Freedom's Wings

 

 

 

 

Chapter Eight

 

 

Several chiming alarms went off at the same time and Wilma started. Dr. Carlock, next to her, looked anxious.  She reached toward Buck, who appeared lifeless, but was prevented from touching him by Sky Father.  

“He is on a journey; do not interrupt that journey.”  He gazed upon her and his eyes softened as he saw the anxiety etched on her face. “Buck Rogers lives, my life mate is keeping the path of his return open.  Be ready for that return, because I believe you will be needed.” 

Wilma swallowed hard, staring at the too-still form on the bed.  Then she looked up and nodded.  Sky Father took up his vigil by Buck’s bed again.   Some time later, Wilma noticed that beside Buck, she was the only human in the room and she could only assume that Dr. Huer and Dr. Carlock were watching by remote.  She stepped back and sat down in the chair in the corner, hoping that what the bird people around the bed were doing would bring Buck back to her. 

 

 

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Garo-tura Aniki awoke to bright sunshine, his beloved’s soft caresses and a splitting headache.  He had been told he had been working too hard on his solution to eliminate his people’s enemies.  Obsession is what he had been told, actually.  But he had ignored the comments and advice, and continued until he had discovered something that was the ultimate revenge on humans.   So simple it was, too.   But now he was making it even more debilitating and devastating to humans.  The ultimate revenge, he thought, rubbing his forehead. 

He sat up, gazing at the beauty by his side.  Ava-iki smiled at him and her long, slender hands reached for his.  Despite the pain of his headache, her touch thrilled him and he smiled back at her.    

“Something troubles you, my love?” she asked.  She felt the touch of something other than her husband’s presence and she was troubled, but Ava-iki pushed it aside.  Garo-tura had been working on his project too hard; it had consumed him until sometimes she felt she didn’t know this individual beside her.  And that frightened her.  She wished he would leave the humans to their own devices.  From what little she knew, they seemed bent on their own self-destruction.  Let them all destroy themselves, she thought.  I only want my beloved back.  Just like before.  “Stay with me a while this morning.” 

Garo-tura gazed at her lovingly.  He felt the compulsion to go to the laboratory, but he was tired of it all, too, only wanting this project over.  It was almost a love/hate relationship.  “Yes, beloved, my ahu-onee, my first and only united,” he whispered in her ear.  “I believe my experiments can wait a few hours.”  And with that he rose and stretched, feeling little used muscles creak and pull.  He even stretched his wings, although the sleeping chamber was almost too small for that.   He was conscious of the wing tips brushing the ceiling; he felt their power and exulted in the freedom that the mottled gray, white and brown appendages represented.  When he thought of the wingless ones, he felt some revulsion, but mostly he felt pity.  To be Rapanui and not know flight had to be a hard thing.  That was his next major goal after his present project.   To go on an expedition to find his lost kin.  Find them and help them on the road to recovery.  And to find out why some were born wingless and other were not. 

Looking down, he saw Ava-iki gazing intently at him, her look puzzled.  Garo-tura laughed and held out his hand for hers.  While not of the royal blood, she was still his princess, his queen and he was so grateful that she had chosen him after the trials.  “Has it been that long since I have flown that it seems so strange to you that I said yes?” he asked. 

She took his hand and stood up, leaning against his chest and feeling the beat of his heart melding with hers.  His hand caressed her head feathers and she briefly thought of the time right after their bonding, a magical space in the continuum of life that seemed almost heavenly.  “You know my feelings about your project of late, my dearest.  But for an instant it seemed as though there was someone else locked away inside of you and it surprised me.”  

“Someone else?” he asked, curious.  He had heard of symbiosis among some races, where consenting entities chose to share thought space with another of their species.  Garo-tura wondered if that was what Ava-iki meant.  He asked her. 

“Yes,” she concurred.  “But our people do not do that.  There is only the life mate bonding.”   She turned away for a moment.  

Garo-tura placed on hand under her chin and turned her face to him once more. “Beloved, it is of no consequence that the bonding gifts are not as powerful in you as in others. You are still my chosen.  I would have no other.” 

“But ‘Tura-ani, if we could share without the use of the iniru-mata, how much more intimate we would be.  How much more special.” 

Garo-tura laughed.   “If our love making was any more intimate, we would melt in each others arms and be the vapors that rise along the sides of the mountains each morning in the cold season.” 

She smiled softly. 

“Here, let me show you,” he suddenly declared, folding his wings around her, drawing her back into their soft krellis down nest.  Her moans of pleasure told him that no empathic link was needed. He felt the fire in his body and in his mind.  His lips caressed her soft downy skin, found her eager lips.   In the cocoon of his wings, Garo-tura found ecstasy and he forgot about the experiments and his consuming desire for the annihilation of humans.  There was only one thing and it was the lovely creature pressed against his body.  

Finally, with a soft, musical laugh, Ava-iki pulled away from him.  “We are still flying this morning, Garo-tura my love.” 

“But I will be late to the laboratory,” Garo-tura protested mildly.  

“So you will be late to the laboratory.  Do you think it will fall down if you are not there on time one morning?”  Again Ava-iki laughed and then she jumped up, threw on her flight suit, folded her wings tightly to her back and ran out of the sleeping chamber and to the open balcony.  

Garo-tura knew what she was going to do.  While it was not a terribly dangerous maneuver, it could still be tricky.  At the last moment, even as she dove off the platform, she unfurled her wings and soared into the early morning sky.  

Garo-tura suddenly felt the urge to look over his shoulder but he dismissed it.  He pulled on his own flight suit, smiled and ran after her.  However, when he stepped off, he didn’t open his wings, but dove head first toward the lower crags.   It was only a scant fifty feet from the rocks when he finally spread his wings part way and then fully opened them to the currents of the wind.  As the winds lifted him up, he plucked a mountain flower and soared away and above the cliffs.  

Then he heard a shocked and anxious voice in his head exclaiming something he couldn’t understand.  As suddenly as it appeared, the voice was gone, but Garo-tura knew why he had felt as though someone had been looking over his shoulder.  And he knew that symbiotic bonding was real.  Someone had invaded him.  Buy why?   He signaled to Ava-iki and then returned to their eyrie where he changed into the lightweight gray clothing of rank that denoted those in the scientific clan.  Before Ava-iki returned, he left, wanting to confront the invader in private.

 

 

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Buck awoke from a dream where he had married Wilma to find himself making love to a non-human of exquisite beauty.  He was startled to realize that she bore a great resemblance to Koori, Hawk’s dead wife.  Then he saw the wings that cocooned the both of them and realized that he was not having sex, but that somehow he was within the mind of the birdwoman’s partner.  A bizarre sort of out-of-body experience.  

Buck was aware of the birdman’s thoughts, but they were not in terra lingua so he had to work at understanding, and at first only picked up a part of what was going on from the conversation.  Most of what he was figuring out was from thought scenes in his host’s mind—and what he was seeing in the recesses of the birdman’s thoughts disturbed him.  For the present, though, he was somewhat embarrassed and feeling not a little intrusive.  He tried to pay attention to his physical surroundings but that was dictated by what the birdman was focusing on.  And it wasn’t the ceiling. 

It was of some advantage that the language the couple was speaking was the Tane-rapanui language that Sky Mother’s people spoke.  Or something almost identical to it.  Buck quickly began picking up the words and that combined with the thought-pictures of his host was giving him a clearer picture of what was going on. That he had somehow ended up in the mind of the creator of garox seemed apparent to him now.  Even during the lovemaking, his host’s mind subconsciously wandered to his work.   But how had he ended up here?  What kind of power did Sky Mother have?  To send his ‘soul’ across time and space was almost beyond belief.  He knew garox had been around for at least several centuries so it was possible that he was near the past of his origins.   Sky Mother had mentioned something just before he had lost consciousness, something about following the path of the garox.   Evidently this was what she must have meant.  He had followed the path to the creator.   Now all Buck had to do was find out what to do with this opportunity.  Garo-tura didn’t seem to be aware of his presence yet, but his wife, Ava-iki, the one who claimed to be less empathic, seemed to feel a bit of his presence.  He would have to be careful, and not allow the pair to sense him further. 

It was intriguing to see that some of the bird people had kept or developed wings.  He wondered if Sky Mother and the others were able to see what he was seeing and then Buck sincerely hoped not.  Regardless, right now, he only felt the thoughts of his birdman host.  

Finally, the birdwoman, Ava-iki, pushed away, pulled on her clothes and dashed down a wide, but short corridor to a balcony.  Buck’s host laughed, watching as she leapt from the edge of the balcony, her wings unfurling at the last instant.   The birdman’s thoughts were warm and through them Buck learned that Ava-iki was expecting.  As his host pulled on his own clothing, Buck thought of what could have been with Wilma, but before he could project any emotions, he pushed the thoughts aside.  So far the birdman still seemed unaware of his presence, and indeed, Buck wasn’t sure if communication with his host was even possible.  

Garo-tura also dashed through the short corridor and like his mate, launched himself into the early morning air.  But the wings remained furled and the birdman’s body hurtled toward the rocks below.  If Buck had had a physical body, he would be clawing for a handhold somewhere, for all that he had gotten fairly good on quasi-wings.  At the last minute his host opened his wings, part way at first and then fully open.  So close was he to the rocky face of the mountain that Buck let out an involuntary expletive, one that his host clearly heard.   Without a word, the birdman signaled his wife, turned and flew back to the cliff side dwelling he had just jumped from.  While wondering what was in store for him, Buck still marveled at the wonder of self-generated flight.  He felt Garo-tura’s muscles stretch and tighten, the power in them phenomenal.  He saw through eyes that were much sharper than his, he heard the sounds of the wind, Ava-iki calling to him in the distance, even heard creatures rustling in the rocks below.  

The warm morning sun, a golden orb slightly bigger than that which the Earth circled, warmed his back.  Buck felt the joy of unfettered living, of existence without the pain of drugs, or the anguish of addiction.  However short the time it lasted, Buck was grateful for even this brief moment.  

His host’s thoughts were guarded while he changed into a utilitarian gray-colored outfit and then walked through a large doorway and into a large hewn corridor.  The birdman nodded to those who greeted him, but said little.  Buck found himself understanding more and more of the language as they walked along.  Despite his careful watch of his thoughts, the birdman still couldn’t hold back all of his emotions and Buck knew that anger seethed beneath the surface.  Personally, Buck didn’t blame Garo-tura; he’d be pretty irritated, too.  But at this juncture, the terran was only a passenger, wondering how long he was going to be on this ride.  

The birdman arrived at his destination, a cavern that appeared to be some kind of laboratory.  Garo-tura passed through it, nodding at others he met and then he passed into a smaller, but still spacious room.  Closing a plain wooden door, the birdman took a deep breath, knelt down, closed his eyes and then spoke aloud as well as in his mind.  “Who are you?” 

<My name is Buck Rogers.>  Good, Buck thought to himself.  Simple questions first.  

“Why are you in my mind?” 

Buck gave the mental equivalent of a shrug.   <I don’t know.>  Not entirely true, but good enough for now. 

I am Garo-tura.   No spoken words this time, only thoughts. 

<I know.> 

You were in my mind during…?  

Here Buck had problems with the translation, but a quick mental picture told him what he needed to know.  <Sorry.> 

Anger again, and disgust along with the anger.  

Buck realized that being in the presence of the creator of the drug, garox afforded him an unparalleled opportunity to figure out its properties, maybe to figure out enough to break the addiction.  But he didn’t think that would happen if Garo-tura knew he was sharing minds with a human.  Not knowing just exactly when this was made it more difficult, too.  

<Actually, I do know why I am here.>  Not exactly a lie, but…. 

Why?  Garo-tura’s thoughts were demanding.  Not that he blamed him in this regard either. 

<The boss was curious about your plan to destroy humans.>

Again, the birdman struggled to hide his thoughts.   How did you find out?  This was supposed to be secret. 

Buck was learning quickly that he had the easier task of hiding his inner thoughts, which was just as well, since he was mentally berating himself for that flub in the air.  <Do you think that time is a …limitation … to my visit?>  Buck felt Garo-tura’s surprised reaction.  

So my creation has success?  Then another quick thought came to his suspicious mind.  What race are you?  You are not Tane-rapanui. 

Without thinking, Buck responded, <Draconian.>   Apparently it was the right answer. 

Ah, We know of them.  They have come to take some of the cat people.  They do not bother us.  They . . . you do not know of us. 

<Wrong.  We do.> 

Yes, that is true if you are in my mind.  He paused.  Draconians look much like humans.  

<You are going to hold that against us?> Buck asked, getting into this espionage thing.  <And you are right, we do.  But that does not make us friends.>  Understatement. 

Garo-tura did some thinking, only part of which Buck was able to pick up.  Curiosity was more forefront than resentment or anger now.  

<And your creation has had some success,> Buck added. 

Some?  

Buck did some quick figuring.  <It is very effective on humans.>  and then he took a chance with the truth.  <But most humans will stay away from something that addictive.>  He paused.  <I need information to change it and make it more subtle.>  

Garo-tura continued to kneel quietly with his eyes closed.  Buck imagined that for all practical purposes, the birdman looked like he was meditating.  

Come, I will show you our experimental rooms.  It seems that we have the same things in mind.  

Buck didn’t care for the sound of that but there was nothing he could do about it. Garo-tura left the private room and walked through the lab into a room that contained cells much like the ones on Bosk.  There were six and in each was a male or female human.  One was in the throes of garox withdrawals.  Buck had to steel himself against that.  It was too close to home and painful for him to watch.  One was getting an injection and his gaze was of eager anticipation.  The others showed signs of various stages of depression or anger.   Buck was particularly interested in one of the females.  Somehow she reminded him of Wilma.  Dark hair, blue-gray eyes.  Again, he had to work at hiding his emotions and thoughts.  He kept seeing Wilma in one of those cages.  

Garo-tura looked toward an attending birdman.  “How are the experiments coming, Rikieru?” Garo-tura asked.  

“Very well, sir.  None of the test subjects can survive now without the modified iniru-mata, and all of them are showing signs of severe psychological manifestations.” 

“Such as?” 

“Depression, rage disorder, psychoses.” 

Garo-tura nodded.  

<How would your people react to such a substance?> Buck asked and then instantly regretted the question.  But his host didn’t seem to find anything amiss about his concern.  

Are you suggesting that my people would even allow themselves to partake of such a thing? Garo asked him.  

<That’s not the issue,> Buck responded.  <The issue is if the Tane-rapanui would develop severe psychological trauma if subjected to something similar.>  Buck knew he had to control himself, to stop this line of questioning, but as he continued to watch the young woman through Garo-tura’s eyes, kept seeing Wilma and his anger grew. 

 

 

 

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