Beginnings, Chapter 1 by Salim Farhat

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More questions came up, in varying tones from dry to casual to frantic. In truth, even though he carried himself in a rather dignified pose, he was quite exhausted after the journey and would have cared for nothing other than falling asleep in a bed... after having a chocolate ice cream soda and a long bathroom break!

"Very... fulfilling," said Ekove, obviously trying to hide his weariness. The words of the reporters were coming in one ear and leaving the other, but he tried what he could to answer some of the important questions. "The fighter has some nice characteristics; I flew a combat version in a mock dogfight. It has a tendency to spin, which is a definite put-off. It could use more streamlining on the engine – those turbochargers cause a lot of drag. That's all I have to say for now. No more comments." Even though he had been firm in his decision, the reporters' questioning only increased, with them being more determined to get information out of him. However, Colonel Bralem stepped in and helped him in leaving the area.

Once Ekove was out of sight of the reporters and the camera flashes, he relaxed a little, showing his fatigue a little more. Bralem just smiled at the kitten and gave him a pat on the back. "You did a fantastic job there, kid; at your age you've done more than most people in their whole lives. It's hard to think you can make it any bigger." The man had never seen Ekove a day before in his life, yet acted and spoke in a way that implied they were friends for a long time.

Forcing a smile and looking him in the eye. "Thanks," he said in his soft, casual voice. "I try my best to be better." That line was his catchphrase... though it was interesting to note that he never noticed it was used as such -- until he saw a poster of him advertising an air show near his home town. The photographers and promoters apparently never told him that.

After a brief walk, the two arrived at Bralem's office. "Have a seat," said Bralem, though Ekove was already sinking into the couch and nearly fell asleep. Bralem just sighed and shook his head with a smile, letting the whole thing pass... something which he would never have done otherwise. "Ekove, I know you've already done a lot, but I got this telegram from your father back in Ledorn, along with two more from some recruiters in your country." He gave the letter from his father to the young aviator and he took it as firmly as he could, sitting up straight and perking his feline ears as he smelled something in the letter. As he opened it, he rubbed the paper by his whiskers and had an energetic look on his face.

"She just had to do it, didn't she?" said Ekove with a smile and a bright spark in his eyes. It wasn't from his father, at least the ‘main' letter in it... two neatly folded papers were there, one from his old man and the other from Solitta, his secret ‘girlfriend' that no one knew about. Being famous and having decent looks, it wasn't a surprise that he had a very, very long line of admirers who showered him with everything from marriage proposals to shorter, less committed ‘relationships'.

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