I am genuinely sorry for taking this long. But after reading your reviews, I am inspired to get a move on and put another chapter up. I haven't been completely useless all this time though; I've actually written another ten chapters for this story.
Hopefully I will update quicker since it's the summer holidays. Thank you so much for all those who reviewed, it made my day. Also if you haven't already, you might want to check out my other Aerrow/Piper story: What the latest scoop? Now without further ado, here is the next chapter.
"Because I said so,"
"But you already agreed I could go,"
"Well I changed my mind."
Piper glowered at Aerrow's firm expression. He uncrossed his arms and changed to a pleading tone, "Come on Pi, you know I hate to see you sad."
Piper huffed and looked away, unimpressed. She sat on her newly repaired heliscooter in the hangar bay and Aerrow stood in front of her, blocking the way. Her hand itched to rev the throttle and start flying. Junko, Stork and Finn waited off to the side, watching the battle between Aerrow and Piper with amusement.
Radarr sat on the back of Piper's heliscooter, tapping his foot impatiently. He chirped in a tone which meant, Shut up Aerrow, I want to go!
Aerrow had had second thoughts about letting Piper and Radarr going down to Terra Neverlandis. After seeing them get on her tiny heliscooter did he realize how petite and fragile she appeared. He scolded himself, imagining what Piper would say (or more likely snap) if he told her she looked fragile.
She was fantastic at Sky Fu and was very strong after training with Argyn (A.N. Episode: The Lesson) On top of all that, she had all her crystals. So she would be relatively safe and with Radarr's luck and helpfulness, she was bound to succeed. Nevertheless, an irrational part of him thought of Piper as the weakest member of the team, probably because she was the only girl.
Anxiety ate at his insides at the thought of her fighting against several Cyclonians alone. Nope, Piper was not going on this recon mission. Radarr whined loudly. Aerrow tried to find a compromise for his faithful co-pilot.
"You and I could go Radarr." He told him in what he hoped was an inviting manner.
Radarr shook his head and frowned at Aerrow. He didn't think it was fair that Piper wasn't allowed to go. He didn't understand why Aerrow wouldn't let Piper go when he would let anyone else. It was strange. Finn yawned, getting slightly bored with the argument.
"What's up with you Aerrow? Just let Piper go." He said lazily. He had an ulterior motive for sticking up for Piper – he could sneak into her room and steal a Chroma crystal to redecorate his room while she was gone.
"Yeah Aerrow," Junko chimed in, "What's wrong?"
Stork's eye twitched as he studied Aerrow. "Yep, he's definitely got mind worms. We should all be checked but we're doomed anyway." He said darkly, rushing away as fast as he could.
Aerrow glared at the rest of the members of his squadron. They hardly ever teamed up against him like this.
"I'm still the Sky Knight." He said commandingly. Finally his gaze rested on Piper and he let all his concern for her show in his face.
Piper read his expression and smiled reassuringly, "Trust me. You trusted me in the Stratosphere so trust me now." Aerrow desperately tried to come up with a retort; like how the Stratosphere was a completely different situation because she wasn't the one who was in danger. But he lost his train of thought as he stared into her sun-like eyes.
Piper gave a whoop of joy and Radarr squawked in relief. Finally that was over with. Aerrow stepped out of her way and watched as she revved the engine and Radarr snapped his goggles on. Piper flashed him a quick smile before she shot down the runway and into the sky. Aerrow turned to go back to the bridge so he could stay in contact with her.
Finn casually slung an arm around his neck and said, "So what was that all about?"
Nothing but the glowing, orange sunset sky flooded Piper's vision. She hovered in mid-air, her heliscooter thrumming softly. She closed her eyes at the light breeze which skimmed her face and ruffled her indigo hair. It had been a while since she had gone flying.
"Nice day isn't it Radarr?" She commented and Radarr chirped in agreement. Though she loved flying, she knew someone who loved it twice as much – Aerrow. She looked down at the small terra below. There was no activity down there as far as she could see and it looked abandoned.
'Piper, do you read me?' Aerrow's voice called over the radio.
"Yes, I read you." Piper replied.
'What's your status?'
"Both Radarr and I are fine. Terra Neverlandis looks uninhabited from where I am but I'm going down for a closer loo –"
Piper's finger slipped off the communicator button as a red blast shot up past her from the terra.
'Piper?'Aerrow shouted, panic-stricken.
Another blast came and she swerved her heliscooter out of the way just in time. Piper unclipped her staff from her belt and extended it to its full length. Piper glared down at the no longer uninhabited terra and attached a blazer crystal to the end of her staff. Cyclonians just never knew when to quit.
(A few minutes earlier)
Aerrow shook off Finn's arm and replied to his question, "I was just worried about her, that's all."
He waited for Finn's onslaught of accusations but he just said, "I'll ask you about it later. I have some…uh…business to attend to." Finn started walking away, trying not to look suspicious.
"Does that business happen to include stealing one of Piper's crystals?" Aerrow suggested casually. Finn froze mid-step and turned around slowly with a fake, innocent grin plastered to his face.
"Where did you get that idea from Aerrow? I would never do such a thing!" He said angelically.
Aerrow however, was undeceived, "Go and get ready in case Piper needs us. You've already annoyed her enough today."
"What? It was purely an accident dude! I thought I was putting Junko's toast in a bin." Finn exclaimed truthfully.
"Sure, and the wastelands will freeze over." Aerrow replied sarcastically. Finn frowned. Why didn't Aerrow believe him? – he was telling the truth!
"Have you ever heard of the story about the Boy who cried Sky Shark?" Stork cut in smoothly, hunched over the Condor's helm as Aerrow entered the bridge, "The boy kept lying that he was being attacked by a sky shark to get attention. One day a sky shark really attacked him but no one believed him when he cried for help. He was eaten by the sky shark. Just think of all the millions of infectious bacteria in that meal." He finished darkly, shuddering.
Finn stared at him, open-mouthed at his outburst.
"Just a bit of trivia for you," Stork added as a matter-of-factly. There was an awkward silence on the bridge.
"Um…I'll contact Piper." Aerrow said, breaking the unbearably long silence, "Finn, you and Junko get your skimmers ready. I have a nasty feeling that Talons are around here."
Finn noticed that Aerrow always seemed a bit on edge whenever Piper wasn't around. He nodded and walked out a little too obediently. Aerrow shrugged and picked up the radio.
"Piper, are you there?" He called.
'Yes, I'm here.' Aerrow felt a strange swooping sensation in his stomach and felt oddly relieved at the sound of her voice. He unconsciously smiled.
Get your mind out of the gutter, he scolded himself mentally.
"What's your status?"
'Both Radarr and I are fine. Terra Neverlandis looks uninhabited from where I am but I'm going down for a closer loo-'
There was heavy static and then the line went dead. Aerrow's heart beat quickened and the radio slipped out of his numb fingers, clattering onto the table. Piper was in trouble, he knew it.
He felt adrenaline kick in as he sprinted to the hangar bay. There was no need to call the others; he wasn't completely sure if Piper was in danger anyway. He hopped onto his skimmer at full speed and revved the engine.
He tried again. Click, click!
Aerrow hit the dashboard in frustration and climbed off. He opened the hood and slapped his forehead. He had forgotten to put the power crystals back into his skimmer when he had fixed it earlier. Aerrow ran back to his room for the crystals, praying he would get to Piper in time.
One down, four to go, Piper thought to herself as she struck one of the Talons on the terra with a blast from her staff. She watched him fall off and open up his parachute. She steered the heliscooter around the enormous tree at one end of the terra which towered over the make-shift fort which she had helped to make several years ago. A wave of nostalgia hit her as her eyes raked over her old, untouched home. Radarr chirped wistfully.
A crimson blast of energy whizzed past her ear. Piper would have to visit memory lane another time; she had to take care of these Talons first. She parked her vehicle next to the tree and she and Radarr quickly clambered off. The talons were waiting at the foot of the hill on which Piper and Radarr were standing on, glaring menacingly.
Piper sprinted towards the Talons and leapt over them gracefully, flipping several times before landing neatly behind them. She froze one with a flick of her staff and kicked another in the gut. She glanced over at Radarr who was throwing pinecones which were littered on the ground at a particularly burly talon. He grunted in pain and swung wildly at Radarr.
She switched her focus back on her battle. One scrawny talon was standing a little away with a confused expression and his staff held loosely at his side. Piper took no time in taking advantage of that. She sprinted full on to the gangly talon and planted her staff firmly into the ground with both hands. In the momentum, she swung herself around her staff and placed an almighty kick on the Talon's backside, sending him sailing through the air and over the edge of the terra. Piper smiled proudly and turned around to see Radarr push the big talon over the edge too.
She scanned the area and spotted the talon frozen from her icer crystal. Smirking, she and Radarr pushed him over the terra and Piper pulled out his parachute out for him. She watched him float down and had a sudden sick feeling in her stomach. Wasn't there one Talon that she and Radarr hadn't 'escorted' away from the terra?
She snapped around and saw a sneering face before a blinding, red hot blast.
She felt herself falling before everything blacked out.
Aerrow shoved the power crystal into his skimmer's crystal converter impatiently and clambered on. He gunned the engine and the skimmer shot off the runway into the sky. Normally Aerrow would be whooping in exhilaration at the speed but today Aerrow kept his head down and his mind focussed. He had a really strong gut feeling of foreboding about what was going to happen soon and he wanted to prevent it.
He zoomed towards Terra Neverlandis and noticed some activity down there. Talons. He knew it. He watched Piper expertly kick one in the gut and freeze another with her staff. Radarr was ditching pinecones at a large talon.
Aerrow started to relax. How could he have doubted his team mates? He loosened his grip on the throttle and then regained it doubly tight as he saw a talon sneaking up on an unsuspecting Piper.
"PIPER!" He yelled, flying down there as fast as he could, "WATCH OUT!"
He watched in horror as Piper turned around and was hit in the face with a fiery, red blast. She started to fall fast over the edge of the terra.
"PIPER!" He cried in terror.
He zoomed down past the terra and Radarr hopped into his sidecar with an anxious chirp. He hadn't seen his best buddy look this afraid or angry. They flew down below where Piper was falling, only having a few seconds to act. Aerrow jumped onto the wing of the skimmer with practised perfection and Radarr swiftly took over the controls.
A cloud of doubt hung over Aerrow as the thought that he wouldn't catch her. He looked up and with practised skill, caught Piper safely in his arms. He thought his heart would break when he saw her charred face with burns on her cheek and neck.
Getting hit with a firebolt crystal at close range was dangerous.
Instantly Aerrow was filled with fury at the evil Talon who had done this to her. How dare he hurt his Piper! Woah, did he just say his Piper. Talk about possessive. His anger melted away those side thoughts as he leapt into action.
"Radarr, take us back up to the terra. I have to get revenge." He said in a deadly, low voice.
Radarr nodded and glanced worriedly at him. Aerrow wasn't one to get revenge. He pulled the skimmer up and Aerrow stepped off. Setting Piper carefully on the ground, he spied the despicable Talon and his temper flared to boiling point.
He was mad.
"Stay away from her!" He snarled at the smirking Talon.
The Talon laughed, "Angry that I burned your girlfriend to a crisp?"
Aerrow's anger peaked and he summoned his energy. He unleashed his Lightning Claw move on the no longer grinning Talon. The force of it knocked him off the terra.
"And she's not my girlfriend!" Aerrow bellowed after him but a part of him wished to say the opposite.
His anger fizzled out and was replaced by dread. He ignored the homey terra he was on; he had only eyes for Piper. He picked her up gingerly, bridal style, and got onto his skimmer with the utmost care. Radarr flew them to the Condor silently.