Courage was just a boy. But that was to his advantage. A boy still believes. He believes in a difference between good and bad. He believes in honor and chasing after adventure. He believes in nightmares and dreams, danger and exploration. But most importantly – a boy still believes in becoming a man. Courage was just a boy.
He lived with his father, his sister, and his aunt. Courage had never known his mother, but his aunt loved and cared for him like he was her own. Courage spent his seasons like most other boys his age. He went to school with his sister in the cold and rainy months. He played outside during the warmer days and nights. His father was away from home often. Courage had been told that his father fought for the United States Army in faraway countries. Courage had never heard of most of these places, but he thought his father was very brave for traveling so far away from home.
Some days in the summer, Courage and his sister would combat against unnamed enemies as they pretended to be like their father. They would fight with fervor and grit. They would die with honor and passion. They would do battle across the countless battlefields over and over again, until the end of time… Or at least until their aunt would call them in for dinner. It was on one of these blood and mud soaked evenings that Courage’s father came home unexpectedly.
It was long into the night when his father arrived. Courage had been dreaming that he was a bear sleeping through a long winter when the sound of rushing wind and breaking glass woke him. The sounds of a commotion and hushed voices were coming from the bedroom down the hall. Courage could hear a man saying something, and then he could hear the voice of his father calling for his aunt. As he saw his aunt run by his bedroom door, courage began to worry. Why had his father come home without telling anyone? What was going on down the hall? And why did his aunt have such a frightened look on her face? Courage left his bed and snuck down the hall to where the door to the other bedroom had been left ajar. He listened.
Courage’s aunt was asking his father why he was home early. She was asking him about things that Courage didn’t understand. Something about tunnels and shrinking worms. Then he heard his aunt gasp. Her voice trembled as she spoke, “Why is that here, Leo?!”
Courage’s father answered. “There aren’t many safe places left for it any more. We were overwhelmed at the bastion orbiting Thuban. When we knew the bastion was lost, those of us that were left scattered through what must have been more than a thousand different Gate combinations, and left a very large mass singulizer behind us. In about three hundred years I doubt you’ll be able to see Thuban from here any more.”
Now, Courage’s aunt sounded angry. “But why is it here?!”
“Because I hope no one will look for it here. Earth is still essentially uninhabited, and you’ve still got one of the old suppressors buried under the house, don’t you?”
“I’m not even certain that old tech still works. Do you have any idea what kind of danger you have put everyone on this planet in? I swear you never think before you act. This is why your wife can’t be seen with you any more. One of the last legitimate daughters of the Old Lineage couldn’t keep hanging around the flying disaster that is your life.”
“Sister. Dear sister. Please stop bringing up my troubled love life and take this damned thing down to the basement. I really think it would be a good idea to get it under a suppression field before someone takes notice.”
“You are unbelievable!” Courage’s aunt grabbed what looked like a small box from his father and stormed out of the room. She didn’t even notice Courage standing just outside the door.
When she had gone, courage looked back for his father in the bedroom. He saw what looked like a window made of water open up in front of his father. Leo had begun to step into the water window when Courage finally spoke. “Where are you going again, dad?”
Courage’s father had just enough time to spin his head around with a look of bewilderment and concern on his face before being drawn completely into the water. Courage looked, but couldn’t find where his father should have passed through to the other side. He started to wonder where the water window took his dad. Then he saw that the water window was getting smaller. Courage made up his mind. He held his breath and lept into the water.
Courage was just a boy when he decided to chase after his father into parts unknown.