Learning About Each Other
Chapter 9: Learning About Each Other
Jack looked up from cleaning his rifle to see Felicity approaching with Hunter close behind her. The two fur balls were little more than about blurs as they sprinted through the living room at top speed. He had to stop what he was doing and almost lay his rifle down on the blanket covered table to gets good glimpse of them. Even then he could barely make out Hunter carrying a stick with a red yarn wrapped around the middle as he ran at nearly full speed with Felicity somehow managing to keep only a couple feet behind him. Both had their tongues hanging out of their mouths and panting heavily as they slid across the floor in a comical manner. How she managed to do it was beyond Jack as not even he was able to keep up with Hunter even when he was in his prime. Maybe it was Felicity adapting to running on all fours and combined it with her insane jumping ability and agile nature that allowed her to do stay on Hunter’s tail.
Ah, they’re playing the stick game again. Jack thought while laughing on the inside as Hunter skidded to a halt to quickly regain his footing and launch forward and Felicity did the same but was quicker on the slide and recovery and managed to almost grab Hunter. At this rate Felicity will catch him soon.
Jack jumped forward and covered his rifle and cleaning equipment as Felicity chased Hunter around the room. One thing Jack took VERY seriously was gun safety and maintenance making covering and getting the objects out of the way was a top priority. Though he cared deeply for the 30-30 lever action rifle before him, having been using it for hunting, fun, and self-defense for well over a decade, and the gun was unloaded and disassembled, he was more concerned with Felicity’s safety. The two fur balls were so hyped that they could do harm to themselves and not realize it. Though it was cute to watch them play and the risk of them getting hurt was low Jack was not willing to take the risk knowing Fara would kill him on the spot if Felicity was harmed in any way. Thankfully, Jack was quick on his feet as he grabbed everything in the blanket and lifted it up out of the way just as they jumped towards him.
“Hey, watch it you two.” Jack shouted as he stepped back even though he knew they were so focused on their game they didn’t hear him.
Jack smirked to himself as he carried his equipment to the office room while Felicity chased Hunter in circles around the living room. He made sure to keep an eye on them just to be safe as they played the game they made up. Not long after Jack brought Fara and Felicity to his home Felicity noticed that Hunter had a favorite stick he liked to chew on. If she took it from him than he would playfully chase her around till he caught her and lick her to the poi tags gave it back to him. She made a game of it by wrapped a bright red yarn around the middle of the stick, so she could identify it, and used it as a turn based game of tag. Whoever had the stick had the run from the other till they were caught; in Felicity’s case when Hunter had her pinned and licked her face and Hunter gave it up when she had her arms wrapped around him. Jack had seen them play the game for hours at a time and holding nothing back except for Hunter being careful not to hurt Felicity.
“Come on you two, slow down.” Jack heard Fara call out from the kitchen as he finished setting his equipment in the office and shut the door.
Jack couldn’t hurt but freeze upon hearing Fara’s frustrated voice quickly approaching from the kitchen. Though there wasn’t an angry tone in her voice she didn’t sound too happy either, that was evident from the sounds of pain as she spoke. He didn’t have to wait more than a moment for Fara to hobble into the living room as quickly as she could with her cane focused on spotting Felicity. He was impressed at the speed she moved at, almost running despite her injury; telling him how focused she was on catching up with the two fur balls. Even though Fara’s attention wasn’t on him and she wasn’t angry he was more curious than anything to see what she would do and it made him somewhat uncomfortable. The fact that her presence in the room stopped Felicity and Hunter on the spot, who were perched on the couch, was evidence to how serious she was.
Fara stood up straight and looked right at Felicity, ignoring Jack. “Felicity, do you not think you have been playing long enough?”
Felicity shook her head while heavily panting. “No mom, I can keep playing all day.”
Fara gazed seriously at Felicity and crossed her arms under her chest, causing them to be pushed up and allowing Jack to see quite a bit of furry cleavage thanks to the low neckline shirt she wore. “Really, you look worn out to me. You have been playing that game with Hunter all day.” Fara spoke, not noticing as Jack turned his head so she wouldn’t catch him staring at her above average bust. “I think it is time you AND Hunter took a nap. You both look like you need it.”
“But mom, I want to play more.” Felicity exclaimed, stomping her foot.
Fara bent over, rested her hands on her hips, and glared down at Felicity. “I said go and take a nap. You can take Hunter with you for her looks even more worn out than you.”
Much to Jack’s surprise Felicity relented and nodded in agreement. Given the small pup was nearly as stubborn as her mother seeing her submit so easily, with very few arguing, was quite surprising to Jack. Having a daughter of his own, Amanda being a few years older than Felicity, he understood from experience how hard it was for a parent to get a child to do what they wanted. Yet, Fara did it with little effort and Jack was certainly impressed.
Huh, I should probably ask Fara how she does it so I can get Amanda to listen to me. Jack thought with a chuckle.
Once Felicity and Hunter left the living for her bedroom Jack let out a sigh of relief as he walked back to the office to get his rifle and cleaning equipment so he could finish his task. He did so quietly as to not disturb Fara who remained standing in place, appearing to listen carefully to Felicity to make sure she really was getting into bed. It made Jack a little jealous of Fara’s species sense of hearing which he assumed, due to their similarities to earth canines, was nearly equal to Hunter’s, as well as her sense of smell. He decided it was best to mind his own business and limit the noise he caused making him set his equipment down carefully. Almost as soon as he had everything situated Fara let out sigh and walked towards the corner of the room where the shelves were, telling Jack that she was satisfied and Felicity was in bed taking a nap. He relaxed too and resumed his work undisturbed as Fara wandered around the room curiously.
Jack pretended to focus on cleaning his rifle while keeping Fara in his peripheral. Keeping an eye on Fara as she was stopped in front of the shelves was quite easy given the amount of times he had cleaned firearms through his life, particularly the one in front of him. He had performed the task so ma y times that he could literally do it blindfolded, and on more than one occasion had just to prove to his cousins that he could. Thanks to cleaning on autopilot he was able to focus on Fara as her curiosity seemed to be peeked at the objects on the shelf. On the shelf were numerous medals, photos, and citations that had her attention and appeared to have her puzzled as to what they represented.
“Those are my military honors.” Jack spoke up suddenly causing Fara to quickly turn towards him. “If you can call it them that.”
Fara looked over her shoulder at Jack. “Really, all of these are yours? Hm, it is VERY different from my people”
“Well, we Zordons place high value on family and generational honor. So, we hang our honors alongside those the previous generation family members earned. Some families have huge sections of walls decorated with awards and memorabilia, mine included.”
“Huh, that’s pretty cool.” Jack replied with a smile. “But yeah, those are all mine.”
Fara turned back to the shelf and examined the honors carefully. “And that makes it almost unbelievable.” Fara leaned close to picture of Jack standing next to an F-35. “Huh, I would not have guessed you were a pilot.”
Jack chuckled as he wiped the oil from a rifle. “I don’t know if I should take that an insult or not.”
Fara shrugged. “You can take it however you want as I meant it both ways. Considering the way you saved us, which I am very happy for, makes it hard for me to see you as a pilot.”
“Yeah, I guess that shouldn’t surprise me. I haven’t presented myself as a pilot and granted it’s been a while since I’ve flown so I’m probably a little rusty.”
“And I could probably kick your ass.”
Jack shook his head while lounging softly. “Maybe now but in my prime it’d probably be pretty even.”
“Hm, if we ever get rescued maybe we can find out for ourselves.” Fara replied with a devious smile before looking him at somewhat seriously. “You had quite an extensive service Jack, for your species. By Zordon standards your service is short BUT somehow it appears you have managed leave quite a mark.”
Jack looked up from his rifle with a puzzled expression. “By my species?”
“Yeah, compared to us Zordons most of you humans have short military services spanning just a few years. Though there are those who make it through lives that appears to be quite rare amongst your species. It is quite different for us Zordons who lives revolve around the military.” Fara shook her head. “Even I will probably be till my fifty cycle, that is seven years by your standards.”
Jack starred at Fara quite surprised. “Seriously, is that common?”
Fara nodded. “Quite common, assuming we live that long, and I plan on making it to retirement.” Fara turned back to the shelf and gazed at the collection of photos detailing Jack’s time through multiple conflicts. “How long did you serve?”
“Hm, I spent ten years the Air Force, spending most of that time fighting in the India/Palestine War and participated in several small wars and conflicts. I had another five years working for an international agency before I left due to . . . conflicting viewpoints.”
“Ten years, and most of that during an aggressive war. Sounds like a shortened version of us.”
Jack let out a loud sigh. “You’re probably not far off though it’s not a war I’d like to get into as a lot happened that . . . well you saw me last night.”
“Ah, then I will avoid bringing it up for now. After what I saw last night I would prefer to avoid going that route.” Fara replied only to turn Jack after seeing as particular photo of him standing alongside several other men all wearing uniforms with a unique symbol she seemed to recognize immediately, with quite a serious expansion that displayed her anger. “Though you could have, and should have, told me you were a member of the Planetary Defense Force.”
“You know about the PDF?” Jack shockingly exclaimed.
Fara spun around and glared such intense daggers at Jack that he was barely able to resist shivering. “Really, you were a member, meaning you are no doubt fully aware of the many atrocities they have committed against my people, and you ask a question like that?”
Jack lowered his head in shame. “Yeah, I should have realized that, my bad. BUT, I am no longer a part of the PDF, I left them a couples years ago due to what I said earlier, conflicting viewpoints. I was just shocked to hear you mention them.”
Fara growled at Jack. “That does not excuse the fact that you were once a part of the organization that has slaughtered many of my people who had just come to negotiate and seek refuge.”
Jack glared back at Fara. “That is why I left. As soon as I found out what they were doing to your people, and every other alien race that came to earth, I left. I wanted no part of that cruelty.”
Fara didn’t relent her gaze on Jack, just kept starring. “And you think that is supposed to make everything better?”
“Nope, I am just attempting to explain why I left.” Jack responded, firmly shaking his head. “I deeply regret my time with them and . . .”
Fara held up her hand to silence Jack. “That is enough Jack, I got the answer I wanted. And PLEASE, keep your voice down so Felicity does not wake up.”
“Oh, my bad.” Jack replied very confusedly. “What do you mean you got your answer?”
Fara playfully giggled. “To put it in simple terms, I was using my nose to detect how your scent changed. Like your canines we Zordons can smell the changes in a person’s emotions, making it nearly impossible to lie to us.” She gave Jack a light smile. “That allowed me to see that you are sincere and telling the truth.”
“Ah, I guess that makes sense.” Jack replied as he uncomfortable rubbed the back of his head. “I just figured it would take more than that to get you off my back.”
“Not really, I take into consideration everything you have done for us so far, which I doubt I will ever be able to pay you back.” Fara softly replied with a sympatric smile. “I did recently decide to try to be kinder and more open towards your presence since we have to live together for the time being. That has allowed me to think things out about us and what you say. Combine that with seeing how truthful you were explaining why you left the PDF and . . . well, I decided that I am not going to hold it against you . . . for now.”
Jack starred at Fara in disbelief. “Seriously, just like that?”
Fara stepped towards Jack with a smile that made him both uncomfortable and somehow comfortable. “Yes, even I am surprised by it but I simply do not want to argue and you have proven to be a trustworthy guy. If that was not the case than Felicity and I would be in PDF custody by now.” She stopped just in front of Jack. “However, that leaves a very important question you need to answer Jack. During your time in the PDF what did you do?”
Jack opened his mouth to speak but quickly shut it to think a moment before replying. “You mean did I do anything against your people?”
Fara grinned slightly. “Pretty much, I do not really care about the other races, most of them are complete jerks, especially the Xulons, screw them.”
“Ah, well then no, I don’t think I participated in any atrocities against the Zordons. During my time with the PDF I was stationed mostly in the East Asian area.” Jack answered. “I was part of a QRF, quick reaction force, unit that reached to any alien signs in the area. For some reason the alien race we called Chicks seemed to be extremely focused on that area so I usually just faced them.”
Fara playfully giggled. “You mean the race that are primary red females with tentacles for hair?”
Jack uncomfortable nodded. “Uh yeah, those crazy . . . females.”
Fara shook her head while trying hard not to laugh. “Crazy is an understatement when dealing with the Nasque, that is what we call them. They are absolutely bonkers in their questionable crusades that have made them nearly suicidal and genocidal at the same time. Too bad even we do not know what their goals are, only that they will attack anyone in their path for it.” Fara gathered her bearing and smiled down at Jack. “The fact that you are still here after dealing with them is nothing short of incredible.”
“If you say so.” Jack shrugged back. “I was just trying to do my job, get back home, and get paid. There’s really not much more to it than that.”
“And yet you are still sitting here, that is quite impressive from the way I see it. You are not much definitely from us Zordons in that regard, even though you did serve with quite an evil organization.” Fara responded while shaking her head. “So, yeah, your prior service with the PDF does severely complicate things . . . BUT, you have proven yourself to be trustworthy.”
Jack shook his head. “Are you saying that because we really don’t have any choice but to trust each other?”
“Pretty much my friend.” Fara replied in a cartoony voice with a sarcastic smile.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” Jack responded as he leaned back against the couch. “Though if we’re taking about trust than I have a question for you?”
Fara glared at Jack that gave off a combination of confusion and discomfort. “As you said earlier, it depends on the question. Is it something that will compromise my people’s security?”
“Of course not, I know not to ask you anything about that. Though it may not be a simple question to answer but it is mostly to satisfy my curiosity as a pilot.”
Fara gave Jack a questionable smile. “Ah, so it’s a pilot thing?”
Jack nodded knowing that Fara would understand. Being combat pilots there are things they would naturally understand about each other and it explained to Jack why he felt a strange connection to Fara the moment they met. He hoped that since Fara knew he was a combat pilot that things would be smoother between them though he wouldn’t count on it. At least now they had things to talk about and a path to eventually becoming friends.
“I call it a pilot’s curiosity but yes.” Jack began speaking. “Basically, I’m just curious was exactly happened out there to get you shot down and just who did it?”
Fara, at first, stared blankly at Jack as his question certainly appeared to catch her off guard, but that quickly changed as she straightened up and smiled. “Yeah, I had a feeling that question would come the moment I found out you were a combat pilot. That curiosity when it comes to other pilots plagues us. I am sure you know that is kind of an uncomfortable question to answer.”
Jack nodded. “Yeah, especially since Felicity was involved. That is why I am chanting the question to what was the situation, I am not interested in the specifics.”
“Hm, that does make it easier . . . to an extent. Though the events leading up to it are not something I will go into as that is quite personal.” Fara answered as she thought for a moment. “Fortunately, the situation is kind of easy to sum up. Basically, Felicity and I were out for a . . . joy ride, when we were ambushed by a squadron of Xulon fighters. I have no idea where they came from but I still managed to put up a fight and took a couple of them out before they damaged my fighter.”
Jack looked at Fara impressed. “Really, you took on a squadron all by yourself and survived?”
“Yeah and it was an Xulon squadron too, that is something many would consider impossible.”
Jack’s expression turned to confusion. “I don’t know much about the Xulons having never faced them myself and the fact that the PDF has had VERY run in with them. All I do know is that they are quite a formidable and powerful race.”
“Formidable would probably be an understatement since they military power rivals ours. But all you need to know is that you do NOT want to fight them or interact with them at all. The fact that Felicity and I are still alive is nothing short of miraculous.” Fara replied and co fined her story. “Once they damaged my ship I had to flee which led to me jetting anywhere I could. Not like I had much of a choice with Felicity in the cockpit with me.”
“Huh, and I know the rest of the story after that.” Jack interrupted.
“Uh huh, there is really not much to it than that.” Fara responded as she leaned back against the couch. “Well, technically there is quite a bit more specific to the story but I do not feel like going into it now.”
“Why, because you are about to fall asleep?” Jack jokingly asked, pointing out Fara’s tired expression.
Fara, instead of snarling back like he expected, reluctantly and simply nodded. “Yes, I did have to chase Felicity and Hunter around the yard. You know from experience how tiring that is.”
“Ah, then you have a good reason to be tired.” Jack stated and stretched as he loudly yawned. “At least now we have something talk about.”
Though from his current position Jack couldn’t see he knew that Fara was nodding in agreement. “As long as you do not press any sensitive issues or ask too many questions that may compromise Zordon safety or confidentiality than yes we do.”
Jack chuckled silently to himself having completely expected that to be Fara’s response. Considering her secretive nature, especially when it came to anything pertaining to her people, he would have been surprised if her response had been anything different. She had barely said anything about her people, or herself, in all their conversations and avoided the issues when it came up. Thankfully, Jack had never been one to press sensitive issues, which had been both a negative and positive in his life, so he had no desire to do anything that would make Fara, or Felicity, feel uncomfortable.
“No worries Fara, we can just swap war stories if you’re comfortable with that.” Jack said while smiling at Fara.
Fara grinned deviously. “Oh yeah, that is a Zordon tradition. Our conversations revolve around war stories . . . usually the gorier the better.”
“Well, good thing I got plenty of those. But I’ll save them for when Felicity is not around.”
“Smart move, or you would end up buried in your own woods.” Fara said with a big sarcastic grin that faded quickly when she let out a yawn and stretched her arms wide. “Well, as fun as this conversation has been I am going to take a nap too. I have had enough of this for the time being.”
Jack nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I can only take so much of myself to.”
“No argument on that one.” Fara quickly replied with a stern expression with a hint of sarcasm, getting Jack to laugh. “But most of it has to do with chasing Felicity and Hunter around, well attempting to.”
“Hm, it sucks getting old don’t it.” Jack jokingly replied with a smirk.
Jack reacted in time to dodge Fara swinging her cane at his head. Since he knew his comment would invoke a response he was able to dodge it from connecting to his temple by ducking forward. After dodging he turned around to see that Fara was indeed smiling meaning his comment had made her laugh.
“Hey, I am not old yet.” Fara exclaimed while smiling.
“And yet I was able to dodge you.” Jack smirked so as he stood up out of Fara’s reach. “That is why I am going to let you rest. Can’t have you lacking the energy to smack me around.”
“Huh, nice to see you finally realized your purpose.” Fara jokingly replied as she sat her cane down. “That does require a lot of energy, nearly as much as getting Felicity to take a nap.”
“After raising a daughter of my own I can fully understand.” Jack said as he knelt down and picked up his rifle and cleaning equipment. “So, I’m going leave you alone to get some sleep.”
Fara nodded to Jack as she stretched out on the couch. “Thanks Jack.”
“You’re welcome Fara.” Jack replied as he set his rifle and cleaning supplies in the office room, shutting the door behind him. “I’ll be outside if you need me.”
Fara gave Jack a wave as she settled down on the couch and rested her head on the nearby pillow. He knew there was chance he’d get another word out of her till she woke up. It made him jealous to see her almost instantly fall asleep and started softly snoring. Jack quietly made his way out of the room, taking pain staking means to avoid waking her up and didn’t relax till he was out of the living room and outside.
Well, at least we made some progress today. Jack thought as he closed the door behind him. Maybe someday we can have a conversation without a gun in her hand.