“ Hurry up Graham, Dawn is on her way!” Graham’s mother called out from the living room.
That made Graham drop his comb, a simple garishly orange comb made out of some plastic polymer; it was cheap but it did it's job, Graham was not one to bother with brand names and such; if it worked, it was good enough for him.
Graham bent to pick it up, looking out the window instead of his dresser which was next to it. He smiled to himself as he looked out the window while he tamed his unruly head of hair. The placing of his window allowed him to easily see Dawn when she came over. She’d approach over the horizon before going down the wide streets that led to the many single to two storey houses in his neighbourhood.
He liked her, as a friend and occasional guardian against bullies, her ability to end any potential scuffle by wrapping her fingers around his assailant was invaluable.
The mere thought of that laid a sheepish smile upon him; a girl may have been fighting his battles but when that girl happened to be the biggest being on Home, you let her fight if she wanted to.
“ I’m almost done, mother!” Graham called back to her. She responded to acknowledge his reply, leaving him alone again as he finished with the taming of his hair.
Once that was completed, he went downstairs. Dawn could and often did pick him up from his room, Graham would just have to exit the house via his room. Saved a little time but Graham mother’s had protested him risking a possible broken leg or two just to reduce his daily commute by a minute or two. Thus it was decided he would only get on to Dawn’s hand only if he were on the ground floor.
As Graham reached the ground floor, his phone rang. He pulled out the dark rectangular touchscreen phone, it didn’t have any buttons like Earth phones; everything one needed to press was on the screen itself.
“ Hello Dawn,” Graham said into the phone as he walked into the small kitchen. He spotted his mother washing dishes ,the sounds of the Holon indicating his father was veged out infront of it.It was a device similar to the television except this was built directly into the wall of the home.
“Are you close?” Graham replied, catching the eye of his mother. She smiled sweetly at him, Graham reciprocating in return.
“ You can wait for me in the yard, just a kiosi or two,” Dawn answered. A kiosi was about 1.2 kilometres on Earth.
Graham knew that wasn’t exactly far for Dawn. With her legs a kiosi was at most a minute, maybe less if she chose a brisk walk.
“ Okay then, I’ll see you soon!” Graham said his goodbye to her and hung up.
“Bye Mum! Bye Dad!” Graham waved goodbye to both of his parents, his father grunting in response but his mother did actually put her goodbye into proper words. He exited the house and stood in the yard, waiting for Dawn.
Within a minute, Graham felt the light tremors that heralded the arrival of his giant friend. By the next minute her head appeared over the horizon. The rest of her body followed, her platinum white hair braided today. As always, Dawn covered her slim arms in a long sleeved loose shirt that billowed in the gentle breeze.
As she walked down the street in her covered sneakers, people glanced at her but no more, her presence lacked the novelty of her earlier visits when people would stare at her as she headed over to Graham’s house. Now it was as commonplace as a mailman making deliveries.
“ Good morning Graham,” Dawn greeted him. She blushed slightly, he did too for both still felt a little strange around each other. Dawn lowered her hand into the yard, allowing for Graham to climb on before she raised herself into a standing position. After letting him settle on to her shoulder, she carefully moved off to school.
“ Morning, Dawn,” Graham returned the greeting.
“ Not a good morning?”
Graham shrugged his shoulders with a nonchalant air of uncertainty.
“We’ll see, there’s still plenty of it left.”
Dawn chuckled at his reply, “ I guess there is. I just hope it goes by quickly, I don’t like these career talks much.”
“ You shouldn’t though, we’re close to finishing school and then it's either work for us or university. Where do you want to go?”
“ I’m not too sure. Where can I go? I’m too big to fit into a university. High school’s already a nightmare, I don’t want to add another three years of feel like garbage to my life,” Dawn sighed. It was a question that felt more imposing with each passing day, where her future lay. Three years was supposed to be inconsequential when her lifespan measured centuries, possibly millennia if Jessica was right.
“ Hey maybe today’s talk will inspire you, I hear it's Park Incorporated,” Graham spoke up perkily in an attempt to cheer up Dawn.
Dawn looked pensively at him, Park Incorporated was where her mother worked as a field agents. Field agents were those with generally useful superpowers, each agent getting an injection of the Jones serum to imbue them with a random power.
Dawn didn’t need such powers, her homean-human biology making her the first ever child of an agent to inherit the latter’s abilities. Even though it seemed like Park fit her like a glove, she always felt uncomfortable following her mother’s path.
“ I really don’t want to work there,” Dawn sighed. Her fresh breath washed over Graham, ruffling his previously neat hair. He shot Dawn a mildly annoyed look.
“ You’ll be a good fit, you already have powers and I bet your mom could get you in. She’s a living legend.”
“ I don’t want to always be compared to her. Besides, Mom kicks ass. I just suck ass,” Dawn conceded. She raised her right, flexing her bicep. There wasn’t much, just a feeble bulge; it was a feet to Graham but on Dawn’s scale, close to an insect bite.
“ If that were Mom, her arm would be triple the size. If I join Park, they will compare me to her even more and I’m already being weighed up against her whenever we go out together. It's not her fault, I can’t hate her for being so good but I’ve never come close to matching her.”
“ You will, some day. Just don’t beat yourself over it, you’re pretty good in my opinion,” Graham clasped his fingers together, awaiting her response.
Her body did it for him, her cheeks turning rouge as she answered, “Thanks, I just hope other people will see me the same way too.”
She let out a sigh of resignation, “ Maybe. Lets just hope nothing happens today. It would be awful if I screwed up and someone at Park told my Mum.”
High above Home, behind its sole large moon was a Dolorian spacecraft. The ship had arrived about a month before, monitoring Home’s activities but more importantly, housing the mech Idi would pilot against Jessica.
The crew consisted of a small section of soldiers and technicians, all Dolorian. Most of the space was reserved for the mech and the tools necessary to keep it in top shape.
Idi was in the mess hall, a small room where soldiers could dine on rations during meal hours. He was alone, a state he was used to and hardly bothered by at this point. Every now and then other people would enter the mess hall, be served their meal. They ate it there but none of them ever sat with him, avoiding Idi as if he had a foul odour about him. Except for one person who had matters to discuss with him.
“ Good morning Private Idi.”
Idi looked up from his bowl of Slorg guts soup, Slorg being a small mammalian creature about the size of a chicken native to Doloria, the main difference was it had large tusk like canines in it's mouth. It's meat was a staple amongst the Dolorians and used extensively by the Dolorian military for meals and rations.
“ Morning Sergeant Conga,” Idi stood up and greeted the female Dolorian in his baritone voice. She clicked her teeth in approval before sitting in front of him at the mess table. He noticed a scar above her right eye,the scales never making a full recovery. She mentioned it as being part of a skirmish with Dolorian militiamen, one of them lashing at her eye with his claws. It had bled but she fought on and only stopped to receive medical attention when the battle was over.
She wore it proudly, scars were viewed in the same as medals were on Home, you wore it proudly and displayed it to the world.
“ Today’s the day, are you nervous?” She asked him.
Idi shook his head.
“Hardly,” he tapped his fingers on the table as he smiled at her, his thin reptilian mouth curling up.
“ I could not be more afraid of the giant than she is of me. After today, she will know what it means to be mortal,” he replied confidently.
That brought an assuring smile from Conga who chuckled deeply.
“ I am glad to hear such confident talk from you, you will do your family proud.”
“Or never return, I am familiar with the Dolorian code,” Idi answered, a bit of bile in his reply.
It was the same code that killed his father, the very same code he was bound to honour. He wanted no part of it but as one person, he didn’t have any place to go. Joining the militia groups was out of the question, they were a very closed group with no room for outsiders. He would either be a slave or dead depending on which group he had the misfortune to encounter.
“ Good. Once you’re finished, report to the mech room. There’s no need to hurry, the target will not expect you if you show up five minutes later than usual.”
Idi nodded. His heart beat faster as the image of Jessica seeped into his mind. The footage of the attack was played every year, every Dolorian could remember what he or she was doing at the time; the moment the base came down, killing hundreds and wounding thousands. They needed a month just to go through the rubble, only persisting for so long thanks to the Dolorian’s ability to slow its metabolism in times of famine or in this case, trapped under tonnes of rubble.
It was played nearly every year by the current regime to drum up sympathy. Idi never cared much for it, the same play for sympathy merely added to misery faced by his own family. They never bothered about them, turning them into social pariahs with no way out except for death; an escape not even offered to them.
He soon finished his meal and left the canteen, he had no wish to remain in such a place for any longer than necessary. The gossiping and ostracism were enough to force him to leave. He never spoke to any of his ‘teammates’ more than he had to. Conversations were focused on the mission and once daily objectives were met, he left before the topic shifted to a lighter tone. He never cared much for small talk, not when he knew what they thought of him.
Idi changed into his combat fatigues, sandy brown and pixelated to maximise camouflage on the desert dominated Doloria. He arrived at the mech room five minutes before he was due and waited patiently for Conga to show up. He kept to himself and when Conga finally showed up, he addressed her in a very formal manner.
“ I won’t tell you what you need to do, just know that there are plenty of people in high places counting on you. Anything you wish to ask? A message I could relay to your family?”
Idi shook his head, he didn’t know anyone who’d care if he failed on the outside. If they did, they must have kept their feelings to themselves because no one ever expressed any sort of warmth to him.
“ Very well, this way.”
She led him to a series of stairs that climbed up to a seemingly sky high ceiling. Neither of them said a word, the only sounds were the clanking of heavy combat boots on metal. When they reached the top, Idi stopped and looked over the edge of the railing. He whistled, impressed by the height at which they had climbed. It was impressive and as he looked straight ahead, wondered if this was what Jessica saw everyday.People by her feet, a god among mortals, he thought to himself.In his time spent researching Jessica’s time on Home, he never once saw her outmatched.
“ Don’t get distracted Idi,” Conga reminded him. He snapped out of what appeared to be a daze, he shook his head to get back into the rhythm.
She led him onto a gang plank where the head of the mecha had been opened up, revealing a pilot’s seat and numerous buttons, screens and panels. All of which Idi had to utilize during the fight.
“ You won’t last a second if you do that during the fight,” she chastised him.
“ Sorry Ma’am, won’t happen again.”
No it wouldn’t, he thought to himself.
“Step inside,” Conga instructed him. Idi went in and sat in the pilot’s seat.
“ Get yourself sealed up and after that, sit tight.” She paused to take one final look at Idi, with almost a look of pity in her eyes.
Idi waved it off as jealousy, she probably wanted his position. He glanced down at the console before pressing a button. The mecha whirred smoothly as the head retracted from the gangplank before settling into the neck. Metal plates closed over the previously open entrance, trapping Idi in darkness for less than a second, a deep red light coming while the screens glowed whitish blue. Each showed vital information about the mecha.
“Well, we’re the past the of no return now aren’t we?” Idi chuckled to himself. He mentally prepared himself, it was either do or die right now and he intended to reserve the latter for Jessica.