~ Chapter 9 ~
Aiden kicked at an imaginary stone on the floor. He couldn’t believe Bajool had discounted Matong’s involvement so easily. Cosmo agreed. The Yendi obviously believed the best of everyone. Cosmo pushed Aiden as he kicked another imaginary stone. Balancing on one leg and waving his arms, Aiden managed to steady himself.
A loud snort from the training room caught their attention. They hurried to investigate.
“What’s he doing?” Cosmo jeered to Osma.
“Prince Orka is taking the path,” she whispered.
Orka ignored them. He manoeuvred awkwardly, swaying and waving his arms. It wasn’t pretty, but he edged along until the wall suddenly bulged and he crashed onto the mats below. He sprang straight to his feet, and with fire dancing in his black eyes marched back towards the ramp. Cosmo got there first.
“Come on Aiden. Let’s show him how it’s done!”
The prince growled, and when Cosmo did not step aside he raised a clawed hand to strike. Aiden launched himself before the prince could strike, shoulder charging the prince to the ground. Aiden’s shoulder felt like it had hit a brick wall. Orka jumped up, his eyes bulging, nostrils flaring and frill expanded. In a flurry of movement he lashed out, swatting Cosmo to the ground, his clawed hand narrowly missing Aiden’s neck. Aiden braced himself against the wall and kicked the prince in the chest. Orka staggered backwards, then with a guttural snarl and teeth bared, charged. Aiden clenched his fists, and with Cosmo dazed at his feet, he struck the prince. It was like hitting a rock. Orka grinned.
Aiden’s rage surged. He dodged swiftly to the right, jabbing hard and fast into the prince’s side. The prince let out a stifled grunt and struck Aiden with full force, his claw tearing into his shoulder. Cosmo turned pale as Aiden’s bloodied, severed arm dropped onto him. Aiden gathered a white energy ball in his remaining hand.
Surge appeared by Aiden’s side. “Aiden! NO!”
“CEASE!” commanded Eulo, the old Yendi, and a blinding flash sent Aiden backwards.
Aiden woke to a sharp pain in his shoulder.
“OW!” he shouted, and the hairball in front of him took the shape of Koodra.
“You are fortunate Eulo is on-board,” said Koodra, prodding Aiden’s upper arm.
A flood of memories swept through Aiden: the training room, Cosmo, fighting Orka.
“My arm!...” he said, looking quickly from one to the other, relieved to see both where they should be. “How?”
“Eulo healed your arm,” Koodra snapped. “He has more important things to do than fix you up!”
“Not at all, Koodra,” said Eulo, walking into the room hunched over his walking stick. “Could I speak with our patient?”
“Yes, he has made a full recovery,” said Koodra, as he prodded Aiden’s arm painfully. Aiden was sure it was uncalled for.
As Koodra tidied up, Eulo placed his walking stick against the wall.
“Is Cosmo okay?” asked Aiden.
“Cosmo is well.”
“How long have I been here?”
“Two days. You healed quickly.”
“Thanks for fixing my arm... I didn’t know you were a healer.”
“There are too few of us left,” said Eulo, lowering his head. Then with a warm smile, he ran his hand down Aiden’s arm. “While reattaching your arm I also performed an impurage on you.”
Aiden’s nose twitched. Just the mention of impurage brought back memories of the foul smelling ooze that leached from Drew.
“How your body could function with all those impurities in it is a mystery. Bajool has also performed impurages on your friends. Your body was the most polluted. You should take more care with what you eat. I believe you will find your abilities will flow more easily now.”
“Thanks,” said Aiden. His body did feel lighter and more alive than before. “What happened to Orka?”
“Prince Orka... I am not sure I understand the question?”
“He ripped my arm off!” objected Aiden. “Hasn’t he been punished?”
“And now it is attached. No harm done. I have spoken with the other magwans and you will not be punished for your actions.”
“What?...” said Aiden, sure he had misheard. “Orka’s the one that should be punished!”
Eulo leaned forward in a fatherly way. “You cannot ask a being to be more than it is. The Oken are fierce and proud by nature, particularly the royal family. If you dishonour them, they will predictably lash out and try to kill you. They behave as you would expect. You, however, are human. You do not have the same basic, untethered instincts. You have more choices available to you, and thus your actions must be judged accordingly.”
Aiden was lost for words. He could not comprehend the logic.
“You conjured a mass of smoke coloured energy,” continued Eulo.
“Smoke coloured... you mean white?” Aiden corrected.
“White energy is so bright it is blinding. Not many magwans ever achieve such energy levels. Yours was smoke coloured. Even so, Prince Orka would not have survived such a blow and Cosmo would also have died from the impact in such a confined space. Your power levels have risen considerably; you now need to control how you use them.”
The revelation that he could have killed Cosmo stunned Aiden into silence.
“Bajool informs me you release energy each day in the games room. It is clear you have unique abilities for absorbing and retaining energy. I will have Gibbergunah bring you to the games room tomorrow night so I can assess your capacity. It would be best if you did not exceed the others’ abilities too much during training. Not everyone will be comfortable with the prospect of a human with great reserves of power.”
Aiden nodded in understanding.
“The pendant,” enquired Eulo. “Your father gave it you?”
“Sort of. He gave it to my Aunt Del to give to me.”
“Did you know the pendant was fashioned from the planet Alma, the closest planet to the Source?”
“No,” said Aiden, peering down at the pendant.
“I suspect Bajool gave it to your father. It is very rare.”
Aiden knew his father had trained with Bajool. He had even suspected the pendant was from an alien planet. Not many stones have clouds drifting across them.
“Take good care of the pendant. I expect it will be quite useful one day. I think it is time for you to return to level two. Koodra does not abide malingerers,” Eulo said, standing.
Aiden clasped the pendant in his hand, his mind buzzing. He eased himself out of the bed. It was the same bed he had been imprinted in. “Ah, Eulo, I think there might be a black cat on-board. It was under that bed when I was being imprinted.”
“A black cat...” said Eulo.
It was like a hero’s welcome back on level two.
Amber gave him a hug. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I was being silly... ignoring you, it’s just... anyhow, I’m glad you’re okay.”
It dawned on Aiden that Amber had been avoiding him. She must have been upset with him since they had astral travelled. He couldn’t imagine what he’d done to upset her, but felt relieved that he had not known until now when she was over it.
Doctor Peasley informed him that as an ambassador of Earth he must do his utmost to further relations with the Oken, not antagonise them. Eager to see the scar, Cosmo rolled up Aiden’s sleeve. He was amazed and disappointed to see none.
Aiden was astounded by how much the others had changed since they first met. It had probably been happening gradually, and he hadn’t noticed. All of them were pictures of health, their complexions clear and glowing and their bodies toned. Most surprising were their eyes. He was sure their eye colours were changing. Retiring to the recreation room, they discussed how much lighter, fitter, faster and aware they felt since the impurage. They felt immortal.
It did not take long to bring Aiden up to speed on what had happened over the last two days. Sarah-Jane was now getting extra tutoring in the evenings from the ship’s seer, Goolee. Kayeed had determined that the wiring for the rings in the games room had overheated, electrocuting poor Gibber. This did not lessen Aiden’s suspicions about Matong. But the most notable news was that the Horde had attacked more trading ships, although thankfully nowhere near Deep Space Discovery.
“It’s almost September, so our birthdays are just a few weeks away,” said Amber. “Let’s have a combined party.”
Aiden found it hard to believe Cosmo was the oldest in the group and he the youngest. Even though there were just nine days between them, he felt at least six months older than Cosmo.
“Sounds great,” said Cosmo. “We’ll handle the food and games if you two decorate the rec room.”
Amber looked at Sarah-Jane, who shrugged. “Done,” she said. The girls left, talking furiously about ideas to decorate the room.
Cosmo slumped. “Aiden, in the training room with Orka... thanks for jumping in, he would’ve torn me apart.”
“Instead he tore my arm off!”
“There was that...” Cosmo said with a smile. “I owe you one.”
Cosmo glanced around then whispered, “Do you think Sarah-Jane likes me?”
“Maybe, but not as much as you like her.”
“I think I can change that,” he said. “I just need to appeal to her funny side.”
“If anyone can make her laugh it’ll be you.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
It dawned on Aiden that he truly hoped Cosmo did manage to win Sarah-Jane.
Bajool arrived to give Aiden his healing lesson and Cosmo left with his nose buried in Aiden’s PDC.
“Healing is the greatest power,” said Bajool. “With healing, however, comes a responsibility and a commitment to use your power only to heal or in self defence. Even in self defence, it is risky. You must give no one cause to believe you could misuse this power. Shall we start?”
“Yes, please,” said Aiden, his heart fluttering.
“Remember, healers are feared and targets for assassination,” said Bajool. “You should not reveal your powers too widely.”
Aiden studied the skeletal and muscular charts of the ten species around the walls of the recreation room, while Bajool explained the fundamental differences. Aiden listened intently as Bajool covered how to sense the location of health issues. He had never before been able to grasp so much information so easily. It was as if he already knew it, and had just not used it for a while. As they left the recreation room, Aiden remembered the pendant.
“You knew my father.”
“Yes, I did,” said Bajool, placing his large bony hand on Aiden’s shoulder. “He was a healer – one of my students, as you are now. He was a good man. He introduced me to tea.”
Aiden pulled the pendant out. “Did you give him this?”
Bajool peered down. “Yes. I am glad to see you are wearing it. It is infused with highly charged particles from Alma. It provided your father with enhanced energy for healing. He had great potential, but so far from the Source we could not gauge the extent of his powers. I offered to take him closer, but he did not wish to be away from his family. The pendant was my gift to him for his help and friendship.”
Tears formed in Aiden’s eyes.
As Aiden readied himself for bed, he examined his eyes in the mirror. He was relieved and intrigued to see his were different, like the others’. He didn’t know if it was due to the food, or the imprinting, or being closer to the Source, or the impurage. Whatever it was, his vision was as sharp as ever. He lay on his bed and went through everything Bajool had shown and told him, while Cosmo watched another movie. Closing his eyes, Aiden could visualise most of the charts in the recreation room. He smiled. He and his father were healers.
Surge appeared so suddenly it startled him. “We need to speak about your judgement.”
Aiden turned to Cosmo. “I’m going to record an MDD.”
“Done mine,” said Cosmo, not looking up from the PDC.
In the viewer room, Aiden was shocked at Surge’s disappointment in his actions.
“I’ve already been lectured by Doctor Peasley and Eulo. I understand my mistake.”
“I do not think you do. There are consequences to using your power. When you attack the prince of the Oken, what impact do you think that will have on the relations between your planet and his?”
“Well... not great I suppose... but it was self defence!”
“Do you think your planets are likely to start trading in goods and sharing knowledge?”
“Do you think you could request the Oken to help your planet defeat a common threat?”
“No!” he said, starting to get annoyed.
“Do you think there is a possibility your planet may find Oken warships in its skies one day?”
“Maybe...” he said, casting his eyes down to the floor, as he thought this was exactly what Orka would do.
“These are the sorts of consequences you need to consider before you use your powers. You must not let your pride cloud your judgement.”
“Sorry, Surge,” he mumbled, feeling about a foot tall. “I wasn’t thinking. It won’t happen again.”
With their bodies free from toxins and blockers, they all found their training a lot easier. There were now three Buwah present in the training room. This helped lessen the tension, but Aiden was sure he detected a new smugness in the prince’s glares.
Aiden found he could now form illusions, though they shimmered badly and did not last long. When it came time to do premonitions, they all had similar images revolving around a waterfall. The waterfall flowed into a stream banked on one side with lush green grass. Trees with soft shady leaves, laden with exotic fruit, overhung the stream. Kydra thought their images sounded like Sanctuary.
The departure of Kydra, and the arrival of Matong, ended their serenity.
“We are approaching the planet Dreng,” hissed Matong. “It is a desolate planet used as an Alliance games planet for the galactic sport, Burden. You will be playing Burden to enable you to apply your powers in a practical way. I will be preparing you.”
The reference to Burden conjured up memories in Aiden: this game was not foreign to him.
“Magwans can absorb energy from the Source and also from other magwans. To absorb energy you must be prepared, otherwise the energy can injure or kill you. There are limits to the energy you can store in your body. Once you reach your limit, your body will hum and turn orange. If you maintain this state for long, you will die. If you continue to receive energy, your body will explode. You must learn to recognise when your body has reached its capacity, and to identify what capacity you have left. We will train in the games room.”
To their awe, Matong conjured up a large, dazzling white ball of energy. Its brilliance had them turning away and shielding their eyes. He reduced its intensity to a dusty white, then to sparkling silver, shimmering gold, intense yellow, flaming orange, fiery red and finally hypnotic magenta. They watched, mesmerised.
After brief exercises in the games room, Matong had Osma and Aiden face off, much to the prince’s annoyance. Aiden felt unusually calm and relaxed, given he was about to have an energy ball thrown at him outside the protection of the power rings. Osma’s energy hit him. A wave of warmth flowed through him and melded with his body. He felt his energy levels boosted. He created his own small red ball and threw it at Osma, who likewise absorbed the energy.
“How will this help us in Burden?” asked Amber.
“Burden is a team sport. It will help you share your energy,” hissed Matong.
After a gruelling day’s training, and having completed their homework, they relaxed in the recreation room. Sarah-Jane did a spectacular drawing of the four of them standing upon a mound holding the Burden trophy aloft in triumph. Aiden made a mental note to get copies of her drawings.
The girls talked about how Doctor Peasley had begun to soften her look. Her hair was now loose and she was using mascara. Cosmo chuckled. “I bet she’s not doing it for Matong,” he said, as he walked over to the power level chart on the wall. “Do you think I’ll ever reach white?”
Aiden scanned the nine power levels on the chart, starting from lowly magenta through to white at the top. “They’re missing the highest level,” he said absently.
“What do you mean? White’s there!”
But Aiden knew there was a level above white. No one had told him this. “After white comes blue-violet... I could be wrong though.”
Cosmo eyed him suspiciously. “I’d be happy with white.”
It worried Aiden that things he shouldn’t know popped into his head. It was weird. Kydra had not been able to explain it either, putting it down to his picking up the thoughts of those around him. Aiden felt it was more than that.
Before Aiden knew it, it was time to go to the games room to have his energy capacity assessed.
He stepped into a power ring. The ring flashed from yellow to gold, and then silver, before settling to misty white.
“Your levels are increasing,” Eulo commented.
Standing still, Aiden absorbed energy until his body started to hum and glow orange. On Eulo’s instruction he conjured up misty white energy balls and threw them at the walls, one after another countless times, without taking in any more energy, until he collapsed on the floor breathless and weak. Eulo had him repeat the exercise, this time allowing him to absorb energy whilst dispelling it. Eulo stopped the session as Aiden could absorb energy as fast as he could dispel it.
He placed a comforting hand on Aiden’s shoulder. “There are stories of a magwan, a long, long time ago, that could absorb energy many times greater than a normal magwan’s capacity. You are the first I have met who can do this, and you absorb energy faster than I have ever seen or heard of. Your powers are unique. Not even Raglan, the greatest known magwan, can claim such power. With time, you may surpass even him. I would not advise openly displaying these reservoirs of energy during your training.”
“I won’t.” Aiden’s heart leapt. He couldn’t believe it. The most powerful magwan ever, him! He hoped Eulo was right. He couldn’t wait to tell Aunt Del and Drew.
He returned to his quarters but couldn’t sleep. Cosmo lay snoring, still holding the PDC. Aiden felt he had a destiny, though he didn’t know what it was. Would he be a powerful magwan on Earth? How would he use this power?
Aiden called Surge and went through the day’s events. “A rare gift indeed,” said Surge. “You must be careful how you use such abilities. Do not be tempted to use it on your enemies or to control others.”
Matong’s training the next morning was ruthless. Aiden had thought Kydra took pleasure in running them into the ground. Matong took sadism to new heights. He worked them to a point where their muscles twitched uncontrollably and they couldn’t stand. The doctors and Neba brought in jugs of vitalise during a brief rest break and Doctor Peasley gave Matong a few sharp words, which he chose to ignore. Even Neba made representations to Matong.
With everyone upright, Matong smiled devilishly. “You know how to absorb energy. You also need to know how to create an energy shield to prevent anything from reaching you. Energy that hits a shield deflects and dissipates harmlessly. The larger the barrier you create, the more energy is required to maintain it. The more energy you put into your barrier, the stronger it is and the weaker you are.”
Cosmo sent round an image of a brick wall, with dark clouds on Matong’s side and sunshine on their side. In a flash, bolts of light flew from Matong’s fingers striking Cosmo in the head. He crumpled like a rag doll.
The doctors leapt up so fast their chairs fell over.
“Leave him. He is merely stunned,” said Matong, as they rushed to Cosmo. Aiden and Amber, kneeling beside Cosmo stared coldly at Matong. Sarah-Jane stood like a statue, glaring. Their anger could not compare to Doctor Peasley’s. The air around her stilled. Her mouth tightened, her eyes narrowed and bored into Matong. She seemed taller and deadly. She did not say a word. Within a few minutes, Cosmo was standing, unaware of what had happened. “Play games in your own time,” hissed Matong.
Their early attempts at projecting energy shields saw shields appear for an instant before collapsing or fading out. Aiden followed Matong’s instructions, drawing energy and projecting it out from his core then visualising it as a barrier outside his body. He was the first to maintain an energy shield. It rang like a tuning fork, and he could see its hazy outline.
As they unwound over lunch, Cosmo reflected on how he would enjoy tying Matong’s tongue to an ants’ nest. The doctors promised to speak with Matong about his behaviour, and congratulated them on how they were dealing with the Oken’s presence during training. They also announced that starting tomorrow there would be a four-day break from training.
“What’s the catch?” asked Cosmo.
“Ah,... well... yes,” began Doctor Hudson. “There will be two days of school work, then two days of whatever you like!”
“It sounds great,” said Sarah-Jane.
With a spring in their steps, they returned to their training.
“You can stun someone with a small, short, sharp energy burst to the head,” said Matong, pacing slowly. “It has the effect of overloading their senses, rendering them unconscious. They will wake after a minute or two, disorientated and without any memory of being stunned. If you keep the energy burst small, no one will get hurt.
“I think another demonstration is needed,” he hissed, and with a few flicks of his wrist, bursts of energy shot towards the doctors and Neba. They slumped to the floor. Prince Orka stood staring darkly at Matong while the rest ran over to help the stunned. Aiden vowed that once he became a powerful magwan he’d have Matong eating dirt and begging for forgiveness.
Matong was unperturbed by the dark looks. With the doctors and Neba sitting again, the students broke into pairs and practised stunning and being stunned. Aiden stood opposite Cosmo and summoned enough energy to make his fingertips tingle. He flicked his wrist, and Cosmo slumped to the ground. As before, when he stirred he had no recollection of being stunned.
They finished the day with more bruises than they could count. Then, unable to resist, Cosmo and Aiden decided to have a stunning duels. They stood hands by their sides, waiting for Aiden’s PDC to beep as the signal to draw.
After watching the first few duels, the girls lost interest and talked amongst themselves. Aiden won the early duels, but after losing the next twelve, decided it was time to heal bruises and call it quits.
The two days of schoolwork were more enjoyable than they would have believed. They each flew through six weeks’ work, retaining more than they thought possible. Aiden found himself reading more of his school texts in between games of football with Gibber and Cosmo. At night, Sarah-Jane continued her special seer tutoring with Goolee, and Amber her aura lessons with Bajool. Aiden had his nightly chats with Surge and his healing sessions with Bajool.
He now knew a number of pressure points, key nerves and muscles in each species that could disable them without permanent injury. Bajool stressed again to avoid using his powers for anything but healing – or risk losing the trust of all around him. Aiden felt happier than he could ever remember. He could heal and the growing darkness had not yet engulfed him. In fact, it still felt a long way off. He would be able to stay and learn more about healing before he returned.
With no training, the boys had frequent stunning duels, which Cosmo kept winning. Aiden practised in the mirror at night, but it didn’t help.
They talked about their changing eyes. Although their eyes had maintained their colour, the irises were no longer in a fixed state but were three-dimensional swirling pools.
“Bajool said it’s the mark of a magwan,” said Amber. Aiden thought the new eyes suited her; they seemed to reflect her soft and caring nature.
Cosmo frowned. “We can’t go home like this!”
“We’ll just have to wear contact lenses,” snapped Sarah-Jane.
“I’m not poking my finger into my eyes,” retorted Cosmo.
The girls left to read in their room, and the boys reclined on the couch sipping vitalise, enjoying their last day’s freedom before training the next day. Cosmo constantly changed his position on the couch and fidgeted with his leather wristband.
“Aiden, if anything was bothering you... you would tell me about it, wouldn’t you?”
“Yeah, of course I would. Matong and Orka bother me... and the food bothers me... Oh, and what are we doing about food for the party?”
“There’s not much we can do,” agreed Cosmo, sinking back into the couch. “The girls don’t have much chocolate left. I’m not sure the one-square-a-day ration we’re getting will last another week. It’s a pity we can’t make alcoholic punch or something.”
“Huddo has a few crates of wine,” said Aiden, sitting up. “Do you think he’d give us a bottle?”
“Are you kidding? Old Parsley would never allow it.” Cosmo tapped his finger on his chin.
Cosmo and Aiden hurried to the medical bay, Cosmo doubled up, and moaning about his stomach twisting itself in knots. One minute they had been watching a movie and then Cosmo went pale and curled himself into a ball. Bajool examined him but couldn’t find anything wrong. Perplexed, he advised Cosmo to rest on the bed while Aiden had his healing lesson.
While Bajool cleared a bench-top, Aiden prepared himself. From the corner of his eye, he saw Cosmo slide off the bed, put a finger to his lips, and move over to the crate against the wall and take a bottle of wine. Aiden glared and waved to him to put it back, but Cosmo shoved the bottle under his shirt, stood up and announced that miraculously his pain was now gone – “It must’ve been wind,” he said as he thanked Bajool and promptly left. Aiden stayed and completed the healing session, silently cursing Cosmo.
Back in their room, Cosmo held up the bottle admiringly. “Black Pepper Shiraz... Gold label! Now we can have a party.”
They turned as the door slid open and there stood Doctor Peasley. Aiden froze and Cosmo whipped his hands behind his back.
“Boys, remember – What have you got there, Mister Summerfield?” She stepped forward and collapsed.
Aiden turned to Cosmo. “You stunned her!”
“I had no choice! What now?”
When Doctor Peasley stirred, they helped her up.
“Sorry, Doctor Peasley, are you all right?” said Cosmo.
Cosmo did his best innocent face. “Aiden was kicking the football at the door when you came in.” Aiden, carrying a football in one hand, tried to look apologetic.
“I... I think I’m fine... thanks dear,” she said, as she stood up, brushing her long skirt unconsciously. “Training tomorrow at seven thirty and... please be more careful with that ball!”
“Yes, Miss. It won’t happen again,” said Aiden, with his head suitably lowered.
As the door closed, Aiden flung the ball onto the couch.
“We got away with it,” said Cosmo.
“We... you mean you! Don’t ever do that again,” said Aiden. “You could’ve really hurt her. She’s not young you know!”
Cosmo slept while Aiden spoke to Surge in the viewer room. Aiden wondered if Surge ever washed his clothes, for he always wore the same thing. Aiden omitted mentioning the wine or the stunning of Doctor Peasley, concentrating instead on his session with Eulo and his healing sessions. Suddenly, Cosmo appeared looking pained. At that same moment, the door slid open behind Aiden, revealing Sarah-Jane and Amber.
“What’s up?” said Aiden, stopping mid-sentence. Dread flowed through him - had Sarah-Jane had another vision of his future?
“That’s what we want to know,” said Cosmo.
“Know what?” asked Aiden, confused.
“I would not tell them about me,” Surge cautioned. “As your guide, only you can see and hear me. They will never believe I exist, no matter what you say.”
Cosmo shuffled his feet. “You keep talking to yourself in here every night.”
Amber gave Aiden a consoling look. “If you need to talk anything over, we’re here for you. We’re all going through the same things. We’ll understand.”
“You’re kidding me,” said Aiden, his eyes accusingly fixed on Cosmo. “Is this an intervention?”
“I miss my Mom terribly,” Sarah-Jane added.
“Look, I’m okay... seriously,” said Aiden, “and I’m not talking to myself... I’m thinking aloud.” He looked at Amber hoping she believed him.
“It sounded like you were talking to someone,” said Cosmo.
“Well I need to talk to someone intelligent!” Aiden quipped.
“No, honestly, I’m fine.”
“Sorry girls, maybe he’s not nuts,” said Cosmo.
“Well, if you ever need real intelligent conversation, you can talk to me... or Sare,” said Amber, her eyes lighting up. “Hey, why don’t we astral travel home tonight?” Aiden was relieved they had not pushed the issue.
“How?” asked Cosmo.
“Distance doesn’t matter. I’ll explain it to you again,” said Amber rolling her eyes.
“We’d better get back to our room before Doctor Peasley finds us here,” said Sarah-Jane.
“Thanks for trying to help,” called Aiden as they left. He then punched Cosmo in the arm.
“Next time you think I’m going crazy, just ask me!”
With midnight half an hour away, Aiden and Cosmo used Kydra’s relaxation techniques to calm their minds to ready themselves for sleep.
To Aiden’s delight, he astral travelled home right into his room. His delight was short-lived when he noticed Drew was not there. He searched the house. Neither Aunt Del nor Drew was home, and it was the middle of the night. Panic seeped through him. He tried to detect Drew’s presence, and with relief found it.
He stood in a hospital room. It was a room he knew well, and had hoped he would never see again. He had been here many times before, visiting Drew during his long recuperation period following the car accident. Now he was back. Most of Drew’s scars were gone but the internal damage had not healed. Drew slept with wires and tubes in his arms. Aunt Del sat by his bed under a night light, watching over him.
A sick feeling rose within Aiden. Drew had had a relapse, and he was light years away. Unable to communicate with Aunt Del, he sat on the end of the bed and joined her in her anxious watch.
“Wake up, we’re late!” Cosmo bellowed, shaking Aiden, yanking him back into his body. “And you won’t believe it. My parents have bought a TV. After lecturing me for years on the evils of television, as soon as I leave they go out and buy one!”
Aiden rolled over, “I’m not going... Drew’s in hospital.”
“Oh... right... sorry, but he should be all right in there shouldn’t he?”
“Maybe,” Aiden murmured.
“You stay here. I’ll tell Huddo you’re not up to training today.”
Within a minute, Doctor Hudson appeared, and after some fatherly words convinced Aiden that Drew was in the best of care.
Matong took pleasure in torturing them after their four days off, with an extended exercise session. While they were still recovering and breathing heavily, Matong had them create the most powerful energy ball they could. It was no surprise that Sarah-Jane produced one close to white. Aiden was pleased to see his misty white ball was ahead of the prince’s, even if by the barest of margins. Cosmo, Amber and the remaining Oken were still producing sand-coloured balls with flecks of silver.
After they had each displayed their levels, Matong produced a white energy ball so bright they had to shield their eyes. Aiden was sure Matong did this to prove some point. Then it was their turn to absorb and deflect energy, and stun. Aiden found everything difficult. Both Sarah-Jane and Amber offered words of encouragement, but nothing helped.
At lunchtime, Amber pulled Aiden to one side. “Last night,” she said, “when you said you were talking to yourself... well... you do know I can see auras - so it’s impossible to lie to me!”
Aiden tensed. “I’m okay, honestly.” The others joined them, saving Aiden from having to explain further, and the four talked about what they had seen in their astral travels.
“I can’t believe we didn’t think of doing this before,” said Amber. “I swear my brothers are growing every day – they’re huge!”
“Drew will be fine,” said Sarah-Jane consolingly, placing her hand on Aiden’s arm. She turned pale and snatched away her hand.
“What did you see? Did Drew... die?” asked Aiden desperately.
“No...” said Sarah-Jane, tears rolling down her cheeks. “... I think you did!”
* * *