Awen: Tongue of Flame

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Aspire

'That was insane!' Jason yelled, out of breath.

'That experience was far more than virtual reality; I could feel everything.' Jensen agreed.

'Can we go again, daddy?' Rose asked. 'If we're lucky.' Jensen replied.

James was red in the face. 'Nice flying Jason, I felt like I was up there,' he said, stretching. 'You have a fan it seems.' he added, smirking.

The creature was staring at Jason in awe, and without warning, it wrapped its spindly limbs around him in a sweet embrace. Pulling away soon after, Jason was struggling to scrub away all traces of the unwelcomed encounter.

'It's strange that you've gone from being a prisoner of these beings, to fast friends.' Jensen mused.

'I told you that they were friendly daddy.' Rose said.

'Yes, you did sweetie, and you were right.' he replied, pinching her nose.

Coughing dramatically, Jensen attempted to get Jason's attention. 'It wants to give you something, Jason.' he finally said.

'Why didn't you just say so.' Jason replied.

'If I had to guess, I'd say that it was a communication device ...I think that it wants to give you it's phone number.' Jensen bawled.

The creature pointed it's claw at the ground, and a real, mirror image of the ship arose upon a glistening white pedestal. The creature was waving enthusiastically at Jason, motioning them to climb inside of the magnificent vessel which was automatically preparing for take-off.

Waving back with a single sweep of his hand, he hurriedly marched inside with the others. 'I still can't believe that they would just give us this technology,' Jensen said. 'It even has that fresh new vehicle smell that I love.' he added, inhaling deeply.

'Never look a gift horse in the mouth, is what my mother always used to say.' James said.

'Don't you mean, trojan horse.' Jason replied, putting a halt to the conversation.


'Are you even controlling this thing?' Jensen asked.

'Not yet.' Jason grunted, pounding the manual flight button repeatedly.

'Trojan horse it is then, those bastards.' Jensen fumed.

'Daddy! Language!' Rose scolded.

'Sorry sweetie.' he replied.

The immense gravitational forces were pinning them back into their harnesses, threatening to squash them all into jelly.

'Wheeeeeee!' Rose howled.

If they had held that speed for any greater length of time, they would have died for sure. The shuttle lost all inertia in an instant following an emergency braking manoeuvre, and with elegance, it landed perfectly on the ground.

'Where are we?' James demanded.

Jason looked furious. 'I have no idea, I couldn't control the ship!' he argued.

Opening by itself once again, the shuttle hatch popped and was daring them to step outside. Being the first to volunteer, Jason cautiously approached the ramp, and he could already feel the heat from the sun beating down.

'No!' Jason yelled, sprinting ahead. Having landed at the site of their shuttle, it appeared that the aliens were telling the truth after all. Fluctuating shields were trying to hold back the storm, and rapping against the side, he demanded that they let him inside.


Sensing that all of its intruders were no longer present, the alien ship dashed off during the few seconds that it took for them to turn around. 'Well, that just happened.' James remarked coldly.

'I thought that you were my friend!' Jason called out.

Hammering back on the interior bulkhead, Grace would not open up for anyone. 'Who are you and who are you yelling at?' she demanded.

Jason's behaviour changed suddenly, as he put on his authoritative Captain voice. 'My name is Jason Dares, and I have Jensen, Rose and your husband here with me.' he replied.

'Father? Is that you?' Connor asked, forcing his way to the hatch.

Recognising the voice of his son, he could hardly believe that it was him. 'Connor?' he pleaded.

'Hurry up and get inside; this storm is worse than the last.' Grace shouted.

Blustering gales were trying to rip the hatch away from the shuttle hull, and yanking on the door mechanism; they were struggling to lock it. Giggling like the young boy that he was, Connor punched his father in the leg. 'I told them that you were alive, I told them!' he repeated.

'How?' Grace asked politely.

Hearing Connor talking to Rose brought a smile to Jason's face. 'It's a long story, now how about we go and take my ship back from those bastards?' Jason yelled.

Being told to keep quiet, Grace was having none of it. Kicking James in the shin, he yelped and darted out of her way. 'We're with you, Captain, but we can't just waltz in there without a plan.' she said.

Having known Grace for mere minutes, she was already growing on him. 'Haven't you ever heard that the best-laid plans are those which are made on the fly?' he asked her.

Grace laughed. 'That makes sense.' she replied.


The nearest starboard bulkhead felt brittle as he stood wiping his hand along several hairline cracks and Jason hissed. 'Now for the hard part.' he announced.

'Getting into 'Aspire' isn't the hard part?' Jensen asked.

Gesturing at the damaged bulkhead, Jason revealed a massive spider web pattern of interlacing fractures; it was spreading across most of the interior hull. 'How did we not see this?' Grace asked, appalled.

'Relax, this is literally in my job description Grace, you couldn't have known. Still, this is only the damage that we can see.' Jason replied.

'We have to get to that ship, Jason, any thoughts?' Jensen asked.

'Duct tape, chewing gum and prayer.' he replied with a straight face.

'This is going to be fun.' James remarked.

'About as much fun as being stuck upside down on a rollercoaster.' Grace muttered.

'I'm going to prepare for lift-off, you lot strap in.' Jason ordered.


They could practically hear the fuel trickling through the tiny pipes overhead, and stuttering engines faltered slightly, as they craved more. 'There's barely any fuel!' Jason cursed.

The shuttle bobbed and weaved in every direction, as it struggled to gain altitude. The winds were too strong, and the engine power was too weak to make any difference.

Soaring so close to the ground, they could almost reach out and touch it. 'What the hell are we doing?' Jensen asked.

'As I said, there's not enough fuel to get us any higher. Would you rather get there in more or less one piece, or crash and burn?' Jason yelled back.

'You're the expert.' Jensen replied. He could almost hear the man grinning.

'At least they won't see us coming,' James reasoned. Looking sceptical as usual, Grace just stared blankly at him. 'I meant that they would be focussing on scanning the sky above for threats.' he explained.

'None of that will matter unless we can see where we are going.' Jensen said.

'What do you mean?' James asked.

'See for yourself.' Jensen replied. A mountain of swirling ash loomed ahead, blanketing the 'Aspire' landing site.

'Why hasn't Jason said anything?' Grace asked.

'Probably because he is too busy trying to find somewhere to park.' Jensen mused.

'Here, we go again.' James said fatefully.

'It's like we never left.' Jensen agreed, gripping tightly onto Rose's hand.

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