Hottest Night of the Year
The day after the Night Crawlers attacked, Aerrow was completely cured. All he needed was to rest and truly sleep for one night, and that he had finally managed to do after so many perturbed nights. Piper's injury was already being treated too. Stork was going to make a potion she'd to drink every afternoon. In one week she'd be healed as well.
Finn and Junko were doing some reckon and they had a mission: map the place where the Condor was landed and the surrounding area. They weren't on just a part of the Terra they hadn't explored themselves, they were actually on an uncharted section, so nobody had the slightest idea about how safe that area could be. But they were sure of one thing: if the Night Crawlers didn't initially follow them, then there could be something more dangerous than the elite squadron in there. So they had to know what they might be dealing with. Better safe than sorry, right?
Sometime later, both returned from the recon mission.
"So far there's nothing out of the ordinary." - Finn said shrugging, while he got off his skimmer.
"I guess that's good." - Aerrow commented.
"Yeah. The last thing we need is another Cyclonian attack." - Piper said through one of the Condor's radios.
They heard her wince in pain when she laid back down on the gurney. All of them had worried expressions. Poor Piper... She was suffering a lot.
"I hope Stork's potion will really work fast." - Junko said.
Radarr chirped sadly in agreement. They all knew how bad was the injury. If her broken rib had pierced one of her organs she'd have died from blood loss... They'd have to hope the crystal spell she cast on her rib could hold the bone and the rib cage together until she fully recovers. Otherwise, things would become pretty grim for her...
"I wish there was a way to accelerate the recovering process." - Aerrow said.
"Yeah... If we still had the Nil Crystal..." - the wallop muttered.
"Cyclonis probably kept it with her since she got it from us." - Finn told them.
They all sighed. The Sky Knight stared at the sky, a look of longing in his face. His desire to heal Piper was truly strong. He'd go to the depths of Cyclonia to get her a Nil Crystal if he could. But he thought about it and realized that could lead their enemies to their location. He couldn't afford seeing her getting hurt again... He just couldn't. She had suffered enough.
His friends went inside the ship. The wallop headed directly to the engine room, he knew Stork needed his help there. Aerrow looked around the surroundings, then he heard a noise: Terra Amazonia was about to pour down one of its known torrential rains. The water droplets came fast and in a very large number. That was quite the storm, they were lucky that rain had a short duration, or it could potentially drown the ship after making the water level of the river rise too much.
The red-haired leader noticed something had... "appeared", after the rain started: a green stream of light that led somewhere. He didn't know why, but his mind was telling him to follow it. He quickly jumped on his skimmer and left without making a sound, so the others wouldn't notice and, therefore, wouldn't worry about him.
After a few minutes flying Aerrow found a huge cave and, without hesitating, he followed the green stream inside it. Deep in the cave, he saw several small green crystals on the walls, illuminating the dark place.
"Nil Crystals!" - he gasped in awe - "And lots of them!"
He couldn't believe he had actually found exactly what he was determined to fight against the whole Cyclonia for: the little green crystal that could fix anything! In other words, Piper's cure! He excitedly grabbed two of them and shoved them in his pocket. It was always good to have an extra one, just in case. And later he could show them the cave if they ever needed more crystals.
He was making his way out when he heard a weird noise echoing through the cave. Then he heard some heavy steps: there was a really big creature in that cave. He turned around to see a golem very similar to the ones from the Forbidden City, except that this one was huge and had green shining eyes. The Stone Guard stared at him for a moment: it was obviously not happy that Aerrow had invaded its sanctuary and was stealing its crystals.
One of the large boulders that formed the creature's hand detached from its arm, then, it swung it around, very similar to the way Snipe swings his mace, and aimed at the Sky Knight. The red-haired leader accelerated his skimmer to the max, so he could quickly dodge that attack that would certainly have killed him.
"I-I'm sorry I entered here!" - he shouted, trying to reason with the golem - "But I have a badly injured friend that needed to be healed by these crystals!" - he tried to explain - "Really, I'm not being greedy, I'm taking these crystals because I truly need them!"
But that didn't seem to convince the stone guard that Aerrow shouldn't be punished for his actions. He invaded and stole, making excuses didn't change a thing. The creature growled in anger, then levitated a large rock and, turning it into several smaller stones, it threw all of the fragments as fast as a machine gun shoots its bullets. The pieces of the rock tore through the walls, damaging them severely. Aerrow had a hard time trying to dodge them. If one caught him, he'd be dead.
The golem was furious now, it detached all of the rocks from its body and spun them around like a tornado... A huge rocky tornado of doom, like Stork would name it. Now formed by a mess of boulders and wind, the creature could move extremely fast. The Sky Knight was in trouble: the tornado of death was catching up with him quickly.
The rocky tornado threw one of its large boulders at him. He managed to fly downwards just in time to avoid it. The huge stone hit the ceiling of the cave's entrance then made it way back to the tornado, obliging the green-eyed boy to dodge once again. He noticed the impact with the cave was going to make the entrance's arc to topple.
Aware that his only escape was about to be sealed and he'd be stuck with that enraged titan, he accelerated his skimmer as fast as he could. The boulders were starting to fall and block the passage. Almost there... He forced his ride to fly even faster than its maximum speed and managed to fly out of the cave just before the last boulder fell and closed the entrance.
He looked behind to see if the golem was going to bust the entrance open and follow him, but that didn't happen. All he heard was a disappointed growl and the sound of a huge rocky fist punching the wall. Well, at least the stone guard had sealed the entrance, so no one else would invade its sanctuary again.
Aerrow felt somewhat sorry for disturbing the giant titan. Still, the golem could have been more reasonable. He just sighed relieved and picked up the Nil Crystals in his pocket, staring happily at them. Piper would be healed sooner than she thinks!
Inside the Condor, everyone was in the infirmary. They noticed Aerrow was gone for a while, but they couldn't go after him because the storm was too strong.
"Any sign of him?" - Piper asked.
"No. I don't see anything that looks like a skimmer." - Finn said with an upset tone.
Stork had just finished making one more dose of the potion.
"Here. Today's dose." - he gave her the bottle and a glass.
"Thank you, Stork." - she said and drank everything.
It didn't taste good... Well, was medicine supposed to taste good anyway?
"Yeah, I know, the taste is awful." - the merb said calmly - "But at least it'll make you recover quickly."
The girl smiled. He was right.
"I found something that will heal her even faster, though." - a voice said.
They all looked at the direction the voice came from and saw Aerrow entering the infirmary. Water was dripping from his hair and many droplets ran down his face. He was completely soaked, but the expression on his face showed it was worth it.
"Aerrow! What happened? Where were you?" - she asked.
"I just went for a quick ride and happened to find..." - he said as he pulled the small green crystal from his pocket - "...a little crystal that can fix anything."
"A Nil Crystal!" - Junko gasped excitedly.
"Where did you find it?" - the girl asked as the Sky Knight handed her the crystal.
"In a cave not too far from here. There were many of them. I took two with me." - he told them as he placed the other crystal on the furniture beside her gurney.
"Sweet! Let's go get some more!" - Finn suggested.
"Uh... I don't think it's a good idea..." - Aerrow rubbed the back of his head.
"Why not?" - the wallop didn't understand.
"Well... The huge golem watching the cave will not like to see any other intruder..." - he said.
"Wait... You found a Stone Guard?" - Stork was surprised.
"But... They were supposed to be extinct!" - Piper said.
Then, they thought about it some more and figured: if the dragons weren't extinct... Maybe other ancient creatures weren't either.
"Guess I'll believe anything from now on..." - the merb shrugged and left.
Piper sit on the gurney, moaning in pain a bit, then touched her belly with the Nil Crystal, activating it. She sighed in relief and pleasure: having her injury healed felt so good.
"Well, I'll go get some ice cream while you patch yourself up." - Finn said and walked to the door, but then he slipped and fell flat on his back, making the others in the room cringe then look at him to see if he was alright - "Oh, man! The floor is all wet!" - he said as he saw all wet trail Aerrow had left.
"Sorry, Finn." - the Sky Knight apologized - "I'll clean it up." - he got out of the infirmary to get a mop, then got back and started drying the floor.
The blonde sharpshooter went to the kitchen and Junko and Radarr decided to go there too for some ice cream. The day was really hot, they needed to feel refreshed. Aerrow kept drying the floor, while Piper watched him. A soft smile graced her face, she was really glad her leader had looked out for her and searched for the crystals. She figured he didn't just "happen" to find them, that was way too convenient to be the truth. Besides, it was unlikely that Aerrow would enter a cave like that and face a giant golem by "accident". The fact that he always did something very thoughtful of her made her day much better.
"How are you feeling?" - the red-haired guy asked.
"Fully recovered. And the pain is gone!" - she smiled at him - "Thank you for bringing the Nil Crystal to me."
He beamed while looking at the floor. Then he stared at her.
"I'd do anything for you, Piper." - he said with the softest voice and his stare was the most tender one could imagine.
The girl blushed. She... Didn't expect that. Aerrow hadn't noticed the way he had acted until he saw her look at him surprised. He blinked in realization and quickly changed his attitude completely.
"Uh... I mean, ah... You're my best friend. I really care about you. Why wouldn't I do that?" - he explained nervously.
Amazing job on making a fool of yourself, Aerrow! You should consider going for a career in the circus, because you're such a clown!
"Oh, look, I still have to dry the corridor's floor." - he tried not to sound awkward, but he was failing really hard - "S-See you later!" - he stepped out of the room as fast as he could and desperately closed the door behind him.
Piper blinked with a confused expression. That was odd. But she could no longer contain her giggles. Oh, Aerrow could be so clumsy sometimes! It was quite funny!
Outside, the Sky Knight hit his head on the wall. What was wrong with him?! How could he just allow his body to do that? His mouth simply let all those words slip, his voice couldn't help itself but to sound completely out of character and his eyes were uncontrollable! What was going on?! Maybe he should run away from his feelings while he still could. But it was much harder than he thought. He couldn't just throw away his attachment to the person that meant the world to him. Sigh... He'd have to figure that out later, he had more important things to do.
"Guys..." - his voice came out of the Condor's loudspeakers - "Come to the bridge. We need to discuss our safety plans."
"What's our status?" - Aerrow asked.
"Our booster is still damaged and we'll need to replace a few parts." - Stork told him.
"The engine room is intact, though." - Junko added.
"Hm... What about camouflage? Is there any way we can hide?" - the leader asked.
"Our chroma crystals are over and our only cloaking crystal is dead, because someone wouldn't stop playing with it." - she glared at Finn.
"Hey! I wasn't playing with it!" - he tried to defend himself - "I've been using it to get rid of that disgusting mole on the back of my neck."
The girl just stared at him in disbelief. He didn't grow up yet!
"Hm... You do realize you could really get rid of the mole using some medicine just for it, don't you?" - Stork said, but he obviously knew Finn didn't have a clue about that.
The blonde boy smiled sheepishly. Why didn't he think of that?
"So... What's the plan?" - Junko changed the subject.
"Well... Since we have no idea about what else could be in this place, we'll have to stay awake at night to watch over the Condor. We'll take shifts, of course, but for now, we can't afford being caught off guard." - Aerrow told them.
Radarr jumped up drawing attention to himself, then saluted: he was volunteering to be the first one watching. They all nodded in agreement. Each one went to their own rooms and Aerrow went to the bathroom to take a shower and change his still wet clothes for some dry ones.
Some hours later, Radarr sat on the balcony's rail. He watched the stars sparkling in the dark sky. He thought they should definitely spend more time in that Terra. That place had so many wonders, it never ceased to amaze the little animal.
"The sky is certainly beautiful tonight." - Aerrow appeared and rested his arms beside his co-pilot.
The little creature chirped in agreement. He looked at his best friend with a worried expression. He had sensed something weird was going on with him. He really wanted to be able to speak, so he could ask what was wrong. He tried to communicate with Aerrow by whimpering sadly, but of course the red-haired guy didn't talk about that... It was obviously something personal, since he didn't share it even with his best buddy.
"I'm okay, Radarr." - he assured him - "You should sleep now. The turns can't last too many hours, or we'll end up trading the day for the night."
The animal lowered his ears and nodded. He was a bit upset that his Sky Knight didn't open up to him, but he comprehended. Still, that didn't mean it didn't hurt... Aerrow watched the poor little guy go and felt just as upset. He wished it was so easy for him to just speak up the truth...
The young leader stared back at the sky. What was he supposed to do? Should he tell her right away? What if she doesn't think of him the same way? How would that affect their friendship? If that ends up making her become distant, he'd not be able to bear with it. It'd hurt way too badly... What should he do?! Sigh... He was learning what it means to be lovesick for the very first time. What an awful sensation!
He rubbed his bare hand on his forehead, wiping the sweat from his skin. Ugh... That night was so hot... Even in his summer pajamas he was sweating a lot... He removed his shirt and threw it inside the bridge, right on top of his seat on the roundtable. Not even that managed to cool him down. The soft breeze was way too hot, it wasn't helping at all. If just the rain started pouring again... Just as he thought about it, his wish was granted: Terra Amazonia's famous torrential rain dropped from the sky.
Ah... Much better... He lifted his head with his eyes closed and enjoyed every single raindrop that touched his face. His exposed chest was thanking the cold water droplets that ran over it. His wild hair was tamed by the water, but that never bothered him. Such a simple moment like this was so perfect... He couldn't ask for anything else right now.
Still, even without asking, he received a little gift. He heard a noise: someone was there in the forest. He managed to briefly see something that identified who the person was: midnight blue hair...
"Piper?" - he muttered to himself.
He saw where she was going by looking at the vegetation moving in an odd manner. He jumped from the balcony down on the hangar, then leaped to the ground as quietly as he could. He followed her under the heavy rain. She shouldn't be out there, she just healed from a bad injury, she might still be a bit weakened, she could catch a cold or something.
"Piper, where are you going?" - whispered loud enough for her to hear, trying not to draw attention of any potential enemy that could be there.
But she either didn't manage to listen, or she simply ignored him. He couldn't tell. He kept going after her, until she disappeared. He was confused. Oh... That must be another one of his hallucinations. Or so he thought, until he heard a noise and saw her again.
She was standing, her face looking at the sky, her eyes closed. The rain made her usually spiky hair become tame and shiny. He had never seen her hair that way, it was really pretty. The clouds opened a little bit of room for the moon to shine and then he could properly see her.
He was taking in the most beautiful view he had ever seen. He paid close attention to every single detail in her body, as if he were recording it in his memories forever. The raindrops running all over her fine curves as she spun around slowly and gracefully, enjoying the rain as much as she could. Her feminine arms and delicate hands flying around her. Her enchanting legs and charming feet being kissed by the soft breeze. Her beautiful face shining under the moonlight. Her thin waist, her perfectly sculpted breasts and buttocks. Her bare vu... Wait, what?!
After quite some minutes staring at her it finally sank in: she was naked! She was right there, in front of him, taking a shower under the torrential rain and completely nude! He blinked three times: she didn't disappear. He knew he was blushing a lot now. What was happening?! Why couldn't he stop staring at her?! This was so... So wrong... What was he doing?!
The rain suddenly stopped, after all, this was just one more of those quick storms, typical from Terra Amazonia. Piper turned her face to him and looked at him straight in the eyes. She didn't seem surprised at all, neither she felt this was awkward.
"Oh, hi, Aerrow." - she said softly, not bothered by the fact that she was completely exposed in front of him - "Tonight is so hot..." - she played a bit with her soaking hair - "I was thinking about taking a bath in the river. Do you want to join me?"
Her voice and her gestures were so... Welcoming... No... No, no, no... That wasn't right.
"P-Piper... What are you doing?!" - he demanded.
That was wrong, really wrong! It was... Way too fast! She just looked at him with a blank expression, then she shrugged.
"Well, if you're not coming, you should put your clothes back on." - she said as she entered the river.
Huh? What did she mean? He was already dress- He looked down at himself and gasped: his clothes were gone! He quickly put his hands in front of himself, while blushing even more than before. Oh, man! What was going on?! His second self was simply enjoying everything, huh?! Stupid second brain! Now what was he going to do? He heard a noise in the forest. Darn it! What if someone else appeared out of nowhere?!
He ran to the river and dived in the water. It was so dark underwater, he couldn't see anything! He kept swimming, his eyes closed. He suddenly bumped into something. He blinked startled and surfaced to breathe. Then he found out he had bumped into Piper's belly.
"Glad you decided to join me." - she said with a mischievous tone.
She swam closer to him, one of her hands touching his bare chest, the other one playing with his hair. He became more and more nervous.
"Piper, please..." - he tried to stop her while he still had control of his actions.
"What's the matter, Sky Knight?" - she asked - "Afraid of a little bit of physical contact?"
At that, she hugged his neck and moved herself even closer to him. Her smooth belly was stroking his muscular abdomen, her soft breasts were brushing against his strong thorax. Even his second self was graced by the contact with the delicate skin of her mound of Venus. He couldn't move he was completely paralyzed, his hormones flowing through his veins like they never did before.
"Piper... Don't..." - he was trying his best to resist, but it was really hard.
She just giggled, shaking her head. Oh, she wasn't going to leave him alone... She placed both hands on his cheeks and pulled him into a kiss. She was seducing him, so he'd do what he had always wanted: to claim Piper for him alone. No... That was wrong... Piper is not a thing, she's not a possession!
The navigator's illusion vanished as a whisper told Aerrow to surrender himself. No! He couldn't let the temptation win. But it was all so inviting... No, don't do that. Why not? There really isn't anything bad that could come out of it, is there? Don't even dare to do that! Ah! Those feelings... They were messing with him. And that was driving him crazy!
He laid down, floating on the water. He had never known that love and lust were so linked like that. He had to deal with it right now! And just as he thought about that, a huge wave washed him away.
Aerrow's eyes shot wide open as he gasped. That all was just another hallucination. He looked around and noticed he was no longer in the balcony, then where was he? He scanned the few details from the dark room that could be seen thanks to the light coming from a thin gap that was left open in the door and quickly recognized where he was: Piper's room.
How did he get there?! He had no idea of what had happened in the real world during all this time he spent lost in his illusion! He heard the sound of a door opening in the end of the corridor. It was the navigator, she was coming out of a shower. Oh, no! What was he going to do?! He couldn't run out of the room, she'd see him! He searched for a place where he could hide. A wardrobe was all he could find that he'd fit inside.
He quickly entered it and closed the doors shut. Oh, man... He was violating her privacy... He felt awful... But was that really his fault? He heard the door of the bedroom open. The soft light revealed that Piper was wearing only a towel above her underwear. And she hadn't dried her hair. So far she looked almost exactly like the illusion he had of her.
Wait a second... He could clearly see now that her proportions were exactly the same! How could he picture her nude so accurately if he had never seen her naked before? Oh... No, no, no... That would have been way too wrong. It's not really as if his body walked to the bathroom door and watched as Piper bathed while he was hallucinating... The truth slapped him in the face very hard, shouting: you pervert! No! He was no pervert! He wasn't even aware of what was happening! He shook his head pushing those thoughts aside.
He noticed the light from outside the bedroom was gone. Only a little bit of moonlight was coming from the window. Piper was sound asleep. Now was his chance. He had to get out of there as fast and quietly as he could. Well, his plan didn't work. As soon as he stepped out of the wardrobe his body wouldn't let him walk out of the room. His legs started moving on their own. They made him turn around to watch the girl sleeping, then knelt beside the bed, so he could take a closer look at her face.
She was gorgeous... He sighed. It was so sad, she was so close, but at the same time, she was so far away. How could he possibly think she'd ever fancy him? He was just way out of her league... Not able to control his movements, he reached out one trembling arm and briefly stroke her face. That was a bad call...
At the very moment she was touched, Piper woke up startled. As she moved to sit, she almost screamed, hadn't Aerrow placed a hand over her mouth and whispered:
"Piper, it's me! Aerrow! Please, don't scream!"
She blinked as her vision adjusted and she managed to recognize him, then she sighed in relief. Man, he had scared her! Now she was curious about his unexpected visit in the middle of the night.
"What are you doing here? Is something wrong?" - she questioned him.
"Well..." - he started.
Oh, at last, he was going to tell her about his problems, he was going to open up! She immediately lit up a table lamp and invited him to sit on the bed beside her, so they could talk. He sat with his elbows resting on his knees.
"I've been having some weird feelings lately."
"Weird feelings? About what?" - she asked.
"It's... It's..." - he was trying to find a way to tell her, but his mind wouldn't let him find the best words for it.
His eyes would occasionally land on her exposed shoulder, because one of her bra's straps had slipped from it, and she hadn't noticed that. That was... Really... Tempting... Focus, Aerrow, focus...
"Tell me, Aerrow. What is it about?" - she was almost begging him to trust her.
"It's about... You." - he told her - "I-I don't know how to explain."
She was somewhat taken aback by that. Her leader had weird feelings about her. Did she do something to upset him? She was a bit worried.
"Is it something I did or said?" - she asked.
"Ah... I think so..." - he rubbed the back of his head.
It was much harder than he thought! She looked at him a bit nervous. She knew it! She had done something bad... Maybe it was the harsh way she had treated him lately. She regretted speaking that way to him. She should have been more reasonable, more comprehensive...
"I-If is there anything I can do to make up for that..." - she offered her apology.
And that just gave him the chance he had been waiting for. He quickly glanced at her whole body. That towel showing her voluptuous curves, that lascivious exposed shoulder, her sensual pose... She was so... Hot... He could no longer contain himself. If he couldn't find the words, he'd have to tell her another way.
He stared right into her eyes, his hair, wet from the rain, was falling in front of his eyes a bit, giving him an attractive look Piper couldn't ignore. She saw all the lust, all his desire for her. That was so overwhelming she froze. He took the opportunity to wrap his arms around her waist and pull her closer to him. She was blushing, her hands touched his bare chest as she was pulled. He didn't waste his time: he leaned in, trying to capture her lips in his, but she looked away, causing him to give her a peck on the cheek, instead. She didn't really think when she reacted, that was pure reflex. She was so scared, that all was so sudden!
He didn't give up, though. So, she was too shy? Well, he was going to make her step out of her protective bubble. He proceeded to kiss her neck as he brought her even closer to him. He loved her smell so much... She couldn't help but close her eyes. That was... Pleasing... He pinned her down on the bed gently and kissed her whole chest where her skin was exposed. He pulled her towel away and smooched all over her bare belly as well. He then faced her: she was blushing softly, but it was clear she was enjoying that.
He lowered his head and finally earned the osculation he longed for so much. That was the best sensation he had ever felt in his life. Their first kiss was very passionate and filled with lust, a long kiss in which their tongues danced with each other to the sound of heavenly music sang by the pure voices of the angels. Piper wrapped her arms around his neck, deepening the kiss even more as Aerrow bent his thorax backwards, so he'd sit on the bed, and brought her along, so he could stroke her smooth back. They were enjoying themselves, the moment couldn't have been more perfect... Or so they thought.
Out of an impulse, Aerrow tried to untie Piper's bra, and at that she snapped out of that lustful trance. No, that was too fast. Actually, they shouldn't be doing that at all, in the first place! She pulled away from him as she covered herself with her towel again, breaking the kiss and leaving him with a surprised and confused expression. What in the world...? Oh, no...
"Piper... I'm sorry... I-I..." - he tried to explain, but there wasn't really anything to say.
She just looked away from him. She was truly scared now.
"Aerrow..." - she said with a serious but still soft tone - "You better go..."
He blinked. His eyes showed he was really hurt by that. He just sadly nodded and left her room silently. No... Darn it! What had he done?! He had messed up really bad this time. He had ruined everything! He should write a book: a complete tutorial about how to turn a perfect moment into the doom of your love life in less than five seconds! Now there was nothing he could do... He felt so useless... He'd have to pray for her to forgive him... What had he done...