CAUTION! TIME TILL DETONATION : 5 HOURS 37 MINUTES
Horrifying discoveries had yielded deadly results. The hangar was now filled with Lethal Levels of Radiation, a fellow team mate was now lying inside the hangar half-dead and half mutated.
A teary eyed Aerrow continued to bandage up the soft, sleeping animal, he couldn't help staring at the gaping hole in his friends tail and the blood stained fur coating his body. With shaking hands Aerrow slowly slipped the end of the bandage through the few previous curls, a few tears plopping onto it.
The sheer horror of seeing his friend like this was enough to draw tears, it didn't help that one of their own had tried to kill him.
What was once bright, blue fur was down a dull, red scarlet, the most obvious consequence of dried blood. It was hard to tell whether it was Radarr's or Junko's blood.
As Aerrow drew his last tear he closed up the end of the bandage, but he continued to kneel.
At the interval of wiping his eyes Aerrow almost stared at Radarr, he looked so peaceful asleep in his basket, a warm marine blanket covering him from toe to neck. How he could look so relaxed after experiencing one of the most traumatising events in his life?
Outstretching his hand Aerrow slowly stroked Radarr's head but retracted quickly as the sound of a soft whine rang out in his ears.
Slowly Aerrow stood up. He didn't want to leave, but instinct told him that it was best to. Taking one last agonising look at the inhumanity drowned scene Aerrow turned and staggered out the door.
He looked at the clock mounted on the wall of the corridor. 11:56mt.
'I just pray that this is not our last morning' he thought quietly.
Looking up he was greeted with the slender figure of the Navigator of the Condor. An empathetic look sprawled her eyes and mouth and her arms outstretched ready to receive the upset Sky Knight.
'Aerrow' she softly whispered as they embraced.
Such comfort in this time of plight, Aerrow had not felt. Until now. The warmth of her hug and the softness of there two bodies as they met was enough to sooth the savage beast of sorrow that prayed in Aerrow.
They let go and Piper sighed at the sight of the upset face she had in front of her.
'You can't keep blaming yourself for these things' She said soothingly 'Nobody had any idea about what happened to Junko, nobody could of predicted it'
'But I sent him in there' retorted Aerrow angrily 'I sent Junko into the Reactor, I deceived him, I took advantage of him. And now he and Radarr have to pay the price, the price of there lives.'
'There not dead yet' Piper reminded Aerrow calmly 'And that's something that we have to appreciate'
'There not dead yet Piper, but they're dying' Aerrow said. 'The Radiation will eventually kill Finn, Junko will die of his wounds and Radarr….'
It was too hard. Aerrow couldn't even finish his sentence.
A moments silence set in, Aerrow rubbing through his memories of the last few hours.
'Give me an update on the situation' he suddenly blurted out.
Piper was immediately distraught as to his sudden request, but seeing his shaking body, she knew that if she didn't adhere to his order she would face a very angry and upset Sky Knight.
She sighed. 'Radiation Levels are rising, Finn is still in very bad health and Stork is starting to show signs of minor Radiation Poisoning, but he's hanging on.'
The 'Update' was not easy to swallow as Piper's News was troubling in all manners, it wouldn't help to inform her of Radarr's condition when she already knew. Aerrow took another look at the Clock, 11:57mt. Time was ticking by, unhindered.
WARNING! TIME TILL DETONATION : 4 HOURS 46 MINUTES
For what little time they had to relax, Piper and Aerrow, sitting in the Bridge enjoying stale food plucked from tins found within the southern regions of the kitchen cupboards was not exactly something which they wanted to do. On top of the distinct and lethal possibility that the 'food' from the cans may have been contaminated with a wave of High-Energy Zeta Photons having a meal without the others and knowing that there absence was attributed to Exposure to the excrements of a Fusion Reactor was not exactly comforting to them.
Having difficulty thinking that poking around his food was usually Junko's habit Aerrow pushed the plate away, it didn't help separate the memories of what was happening or the thoughts of what lay ahead, Death being a potential candidate of what lay ahead.
Aerrow shook his head, but it all refused to budge from his mind. He looked up at Piper. But she didn't look back. Her face was staring downwards, at the contents of the Tin.
Aerrow rested his head on his hand and looked at her, her deep blue hair, her soft skin, her slender figure. He wondered what she was thinking. Was it about what was happening? Was it about what was going to happen? Was it anything to do with what was happening?
'Have we given up?' she said softly, lifting her head.
Aerrow's eyes tightened, his voice solemn.
'The Storm Hawks never give up' he said. He stared deep into the Orange Eyes. 'Were going to get through this Piper. I don't know how or what with, but were going to get through this'
'I promise' he added.
A soft smile slowly spread on Piper's face. But it wasn't a smile of agreement, it wasn't a smile of thankfulness, it was a smile of Admiration.
Admiration of Aerrow's courage in this time. The Storm Hawks were alone, facing off against something which they couldn't kill but something which could kill them, against starvation, against fear, against time. And yet the Sky Knight of the Storm Hawks still had the bravery to admit a promise that seemed obviously impossible.
To Aerrow, it was only a matter of getting Piper and his Team through this ordeal. He still retained the emotion scars of his deceptive ways.
The door to the Bridge opened. The heads of Aerrow and Piper both turned to see a figure, a figure dressed in a plump, black and red patched suit, a Gas Respirator and Helmet glued to his head. It was Stork.
The Dosimeter in his hand was still clicking. An evident cry of distress from the amount of Radiation it had been scanning for the last few hours.
Walking slowly over to the table Stork lifted the Gas Respirator off his head.
'Well' he began 'The Hangars definitely Radioactive, so is the Third and Second Store rooms. The Corridor to the Hangar is now out, and the Corridors to Finn and Junko's rooms have now elevated readings, and I don't think it would be wise to visit them without protection.' he said.
Distressing news was not taken well with the Storm Hawks, especially news that didn't aid to their situation.
Stork's face was a mental contemplation of despair and fear, a sulk and drooped eyes portraying it all too clearly. On the physical side, parts of his cheek were slightly red from Radiation Burns and strands of his hair were becoming an odd grey colour. Troubling by any manner was what came to mind instantly.
'Stork, you….' Aerrow began. 'I know' Stork abruptly finished.
'I suppose you guys have given the thought to the notion that' Stork found if difficult to finish, he sighed. 'That it is now impossible for us to escape.'
Aerrow's eyes widened. Piper's did the same, both from horror.
'The Hangar has our Skimmers, and unless you want to fly a Radioactive Flying Bike we have no other way of getting off this Terra or out the Condor.'
'So now you saying were trapped here' Piper stuttered. Stork nodded solemnly.
Piper got up from the table. 'I….I..um' her quivering lip managed to speak 'I..I…need to, go..to my room.' she said, turning abruptly she cupped her head in hands and walked off.
It was all too easy to hear the soft sob and see the drops of tears that leaked from her hands.
Aerrow turned his head to Stork. 'Its not Radiation that's killing us' he said, 'It's fear. The fear of death, the fear of what will or is going to happen.'
Being slightly spooked by Stork's words he took a step away from the table, letting the silence fill in for him.
'What time is it?' Aerrow asked solemnly. '12:58mt, why?' Stork replied. He saw Aerrow sigh and turn his head out to look at the window.
But Aerrow was not looking at the burnt ground, he was looking at the sky. The pure, deep, blue sky.
'So much freedom to have out there in that wild blue yonder, so much space, so much room. And even though it shares itself with good and evil, its still the peaceful wonder of Atmos that we have blasted, flown and shot through. And it's something I will always remember, always.'
The contemplation of Aerrow's thoughts was met with a tear, it dropped slowly and plinked onto the floor. His next move would most certainly be the end of him, but it would save lives, it would save the Storm Hawks.
'Stork' He said, lifting his head. 'Get me the Reactor Suit'
Stork looked up, and then at Aerrow. His face flustered.
'Im going in' Aerrow said.
Stork had heard many things in his time, but never this. Never a request to step into the realm of death. Although Stork had shared his fair portion of anger with Aerrow in the excruciating form of several arguments he still held deep respect for the Sky Knight.
'Aerrow you can't!' He yelled 'Its suicide! The Radiation in tha….' 'The Radiation is only going to continue to get more and more dense by the hour, maybe minute. I need that suit Stork, can find it for me?'
Stork stared horrified at Aerrow, a thousand protest could be thrown at the red haired 14 year old, but the Merb knew that this Sky Knight would not be stopped by any.
'The suit's in the corridors, only I can access them because of the Radiation' Stork Sighed. He turned and grudgingly began to walk over to the corridor. Aerrow turned his head away but Stork did not.
'What about Radarr?' he said as he reached the doors. Aerrow didn't reply. It was a question that created the final push to squeeze another tear from his eye.
WARNING! TIME TILL DETONATION : 4 HOURS 30 MINUTES
Tiny beads of sweat were slowly dripping from Aerrow's head, his long red hair tied back in a knot and fastened with a small piece of string, a notion to prevent any discomfort in the Respirator that he was about to wear.
His breathing was heavy, wide fear-filled eyes stared directly at the Merb which was securing the ring of Firebolt Crystals over Aerrow's waist, and after completing this task the Merb went on to slip to sleeves of Carbize over Aerrow's shoulders securing them harshly with a loud pat.
Stork stopped, and wiped the sweat from his brow. He sighed and stood back taking an admiring and upset look at the Crude Armour Clad Sky Knight.
'You..' Stork began softly 'You ready for this?' He stuttered.
Aerrow turned his head to the left of him, staring out of the window.
The burnt ground still growing more and more redder.
'There was never a time that I wasn't' he replied solemnly.
All that Stork could manage for an agreement with Aerrow was a stuttered nod of his head. 'I..uh….' it was difficult for Stork to say it under all of the emotion he was feeling 'Good luck. We'll be waiting for you when you get out'
Aerrow nodded, but knowing the consequences it was almost an insult to hear those words. 'Come one' Aerrow began, trying to deviate from the depressive mood that was floundering 'Lets get ready'
Stork nodded again, and as he looked to his right, he and Aerrow began the blood curdling journey towards the Engine Room Corridor. Step by step Aerrow felt his hear beat faster and faster, his pulse throb harder and harder. His hand outstretched towards the control panel to the Door of the Corridor, even as it did it began to shake, violently by the time it had reached the button.
His name emitted in a soft, clear voice.
Tears were falling from the soft orange eyes of the Navigator standing only a yard away from the Sky Knight.
'I have too Piper. I'm not doing for myself' His solemn voice rang out 'I'm doing it for you.'
Piper's mouth gaped open, more tears poured from her eyes.
'For you, for Finn, for Junko, for Radarr. And for the Storm Hawks'
Aerrow gulped loudly, but his attempt to swallow the harsh reality of leaving everyone and everything he loved behind was too obvious. He turned his head back to the Corridor Door.
'Aerrow' Piper's voice said again, accompanied by foot steps.
'You forgot something'
Aerrow's last feeling, the last emotion he would ever become victim to was not fear.
It was love.
And a moment, a moment that Aerrow would remember for a long as he was a Sky Knight, and as long as he was alive.
He felt something place itself onto his mouth, and as he slowly wrapped his hands around the soft, slender figure of the Navigator of the Storm Hawks, he experienced the kiss that he had once and always dreamed about.
The most passionate moment that the two would ever feel. Aerrow didn't want to let go, he clung to Piper as she clung to him, he could feel her tears drop softly onto his nose, but Piper's sadness was overtaken by affection, Aerrow's fear was overwhelmed by love. His fear began to shrink as waves of rejuvenation swept through his body igniting the once suppressed courage that lay deep within him, the silently bravery which he long since prayed for in this time of crisis, suddenly burst out surging through his veins like pulses of electricity.
And then it was over. Aerrow felt his hands slowly leave Piper's slim warm body. Piper felt mouth slowly part from hers.
The retracted and looked at each other, Piper's tears still continued to plague her face. Slowly Aerrow outstretched his hand and touched the soft skin of her eyes wiping away the tears.
'I'll be alright' he said soothingly.
Piper's smile was the only thing that could have firmly concreted Aerrow's courage.
As the warmth of Aerrow's finger backed away from Piper's face her smiled began to fade, her tears continued as Aerrow firmly planted the Gas Respirator on his face , sealing up the notches onto his head.
The sheer horror of knowing that when he would come out of the Reactor his face would no longer resemble what it was now only prompted Piper to shut her eyes firmly.
She felt a soft hand touch her shoulder. She turned to see the Merb, clad in a similar Gas Respirator.
'We must leave' his muffled voice said, 'The Levels of Radiation will be Lethal once Aerrow opens the door to the corridor'
Piper nodded softly and turned back to looking at Aerrow. Strange to him clad in crude pieces of black material. He was only centimetres away, yet it felt like miles, she could reach and touch him, but she couldn't. Not now.
Slowly she and Stork trailed off out of the bridge. Piper only managed a faint view back, of Aerrow's hand as it reached for the door controls, before the taunts of sorrow could not be fought off against anymore.
Piper cupped her head in her hands sobbing so violently and so hard.
Aerrow sighed, his breath was rapid but steady, his courage was strong as was his determination. His once shaking hand was now merely quivering as he pressed the large green button marked on the control panel.
Slowly, and almost grudgingly the hard, bolted steelus doors began to slide open unleashing a soft red fog into the bridge. Even through the view ports of Aerrow's mask he could tell that this was faeces of the Reactor. High-Energy Zeta Photons.
Aerrow stood frozen for a second swishing his hand through the dense fog, it was softer than air yet just so similar, there was no breeze to it, no soft push, it was completely devoid of all possible feeling.
Yet the Sky Knight had little time to contemplate the experience of Radioactivity, he had a job to do, a mission to complete.
'I made a promise to Piper' He gulped, 'I intend to keep that promise'
Aerrow lifted his leg and began the difficult journey deep into the fog, down the corridor to the engine room.
Into the Reactor.
As Aerrow stepped into the Corridor he could feel his heart beat violently, and his breath become heavier and heavier with every step. But out of all the possible fates that awaited him he still had the energy to turn and press the Green Button on the Control Panel, and in the same way as they had done before they slid closed…
Locking tight, thundering loudly.
A simple sound to most, but to one, a subliminal message.
Deep in Aerrow's room, curled in a basket, sound asleep with bandages covering his body and a soft blanket over him. The 'Mission Specialist's eyes flickered open.