This is a companion piece and sort of prequel to I Knew I Had To Try Again Sir. This idea came to me after just viewing the Hallmark miniseries on DVD again.
David Scott felt very down as he walked out of the small room that had been his home – his station – while he'd been undergoing training to be a skybax rider here in Canyon City, training that he hadn't been sure he really wanted in the first place. Training that had now been shown to have been a complete waste of his time the skybax had rejected him. And David was surprised to find how much that actually hurt him and he knew why it did hurt so much. It hurt because he had started to believe that Rosemary, Marion and Oonu were right after all, started to believe the he could ride a skybax.
Exiting the small room he found himself face to face with Marion and his brother Karl. Neither of them looked to be disappointed that he had failed to qualify as a skybax rider – at least they didn't look disappointed in him personally. There was compassion in both of their eyes and in Karl's eyes David could see an emotion that he couldn't really identify. It seemed to be a mixture of pride and compassion a strange combination especially in Karl who David knew to always be more interested in himself than anyone else.
David wasn't in the mood to hear any words of sympathy or understanding from either of them though he knew that Marion especially meant well. But he just didn't want to hear it, he'd failed and he didn't want them to unknowingly rub it in. So he turned to walk away without speaking.
"David wait," Karl said abruptly. David stopped, unsure why but he stopped and looked straight at his brother. "Look I'm proud of you," Karl said. Proud of me, David thought incredulous, why are you proud of me Karl? The skybax rejected me, I failed. Rosemary was wrong I am not of the sky. So why are you proud of me?
"Leave me alone okay just leave me alone," he replied hoping that Karl wouldn't speak again. No such luck.
"You tried you didn't quit," Karl tried to reason with his brother. "I wish dad could have seen you."
"He didn't need to see me fail again," David snapped.
"You didn't fail," Karl replied. Being in no mood for this conversation or to hear pep talks from Karl of all people David turned and began walking away again. "David wait…. David."
"Karl leave him," Marion said softly stopping Karl from following David knowing that it would only lead to an argument and possibly a fight. Though David had failed to fly – something that had shocked her mainly because she like her mother had been so sure that he would – she didn't consider that he'd failed at his training. He'd conquered his fear of heights that was one thing, and had started to become more confident in himself which was a good thing as far as she was concerned. But David wasn't in the mood to listen to anything they had to say at this moment in time.
Karl reluctantly did as Marion suggested and didn't move to follow David. Though David wasn't showing it Karl could tell in that way that siblings had that David had been hurt and upset about the outcome of the graduation ceremony. And that was a situation he just couldn't tolerate – but he had to acknowledge that Marion was right. Now was not really time to speak about the graduation ceremony – the nerve it struck in David was just too raw at this time. He just hoped that he would be able to get through to David that his time here hadn't been wasted and that he hadn't really failed before all the positive effects of his time here – the boosting of his self-confidence were lost.
Karl sighed then and went inside the room that David had just left to check on how Twenty-Six was doing.
David walked away from Karl and Marion not really caring where he was going at the moment just that he needed to walk off some of his anger and resentment at having come so far only to fail at the end.
After a moment he found himself near the entrance to the skybax simulator room and he paused. Not really knowing why he went inside and allowed his duffle bag to drop to the floor of the upper level. His feet carrying him forward he walked down the steps to the main level and walked up onto the first of the two layers of mats around the simulator machine and then just stood their looking at it.
Damn it, he thought looking at the machine, I did everything that Oonu asked me to do. Even climbed up to that nest when he knew that I was afraid of heights. Why did they reject me? I should have flown I should have earned that right at least.
The kilowatt pulse of anger triggered by his thoughts surged through him and brought with it a brief blast from the temper that he normally kept under tight control and he kicked the mat around the base of the machine hard. The sound of the impact echoed through the stone chamber.
Why? Why did I fail, he asked himself even as he clamped down on his temper and felt a surge of shame for the angry outburst. Fortunately no damage had been done.
Because you wanted to fail, a part of him answered. You were convinced deep down that you would fail, so you made yourself fail. David had to acknowledge that that part of him was right, he had listened constantly to that little part of himself that said that he would fail at this, that he could never ride a skybax. He'd let himself believe it. Abruptly he remembered what Oonu had said during their first lesson.
"You cannot ride a skybax if you have fear in your heart. They will sense that fear and will not approach," he heard Oonu's voice say in his head and suddenly he had it. He knew exactly why he head failed. The skybax had sensed the negativity in his heart and it was that negativity that had led them to reject him.
Then I can do it, David thought suddenly understanding, I can ride a skybax.
No you can't, the negative part of him replied.
Yes I bloody well can, he snapped back, I've listened to you long enough and because of that I failed at the graduation ceremony. No more. I'll prove to you that I can ride a skybax.
Oh yeah and how are you going to do that, the sceptic part of him asked.
Easy, he snapped back walking over to the rack on the other side of the room where saddles were stored ready for the next group of prospective skybax riders. Picking one up he walked determinedly out of the room towards the launch platform determined with every fibre of his being to prove to himself that he could ride a skybax and damn the consequences.
Romana Denison watched it all from the shadows of the room. She'd been surprised and saddened when she'd learned that a skybax had refused to come to David. She'd sensed great potential in David from the moment he'd first come here to Canyon City with Marion. She'd known then and there that David had the potential to be a great skybax rider. But that that potential was buried deep inside him along with the rest of whom he really was. Locked away behind a thick shell of shyness and self-doubt. During training she'd begun to see that shell slowly but surely start to break allowing the real David Scott to show possibly for the first time in his life. What must life be like in the outer world that people couldn't be who they really were? Like all Dinotopians she'd always known who she was and what she was destined to be. But David hadn't and she knew from a conversation she'd had with Marion that Karl seemed to be just the same – not knowing who he really was, or what he really wanted out of life.
When the loud bang of a blunt force impact echoed throughout the room she jumped and saw that David had physically kicked the mat around the base of the skybax simulator. Now he just stood motionless and for the briefest moment Romana thought that he was going to cry.
Then abruptly his posture shifted completely. A look of realisation briefly passed across his face before a determined glint came into his greyish blue eyes and the set of his jaw and shoulders changed. David abruptly walked with determined strides towards the rack of saddles and picked one up and suddenly Romana knew what he planned. He's going to call again, she realised in shock. Technically she knew that she should stop him yet her heart told her to let him try. So she did nothing and instead followed him and abruptly noticed that all of their classmates had come into the room as well.
They'd all been accepted by the skybax and they'd all flown but their own joy at succeeding was tempered and blunted by compassion for David. None of them could understand why the skybax had rejected David – by all rights he should have flown. David had worked as hard as all of them during training – even harder in that he'd had to overcome a deeply engrained fear of heights – he should have had the reward of riding a skybax, he'd earned it just as much as they had. To come so far – to conquer his fears and overcome his weaknesses only to fail at the end did not seem fair to any of them.
Now as they watched David they all like Romana saw what he intended to do. And like Romana decided as one not to do anything to stop him. Instead they all – with Romana leading them – followed quietly behind David so as not to break his focus. And to a person they all hoped that David would succeed this time.
For they didn't know what the consequences would be if David failed again.
David was completely oblivious to the fact that he was being followed by anyone. He was barely aware of the world at all he was so focused on his goal of proving to himself that he could ride a skybax. For now the rest of the world didn't exist beyond him, the saddle he was carrying, the launch platform and the skybax circling high overhead riding the thermals and air currents generated by the canyons.
He ascended the steps up to the launch platform and stood stock-still. After taking a deep breath he raised his right arm to the calling position and called to the skybax without needing words. Come to me, he called.
For a few moments that to him felt like an eternity nothing happened.
See you cannot do… his inner sceptic started to say but was cut off when David heard a screech and saw that this time his call had been answered. Shock filled him when he saw that it wasn't a skybax that was responding to his call. No it was a pteranodon. A pteranodon that he recognised.
It was Freefall –the albino pteranodon that had followed him and Marion to that skybax nest a few days before. The pteranodon who had abruptly dropped in on them in the middle of the night and had communed with him.
Then a smile graced his face and he took a couple of steps back to the lowermost level of the launch platform as Freefall landed on the platform and spun around presenting his back to David in a clear invitation to climb on.
Instantly David exploded into motion placing the saddle on Freefall and securing it as Oonu had drilled into him before climbing on ignoring the butterflies of nervousness fluttering about in his stomach.
(Ready,) Freefall squawked. David didn't even have to answer. Freefall just knew that he was ready and with a powerful thrust launched them off the platform into open space.
Romana stopped dead in her tracks and stared in complete surprise and disbelief as a pteranodon answered David's call and an albino pteranodon – something that was incredibly rare – at that. No one in the whole history of the skybax corps had ever ridden a pteranodon – not her father, not even Gideon Altair himself. The pteranodon landed on the launch platform and turned to allow David to put the saddle on him.
David himself seemed to be surprised by the pteranodon responding to his call for he hesitated for a moment before exploding into motion, placing the saddle on the pteranodon before climbing on.
"Come on," she said to the rest of their class and they moved forward as the pteranodon squawked then a second later launched himself and David off the platform into open space and immediately dropping out of sight.
Romana ascended the platform and dropped to her knees on top and looked down looking for any sign of David. Around her the rest of their class were doing the same. They all searched the canyon below for any sign of David – it wasn't easy as they were now very close to sunset and the slowly sinking sun was casting long deep shadows over everything.
"David," she called hoping he would hear her over the sound of the wind rushing through the canyons. She saw movement below and then the pteranodon with David secure on his back shot up passed her just a few inches from her face. She looked up and watched in a mixture of surprise and happiness as David and his highly unusual steed shot through the air performing banks and rolls with an ease that looked effortless.
Trying to gage the reactions of her classmates Romana looked around to see that they all had identical expressions of surprise and happiness on their faces as they watched David and the pteranodon fly together. Off to the side she spied Marion and a dark haired man who she assumed to be David's brother Karl also watching. Marion's expression was the same as Romana's and her classmates. Karl's expression was slightly different in addition to surprise and happiness Romana also saw pride there. And he has every right to be proud of his brother, she thought turning back to watch David fly. I knew he could do it, she thought, I knew it.
Sitting in his office Captain Oonu abruptly became aware of a commotion outside. Frowning he stood up and went outside to see what was going on. What he saw made him stop dead in his tracks and made his jaw drop open in complete astonishment.
An albino pteranodon shot passed a few feet from the edge of the cliff. A pteranodon with a rider on his back. A pteranodon allowing someone to ride him incredible, Oonu thought in amazement, many riders have tried to establish a bond with a pteranodon but none have managed it. But this one has. And then the rider's identity registered with him.
The rider was David Scott.
Complete and utter amazement ripped through him as he watched David and the pteranodon fly. He is a flyer after all, he thought, and a damned good one by the looks. But how did he get on the back of a pteranodon? He must have called again. Though that was not allowed Oonu couldn't find it in himself to be angry with David. Instead he felt almost fatherly pride as he watched him fly.
Finally he saw the pteranodon arc around to come back to the launch platform and he coaxed his legs into moving towards the large outcrop on the end of which was located the platform. He was going to have to have a talk with David about this and what happened next. Oonu personally would readmit David to the corps in a minute based upon this display, but unfortunately the decision wasn't his to make. Only two bodies had the authority to do that, one was the Canyon City Council the other was the Dinotopian Senate in Waterfall City. If David wanted to return to the corps then Oonu would do everything in his power to make sure that he did.
David almost felt like whopping for joy as he and Freefall flew through the air going around towers of rock, shooting under bridges of rock and passing within inches of the sentinel barrier that divided the canyons up between the skybax and the pteranodons. He had never felt like this before. He couldn't describe what he felt at the moment as he and Freefall flew but he liked it. Deep within him he felt something click into place – and he just knew that this was what he had been born to do. This was where he belonged. Rosemary had been right after all he did belong in the sky.
(Do you like flying with me David?) Freefall abruptly squawked at him even as he banked around another rock column.
"Indeed I do," David replied with a smile that Freefall could here if not see. "Do you like me flying with you?"
(Yes. It makes me feel complete.)
"That I can understand." And understand David did. Flying with Freefall made him feel complete as well. "We better head back it will be dark soon." David knew from experience that when the sun went down it got dark incredibly quickly here in the canyons around Canyon City.
(Very well,) Freefall replied arcing around gracefully and heading back for the launch platform.
As they got closer David noticed what had to be his entire class – with Romana Denison in the lead standing on the outcrop of rock on which the platform sat. Romana hurriedly vacated the platform to allow Freefall to land.
Freefall expertly touched down and turned around to allow David to climb off. David reluctantly did so and removed the saddle.
(No matter what happens now I'll always be your friend David. Whenever you need me I will be there,) Freefall squawked at him.
"And I will be your friend Freefall," David replied. Had his beak allowed him to make such expressions Freefall would have smiled before he launched himself off the platform again and climbed into the sky which was now coloured a million hues of pink and gold by the setting sun.
David climbed down off the platform and immediately ran into a barrage of backslaps from his classmates, every one single one saying 'well done' without needing to say the words. David abruptly felt a surge of camaraderie – he knew now that he belonged here with these people, people who were like him, people who were of the sky.
Then he was through his ecstatic classmates and came face to face with Marion and Karl. Karl immediately enveloped him in a hug. Although caught by surprise David returned it.
"I knew you could do it," Karl said in his ear. "I wish dad could have seen you. He would have been so proud. I sure am." Karl released him then and allowed Marion to give him a hug herself.
"I told you that you would fly," Marion said to him.
"That you did. You were right," David replied with a smile as Marion pulled back.
Then Oonu joined them.
"Most impressive David," Oonu said smiling a bit like a proud father before his expression once again turned serious. "Come with me please we have some things to discuss." With that Oonu spun around and started walking towards his office. Taking a deep breath David followed. He didn't have to be a genius to figure out what Oonu wanted to speak to him about he just hoped that Oonu wouldn't be too mad with him for what he'd done.
After a second Marion and Karl followed.
Still standing near to the launch platform Romana watched them leave. She hoped that David was going to be allowed to stay in the skybax corps after all – that little display of his and Freefall's had convinced her that David would be a valuable asset for the corps.
"I wonder what's going to happen now," Elrin – one of the other cadets asked. "Are they going to let David stay with us? They should after that little display."
"I don't know," another cadet named Alex answered. He looked at Romana. "You're the historian here Romana what do you thinks going to happen with David now?" Romana shrugged.
"I honestly don't know," she confessed. "This situation is unprecedented in more ways than one. Your guess is as good as mine. Though I hope they let David stay with us." Everyone nodded in agreement before walking back towards one of the common rooms where they could wait and wonder what was going to happen next.