?
I hope not; our conversation would be difficult with a lost mind.
Forrest laughed. "I must be imagining things; there are no dragons."
I'm not a dragon. I'm a Fyrsoul, and there is someone I want you to meet.
'You've come for me?"
You hear me, which is rare for an Aireth.
The dragon lowered its head and opened its mouth. Come on.
"You must be kidding."
It's the safest way to fly.
Forrest stood and walked toward the open mouth. "This has to be the stupidest thing I've ever done."
The flight was fantastic. He saw the beauty of this place as he never had before. The dragon few into the mountains then glided down, landing on a wide rock ledge. He emerged from her mouth.
Don't go away. I'll be back.
"Yeah, as if I had anywhere to go."
The dragon returned with a short woman with red hair. She is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen.
"I heard your voice in my mind. How did you do that?" she asked.
"I have no clue."
Can you hear me?
Forrest stared at her and replied, "You can speak to my mind as well."
The hours flew as they talked of so many things. As the sun neared the horizon, Cleo said, "You need to get back; it's getting late."
"Why would I want to go back?"
"So you think you want to stay?"
"I think you already know the answer."
* * *
Fierce Storm and Red Petal flew high over head. Should we be spying? He whispered.
It's not spying; It's keeping her safe.
I'm glad she can't hear us.
But, of course, I always plan well.
* * *
Three days after his arrival, Forrest said, "I need to take the VLC back today."
"I'll have several days off next month. I'll talk with Fierce Storm to arrange a pickup time and place."
"I'm going to miss you, very much."
"I know exactly how you feel. You're one of the few people that I feel comfortable talking to. I feel like sunshine has come into my life."
Cleo laughed. "You need to get out more."
"I will be out here more. I promise."
"I think your ride is waiting."
"Saying goodbye is hard, near impossible."
"Then say, 'Until later.'"
"Soon, Cleo. I'll see you soon."
Forrest had been accused many times as being slow and methodical, but over the past four weeks, he had been a man on a mission.
The atmosphere of Gemistal was not breathable for humans. Cleo's bond gave her an ability to breathe it and live. Forrest had an environ suit that required a condensed canister of oxygen a day for each day he was outside of a dome. He needed an oxy-ex2 if he wanted to live outside the dome all the time. The oxygen extractor was very expensive, and it also required surgery to place it into his left arm.
His parents had invested their life savings to pay for their passage from Earth to Gemistal, for the small house, and five acre farm. Most people lived in multi-plexes. His nearest neighbor had wanted to buy his farm ever since his parents death.
He sat up on the side of the bed and looked at his left arm. He could no longer see the scar. He'd signed over his farm for an oxy-ex2 and the cost of the required surgery. Red Petal was picking him up at the river tonight.
Forrest was nervous. The VLC ride lasted for only a few minutes, but it still felt like much too long. "When am I picking you up?" the young woman pilot asked.
"I'm not coming back."
She gave him an odd look before nodding her head. The steps extended down to the ground, and he left the cabin. Then he watched the VLC lift up and disappear. He started walking in the direction of the river.
* * *
"You are up to something," Cleo accused Fierce Storm.
He could read her mind easily, and her ability to read his was getting stronger by the day. You are right, Cleo. I am up to something that involves Red Petal. I have been trying to keep quiet about it.
"I won't tell her. Can I help?"
Humm, I had not considered that. Perhaps you could be of help. Red Petal loves the fish in the Feingla river. I am going there to get some for her.
"I think I should help. You'll end up eating all the fish yourself."
Fierce Storm laughed. I'm leaving in a few minutes.
"I'll be ready."
* * *
Fierce Storm's thoughts were confusing. Cleo kept hearing Red Petal and laughter. She enjoyed the flight to the river. She thought it was nice that Fierce Storm wanted to surprise Red Petal with fish, but the fish could not be very big. They must be some kind of special treat.
Fierce Storm landed, and she emerged from his open mouth. I'm going to grab dinner and then catch some fish. He leapt to the air.
Cleo didn't want to know what his dinner would be. She walked closer to the river and watched the clear water moving slowly. She saw a few fish, then she heard a twig snap and looked around. "Forrest? What are you doing here?"
He laughed. "I would ask the same, except I suspect Red Petal was involved in some way."
"I asked her to pick me up tonight but not to let you know."
"Fierce Storm. That devil," Cleo muttered.
"Nothing, I just realized something."
"What you are wearing does not look like any environ suit that I've ever seen."
"You are quite observant. I'm not wearing one."
"How were you able to afford the oxy-ex2?"
"I sold the farm."
"And left your job?"
"Yes, I see another path before me."
"What do you see?"
"I see a large cave in the mountains. I see working fields and gardens, enjoying life with my wife."
"I like your vision. These last few weeks without you have been hard. I need a hug."
Forrest chuckled, opened his arms, and she walked into them. He wrapped her up; it was like being enveloped in a warm dream, except this was no dream.
"I can hear your thoughts, Cleo."
I can hear yours too. I'm so glad you came and that this time you will stay. I don't know how I could have said goodbye again.
"Love is never having to say goodbye," Forrest said and then started laughing.
Cleo roared in laughter with him. "I love that mod. I've see it so many times. Fierce Storm is on the way. He will help us with the bonding ceremony, my Love."
Forrest squeezed Cleo tightly, "Good, I love you so very much. I've missed having a family. I'm glad to have found one, again."
"Humm, me too, Dear. I love you too, and I am delighted we are making a home together."