The four students were right. They walked through the floral arch that lead to the memorial grounds of the village, and there among the headstones and plaques on a set of benches in the middle of the park were Aria and Bobby. They seemed to be in a deep conversation and it was visible that Bobby was holding a small floral token, often left pinned to the plaques as a remembrance of one or several individuals who sacrificed their lives while in service of the Royal Air Corps.
Although the four walked quietly through the paths of the memorial garden, Aria and Bobby still heard them, glancing up as they approached. They stopped together as some small unit, Senia removing her uniform cap as she spoke quietly. “I hope we weren’t interrupting you both.”
Aria smiled and looked to Bobby. He shook his head and tried to smile. The others could tell he was thinking of something rather painful, which was often the case when one came to these gardens. “It’s… it’s okay,” Bobby said as he coughed and cleared his throat. “I was just telling Aria about my dad. Jacob Quickfoot. He flew with the 82nd, a small squadron dispatched to Lupinia during the land war.” Bobby left out the word ‘great’, often giving his thoughts that the word should mean something more than just massive. That it should mean something wondrous. And that war on Lupinia was anything but wondrous.
“I had read about your father,” Hardy said as she took a seat on one of the benches, Clarfax sitting next to her. Senia and Claudia also sat down on the benches. “He flew with Nattie, Carla and Dunny and had to crash land in the desert.”
Bobby nodded as he held the small token carefully. He looked to Aria who seemed to give him and encouraging smile as she placed her hand on his shoulder. “He got stung by a viper scorpion when his craft crashed. The others got to him, thinking that the viper scorpion was alone. Dad said they’d heard about them, but they hadn’t ever experienced a sting from one. They did get to Dorgatha Ravine and there was a doctor there who helped him.” He looked down to the flower token once again and sighed deeply. “But they only had so much and the poison went through him pretty fast. He managed to come home, but he got sick a lot.”
The others sat silently, letting Bobby describe everything. How his father and three other fighter pilots joined to defend a Jayna tribe stronghold during the last year of the war. Though he could barely walk, he did his part to assist with what he could; learned about the differences between Hyna and Jayna citizens and grew a new respect for Pantherans, as one had become his doctor during that time.
“Dad always told me,” Bobby concluded as he managed to find a bit more strength as he told the tale of his father. “He never regretted becoming a fighter pilot, but he knew it wasn’t a life for everyone. He and mom both encouraged me to take up sciences, and to look to the stars.” He sniffled and wiped his nose with a handkerchief he pulled from his pocket. “Sorry. Talking about dad gets to me sometimes. I miss him.”
“I don’t doubt you do,” Senia said with a nod. “Sometimes it helps to talk about loved ones long gone. It keeps them alive, in here,” she said, pointing to her temple, referencing that Bobby would always remember his father. She then touched her hand over her heart. “And in here as well.”
“Thanks,” Bobby replied as he offered a small smile. “And thanks for listening everyone. Now,” he said as he took a deep breath and rose to his feet. “I think I want to spend some time around people.”
“Well, you’re in luck,” Claudia said with a grin. “We’re people, and you could spend it with us. If you’d all like, we can go back to the campus, maybe go to the cafeteria and enjoy a few chocolate milkshakes.” Claudia’s suggestion sparked a great deal of interest in all present. It was quickly agreed upon that it was a very good idea indeed, so all six of them – Senia, Hardy, Clarfax, Claudia, Aria and Bobby – all gingerly stood up and walked leisurely back to the main campus for more jovial discussions.