THE HALO BREED
It was a ferocious rain the like of which Gus Kukah had never witnessed ever since he came to the land of the Halos. He was now used to the weather vagaries of the Halos, and the food, and practically everything else, but occasionally, he simply missed Earth, his beloved Densua, and he wondered often what might be happening over there, and what would happen with the Golden Elemental Totem still fixed in his forehead.
But life was good.
He had grown to love his queen, Derbie, and had made friends with her sister and her husband, Ossom Annor. The people adored Gus Kukah as a king, and life could not have been better.
His two children were lovely. Gussy was thirteen years now, and Liz was eleven, and he loved them so much.
And yet, every year, on the birthday of his first son, a sadness assailed the king’s heart. Somehow, Derbie had convinced herself that their son was not coming back despite the constant assurance from the Spiritual Sage of Halo, George Simpson, that the first prince would return one day.
It had been a normal night when Gus had said goodnight to his son and daughter and retired to bed to lie beside his beloved Derbie. Earlier in the day, he had had a gruelling time at the courts settling raging disputes between factions and clan heads, and had cut the sod for the opening of the annual HaloGames which would begin a week in the future.
He had been tired when he retired to bed, but Derbie had been in the mood to have a tumble because ‘my flurries are agitating’ as she put it. Not one to disappoint his wife, he had soon been caught up in the mood, and they had had two sessions of lovemaking in one of their most passionate encounters.
Afterwards, wearied out, they had slipped into deep slumbers.
And then, just before dawn broke, Gus had been awakened by the rains… a terrible rain!
The winds were fierce and howling, shaking the buildings and making the loose windows clatter. The rain was like knives slashing through the sky, their biting tongues smashing on the ground and against the walls with venom.
“Spirits of Halo, what could this be?” Gus murmured as he lay in bed listening.
The din was horrible, and the intensity was insane, and finally he got out of bed and rearranged the sheets to cover his wife’s nudity. Just as he slipped into a gown and belted it, the interconnecting door between their room and Liz’s room flew open and the little girl came flying across the room with screams.
“Sapa! Sapa!” she screamed the Halowan version of ‘Daddy.”
Gus Kukah’s heart melted with pity as he dropped to his knees and caught his daughter in his strong arms, rubbing her back gently as she trembled in his arms.
“Oh, Sweetie, sorry, sorry!”
“I am terrified, Sapa!” she wailed.
“I know,” he said gently. “But it is just a rain, just a rain!”
Derbie suddenly gasped and sat up, and when she saw her husband and daughter together, she quickly stood up and slipped into a gown, belted it, and came towards them.
“Oh, that is a horrible storm!” she whispered with fear.
“Take Liz, my love,” Gus said gently. “Let me check on Gussy.”
“Yes, my love,” Derbie said quickly and led the girl to the bed.
As Gus moved to the other connecting door, he glanced outside and saw that the atmosphere was a horrible red, the sheets of rains bloodied as if the sky was bleeding. Sudden fear hammered through his heart for a brief moment because it was nothing he had ever seen before.
“Spirits of Halo, protect your people,” he said softly. “This is abysmal!”
He threw the connecting door open and came to a halt when he saw his son standing just beyond the door and trembling fiercely with terror. His cloth was wound tightly around him, and he saw traces of tears on his cheeks from the burning lights in his room.
He looked at his father helplessly and his lips trembled badly.
“I tried to be strong!” he wailed in a badly shaking voice. “I tried, Sapa!”
Gus nodded as he put his hands on the boy’s shoulders and looked a him with love.
“And I’m proud of you for your bravery, son, for even your father is afraid of what is happening!”
Gussy looked up at his father sharply.
“Y-yo-you we-were?” he asked trembling.
“I am terrified, son,” Gus said gently. “And that’s okay. Sometimes a man has to be afraid just to get strength to face that which terrifies him. Only a fool feels no fear in the face of the horrific! However, a real man does not give in to that fear and take flight, but finds the intellect and brawn to defeat that fear. So, I’m proud of you. Now, let’s all go and take care of the women, hm?”
The boy heaved a great sigh of relief and nodded bravely.
“Yes, Sapa,” he said.
Gus did not try to hold the boy, but simply turned and walked back the way he had come, and his son followed.
Derbie and Liz were in bed now, wrapped with great warm sheets.
“Join them, Gussy,” Gus Kukah said with a smile. “Take care of them.”
The boy nodded and hurried towards the bed, and then he stopped suddenly and sighed. It was evident he was under a lot of strain.
“Gussy,” Derbie called. “Come here, get into bed.”
The boy looked unseeingly at his mother for a while, and then he turned and faced his father.
“The Sage,” he said softly. “He told me everything.”
Gus raised his eyebrows as he looked at this son.
“Told you what exactly, my boy?” he asked gently.
“My brother, Senanu, the one the Spirits took away,” Gussy said.
“Oh, dearest me!” Derbie cried with horror as she gaped at her son.
Gus Kukah forced himself not to look at her as he continued to hold his son’s gaze, knowing that this was a very important moment. Earlier, when Gussy was born, Gus and Derbie had decided not to let their new children know about what had happened to Sena until a time they were old enough to handle any fallbacks and trauma that knowledge would bring them.
“We had good reasons for not telling you, my boy,” Gus said softly. “That is news worthy of a man. We did not want to give you undue hardship dealing with it.”
Gussy nodded, and a tear fell down his cheek.
“Yes, Sapa, thank you,” he said quickly. “But the Sage thought I knew, so when he told me yesterday that my big brother would be eighteen years today, I asked him to explain, otherwise I would ask you. And he told me!”
Gus looked out of the window suddenly as he felt a mighty kick to his heart!
He had indeed forgotten!
“Spirits of Halo!” he cried with great shock. “You’re right, my boy! Yes, he was taken exactly eighteen years ago! This day marks his day of birth! Boy, get into bed!”
Gus turned quickly towards the door, his heart beating with uncontrollable passion.
“Gussy, my love!” Derbie screamed behind him. “What are you doing? What is it?”
“Stay!” Gus screamed but did not turn around. “Protect our children!”
He threw the door open and shut it again behind him, and then he raced down the great hallways and descended quickly towards the wide balcony that overlooked the great courtyard of the Halo Palace.
The strong winds whipped the gown around him, and the terrible rains whipped him painfully like knives cutting him as he went on to the balcony. He gripped the railings as he looked through the sleet. He was w€t through with the red rain, and as he gazed into the courtyard, leaning forward to see through the sleet, he finally beheld the tall, figure standing in the centre of the courtyard.
“Sena!” Gus Kukah screamed, and tears of anguish fell down his face immediately, his great cry caught by the winds and whipped through the air. “Sena, my boy!”
And the king did not think, did not hesitate, did not waste time going around to the staircase! He jumped from the balcony without a second thought in his haste to get to the figure in the storm!
He would probably had broken his legs if he had landed like that because he had not even planned on the jump, and had lost focus on the fact that he was dropping four floors and would land on hard concrete!
But, incredibly, unbelievably, stunning even his father, the figure in the storm moved like lightning, flickering through the storm and in a flash getting to the spot his father was landing, and then he caught the warrior of Densua and spun around to gently set him down.
And, miraculously, the horrible storm stopped just then, and King Gus Kukah, formerly the Commander of the Densua Royal Warriors, looked at his eighteen years old son for the first time after his disappearance!