Galaga: Rival's Story
Every time I go to bed, I fall asleep without thinking of what happened. But the same nightmare haunts me. The next thing I know is I woke up with tears on my pillow. It's all my fault. I always tell myself that I'll never see her again and there is nothing I can do about it. Somehow the pain in my heart gets stronger everyday and the only cure is to see her one more time. Her name is etched on both my heart and on my mind, Freya.
Both of us were fighter pilots when the first time we met. I still remember that day. The day we met. We were training to be the best. We exchanged smiles then started a little conversation.
"Hi." She greeted.
"Hi, you're new here?" I asked.
"What? Maybe I'm spending too much time training."
"Nah, It's my first time to fly."
"Really? How does it feel?"
"It's great!" I can tell that she was excited about her first flight.
"I never thought flying that fast and that high would be that exciting. I feel like I'm an angel." She added. I was becoming a little absent-minded because she looks like an angel.
"You seem to be quiet. Is there anything wrong?"
I thought of an alibi. I saw the emblem stitched on her uniform.
"What's that?" I asked, pointing to her emblem.
"Oh, this emblem. Do you know about the mission?"
"The space station mission, right?"
"When would that be?"
"In five days."
"Five days…" I became silent thinking that I might die on that day. However, I was able to get in touch with reality.
"So what's that got to do with it?"
"I'm a transport pilot."
"You mean you'll fly one of those shuttles?"
"And it's going to be your job to protect us."
"Believe me the pleasure is ours."
We are about to say goodbye to each other.
"Oh, I almost forgot. What's your name?"
"Freya. And yours?"
"Very well then. 'Bye Wil."
Since then, I don't let a day pass by without seeing her.
On the fourth day, we watched the sunset as planes fly to make a beautiful silhouette."
"Those guys are lucky." She said.
"Why do you say that?"
"The sun… It sinks below the clouds. They fly higher than the clouds."
"Tomorrow, we'll fly higher."
"Yes. We'll fly through clouds of stars."
Both of us smiled at each other. Behind our smiles is fear.
I should do something to comfort her.
"Do you remember the first time we met?"
"What about it?"
"We talked about the emblem on your uniform."
"Does it have something to do with tomorrow?" Her smile slowly fades away.
"Tomorrow, I'll be your guardian angel. I promise."
"Please I'm trying to forget about tomorrow."
"Yeah. I'm sorry."
We ended our conversation with warm good-byes.
That night I couldn't sleep thinking what might happen tomorrow.
Early morning the next day, As I was about to ride my aircraft, I looked around to see Freya. I saw her riding a shuttle along with soldiers carrying insecticides. Minutes later, we're all ready to take off. The flight begins. The space station is right above us. A few thousand kilometers above the atmosphere. I watched my altimeter as its digits spin wildly. The pale blue sky becomes deep blue as we fly above the clouds. Then the sky's color becomes the same as a sapphire. I thought we were underwater, but there was no fish. Before a minute passes by, the cockpit begins to shake, fire hugs my aircraft. I hear explosions as others die while passing through the ionosphere.
After the fiery torment, there's nothing but darkness, silence and thousands of stars. We can see the space station surrounded by a swarm of insects with size as big as our fighter planes. I can hear a distant shrill sound getting louder as each of these insects fly towards us. The fight begins.
Fighting these insects isn't easy. Some of them can fire corrosive acid strong enough to melt metal. Others fly towards us at great speed and explode. They're like suicide bombers. And bigger ones can jam radar and capture some fighters, causing us to shoot down some of our men. A dozen were lost during the first minute of the bloody combat. The number of casualties multiplies every minute.
I looked for Freya and called her over radio,
"Freya, Are you alright?" My aircraft flies close to her shuttle.
"Wil, what are you doing?"
"I'm here for my promise."
"I'll be your guardian angel for today." A spray of corrosive acid almost hit my plane.
"Don't worry about me. I'm fine."
After seeing each other in the midst of chaos, I feel much better. As her shuttle heads towards the space station, I kept the bugs away from it.
However, the odds are against us. We were running out of ammunition, and still we were outnumbered by these pests from distant galaxy. The chances of winning the fight quickly diminished into nothing, until another group of fighters came to the rescue. With the last bug dead, the shuttles have safely transported the troops into the space station. We were instructed to wait, and soon enough we landed into our new headquarters, the space station.
As soon as I got off my aircraft, I looked for Freya. I found her talking to a man who belongs to the second group.
"Hi Wil, I was waiting for you." Said Freya.
"That's thoughtful. So who is he?" I asked.
"He's Ryujin. Ryujin, he Wil, a dear friend of mine. My 'guardian angel'."
"So, you're Wil. Freya's telling me a lot about you." Ryujin reached out his right hand to shake. I felt so flattered to be Freya's hero. I never thought he would be the man who will stand in my way.
Days and weeks pass by, nothing out of the ordinary happens. Freya and I always see each other. Sometimes, while spending time together, I see Ryujin staring at us. He makes me feel so anxious. One way or another, I was able to keep my anxiety, but there are times I don't.
"Wil, is something wrong?"
I can't tell her what's going on. She might think I'm paranoid.
Eventually, things got worse. Another swarm of insects is attacking the space station. It's up to us to defend the headquarters.
I kept my eyes on Freya's aircraft. Ignoring this chaotic skirmish. I just want to be sure that she is safe. A red winged insect hit my left wing. Because of it, I lost control of my aircraft. It flies wildly in the middle of the fight. A purple cockroach is following Freya. I called her.
"Freya, there's a bug on your tail!"
I heard nothing but static noise for a reply. That cockroach must have captured her aircraft! With my left wing broken, there's nothing I can do. I felt so ashamed.
I heard Ryujin's voice on the radio.
"Freya, this is Ryujin. Hang on."
I was about to tell him to back off, but there's no use in doing so. I watched him fly towards the purple bug and fired a missile. With a direct hit he killed the cockroach, and saved Freya. They flew together like a pair of lovebirds, flying graciously across the stars together.
"You're in safe hands now, Freya." I can still hear his voice on the radio, then he added,
"Just put your faith in me."
Watching him show off boils my blood. It's all because of my broken wing.
I was the last to land into the headquarters. I saw everyone cheering for Ryujin. He's the hero for the day. I was so angry, so envious, and so jealous. I walked away with shame.
Since then things are different.
It was Ryujin who was always with Freya. And me? I took his place. Alone and always keeping an eye on them.
I miss her so much. I should do something about it. I decided to go to her room. I walked past empty corridors. I saw Ryujin waiting at Freya's doorstep.
"What are you doing here?" I asked, trying to hide my hatred towards him.
"I'm here to see Freya. And you?"
My eyes frown. The pain becomes unbearable.
"Nothing… Just passing by." And I walked away.
I tried to accept the painful fact. I tried to ignore them. I stayed away from them for a long time.
One day, inside the flight hangar, I was watching my aircraft with its left wing already fixed. It's because of the broken wing that I lost Freya. I wish I could talk to her again. My wish came true, only to make matters worse.
"Hi Wil." My temper cooled down instantly.
"Hello Freya. Nice to see you."
"Why are you lonely?"
I wish I could tell her.
"I'm not lonely. I just need some time alone."
"There's one thing I would like to ask. It's about Ryujin."
My temper blew off.
"Damn it! Why does it always have to be about him? Don't you know how hard it is to see him with you?"
"Wil… I thought you're a friend."
"Just a friend… Is that the way you see me?"
She slowly replied,
And I did what I'm good at since that man came, walking away.
The next day I saw them talking to each other. Suddenly, Ryujin looks at me with a blank expression. His eyes do not frown, just a blank expression. It's hard to tell what he's thinking. It scares me.
It's time to confront that man.
I followed them as they go on with their chat and walk thing, waiting for Ryujin to be alone. As they reach her doorstep, they say goodbye to each other. Freya goes inside her room and shuts the door behind her. Leaving Ryujin alone. I took my opportunity. He didn't see me coming. I grabbed him by his shirt and hit his back against the wall, very hard.
"You son of a bitch! You took her away from me!"
"Listen Wil, -"
"No! You listen! You think you're better than me?"
His face doesn't show fear, but it doesn't show that he is going to fight back either.
"That little stunt you pulled off is nothing but having too much luck."
He remained silent.
Still silent. No reply.
"Too proud to talk, eh? It alright with me. You just have to prove you're better than I am. The next time those bugs come let's count the bugs we kill. If I kill more bugs than you do, you better stay away from Freya."
Finally he spoke,
"And if I win?"
He irritates me a lot.
"Don't bet on it. You've just ran out of luck."
Both of us waited for the enemy to come. It took us half a year to wait. During those six months we wasted most of the time inside the flight simulation room, where we train to become the better than the other does. None of us spoke to Freya. She was unaware of the conflict between me and Ryujin, until it became the topic among gossipmongers, which was two days before the bugs came for their retaliation.
Finally the time for the showdown came. All fighter planes took off for the bloodiest fight. I flew straight to the swarm of insects at full speed without having a thought that what I'm doing is reckless. Ryujin is right on my tail. That does it. I'm going to show him who's the better man.
It was hatred that motivated me to fight. It was hatred that made me fight beyond my limits. And it was hatred that made killing enjoyable, so enjoyable that Ryujin gave his life to save me by bumping his aircraft into mine, only to catch a spray of acid that was about to hit me while I was paying my attention on shooting down one of those bugs. Another aircraft flew straight to the enemy after Ryujin's plane exploded. It was Freya's.
"Stay away from me! You killed him!" Freya replied over the radio.
I won't forget my promise. I'm still her guardian angel. I followed her wherever she goes, making sure no one would harm her. She maneuvers her aircraft so fast that I couldn't follow her. The next thing I know is that a dozen of insects are on her tail. I did what I can to save Freya. I shot every one of them. I fired a missile to kill the last insect, but this gigantic critter avoided it. The missile hit Freya. I gasped in horror at what I saw. I have broken my promise, and the worst thing is that it was my missile that killed her.
Ryujin and Freya died because of me. My guilt overwhelms me. My eyes shed tears of anger, sorrow, and remorse. The guilt that burdens me fueled my rage. The fight goes on. That retaliation inflicted heavy casualty on our side. Only a few survived.
I received a medal for fighting vigorously on that day. To me, it is an insulting remembrance for killing Freya and Ryujin.
That day before I lay myself to sleep, a glimpse of the past came into my mind. It was the day before the enemy returned for their second retaliation. Ryujin came to me.
"Wil, we have to talk. It's about the deal we made."
"And what about it?" I don't feel like talking to him.
"You can forget about that deal. I'll stay away from you and Freya from now on."
"What's the matter, you scared?"
"I'm not scared, I just don't want you nor Freya to get hurt."
"A deal is a deal. You should know that, coward."
Now I regret everything. I should have listened to him in the first place. But it is too late. What I did is unforgivable. There is nothing I can do but blame myself for it.