Thread: Ultraman Daxium
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Old April 23rd, 2019, 10:20 AM #11
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Power Ranger
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 365
Power Ranger
scikaiju's Avatar
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 365

Episode 10

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in My Light

Ken usually liked being outdoors, it was one of the main reasons why he volunteered to accompany Bridge on this particular assignment. But right now he felt he had to get away from Castle for a little while. Ever since he saw Jess and the Captain give him those strange looks after that last creature attack he had the feeling the walls were starting to close in on him. They weren’t acting like anything was wrong now but he still couldn’t shake the feeling he was being watched. Once they arrived at the park and the like he knew he was being watched now as everybody there turned to look at them. So much for that nice simple assignment he was looking for.

“Can we get through please,” Bridge said as they exited the Scan Track.

“What for?”, some muscle headed “genius” challenged. Like Ryo warned him Bridge kind of turned in on himself instead of asserting his authority. As many times as that happened with Jeff Ken felt his pain.

“We have to check for any unusual creatures…,” he started to say.

“There’s no creatures in this lake you freak.”

“That’s what they said the first time,” Ken said backing Bridge up. “And look what happened there.”

“You’re one of them,” he shot back.

“I’m the new guy,” he said thinking quick, “they said that before I joined up.”

“Nice one asshole.”

“If another monster does show up I’m going to let you get stepped on.”

“Let’s get the equipment,” Bridge said pushing Ken back toward the Scan Track. He looked back as the douchebag they were dealing with went back to talking with his friends. Both of them noticed he pointed at them and laughed. A few laughed with him. “They’re going to keep messing with us while we try to run these experiments aren’t they?”

“The guy reminds me of my brother so probably,” Ken answered.

“I should have stayed back at base,” Bridge mumbled.

“You just have to show guys like that who’s in charge.” A lot of times he wished he learned that bit of wisdom a lot sooner. “You just have to figure out the best way to deliver the message. How mad would the Captain get if we flashed our weapons a few times?” Bridge’s only answer was to stare at him. “I’m just saying.”

“I would rather check out the lake without damaging the equipment. Some of it is pretty delicate.”

Ken looked back at the crowd, “And jackass and his friends are taking point on the main path to the lake”

“Maybe we should wait until later to do this, after everybody leaves.”

“Actually,” Ken said thinking it over, “I think I might know a pretty quiet spot.”

Going off on one of the side path Ken lead him to a section of the lake side that pretty peaceful, in fact they were the only humans in view. “When did you find this place?”, Bridge asked as he took the view in.

“Me and my Dad used to come here a lot when I was younger,” he answered thinking back. “Before he died this was our special spot. I still come up here from time to time.” Snorting a bit he added, “Hell I was here when that first monster showed up.”

“How far away was it from you?”, Bridge asked.

“I don’t know, a few yards that way I guess.”

“Perfect,” Bridge said as he opened a case. Taking out a small submersible probe he gently placed it in the water. Opening another case by Ken’s feet he started controlling the device. “I might get this done sooner than I expected. If we can discover how those two monsters appeared out of this lake from basically out of nowhere maybe we can use that to predict where the others are going to show up.”

Ken already knew where they came from, it was the who he was having trouble figuring out. Too bad he couldn’t share that bit of info with the rest of the team. Instead he said, “And we can have the troops ready for it.”

“Exactly,” Bridge said, “and maybe I’ll get lucky and find a good luck charm of my own while we’re at it. Do you remember where you found yours, there may be more.”

“It was back in there somewhere,” he said gesturing behind him. “I had a giant fire breathing monster on my tail, I was lucky I found it when I did.”

“I wouldn’t be keeping notes in that situation either,” Bridge said with a small chuckle. Ken really hoped that was an innocent question and not some prodding about the story he told them. “Bridge to Castle, I’m starting he experiment now. Hopefully we’ll have some results soon.”

“Acknowledged, just make sure you keep the pet project in line.”

Bridge ducked his head a little, “He can hear you.”

Ken smirked in amusement, “Oops.”

While Ken might have found it funny Hawk didn’t when he found out about it. In fact he was less than pleased when he heard a few people on base use that term. A quick grilling gave him the source of this particular nickname, and that didn’t help matters any. In one of the conference rooms he stood in front of Alpha team and stared them down. “I have worked very hard to cultivate a feeling of team unity. And it annoys me to no end to have that feeling sabotaged from within. Now I don’t have a problem with a little good natured ribbing. But this ‘pet project’ thing is going too far. Now everything points to it starting in this unit. So the question is simple, which one of you have been calling Ken the pet project?”

Hawk’s eyes went to Bill first as the main suspect, so did Jess and Ryo. But he was looking confused as they were. Then everybody looked back at Ken who had his hand over his head, “Yo.”

“Why are you calling yourself the pet project?”, Jess asked for the group.

“Because I was getting tired of everybody calling me the civilian,” he answered.

Hawk pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed, “Ken…”

“What? It’s the truth.”

“No it’s not,” Hawk argued. “I’ve told… we’ll talk about this later.” Taking a moment to get himself under control he did end up mumbling, “This is not helping things.” Back in control he looked at Bridge, “Did the tests at the lake reveal anything?”

“Nothing Captain,” he answered. “It’s just like at the mountain range when that flying creature attacked, everything was normal. I was really hoping that since two creatures appeared from the lake there would at least be a clue.”

“But initial tesst on the lake said it was normal the first time too,” Jess said.

“Yeah and another one popped out of it a few weeks later,” Ryo added. “It had to come from somewhere.”

“Maybe we should be looking for a giant door to knock on,” Bill joked.

“How about we set you on a giant hook for bait instead,” Ken shot at him. Bill shot him a look but started smiling after a bit.

“Gentlemen,” Hawk said sternly, although he was silently pleased those two were finally starting to get along, or at least faking it for the rest of them. “Bridge keep studying those readings those results in case you missed something. While you’re at it check any surveys of the lake and the surrounding areas. Maybe there’s an underground cavern housing these things or something.”

“So we’re going with an underground society of monsters now?”, Ryo asked sounding a bit skeptical.

“I remember reading a book where a scientist claimed the world was hollow,” Hawk answered him. “Like you said they have to be coming from somewhere, and I wouldn’t rule out anything at this point. Dismissed.”

“Hey I just thought of something,” Bill said as they headed for the door.

“Don’t strain that lone brain cell now,” Ryo joked.

“Don’t quit your day job, or your night job for that matter,” Bill shot back. “But if the Captain is right maybe that’s where Ultraman comes from too. He could be like a guard or something.”

“If he is he’s doing a lousy job of it,” Ryo commented. Jess took a quick look back at Ken as they exited the room. Ken started rubbing the back of his neck when she turned back around.

“Mr. Richardson! Mr. Richardson!”, the crowd of reporters shouted as Patricia and a couple of security guards tried to guide him and Peter through them. “Do you have any ideas where these creatures are coming from? What are you doing about them?”

“Mr. Brooks what about the giant? Why isn’t anything being done about him?”, a reporter was able to get an arm through and put a digital recorder in his face.

“No comment,” Peter said before one of the guards cleared the offending arm out of the way. Eventually they were able to get to Richardson’s limo and Patricia was able to herd them inside without much trouble. The reporters wisely stayed out from the front of the vehicle as it pulled away. “Is it me or are they getting worse?”, Peter asked as he loosen his tie a bit once there were away from the pack.

“They are what they always were,” Richardson said, “vultures looking for any piece of scrap they can get their hands on.”

“Some of them are asking more and more about Ultraman.” Patricia glanced sideways at Richardson as she looked through her files. “Not everybody sees him as the hero that you see him as.” Peter waited a moment before adding, “My father is starting to ask questions about him and our lack of a response so far.”

“I’m putting the final touches on a official statement. The public will know our official stance in a couple of days.”

“I get the feeling the public won’t particularly like our official statement once they hear it,” Peter said dryly.

“That’s why I’m looking for the appropriate spin on the matter,” he replied. “Make it a little more palatable.”

“Well you better hope most of the public isn’t like my father. He wants us to open fire on him the next time he shows.”

After a moment Richardson said, “Have him contact me when it’s convenient for him. I’ll try to get him to see things my way.”

Peter smirked, “I think you had an easier time getting the board to agree to those defense upgrades.”

Richardson smirked back,” Oh I learned to prepare for battle when we were on opposite sides a long time ago. Fortunately his son is a little more agreeable.”

Peter smiled at his reflection in the window, “I like to think of myself as a little more open minded.”

While walking down the hallway Ken paused mid step. Dax got a quick sense of something, but not here. It was further away and he lost it as soon as he got it. Times like these hated that Dax could do that. And he learned he really couldn’t do anything about it, and Daxium learned to be a little more patient as well. His first instinct was still to go after it but knew he couldn’t given their situation. “Maybe whoever’s behind this is giving their powers a quick check,” Ken said making sure nobody was around to overhear him. Daxium didn’t reply. “Just a thought.”

“Hey Ken,” He looked back to see Jess and Ryo catch up with him. “Ryo told me you tried the simulator again,” she started smiling, “and failed again.”

“Traitor,” Ken shot at him.

His defense was, “I thought you already told her.”

She looked at Ryo and grinned a wicked grin, “He also told me how obsessed with you were back in the academy.” Ken just looked at him.

“I thought you would have told your girlfriend that already,” Ryo told him.

Ken quickly said, “Ex-girlfriend.”

“Former girlfriend,” Jess said at more or less the same time.”

“And how did I know that was going to happen,” Ryo joked.

“You’re suddenly psychic,” Ken told him. “Quick what am I doing tonight?”

“Nothing with her,” he answered pointing toward Jess.

“He has the gift.” Jess was the only one who didn’t laugh. “I think we went too far.”

Ryo looked at her then said, “If she goes for the gun I’m hiding behind you.”

“Some friend you are,” Ken said.

“We’re not that close,” he shot back.

“I can shot around Ken to get to you,” Jess informed him.

“I’m willing to put that to the test,” Ryo told her

“Anytime you’re ready.”

“Don’t I get a say in this?”, Ken interjected.

“No you don’t,” Jess told him. “Name the time and place.”

“So what were you guys doing before this popped up?”, Ken asked trying to change the subject.

“To the cafeteria for some coffee,” Ryo answered him. “Do you want to come?”

“As long as it doesn’t involve me getting shot at I’m all for it.”

“I’m not making any promises so don’t annoy me,” Jess told him.

“Learned that lesson a long time ago thanks.” They continued to talk and joke all the way to the cafeteria. Times like this Ken actually felt like he belonged. Now if he could just figure out what that low buzz Dax was sending him was.

Overlooking a field the Avatar watched as a strange yellow and purple colored flower quickly grew and slowly start to overtake the field. This was definitely one of his masters more interesting invasion plans. They wouldn’t quite explain what this Gijera was capable of. Only that his dark energy would make him immune to the effects. Too bad they couldn’t confirm if it would affect the giant or his host. He was going to have to find away to get Scott out here to find out.

“Wow look at these,” a group of college aged students came into the field and looked over the flowers. The Avatar went further back into the bush to avoid detection. “Professor what are these? I’ve never seen them before.”

“I’m not sure either,” the oldest of the group knelt and took a camera out of his pocket. “I’m going to take a picture and do an image search.” Getting up and uploading the image to the university computer he walked deeper into the field. From where he was the Avatar could feel a dark energy surge from underground. Soon the flowers started spewing a yellowish powder into the air. “What the…?”, the professor said as he and the others looked around in confusion.

One of the students got a weird look on his face then suddenly started smiling. Holding his arms out he started running around in circles, “Weeee!” The others started to smile and do strange things as well.

The Avatar jogged to the middle of the field with the powder still fresh in the air. Like his masters said he was unaffected. Waving a hand in front of the Professor’s he didn’t get a reaction. With a low energy blast he sent the one who apparently thought he was a plane or something flying. After a moment he got back up and started it all over again. “Well now,” he said looking at those affected by the powder, “this is interesting.”

Reports of the field reached them quickly enough, especially when several police officers sent to check it out fell victim to the pollen as well. A Scan Track pulled up behind one of the patrol cars. Ken and the other two made sure their air masks were securely attached to their helmets before exiting. A short hike later and they found the field and the quickly growing group frolicking around it. “Oh this is going to be fun,” Ken said, heavy on the sarcasm. “Don’t they have like biohazards suits for shit like this?”

“It wasn’t deemed necessary for this one,” the driver said.

“Betcha if one of the higher ups was involved we’d get more gear than we needed.”

“You’re not going to find an argument here. Come on, let’s get closer.”

Going to the closest person Ken waved a hand in front of his face, then shock him a bit. “I don’t think Hawk wants us to punch these guys to wake them up,” he said, mainly to himself. As the third one ran a medical scanner on the one by him Ken hit the communicator on his chest, “Scott to Castle.”

“Castle here,” Hawk answered. “What’s the situation?”

“It’s like they said Captain, a bunch of people just playing around in a field with a bunch of strange flowers.”

“How would you describe their condition?”

A woman started doing cartwheels past him. He watched her as he answered, “The phrase ‘stoned out of their gourd’ comes to mind.”

“Franklin can I get I better opinion?”, Hawk asked.

“I’d say that’s a pretty good assessment Captain,” Franklin answered. “There definitely some signs. I need to do some blood work to be sure. I’m going to try and guide one of the affected away from the field to see if that has any effect.”

“Good idea,” Hawk said, “keep us informed. Collect some of the pollen and one of those flowers so the scientist can run some tests on them. They been demanding a sample when we first got the reports and I want them off my back ASAP.”

“Maybe we should torch the plants after we get those samples,” Ken offered. “That powder’s pretty much all over the place so we have plenty of samples.”

“I’m keeping that option on the maybe pile,” Hawk told him, “but we may have to if it gets worse.”

“Wow, one of my ideas wasn’t shot down for a change,” Ken said without thinking. Then he noticed their driver was just standing there, “Steve?” Ken started for him as he started hopping around like a rabbit. “Of shit, Franklin…!”, but he was holding hands with the one he was trying to get out of there and dancing round in circles.

“Ken what’s going on?”, Hawk demanded.

“Captain we got… we got…” He tried to fight the lightheaded feeling invading his head as he tried to get out of the field.

“Ken,” he stopped as he saw Jess stand in front of him. He tried to speak as she came to him, “I can’t fight it anymore. I still love you Ken and I need to be with you.”

He stood there totally alone in the field, smiling under the air mask, wrapping his arms around the invisible person in front of him. At the far end of the field a huge stalk emerged from the ground. A yellow and purple bulb near the top quickly grew as well as those in the field ignored it’s presence.

The various war rooms inside Castle were going crazy once the monster plant appeared and they lost contact with the team they sent in. With the police and military help they had a two mile quarantine in place around the plant, getting out anybody who wasn’t affected yet. Half of the surveillance teams they had were keeping on the wind patterns while the other half were looking for any signs of aggression from the monster plant. Hawk was watching both as the rest of Alpha team studied the situation. “Bridge do we have any idea what’s in that thing?”, he asked touching the bulb in the holo image.

“We can’t get a clear reading Captain,” he answered from his station. “Some of the scientists are speculating it may contain more of that pollen.”

“I don’t want to think about how much of that stuff that thing can spit out,” Bill commented.

“We’re going to have to take out that plant before it can mature enough to do that,” Ryo said stating the obvious.

“Do you think we’re going to have enough time to get the affected out of there first?”, Bill asked.

“We better,” Jess said as she leaned on the table. She noticed how they were looking at her and stood a little straighter. “I was thinking about their safety,” she quickly said.

“We’re worried about Ken too,” Hawk assured her. “We’re going to make sure everybody is out of there before we attack, if we can. If it looks like that thing is going to open we’re going to have to risk it if we can’t get them out of there in time. Jess head down to the hanger and join Commander Jamira and help them get the affected out of there. Ryo, Bill…”

“Captain,” Bridge cut in, “the affected are staring to move away from the field and the plant.” He showed them a satellite image to highlight his point.

“What does that mean?”, Ryo ask.

“That we might have caught a break,” Hawk said. “Jess head to the hanger now. Bill, Ryo get ready. Bill I’m with you. Ryo we’ll find a wingman for you on the way to the Razor Wings. Let’s go.”

“Rodger,” they said as they ran out of the war room.

“Of all the times to be stuck here,” the Avatar complained as he paced room. Scott was affected by Gijera’s pollen. He could stop Ultraman for good right there and then. But he couldn’t get out of Castle without raising suspicion, not with that lockdown Hawk ordered. Not even Richardson could overrule him on that one. The perfect opportunity and he couldn’t do a damn thing about it.

Ken and the others wondered out of the field and into the nearby woods still in the dream like daze the pollen put them in. Inside his mind Jess was still hanging on to him as other people came up to him. “I’m sorry for the way I’ve been treating you all these years little bro,” Jeff said. “I’ve always respected you and was a bit jealous.”

Richardson clapped him on the shoulder, “I don’t know what I was thinking doing you like that my boy. You deserve better than that for putting your life on the line all the time.”

“Come on Ken,” Jess said in his ear, “let’s get out of here so we can make up for lost time.”

“Ken,” Daxium stood before him. The others around him didn’t acknowledge his presence. “You need to snap out of this and wake up.”

“Not now Dax,” he mumbled as Jess started kissing him.

“Ken this is not real,” Daxium insisted.

“I don’t care.”

“Ken this all an illusion created by the pollen the creature created. It shows you your heart’s desire to trap you in this state. It will do the same to your entire planet if it’s not stopped. You have to resist it.”

“Go away Dax,” he said before turning away from him.

“Ken,” he stopped when he recognized the voice. The older man standing before looked exactly like he remembered him. Before the sickness started eating away at him. Before…

“Dad?”, he gasped as everybody else around him disappeared. “But you’re…”

“I know son,” he said with that all too familiar smile, “but I’m here now.”

Ken ran up and hugged his father, “Oh god Dad you have no idea how much I missed you.”

“I know son,” he said in that gentle way of his as he rubbed his back. “I’m happy to see you too. I’m proud of you son, of everything you’ve done. But you have to make a choice now.”

“Dad?”, he looked at him in confusion. Then it dawned on him, “No, no Dad don’t make me choose. I can’t lose you again.”

“Remember what I told you son. And remember I’ll love you no matter what choice you make.”

In the real world Ken stopped where he was. His right hand slowly started to go inside his jacket, shaking like it was fighting against itself the entire time. Finally he grabbed the Spark Magnifier. A cry of anguish escaped his throat as he held it over his head and activated it.

Daxium turned around and found Gijera. Walking toward him he checked the ground around the field to make sure no humans would be in his way. IN the distance Razor Wings came into view. Wearing an air mask as well Bill asked, “What took Ultraman so long to show up this time?”

The only reason Hawk could figure out was, “Maybe he was waiting for the area to clear too. Hawk to all units, start flying in a holding pattern while Ultraman takes care of the plant. Remember, if your pilot starts acting strange I want the wingman to take control of the jet and get out of here before you get affected as well. Pilots, if your wingman does the same thing deactivate your weapon systems and do the same. Is that clear?”

He was greeted with a round of “Yes sirs” and Rodgers”. He watched as Ultraman took one last look around before continuing toward the giant plant.

“Do you think Dr. Williams is going to be pissed that we might not used those incendiary missiles his team developed?”, Bill asked

“He’ll get over it and I’m sure we’ll get another chance.”

Gijera didn’t react as Daxium got closer and stood in front of it. Studying it a bit he reared back and pounded the bulb. The plant finally reacted and let out a small cry. He continued the assault to try and dislodge the bulb so it couldn’t shot out anymore of that pollen. In order to retaliate it raised it’s roots out of the ground and struck him in the back. It lifted out some more and tried to attack him again. Daxium blocked the roots as they came at him and ducked a couple that were coming behind him. One came at his feet and Daxium back flipped out of the way and unleashed a Flashbolt. Gijera cried out again as part of it’s stalk exploded and started smoldering.

The giant ran at him and jumped up landing a flying kick. Now that he was in range again those roots struck again. Daxium blocked them again as best as he could before one wrapped itself around his arm. As he struggled the bulb opened. He looked on stunned as a small mouth cried out at him. It was enough of a distraction for a root to hit him in the back and knock him forward as the root pulled to keep him off balance. He was close enough to the mouth for it to clamp down on his forearm. Daxium grunted out in pain as he struggled to get free. The body of Gijera created an electrical that shocked him. Struggling harder he finally freed himself and tried to get some space between them again. The roots knocked him back closer to the monster. Another root wrapped around his ankle, he looked down as another wrapped around his arm again and a third around his neck.

Gijera squeezed harder to prevent Daxium from getting away again, even going so far as to shocking him into place. The mouth in the bulb seemed to cackle as it lifted him off his feet. Shocking him a few more times he started slamming him into the ground. “Williams is going to get his wish,” Hawk mumbled. “Open fire with the new missiles.” The missiles flew from the razor Wings in position. Explosions quickly turned into flames on impact. Gijera let him go as pain racked it’s body. With the jewel starting to flash as he crawled away and the firebombing continued. Turning around and putting his hands by the jewel he started to draw in energy from the surrounding area and fired off the Dimensional Strom Ray. Gijera howled one more time before exploding.

“Make sure you destroy the root,” Hawked ordered his men. They continued to carpet bomb the spot where it was. A large stray root flailed around in the flames. Daxium flew up into the air and unleashed another Dimensional Storm Ray that finished off the root and the system it had underground. The smaller Gijera flowers stopped spewing their pollen and quickly started to wilt. Those under it’s spell quickly broke out of it and looked around in confusion.

In the air Daxium located the lead Razor Wing and gave it a nod of appreciation. Hawk raised two fingers to his helmet in a mini salute. Seeing and sensing that nothing was left of Gijera Daxium flew off into the darkening skies, “Shiah!”

They were still finding victims in the surrounding wood long after it was over and they extinguished the fire. Usually they were confused about what happened, in some cases slightly embarrassed. Then Jess finally located Ken. Helmet by his feet he silently sat against a tree holding his head as tears fell down his cheeks. “Ken?”, she went up to him and knelt down beside him. “Ken are you alright?”

“Fine for having my heart fucking ripped out all over again,” he muttered. She reached out for him and he moved away. “I’ll be fine, give me a moment.” Jess pressed her lips together as old annoyances crept back into her mind. Some things apparently didn’t change that much after all.

Hawk gave him some time off after his ordeal. Ken shot out of there as soon as he said thank you. After all that happened there was only one place he could go. Standing on the bank of the lake at his and his Dad’s special spot he looked out over the water. “I hope you don’t mind that I didn’t say anything the last time I was here,” he said as he sat on the same old log. “I was on the clock, not a whole lot of time to talk and not look crazy. And I guess I owe you another one,” he let out a small sad chuckle.

“I don’t know what to do, I made the choice I know you wanted me to make. The one I know you would have made, but it hurts so much.” Choking back the tears he looked away from the lake. Facing it again he made himself talk about something else, “You would not believe the spot I’m in know. I mean I know having an alien inside of me was going to complicate things, but not like this. It’s bad enough I was blackmailed into joining this outfit and not tell anybody the real reason why. Now I think a couple of them are staring to figure it out. Not just any two either, my ex-girlfriend and the Captain. You would have like Jess I think, I can see you giving me hell for letting her get away. And Captain Hawk reminds me of you in a way. And if there’s any two I’d want to tell it would be them, but I don’t know what’s going to happen if Richardson finds out they know. I wouldn’t put it past him to try and get rid of them in some way. I can’t confide in the only other people who know because they’re tight with Richardson, and I know one of them will tell him.” Sighing a bit he listened to the wind before he said, “I never felt so alone in my life Dad.”

“You are never truly alone Ken,” Daxium said in his head. “Not if you don’t want to be.”

“Thanks Dax.” He sat there for a half hour or so before hearing somebody walk up the path behind him. He was a little surprised to see Jess standing here. He was even more surprised to see her in some civilian jeans, shirt and a light jacket.

“I figured you’d be up here,” she said as she sat on the log next to him. “The Captain was starting to get worried about you after you bolted out of there. I told him I’d check up on you.” She looked around and commented, “This place hasn’t changed a bit since you showed it to me that first time. Even this log looks the same.”

“It’s why it’s one of my favorite places. How are the other victims?”

“They’re doing good,” she told him. “Most of the said they experienced what they wanted most.” Then she looked at him.

Getting real uncomfortable real fast he said, “Did Steve explain why he started hopping around?”

“He wouldn’t elaborate,” she smiled before looking serious again. “How about you, are you going to elaborate?”

“There’s nothing to elaborate on,” he said trying to shut this down.

“Do I really have to point out you were the only one we found in tears?”

“What do you want me to say?”, he snapped, anger getting the best of him. “I had what I wanted the most.” As hard as he tried he couldn’t keep it from coming out, “I had you back. My brother actually respected me. My Dad was still…”, he tried to choke back the tears again as the pain and emptiness threatened to over take him again. He couldn’t stop it this time.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Jess said as she rubbed his shoulders as soon as the tears started to fall. “I’m right here if you need a shoulder.”

Finally he admitted the one thought that ran through his head the entire time, and most of his adult life, “Damn it, it’s not fair.”

“I know,” she said softly. She stayed with him until he was ready to go.

“And I say his action today and before proves that this man, this Ultraman is a friend of humanity. But I assure you the moment he proves he is not he will wish he had never shown his silver face…”, Richardson image froze on the television as an older man faced the real one on another monitor.

“I still don’t like this Harry,” the older man said. “We still don’t know anything about that thing.”

“Peter said as much the other day,” Richardson said. “I’m sure he told you what I told him.”

“What you keep repeating like a parrot. My words not Peter’s,” he amended when he saw that look on his face. “I imagine the board wasn’t particularly happy with that little speech of yours.”

“Some were, some weren’t,” he waved it off. “It’ll blow over like it always does.”

“Unless this Ultraman character makes a monkey out of you.”

“I’ll worry about it if it happens Charles,” he snorted. “Although the way Peter is playing things I get the feeling you’re coaching him from the sidelines.”

“You know what they say, like father like son,” he chuckled. “Do you want me to tell him to back off a bit?”

“No, it reminds me of the old days in a way. Back when we were fighting tooth and nail to the top together.”

“And at times against each other if I recall,” both of them shared a small laugh. “I’m sure you have more important things to worry about than bantering around with this old man. Take care Harry.”

“You too Charles.”

The screen went black and he turned off the television. Leaning back in his chair he closed his eyes and breathed deeply. Hands starting to glow with dark energy he ran those hands slowly over his face. Wrinkles started to disappear as he started looking younger. Moving those still glowing hands over his head gray hairs turned blond. In moments the man the world knew as Peter Brooks was in the older man’s place and rose from the chair. “That doesn’t get any easier,” he said popping his neck and fixing himself a drink.

ED – Shinedown – Fly From the Inside
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