Angels and Devils XIII

Temerity landed lightly on her feet to silence. A moment passed, then she looked expectantly at her instructors. One of them cleared her throat.   "Acceptable," the instructor said. "You may take your seat.   Temerity rolled her eyes and sat down. It was a basic training course. She'd mastered it a few weeks after she first enlisted. She knew full well that her performance was the best of any cadet's, but the scores wouldn't reflect that.   "Cadet Naroi├íra," the same instructor called. Lukan stepped forward nervously. It was the first time they were letting him attempt the course, and Temerity knew he was worried about the central stretch. A wrong move there could mean serious injury.   "Whenever you're ready," the instructor said gently.   Lukan took a deep breath, trying to forget that there were people watching him, and swung forward.   He managed the first section, though just barely. He was breathing heavily after it. An encouraging nod from the instructor urged him forward past the second section and into the third--the center. He looked up at the dauntingly high bars, trying not to show how terrified he was. A moment to catch his breath, and then he launched himself up... And missed the bar.   Temerity shot to her feet as Lukan began to plummet towards the ground. One hand stretched out, an instinctive incantation on her lips, but a stern look from the instructors stopped her. She watched horrified as Lukan fell faster.   He never hit the ground. Before he could, a pair of dark brown wings spread from his back, bringing him to a stop.   Lukan's eyes had squeezed shut as he fell, but a few moments after he stopped, he carefully opened them again.   "Whoo boy! That was a close one, huh kid?" an unfamiliar and relieved voice sounded behind him.   Lukan looked back to see a young man, about the same age as him, with dark brown wings and arms hooked under his own to hold him up. He stared dumbfounded as he was lowered carefully to the ground.   "You're really into the suspense thing, aren't you? I've been trying to reach you for years, but no, you have to plummet to your death for it to finally work."   "... I wouldn't have died," was all Lukan could finally manage. "Who... Are you?"   "Oh! My bad, I forgot the whole always-watching thing only goes one way. I'm Usi! Your celestial guide! Pretty cool, huh?"   Lukan just stared.   "Cadet Naroi├íra!" one of the instructors called sharply. "Who are you speaking to?"   Lukan blinked and looked between Usi and the instructor.   "Oh right, I probably should've mentioned that no one else can see me. Perks of being me! Or problems, depending on your view. Anyway, you should probably try to convince them you're not crazy or something."   Lukan kept staring for a moment, then turned fully to the instructors. "Sorry, I... Must have hit my head."   The instructors studied him critically, then the lead one nodded sharply. "Go see the medics."   Lukan nodded and started walking, then felt himself be lifted into the air.   "I'll take you!" Usi said enthusiastically.   "Oh, okay..." Lukan smiled a bit. "Thanks, Usi."

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