Castle Roland


by Kyle Aarons

In Progress

Chapter 4

Posted: 26 Jan 15


Kyle Aarons

Ryan was in the middle of another terrifying dream. This one picked up right where the last one left off. His lungs were filling with water when, suddenly, a hand reached into the water and dragged him out. It was a friendly looking man with graying hair and a wrinkled face. The man's blue eyes twinkled with an inner kindness that radiated outward. Carefully the man turned Ryan around and held him up while he coughed up large amounts of water.

"Don't try to move yet," started the man, "That was a nasty fall you took. Why are you swimming in the river during the rainy season?"

"Wasn't trying to sir," was all he was able to gasp out. He looked back up the cliff with fear, but saw no one.

The experienced eyes of the gentleman caught the terrified expression. "Someone after you?"

"Whole family sir. I'm the last one left." He didn't know where the answer came from. It came automatically as if it was pre-programmed into the dream.

The man looked down with sincere sorrow. "The kingdom is in ruins without magic. Even the Knights of the Table have lost their senses. A child should not be held responsible for crimes of his parents. Merlin made a grave error thinking we could make do without. I can keep you safe, if you will work for me."

Still trying to suck in needed air, Ryan looked up puzzled, but managed to gasp out. "Doing what sir?"

"Even with the fall and almost drowning you are still polite. This is good a good sign. I'm looking for an apprentice to help me build ships. You will have to work hard, but no one will look for you way up north."

"I don't know much about wood working sir." Again it was built into the dream. Ryan was the younger boy, but not in full control of himself. The other thing that was so strange was that he knew the area where he was and that he was in serious trouble. The man was just about to speak when he was gently shaken out of his slumber.

Ryan rolled over half expecting one of the older kids to be hovering over him is some sort cruel prank. Instead, he saw one of the naval men that had been coming to visit him since Stan had found out where he was. He let out a sigh as he realized nothing bad was going to happen to him.

He shook his head and rubbed his eyes to clear away the last of the dream and sleepiness. The man knelt down, "Ryan, your friend's father has agreed to take you in. We need to get you packed and to the airport."

Ryan looked up in astonishment; "I am going to go live with Alex?"

"You're a lucky young man. Mr. Caldwell has arranged for a COSAM ramjet to fly you to United Britain. Me and a few of my buddies have also been offered jobs with COSAM as security men. As soon as we land, we will be flown to the Cynthia."

"You're joking, right?"

"Nope. Your name has been officially changed to Ryan James Yerris-Caldwell. Here is the paperwork if you want to read it." He held out a folder with some official looking paperwork in it.

Ryan shook his head, "No, it's Ok. I believe you." He jumped up and got out of his pajamas. As he got dressed, he looked at the clock. It read 0258 local. "Gee, why so early?"

"Your new family doesn't like the idea of you staying here."

"I'll make sure to thank them." Ryan stated with total sincerity. "What do I need to take?"

"Everything you want. I doubt COSAM will send the ramjet back if you forget something. Those buggers aren't cheap to run."

"I really get to ride in a ramjet?"

"Yea. The trip to London should take less than three hours."

Ryan asked a few more questions as he hurriedly packed his things in a couple of gym bags the man had brought along. Most questions were left unanswered because the man either didn't know, or Ryan went right on to the next question without giving the man a chance to answer the one before.

The ride to the airport was uneventful, but once they got into the terminal a man selling 'True Aboriginal Made Goods' came up and looked at Ryan. "By the gods of old, you mustn't reopen the Nexus points!"

The old Aborigine pointed a long bony finger at Ryan, but was quickly pushed aside by one of the Naval men, "Go back into the bush you crazy old fool. You're scaring the boy."

The elderly man remained undaunted and continued to follow them leaving his booth unattended. "Reopening the Nexus will bring forth the beasts of old. He mustn't reopen them! I feel his power and one of the Nexus points is calling to him. Please, he can't go!"

Ryan kept turning around and looking at the man. Each time he did, the man would look away as if afraid of what he was seeing. "Why is he acting like I am some sort of evil thing?"

The man who had awoken him spoke, "He is a little crazy Ryan. The Aborigine tribes have been saying that some sort of magical nexus is about to open for the last two days. Word seems to have spread quickly."

"But why me?"

The man patted him on the back. "Ignore him. He must have got his spirit world wires crossed or something."

Ryan couldn't help but laugh. The man's expression and that of his buddies was one of mocking. However, Ryan couldn't completely shake the unsettling feeling of familiarity. The old man looked a lot like the old man who had saved him in his dream. The only difference was this man had brown eyes, yet they held the same concern and strength. As he looked out from the ramjet, he saw the old man pointing at the aircraft and shaking his head in almost a sad way. Minutes later he was traveling at over five times the speed of sound and still accelerating toward his new home. As he began to relax his mind quickly forgot about the old man. He drifted off to sleep on the shoulder of the man who had picked him up from the orphanage.

The dream tried to come back several times, but each time he would awaken and feel in some strange way stronger. He could have sworn Alex was somehow calling to him. Other strange sensations came and went as well. At one point, when he was in the gray area between being asleep and awake. Off in the distance he heard a voice calling for help. It was in a language he shouldn't have been able to understand; yet he did.

He went toward the sound. Each step he took in his dream took him further from the ramjet and closer to the pleading voice. He looked down and watched in some amazement as he realized his feet were using the clouds as stepping-stones. A spectacle of clouds moved under his feet seemed to fill him with an inner strength he had not felt since the day his family had been killed.

As he got closer to the pleading voice, he saw a horrible creature approaching a sick dark skinned boy. The boy had face paint on and there were several designs of colored sand in a circular pattern around him. The voice he was hearing came from an old man kneeling next to the kid. He knew the creature approaching the boy wanted to hurt him. He refused to let this happen. He positioned himself between the boy and the strange beast, but its eyes flared and leapt at him. In his dream, he struck out at the creature with his martial arts skills.

Much to his delight and surprise, his first blow caused an extra devastating blue flash from his hand. Invigorated by this new found ability, he struck out again and again with his hands and feet. Each blow seemed to flash with blue light and inflict massive damage.

The creature turned to get around Ryan, but barely managed to back off before another rush of power surrounded Ryan. Suddenly, he was joined by another being, a man-like creature with a buffalo head. The new arrival pointed and a sizzling blue light shot forth into the creature trying to get past Ryan and hurt the child beyond. The Buffalo beast then nodded to Ryan and took a step back.

Ryan backed off. Strange words came to him as he extended his arms and duplicated the effect from his own hands. How he knew what to do was a mystery, but his blue light was much more powerful and damaging than the light from the buffalo headed man.

Yet another blast of blue light lashed out like a whip from the buffalo creature. Ryan again duplicated the strange display of power. Between them, they landed blow after blow, never giving the vile presence a chance to get close to the sick child. Together they forced the creature to back off. More words came to Ryan in sudden inspiration. Golden rays of light erupted from his hands, spearing the beast over and over. Finally the dark figure disappeared in a flash of intense blue flame.

The buffalo man took Ryan's hands and pointed at the sick child. When it spoke, it was in the same language the old man was speaking in. "You know the words and have the power. Let it flow through you. I do not yet have the power to help him."

Ryan felt the knowledge of ancient words filled with massive power spill into him. He pointed toward the boy and spoke words which drained much of his remaining energy. As before, he had no idea where the words come from, but he knew they would help the sick boy. Blue light shot from him and entered the sick boy. Before his eyes he saw the pale aura of the child switch from a muddy brown to a beautiful green.

The buffalo man nodded, "Very good. You work for the powers of purity. You will always be my ally. Call on me if you find the powers of darkness too strong." With those words the half man, half buffalo vanished in a puff of blue flame and white smoke.

Ryan jerked awake. He was sweating and exhausted.

The man next to him put a comforting hand around Ryan's shoulders and pulled the boy into his chest. "Relax it was only a nightmare. I tried to wake you, but you were too deep into it. We'll be in London in less than two hours. Think of your new home, not what happened in your past." Ryan wanted to tell the man what had transpired in his dream, but decided it would sound crazy. The last thing he heard before dozing back off was the man speaking to one of the others, "Wow, how strange can you get! I could have sworn he was glowing blue for a moment."

"Our imaginations must be really going nuts cause I thought I saw a flash of light shoot out of his fingertips!" One of the man's friends replied, "Leave it up to some crazy Aborigine to get us all worked up!"

Clear across the Pacific Ocean, a lone Navaho medicine man sat in his sweat lodge with a sick boy of only nine. There were few Native Americans left who still went with the old ways. The boy's family was no different, but had come to the medicine man as a last resort. The doctors could do nothing about the cancer, which had wormed its way into every area of the boy. The radiation from the wars had spread throughout the world and continued to claim more victims. Seemingly, the only thing left untouched by the insidious growth was the boy's brain. This seemed cruelest of all, because the boy knew he was dying and the pain was not dulled in any way.

The medicine man stuck to the old ways, but expected this to fail. Long ago, in the time before the white man, a tribal medicine man might have been able to heal the boy, but magic didn't seem as strong any more. Even since the time of his boyhood in the early 1970s, the ways of the medicine man seemed to have lost something. Maybe it was true what the rest of the world said, magic was worthless, but nothing else could save the boy lying in front of him. His eyes were filled with the pain that was tearing at his young body. The man put a hand over the boy's forehead, "Be still so the sprits can feel your pain. You must believe young Night Falcon. The sprits will come to you. I feel their presence is growing."

For the first time since becoming the tribal shaman he felt that these words were true. The power in the sweat lodge had been growing in the last twenty hours or so. Even the fire had stopped burning its normal red, yellow, and blue. Now, as he gazed into it, there was nothing but shades of blue. The sprits of old were coming back! He was sure of it. The tales told by his great-grandfather were coming true. Best of all, according to the old ones, a blue flame meant he had tapped into the powers of goodness and purity. Maybe, just maybe, there was a chance for young Night Falcon.

He went into a deeper meditation and put on more herbs. He must now make sure that evil with its nasty red flames didn't seep in. Just then, he saw a flare of deep crimson stir in the middle of the fire.

The doubts he was having had allowed evil to seep into his ceremony. He doubled his efforts and spoke to the sprits for forgiveness and help. Fortunately, his prayers were answered. The crimson flame only lasted a few seconds before a powerful presence entered the lodge. He looked at the boy, who like him had wide eyes and shivered as the power built.

In sheer wonderment he and the boy watched as a battle was fought in the flames. The red was at first attacked from within. A tiny blue flame in the shape of a person attacked the evil flickering of blood red flames. The attacks were vicious, with each blow forcing the red flame to diminish in intensity. Then, another presence entered the lodge. The battle suddenly became even more one-sided. Blasts of blue flame leapt out of the fire then slashed into the red flames over and over. Then, without warning, blue flames on the outside flared up and totally engulfed the red. Victory for the good, at least that is what he hoped.

As the red vanished, he saw the face of a young fair skinned boy staring out of the now solid blue fire at him. It only lasted a few seconds before the boy in the fire raised his hands. Blue flame shot out and totally engulfed Night Falcon.

The vision in the fire faded and the flames returned to a mixture of red, blue, and yellow. A cloud of pure white smoke hung in thick ribbons at the very top of the domed lodge for a few moments before it spiraled down into the boy's mouth and nose. He looked over at Night Falcon. The boy had fallen into a deep and peaceful slumber for the first time since his parents had brought him to the reservation over ten days ago. The boy's face even had a slight hint of a smile.

The old Shaman prayed. He asked for the ways of old to have been passed down properly and truly. If not, he could condemn others to a fate much worse than the cancer, which was eating at this child's very existence. Although, he doubted any traces of cancer would ever be found in Night Falcon's blood again. He stayed next to Night Falcon until the child awoke several hours later. The boy got to his feet and walked for the first time in over a year. He showed no signs of being sick or in pain. He ran out and jumped into his amazed father's arms.

The boy's first words were; "Dad I want to be a medicine man."

The father could do nothing but hug his child and nod. Tears streamed down the man's face. The old medicine man returned to the lodge to complete the ceremonies and began to prepare the lodge for whoever would need it next. Hundreds of years had past, but his method of healing was once again viable. He was sure others would now come.

One thing was certain, the shaman, Night Falcon, and his parents would never doubt in the ways of the old ones again.

Alex took MORSAV up and through the anti-torpedo netting. As soon as he put into docking bay three, he saw the changes that Uncle Stan had put into effect. Security personnel were carrying side arms and made sure they were the only ones on the submersible. He wondered what the next security briefings would be like. Uncle Stan would surely have lots of new information to pass out to the cadet.

Alex smiled with the anticipation of seeing his best friend soon. As he went to his quarters, he wondered what Ryan would want to do or talk about. He knew what loosing a parent was like but he couldn't fathom loosing both a mom and dad. His thoughts were interrupted as he quickly noticed a change in the arrangements. His stuff was no longer in the room. "Hey Dad, where's my things?"

His father realized he had forgotten to tell Alex of some side plans he had made with Stan. "Next door. Uncle Stan convinced me to let the two of you have your own quarters. A door will be installed between the living rooms of each."


"Not so fast Alex. This is only on a trial basis. The minute your grades start sliding or you slack off on your responsibilities, the whole wall may well be taken out.

Alex calmed down some. "We won't disappoint you."

"Alex, it is not about disappointment. I am concerned about this idea of Uncle Stan's. The idea is to help you become more independent than you already are."

"Dad!" Alex grinned, "It isn't like we are moving to a new city!"

"I know," Bryan ruffled his son's hair, "But, just as a precaution, want the door between our quarters open at all times for now. Once you prove yourselves we can talk about more freedom. This is a big responsibility for two eleven year olds."

"You'll be next door! It's not that big a deal."

"Maybe not in your eyes, but I still see the little guy I left in the kitchen to get the rest of a birthday party put together for a three-year-old, who then managed to get to a cake on a counter two times taller than he was. This splendid little three-year-old boy then took the cake with his name on it and licked off all the frosting leaving one very messy boy and kitchen floor and a bunch of drooled on pieces of cake with no frosting."

Alex turned a bright red as he realized his father was talking about him. "No way!"

"Yep, there was nothing left but bunch of fist sized chunks of drooled on cake with no frosting and one very messy three-year-old. You had so much frosting on you, your hair looked black with chocolate.

"Mom had to go out and pick up a new cake so we could have a party while I gave you and the kitchen a bath." Bryan started laughing at the memory.

"Gee, did I get sick?"

"Amazingly enough, no." Bryan laughed hard. "But you have to remember, I still see you as a boy who needs some supervision. So try to see things from my point of view!"

Alex laughed despite hearing about his third birthday; "OK Dad, Ryan and I will be good and won't steal our birthday cake!"

Bryan pulled Alex into him and gave him a bear hug, "I love you, you know that?"

"Love you too!" Alex blushed again as he returned the hug.

Bryan gave Alex a quick kiss on the forehead. "Now, I want you to get some sleep. Maybe by the time you wake up you can get out that necklace and wear it when we go to pick up Ryan."

"No problem. I'm bushed."

"Good night, Son."

"Love you, Dad."

As night closed in for Alex, he slipped into a dream world of his own. He found himself wearing rags and working feverishly on a small boat. An elderly man watched his every move. He looked down at the plane he was using to scrape away the wood and realized it was extremely crude.

The man came over; "You are doing well. It was worth it to sneak you past the knights. Keep working while I fix us dinner."

Alex worked on the wood a while longer. The motions came naturally to him as he evened off each piece of wood. He heard the man calling him to get cleaned up. Alex went over to a pool of water. His reflection revealed that he was older than he actually was, maybe fourteen or fifteen at most. His body was tall and lean. His eyes looked back on him with an inner exhaustion. He was just about to head up to where the man had called from, when something interrupted him. It was a far away sound. Voices were calling out for help from far away. He concentrated on the sounds and went toward the terrified sounding voices.

The scenes changed rapidly as if he were moving hundreds of miles with each footfall. Whole oceans passed under him. Alex found himself standing on the edge of a great chasm. He saw a woman desperately holding on to a branch that was out over the edge on the far side. Below him the ground shook heavily. In the distance he could clearly make out a volcano, which was in the process of erupting. Ash and hot air rolled down toward him and, even weirder, through him. A man with two children, a boy and a girl, were watching helplessly and crying out. His first thoughts were that the whole family would perish from the choking fumes or the intense heat that was somehow rolling through him with no ill effects. Something weird came to him in the form of words and hand motions. He concentrated on this strange knowledge and helping the doomed family.

He spoke the words and moved his hands as more information spilled into his mind. Bluish light flashed from his fingertips and enveloped all four people on the far side of the chasm. Without realizing what he had just done, he continued his efforts to help the family. Somehow words came into his mouth and his hands moved in strange ways yet again. It was very reminiscent of the sounds and motioned the two men had made during the dream from the night before. Only the sounds and motions were different. He knew he needed to hold his concentration though so focused his mind on the task at hand. In amazement, he watched as golden blue sparkles shot out of both hands and encompassed the woman. He used this extension of himself as a huge lever. The perilous handhold was made a great deal more stable as the woman was slowly lifted up onto a stronger and more secure branch.

A moment later a woman, who somehow looked like a see through cloud, lowered her gigantic and wispy hand. With his power and her hand, they lifted the woman up and into the arms of the equally amazed family. Alex took a couple of deep breaths realizing he had used up a great deal of some kind of inner power. He shivered for a moment then looked up wondering what wild power had helped him.

The gorgeous, yet majestic, woman looked down at Alex, "Thank you young one I couldn't have done this without your help. Your magic drew me here and allowed me to become whole. The re-emergence has begun. We are glad you have decided to fight for the side of purity."

Alex watched the woman as she went skyward again. It reminded him a lot of his mother in wedding pictures. The dress she wore was more of a smoky colored gown and her hair was as silvery as freshly fallen snow. A beautiful woman all the way around. As she vanished into the smoke and ash, he awoke with a start.

He looked down and saw that his hands lit the room in a light blue color for a few moments before fading. He wiped his sweaty face and put his head back down and wondered how he could dream a dream within a dream. Seconds later he was again sound asleep.

Clear across the Atlantic Ocean, a family of four was touring the upper areas of what had once been Peru. The mother had taken her first tentative steps out on a wood and wire suspension bridge when the ground started to shake. On the far side of the gorge, a volcano, which had stood inactive for well over seven hundred years, kicked loose with a wave of hot gases and air followed by sheets of ash. Its first gasps of awakening came without the slightest warning. There had been no rumblings, detected lava, or any of the other signs that had preceded the eruptions of other mountains such as Mount St. Helens in the 1980's.

The woman watched in horror, as the supports on both sides broke loose simultaneously. Still being close to the edge, she grabbed at the side of the gorge wall and desperately clung to an outer branch of a tree. Hot ash pelted at her arms, but she refused to let go.

Over the roar of the volcano she could hear the pleas and screams of her husband and children. 'This was supposed to be a fun vacation' was all she could think of. The last thing she wanted was to know her husband and children had watched her die. She knew she was dead when she turned to see a new wave of hot ash and gasses roll off the no longer dormant, cone-shaped mountain.

Her husband was equally horrified. He couldn't stand the thought of watching his beloved wife of twelve years plummet to her death. He also realized that he very well might have to watch his children die of burns or poisoning from the gasses rolling down the mountain. He, being the strongest, would most likely be the last to go, although he doubted he would last much longer himself. The fumes were already making him lightheaded. Twice he tried to reach out to his wife only to find sections at the edge of the cliff giving way with each and every rumble.

Suddenly he heard his son shout between coughs, "Dad! There is someone on the other side!" He looked across. The ash made it hard to see, but fortunately, most was going up, not sideways. It was true. There was a boy on the other side, or was there? It looked more like a ghost of a child. Ash seemed to be going right through him. It had to be an optical illusion. Yes, that was it. But then, the boy outstretched his arms and pointed at them. A bluish light leapt from the boy's fingertips. The glow surrounded him, his wife, and both children. Instantly, he was no longer choking on ash or feeling the burning hot gasses. A moment later, he watched as a second golden blue shimmering erupted from the outstretched boy's hands and a dome of energy encompassed his whole family, the small rocks and other debris falling from the sky bounced off the dome leaving his family strangely shielded from the other dangers.

A last blast of light from the boy propelled his wife to a more secure place on the tree. A moment later, the ash cloud took shape and a hand stretched down. Between the hand and the golden blue light, she was lifted into the air for a moment. Only a second or two passed before his wife was gently lowered into his arms. He looked back and saw the form of a massive, but extremely elegant, woman made of ash bend down to the boy. An instant later, both vanished in a blinding blue flash of light. The only signs that they had been there at all was the glowing blue that encompassed his entire family and the overhead dome which moved with him.

It took them many hours, but they made it to the safety of a cave several miles below the still erupting peak before the bluish glow faded. The only burns they suffered were the ones form the initial wave of heat and ash. However, the effects of the ordeal would stay with them for quite some time.

In the central analyzing lab aboard Cynthia, one scientific team was looking into how the box had survived under such enormous pressure, found themselves facing an even stranger phenomenon. The box, which showed no signs of ever being under water, was clearly made by a master craftsman. Its wood was redwood, the ivory from a rhinoceros horn and had five pure gold griffins worked on the outside. Each griffin was made to look like it was coming out of the box. One was on each side and a larger, much more impressive one was the lid. Each had sapphires for eyes.

The box, when opened, contained four of the strangest things they had yet to encounter. The necklace with the griffin had a gemstone the likes of which they had never seen. It appeared to be a perfectly round and smooth diamond with a star sapphire in the center of the diamond, as if it had been encased by the diamond.

This was the unknown item that the griffin had clutched in its talon. The necklace was made of electrum, while the griffin was of a very pure gold. Each link in the chain was indeed a small lightning bolt. Not one was the same as any other. The griffin was finely carved as well. Each feather on the head, neck and wings was carved in a slightly different pattern. It stood as a testament to the patience of the maker. Even the hair on the lower part of the body was carved in a realistic fashion.

The magnificence of the master craftsman was dwarfed by something far stranger, however. The entire scientific team watched in amazement as the gemstone slowly began to glow from within and continued to do so even when all the lights were turned out.

Three other stones, of the exact same kind and size, were found in the box as well. The items had been hidden from the x-rays because they were held in a lower chamber in the box that was totally plated in gold. The first of the other three stones was in the beak of a griffin's head that had been made into a ring. The griffin's head had been as carefully carved as the griffin on the necklace. The gold head of the griffin stuck out of the electrum band and was biting onto the strange stone. This stone started glowing as well but not near as bright as the stone on the necklace.

Two other stones were held by other jewelry pieces. One was a highly ornate bracelet with two griffins seeming to be in a tug of war over the stone. Their talons were interlocked over the stone and their wings appeared to be beating as they fought for control. This stone shimmered very faintly.

The last item appeared to be a very old style of belt buckle. The stone in this item was in the center of a nest on a tree. The silver and gold buckle also depicted two griffins flying protectively over the "egg" in the nest. This one didn't seem to glow at all, but when the lights were turned out it could be seen as the faintest of greenish glows.

The science teams ran all sorts of tests. One of the women even put it up to a Geiger counter to make sure it wasn't some sort of radiation that caused the strange glow to emanate from deep within the gems. After every conceivable test was run, the only thing the scientists knew for sure, was they didn't know. They couldn't figure out the glow, how anyone could make a perfectly round diamond, how the sapphire looking stone had got into the middle, or much else for that matter. The only thing they were sure of is it wasn't harmful as best they could tell.

Bryan Caldwell looked over the test results the next morning and decided to turn the items over to his son. He handed the box and the four pieces of jewelry over to Alex over breakfast. He ran down every experiment which his best scientists had come up with to run.

Alex found it hard to concentrate on the information his father was passing on. He was certain he could feel an area of power surrounding the stones, but since no one else had detected it, he forced himself to assume he was imagining things. After the dreams he'd been having, he could hardly blame himself.

"So they don't know why they glow?" Alex managed ask at last.

"Not a clue. You like them, don't you?"

"Yea, but I think I'll give the ring to Ryan. If I give him the ring, we'll each have one of these stones."

"Nice thought Son. You want to wear it now?"

Alex thought it over, "No, I'll wait till Ryan puts on the ring."

Bryan was amused by his son's almost shyness to put on a piece of jewelry. There was no question it was made for a man, possible a boy. It was the type of thing a kid would like. He didn't want to rub in Alex's shyness though. "Kind of cement your being brothers?"

"I guess. Something tells me Ryan will like the ring as much as I do the necklace." Alex managed to grin, "But I have no idea why I say so."

"You know him very well," Bryan stated comfortingly. "I'm sure he will love it. Ready to go?"

"Yea. Is he there?"

"He arrived a couple of hours ago."

"What are we taking?"

"One of the transport helicopters. Stan arranged to hire a few people he knew down there as well, so they'll be flying back here. I decided we should stay and do a little shopping and catch a movie or something before we head back on one of the attack birds."

"Can I fly us there?"

Bryan looked up and almost said no, but stopped himself. Alex had shown he could pilot MORSAV like a pro and he was not a helicopter pilot. "Any such decisions will be up to Uncle Stan. He is the one who is scheduled as pilot and he knows what you are capable of."

Twenty minutes later Alex gently lifted the big transport helicopter off the deck of Cynthia and turned east.

Stan kept a watchful eye on all the controls from the copilot's seat, but remained absolutely silent. Occasionally he even nodded approval.

Alex landed in London with a bit of a bounce, but otherwise did a perfect job. He climbed out of the pilot's seat as soon as shutdown procedures were complete.

Stan gave him a pat on the shoulder; "We need to work on the landing procedures in the simulators a little more, don't we?"

"I guess, but I never bounce when I land one of the attack birds."

"You are in a heavier machine. You used too little power." Stan smiled warmly, "Go see your friend, we will practice with some of the heavier birds over the next couple of weeks. I'll lock her up for ya."

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