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Old March 14th, 2019, 05:53 PM #1
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Power Ranger
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402
Power Ranger
scikaiju's Avatar
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

Ultraman Daxium

A/N Not only the third series I posted online, it's also the one that's still ongoing as of this posting. I started it when I finished Fusion years ago, technically it was after I finished DekaOps since I wanted to take a break from writing multiple series for a bit.

Ultraman Daxium – Episode 1

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

In a darkened room an older man in his sixties sat alone. The only light in the room was the faint glow of the computer screen on his desk. He waited patiently just staring at it. Before long the screen started to warp and twist. He didn’t panic , this is what he was waiting for. Eyes glancing at the door briefly he said, “Is everything ready?”

“Almost,” an ethereal voice spoke to him. “The time table may have to be altered.”

“There’s no need to do that,” he insisted.

“Dimensional breaches have been becoming more and more frequent,” the voice informed him. “There is some concern a larger entity may be next.”

“That’s why I created that special task force,” he argued. “Hell if it wasn’t for those first few things showing up I never would have been able to get it off the ground.”

“The entities coming through in the future would be much larger than the ones you currently face.”

“How much larger can they be?”, he demanded.

“Our latest report indicate they can be as large as the building in the places you call cities.” He couldn’t say anything to that, he was too busy trying to imagine it and that boggled his mind. “We have chosen a candidate, have you chosen one as well?”

“Yes,” he answered still thinking about the size, “yes I have.”

“We wish there was another way.”

“It’s a war, sacrifices must be made. I understand that completely. We will be ready.”

“Hopefully both our sides will be.” The screen started returning to normal. Soon it was like nothing happened. He sat there for a long time looking at it.

Turning on a desk light he picked up the phone and dialed a particular number. Waiting for a few moments he finally heard, “Yeah Dad?”

“I’ve heard from our friends,” he said. “The breaches are happening faster than they anticipated.”

“It would explain why we’ve been so busy lately. Are we going to have to do this faster now?”

“Apparently,” was his only answer.

“Well I’m ready for it.” Quiet for a moment he said, “What am I going to tell the others?”

“We’ll worry about it when we get there. Although we could avoid all of this if you would just take that command position like I told you to. I have enough pull that I can still get it for you.”

“Dad we went through already. I’m having a hard enough time being seen as one of the guys as it is. Forcing my way to a top rank isn’t going to help matters any.”

“Have it your way,” he said giving up, for now. “Just be ready Joseph.”

“I will Dad, see you soon.”

Hanging up the phone he muttered, “He picks the worst times to show his independence.”

“It’s July 28, 2025 and today is the official anniversary of the United Nations Defense Force,” A cheerful news reporter said on the television screen. “Five years ago today the major nations of the world pulled their resources to battle strange, otherworldly creatures they couldn’t fight on their own. The man who was one of the main people responsible for getting this joint venture together, Harold Richardson, had this to say about the anniversary.”

The imaged changed to man in his sixties standing behind a podium. He was flanked on either side by men and women in black uniforms with red shoulders and stripes down their arms and legs, with red piping around the pockets. “Today is a very special occasion. Today marks the day the world realized it needed to pull together to get things done. The UNDF,” he gestured to the people beside him, “is proof of that. My only hope that after the threat has been neutralized the world will continue to realize that…”

“Turn that shit off,” a man with his long brown hair tied back in a ponytail demanded. Hands covered in grease he worked on the old car engine in front of him. One of the other people in the garage did want he wanted, but only turned down the sound.

“What’s the matter little bro?”, a man with a mustache and short brown hair smirked. “Don’t want to be reminded about how you washed out of the program?” He knew what his older brother was trying to do and wasn’t going to play along, at least not today any way.

“Ken didn’t wash out Jeff,” one of the other ended up saying. ”He was medically disqualified.”

“It only means the loser didn’t have the stomach for it.” Jeff walked over and leaned on the side just looking for a reaction. “Ain’t that right? How many times did they make you clean up that flight simulator?”

“At least I tried and not just talked about it,” he said not looking at him. And mentally kicking himself for taking the bait.

Jeff’s nostrils flared a little, “All that did was proved you’re nothing but a grease jockey, just like the rest of us. And that’s all you are ever going to be.”

“That grease jockey as you put it,” their boss said coming into the room, “is one of the main reasons why most of you still have a job. Ken’s the only one who really seems to understand those new engines they’re coming out with.”

“An engine’s an engine,” Jeff waved it off. “They all work the same way.”

“Well they do after I fix your mistakes,” Ken smirked.

“Watch it little bro, one of these days your mouth is going to cut a check your ass can’t cash”

“I’ve heard it all before Jeff,” Ken said getting a rag to wipe off his hands. Jeff walked away when the boss made him. Under his breath Ken asked for the millionth time, “How am I related to that jackass again?”

“Don’t let him bother you man,” one of the others told him, “He’s just jealous of what you can do. And nothing says you can’t try out for them again, medication has come a long way in the past few years.”

“It wasn’t meant to be,” he said walking away from the car. “Besides, who really wants to be up there any way?” A moment later an alert was heard in the background. Everybody rushed to the window while somebody turned the volume back up on the television. Before long two black jet with red highlights flew to the west. A wistful look on his face Ken mumbled, “Yeah who really wants to be up there?”

A couple of hours later those same jets flew to a base that was built into a mountainside. A hanger opened to allow the jets entry. Support crew immediately ran to them before they stopped and the cockpit hatched popped open. “Is it me or are these things getting bigger?”, A pilot with the name “Waters” on his nametag said. “I swear that… whatever it is was bigger than one of the Razor Wings.”

“And just as maneuverable,” said the other with the tag Watanabe. “What do you think Jess?”

Behind his gunman took off her helmet revealing shoulder length red hair, “We’re just lucky there were only three of them. And we downed one of them before they noticed we were there.”

“That’s my girl,” Waters joked, “always the optimist. Ain’t that right rich boy?”, he asked the person behind him.

“Somebody in this group has to be,” he answered, Richardson on his uniform jacket. “I’d try it but you guys would probably expect me to pay you to believe me,” he joked.

“I keep telling you if you have some extra disposable cash I’ll gladly take it off your hands,” Waters joked back.

“I open my wallet and I’ll never get you out of it,” he shot back.

“Are you guys hearing this?”, he asked the others.

“Sounds about right to me,” Watanabe said as he got out of the jet.

“Same here,” Jess said climbing out the other side.

“It’s nice to know I’m so highly thought of around here,” Waters sulked.

“That would imply we think anything of you at all,” Richardson patted his shoulder as he got out.

“Why do I fly with you again rich boy?”

“I drew the short straw.”

“Everybody’s a comedian.”

“Captain on deck!”, somebody announced. Several of the hanger crewmen stopped what they were doing and snapped to attention as a man with gray hair edging his temples of his dark hair walked in. Wearing a similar uniform to the others, Hawk was written on his tag. The four quickly stood at attention as he came nearer.

“Good job,” he told them. “You were able to take care of the creatures before they could get to a populated area. You got extremely lucky this time around and we probably won’t get that lucky again for a while. We’ll get over the cam footage in the morning.”

“Everybody is a ray of sunshine today,” Waters said as the group started to walk away.

“Richardson,” Hawk called out, “can I talk to you for a moment?”

“You’re in trouble,” Waters smirked.

“He’s not you Bill,” Watanabe said.

Once there were alone Hawk motioned for him to follow him. “Your father called me again. He has a something or another, if it’s not one thing it’s another with him.”

“I’m guessing he wants me to come along,” Richardson said, “as a guard or something official.”

“You know your old man,” he laughed. “Just say the word and I’ll tell him you’re on patrol or something.”

Richardson didn’t agree right away like he usually did. In fact he looked like he was torn about something. “Maybe I should go along this one time.”

Arching an eyebrow in surprise Hawk looked at him. “You sure about that Joe? You always said you were uncomfortable doing favors for your father like that.”

“I know,” he admitted,” but he’s always asking me and you’re always making excuses. Maybe if I go along with him just once he’ll lay off for a while.” Grinning a bit he added, “Besides, I’ve been on ‘patrol’ so much he probably thinks I’m being punished for something.”

“Well I guess you know how to handle your old man,” Hawk said. “I’ll rearrange the schedules a bit so you can accompany him. Just to warn you the others are going to give you hell for doing so.”

“I’m ready for it. Thanks Captain.”

“Don’t thank me until after you survive this trip with your father.”

“I’m part of Monster Squad, we’re ready for anything. Although I may need hazard pay for this one.”

Hawk snorted, “Talk to your old man.”

“Hey Ken,” he looked from under the hood he was working on at the person calling him. “We’re going to the diner to grab something to eat. You coming?” He looked at the engine in front of him. It was one of those newer model, a ’26, that their boss gave top priority. Therefore it went to him. Based on what was wrong right now he was estimating five, maybe ten minutes tops.

He told them, “I’m going to be here a while. I’ll try to catch up if it’s not too late.”

“Yeah I can see that happening,” Jeff said. One of their co-workers shoved him from behind. “What? He’s just going to drag everything down. You remember what happened last.” He quickly reminded Jeff what really happened that night. Like always Jeff played it off to make himself look good, like always. Not for the first time he wondered exactly what his sister-in-law saw in him.

“Catch you later Ken.”

“Yeah, see you guys later.”It didn’t even take five minutes to finish the job. It seemed the more complicated these engines were the easier it was for him to fix them. Wiping his hands he looked over to the car his brother was working on earlier. Popping the hood he saw were Jeff left off fast enough. Overhearing what problems the owner was saying he was having he immediately went to work fixing the problem, and at least one thing Jeff did to it. Not that he’d do it intentionally, Jeff could be a little careless at time. Especially when he was trying to show up his little brother. And he probably wasn’t that smart enough to figure out a way he could get away with it to get repeat business.

“You have really got to stop making your brother look good,” his boss said. Ken was a little surprised, he thought he left with the others. “You know damn well he wouldn’t do the same for you.”

“And Dad said you had to look after family no matter what,” he said continuing what he was doing.

“There has to be limits. Even you can’t keep your brother from sinking forever, and he might drag you down with him.”

“I’m thinking more of my niece than me or my brother,” he told him.

Nodding he heard him say, “I guess I can’t fault you there.” Checking his work over he commented, “You look done to me.”

He started to say,” I still have to…”

A little more forcibly he repeated, “You look done to me.” Getting the hint he grabbed a rag and cleaned his hands again. “Come with me, I got something for you.” Taking him to his office he reached into his desk and put a large brown envelope on top of it.

“That’s a little big to be a bonus,” he joked. Then he read what was written on it and things stopped being funny. “They’re not going to give me another shot.”

“You don’t know that for sure, at least not until you try. You don’t even have to be a soldier, I know for a fact the UNDF is looking for qualified mechanics. And I have yet to see an engine you couldn’t figure out and they have some doozeys. Take the application, fill it out send it in. You will get in.”

“Everyone goes through the same training process,” he said from personal experience. “I already failed it once.”

“Ken you deserve better than this. Your skills are being wasted in this dump.”

“You said I was one of the reasons why this dump was still afloat,” he shot back.

“And I really don’t want to lose you, but we’ll be fine if we did. Tony and Rico do pretty good job on these things. Johnny’s always reading up on these things as well. Ken I’ve known you and your family for a long time. I know you are destined for something better than this. Whatever it is you are not going to find it here.”

“So I’ll find it with these guys?”, he said really trying not to snap back.

“I don’t know,” he said honestly, “but I’m pretty sure you’ll find it faster there than if you stayed here.” He forced him to take the application. “As a favor to me, fill it out.”

“All right,” Ken conceded. Looking pleased his boss sent him home. Grabbing his jacket off the wall he stuck the envelope under his arm. Once he was a few yards out of sight he looked at the envelope in his hands. Stomach doing flip flops at just the memory he tossed it into the first trash can he came across. “And sometimes a guy doesn’t have a destiny at all.”

“Mr. Richardson! Mr. Richardson! Any comments on the escalating creature problem?”

“Do you think this so-called ‘Monster Squad’ has been an effective deterrent so far.”

“What do you say to those who say the money going to the Squad and it’s weapons could be better spent elsewhere.”

Harold Richardson made his way through the crowd with Joseph taking point. So far nobody noticed the name on his tag. No doubt if they did a whole new barrage of questions would come at them in rapid fire procession and they would never get out of here. Joseph was able to part the sea of reporters just long enough to get his father into the waiting limo. Once the door was closed the elder Richardson was finally able to speak his mind. “What a bunch of vultures, always looking for a bone to pick clean.”

“They’re just doing their jobs,” Joseph spoke up.

“Perhaps, but it did take some gumption to ask about the effectiveness of the Alpha team when there was a member of the unit present.” He turned to the dark haired woman sitting beside him, “What do you think Patricia?”

“I do believe they used to say it takes a set,” she responded. “Dr. Williams said things are ready on our end.”

“I still don’t know how this is supposed to work,” Joseph spoke up. “What am I supposed to do when it happens?”

Going through the files on her lap Patricia said, “The way Dr. Williams explained it was once their selected individual breaches the dimensional walls it will bond with you as soon as possible.”

“Yeah but what happens after that?”, he asked. “How do I work with this person? What’s going to happen to me?”

“You’re a Richardson,” Harold told him. “You’ll be able to overcome anything that thing tries to do to you. We just need to get there in time. Williams said he wasn’t sure if the alien was going to last long in our world.”

“And the sooner the better,” she added. “Williams said it’s possible the creatures may detect the breach before it forms completely. Seeing how they have been doing it longer they could be able to stop it before it’s completed.”

“Let me call in the others,” Joseph said directly to his father. “I have seen these things personally. If they are going to try and stop it we’re going to need the help.”

“They will just complicate things and get in the way,” Harold said hutting the idea down. “I’ve known Gabriel Hawk a long time, he’ll find some way to involve himself and screw this up.”

“Captain Hawk is a good man,” Joseph said defending him.

Patricia joined in, “And he wouldn’t be in charge of the Alpha Team.”

“I’m not questioning his qualifications,” he quickly backtracked. “But he wouldn’t understand the complications of the situation. The timing of this is going to be tight. We’re not going to have time to explain the details to somebody out of the loop. Joseph you are going to become something more than human. You are going to become our best line of defense against these things.” Joseph just stared out the window in silence after that, wonder how much of him was still going to be human after this was over.

The stars twinkling overheard Ken sat at the edge of a lake just skipping stones across it’s surface. This was one of the few places he could find some peace. It also had a special place in his heart, this was his and his dad’s special spot. He would take him her when Jeff was being too much of an ass to calm Ken down. Looking out over the water he remembered one of the last things he ever told him before he died, “Ken there comes a time when a man is faced with a decision that seems more than he can handle alone. How he decides shows what kind of man he truly is.” At the time it was his Dad’s way of telling him he was dying of cancer. He found himself having to grow up at the age of fourteen. Jeff… he just stayed Jeff.

“I wish you were still here Dad,” he said to the lake. “I could really use somebody to talk to.” The only response was the wind lightly rustling through the trees. “Ever since you died it feels like everyone’s been looking to me to keep things together, to be everybody’s rock when things get tough. But who do I turn to? Who do I turn to now? My boss just told everybody I’m why they still have a job. Mom still needs help, I’m helping Jeff’s family behind his back. Because let’s face it, it’s Jeff. Did Mom go to him to keep things together? No, she went to me because I’m the responsible one,” anger tinged his voice.

Wiping his eyes he convinced himself that something got in his eyes. “You once told me God doesn’t give you a burden you can’t handle. Sometimes I think he’s got me confused with somebody else. I don’t think I can handle it any more Dad.” Tears started to flow a little more freely, “I need somebody else to be the rock. I know it’s selfish but I’m tired of being the one everybody turns to.” Picking up a flat oval stone he looked at it for a long time. “While I’m at it why don’t I just wish for world peace?” Throwing the stone into the lake in anger he remembered what his boss said a little while ago. “Anybody with a destiny wouldn’t be stuck here with everything tying him down.”

Dusting himself off as he stood he looked back at the trail. He had to get ready for another day of the same old shit tomorrow. About half way to the trees the ground started shaking, lightly at first just enough to be noticeable. Looking at the ground Ken wondered what was going on. There hasn’t been an earthquake in the area ever. Then it started to shake more violently and he fell to the ground, “What the hell?” The water of the lake stated churning. Something that sounded like a muffled scream filled the air. It took Ken a moment to realize it was coming from the lake. In the middle of the bubbling something started to rise. A pair of monstrous eyes broke through and seemed to focus on him. As the shadows grew around him Ken’s head kept going up and up, “Oh shit.”

Claxons going off Hawk ran through the halls until he got to control. As soon as he entered he tried to avoid several people who hurried to get out of his way. A digital map on the wall started changing, getting smaller pinpointing a location. Standing behind a black man working frantically at a keyboard he asked, “What do we got Bridge?”

“This looks like a big one Captain,” he said. “Sensors are picking up a huge life sign reading.”

“How many are we talking about?”

“I can’t tell,” he answered. “They’re so pact together it’s coming off as one single reading.”

Hawk leaned over the man’s shoulder and looked for himself. It was like he said it was, “That can’t be right.”

“I know, I’m trying to narrow the scan field to get a more accurate reading but it’s still coming up as a single life form.” The rest of the Alpha Unit ran in as Bridge got a location on the disturbance, “Sector 7J, park area. It’s still coming off as one entity.”

“Can we get a visual?”, Hawk asked.

“Working on it,” Bridge said, “there’s a lot of interference in the area. It might be why it’s coming off as one signal, I’ll try and compensate.”

“With Joe babysitting his father we’re going to be a man short,” Watanabe informed him.

“No we’re not,” Hawk faced them smiling. “I’m still a pretty good shot. Ryo and Jess, take jet two. Me and Bill have jet one.” Waters gulped a little but nodded in response. “I want every available Razor Wing in the air and every Scan Track on the ground to sector 7J. Bridge says this is going to be big. Any civilians in there needs to be evacuated first but stopping whatever those are has to share top priority if we’re going to get them out. Monster Squad scramble.”

“Rodger,” they said and ran out of the room with Hawk in tow. Grabbing their helmets off a nearby wall rack they made their way to the hanger. The hanger support crew was working on all the black jet inside but they headed toward two in particular. Jess and Ryo boarded one as Hawk and Bill climbed into another. As the Jets powered up both pilots and gunmen ran preflight and weapon checks.

“Razor Wing one to control,” Waters said out loud, “we are ready to launch.”

“Razor Wing two to control,” Ryo spoke next, “we are ready to launch.”

“Acknowledged Razor Wings,” Bridge said from his station, “You are a go for launch.”

“Launching,” both of them said as they shot out of the hanger. They exited out the side of the mountain. Moments later more jets followed them out.

“Remember,” Hawk said over the comm. Line, “we have to keep these things busy while the ground crew evacuates the civilians out of there.”

“Do we have a visual on the targets yet?”, Jess asked.

“I think I got something,” Bridge said. “I’m sending the image now.” A small video screen in front of all of them came to life. All of them saw what they were up against at the same time. “Holy mother of God.”

They saw what looked like a giant lizard walking on two legs stomping through the park. Spike lined it’s back going down to it’s tail. “That thing is big,” Waters commented.

Jess just stared at it, “Are our weapons going to work on it?”

“There’s only one way to find out,” Hawk told them. “Hit the afterburners.” Both jets shot forward from the rest of the pack.

The limo arrived in a middle of a commotion as people tried to get the hell out of there. Training made Joseph jump out before it stopped and try and figure out was going on. A monstrous roar gave him an idea where to look. He felt the ground shake before he saw it in the distance. Hand going for the communicator on his uniform jacket he couldn’t take his eyes off the sight. “Richardson to Captain Hawk.”

“Hawk here, we’re a little busy at the moment Joe. We have a disturbance in sector 7J.”

“I know I’m looking right at it.”

“What are you doing in that sector?”

“I’ll explain later if I can. What’s your ETA?”

A moment of silence was followed by, “A little over five minutes. Is your father with you?”

“Yeah he’s still in the limo with Mrs. Stanson and his driver.”

“Get them out of there, their safety is your only concern right now. Is that clear Richardson?”

“Yes sir.” Cutting the link he looked at his father. He knew he was going to have to disobey that order and that just killed him on the inside.

“They must be detecting the resonance of the breach our friends are trying to create,” the older Richardson said. “We have to get to the target area now.”

“Dad it’s too dangerous,” he tried to reason with even though it wouldn’t do any good. “We’ll never get there in time in this chaos much less with that thing out there.”

“The clearing isn’t that far,” he forced his way out of the car. “Mrs. Stanson will back you up in protecting me. Won’t you my dear?” In response she pulled a standard UNDF handgun out of her briefcase. “Now come on the sooner you get bonded the sooner you can take care of that thing.” Richardson hurried off with his assistant right behind him. Joseph looked at the gun in his hand than at the monster before following.

Running as fast as his legs could go Ken went down any path he could find. Whatever that thing was apparently decided he was too small for dinner. Of course he could still get stepped on, a thought that conveniently ran through his mind as he heard those gigantic feet hit the ground. So caught up in getting away he had no idea where he was going. Right now as long as he was going away from that monster he really didn’t care. “Help us!”, he looked over and saw an old woman try to help her husband off the ground. Stopping just long enough to see where the monster was he ran toward them.

“I got him,” Ken told the old woman. Making sure nothing was broken on the old man he helped him back to his feet. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine thank you son.” A younger couple ran up to them.

The young man took the older man from Ken, “I got you Grandpa.”

“Let’s go Ella,” the young woman said to the old woman. She looked at Ken, “Thank you.”

“No problem,” he said. They heard the monster come closer and ran off in different direction. Ken looked back and realized it was going in the same direction as that family. “Hey!”, he jumped up and waved his arms trying to get the monster’s attention, “Over here ugly! Right here!” The monster stopped and turned his attention right toward him. Mumbling, “Not a good idea,” he ran for his life again.

“Fire!”, Hawk ordered. He and Jess both unleashed a pair of missiles that exploded on the monster’s back. It turned around to see what was attacking him. The Razor Wings split formation and went around it. “The rest of the jets should be coming up now.” More explosions erupted on it’s back. It screamed one more time and faced the oncoming jets. Waters and Watanabe turned their wings around and gave their gunmen another shot. “Scan Track in attack position fire!” On the ground a group of specialized Hummers pulled up and fired their mounted cannons. The monster roared again and opened it’s mouth. A blue flame shot out and hit the Tracks.

“Holy shit that thing breathes fire!”, Ryo shouted.

“Storm Track retreat,” Hawk ordered. “All Razor Wing squadrons concentrate on the creature. Distract it long enough to let the ground crew get the remaining civilians out of here.”

Seeing the flames from where they raced for the clearing. Joseph looked around as they hit it, “This is nuts, we have to get you out of here Dad.” He kept going. “Look whoever or whatever these guys are I’m sure they will understand.”

“And they don’t know how long on of their will last in our universe,” he said. “And they don’t know if they can get him back in time. This could be our only real shot.” He stopped and looked up. Joseph and Stanson did the same. The sky started to swirl. “It’s starting, Joseph stand under it.” Joseph looked at the vortex as a red orb started to emerge. He took a step forward.

A dark energy beam shot out of the woods surprising all of them. It struck Joseph before he could cry out. Harold and Patricia had to cover their eyes the light was so bright. By the time the beam stopped all that remained of Joseph was a charred skeleton that crumbled to the ground. For the first time in his life Harold Richardson was at a loss of words. In the woods a man’s hand stopped glowing leaving him in shadows, “Gotcha.” Looking at the monster he said out loud, “Finish it Bemular,” and walked deeper into the shadows. Seemingly understanding the creature increased it’s attack.

Richardson eyes went from what was left of his only son to the red orb in the sky. The vortex disappeared behind it as it hung in the air. “Come to me,” he said stumbling forward. “I was his father I should be a suitable match.” The orb jut hung there. “Come on join with me. I need to avenge his death. Damn it, join with me!” The red orb seemed to fluctuate a bit before shooting off. “Get back here! We had a deal! You can’t last long without one of us, get back here!”

Just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse Ken was in the middle of a freaking forest fire. The heat was unbearable and the smoke was making it hard to see and breath. Putting the collar of his shirt over his nose he tried to find a path out of there. Through it all he heard some crying. Looking for the source he found a couple of kids huddled together. Running over he tried to get them move. “It’s going to be ok, we’re going to get out of here.” Taking each one by the hand he tried to guide them to safety.

“We got more civilians!” he looked up to see a couple of UNDF officer come toward them.

“Take the kids,” Ken insisted. A cracking sound made them look up. A tree started falling. He officers and he kids went in one direction while Ken dove in the other. He looked up to see hi path to freedom blocked.

The officer called out to him, “Sir if you can hear me we will get to you as soon as we can.”

“Worry about the kids,” he shouted back. “I’ll find another way out.” Leaving before the guy could argue he found another path that he hoped lead out of there. It wasn’t long before the smoke and fire had him going around in circles. Another cracking sound made him freeze in his tracks, a flaming tree was coming down right at him. He didn’t have time to move out of the way. Instinct made him try to cover up and protect himself but he figured his was going to dir right here. A red light swallowed him a split second before the tree crashed down on top of him.

Ken opened his eyes to find himself in a tunnel of some sort. Red, blue and silver lights seemed to swirl around him. “Am I dead?”

“No but I fear I am dying.” He looked around until he found the source of the voice. He saw something that looked like a man stand before him. It took him a second to process that he was glowing and was as tall as that creature. “My name is Daxium, I was sent here to battle creatures similar to the one currently assaulting your world. Unfortunately the one I was supposed to join with originally perished before it could start. My time in your world is not for much longer. If I am to survive and complete my mission I must bond with someone in this dimension.”

“You… you want to bond with me?”, Ken started backing up.

“I witnessed you saving those young ones in my search. I know you have some courage and bravery in your makeup. I could not let you perish in such a manner. I will not use that to force your decision. Your choice to bond with me must be made of your own free will.”

Ken wasn’t sure what to think. First of all he wasn’t sure if this thing was telling the truth about fighting the other thing, or his whole story. He definitely didn’t believe that this thing was going to die unless I bonded with him. But what if he was telling the truth? Whatever the other creature was it didn’t look like the UNDF was hurting it much. Of course running away he didn’t see much of the fight. Some words his dad said about a choice a man had to make came back to him. What was this choice going to say about him? “Let’s do it.”

“Thank you,” This Daxium said. A light seemed to off of him and engulf Ken as it swirled around him. It wasn’t long before he felt he alien presence mix within him.

“I got the monster in my sights,” Jess said.

“I’ll keep her steady,” Ryo announced. Then a huge column of light appeared in front of them. “Holy…,” Ryo had to react fast to avoid it.

“Where did that come from?”, Bill asked. Hawk silently wondered what was happening now.

The column disappeared revealing what was inside, something resembling a human in basic shape. Huge lighted eyes highlighted his face along with the fin on top of his head. It had red and blue markings on his silver body. A diamond shaped jewel that seemed to have a light blue glow to it was embedded in his chest. Looking at the monster it took a defensive stance, “Shiah!”

“Can this day get any weirder?”, Bill asked as he watched the giant run toward the creature.

“Don’t say it if you don’t want an answer,” Jess admonished him.

“All units…,” Hawk was ready to give the order to target the newcomer.

“Don’t fire on that giant!”, Richardson said over the line. “Let him take on the monster.”

Hawk couldn’t believe what he was hearing, “Richardson are you out of your mind? Where’s Joe?”

“Joseph dead.” He said plainly. They were too stunned to respond. “Just do as you’re told Captain.”

Daxium charged the monster trying to stop it’s rampage before anything else happened. He punched and kicked Bemular who screamed which each hit. When it tried to attack back Daxium back flipped out of the way and brought both hands to the left side of his body. Light seemed to glow between his hands for a split second before extending his right hand toward the creature. A bolt of energy shot out and struck it. Again Bemular tried his fire breath but he rolled out of the way. Bemular came in unexpectedly and knocked Daxium down. It jumped on top of him and started bouncing up and down on his chest, he grunted with each shot of pain. The monster roared in triumph.

With a punch he was able to get the monster off balanced, enough to free himself. Getting to his feet he grabbed Bemular by the head and started pounding away it it’s back. Bemular broke free and blasted him with fire at point blank range. Daxium fell to his back with a thud that shook the ground. Bemular kept up the fire assault pinning him to the ground. Before long the diamond on his chest started blinking red. Daxium managed to shot another energy bolt, right into Bemular’s mouth. The creature screamed in pain as it held it’s mouth.

Daxium kicked it away in order to scramble to his feet. Punching at Bemular’s head and neck he forced the monster back. Looking like it was going to try the fire attack again he grabbed a tree off a nearby hill out of the ground and shoved it roots first into it’s mouth. It ignited almost instantly causing it Bemular even more pain. Pivoting on a foot he spun and kicked the he kicked it back and stood there. Holding his hands to the diamond, Palms facing down, Daxium spread his arms wide. Energy seemed to draw into him right out of the air. Slowly raising his right arm while lowering his left he brought them together at the wrist. A multicolored stream of energy shot out of the edge of his right hand hitting Bemular. After a few seconds Bemular started to fall back and exploded. Daxium stood there a moment before looking at the sky and flying off, “Shiah!”

Hawk watched him go, “He didn’t say anything about not going after it. Razor Wings one and two follow that thing.” Both jets acknowledged the order and went after the giant. They almost caught up with him before the giant started to glow than disappeared in a flash. “What the hell?!”

Still in the shadows the man watched the entire conflict and the giant’s departure. “I knew I should have shot the orb instead of Richardson.”

Harold Richardson stood there fuming. That should have been his son damn it. “He joined with somebody,” he told Patricia. “I want to know who and I want it now!” He walked off not even sparing a glance at the remains of his son.

A ball of light appeared in another part of the forest that wasn’t damaged by the attack. It condensed into the shape of a man before cracking and breaking away. Ken dropped to his knees not sure that really happened. The shards of light still hanging in the air told him it did. The flowed together and condensed even more into a smaller object that landed right before him. The light faded revealing a cylinder under a foot long with three slots on one end. Picking it up he heard Daxium’s voice in his head, “This is the Spark Magnifier. Use it when I am needed. You will know when.” Staring at it in his hand he got to his feet and stuck it in his pocket. Looking around to make sure nobody else saw what happened he got out of there as fast as he could.
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Old March 18th, 2019, 04:30 PM #2
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Power Ranger
Joined: Dec 2012
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Power Ranger
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

Episode 2

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

Despite the weather forecast fate seemed to be with them as the rain held off for long enough as they buried Joseph Richardson, or what was left of him. Hawk kept glancing over at Joe’s father during the ceremony. He still wouldn’t reveal why they were in sector 7J. Joe might have been Harold’s son but he lost a good man damn it, he wanted to know how and why Joe was left a skeleton. He, no the entire team deserved to know that much. But the rather infamous poker face of Harold Richardson was up in full force since it happened. And that just drove him crazy.

Eyes wondering a bit he was somewhat relieved to see that the reporters and paparazzi decided to be respectful and stay outside the cemetery. Although you could still see the occasional camera or head pop out from over the wall. Even they had to make a living he guessed but there had to be a more interesting story than a funeral happening today. That creature showed up last night for crying out loud, and that giant.

The preacher finished and a UNDF flag that was draped over the coffin was folded up and given to Harold. He barely reacted, in fact his assistant was the one who ended up taking possession of the flag. The preacher turned toward him and his men. The rest of Alpha Team and a few others held up their rifles and waited for his order. He gave it without hesitation, “Fire!” Almost as one they raised their rifles to the sky and fired, and again and again. Lowering their rifles Joseph’s coffin was lowered into the ground. The team walked up and said their final goodbyes and left as he stood by his grave.

“Harold,” a younger man with blond hair walked up to him. Peter Brooks, the youngest on the UNDF board. Looking sympathetic he told him, “My Father sends his condolences and wishes he could have been here for you.” The surviving Richardson’s head barely nodded in response. “You have my condolences as well, Joseph was a good man. A credit to you and your family and to the UNDF.”

“Thank you Peter,” he finally said. “And thank you father for me as well. Come Patricia, we still have an organization to run. Those creatures aren’t going to stop because of something like this.”

Overhearing the exchange Hawk watched the two of them get into his limo. As it pulled away he shook his head in disgust, “I don’t think he shed a tear during that whole thing.”

“According to my father that’s how he is,” Peter said coming closer. “He never shows anything as it would be a sign of weakness, no matter what the situation is. I have to admire him and pity him at the same time.” Looking back at the grave he said, “Although it probably cost a pretty penny to arrange this funeral so fast. Joseph did die just last night. That has to count for something.”

“He probably wanted to get it out of the way so it wouldn’t interfere with his schedule as much as it already has,” Hawk said darkly.

“Now that’s a little unfair Captain,” Peter told him. “We all grieve in our own way. I’m sure he’s probably hurting on the inside.”

“I’ll start caring the moment he tells me why they were up there and what the hell happened to Joe.”

Nodding a bit Peter looked around the cemetery. “Most of the board is putting it down to that rather famous instinct of his. He seemed to know about these creatures before they showed up. Maybe he had some insight about our new giant friend.” Getting a little closer he looked right at Hawk, “He did give the order not to fire on the giant, did he not?”

“From the message on my desk this morning it’s an order that’s still in effect.”

“I’ve heard, in fact his exact order is not to engage the giant for the time being. Which tells me might change his mind somewhere down the line.” Stepping a little closer and spoke in a bit of a conspiracal tone, “And it doesn’t mean we can’t be prepared on the off chance he does. Study the giant, find out what he can do, discover his weaknesses. Figure out the best way to defeat him.”

A bit taken aback at what he was hearing Hawk asked, “Is that and order Mr. Brooks?”

“Just a suggestion Captain,” he answered stepping away a little. “Some of the board members don’t agree with this order, some have told him the moment they heard but you know how he is once his mind is set. But they did agree to assign a codename to the giant for the time being.”

“This is the first I’m hearing of it.”

“It was just decided on before we had to leave for the funeral.” Grinning a bit he revealed what it was, “Ultraman.”

“Of all the preposterous names,” Richardson said as they drove back to the mansion. “Ultraman. If anybody had come up with anything else I would have jumped on it. And we still no closer to finding out who he bonded with.”

“We’re still interviewing the ground teams in the suspected area,” his assistant told him, “and checking the names of the survivors in the area. It will take time no matter how much man power we put on it.”

“Time that could have been cut short if we were allowed to put the surveillance cameras in the park.” Going over the folders in his briefcase he muttered under his breath, “Damn environmentalist.”

“And it was considered a huge invasion of privacy,” Patricia reminded him. “It was a struggle to get them in the major cities and the surrounding area. Even your influence only goes so far.”

“They want protection but won’t let us do everything possible to do just. I’d bet what’s left of my fortune our giant friend and whoever he’s bonded with doesn’t have to worry about any backlash to their actions.” A little quieter he said, “They’re probably still celebrating their victory as we speak.”

At that moment Ken was laying in bed of his modest apartment. Most of the furniture was from his old room from back at his parent’s house. Today was his day off from the garage. Although Jeff left several messages trying to get him to take his shift for one down the road. Last few times he’d done that he ended up working both shifts anyway. Usually he would have taken it but he really needed time to think right now, without the usual background noise of the garage. On the dresser on the far side of the room was the Spark Magnifier that Daxium had given him, his only proof last night actually happened and wasn’t some weird dream. If the continuous news coverage wasn’t proof enough.

He had been wanting to try something all day but was too afraid to try. Setting his resolve he took a deep breath and looked, not out but in. Faster than he thought he would he found what he was looking for, something that seemed alien to his mind. Before he knew it he was in some sort of crystalline structure, the red, blue and silver light he saw from before swirling on the outside. With him in the structure was Daxium, his size this time around, standing there. Not sure what else to say Ken went, “So where are we?”

“I created this space during the bonding,” Daxium explained. “From what I was feeling during the process the union was becoming to precise, we were becoming one being. Admittedly that frightened me and I was worried what would become of you. We are bonded but this way we retain who we are.”

“So when you’re not… needed you’re in here and when you are I am?” Daxium nodded his head in the affirmative. Oh the things he would agree to. “It seems to me your getting the raw end of the deal. You time outside seems limited. I felt you lose energy. Especially when that thing,” he pointed at the diamond on his chest, “started flashing.”

“Yes, my energies dissipated faster in your world than we anticipated.”

“Would you have lasted longer if I said yes sooner?”

“Doubtful,” he answered, “they were dissipating when the being from your world that was originally supposed to contain me perished.”

“So what is going on?”, Ken asked him. “You said you were sent here to fight those creatures. Where do they come from? Where did you come from?”

“I will do my best to explain.” Holding out his hand as an image of the galaxy appeared above it. “This is what you know as the universe. This pattern is repeated several hundred times in the muiltiverse. Each one inhabiting it own dimensional plain. My people discovered this long ago and we did our best to study them. We discovered several beings such as ourselves, beings of light. A few living in the same universe with beings such as yourself. Unfortunately we didn’t discover a secret of our own universe until after it was too late.”

Ken watched as two more universes appeared in his hand. “They’re overlapping.”

“Indeed, for some unknown reason our scientists can’t figure out all three universes inhabit the same dimensional plain, just out of phase with each other.”

Starting to understand Ken said, “You and those creatures are from these other two universes.”

“We did not discover the nature of our dimensional plain until the beings from the dark universe tried to invade ours.” The images disappeared as Daxium continued, “The beings of darkness saw us as a new land to invade and conquer. Unfortunately neither side knew how quickly the beings from one world would disintegrate as soon as they stepped into the other. We were at a standstill, they tried to continue the war while we tried to contain them, diplomacy having failed long before then.”

“And since the creatures appeared first they discovered my universe inhabited the same plain.”

“That would be correct KenScott. They planned on using your universe as a staging ground for their attack, in not use your people as soldiers to invade my universe out right. For some reason they do not have the same problem I have in your universe. Another part of my mission is to find out why this is so. Until we do the fate of both our universes is placed fully on our shoulders.”

“Why not everything else seems to be on it,” he muttered to himself. “But at least somebody is actually helping shoulder the burden for a change. And it’s Ken Scott Dax, two words or just Ken. So are they all like you where you come from?”

“No, after I was selected for this mission I was altered to help in our upcoming battles…” Daxium trailed off, his head tilted slightly in confusion, “Dax? My name is Daxium.”

“I know I know,” Ken covered his face in his hands, “how do I explain this? My full name is Kenneth but everybody calls me Ken. It’s a shorten version of my name.”

“You… shortened my name to Dax?”

“Yeah force of habit, I do it with all my friends. If you’re not fine with it I can keep calling you Daxium.”

“No I am… fine with it. If we are to be partnered like this I wish for you to be as comfortable as possible… Ken.”

Wanting to leave he felt he should say something first, “Dax I hope you realize the amount of faith I put in you and that story you told me when I first met you.”

“I do,” he said. “I promise I will not do anything to break the trust you put in me Ken.”

Blinking a few times Ken was back in his room. Grabbing his jacket he put it on and headed for the dresser and looked at the Spark Magnifier. “I should have asked him how I’d know when to use this thing,” he said out loud. Putting it back in his jacket he checked himself over to make sure it wasn’t noticeable. It would be a tad hard to explain what it was. Taking a moment to take a black band and put his hair back in a ponytail he tried hard not to look at the pictures still taped to the mirror’s surface. Especially one of him back in high school standing behind a girl with red hair with his arms wrapped round her. It was long over but could never find the will to take it down or get rid of it.

Things were quiet for a couple of days, too quiet for his tastes. It was time to shake things up a bit. Standing in the darkness of a cave off the UNDF radar Joseph’s killer watched as a portal started to open before him. Purple energy swirled as a creature walked foreword. Holding up a hand energy flowed through the creature stabilizing it enough to stay in this world. “Another Gazato,” he said as it took form. Slightly shorter than he was with an almost triangular body and fin like arms it’s head seemed squarely set on it’s shoulder. It came at him looking hungry. “I don’t think so,” a quick blast at it’s feet backed it up.

“Why did they end another one of you?”, he said in disgust. “Even the Razor Wing units can shoot you down.” An idea coming to him he circled the Gazato, examining it carefully. “But maybe we can alter you a bit. Add a bit of height, maybe a little more power.” Facing the portal that was still there he said, “Do you think that is possible?”

After a moment a voice answered, “It is.”

“Good. I’ll leave it to you. The power you gave me only goes so far.”

“But you are pushing the limits of what you can do every chance you have Avatar.”

“Call it my innate human curiosity.” Starting to leave he added. “Send a few more regular Gazatos, just to keep the so-called Monster Squad occupied until this one is ready.” The Gazato was struck by energy from the portal. The creature screamed in pain and feel to the ground as he calmly walked away and into the light. “Let’s see what his giant can really do.”

“Razor wing one you have a bogey on your six!” Ryo shouted into his communicator.

“We see it,” Bill said as he began invasive maneuvers. The creature was able to keep up with him as he used every trick he could think of. Still it bought them just enough time for Ryo to get them in position so Jessica could shoot it down. “Thank you Jess.”

“I was more worried about the Captain,” she said with a grin.

“I can take care of myself Wade,” Hawk said over the line. “But thanks for the concern. All unit finish what’s left of these creatures.” All the Razor Wing units in the air followed the order to the letter. Hawk tried not to smile too much as he shot down one of his own. The creatures were still able to damage a Wing here and there in the melee, some so bad the pilot and gunner had to eject. If some could at all that is. The Wings flying in a holding pattern Hawk contacted the base, “Bridge is the area clear?”

“I’m not reading any foreign life signs in the area,” he answered. “It looks like you got them all.”

“Right. Contact the ground crew to assist the pilots who had to bail out. And have them reclaim the fallen creatures bodies. There hasn’t been any reports of contamination yet but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.”

“I’m relaying those orders now Captain Hawk. Castle out.”

“Hawk to all Razor Wing units, return to base.” All surviving jets acknowledged the order.

Hours later Hawked walked the halls of Castle until he found who he was looking for. The Alpha team was hanging out in one of the break rooms just talking. It was hard not to notice the empty chair at their table. It didn’t seem right without Joe there but life goes on as they say. Might as well make his presences known, “Jess can I talk to you for a moment?”

“Sure Captain,” she said getting up. “I’ll see you guys later.”

“Jess don’t forget,” Ryo told her, “card game in this room at eight o’clock sharp.”

“Make sure to bring your money,” Bill told her.

“Especially since I’m planning on walking out with yours,” she shot back. “What can I do for you Captain.”

“I’m not really sure,” he answered. Motioning for her to walk with him he headed down the hallway. “I was going over through some paperwork on my desk and I found the strangest request that Joe apparently put in a couple of weeks ago. It was about finding somebody for you.” Jess looked confused until Hawk said the name, “a Ken Scott.”

“Oh he did not,” Jess moaned. Feeling a little embarrassed she explained, “He’s a guy I used to date back in high school. Joe caught me looking at a picture of him a few weeks back. He asked and I told him about him.” Chuckling a bit she added, “According to him I still have a thing for him.”

“Do you?”, Hawk asked.

“Oh no,” she said immediately, “but Joe didn’t listen. Said he’d help me get in contact with him again if I wanted. I told him if he did he’d be my new boot. I guess I didn’t stress the point enough.”

“You know Joe,” Hawk said, “once he set his mind on something you’d be hard pressed to get him to change it. He was a lot like his father in that aspect.”

“I told him Ken probably forgotten about me by now,” she continued. “Too many things going on in his life, especially back then.”

“He was a bit all over the place I take it.”

“No,” she told him, “The exact opposite. Ever since his dad died he took it upon himself to be the man of the house and shoulder everything. He pretty much had to, his mother wasn’t handling things well at the time and his older brother… From my point of view about him if it didn’t affect him directly he didn’t seem to care. And he played Ken like a fiddle too. Their parents owned a store that their mom was having a hard time keeping afloat. Ken pretty much decided it was his responsibility to make sure it stayed open, pushing everything to the background, school, a social life… me. I finally had enough when I overheard his brother practically guilt him into breaking a date so he could help out with the store, only because he had a date he didn’t want to break. I don’t know maybe I was being a little immature back then too,” she wondered out loud.

“Maybe you should talk to him,” Hawk suggested. “At least say hi.”

“That was years ago Captain,” she told him. “He’s probably has his own life now. And I’m too busy around here, any meeting would be cut short. Especially lately seeing how our targets are getting larger in case you haven’t noticed.”

“Trust me I’ve noticed. From the look of things we’re going to earn that Monster Squad nickname in more ways than one.”

“Captain I know it’s a little soon but is there any word on a replacement for Joe?”

“We’re still going through the paperwork and it’s still going to be awhile.” Faking looking offended Hawk went, “You tired with flying with your Captain already Wade?”

“Of course not I’m just worried about Bill. Me and Ryo both think he’s going to strain something trying to behave with you as his gunman.”

“You noticed that too,” he chuckled. “I’ll try to push the paperwork a little faster but you know the bureaucracy around here.”

Jess nodded and went on her way. Finding herself in her quarters she headed for her bunk. Going into her footlocker she pulled out an old scrape book of hers and found the page she was looking for easily enough, a photo of her and Ken around her seventeenth birthday. Yes it was over, but that didn’t mean she didn’t wondered what he was doing form time to time.

“Ken can you come into my office?” He looked up from what he was doing and said he’d be right there. When he got there he noticed another rather large envelope on his boss’s desk. His mood deflated soon after. “Rose forgot something the other night and came back. She just happened to see you toss the other one I gave you into the trash.”

“Slipped from my hand,” was all he could say.

“You really disappoint me Ken, you really do,” his boss said sitting down. “I thought we both agreed you were going to fill it out and send it in.”

“No offense but you agreed.”

“Don’t get smart with me Ken.”

“Trust me I appreciate what you’re trying o do. And as much as it hurts to admit Jeff is right, I’m just a grease jockey. I’m not going to be anything more than that.”

“We both know that’s bullshit Ken.”

“Mom still needs help, I can’t leave.”

“She’ in pretty good shape now. Besides if she does need any extra help maybe Jeff will finally grow up and step up. Do you want to come with another excuse I can shoot down?” Actually Ken had several excuses floating around in his head at the moment. And his boss probably had a counter argument for each one just like he said. Actually he probably had one he didn’t have an answer for, but it would be hard to explain Daxium and his new need to get away at a moment’s notice. If he knew when that is. “Look Ken I know you can do this. And I know you know you can do this. And right now I’m not asking you I’m telling you to fill this out. I know Jeff will make a fuss if he sees this so I’ll keep it in my office until closing time. Don’t worry I’ll remind you in case you ‘accidently’ forget. Now get back to work.”

The moment he left the office, like he guessed Jeff was right there. “Wow little bro, that’s about as disappointed I’ve ever seen the boss get at his golden boy. What did you do?”

“Nothing,” he told him.

“Now that didn’t look like nothing little brother. You might as well tell me because I’m going to find out. And once I do I’m going to rub it in your face so bad.”

“Fine you want to know what it is?”, he snapped. “He’s gave the opportunity to get the hell away from you! And it’s looking better every second.”

Not missing a beat Jeff told him, “And abandon your family? How selfish can you get?” He just happened to look down and see Ken’s hand form a fist. Smirking he said, “What are you going to do little man? Break your mother’s heart by assaulting your own brother? And you know I’ll press charges too.” For a brief second he thought it would be worth it. But that would be something Jeff would hold over his head so he just walked away. “Just like I thought, nothing!”

Ken headed to the back to one of the restrooms and locked the door behind him. All these years and he still let Jeff push his buttons like that. Staring at his reflection he thought about the Spark Magnifier in his jacket’s pocket. “Some piece of work you bonded yourself too, huh Dax?” He didn’t get an answer, truthfully he wasn’t expecting one.

Deep in the inside of Castle the one the dark beings called the Avatar studied the file in his hand. In the back of his mind he felt the Gazato grow stronger. Smiling to himself he knew it was about time. The giant would have to come out of where ever, or whomever, he was hiding. So deep in thought he almost missed Richardson and his assistant coming toward him. Saying a quick hello as he passed Richardson practically ignored him. He still smiled, just picturing the look on his face when he discovered his son’s murderer was right under his nose. Right before he blew it off.

In the Castle control room Bridge and the scientific staff were busy trying to upgrade the sensors. Orders from both Captain Hawk and the board, something as big as that monster should have been easier to locate. So the order of the day was to increase the range of the sensor and fine tune arrays. Wiring hanging around his neck a man with salt and pepper hair popped up from behind the console, “How is that working Bridge?”

Running a few tests he looked somewhat disappointed, “Only a twenty percent increase. Hawk was looking for at least thirty Dr. Williams.”

Untangling himself from the mess he was in he said, “Not without a complete… gah…,” he tangled himself a little more before going in the right direction, “complete system overhaul. Then the pencil pushers on the board will be breathing down my neck. I’m still seeing their disapproving faces when I tried to get funding for the Alpha One.”

“You’re still trying to get that off the drawing board?”, Bridge asked as he helped free the good doctor completely.

“You’d think after one giant monster and they would see the need. Richardson and Brooks looked intrigued but the rest shot me down.”

“And it was just one giant monster, who knows when another one will pop up.” Almost on cue an alert went off. Bridge ran around the consoles and put the new modifications to work. “I’m getting a reading similar to those flying creatures we’ve been getting.” Pulling up the image on the big screen he was confused to see a growing dark cloud a few miles outside the city. “I think we got some wires crossed somewhere.”

“Impossible,” Williams started back under the console before Bridge stopped him.

“The cloud is going against the wind currents and that reading’s getting stronger,” he announced. “I’m going to try to penetrate the cloud.” Using advanced sonar and radar he was able to look inside the cloud, and what was growing inside. “Monster Squad prepare to launch!” Claxons went off as a few moments later Richardson, his assistant and Brooks came in to see what the commotion was. All were quiet as their questions were answered on the screen.

Ken was on a break on joking with a couple of the others when he started feeling funny. Not in a sick way either. He wasn’t sure how to describe it, only that it was coming from inside him somewhere. “Hey Ken are you all right? Ken?”, Rose shook him a little by the shoulder getting concerned.

“I’m not sure,” he answered truthfully. “I’m going to head to the restroom.” Hurrying in he locked the door and concentrated, “Dax, what’s going on?”

He heard a reply in his head, “I am sensing something similar to the creature from before. I can’t pinpoint it from here.”

“I was afraid you were going to say that.” Flushing the toilet for effect he headed back out, “I’m heading home, I’m not feeling right.”

“Oh you faker!”, Jeff shouted out. Ken ignored him as he headed to his car. True to his word his boss hurried out and gave him the envelope. Taking and saying he’d be in tomorrow if he was feeling better. Pulling away he saw an almost black cloud in the distance. Seeing how it was the only cloud in the sky like that it looked like a good place to start.

Razor Wing one and two were able to intercept the cloud a half mile from the city in front of the others. Behind Bill Hawk tried to get a sensor reading through the cloud cover. Getting a fuzzy reading he made a mental note to have the sensor packages on the Razor Wings upgraded as soon as possible. “Hawk to all Razor Wings, I want this done by the book. Keep the creature occupied until the ground crews evacuate that area of the city.” Getting an acknowledgement he prepped the missiles on the underside of the wings. “Bill we’re going to have to go in and draw it out.”

“You got it Captain,” he said while trying to figure out how much fancy flying he was going to have to do to get out of this one in one piece.

“I’m seeing something,” Ryo announced as they flew in front of the cloud. “Something glowing and getting brighter.”

“It looks like a set of eyes,” Jess commented. As they flew past the giant Gazato emerged from the cloud that quickly disappeared. “Castle sensors were right, it’s a larger version on the creatures we’ve been fighting.”

“Then treat it like the others,” Hawk ordered. “All Razor Wings fire!” A barrage of missiles were unleashed on the creature. It cried out from the impact. In retaliation it fired a series of energy orbs from it’s mouth. One of the Wings was hit and both occupants had to eject. No one expected how fast the Gazato reacted into flying over and coming the two in the air. Sickened by what he just saw Hawk gave the only order he could at that moment, “Bury the son of a bitch!” Another barrage exploded on the Gazato forcing it to the ground. “Keep it up, any Scan Tracks in position to engage do so now.”

As commanded those that could fired their cannons as soon as it was in range. It unleashed another volley of those orbs right at them. Several missed but still caused damage to the surrounding area. Some hit with deadly accuracy. Kan ran the streets having to dump his car a few blocks back when he ran hit the roadblock in the city and having to avoid the UNDF units trying to get people out of there. From where he was he could see them try and fight the creature like they did the other one. Down below it’s feet he saw some people running away, the Gazato saw it too. Ken could only watch in horror as it bent down and ate them despite the increased attacks from the jets at that precise moment.

Reaching into his jacket he pulled out the Spark Magnifier and stared at it. If this wasn’t “when” then he’d never know. Not sure what else to do he held it above his head and squeezed the handle. From the slots on top three crystal prongs flipped out. The tips came into contact and created a small spark that quickly grew in size and intensity until it engulfed him completely. In moments Daxium was free and quickly grew in size, “Shiah!”

“The giant’s back,” Brooks commented, “Or should that be Ultraman?” Richardson looked at Patricia who nodded and headed for a row of monitors with Dr. Williams right behind her.

“All unit hold up,” Hawk ordered. “Richardson’s order is still in effect. Keep the conflict from entering the city if needed.”

“That’s a pretty tall order Captain,” Bill said.

“I know,” was his only response as he watched the giants collide.

Daxium grabbed Gazato by that flipper of arm and tried to pull it back way from the city. The creature fought back sensing more food straight ahead. Blocking a kick Daxium quickly stepped back and fired an energy bolt. Despite their closeness Gazato was able to avoid the attack which took Daxium by surprise. It took opportunity to attack smacking him in the head. Crying out it fired more of those orbs. Back flipping out of the way of each one the giant of light landed on his feet and ran in. Jumping over another orb blast he nailed Gazato with a flying kick that knocked the creature to it’s back. Daxium stood over but was caught off guard by an orb at point blank range. The next thing he knew the Gazato was on top of him mouth open wide and coming closer. Barely getting his left arm up in time the creature bit down on his forearm hard. Crying out in pain he struggled to free himself. Light started pouring out like blood as the teeth went deeper.

Ryo and Jess flew overhead and watched the whole thing. Jess’s thumb hovered over the trigger of the missiles. Finally she said, “Captain we have to do something.”

“We can’t engage the giant,” he reminded her. Seeing the giant struggle another loophole in that rule came to him, “But it doesn’t say we can’t aid him. Wings one and two target the creature.”

“Rodger,” Jess said while hitting the trigger at the same time. A pair of missiles hit Gazato squarely in the back. Letting go he turned his attention to his new attackers. Daxium rolled to a knee clutching at his forearm. With some effort he made the bleeding stop and turned toward Gazato. Standing up he crossed his arm in front of hiss chest and quickly brought them down. While his head and face stayed the same a line seemed to form down the center of his body. It expanded out and in a moment the silver on his body became blue while the blue markings became silver.

“What did the giant just do?”, Ryo asked out loud.

“I have no idea,” Jess answered.

Daxium ran at Gazato and started punching and kicking it. Bill took a hand off the stick just long enough to rub his eyes, “Did he just get faster?” Gazato cried out in surprise at the flurry and tried to fight back. Daxium was able to dodge it’s fins and legs. Jumping up he flipped backwards and kicked it under his chin. The creature stumbled back and tried to keep from falling. Taking that moment he extended his right hand and a whip like energy stream emerged from his fingers. Twirling it around he struck Gazatao several times, spark like explosions erupting with each strike. Swinging the whip one more time above his head he tried to wrap it around the creature but Gazato took to the air before that could happen. Daxium looked up to see the creature come at him and crash into him.

Flying past as Daxium crashed to the ground it landed and fired more orbs as he got to a knee. Daxium protected himself as the explosions went off around him. Looking down as his diamond started blinking red he knew he had t end this fast. Setting himself up and looking like he was going to run his body seemed to draw in energy again, and made the barest of flinches. In a second there was a flash across Gazato’s body and Daxium was now standing behind him, light whip retracting back into his hand and the jewel blinking faster that it was a moment ago. Gazato, with a glowing line across his body, stood there for a second before the upper part of his body seem to slide off than he exploded. Daxium put a hand by the jewel on his chest before looking up and flying off, “Shiah!”

“Captain do you want us to follow?”, Ryo asked.

“And what are the chances he’s going to pull that disappearing act again? All units return to base.” As Bill pointed the jet toward home Hawk remembered the little suggestion Brooks gave him. After what he just saw the giant do he was starting to see a little more wisdom in it.

“Looks like he won again,” Peter said to Richardson as they exited the control room. “With an unexpected assist from our own Monster Squad I might add.”

“It was a good call,” Richardson told him. “So far the giant has been fighting the same battle we have. Hawk decided to aide him like he would any ally.”

“And if this Ultraman decides he’d rather fight against us?”

Richardson stopped and looked at the younger man. His father would challenge him just like that in the past. In fact he was seeing a lot of Peter’s father in the look he was giving him right now. “Then I’ll be the first to order the troops to open fire.”

“I’m just making sure your head is still on straight Harold,” he told him. “After you son’s death and all, some of us are a little worried.”

“That is one thing your father never had to doubt. I suggest you learn to do the same.”

“I think I already am,” Peter told him. He kept going on his way as Richardson entered an elevator and headed for his office.

Emerging from an alley Ken held on to his left forearm. Rolling back the sleeve he winced a little at the red teeth like marks on it. Trying to rub the pain away he rolled it back down saying, “Looks like that bond was a little more complete than you thought.” Making sure nobody saw him he headed back to his car totally unaware a UNDF surveillance camera watched him leave the alley.

ED – Shinedown – Fly from the Inside
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Old March 22nd, 2019, 05:47 PM #3
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Joined: Dec 2012
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Episode 3

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

In a different cave entirely he waited. Knowing the set up the UNDF had he felt it was prudent to diversify, so to speak. If there was more than one location his movements couldn’t be easily tracked if anybody suspected him. And on the off chance on of the locations was discovered he still had others he could use, as long as the giant didn’t sense them. He had to have sensed something when Gazato attacked. The only question was when did he sense it?

The air twisting in front of him a vortex formed as something came through. Stabilizing it he watched it plop on the ground with a thud. Walking over he studied what came through to this world, “A glowing blue rock?” He tapped it with his foot, “What am I supposed to do with this? Hurl it at the Razor Wings and Scan Tracks?”

“Do not judge Arnagarge at this stage Avatar,” the voice said.

“Well it is rather unimpressive.”

“Think of it as the larval stage if you must. Once near an energy source it will absorb it and grow.”

“An energy source you say?” Picking it up he grinned to himself, “I believe I know the perfect place.”

Two days after Daxium had fought that monster his left arm still hurt. It was more of a dull ache at this point but it was still noticeable. If he looked close enough Ken could swear he could still see teeth marks. And he was doing everything to hide the fact he was in pain these past couple of days at the garage. Fortunately they were super busy during that time so nobody paid him that much attention. Of course Jeff found the time to get in the usual snide remarks. “Hurry up little bro,” he had said, “or the boss is going to take away your golden opportunity.” Ken ignored him up until the point he slapped him on the left forearm, “Wake up!” Fighting hard to keep the new wave of pain off his face he briefly wondered if there was a way he could talk Dax into stepping on him.

Being able to avoid any other sudden impacts to his arm for the rest of the day he headed straight home. A couple of aspirins made the pain go away a little more once they kicked in. Still he took it easy trying not to strain it too much. Daxium wasn’t much help either, saying that he didn’t know enough about human biology to try anything. Not that he could, locked away where he was, where ever that was inside of him. Something, Ken thought, he was better off not knowing in detail. A dinner of cold pizza beside him he was a little surprised to hear somebody knock at his door. Knowing Jeff would be banging loudly he opened it up just enough to see who it was, “Rose?”

“Hi,” she said as he let her in, a couple of brown bags in hand. “I brought you a couple of things from the diner.”

“You didn’t have to do that.”

“You did it for me when I was sick.”

“But I’m not sick,” he countered.

“You’ve been protecting your left arm the past couple of days.” She told him. “So what happened?”

“I…,” what was she actually going to believe? “You remember when I left work early? I headed for a drug store to see if I could find anything to help make me feel better. Unfortunately I got caught in the mess when that thing attacked.”

“Why didn’t you say anything? We would have helped with your load at the garage.”

“You know me,” he said as he took the bag and examined the contents, “Philly cheese nice, I don’t go looking for sympathy.”

“And you have really got to stop trying to shoulder everything,” Rose told him. Not the first time somebody has told him that, including a particular redhead he used to date. Ken just grunted in response. Rose looked down at the coffee table at the papers on top of it. “You’re actually filling out the application again? That’s great.”

“Does everybody want to get rid of me?”, he said as he sat down.

She sat down next to him saying, “Nobody wants to get lose you Ken, but everybody knows you can do it.” After he snorted in response Rose asked him, “So why are you filling it out if you don’t think you can?”

“I’m hoping once I get the rejection letter the boss will get off my back about it,” he said honestly.

“Come on Ken you can’t think like that. And you know the old man only wants what’s best for you.” Leaning forward a bit she looked at him, “Come to think of it I don’t think I ever heard you talk about your academy days. What was it like?”

“That’s because there’s nothing to talk about,” he informed her. “I did a lot of studying on rules and regulations. Did a lot of physical training. Fired a few weapons when they wanted us too. Everything was going pretty good.” He sighed loudly, “Then the flight simulator happened. After a few times they finally looked me over and said I had an extreme case of motion sickness, which is weird because I’m fine in a car or boat. But for some reason when I’m in the air…,” he trailed off. “They performed a lot of test and prescribed couple of medication but nothing worked. And because of that the medical officer declared that since I had a condition that would l hamper my duty I was, to use the official term, medically disqualified.”

“Well that sucks,” Rose told him.

“Yeah but what are you going to do?”

“Well like Barry told you the other day medication’s come a long way since then.” She looked at her watch, “Now if you will excuse me my Uncle loves the diner’s cheesecake and is waiting for me to drop by and give it to him. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Before she got to the door Ken called out, “Rose.” She looked back to see him hold up her purse. With a sheepish grin she took and left leaving him looking at the application in front of him. “She can’t see her purse right in front of here but she can see me throw this in the trash from how many yards away?”

Bridge entered the Alpha Team briefing room, making sure to lock the door behind him. Inside Hawk and the others were there waiting for him. Heading for the table they were standing around he took a disc out of his pocket and put it in the computer slot in front of him. “Sorry Captain, I know you wanted this sooner but I had to make sure nobody noticed what I was doing.”

“It’s fine Bridge,” Hawk told him, “as long as you got it.”

“I thought we weren’t supposed to engage the giant?” Ryo asked the question the three of them were thinking.

“We’re not,” Hawk answered. “However Mr. Brooks suggested it might be prudent to study the giant. After his display last time I thought it wise to follow up on that suggestion. And from here on out I suggest we call the giant by the codename applied to him, Ultraman.”

Jess’s forehead creased in confusion, “Why Ultraman?”

“Because super just not enough,” Bill quipped. They just looked at him not really reacting. “Oh that was funny and you know it.”

“Bridge,” Hawk said before Ryo or Jess could respond. On cue he accessed the disc and the table top flashed before a holographic image appeared above it, the park were the first monster and the giant appeared. “All right Boys and girl, the object of our attention today is roughly forty-five meters tall. Did we get a weight yet Bridge?”

Having studied the file beforehand he didn’t have to look it up, “Based on the depth and size of the foot impression we’re estimating thirty-five thousand tons.” Bridge whistled out loud but they were all impressed. “We’re still trying to figure out how he does those energy attacks,” to highlight his point the image played the part were Ultraman fired an energy bolt at the creature.

“It seems to me,” Ryo spoke up, “that he generates them internally.”

“Yeah but it looked like to me he was drawing some in when he finished off the creature,” Bill countered.

“Maybe that attack required more energy than what he had,” Jess offered.

“That was my line of thinking as well,” Bridge told her. “Which might explain the jewel on his chest.” The image flashed forward to where the giant was on his back being assaulted by fire. “It seems to me he was getting a little desperate when it started flashing.”

“So it’s like a warning light?”, Hawk asked.

“In a sense,” Bridge said. “I think it’s an energy gauge. I’m thinking as powerful as this guy is he has a limited source of energy to draw from. And he has to replenish it after every battle.”

“Which explains the disappearing act,” Hawk said. “Go to the next one Bridge.” The image changed into the footage from a couple of days ago. “As we all know our giant friend here pulled an interesting trick out of his hat.” They all watched again as this Ultraman changed colors, “Any theories?” He was greeted by silence, “I figured as much.”

“The board has had the science teams working around the clock since we saw it happen and they can’t figure it out,” Bridge said. “I think Bill made a comment about him being faster. I think he was right. There’s a working theory that he changed himself somehow.”

“That last monster was too fast for him,” Ryo said remembering the battle between the two. “So he adapted to the situation by becoming faster.”

“And he did it by turning blue, like the markings on his body,” Jess commented. Thinking it out she said, “He has red markings, he could have a third form.”

“It’s a strong possibility, but I think so too,” Bridge said. “All I know is there was a puddle of drool under a lot of scientists feet when they saw the footage. I’ve overheard a couple of them argue the physics of that whip like weapon he used. And they nearly creamed themselves when they saw this.” The imaged changed to the end of the fight where Ultraman was standing in front of the creature then behind it in a blink of an eye.

“Did they figure out this teleport thing?”, Ryo asked.

“Oh he didn’t teleport,” Bridged grinned like a kid in a candy store as he punched in a command and the image restarted. “I had to slow the footage down to frame by frame just to get this.” They watched as Ultraman seemed to expand in blur with a red trail of his crystal before standing the monster, and he seemed to make a slashing movement as he passed it. Bridge paused the image there, the blur effect in still effect

Hawk leaned in trying, to process what he was seeing, “He ran?”

“Because of that little trick I dubbed this form Hyper Mode,” Bridge informed them.

“I don’t get it,” Bill spoke up. “If Ultraman can do that why even bother with the fight to begin with?”

“I don’t think he can.” Bridge manipulated the image so there were two Ultraman present. “Look at the Jewel on his chest before he ran, it’s flashing about once a second. Now look at the after, I’d say it’s flashing two, maybe three times a second.”

“It takes a lot of his energy to pull that move off,” Ryo said, “even if he pulls more in. Not to mention this form may not be the best option in every battle.”

“He might have to wear the monster down a bit too,” Hawk added. “Which might be why he doesn’t pull out the big guns right away. I think that’s all we can do with the information we have for right now, so you’re all dismissed for now.”

“I hate to be the downer but Richardson is going to find out about this,” Jess said. “What do we do then?”

“Tell him the truth,” Hawk told her, “we’re doing our duty and preparing for the future. If he doesn’t like that answer send him directly to me, and he’s not going to like it if he tries to through his weight around me.”

The light in the ceiling of the garage flickered again. The first couple of times the people inside looked up in confusion. After about twenty they pretty much ignored it. Although their boss mumbled something that sounded like, “Put a base on the moon but they can’t keep the power from going on the fritz.” Ken would occasionally glance up when it happened. As long as he worked here couldn’t remember the light flickering this bad. As it was he was trying very hard not to get paranoid about the situation seeing what he’s seen lately. But he was trying to take some comfort in the fact Dax wasn’t reacting to anything.

A grouped of them had headed out for a lunch run and had come back saying, “This is going on all over town. Everything is going nuts, even the traffic lights.”

“That’s what happens when you get too fancy,” Jeff said. “Once things get too complicated it takes nothing to take it out. No, give an old engine and I know it’s going to take something big to take it out.”

“Those old engines used to be new engines you know,” their boss said from his office. “And there were guys back then who said the same thing about them. Progress happens, you got to learn to go with the flow.”

“Like Ken,” he spat.

“No not like Ken. You’re a smart guy Jeff, maybe a little too proud for your own good but you’re smart. One of these days you’re going to realize that and learn to work on the newer models.”

“I know all I need to know,” Jeff protested. “In fact I’ll bet you anything that this car right here will start as soon as I turn the key.” While Jeff continued boasting he didn’t see Rose and pull a wire slightly and sneak away as he asked for the keys. Looking sure of himself he jumped in the driver’s seat and turned the key. The engine started to whir, then sputtered before dying out completely. Jeff got out and looked at the engine before setting his sights right on Ken, “What in the hell did you do?”

“I’m all the way over here,” Ken said proclaiming his innocence.

“Jeff figure it out,” the boss told him, He looked at Rose then shook his head, but didn’t saying to out here either.”When did I start babysitting again?”, he muttered as he closed the door to the office.

Jeff started fighting back when some of the others started ragging on him. Rose came toward him smiling. “That was so wrong,” he told her, “funny as hell, but so very wrong.”

“He’s always giving you a hard time,” she said, “It’s about time somebody gave him a taste of his own medicine. Especially since you won’t.”

“If I didn’t know better I’d swear you were into me or something.”

“I think my husband would have a little something to say about that.”

“That’s why I know better.” While they shared a small chuckle the lights started flickering again. Even the radio started acting weird. While Jeff started banging on that to get it to work right Ken wondered out loud,” What is going on?”

In the five years the UNDF has been in existence they had received more than their fair share of phone call and complaints. Usually about the noise or the occasional UFO sighting, of course now giant monster sightings were popping up in that middle of that particular racket made things interesting. Seeing how long the creatures had been showing up most of it’s members were surprised it hadn’t happen sooner. Sill nobody expected the calls they had been getting on the hotline. At a board meeting with the commanders of Alpha and Beta teams present Richardson pinched the bridge of his nose before he exploded with, “Could somebody tell these people we are not the power company!”

“People are getting jumpy Harold,” Brooks said. “After everything that’s been happening lately they’re looking for answers.”

“They should look elsewhere,” a strict looking man said. The commander of Beta team, Jamira, crossed his arms and looked annoyed. “We have more important things to worry about than flickering lights and blackouts.”

“True but we’re getting calls from the power companies as well,” one of the board members spoke up. “They don’t know what’s causing these fluctuations either.”

Looking at the board Hawk spoke up, “Based on the calls from the electric company I had Bridge look into it.”

“Did he find anything Captain?”, Brooks asked while leaning forward a bit.

“He found something he can’t quite explain yet.” Taking a control off the table and pointing it at the wall a map of the surrounding area appeared. “As you know the power plant is located right here,” he pointed the location on the map, “and it supplies power to ninety percent of the city as well as a couple of neighboring cities.”

Another board member asked, “Have there been complaints of power fluctuations from those cities as well Captain?”

“Yes there has, people from those cities and towns has called us as well.”

“Can’t anybody do anything for themselves?”, Jamira grumbled.

“That will be enough Commander,” Richardson scowled. Beside him Brooks motioned for Hawk to continue.

“Bridge didn’t see anything at first, then he looked at the electrical grids themselves.” Pointing the control at the wall again a grid appeared on the map. Blue lines seemed to flow to where Hawk pointed out as the location of the power plant. “From the look of things this station is occasionally pulling energy in instead of putting it out.”

With some mild interest Brooks asked, “Have you been able to determine why it’s doing this? Or who depending on the situation.”

“Not as of yet. Bridge contacted the stations managers and they were in the dark as much as we are.”

“A likely story,” Jamira grumbled as he left the room.

“As brash as he is Commander Jamira is right,” Richardson said after he left. “They could be trying to cover their tracks. But this is a matter for the local authorities not us. Send what we have to them Captain.”

“Wait a moment Harold,” Brooks spoke up. “We don’t know exactly what is causing this. With these monsters and giant appearing I’m worried this might be in the same vein. Perhaps it would be prudent to investigate little more closely.”

“That might cause a panic,” another member said.

“Then a small inquiry if you will,” he amended. “Perhaps a couple of technicians, maybe Mr. Bridge as well since he discovered this little anomaly.”

“I’m sure a couple of technicians would be more than enough to handle this,” Hawk quickly said.

“No Bridge discovered this he should finish it out,” Richardson said. “Besides it’ll be a good PR move, show we care about the little problems and such. In fact send Wade and Watanabe with him, in case somebody at the station is behind it. We might be able to scare him into making a mistake.”

“I’ll tell them to get right on it,” Hawk saluted and left the room. Once outside he started rubbing his forehead, “I’d better tell Jess and Ryo to keep an eye in Bridge while I’m at it.”

“Why me?”, Bridge said mainly to himself but loud enough that everybody in the Scan Track heard him. Jess looked back from the passenger seat and gave him a sympathetic look. It was always hard to go outside your nitch in the scheme of things. Behinds the keyboards in the control room he was as confident as the rest of them. Get him out in the field… well let’s just say field work wasn’t exactly his strong point.

From behind the wheel Ryo tried to boost his confidence a little, “Think of it as your time to shine Nate.”

“That’s easy for you to say flyboy,” Bridge grumbled. “Some of us don’t go looking for personal glory.”

“Then think of it as a chance to get some sun,” he quipped.

“We don’t go looking for glory Nate,” Jess stepped in. “We’re just doing the jobs we’re assigned.”

“I know,” Bridge said. “Sorry Ryo.”

“It’s just nerves Nate,” he told him, “we all get them when we’re sent out.” Thinking it would be for the best to get things back on the mission at hand he went, “Are you getting a reading on that station yet?”

Turning in his seat Bridge got a look at one of the sensor readouts on board, “Nothing yet, but it’s looking like the pull is getting stronger.”

“We’ll find out for sure when we get there,” Ryo said as the power plant came into view. Stopping at the front gate Ryo flashed their identification although the guard was paying more attention to the cannons on the back.

“You’re not going to fire that thing are you?”, he asked looking nervous.

“Only if you give us reason too,” Jess told him. Still unsure about the situation but knowing they were expected he let them through. Locating the main the main door they found a heavyset man waiting for them. Jess got out and greeted him, “Mr. Rowlings?”

“Yes,” he answered. Leading them inside before they could introduce themselves he continued, “I hope you people are able to find something. I have customers threatening to call the police since this has been going on.”

“That’s a tad much for some fluctuations,” Ryo commented.

“Normally I’d agree but these fluctuations are getting longer and weirder.”

“Define weirder,” Jess told him.

“We’re starting to lose power,” Rowlings informed her. “I’m talking about the generators themselves here. We’ve run every test and diagnostic we have. We can’t find anything wrong.”

“Interesting,” Ryo told him before looking at the tech with them. “Miller, Rodgers check out the generator and see if you can find something they missed.” With a slight motion of her hand Jess gestured toward Bridge. He was looking around like he didn’t know where to start. “Bridge, check out the computers in this place, maybe something wrong with the diagnostics systems.”

“Right, there might be a glitch in the program that missing the real problem.” He had Rowlings direct him to their main computer room pretty much leaving Ryo and Jess in his dust.

They looked at each other and smiled as she said, “There’s the computer expert we know and love.”

Thanks to his boss, and more than likely Rose as well, word got out about Ken reapplying to the UNDF. Jeff immediately started in on the whole, ‘you’re going to fail again’ shit. Then the other drowned him out and started wishing him luck. Somehow a celebratory dinner was planned behind his back, naturally at the diner, and sprung on him after Jeff left for the day. Ken was actually glad of that for all the wrong reasons, because the night was going to be pointless enough without Jeff laying on a guilt trip. Besides the others seemed to be enjoying themselves so he saw no point in ruining their moods.

One held up a glass in toast, “To the UNDF’s newest member.”

When the others quickly joined in Ken figured it would be better to not let that get too far, “I haven’t gotten a letter saying either way yet.”

“You got to have some faith in yourself Ken,” Rose told him with the other quickly echoing the sentiment. “You’ll get in this time, I’m sure of it.” Ken quickly changed the subject which the other went along with, thankfully. Before too long the party broke up and people started heading home for the night. Rose stood in the parking lot watching the sun hanging low in the sky as Ken walked up behind her. “I hope we didn’t annoy you too much.”

“I had nothing else planned for the night. Speaking of which it looks like it’s going to be a nice one.” Looking behind them he saw the moon just start to come up over the skyline.

“Looks like a perfect night to be with a lover,” she said. “And I better go find mine,” Rose kissed him on the cheek, “I’ll see you later Ken.”

“Now I know you’re trying to get your husband to kick my ass.”

“You’re fast on your feet, you’ll be able to out run him,” she grinned as she got in her car. Ken waved goodbye as she pulled out and headed for his own when he paused mid step. He got that feeling again, Dax was getting something. This felt close, and big. And getting bigger. Remembering the last time he looked up but didn’t see a dark cloud in the sky, but it felt like this could have been right on top of him. Walking to the sidewalk he looked around trying to figure out what it could be. It felt like Dax was getting a direction this time around, and it felt like it was coming from same direction as the power plant.

“Looks like that quiet evening got scratched. Let’s check it out Dax.”

Ryo and Jess patrolled the power station as neither of them seen anything that looked out of place. The techs they brought with them said the generators were normal as far as they could see. Of course they wanted to get inside the generators themselves for a more thorough check. Neither of them thought that was going to fly with the higher ups around here. “I’m going to check with Bridge.” Jess nodded as he went down the hall to the computer room. Ryo found him at one station with a computer of his own nearby looking like normal. “How are things on your end Bridge?”

“Frustrating,” he answered, “this systems and computers are a couple of generations old at least. But everything coming up green on both machines. Hell if I know what’s going on.”

“Maybe we’re looking at his the wrong way,” Ryo suggested. “If somebody is behind these fluctuations it wouldn’t be in plain sight. Does this place have a basement or something?”

“I pulled up a complete set of plans before we left,” Bridge informed him. “I even got a deep san of the area underground. There’s nothing under the ground here except for some caverns.”

Ryo looked at Bridge the moment he said that. Bridge quickly figured out what he was thinking. Both of them grinned as they said, “Caverns.”

Bridge turned his attention to the computer he brought with him and looked up any geological surveys to locate an opening they could use. Ryo activated the communicator on his uniform jacket, “Jess, me and Bridge might have found a lead. We’re going to check it out. Keep an eye on things here to see if anybody reacts while we do.”

“I’ll inform Miller and Rodgers. I’m going to need the extra sets of eyes, Wade out.”

“I got a way in,” Bridge announced as he downloaded the map to his wrist scanner. “The opening’s about a half mile away.”

“Take the lead Nate.” Leaving the plant and heading west they located the passage to the underground cavern. Bridge pulled up any known surveys of the cavern while Ryo pulled out a small flashlight out of pocket to light the way. Bridge would tell him where to go, although every so often Ryo would gently urge him for a direction when he got too quiet. “How long until we’re by the station?”

“We should be close,” Bridge told him. “Nobody surveyed this place in years and didn’t do a very…,” he trailed off as Ryo took the light off the path. “What is that?”

Ryo looked and saw a soft blue glow ahead of them, “Let’s find out.” Pulling his gun he quickly turned the corner and pointed it at the source. Bridge caught up to see a wall of blue glowing rock in front of them. “I’m guessing this wasn’t on any of those surveys.”

“What is this?”, Bridge walked forward and tried to run a scan. The wall started glowing brighter and he noticed that his scanner started losing power. “I think this rock is draining electricity from the surrounding area.”

“That’s a hell of a leap there Bridge.”

“It’s either that or the battery is going on the fritz.”

“This thing can’t be natural,” Ryo said. “That plant’s been here for how many years and this is the first time anything like this has happened.”

“Or it’s been inert all this time and it absorbed enough energy from the area it become active. I’m going to try to take a sample to study.” Bridge checked himself and the area to do just that. Ryo coughed and pointed at his gun. Bridge messed with the settings so he could blast a small chunk off. He went to pick it up and jumped back as the piece crawled back into the wall as it glowed brighter. “That’s not right.”

“I think we’re going to need a little more than us,” Ryo aid looking at the wall. “Let’s get topside and contact Castle. Starting to exit they stopped when they heard a low rumble. Bridge naturally looked up at the rock above them seeing a bit of dust come down on top of them. A voice in the back of his head that had been honed in combat made Ryo look back at the wall behind them. The rock seemed to shift revealing a single glowing red eye. “Run!”, he grabbed Bridge by the uniform and dragged him out of there as the cavern started shaking harder. The ceiling started coming down around them. Ryo had to stop and go back for Bridge as a boulder knocked him to the ground. “Come on,” he grunted as he helped him up.

“I can’t feel my fingers,” he said as he clutched his arm but he continued running. Reaching the cavern’s entrance Ryo kept them running as he looked back. He watched as that single red eye emerged as a head with a single horn on the side came from the ground and kept going up. A monster made up of that blue rock stood damn close to the power station and roared before heading deeper into the city.

“Ryo! Nate!”, Jess called out over the communicator. “Where the hell are you two! Talk to me!”

“We’re here Jess,” Ryo answered. “Bridge might have a broken arm, other than that we’re fine. What’s your status?”

“Outside of a giant rock monster nearly ripping down the wall we’re great,” she answered. “We’re evacuating the plant now, I’ll have Rodgers pick you guys up.”

“Contact Castle and inform them of what’s going on.”

“I think they’re already aware Ryo.” He silently agreed as he watched the monster use an ax like arm to smash a building.

Ken went as far as he could with the traffic. Then he and several others saw the rock creature head in their direction. Everybody who could jumped out of their cars and ran away as fast as they could. Ken got out too but he wasn’t going with the crowd. He struggled to get through the mass of panicking people as he tried to get closer but he was getting pulled back. He knew he had to let Daxium out to fight that thing but it was too crowded. Seeing a park he broke through the crowd and ran for it. Seeing nobody else around and plenty of room he held the Spark Magnifier over his head. In a flash Ken was gone and Daxium was ready, “Shiah!”

Arnagarage turned to face him as Daxium came toward him. Swinging his ax arm avoided the blow and countered with a punch of his own. The rock monster barely reacted to the blow and swung the stone “blade” again. Daxium jumped backwards to avoid it. Flipping in the air and landing on his feet he let a bolt fly. It exploded off the rock monster’s hide but it reacted like it was in pain this time. Daxium ran in and kicked it in the chest. It tried the ax again but this time Daxium caught it. As he struggled with the arm he left himself open to a clubbing blow to the back.

Grunting in pain Daxium held on to the ax as more blows came at his back. Arnagarge was finally able to fling him off making the giant crash into a building. Daxium got off the building in time for that ax to smash into his chest. Spark like explosion came off of him as he fell to the ground. Quickly getting to a knee he started punching at the monster’s gut. Seeing the ax come at him again he rolled backwards a couple of times before getting to his feet and jump into the air. A kick to the head knocked that horn like piece of off his head. Daxium thought he was starting to make some headway when he noticed the creature started glowing. Looking around as the lights around them started flickering he saw that piece get absorbed back into the creatures body, reemerging on the other side of it’s head.

He was stunned for a second too long as the monster kicked him in the gut. Staggering back another club like blow to the back of the head forcing him to the ground. Arnagarge picked him up and slashed him with the ax again. Daxium fell to his back hard and the monster stomped on his chest a few times. Struggling to get up the rock creature aimed the ax at his neck, ready to finish this battle once and for all. Explosion on it’s hide distracted the creatures as Razor Wings flew past. Daxium’s crystal started blinking red as he stood up. From the ground a lone Scan Track Jess, Ryo and Bridge in particular watched as the giant slammed his forearms together and held them out in a strong like pose. Again the line appeared on his body and expanded out, this time turning his body red while those marking became silver.

“I knew it,” Bridge grunted.

Arnagarge saw Daxium came at him again and swung the ax again. Daxium blocked it easily and punched him. The rock creature took a couple of steps back from the impact and the giant pressed his advantage assaulting him with kick and punches. Grabbing Arnagarge by the head he flipped him to the ground with a might crash. The monster wailed away with his ax as it tried to get up forcing Daxium back. Once on it’s feet it staggered backward a bit before starting to glow blue again it began drawing in electricity again. Holding his right fist next to the jewel Daxium started to draw in energy himself. That energy focused into his right hand as he drew it back and slammed it on the ground. An energy wave ripped through the street in front of him growing in height until it bisected Arnagarge.

The wave disappeared son after as the monster stood there with a glowing line going down it’s body. The rock on the edges seemed to try ad reach out and knit itself back together but the two halves started to fall away right before he exploded. Daxium stayed around just long enough to make sure the monster wasn’t going to reform before taking off into the air, “Shiah!”

Hawk and Bill were waiting in the garage when their Scan Track pulled in. Bridge had a temporary cast on his arm as Ryo and Jess helped him out. He took one look at Hawk and said, “I am never leaving base again.”

“Sure you will,” Hawk told him. “You had an experience today, learn from it. You’ll be better man for it. Now get a proper cast on that arm, I want you at one hundred percent as soon as possible.”

“Yes sir,” he said while Jess and Bill accompanied him.

“Look at it this way,” Bill said, “you got a war wound now. Trust me chicks dig battle scars.”

“Now there’s a myth,” Jess snorted.

Turning to Ryo Hawk said, “I know the mission pretty much complete but there’s still a couple of unanswered questions.”

“Like how long that monster has been there,” Ryo said.

Hawk nodded while adding one of his own, “And exactly how did Ultraman get there so fast.”

Hours later Dr, Williams was sitting at a row of monitors looking over the security cam footage from the city, specifically the footage from before and after Ultraman’s fight with the monster. Richardson was still hot on finding out who the giant had bonded with. Patricia was in here for a while helping him but Richardson had some sort of engagement so he was stuck by himself. Reaching for the coffee pot and pouring himself a cup he took a drink and nearly burnt his tongue, “Hot hot hot.” Waving his hands to cool off his tongue he looked at a screen just in time to see something flash behind a parked van and a guy walk out holding his chest. He replayed it a couple of times, there was definitely a flash and that guy seemed to come out of nowhere. Getting a close up of his face as he looked around while placing something into his jacket Williams paused the footage and mumbled, “I think I gotcha.”

ED – Shinedown – Fly from the Inside
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Old March 26th, 2019, 11:34 AM #4
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Power Ranger
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

Episode 4

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

“As you can see Ted the damage from the giant battle is very severe.” The reporter continued to talk as the station switched to an aerial view of the area. Buildings were badly smashed open or crushed. They stayed on the ragged gap in the middle of the street for a long time. “Power and water services for this part of the city are still out with no estimation on when they will return. Local hospitals were taken off guard at the amount of casualties they received. Local authorities are asking people to stay away from the area for their own safety, but anyone willing to volunteer with the clean up can sign up at designated areas. A UNDF representative said earlier…”

Ken watched the work crews a couple blocks away, right were the authorities cordoned off the street. But even at this distance he could just make out the ripped up streets under the floodlights. While Daxium was in control when they traded places he was vaguely of what was going on when he was locked away in that safe area. Rubbing the back of his right hand absent mindedly he relieved the moment Dax unleashed the attack that caused all that damage to the street. Making his way out through the crowd he headed for his car. Getting in he sat there for a moment before looking in. Before long he was face to face with Daxium, “We have to be more careful.”

“My actions were my own Ken,” Daxium told him. “You have nothing to feel guilty for.”

“Yeah but I was the one who let you out.”

“My people are at war with these dark creatures. It is my duty to defeat them.”

“I know I know,” Ken ran his hands over his head as he walked away. “This is the first time we had to do this in the city itself. I wasn’t ready for the… I didn’t think we would…”

“War is seldom pleasant Ken. But if it disturbs you so much I have other weapons at my disposal…”

“No,” Ken said cutting him off, “I don’t want to you hold back because of me. There’s no point in putting yourself at a disadvantage. You know more about what you can do and when to do it more than I do Dax.”

Daxium put a hand on his shoulder, “Although I will make no promises I will try to lessen the amount of damage I cause. But if I come to a situation where I have to use the Giga Wave again I will.”

“I’m not asking you to Dax. God I’ve seen enough monster movies growing up I should have had an idea what would happen when one showed in the middle of the city. Don’t worry Dax I’ll get used to it.”

As he was leaving the area he heard Daxium say, “For your sake Ken I hope you do not.” Blinking as he came back to the here and now he looked back at the damaged area before driving off.

When the giant first appeared Richardson knew there were going to be questions. Questions from the board, questions from the teams and soldiers and especially questions from reporters. He was more than ready to answer all of them, when Joseph was the one who was supposed to be bonded with the giant idiot. As it was he was bidding time until Patricia and Williams could find a clue on who he did bond with. Then he had to find away to get the bastard in the organization. He thought he found a way, and some on the board were practically screaming for it as it was. It just depended on how much it was going to cost him.

But until then the questions just kept coming, particularly from reporters. Especially the one that was currently assaulting his ear over the phone. The moron practically called every day since the giant appeared, asking the same questions every time. “Come on Mr. Richards,” he said after they played some verbal jousting for the past several minutes, “surely you must have some comment on Alpha Team decision to aid the giant before.”

“I told you before any decision made in the field during a battle are those of the commanders alone,” he was starting to get annoyed being asked that over and over. “If you want a statement you’re going to have to ask him,” he said sharply.

“You have to give me something to work with here. Does the giant at least have a name?”

“If I knew his name I would have used it by now. Goodbye!” Slamming the phone down he waited a second before picking it back up. “I don’t want to hear from that jackass for at least a week. If I do you’re fired,” and slammed the phone down again.

Beside him Patricia didn’t look all that impressed with the display, “That was a bit much don’t you think?”

“I have people breathing down my neck from every angle imaginable,” he told her. “I have the board and reporters like that jackass asking questions about the giant. The rest of my family and Captain Hawk are still demanding to know what happened to Joseph. I can’t do anything about Hawk, the board or my family, but as for the reporters I can silence at least for a little while, just long enough to get a moment’s peace.”

“From my experience,” Patricia cautiously said, “a forced silence will make them think you’re hiding something even more.”

“Right now I don’t care,” he said plainly. “I need a moment or two to think straight. I wouldn’t be having this problem if that damn giant bastard came out of that portal faster.”

The quiet moment was interrupted by William trying to come through the door with a security guard trying to hold him back. “Mr. Richardson I have to talk to you!”

Richardson shot straight up demanding, “What is the meaning of this?!”

“Sorry sir,” the guard said while he struggled with the scientist, “he tried to shoot past me.”

“I’ve been trying o call you since last night,” Williams said still trying to get out of the guards grip. “I found him!”

“He keeps saying that too but he won’t say who ‘he’ is.”

Richardson and Patricia shared a brief glance as he sat back down. “It’s fine Craig, let him through,” she told him.

“Bat Rastard,” Williams muttered after the door was closed.

Ignoring his particular swearing habit Richardson calmed down a bit before asking, “What makes you think you have him Doctor?”

“I’m pretty sure I got him on video,” without any permission he quickly went to the computer on the desk. Before long a screen slid down from the ceiling and the lights darkened slightly. In the next moment an image of Williams in a Hawaiian shirt with a drink in hand sitting next to a smiling woman appeared. Richardson dropped his head while Patricia shook hers. Going red in the face he scratched the back of his head, “Heh… sorry that’s my honeymoon.” Going back to the computer he found the proper file this time around, “Here it is.”

Security camera footage started playing, a van was the only thing on screen for a bit. Richardson squinted his eyes a bit to try and figure out if there was a flash just then behind it or not. Then some long haired punk walked out holding is chest and looked around before putting something into his coat. “Run it again,” Patricia said after it was over.

“Did you see something?” Richardson asked.

“I’ll tell you once I’m sure… there,” she pointed at the screen.

“You say the shadow too?”, Williams asked with a grin. He played it one more time for Richardson. Then he saw it, right after that flash there was a man shaped shadow that wasn’t there before the flash as the punk walked into view. “I pulled up his face and ran it through the database and found this. It’s after Ultraman fought the giant version of the creature we usually send the Razor Wings after.” They watched as the footage from a different camera played. This one showed an alleyway, there wasn’t a flash this time around but it did show the same individual come out clutching his left forearm. “I also found this.” A drawing of some sort appeared, Williams pulled up a clean image of the person’s face for a comparison, “That is from the night when the first monster appeared. A couple of troops posted the description after they lost track of an individual in the same area Ultraman showed up in.”

Richardson leaned forward as he studied the individual. “He does seem to be favoring the same areas the giant took damage in,” Patricia commented.

“Do you know who he is?” Richardson asked anxiously.

“Not yet,” Williams answered, “we’re still running the image through the database.”

“Speed it up!”, he barked. “I want to know who that bastard is and I wanted it yesterday!” Williams nodded and hurried out of the room leaving the image up. “I want him in this organization, I don’t care what it takes.”

The ones the dark beings referred to as their Avatar sat on the floor, crossed legged and eyes closed. He tried to relax, build his strength. His “masters” were preparing to send another large entity through the dimensional phase, Bogun they called it. After Bemular he quickly discovered exactly how much it drained him to stabilize something that size. As it was he surprised he was able to build up enough energy to murder Joseph Richardson. Although the results were rather spectacular, in his own humble personal opinion of course. But he swore to be ready this time around, he had to build his reserves, push his limits slightly.

And his masters were aware that he was doing just that. But apparently they weren’t aware to what extent he was doing so. He smiled to himself at the memory, he almost levitated last time, he was sure of it. He felt the energy within him, he felt himself get a little lighter like he was about to rise off the floor. If that knock on his door didn’t happen he might have done just that. But patience was a virtue. Slow and steady as they say, just enough that he could still cover his tracks so they wouldn’t discover the full extent of what he was doing. If they did then there would be no place he could hide.

“Hey Ken!” Rose ran up to him as he pulled into the parking lot. When she came at him looking that excited it could only be one of two things. Was it wrong he was silently praying that she was having another kid? “What are you doing tomorrow night?” No such luck.

“Please tell me you’re not planning on setting me up with another one of your friends? You promised me you wouldn’t do that anymore.”

“Have you even known me to break my promises?”, she asked him. Before she could answer, with an all too familiar smirk she added, “But you never said anything about Davey’s co-workers.” Ken buried his face in his hands and groaned as he tried to walk past her. “Her name is Stacey, I’ve seen her when I visited Davey at work. She’s a lovely girl and you two have a lot in common.”

“What is with you and the blind dates you set me up on?”

“Don’t worry Ken and me are going to be there so it’s not like I letting you go through this alone.” And with that he buried his face in his hands again.

“A chaperoned blind date, that’s just great.”

“Oh don’t be such a baby,” Rose chided him. “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to.” Before he could utter those exact words she continued talking, “She seemed interested in you when I told her about you. Come on Ken I just want you to be happy.”

“I am happy,” he told her. “Have you ever seen me unhappy?”

“How much time do we have before work?”, she asked him. “Because I have a list.”

“You do not have a list.” Chances were she might, but he wasn’t going to give in that easy.

“Come on Ken, consider it a personal favor if you go on the date.”

“If I’d called in all the favor you owed me for going on these dates I’d own your ass for a couple of months at least.” That apparent line of attack didn’t work because it looked like she wasn’t going to give in either. “This better not be a fancy place because I refuse to wear a suit somebody I don’t know.”

“Great,” she hugged him around the neck. “I promise you won’t regret this.”

“You said that the last time,” he told her, “and the time before that and the time before that and…”

“Be quiet,” she told him. “You’re going to have a great time.” She went into the garage about the same time the bossed pulled up.

“Ken,” he said, “early as always I see. Did you send that application in yet?”

“Just waiting on the rejection letter,” he told him.

“That’s negative thinking Ken,” he told him. “Besides I know somebody in admissions. I told her that if she didn’t see your name in a month time to send me another. And you will fill it out in my office and I will send it out for you to make sure it doesn’t get lost again.”

“That’s not fair,” he protested, “Do you have any idea how many people apply to them a year? It took them two months to get back to me the first time.”

“We’ll find out in a month time won’t we,” and his boss walked into the building leaving him alone again. Ken looked around halfway expecting Jeff to pop up with a smart ass remark.

Instead he heard in the back of his mind, “Ken, are you alright?”

“Whoa,” making sure nobody in the garage could see him he turned around and spoke to him, “you can initiate these things?”

“Yes,” Daxium told him, “but since I am just a guest in your body I try not to disturb you normal life as much as possible. However you seemed more disturbed than usual at the moment. Is there anything wrong?”

“Unless they have blind dates where you come from it might take a while to explain the one of the reason I’m feeling ‘disturbed’.” Daxium didn’t have a ready response for that. “Look Dax, I appreciate the concern, it’s just some human crap I have to go through every so often. But could you give me a warning next time. It looks like I’m talking to myself right about now and that’s going to draw attention.”

“I will do my best to give you some sort of advanced warning in the future. But if an emergency arises I will not make any promises.”

“Fair enough.” Ken came back to his senses about the time Rose popped her head out of the garage.

“Everything set for tomorrow night,” she told him.

“Great,” he said through a false smile. Although he was pretty sure Dax couldn’t hear him he muttered anyway, “And if you can find a way to fake that feeling during this date I will be eternally grateful.”

“Captain Hawk!”, someone called out. He looked behind him to see Peter Brooks hurry up and catch him, folder in hand. He stopped to let him, somewhat curious about what this could be about. Rarely did a board member just want to talk. Something about the file in his hands said this wasn’t going to be one of those times. “Good day Captain,” he greeted once he was close enough, “I’m sorry to bother you like this.”

“No problem at all sir,” he said. “What can I do for you?”

“It’s not for me actually,” Brooks told him, “it’s for Richardson. Seeing how things are still a little frosty between the two of you I thought it would be prudent if I sought you out instead.”

“I’ll do the job no matter who assigns it. What do you have for me?”

“I’m not really sure,” he admitted. “I caught the tail end of it when I walked into his office. From what I understand it’s a person of interest in this whole monster mess.” Interest piqued he took the file and opened it. He realized the photo was cam footage almost immediately. Looking a little further he found the guy’s name, Ken Scott. It took him all of two seconds to realize why that name sounded familiar. “I peeked through the file while I was looking for you. I didn’t see anything particularly noticeable about him. More than likely Richardson is pushing his ‘instincts’ a bit here.”

Reading a bit further a line of information caught Hawk’s eye, “This guy is considered dangerous?”

“Dangerous enough to warrant sending Alpha team after him.”

“That’s a bit much for one guy. There has to be a regulation against it.”

“These are strange times Captain, people are a little jumpy and want answers. In fact a couple of board members found a by-law in the charter that most of us forgot about. It allows for a situation just like this.”

“That’s an awfully convenient find,” Hawk commented.

“Like I said Captain, strange times.” He started to leave but stopped, “One more thing before I go, please tell Mr. Bridge to be a little more careful in the future. I fully realize computers are his area of expertise, but apparently clandestine activities are not.”

“I’m not sure if I follow.”

“Let’s just say I’m more than a little glad that you decided to take my advice and study this Ultraman character.” Before Hawk could respond Brooks turned around and went the way he came. Hawk looked at the file in his hand and hoped this wasn’t the same guy Jess knew back in the day.

An hour later he and the rest of the team were standing around the conference table with the file footage of Ultraman’s last battle. Arms still in a cast Bridge pointed something out, “See right there, when he punched the rock creature. The monster stumbled back, it didn’t do that at the beginning of the fight.”

“So he had to go to this… Power mode,” Ryo said, “to defeat him.”

“Exactly,” Bridge told him, “I also think his most powerful weapons are in this form too.”

“Seeing what he did to the street the beat this one I hope he doesn’t have to go to this form too often,” Jess commented. A round of nods agreed with her. Bridge worked the controls with his uninjured hand to put all three forms side by side.

Bill pointed at each one as he spoke, “So we got Hyper, Power and…” trailing off he tried to think of a name, “Normal mode?”

“It’ll do,” Hawk told them. “I’m assuming this proves that theory we had that he’ll adapt to the situation?”

“I would say so,” Bridge agreed. “So far his strategy seems to be he’ll start in Normal form here and see what he’s dealing with. Then he’ll either stay in this form or mode shift into one of these others depending on what he’s facing.”

“Mode shift?”, Ryo asked with an arched eyebrow.

“A term I just coined,” Bridge told him before returning his attention to the holo images of Ultraman. “I wonder if he can mode shift at will or once per battle.”

“I guess we’ll find out one way or another,” Jess told him.

“We have one more order of business,” Hawk informed them. He placed the info disc that was in the file into the console slot. Pulling up the information he briefly glanced at Jess before saying, “According to Mr. Richardson this is a person of interest that we should be looking for.” With a few commands he projected the information over the table. It mirrored itself on both sides so they could all see it with no problem. He was concentrating of Jess’s reaction he almost missed what Ryo said right next to her.

“Ken Scott? I think I went to the academy with this guy. But I think his hair was shorter back then.” Hawk looked at him with mild surprised, he wasn’t expecting that one. That wasn’t even in the file Brooks gave him.

Beside him Jess studied the image in front of here, whispering an almost inaudible, “Ken?”

“We don’t know much,” Hawk told them. “All I know is he’s supposed to be brought in and is considered dangerous enough to have us go after him.” Jess pried her eyes away from the image to stare at him. In fact the others were looking at him strange too. “I know what you’re all thinking and I don’t like it either. Apparently there’s a regulation on the books that will allow the board to do just that. I already filled a complaint against it but until the board repeals it we have to do this. Are there any questions?”

Like he thought Jess was the first one to speak up, “Is this some kind of a joke?”

Before he could answer an alert went off. “Excuse me Captain,” Bridge said as he accessed his station from here. “We have another hit in the middle of the city. Looks like another big one.”

“Do we have visual yet?”, Ryo asked.

“No the reading is still underground, but it looks like it’s close to the surface. There’s no reports of power loss so I don’t think it’s the same as last time.” A new image appeared showing a map of the city that rose up a bit to show the current location of the reading they were getting.

“Alpha team, get ready to launch,” Hawk told them. “I want Razor Wings in the air and Scan Tracks on the ground beating us there. We’ll continue talking about the previous situation later.”

“You better believe we will,” Jess mumbled.

“Let’s show this thing why they call us Monster Squad. Move out!”

This night was going worse than Ken thought it was going to be. His “date” Stacey didn’t appear all that interested at all. In fact she seemed more interested in Davey, going so far to bring the conversation back to him when Rose tried to talk up Ken a bit. But she seemed more than content to pretend he wasn’t there. Normally he wouldn’t have minded but he was getting the feeling Rose set them up so she’d stop making to googley eyes at her husband. Of course he didn’t know how she acted at work, but chances were she did the same there too. Any other time Ken wouldn’t have minded trying to help Rose out, but this woman was so boring it was a struggle to fake being interested at this point. In fact he wasn’t even trying to hide he was looking at his watch every so often. Why not, his date started doing it over an hour ago. “I’m going to go powder my nose,” Stacey said suddenly.

“I’ll think I’ll join you,” Rose said. Both of them got up and walked away.

The moment they were out of sight Ken immediately turned toward Davey, “Rose secretly hates me doesn’t she?”

“Come on Ken the dates not going that bad.” His only response was to stare at him. “Alright maybe it’s going a little bad.”

“A little?”, Ken stated.

“I tried to talk her out of it,” Davey told her. “But you know how Rose is when she gets started on something. Look I feel like I owe you one. If you want to sneak out I’ll make up an excuse for you.”

“Are you kidding? The moment Rose finds out I left she’s going to hunt me down and kick… my… ass.” He felt Daxium react to something really close. It felt like it was right on top of him. Turning way from Davey and lowering his head he softly said, “I was kidding about faking that feeling.”

“This is very real Ken,” Dax told him. “Whatever this creature is we are very close to it. We need to get away and intercept it’s before it’s too late.”

“Easier said than done.”

“What’s easier?”, Rose asked as they returned to the table. A second later the building started shaking. “What the hell?”, Rose asked as she and several others started to look around.

Based on the feeling Daxium was getting he had a sickening idea what it was, “We got to get out of here now.” Pulling Davey to his feet he tried to push them to the door.

“Wait we still have to pay,” Davey said.

“We’ll drop off a check at the door.”

“Now wait a minute,” Stacey started to protest. “I don’t know what kind of woman you think I am…”

Ken had enough of this and didn’t have time to deal with people who haven’t been in this situation before, “Newsflash princess, not everything is about you.” That felt better than it probably should have. “I’ve been in more of these situations than I care to think about.” Their waitress tried to stop them, especially since a few more tried to copy what he was doing. Instead of a check Ken threw a wad of cash at her, “That should cover it and then some,” he told her. “Now come on!” The moment they hit the door Ken looked down the street as some sort of tendril looking thing broke through the asphalt. This was bad, that was practically right on top of them.

The people he was trying to save stopped in horror as a green head broke through and roared at the fleeing crowd. “What the hell is that?”, Davey asked in terror.

None seemed to notice that he was way too calm when he answered, “Something not good.” More of the creature broke free, making it look like some sort of giant slug as more of it was exposed. But even Ken started getting worried when a second head appeared at the other end, this one with a giant snout like nose on it’s face, and at ground level. He had to get out of there fast and let Daxium get after that thing, but he couldn’t just leave the others behind. That didn’t stop Stacey from fleeing in terror as soon as the second head emerged. “She has the right idea,” Ken grunted as he pulled Rose and Davey along. Hearing jets he looked to see them in the sky and UNDF ground vehicles.

“All Razor Wings and Scan Track, distract the creature until the civilians are clear,” Hawk ordered.

“Rodger,” Ryo, Jess, Bill and the other replied over the link. The lead air units fired a round of missiles while the ground units fired their cannons. The monster roared in pain and lashed out with that tendril on his head. Unable to hit the Razor Wings it smashed into the side of a building. Seeing chunks of buildings come down Ken dragged Rose and Davey with his as he dove for the sidewalk. The people behind them weren’t so lucky. Then some kind of smoke started blowing out of the monster body from these vent like orifices. A rancid order filled the air immediately. People closer to the creature dropped to the ground overcome by the gas.

“Come on!”, Ken pulled his friends back up and ran down the street. Looking back he reached into his jacket, he’ll worry about explaining this to them later.

“Over here!” A uniform man was waving people over to a line of transports. Ken immediately pushed Rose and Davey in that direction. The trooper ushered them into one of the trucks, “come on we don’t have much time.” It was then that Rose noticed somebody was missing.

“Where’s Ken? Ken!”, she started to get out of the truck to look for him.

“He’s probably in one of the other trucks,” Davey said trying to keep her seated.

“But he was right behind us!”

“Don’t worry, we’ll find him later.”

Everybody in the truck and the others quieted down with some fear as a huge column of light appeared behind one of the buildings. The Razor Wings pulled away as it faded away revealing the Giant, “Shiah!”

Bogun stopped spraying the gas the moment the top head noticed Daxium. Both roared as he got between it and the fleeing crowd. Bogun moved toward him but Daxium kicked him back. The tendril on top of it’s head lashed out and caught him on the top of the head. Forced back from the blow he started to put his hands to his side but the creature started spewing. Daxium started choking before firing the bolt, felt himself grow weaker. Bogun rushed forward butting him with it’s head. Realizing there were still transports behind him he fought to stay on his feet.

Raring one more time Bogun reared his head back for another strike. Daxium regained his balance just long enough jump up and flip over the creature. Before Bogun could turn around he struck him in the side of the head several times before grabbing it around the neck. With some effort he was able to pull it away from the fleeing transport despite Bogun’s duel protest. The tendril acted like it had a mind of it’s own as it whipped him as the body struggled to get free. Squirming loose it quickly turned around and smashed the tendril across Daxium’s face. Going for it again Bogun missed as the giant back flipped out of range. Daxium quickly fired off a bolt as soon as his feet touched the ground, burning one of the vents on it’s main body. The two heads cried out in pain. Taking the moment the creature was distracted Daxium ran in punching and kicking away at Bogun. The tendril tried to come into play again but the giant easily blocked it and continued his assault.

The forgotten lower head was able to get it’s mouth around one of his feet and clamped down hard. That distracted Daxium enough that it wrapped the tendril around his neck. Now Daxium struggled to get free as the pressure increased. The lower seeing he was about to fire off another bolt Bogun slammed him into the nearby buildings. Pulling him close he started spewing that gas right into his face. Before long the crystal started flashing red as he fell to a knee. Hawk didn’t need any prompting this time, “All units fire on the creature.”

“We should target Ultraman too,” Jamira said over the comm. “Eliminate both of them at once.”

“Richardson’s order is still in effect. Target the creature, fire!” he ordered again not giving Jamira a chance to argue. Alpha team and most of the other units unleashed their missiles almost immediately. Bogun cried in pain again s explosions rocked it’s body, stopping with the gas and letting Daxium go. He came back to his senses after a few moments, eyes on the tendril as Bogun went after the Scan Tracks on the ground. Crossing his arms in front of him the line appeared and changed his body to the blue of Hyper mode. Running in he jumped over Bogun again, landed and jumped back up with a spin lick to the creature upper head. Back flipping away several times he avoided the tendril reach. Holding out a hand he extended two fingers and drew a circular shape in the air. A line of energy followed the path of his fingers made. Connecting the two ends the outside edge became jagged like a saw and he threw it at Bogun’s top head. It sliced through the tendril with ease and it dropped to the ground. Bogun started thrashing around widely after it happened.

Knowing he had to end this now Daxium set up for the run but the creature started spewing the gas again. Not sure he could travel through that and still make it he changed strategies and extended the light whip from his right hand. Waving it over his head Daxium lashed it around the creature’s body. Rearing back his left hand he drew in energy before slamming his left fist on top of his right hand. A surge of energy traveled through the whip and into Bogun’s body. A few seconds later the creature exploded and the gas quickly dissipated. The threat ended Daxium flew off into the night sky, “Shiah!”

A couple of hours later people were still being treated for the gas. A lot of people didn’t survive it or the creature’s assault. That renewed Hawk’s determination to get to the bottom of this mess. Jess still wasn’t happy about this but she would follow orders. In those two hours they were able to track down their target. Fortunately it was on a pretty dissertated section of street, well since the monster attack anyway, so hopefully they can do this with as little extra attention as possible. “Wait for my order,” he said as he noticed he was talking on a cell phone.

“No I couldn’t find her,” Ken told Rose, trying to explain his disappearance. Somehow searching for his date sounded like a good excuse. It also got him away from the UNDF units still patrolling the streets, since Dax put him almost of the middle of it. “So Davey was able to get a hold of her then? That’s good to hear.” That wasn’t a lie, she might have been a total bore but he didn’t want to see her get hurt. “I’m going to head home then. I’ll see you at the garage.” Putting his phone into his pocket he started to head for his car.

“Now!”, they quickly came out of their hiding spots and surrounded him. They were able to take him by surprise, but bit did look like he started to reach inside his jacket. “Hold it Scott, you’re coming with us.”

“What the hell is going on?!”, Ken demanded. Their weapons weren’t pointed at him but they were still in his hands.

“You’re wanted for questioning, “Hawk told him. “I need you to come with us.”

“I don’t think so,” Ken shot back. “I don’t know what’s going on but I am not… You back the hell away from me,” he said pointing at Bill.

“Ken please just calm down.”

“I don’t know you so don’t use…!” he turned to the speaker than stopped. He knew the face under that helmet. The uniform nametag that said Wade only confirmed it as his heart skipped a beat, “Jessica?” Ryo and Bill looked at each other confused.

“I don’t know why they want you,” she told him truthfully getting a little closer to him, “but we need you to come with us.”

“Don’t you need a reason to arrest somebody?”

“You’re not under arrest,” Hawk informed him.

“It sure looks like it to me,” Ken snapped. “Last I heard this wasn’t a police state. You need a reason…”

“Look the sooner we get this worked out…,” Ryo reached for him.

Ken pulled away from him, “Don’t touch me!” Taking a step toward Jess he recoiled a bit like he had just been shot as little blue arc of electricity traveled over his torso. He started to fall but Ryo quickly caught him. All eye turned toward Bill who holstered his weapon.

“It look like he was about to get violent,” he explained. “It’s allowed in that regulation, I looked it up. Beside he just stunned he’ll be fine.”

Before Hawk could reprimand him Jess stormed up to Bill and punched him square in the face. “Wade!” Hawk cried out pulling her away.

“He wasn’t getting violent you asshole!” she yelled at bill as he held his chin.

“We’ll sort this out later,” Hawk told while trying to stay between Jess and Bill. Waters, take Scan Track one back to base now, Ryo, Wade and myself will guard Scott in Track two. Now,” he added with a little more authority in his voice. Jess was already heading toward their Scan Track without a word to Bill. While rubbing his jaw a bit he headed for the other direction. Hawk got under one of Scott’s arms while Ryo did the same on the other side. “This kid better be worth the headache.”

ED – Shinedown – Fly on the Inside
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Old March 30th, 2019, 04:39 PM #5
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Power Ranger
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

Episode 5

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

Now this was a interesting situation the Avatar found himself in. He was standing by the lake Bemular appeared from. Bogun was still preparing to attack the city at the moment, he was a couple of hours away from being ready and his attention should have been there. Especially when this Ultraman would eventually show up. But his masters directed him back here. He didn’t know why until, he sensed it but just barely. There was another creature down there, from their universe just like they said. It must have sneaked through when Bemular crossed over.

Kneeling down and putting a hand into the water he sent out small waves of dark energy until he found it. Whatever was down there was roughly three time the size he was and felt roughly man shaped. What did they call it, Ragnaron? He felt it be drawn by his energy. It must have been close to Bemular when he stabilized him. The “masters” said it was a similar to a pest or a rodent in there universe. His orders were to destroy it, but he wondered what would happen if he gave just a little bit more energy.

Focusing his power he sent it toward the creature. It thrashed around as the beam struck it, but the Avatar could feel it drinking it in as well. He wasn’t sure how but he was positive he gave it the correct amount of a punch to accelerate it’s growth. In a few hours he’ll see what this one would be able to do. And if he was lucky his masters won’t know he did that on purpose. But right now he had to get out of here and back to Castle. He still had a job there to do.

For a while he all he knew was darkness and nothing else. “KEN!”, Daxium’s scream echoed in the back of his head when he was awoken with a start.

“Dial it down Dax,” he grumbled as he tried to focus on where he was. Wherever it was he was sitting and not in his own bed or chairs. “Ugh what hit me?”, he went to put a hand to his head. He was stopped part way and wouldn’t go any further no matter how hard he tried. Then he looked, he was handcuffed to a chair. Right then he remembered, one of those bastards shot him in the back. Looking around the room all he was able to see was the table in front of him and another chair. Then he saw a window looking into an adjoining room and saw them. And her.

“And this was the only strange thing on him?”, asked the guy who was older than the rest of them. Ken gave him his full attention when he saw the Spark Magnifier in his hand.

“The only thing we found,” said an Asian who looked slightly familiar to him. Then he turned toward her, “You recognized it Jess?”

“I’ve never seen it before,” she told him. Ken’s eyes never left the Magnifier in the guy’s hands.

“Oh no,” he muttered when he saw the crystal prongs pop out slightly as he squeezed the handle, “no no no no no.” The prongs clicked together and Ken closed his eyes and flinched. He was never going to see the light of day again. They were going to lock him and not stop until they figured out how he and Dax worked. Then he realized that things didn’t feel like they usually did when he used it. Cautiously he opened an eye and looked at his hand, it still looked normal as he wiggled his fingers. Letting out the breath he was holding he knew couldn’t relax fully just yet.

Inside the room Jess was the only one who noticed Ken’s reaction but she didn’t say anything. “It has to be what the old man was looking for,” Bill said. “Why else was he getting violent?”

“You’re the only one who thought he was getting violent man,” Ryo told him.

“Captain,” he pleaded, “help me out here. You saw it too right?”

“Not now Bill,” Hawk told him. “If he doesn’t tell us what it is we’ll have one of the labs check it out.” While they were talking Jess made up her mind and walked into the other room with Ken.

“Jess wait a minute,” Bill tried to stop her but Hawk held him back.

“She knows what she’s doing.”

Closing the door behind her they just stared at each other for a few moments. Neither knew the other’s heart was pounding just as bad. “I know I’m the reason why we broke up,” Ken began after a bit, “but please tell me you’re here to be the good cop.”

She smiled slightly, “No good or bad cop. I just thought you could use a friendly face right about now.” He smiled in return. Pulling out the other chair she sat across from him. “How have you been Ken?”

“Would it sound like too much of a line if I said I’ve been kicking myself since high school?”

“It kind of would actually.”

“Then I won’t say it,” they shared a small chuckle. “I’ve been alright. How about you?”

“I’ve been fine, a little busier than I thought I would be since I’ve joined up. What’s this I was hearing about you trying out for this too?”

“I gave it a shot a couple of years ago.”

“So what happened?” His only answer was to hold his stomach a bit as he remembered. Smiling a bit again she said, “I remember how green you used to get when you took me on the Farris Wheel back in the day. Are you seeing anybody?”

“Nothing serious or anything that lasted that long.” Had a great girl in high school but I screwed that up like nobody’s business. “How about you, have you found Mr. Right yet?”

“More or less the same, I haven’t had time to date since I’ve joined up.” Was kinda hoping this guy in knew in high school would be the one but look how that turned out. “How’s your family doing?”

“Mom’s good, she’s doing better than what she was. Jeff’s… married and has a kid.”

Jess’s jaw dropped, “Jeff has a kid? I don’t believe it.”

“I’d show you a picture but I don’t think my wallet’s on me,” he looked into the other room through the window.

She glanced back at the other before returning her attention to him, “Since I better look like I’m doing something official here what is going on? Why are they so interested in you? Why were you out there?”

“I have no idea,” Ken told her. He had an idea but he wasn’t going to say anything about it. “A person I work with set me up on a blind date and I went looking for her after that thing came up from the street. Next thing I know you and the goon squad showed up. Not that I’m calling you a goon or anything,” he quickly added once he realized how that sounded.

“I can buy that,” Jess said. Behind her he saw the guy who he was pretty sure was the one who shot him roll his eyes. “Can you tell me what that thing we found on you is?”

Thinking as fast as he has ever thought he said, “My good luck charm.”

“Your good luck charm,” Jess repeated slowly. He recognized that look she was giving him. She wasn’t sure if she believed it or not yet.

“I was in the park when that first giant monster showed up,” he told her. “I found it on the ground, I picked it up for some reason and came out of it alive. It was working great until tonight. Do you have any idea why I’m here?”

All they told us was that you were a person of interest and needed to be brought in for questioning,” she answered. “We don’t know any more than that.”

“That’s a pretty flimsy reason as far as I’m concerned,” Ken told her.

Jess shrugged her shoulders a bit, “It’s orders from up top, way up top. We have to follow those orders no matter what.”

“It’s probably a good thing I did crash out,” he said. “I don’t think I would have lasted that long around here.”

In his office watched what passed as an interrogation these days with some mild disgust. Partially because this woman was handling Scott with kid gloves, and partially because this was the person the giant bonded with. In front of him was the information on this Scott person as was his academy file. Inside that was the reason why he was originally rejected. As well as an addition that he had recently reapplied. At his request Patricia had the rejection letter stopped for the moment. He didn’t need that to mess up his plans. In the corner of the room Williams was using a lap top to view the footage on his own. “That device has to be the key,” he said after a bit. “He reacted when Hawk started messing with it.”

Behind Richardson Patricia said, “That’s what he’s using to turn into Ultraman? I was expecting something a little more… elaborate.”

“I wasn’t expecting a device at all,” Williams said. “I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t anything as simple as that. Oh if I could only get that alone for five minutes to figure out how it works.”

“It doesn’t matter how it works,” Richardson said curtly. “We have to find a way to get him working for us.”

“Maybe we can use Wade,” Williams offered, “they seem close. Or maybe Watanabe. Their files indicated they started at the same academy at the same time.”

“Not good enough,” Richardson spat. “That kind of familiarity rarely works. And there’s no guarantee Scott knew Watanabe at the academy.”

“Not to mention the slight confusion that might happen after you had them bring in Scott as a person of interest in the monster threat,” Patricia commented.

“And Hawk has made it absolutely clear they weren’t happy with particular direct order,” Richardson said. “I’m still on Hawk’s radar after the whole mess with Joseph. I don’t need them adding to that particular list. He studied Scott a bit as Wade left the room. Again he tested the metal cuff around his wrist. “There has to be something we can use. Is there anything in his file we can exploit?”

“Nothing is standing out so far,” Patricia informed him. “However we might try a bit of kindness to make him more comfortable.” Richardson looked at her. “He might be a little more agreeable if we treated him less like a prisoner.”

Looking at the screen he watched him play with the handcuffs again. “Get a hold of Hawk and tell him to remove the cuffs and try and make him a little more comfortable. Tell him it’s a different track to get him to talk if he asks.” Patricia nodded and got on the line. While she relayed the order Richardson studied the bastard on the screen. What was it going to take?”

Back at the lake two men who were just passing through had set up camp for the night having gotten there an hour before. One using a small propane stove to cook some hot dogs whistled to himself as they roasted. The whistling stopped when he noticed the middle of the lake started to bubble slightly. “Hey Frank,” he called out to his friend. “What do you think that is?”

He poked his head out of the tent and looked, “It’s probably an underwater geyser or something.”

Looking a little worried the first one went, “Isn’t this where they say that first monster showed up?”

“How should I know,” Frank told him. “The locals say a lot of things and I don’t listen to them.”

“It was on the news I think.”

“And that’s another bunch of lie spewing bastards right there,” Frank said going back into the tent. “Besides if this was the spot those UNDF freaks would have checked to see if there was more. They got to do something with the tax payer money they’re wasting.”

“Have you seen the things they go against on the news?”

“Smoke and mirrors,” Frank said shrugging it off, “a new type of plane who the hell knows what they really are. Monster now, I swear there’s something in the air.”

The bubbling in the water increased. Then it quickly started to come toward them. Before he could warn his friend something that looked like a fin emerged, followed by a gigantic head. “Fra… Fra… Fran…,” he stammered toward the tent. Frank poked his head out to yell at him. Then he saw the thing right in front of them. Both of them screamed as a giant hand came down right on top of them.

Rubbing his wrist Ken wondered what else could happen tonight. And forget the blind date Rose set him up on. First he was treated like a prisoner, now they were acting like he was guest or something. So much so Jess even volunteered to escort him to the cafeteria to get something to eat. Every so often he’d looked around to see if anybody else was escorting them but so far nothing. But he was amazed at how fast he and Jess fell back into old habits as they walked down the corridor. Well almost fell, if they were back in high school they might have been holding hands at this point. “So you’re working at Peterson’s Garage?”, Jess asked. “Did Jeff get you in? Wait that’s a stupid question, forget I ever asked that.”

Ken answered any way, “Jeff started after me actually. They had a job opening and he needed some steady work. Luckily he’s a halfway decent mechanic or that could have been a big mess.”

“I hoped he thanked you at least.”

He stopped just long enough to say, “Have you met my brother?”

“You’re right, what was I thinking?”, Jess said before they shared another laugh. “I still can’t believe he’s married.”

“Yeah Janet’s a saint. If I ever get my wallet back I can show you that picture of Nicole.” Now how to say this next part without looking too suspicious. “Any idea when I can get that and my good luck charm back?”

“I have no idea,” she told him. “Captain Hawk marked it as something suspicious. Since you’re a person of interest here it might be awhile. Is that going to be a problem?”

“No, not at all.” At least not until the next monster attack, then Dax might have some issues.

“How long was Jeff out of work before you got him the job?”

Rubbing the back of his neck he answered, “About a year.”

“Did this Janet make enough to support all three of them?”

Reluctantly he answered, “Not exactly.”

Now she stopped and looked at him. Oh he was way too familiar with that look she was giving him right now. “So you were basically helping support his family for that year?”

“Basically,” he said not looking at her.

Looking real disappointed she sighed, “Same old Ken,” and continued walking.

“Could you not make it sound like a bad thing,” he said before following.

“I know you were doing a good thing, but you were always shouldering everybody else’s problems and never taking anytime for what you wanted. How much can you actually carry on those shoulders?”

“You have no idea,” he mumbled.

“What was that?”, she asked.

“Nothing,” he quickly said.

“Do you at least have somebody to help you with all of this?”

“Kinda,” it wasn’t a total lie.

“I guess that’s a step in the right direction.” She sighed a bit again, “I don’t know, I guess I was hoping you’d become a little more selfish over the years. Even after we broke up I was worried you were going to get swallowed up trying to do everything. Even the family rock needs somebody to lean on from time to time. Or at least somebody to rant at when it gets to him.”

“Who would have bothered listening to me?”

“I would have,” she told him. Both of them just looked at each other for a few silent moments. “I’ve told you that more than once. You never listened.”

“I didn’t want to drive you away with my problems,” he said softly. Before she could respond he quickly changed the subject, “So how is this outfit treating you?”

“Pretty good,” she said going along with it. Besides there was no point in arguing about what he did or didn’t do back then. “I haven’t regretted joining yet, although I’ve questioned an order here and there. But Captain Hawk a good man, and so are the others.”

“You’re going to have to do more than that to convince me the one who shot me I the back is a good man,” he told her. The past a group of people coming around a nearby corner, several people in suits, a couple of guys in lab coats and one guy in a uniform like hers all trying to talk over each other. Ken stop and stood as Dax reacted to something. It wasn’t a monster, but it was something dark. The feeling was gone in an instant but he felt enough of it to know that it was behind him. Ken looked back at the group. It came from there he was sure of it.

Jess went a few more steps before she noticed he stopped, “Is something wrong Ken?”

“No,” he said snapping out of it. “Just out of curiosity am I allowed to know who those guys are? Or am I going to be held longer for seeing them?”

“Who they are is pretty much on the public record,” she answered. “They guy in the uniform is Commander Jamira of Beta Team, that one scientist is Dr. Williams, he helped make our weapons. And the leader of that particular pack is Peter Brooks, the number two man on the board. The rest are various assistants and secretaries who’s name are escaping me at the moment.”

“Brooks is kinda young isn’t he? He looks are age,” Ken commented.

“A lot of people have said that.” Jessica told him. “But he has his father’s mind according to Richardson and the rest of the board. So the complaints stopped soon enough.”

“So where’s his old man then?”

“He retired a few years ago, Peter just rose through the ranks like a rocket.” She looked back at the group, “Although between you and me I’m glad I’m not in Jamira’s unit.”

“He that bad of a commander?”, Ken asked.

“He’s… a little too gung ho about the job,” she told hm. “And a bit abrasive too. His whole unit is like that. Let me put it this way, they probably would have hunted you down with no problem what so ever, and with a smile on their faces.”

“Sounds like a fun guy. Let’s go for the hat trick while we’re at it,” Ken said casually, “how about that Williams guy?”

“He’s the lead scientist around here. Like I said he created or modified our weapons and equipment. Although I have heard he’s got an idea for a super jet he’s trying to get off the ground. I don’t know a lot of the details about it. Now, do you want to keep playing twenty questions or do you want to get something to eat?”

“Lead the way,” he said gesturing down the hall. She smiled and bowed a bit before they continued. Still Ken looked back one more time as that group started to break up. What was it that Dax sensed exactly?

Breaking away from the group the Avatar tried to figure out what that feeling was. Unlike that civilian with Wade he fought hard to suppress any type of reaction. It felt like his energy in some way, but not quite. In fact it felt a lot like it was… opposite? Yes that was it. It had to belong to the giant, there was no other answer. Which meant that civilian was Ultraman. This could be a problem, he had to be extra careful now. “Now I know I should have shot the sphere instead of Richardson.”

In the cafeteria Ken and Jess continued to catch up on things, while trying avoid talking about Jeff. Even when they were dating he was the cause of the occasional argument. Although both of them did everything to avoid talking about the breakup. If anything they could at least try and be friends now. While they talked this time Ken noticed her teammates seemed to be hovering around in the corners. At least she admitted it, “I’m really sorry about this. I think they’re trying to make sure you don’t try anything.”

“Just make sure they bastard who shot me stays in my line of sight. I don’t trust him as far as could through him.” Or as far as Dax could for that matter.

While he turned his head to look around she caught another look of that ponytail of his. “I have to ask, when did you decide to grow that thing?”

It took him a second to realize what she was talking about. “After I got rejected from the academy. At that point I had it either shoulder length or cut. I just decided one day to let it grow out for a while.”

“I don’t think I like it,” she commented.

“Then it’s a good thing we’re not dating anymore because I’m kinda used to it.”

From the door Hawk watched the two of them. Richardson said to not treat him like a prisoner, but he was still a person of interest according to Stanson. Despite the mixed signals that guy was still considered dangerous for some reason. Jess could take care of herself, but if this guy had anything to with those monster then he wasn’t chancing anything. Sensing somebody stand next to him he gave him a curt nod, “Mr. Richardson.”

“Captain,” he returned the greeting. “I noticed Brooks is still in the building.”

“He said he read that file while he was looking for me. He’s probably as curious about this guy as you are.”

“My hunch, as I’m sure he called it, might be wrong.” Hawk looked at him with some confusion. “Bridge is getting a signal.”

“Where and why didn’t he tell me?”

“The same sector the first monster showed up in. And Patricia was in the control room when his system detected the signal. I was on my way here to get a better look at Mr. Scott over there when she told me.”

“So if a monster showed up and he’s here with us watching him what does that mean exactly?”

“We might have to let him go.”

“Now wait a minute…,” Hawk started to protest.

“We don’t have much to hold him on as it is. I having Patricia bring his belonging as we speak. I’ll take care of it Captain. You have a job to do.” His tone indicted he wasn’t going to hear anything more on the subject.

Hawk was tempted to call him on it. But if that report was true than they didn’t have any time to waste. Tapping the communicator on his chest he said, “Jess, Ryo, Bill get ready to scramble.”

“Understood,” Jess acknowledged. “Sorry Ken, duty calls.”

“Don’t let me stop you.” After she left he wondered what kind of guard was going to be on him now. After a few minutes this old man and slightly younger woman carrying a clear plastic bag came toward him surprising him a little.

“Mr. Scott,” the older man said, “I’m Harold Richardson and this is my assistant Patricia.”

“Hi,” he said looking them over.

“We brought your things for you.” Taking the bag could see the Spark Magnifier wasn’t in it. While Ken tried to find a way to bring that up the old man continued, “I’m afraid I’m the reason why you’re here and I apparently made a mistake in doing so. Please let me reconcile that error by escorting you home in my limo.”

He was about to turn him down when Daxium spoke up in his head, “Ken go with him.”

Caught off guard for a moment Ken said, “My car still by the restaurant the monster attacked. Just take me there.”

“Certainly my boy, certainly. Come Patricia.” Ken watched them go for a moment before getting up.

In the hanger Razor Wing one and two were getting prepped for launch. “Remember people,” Hawk said as he checked the targeting system, “this is just a scouting mission at this point. Bridge said there was something about the water that was making it hard to get a clear signal. But it popped up just long enough for the long range sensors to get a hit.”

“And this is the same lake the first one showed up in?”, Jess asked.

“That’s what he said. So be ready for anything. Quickly going through the check list both jets were ready soon green.

“Razor Wing one to control,” Bill said, “we are ready to launch.”

Ryo soon followed, “Razor Wing two to control, we are ready to launch.”

“Acknowledged Razor Wings you are a go for launch,” Bridge told them.

“Launching,” both of them said as they hit the thrusters and flew out of the hanger.

Before they left a limousine had already pulled out of Castle’s garage and silently went on its way. Inside Patricia listened to a small receiver in her hear ear ad looked at Richardson sitting across from her. Ken looked out the window on the other side of the seat. “They’re underway,” she said.

Richardson just nodded and they rode in silence for about a minute or so. Then he said, “So you’re the one who joined with our giant friend.”

“Excuse me?”, Ken had heard him perfectly, he just wasn’t sure what to think right at that moment.

“Oh it’s all right, I know all about him.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Then you won’t be needing this then.” Richardson reached into his coat and pulled out the Spark Magnifier. Ken eyed it as he held it out for him. “Captain Hawk wanted it analyzed. I had Dr. Williams bring it to me. Go ahead, take it.”

Reluctantly Ken did so, “Thanks.”

“I’m pretty sure you’re going to need it sooner or later. So what’s our giant friend’s name?”

Again Dax spoke up, “It’s alright Ken, he’s the one who arranged for my original host.”

Still not sure what to think about this he answered, “Daxium.”

“Daxium,” Richardson repeated, “A little better than the name we came up for him, wouldn’t you say so Patricia?” She answered with a simple nod as she put on a pair of glassed as she started to go through some file.

“That’s why you wanted me brought in,” Ken said as it dawned on him.

“It’s the only way I could do it,” Richardson said not sounding all that apologetic about it. “My son was supposed to be the one to host our giant friend. Unfortunately something killed him before they could begin the process.”

“I’m sorry,” Ken told him, not sure of what else he could say.

“He was supposed to be our best weapon against these giant monsters. The he died and you happened. Daxium can still be our best line of defense.” Richardson looked at him, “You can join us. You can be there every time a creature shows up and take care of it.”

“You’re trying to get me to join after you had me arrested?”, Ken asked in disbelief.

“It’s just a minor inconvenience on your part,” Richardson told him. Ken couldn’t believe he just heard that. “I’m giving you the chance to be something better than what you are. I’ve seen that you reapplied for the UNDF, I can make that happen.”

“Ken…,” Dax said.

“Daxium seems to trust you,” Ken started, “but I don’t.” That’s seemed to catch Richardson off guard. And right now Ken didn’t, not for the whole arrest thing either. There was something about Richardson that was setting off his BS alarm. “Me and Dax are doing just fine on our own. We don’t need to be part of your outfit.”

Richardson turned a couple of shades of red just then. Patricia watched him to make sure he wasn’t going to make sure to make a move toward Ken. Finally he stiffly said, “The choice is yours, but the offer is still stands if you change your mind.” They rode the rest of the way in silence after that. But while Ken looked out the window Richardson sent a text to his driver while he wasn’t looking. Ken started eyeing him when he realized they drove past the exit that would take them into the idle of the city.

“Anything?” Hawk asked as Razor Wings one and two circled the lake.

“I’m not sure,” Jess answered as she went over her sensor readings. “Something flashing in and out on my sensors.”

“Same here,” Hawk commented. “Bridge can you give us a clearer picture of what’s going on?”

“I’m trying Captain,” was the reply. “Something about that lake is messing with the sensor reading. I thought I corrected that after the first time.”

“Try correcting it now,” Hawk told him. Bridge didn’t get the chance to. Both Wings suddenly got a reading and it was get stronger. A huge geyser exploded out of the lake, “Evade!” Bill and Ryo both barely avoided it. When the water fell back into the lake in it’s place was another giant creature, with black scaly skin and claw like fingers. Gray bone like protrusions appeared at it’s elbows, knees and shoulder the most prominent being a bone like fin that crowned it’s head. It roared revealing several rows of sharp pointed teeth.

“That’s coming in clear as a bell now,” Bridge said from his station back at Castle.

“Launch the other units,” Hawk ordered. “We’ll hold on for as long as we can. Razor Wing one and two engage the creature.”

“Rodger,” was the reply. Missile fire from both jets struck the creature. Roaring in protest and electrical charge ran up and down it’s fin. It opened it’s mouth and an electrical beam shot out. Again both Bill and Ryo had to act fast to avoid the attack.

“I almost miss that rock creature,” Bill commented. “It didn’t shot or spew anything.”

“Cut the chatter and concentrate,” Hawk told him. IT seemed like forever before another wave of Razor Wings showed up. Shortly after Scan Tracks appeared and took position and fired at the creature giving Wings one and two a much needed breather. It roared in protest at the new threats. Unfortunately that also meant he had more targets to unleash it’s rage on. Clipping the wing of a passing Razor Wing the fin started the fin like bone started to spark again. “All units watch out!” The warning was a little too late as the electrical beam obliterated two of the Wings before being turned to the Scan tracks. “Concentrate on the bone on it’s head!”, Hawk ordered. “We take that out we might be able to stop that ray.”

“You heard the Captain,” Jamira sneered from his Scan Track. “Beta Team show Alpha Team how the real pros do it.”

“God I hate that guy,” Ryo said out loud. Luckily the comm. wasn’t on. Every unit tried to target the fin but the creature seemed to sense this and avoid the assault. While this was going one a limo pulled up in the distance. Richardson and his assistant got out and watched the situation from their position.

“Come on out Mr. Scott,” Richardson said after a bit. Ken reluctantly got out of the vehicle but stayed on the other side of the vehicle. “It looks like they’re doing well,” he said to Ken’s continued silence. “They might not even need our giant friend for this one. Patricia, why don’t you see if you can tune into their comm. system.”

“At once Mr. Richardson,” opening his briefcase as she put it on the trunk of the limo she quickly tuned in.

“… sucker is tough…,” somebody said.

“… still so I can target…”

“…low on missiles…,” he recognized Jess’s voice in the chaos.

“Use them sparingly,” Hawk told her.

“Almost got…” Richardson studied Ken the entire time. He saw him want to reach for the Spark Magnifier, looking conflicted the entire time.

“What’s stopping you Mr. Scott?”, he asked innocently.

“They’re holding their own,” he said, voice strained. He knew he should be letting Daxium loose. Even Dax was screaming at him to do so in his head. But he didn’t want to do it in front of Richardson for some reason, to prove he wasn’t a weapon at his beck and call if nothing else. That and despite Dax’s insistences he was ready Ken wasn’t sure if he was ready to go so soon after his last battle a few hours ago. Suddenly one of the Razor Wings took a hit from the electrical beam.

“Jess! Ryo!”, Bill shouted over the line. Ken’s heart nearly stopped beating upon hearing that.

“Eject!”, Hawk shouted. “Eject!” It took a second but they were able to grab the handle under their seats and shot out of the Razor Wing and deployed their chutes. The creature saw them float slowly to the ground. That was all Ken could take, running around the limo and into the field.

“Mr. Scott!”, Richardson called out. He looked back at him. “Good luck, to both of you.” Ken turned back around and pulled out the Spark Magnifier out of his jacket. Holding it over his head he disappeared in a ball of light that engulfed him and that quickly turned into a gigantic column of light. Richardson just smiled to himself.

“Shiah!”, Daxium grunted as he took a fighting stance. Ragnaron roared n challenge as it came toward him. Seeing that clawed hand come at him Daxium grabbed it and flipped the monster over his shoulder. Going in he fell back when that electrical stream shot out of his mouth. Ragnaron quickly got up and swiped those claws against the giant’s chest. Then it wrapped those clawed fingers around his neck. He pounded the monster’s arms until it let go. With a grunt he kicked him back.

Ragnaron roared again and started to swing those claws at him. Daxium avoided each swing backing up the entire time. Finally the creature got frustrated and went in hard. The giant ducked down and was able to flip the creature over. Jumping on top of it Daxium started pounding at the fin on it’s head getting the same idea as Hawk. Ragnaron was still able to shoot the beam out of his mouth that Daxium quickly avoided. Being forced off the creature grabbed him and threw him near the Scan tracks. UNDF troops scrambled to get out of the way as Ragnaron prepared another blast. Daxium saw the humans as he got to a knee. Before the creature fired Daxium spread his arms, hands open. An energy shield appeared in front of him that blocked the beam and protected the human behind him.

They watched for a few moments dumbstruck at what they were witnessing. The beam stopped and Daxium dropped the shield and prepared to fire off a bolt. Ragnaron reacted in pain as his scaly hide was burned by the energy blast. He ran and dove into the lake. Daxium cautiously approached the lake trying to detect where he was. Suddenly Ragnaron jumped out of the water slashing him his claws. Daxium fell to his back. Trying to get up the crystal started to flash red. Ragnaron shot him point blank with the electrical beam.

“Firing missiles!”, Hawk said as Bill swooped the razor Wing in. Unleashing what was left of his payload at Ragnaron’s fin, cracking it a bit. He stopped blasting Daxium to turn toward his attacker. Daxium forced off another bolt and blasted the fin on the other side. The resulting explosion was enough to break the fin as it fell to the ground. Ragnaron thrashed around in mind numbing pain clutching at his head giving Daxium a chance to get to his feet. Facing the creature he put his hands to his chest and spread them wide drawing in energy from his surroundings. Raising his right arm and lowering his left he brought them together at the wrist the multicolored stream coming from the edge of his right hand. Ragnaron reacted for a moment before falling back into the water and exploded.

Standing there for a moment he found the Razor Wing Hawk and Bill were in. Acknowledging the help with a nod he looked into the sky and flew off, “Shiah!”

“Watanabe to Hawk,” Ryo said into his communicator. “Me and Jess are alright, just a little shaken up.”

“That’s great to hear,” Hawk told them. “We’ll send somebody to pick you up so stay where you are. We’ll discuss what you did wrong when we get back to Castle. Hawk out.”

“It could be worse,” Jess offered taking off her helmet. “He could be sending Jamira after us.”

“Don’t jinx it,” Ryo told her.

Ken reappeared after it was over and looked around. Confused he said out loud, “Dax, I know you’re a little upset with me right now, but we are close to where I set you loose right?”

“This is the exact spot,” was the reply, although he seemed confused that Ken would ask that.

“Then where’s Richardson?” Running back to the road he looked in both directions and saw nothing. “That son of a bitch ditched me!” Kicking a rock in frustration and heading back toward town on foot he pulled out his cell phone, it was past midnight so who the hell would be up right now. Going through his call list he found somebody who might still be awake, “Johnny? It’s Ken, I got a huge favor to ask you.”

A few miles away Richardson and Patricia rode in silence. Messing with her glasses she studied the lens for a bit before saying, “I got it.”

“Show me,” Richardson ordered. Opening her briefcase she flipped up a panel revealing a screen. Taking off one of the frame’s earpiece she plugged it into the case. Typing in a few commands the screen came to life and there was Scott right in the middle of it. Like he hoped she got a clear shot of his face when he turned around. Then he transformed into the giant. “I’ll show that bastard who needs who.”

ED – Shinedown –Fly From the Inside
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Old April 3rd, 2019, 09:09 PM #6
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Sorry just now realized I posted chapter 5 twice, my apologizes for any confusion.

Last edited by scikaiju; April 11th, 2019 at 08:56 PM.
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Old April 7th, 2019, 12:55 PM #7
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Episode 6

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

It had been two days since Ken was deserted by Richardson. Even though Johnny never really asked too many questions about why he was in the middle of nowhere he still ribbed him on it in a good natured way. Of course Rose and the others quickly caught on to what was going on. Making sure Jeff wasn’t in earshot he made up a quick story for them. “I ran into a guy I knew and he convinced me to head to the park top relax for a bit after what happened. Another monster showed up and he booked it before I could get in the car.”

“I don’t believe it,” Rose stated.

“What’s not to believe?”, Ken asked her.

“That you have friends outside of work. I’ve never seen you hang out with anybody else.”

“I do have a life outside of here you know.”

“You’re going to have to have a hard time proving it to me,” she told him with a grin.

The rest of the day went by pretty smoothly. Then Rose went to the door and looked back into the garage, “Hey Ken!” He looked over to her, “You have a visitor of the female persuasion.”

“What?”, he had no idea who this could be. He had an idea on who he hoped it would be, but that was a long shot. Going over he was surprised to see Richardson’s assistant standing there, what was her name, Patricia?

“Mr. Scott,” she began, “if I may have a few moments of your time?” She looked around the garage before adding, “In private?”

“Yeah sure,” he saw his boss in his office look as confused as the rest of them. “I’ll be back in a few.”

Rose started grinning, “You should have told me you liked them older.”

Pointing a finger in her face he told her, “Don’t start getting ideas.”

“Too late,” she chimed as he followed the assistant.

“They walked a few yards away from the garage to her car so they wouldn’t be overheard. Without a word she retrieved her briefcase and put it on the hood of the car. Opening it she flipped open a panel that revealed a monitor. A moment later it came on to reveal Richardson’s face. “Good day Mr. Scott, how are you today?”

Crossing his arms Ken tried not to look that disgusted, “What do you want Richardson?”

“Alright then,” Richardson said not looking impressed, “we’ll get straight to the point. “I’m asking you one more time to join the UNDF.”

Ken nearly laughed out loud, “You had me arrested, you ditched me in middle of BFE and you expect me to jump right in? You have got to work on your recruitment pitch.”

He started to leave when Richardson spoke up, “Then you leave me no choice. I’m telling you you’re joining the UNDF.”

“I don’t think it works that way,” Ken told him. “Free choice and all that.”

“You haven’t seen this as of yet.” Ken watched as the image on the monitor changed. He paid a little more attention when he realized that was him on the screen. That son of a bitch recorded him the other night. “Mr. Scott!”, Richardson called out in the video. Like a patsy he looked back right at him. “Good luck, to both of you.” The he disappeared in a flash of light and Daxium was there in his place. “Let me tell you how this is going to work,” Richardson said coming back on the screen, “you don’t agree to join the UNDF this footage get’s released to every media outlet within the half hour. Everybody will know who you are and what your giant little secret is.”

Ken stood there seething for a bit. Finally he said, “You’re assuming I won’t blow my secret myself.”

“But what about your family and friends?”, Richardson asked him. “What’s going to happen to them if this gets out? Forget the media scrutiny, what if somebody, say from my organization, starts saying you may be a biohazard to those around you?”

“You mother…”

“Do we have a deal Mr. Scott?”, Richardson said cutting him off sharply.

Ken looked back at the garage, he could see Rose and Jeff hovering around the door. Damn it he didn’t have a choice. “Alright I’m in.”

“I knew you would see it my way,” he said looking a little smug. “To prove I’m not totally heartless I am well aware that you help support your family.” Patricia handed him a piece of paper. “By my estimation that should be double what you currently make a month. I’ll let you decide what to do with it, I’ll give you a few moments to decide.”

Despite how angry he was at the moment he was able to think clearly enough on what to do with it, “I want half of it into a saving account for me.”

“And the other half?”, Richardson asked.

“I want half of that to go to my mother and the other half to go into a trust fund for my niece.”

“Fair enough, a pleasure doing business with you Mr. Scott. We’ll see you soon after you put your current affairs in order.”

After the monitor was turned off he focused on Patricia, “Your boss is a real piece of shit.”

“I know,” she said calmly, closing the case, “but he gets the job done.” She pulled away leaving Ken standing there. He waited a few minutes to calm down before heading back to the garage.

Rose was there almost as soon as he entered the door looking concerned, “Ken, are you alright? What was that about?”

“Not right now,” he told her. He headed straight for the boss’s office and closed the door behind him.

“Ken what’s going on?”, he asked.

Not sure how to put it the only thing he could say was, “I’m… putting in my two weeks.”

“Why?” what was that about?”

Still unhappy about the situation it came out a little more bitter than he intended, “Your dream for me just came true.”

“A civilian operative?” In order to get that bastard the giant bonded with into the organization there were miles of red tape he had to get around. Richardson had Patricia look for any holes they could exploit while they were trying to discover the other half of Ultraman’s identity. It was going to be hard enough to bypass the academy, where they were going to put him was another headache just waiting in the wings. So much so he almost couldn’t believe it when the board practically dropped the solution right in his lap. And seeing where he was planning on placing Scott Hawk’s reaction was pretty much what he expected. “What kind of bullshit is this?”

“It’s something a couple members of the board cooked up without my knowledge,” Richardson explained as he sat behind his desk. “It’s supposed to make the UNDF look more relatable somehow. They explained it but it went over my head, you know how people think these days. It was already popular with roughly eighty percent of the board by the time I heard about it, otherwise I would have shut it down.” Yes it was a bold face lie, but he tried to appease the Captain a bit.

“You could still shoot it down,” Hawk insisted a bit.

“True but I thought it would make an interesting experiment.”

“So any yahoo off the street…?”

“Please Captain give me some credit,” he cut him off seeing he was trying to build up a head of steam. “Even the idiots who came up with this weren’t that stupid. In fact they pitched as a second chance program. In case some qualified person fell through the cracks somehow. As it stands,” Richardson slid a folder across the desk to Hawk, “I already have a candidate in mind.”

As he read over the file he correctly guessed the Captain’s reaction yet again. “What the hell is this? You had us bring this Scott character in now he’s signing up? Wait, he’s blackmailing you isn’t he? He doesn’t want money he wants this?”

“And we have a team of lawyers ready to ground him into dust if that was the case,” Richardson told him. “Actually he had to be convinced to take the offer. He’s almost as stubborn as you in that aspect.”

Hawk wisely didn’t take the bait, “So why him?”

“Honestly he reapplied to the academy, which tells me he wants in. Since it took some convincing he wants to do it the right way and not take a short cut.”

“So what did it take to get him to take it?”

“That’s between me and him Captain.”

“Then why did you have us bring him in?”

“I wanted to size him up personally, see how he would react to different stressful situations.” As an afterthought he added, “I know I should have told you this sooner but I wanted you and your men’s action to be authentic.”

Hawk just stared at him dumbstruck, “You wasted our time and resources…? I don’t buy it. There has to be more than to this ‘civilian operative’ business than that. What’s really going on?”

“There’s no big conspiracy Captain,” Richardson said, mainly to get some time to think. “It’s just politics mainly. They backed away when I wanted to leave Ultraman alone for the time being. So I agreed to something of theirs. Just to keep them happy more or less.” Something flashed across Hawk’s face that grabbed his attention, “Do you have a problem with what I just said Captain?”

“No,” he said slowly, “but Joe said something similar when he finally agreed to accompany you as a bodyguard. Good day sir,” with that he started to leave.

“Do you blame me for Joseph’s death,” he asked out loud.

“I’m not assigning blame to anybody,” Hawk told him without turning around. “I just want to know what the hell happened to him. He faced him, “It doesn’t matter if you think I deserve to know or not, but his teammates deserve to know.”

“I guess you’re right,” Richardson turned around in his chair. “I guess you can blame me after all. I wanted to see our soldiers in action, overriding Joseph objections in the process. Once we got there I foolishly got out of the car dragging Joseph along the way. He convinced me to stay in a spot he considered safe.” He was quiet for a moment as he relived the death of his only child. “Then a stray blast from that creature… He died because of a foolish old man Captain. You can tell Alpha Team that if you want.” There was a long uncomfortable silence after that.

“He died from a stray blast,” Hawk said after a bit. “That’s all they need to know.”

“Thank you Captain,” Richardson said. As he was leaving he spoke up again, “From the files Mr. Bridge have been downloading it seems you have been studying this Ultraman. Keep it up in case my hunch about him is wrong.” Hawk nodded before he left the office. Richardson leaned back into his chair, sometimes politics included spinning enough of the truth into a story for people to stop looking into it.

There were several messages on his machine as he got ready to leave. There were two that he stopped and listened to while he was packing his bags. The first was from Rose, “Hi Ken, just wanted to say goodbye one more time and good luck. I know you’re going to do great, just don’t forget about the rest of us. Otherwise I’ll have to hunt you down and hurt you. Bye.”

The other was from Jeff, “I can’t believe you’re abandoning us. You heard the boss, you’re the only reason why that dump is still open. What about the rest of us huh? What are we supposed to do? What about your niece you selfish son of a…” There was a brief argument with Janet over what he was saying before the call ended. One more time he had to ask, how was he related to him again?

While he had some sort of quarters waiting for him at UNDF headquarter, Castle he thought they called it he had the option to have a living space off base, which allowed him to keep his apartment. Which was kind of a kind of a good thing because now he wouldn’t have to explain why he kept the picture taped to his mirror if Jess accidently saw it. Slinging the bag over shoulder he locked the door behind him and went down to his car and drove away.

Pulling up to the main gate he showed the temp ID they gave him to the guard so he could get in. Looking at the main building in the day light made him relive some of the excitement from a few years ago when he first got accepted. That quickly went away when he remembered why he was here now. Finding a spot he was directed to a person who gave him a packet with the rules and regulations and such. Inside he also found two slips of papers, one was his quarters which he quickly located and threw his bag in. Because the second had where he was supposed to meet his new chief and crew. Heading toward the lower levels where all the vehicles were he tried to find the room numbers on the paper. Having no luck what so ever he walked to a guy going over something on a clipboard. “Can you give me a hand for a sec, I can’t find this room number.”

He looked at it and him strangely, “I would say so, you got to go up ten floors or so.”

“Ten floors?” Ken looked at the paper again, “That’s really far from the garage. Is management up there or something?”

“Or something,” the guy said looking really amused about something before walking away.

Finding the elevator he looked over a directory until he found the floor he was supposed to go and hit the button. Once there he was still lost as he had no idea where to go and didn’t see a “you are here” map anywhere. So he asked for some directions again. Once or twice he find somebody helpful, “You go down that corridor, take a right at the third hallway you pass…”, that sort of thing.

But mainly he got some annoyed looks and a, “Oh, it’s you,” before they walked off.

It didn’t take him long to figure out why either. “Dax from now on I decided who in the hell we trust.” Finally he found the room after about ten minutes of searching. Heading in he saw a conference room of some sort. He also saw who was waiting inside. Taking a step back into the hallway the door closed in front of him. Ken looked at the slip of paper again to make sure he read it right. Even going so far as to turn it over in case he was holding it upside down. No he had the right room all right. Stepping into the room again he saw he didn’t see things the first time. He stood there looking at Jess and her teammates as they looked right back at him. “Oh hell no.”

“Hey civilian nobody we didn’t want who’s being forced on to us,” Bill said looking really unhappy right then.

Ken returned the look, “Hey bastard who shot me in the back.”

As he walked to the back of the room a guy he hadn’t seen before with the tag Bridge on his jacket stared at him, “How long is your hair?”

“Longer than it was yesterday, shorter than what it’ll be tomorrow,” he snapped off as he leaned against the back wall. Of course Jess wouldn’t look at him, but from what he could see she didn’t look all that happy about this either.

Hawk came into the room saying, “I see our newest member finally decided to arrive. “I’ll make this quick. That man over there is Nathan Bridge, our computer expert. Bill Waters and Ryo Watanabe, our best pilots. You already know Jessica Wade, who by the way is our top marksmen. And I’m Gabriel Hawk, leader of Alpha Team. Or as they call us around here Monster Squad. Alpha Team, this is our new… civilian operative, Ken Scott.” Nobody made the attempt to even pretend to exchange pleasantries. “Well then,” Hawk coughed, “let’s get this meeting started then.”

“Wait,” Bill curt in, “not everybody is seated yet.” All eyes went to Ken who was still standing against the wall.

“There’s no other chair,” he said.

“Well get you a chair for next time,” Hawk said.

“Captain,” Ryo spoke up, “you said the meeting never starts until everybody is seated.”

“Yeah,” Bill agreed, “if the civilian wants to be part of this he better find a seat or get out of the room.” Jess shot Bill a look but said nothing.

Ken looked around the room not wanting to give them the satisfaction. Locating a waste paper basket, he picked it up, dumped the contents on top of Bill’s head then went to the end of the table and sat on top of it. “Happy?”, Ken asked.

Hawk looked real tired all of the sudden, “If you’re done hazing the new guy…”

“We haven’t begun hazing the new guy,” Bill said looking right at him as he got the trash off of him.

Ken mouthed the words, “Bring it.” Hawk still looked tired.

After the meeting Hawk told Ken to meet him in another room. This one turned out to be a more high tech conference room without any chairs. Hawk stood on one side of the table in the middle of the room and gestured that he should stand on the other side. Both of them stood there and sized the other man up. Hawk began with, “Obviously we started off on the wrong foot.” Ken wisely kept his mouth shut. “But we are a team. And a team has to be able to be able trust each other, that means no secrets. So I’m only going to ask you this once, what did Richardson offer to get you to agree to this?”

Ken looked at him for a long time. He apparently didn’t know the real reason why Richardson forced him to do this. Maybe if he told the Captain why he was her he might find a way to help him get out of this mess. But that wouldn’t stop Richardson from releasing the tape. Instead he said, “He’s helping me set up my paycheck to help out my mom and my niece.”

“Is that it?”, Hawk asked not looking convinced. “Because from what I’ve seen you’re not being paid what the rest of us are. In fact it’s lower than the a grunt.”

Why was he not surprised? “If he didn’t offer that I would have never agreed to this. I was waiting for my rejection letter when you guys cornered me.”

“If you were so sure you’d get rejected why reapply?”

“My boss wouldn’t get off my back about it. I figured after I got the letter he’d let it go. Obviously that didn’t work out the way I thought it would.”

Hawk nodded a bit before changing the subject, “Is there any particular reason why you headed for one of the hangers first?”

“If you were a mechanic where would you think they’d put you?”

“Good point.” Hawk put a file with his name on it on the table and slid it to him, “So how good of a mechanic are you?”

“Well I’m pretty modest, but everybody else I’ve worked with says they haven’t seen an engine I couldn’t figure out in no time.”

Hawk nodded again, slowly this time, “Makes sense, because according to your academy file there you are highly adept at all thing mechanical. I believe the term they used was ‘genius’.”

“What?”, Ken opened the file and quickly looked through it. “You have to be kidding. I’m just a just a grease jockey.”

“Scott I don’t kid about things like that,” Hawk told him. “I’ll be up front with you, that is the only reason why I’m not protesting this all that much. Hell son if it wasn’t for that thing that originally disqualified you you’d probably be running a department by now.”

Ken read the file as he listened, only to stop listening when he found the part Hawk was talking about, “A genius?”

“Scott!”, Hawk barked. Ken gave him his full attention. “I will give you a chance to prove Richardson’s hunch about you right, more than what I was going too originally. So I suggest you don’t do anything to prove either of us wrong.”

Still stunned Ken could only say, “I’ll try not to.”

“I know it’s a lot to take in,” Hawk said with a little more understanding, “and you’ve been thrown into the deep end so to speak. This is Alpha Team’s war room for the lack of a better term. This is where we plan our attack strategies, in case we get sufficient warning. But mainly we use it to go over our mission, see what we did wrong or what we can improve on. What I want you to do right now is to go over the basic equipment data. The table will give you a holographic image to refresh your memory.”

“I guess this is where I say yes sir?”

“Since this your first day I’ll put that down to inexperience,” Hawk smirked as he took the file. “I’ll have somebody give you a better tour of the place and set you up with your gear. But study the things I’ve highlighted first as a refresher, but you can look at anything that doesn’t seem familiar.” Leaving the room he added, “I should tell you now there might be situations where things will rest squarely on your shoulders.”

The door closed as Ken muttered, “What else is new.” He scrolled down the list, so far a few of the names were ringing a bell or two, so he mentally put them on the back burner for the time being. Looking at the things he wasn’t familiar with something near the end of the list caught his attention, “Ultraman?” Surprisingly he had access to that file and pulled it up. Watching as the image formed over the table he was soon greeted by a familiar sight, “Oh boy.”

Now this was an unexpected development. Apparently his masters tried to push a monster threw decades ago. When they first discovered this world they rushed into breaking the phase and sent it in immediately. Of course they didn’t have a clue about what would happen once it crossed over. It took some doing but he finally located the remains of the creature. In fact it became sort of a local legend in the nearby town he found it in. Antlar they called it, his master had a name for it but they forgotten it. But not totally since they provided the means to revive it.

“You come to see Antlar.” An old raggedy looking man came out of the woods. The Avatar couldn’t help but to noticed that he said more of a statement than an actual question.

“What gave me away?”, he asked playing along, well aware of that rifle in his hands.

“Nobody comes up here unless they want to see it,” he spat. “And they never listen because they don’t know how lucky they are.”

“And why is that?”

“I saw that thing come out of a hole in the sky!”, he snapped. The Avatar kept quiet, could it be possible this old fool saw him emerge from a portal. “But nobody believed old Zeke. I saw the creature come out of a hole in the sky. It used some sort of beam to suck in a plane.”

“Then what happened?”

“The creature started thrashing around like God himself was trying to strike it down. It tried to dig itself back to hell. Then there was a flash then that was it. The authorities said it was a natural phe… pheo… thing. But Zeke saw, I told them. But nobody believed old Zeke, said I was sick in the head.”

“I believe you,” the Avatar told him. “In fact I’m here to bring him back to life so he can finish the job he was sent her for.”

“An animal that big will destroy the town,” Zeke exclaimed.

“That one and several others, that is the idea after all.”

The old man pointed that rifle at him. Getting a good look at it now the Avatar doubted it would even fire, not that it could harm him in any case. “Old Zeke won’t let you. I’ve seen that thing and I won’t let you.” The Avatar raised a hand that was crackling with dark energy. Zeke back away, the end of the rifle starting to shake, “What are you.”

“A superior being,” the Avatar simply said. “If it makes you feel any better I was going to kill you any way. I can’t have anybody knowing what I look like.” Old Zeke barely had time to flinch as the energy beam struck him, he didn’t have time to scream. In moments all that was left was the remains of the rifle and a charred skeleton. “Trust me Zeke I probably put you out of everybody else’s misery.”

Going up the trail he found what he was looking for, a segment of the mountain that looked a bit different from the rest. It was a very slight difference but he could see it even after all these years. He could even feel the remains of dark energy that still remained in the area. Holding his hands close together dark energy swirled between until ball of energy formed. Looking like a dark diamond it flew forward and hovered over the ground. A beam came from it as it started burrowing into the ground. Before long he felt the dark traces grew stronger and he smiled.

The person Hawk sent to give him the tour and gear him up turned out to be Ryo. A quick conversation revealed that it was the same guy he went to the academy with. And they were pretty friendly back then, well before the flight simulator, so Ken felt comfortable enough to say, “So you drew the short straw?”

“Bill was a little too eager to volunteer,” he said “So Jess suggested I might be a good compromise. Come on the Captain said to hook you up with the basic equipment.”

“Does it involve getting what you’re wearing?”

“Sorry civilian, but you’re going to have to earn one of these, just like everybody else.”

“Civilian? Dude that hurts.”

“The truth usually does,” Ryo told him. “Come on, the equipment and weapon bay is this way.” After that little remark small talk was kept to a bare minimum. Going down a couple of floors, and a couple of dirty looks in his direction, they hit that bay. More people saw him and turned away. Jess was in there too, she glanced at him before returning her attention to the firing range. “What you need is over here.” Walking up to a table he saw a wrist scanner.

“I recognize this from the academy,” Ken said picking one up and looking it over.

“Not a whole lot has changed since then,” Ryo explained as he strapped it around his wrist. “It still does thermal, infrared and various other scans. But they improved the radar since then, even added a link to the Scan Tracks’ sensor package.”

“Interesting,” Ken said trying to sound interested, but once he heard Scan Track he started thinking about what’s under the hood. And how fast he could get elbow deep in one. Ryo pointed to another table. Ken followed him and raised an eyebrow when he saw what was on it. “I get a gun?”

“Civilian operative or not Captain Hawk wants you to be able to defend yourself. None of us are going to babysit you out in the field.”

“I can’t get a uniform but I get a gun?”, he was having a hard time wrapping his head around that one.

Ignoring the statement Ryo continued, “Your weapon has variable power setting, stun to kill. We mainly keep it on stun since it’s not supposed to hurt.”

“You wanna bet?”, Ken asked.

Coughing a bit he went on, “They added one feature though.” Taking the gun back he tossed him a helmet, “Put it on and lower the visor. Doing so he watched Ryo press something by the trigger. A targeting reticule popped up in his vision after a moment. Ryo moved the barrel around and the reticule followed it’s movements.

“That’s cool,” Ken said as he took the helmet off.

“There’s a targeting sensor in the barrel of the gun,” Ryo explained. “There’s a bit of a lag, especially after the guns been fired, but not enough to cause any real trouble.” About then Jess took aim and fired off round of shoots at the target in front of her. They watched as all her shots hit the heart of the man shaped target. Ken let out a low whistle, praying that wasn’t him in her mind. “Of course some of us don’t need the sensor at all,” Ryo remarked. Leaning in he said, “Just a word of warning, don’t mess with that woman.”

“I used to date her,” Ken shot back, “I’m well aware of that fact.”

“Captain Hawk to Alpha team,” Ken heard over Ryo’s communicator. “Get to the war room.”

Jess and Ryo both acknowledged the call and ran out of the room. Ken followed saying, “Am I getting one of those at least?”

“We’re working on it,” Ryo called back.

Hawk watched them enter the room, somewhat impressed Scott decided to join them, at least he was being serious about this. But the others were still giving him a wide berth. One step at a time he reminded himself. “We had an interesting call from a town a few miles from here.” A map showed over the table highlighting the area. “For some reason airplanes have been sucked down from the sky according to witnesses.”

“How long has this been going on?”, Jess asked.

“It started a couple of hours ago,” he answered. “And the pull has been getting stronger since they first noticed it. Usually we’d send in a scout team but I volunteered us since it seemed like the perfect situation to break in Scott here. Jess you go with Bill in Razor Wing one for this one. Ryo you’re flying with Ken in Wing two.” Hawk watched as Scott blanched a bit. Jess looked at him and winced and Ryo dropped his head.

Slowly raising his hand Scott asked, “I don’t suppose I can take one of those Scan Tracks or something?”

“I already sent the Tracks out,” Hawk informed him, “they should be there by the time you arrive. And we travel as a unit Mr. Scott, no exceptions. Is that understood?”

“Yes sir,” he said holding his stomach.

“Keep your eyes close,” Jess told him on the way out. “Like you used to do on the Ferris Wheel.”

“This better not be the simulator all over again,” Ryo muttered. Scott said nothing as the door closed. Given his condition Hawk would have complied with his request normally. But he needed to know how much of a handicap his condition actually was.

In the hanger both jets were prepared. Ken hit his check list quickly trying to keep his mind off the situation. In front of him Ryo was trying not to think of the simulator as well. “It’s just a short flight Ken,” he said, “so keep it in until then. I don’t want to be wearing your barf again.”

“Short flight… right.” Ken put on his helmet, unfortunately that put his mind back on what was happening. “Ah Ryo…?”

“I had them put a couple under your seat.”

Reaching under it he found two white sealable bags, “Thanks. Ryo…?” Without a word he handed back a third one, “Thanks.”

“Razor Wing one to control, we are ready to launch,” Ken heard over the speaker.

“Oh God,” he said before squeezing his eyes shut.

In front of him Ryo tried not to sound worried as he said, “Razor Wing two to control, we are ready to launch.”

“Acknowledge Razor Wings you are go for launch.” The jets shot forward and Ken forcibly swallowed the contents of his stomach back down.

The short flight seemed to take an eternity for Ken. Finally heard Ryo speak to him, “We’re approaching the target area. Scan Tracks haven’t picked anything up yet. So we have to look for anything suspicious so I need you to open your eyes. I’ll keep the Wing as steady as I can but I need you to do your job.”

“Right,” he answered. Opening his eyes he kept them focuses on the controls in front of him. Taking several deep breaths he slowly looked out and saw the ground below. Then he promptly threw up in one of the bags.

“Two seconds longer than I thought it would take,” Ryo said attempting a joke. Ken smiled weakly as he wiped off his mouth.

“Concentrate on the task at hand,” Hawk ordered from Castle’s control center. “Bridge says you’re close.”

“You should almost be right on top of it Wing one,” Bridge said as he monitored the situation. Almost a split second later Razor Wing one was caught in a vortex that came out of nowhere.

“Holy shit!”, Bill tried to regain control as the jet just spun in the air.

“I can’t see where it’s coming from!”, Jess called out.

Ken did, “By the…,” he swallowed hard to keep down another round from escaping his stomach. “Mountains,” he lowered his head and pointed. “By the mountains!”

“I see it,” Ryo said as he brought the Wing around. “Ken I can’t I can’t keep her steady and target it at the same time. I need you to focus on the screen and block out everything else, got it?”

“Yeah,” he said trying to do just that., eyes looking at nothing else but the screen in front of him. Putting the crosshairs at the base of the vortex he fired a couple of missiles. The explosion was enough to disrupt the vortex and Bill quickly regained control and get out of there.

“Great shooting man,” Ryo told him.

“Is civilian even authorized to fire those things,” Bill asked.

Jess reached over and smacked him in the back of the head, “He just saved our asses.”

“He is now,” Hawk told him.

“We got movement,” Jess called out. Three of them watched as the ground started to break revealing a giant, dark brown head with a huge set of pinchers. The creature screamed and the vortex formed again from it’s mouth capturing both jets. And Ken lost his lunch again.

“It’s stronger now!” Bill exclaimed. “The controls are doing nothing!”

“Same here!”, Ryo said. “We’re being pulled backwards! I can’t get us loose!”

“Eject!”, Hawk ordered.

“Ken!”, Ryo called out.

“I’m looking right at it!”, he said. All of them pulled the levers and shot out of there shot out of their jets. It was enough to get them out of the vortex as the Razor Wings smashed together. The vortex stopped and the creature ignored them as it freed itself from the ground reveal an armored bipedal feature. The Scan Tracks started firing as soon as they got it in their sights.

Alpha Team and Ken hit the ground as his stomach threatened to give away again. “I just had to tell Richardson yes,” he muttered as he got it under control.

“Waters to Castle,” Bill said into his communicator. “We’re all fine, but civilian looking a little green.”

“Head to town and help with the evacuations,” Hawk told them. “Back up’s on the way.”

“Rodger,” Bill said. Then he and the others looked at Ken.

“I’m on solid ground, I’m good,” he said reading the silent question in their faces. None of them looked like they believed him. But they didn’t have time to argue and ran for the town with Ken right behind them.

And this was the amount of chaos Ken was expecting with that creature nearby being distracted by the Scan Tracks. Dax was yelling at him again but with Ryo right there he couldn’t get away. Of course he was having a hard enough time getting the towns people to listen to him. “Evacuation is that way!”, he told a group. They kept on doing what they’re doing. “Yo I’m talking to you!”, again they ignored him as they tried to back everything they owned in that small truck of theirs. “Hey!”

“You!”, Ryo called out pointing right at them. To him they listened. “You heard this man, take what you got and get to the evacuation area now!” They did as he said with no questions asked. Ryo looked at him before looking elsewhere.

“This would go a little easier if I had a uniform,” he told him.

“And I told you that you had to earn it first,” Ryo shot back.

“Hawk to Alpha Team and other units, Calvary is coming in about five seconds.” Ken and Ryo looked up at the sound of engines of the incoming Razor Wings. A few moments later more Scan Tracks could be seen coming into view.

“So now what?”, Ken asked.

“We keep looking for civilians,” Ryo answered. “Other than yourself.”

“Oh ha-ha,” Ken told him.

“Ryo,” Hawk spoke up. “I’m sending a Scan Track to your location. Scott can keep looking for civilians I need you to help coordinate the attack from the ground in case it uses that vortex again.”

“Understood,” Ryo replied. Taking his communicator off his jacket he handed it to Ken. “Keep in touch with this and keep looking for stragglers.”

“Right,” Ken said. A Scan Track pulled up and Ken ran off. Keeping an eye on the scanner on his arm he’d look up every so often to see how the attack was going. Like Hawk thought it tried using the vortex again against the Wings. Those not stuck in the field fired at it to try and free those that were as well as the Tracks. From where Ken was it didn’t look it was doing a lot of damage. “Look for others,” he reminded himself. Going a few blocks he wasn’t picking up any other life signs in the area that he could see. “Scott to Ryo,” he said not really sure what to do. “My area’s clear so far.”

“Scott this is Hawk,” he got in reply. “Jess and Bill reported the same thing. They jumped into a Track and went to help out with the battle. I want you to head to the evacuation area.”

“Captain…”, Ken started to protest. Maybe he didn’t want to be part of this but now that he was he wanted to do his part.

“That’s an order Scott. You’re not trained for this situation. You’ll be better off there.”

“Yes sir,” he said. Turning off the communicator he looked at the creature. He could believably be a few minutes late getting to the evacuation area. Without a second thought he reached in his jacket for the Spark Magnifier and held it over his head.

“Shiah!” Daxium took a fighting stance as Antlar looked in the other direction. Running in he jumped up and hit a flying kick to his back. Antlar stumbled forward a bit before looking back at his attacker Daxium ducked under those pinchers as it came at him and punched him in the stomach. He swung his head suddenly catching Daxium in the side with one of those pinchers that knocked him to the ground, The giant quickly kicked the monster back as it tried to get on top of him. They circled each other after getting on their feet. Daxium went low, grabbing the monster’s leg and knocking it to the ground. He pounded Antlar’s body but it’s hide was tougher than it looked, He was so intent on pounding the creature into submission he failed to notice those pinchers open up and the head raise up. Clamping down on his neck Daxium struggled to free himself before Antlar tossed him off.

Getting to a knee he fired off a bolt as Antlar stood. It stumbled back from the impact giving him enough time to get to his feet and jump up for another flying kick. Grabbing those pinchers he kicked away at the monster gut trying to weaken something on it. Antlar started swinging his head again. Daxium tried to hand on but he was eventually flung off. Landing with a ground shaking thud he watched as Antlar dove for the ground and burrowed in faster than he thought possible. “Where did he go?”, Jess asked from her Scan Track.

“I’m not seeing it on sensors,” Bridge said.

Daxium looked around as he cautiously moved forward. Looking down as the ground under his feet started to vibrate. Antlar’s head came up right under and knocked him to the ground. As he got back up he looked for the creature but it went underground again. Concentrating on trying to feel where the creature might be he failed to notice it emerge from the ground behind him. “Look out!” Jess shouted. Daxium looked at her but it was too late. Antlar created the vortex and caught him. He struggled as he was pulled backwards. The pinchers clamped down on him, digging into his left shoulder causing the giant to grunt in pain.

Light started pouring down his shoulder as Antlar pierced his skin while it tried to crush him. Hawk ordered for all units to assist Ultraman but it was having no effect. The jewel started to flash as he was able to free his arms enough to slam his forearms together and hold them out going into Power mode. Grabbing the pinchers he slowly started pulling them apart. Then with a deep grunt he threw Antlar over his head and away from the town. The creature felt it this time as he slammed a foot into his gut. Grabbing one of the pinchers he broke it by pounding hi other hand on it. Pounding him repeatedly on the head Daxium grabbed him, picked him up over his head and threw him. Seeing him crash he put his fist by the jewel and started drawing in energy. Scan Tracks in the area started backing up as fast as they could as he pulled the fist back and slammed it into the ground. The energy wave ripped up the ground as it slammed into Antlar. Moments later the monster exploded. Daxium took a moment to heal his wound before flying off, “Shiah!”

“There he is,” Bill pointed out as they got to the evacuation area. Ken sat on the hood of a truck as he waved at them. Ryo pulled up a moment later as they got out. “Hey civilian, what did you think of that warm up?”

“About the same as the first one I got caught in,” he said hopping off. “It sucked balls.”

“Ken,” Jess spoke up, “thanks for the save.”

“It was just a lucky shot,” he said trying to shrug it off. “So how are we getting back to Castle?”

“We’re taking the Tracks,” Ryo told him. “Clean up will come for what’s left of Wings one and two. Good thing you’re a mechanic, you’re going to be busy for quite a while,” he joked as he slapped Ken’s left shoulder. He fought hard to keep the pain off his face.

“I think we got room…,” Bill started to say as he pointed toward his and Jess’s Scan Track.

“Ryo got more room in his Track than we do,” Jess quickly said. “Ken can ride with him.”

“Sure,” Ken said trying to figure that reaction out. Bill and Ryo shrugged as they headed for their respected Scan Tracks. Ken took that free moment to grab his shoulder and grimace a bit from the pain. He didn’t notice Jess caught him. She was confused but didn’t say anything to the others.

ED - Shinedown – Fly From the Inside
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Old April 11th, 2019, 09:23 PM #8
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

Episode 7

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

For a high tech place Ken was silently complaining at how cold this particular room was. Shirtless and sitting on some sort of exam table he endured the “doctor’s” examination of the red welts on his shoulder. Of course this examination consisted more of poking at those welts more than anything else which sent a brand new wave of pain through his arm with each one. Something he should have seen coming when Jess told him who he was during his first “visit” here. Finally there was one poke too many and he snapped, “Don’t you have something to build?”

Williams took a step back and said, “Mr. Richardson wanted you examined after each battle.”

“Can’t he get a ‘doctor’ doctor to do this?”

“Outside of Richardson and his assistant I’m the only other person who knows about you and Ultraman, or Daxium as you call him. So please bear with me, I don’t like this any more than you do.”

“Just remember I’m not a lab rat.” He poked his shoulder again, “Is that all you can do?” Williams went to poke it more time and Ken slapped the finger away, “Quit it.”

“How does the damage he takes affect you?” he asked rubbing his finger. “I’ve seen footage of you after a couple of battles, you seem to be in pain.”

“It depends on the damage Dax takes,” he answered grabbing his shirt on put it on trying to protect his shoulder. “If he’s just hit I’m feeling it for an hour or so later. If it’s anything like the last time something pierced his skin I’m going to be feeling it for a couple of days.”

“Interesting,” Williams muttered. “And you say he’s somewhere inside you? We did a full scan on you when you were brought in, they didn’t show anything.”

“He’s really good at hiding,” he said annoyed that they did that while he was out cold. “Is that all I got things to do.” He wasn’t sure what exactly, but he knew it involved something far away from here as possible.

“Just one more thing,” Williams said, “more out of curiosity than anything else. Does this Daxium have any names for his weapons?”

“Oh come on I want to get out of here,” Ken whined.

“Just humor me please, then you can go.”

“Oh all right,” Ken sighed in disgust. Williams went to a computer, and after first pulling up a picture with a lamp shade on top of his head, from New Years apparently, he showed a video of Daxium finishing off a monster with his arms crossed at the wrist. Ken looked like he was elsewhere for a moment before saying, “Dimensional Strom Ray.” Getting a strange look on his face he turned his head and whispered, “Really?”

“How should I know?”, Williams said before he realized what he just witnessed. Getting really excited as it dawned on him he exclaimed, “You’re talking to him? That’s nucking futs!”

Too stunned to do anything but blink he eventually went, “Nucking futs, you… really just said that?”

“Never mind that let’s keep going,” he said going back to the computer.

He showed footage of Daxium doing the move that drained a lot of his energy, “The whip was the light flash mixed in with the Hyper speed run.” Next was when he wrapped the whip around the creature and created that surge, “Light Stream.” Then he showed him in his red form pulling back his fist, “He already told me that one, it’s called the Giga Wave.” After was an image of him pulling his hands to his side, “Flash bolt,” and one of that jagged ring he formed, “Hyper Saw.”

“Excellent, now if…”

Ken cut him off, “What did I say about being a lab rat?”

“How does your giant friend feel about going on?”

Ken got that far away look again before saying, “He says if you don’t let us out of here right now he will find a way to step on you.”

“No he didn’t,” Williams protested. Ken’s only response was to raise an eyebrow slightly. Suddenly feeling unsure of himself Williams backed up and conceded, “All right you can go.”

“Thanks doc, don’t say it hasn’t been fun, because it hasn’t.” Making sure the Spark Magnifier was still in his possession he left the room as fast as he could.

“I did not say that,” Daxium said in his head.

“He don’t know that.” Ken looked back as Williams left the room and headed in the other direction. “Anything?”

Daxium’s answer was a simple, “No.”

Frowning a bit he muttered, “Wasn’t him then.”

Dinner was more of the same as Ken silently watched from his table as everybody gave him more space then was necessary. Some people doubled up at some tables to avoid sitting with the “civilian”. Ryo was the only person who seemed to greet him, yet he still sat elsewhere. Looking at what was left on his tray and realizing he wasn’t that hungry any more he dumped it in the trash. Leaving the cafeteria he ignored the looks some of them were giving him. Man, this was more and more like high school before he started dating Jessica. Speaking of there she was coming around the corner. She saw him and quickly went in the other direction. What the hell? “Jessica wait up.”

When he caught up to her she stiffly said, “Can I help you civilian?”

“Don’t start with the civilian bullshit,” he said getting in front of her. “What is going on?”

She walked past him saying, “What makes you think something is going on?”

“How you’re acting for one,” he said following her. “I brought here against my will and you act like it’s the old days. But now that I’m here voluntarily,” more or less, mainly less, “you’re acting like I ran over your cat.”

“Just tell me one thing,” said facing him. “Just tell how much talking did you have to do to get Richardson to place you on Alpha Team?”

“Is that what this is about?”, he asked. “Look I don’t know what kind of pull you think I had in this situation but I’m a mechanic. I thought they were going to put me in the garage or the hanger or the motor pool or whatever the hell you call them around here. Never in my wildest dreams did I think they would put me in a field unit, much less this one.” Snorting he added, “And my dreams could get pretty wild.”

“I remember,” she said almost, almost, smiling but managed to keep a straight face. “So you didn’t weasel your way onto Alpha Team because I’m on it?” He stopped and stared at her “What?”

“Is you being this self centered a relatively new thing or did I just not notice when we were dating?”

“I haven’t seen you in years, suddenly we’re bringing you in then you’re a team member. What am I supposed to think?” Ken had a response but kept it to himself remember some arguments they had in the past, so he just shrugged his shoulders. They continued walking as she said, “Captain Hawk asked me about the reason you gave him for agreeing to join, you trying to help your mom and niece.”

“What did you tell him?”

She hesitated a bit before saying, “I said that sounded like you to a tee. He seemed a little surprised I backed up your story, but then again I know you.”

“At least somebody around here is on my side, somewhat. Oh speaking of my niece,” he pulled out and opened his wallet, “I said I’d show you a picture of her.”

“She’s a cutie,” Jess said taking the picture from him.

“Yeah, fortunately she looks more like Janet then Jeff,” he joked.

“Maybe she’ll be a genius like her uncle,” she said with a sly smile.

“You heard about that huh?”, Ken said taking back the picture.

“The Captain mentioned it off hand.”

“You should have seen the file.” He quoted what he read, “Genius level aptitude at anything mechanical. There had to be a mistake made somewhere,” he said. “That had to be for somebody else and it got into my file by accident.”

“Wait,” Jess stopped him, “you actually don’t think you’re that smart?”

His only answer was “It’s me, plain ol’ Ken Scott. There nothing special about me” Outside of the alien giant from another dimension.

“And that’s Jeff talking,” she told him. “Everybody else knew how smart you are. Why did you think my dad offered to help you pay for college?”

“I thought he was trying to get me as far away from you as possible.”

“Well probably that too,” she did smile that time. Looking around a bit she said, “I guess I should officially welcome you to the team.”

“That would be nice, you’re pretty much stuck with me until the higher ups in charge change their minds. Or until I kick Water’s ass. Whichever comes first.”

“I’ll make sure to look the other way. Friends?”, she extended a hand.

He took it, “Friends. But no privileges, I have a reputation to maintain.”

“You are not all that,” she told him.

“That’s not what you were saying back in high school.”

“I was taking pity on you.”

“Morning Harold,” Brooks said as he passed him in the garage. Richardson told Patricia to head on without him as he stopped. Still as his bodyguard she hovered near an entrance and watched them. “Lovely day isn’t it?”

“Yes it is,” he agreed. “Is that why you’re apparently calling it an early day Peter? It’s not even eight o’clock yet.”

“My Father’s secretary just called a few minutes ago,” the younger Brooks answered. “Apparently somebody is trying to force a merger behind his back. Since he’s still out of town I intend to stop it before it goes too far.”

“Yes, Stanley said something about it over the phone while I was on my way here. Well if you’re as much like your father like I think you are the poor bastards won’t know what hit them.”

“Thanks Harold,” he laughed, “hopefully I’ll live up to his reputation. While I have a few minutes how is your little experiment going? I heard he had quite the interesting first day on the job.”

“Apparently, Hawk said to me last night he was going to start training him properly today with the engineer final they came up with a few years ago.”

“Yes Hawk mentioned to me as well,” Peter said. “I believe he said Scott eyes lit up a bit when he heard about it last night. He wasn’t sure why though.”

“Who can tell with people now a days. Well give them hell Peter, I won’t feel sorry for them.” Shaking hands they headed in opposites directions.

One more time Ryo showed Ken where he had to go. Any other day he might have complained about the beds around here. Seriously, an HQ this advanced they could only get mattresses that felt like concrete? But not today, he was more than ready for what was coming. He almost knocked over Ryo when he pointed out the room he was going to. Inside he saw an man who looked less than pleased to be there. Wearing the same uniform as the others he had a tool belt around his waist. Next to him was some king of control panel with an access plate that was open. Ken started salivating a little as Ryo made sure he didn’t run toward it, “Give him a chance to start it man.”

“So this is the civilian,” he said looking Ken over, not hiding the fact he was unimpressed. “I’m Chief Marcus Albright, head of the engineering divisions. If you are going to work on the vehicles around here you’re going to have to go through me. Now Captain Hawk, for some reason, said he wants you to take the engineering final. Now here how it works, you’re going to get a set of tools…”

“And I got to try and fix it before it blows,” he said tucking his ponytail into this shirt. Grabbing the set of tools he got in position he said, “Start the thing already.” Albright activated the test and Ken slid deeper into the console.

“How much about this test did you tell him?” Albright asked Ken.

Ryo just looked at him, “You know he betaed this back in the academy right?”

“Betaed?”, Albright asked confused.

Before he could answer there was an electronic sizzle and a “Damn it,” coming from the opening.

Ryo looked at the hole before continuing, “Beta tested. They tried out the prototype back when we were in the academy. Ken was one of the people they picked for the trials. He must have took it at least thirty times in those two weeks. He swore he was close to beating it each time. I think he was still working it out in his head since then.”

“If he worked it that much then he should know by now that this test is designed to be unbeatable. It starts at about critical and we don’t give them all the proper tools to fix it. It’s like that Maru something or another on that old show, nobody beats it they’re just delaying it. It doesn’t take a genius to know that.” As he was talking Ryo noticed several of the red lights slowly start to go back to green. Before too long Albright noticed as well. “What the hell?”

Ryo couldn’t help but grin at the situation, “You never watched a lot of TV did you?”

Ken popped out of the hole not looking as satisfied as Ryo thought he would. “I kinda jury rigged something here and I don’t know how long it’s going to last.” Both of them knelt down to see an extendable wrench loosely connecting to cables together. “If I can get something that will actually fix this thing that would be great.” Red lights started flashing on the console again and an alarm went off. “Damn it,” he muttered. Looking around he noticed another wrench sticking out of Albright’s belt. “Are you using that?”, he asked before taking it and sliding back in.

Hawk had read Albright’s initial report that he had sent in after Scott completed the test. Scott was able to delay the “explosion” for longer than anticipated, in fact his time and score was comparable to some of the scientists they had under employ, even his methods were a tad unorthodox, Albrights words. He wasn’t sure what his recommendation was going to be according to this report. Still he wanted to see’s Scott’s reaction to the test. He found him in one of the break rooms with Scott saying, “I was close this time, let me take another shot at it.”

“You were only scheduled for one test.” Ryo reminded him.

“But I almost have it figured out,” he argued, “I just need another crack at it.”

“I never figured that your white whale would be a test,” Hawk said making his presence known. Ryo snapped to attention. Scott just looked at him. They were going to have to work on that. “Ryo, our new Wings need to be inspected. Bill’s already going over one, check out two since you have the spare time.”

“Yes sir,” he said leaving.

“Scott, walk with me.” Surprisingly he did so without a fuss. “Tell me the purpose of that test I had you take.”

“To delay a critical explosion for as long as possible so as many people as possible can get away safely,” he said without any enthusiasm. That changed with the next sentence, “But I can save a ton of people if I can fix the problem and keep it from happening.”

“Look Scott I appreciate your dedication to this particular problem,” he told him, “but it’s that type of tunnel vision gets people killed in real life. And you won’t have the luxury of a redo. I want you focused but not to a point that you’re a danger to yourself and others, is that understood?”

“Yes sir,” he sighed.

“But if you keep your nose clean for the next few weeks I’ll try to arrange another go for you, but only if you keep your nose clean.”

“I can do that,” Ken said a little too eagerly.

“In the meantime though you’re going to study.”

“I been hitting those regulations they gave me since last night.”

“Good, but that’s not what I’m talking about.” Ken looked confused so he enlightened him. “As your commanding officer I’m going to help you live up to that new genius label of yours. I’ve already contacted the academy administrations to find out where you left off. We’ll go from there.”

Ken looked more confused now than he did before, “Why are you going that far for somebody who’s been forced on you?”

“For one very simple reason son,” he said, “I believe everybody under me should live up to their full potential, including you. And seeing how you didn’t discover how high your potential went we have a lot of catching up to do.”

“I’m just a grease jockey.”

“For now, if I have my way you’ll be a lot more by the time I’m done with you. Now head down to the hanger, I want you familiar with the Razor Wings operating parameters before our next assignment, is that understood?”

“Yes sir,” he said and headed on his way. Although Hawk overheard him mutter, “Why does everybody think there’s more to me than what there is?” Yeah this was going to be a challenge if he stayed in that mindset.

“This is taking too long!”, one of his masters cried decreed through the portal. Sometimes, like now, they would show their anger by having a strong bolt of dark energy emerge from the portal. The Avatar learned not to be impressed by the display as it hit various objects in the cavern. Still it was an impressive light show though. “Why is it taking so long to establish a beachhead in this dimension?”

“Humanity would not just lie down my masters,” he said trying not to sound board. “I told you this when you first recruited me. Of course we have the added problem of the light giant.”

“Yes,” his master said slowly, “he has been a bigger threat than anticipated. Have you discovered which human is hiding him yet?”

“No,” he lied, “he always disappears before I can get a pinpoint on the human’s location. Of course the monsters you are sending me are more than a tad noticeable so he is probably forewarned ahead of time.”

“Your observations would be correct,” his master said. Another shape came into view. As he watched it looked like it was saying something to the first one. “Yes that should be sufficient.” The other shape disappeared and his master moved what he assumed was a hand. Dark energy formed in front of him in the shape of a map. “Avatar, we will be sending a creature called Neronga here. It has a special ability that should keep the light giant in the dark. Get there at once.”

“Yes my masters,” he said with a slight bow. The portal closed and he started sneering. One of these days he would show them that they were nothing in this world without him. But that was for later. As it was he was slightly curious they meant about that special ability. And he was curious to see how Ken Scott and Ultraman were going to react to it.

Anything?”, Hawk asked as he walked into the war room. Ryo, Bill and Bridge were going over every report and call they had been getting for the past couple of week. Weeks of multiple monster sightings and hits from their detection system. And weeks of nothing when they or another unit got there. There were small signs of something large going through the area but no monster in sight. Right now he had Jess and Ken out in the field to investigate the last couple of sightings to see if they could find anything the first time.

“Still the same Captain,” Ryo answered.

“But we’re trying to map the sightings at the moment,” Bridge said. “Try to see if there’s some sort of pattern we can predict or a path to follow. I’m starting with the sightings here and connecting those with the hits we detected.”

“I still think somebody’s playing a joke on us,” Bill said. “Somebody had to have gotten into our system and set off the alarms.”

“And not with the system I’ve set up,” Bridge said and very getting annoyed with repeating. “There are layers on top of layers of security programming and protocols to get through to even get to the alarm system.”

“Maybe our resident genius had something to do with it,” Bill smirked.

“He’s not that type of genius Bill,” Hawk reminded him.

“And he’s not an actual team member either but he’s still here,” Bill shot back.

Ignoring that last comment Hawk turned toward Bridge, “How are we doing with that pattern?”

“We have a general idea of one.” Manipulating the image he made red dots appear marking the sightings so far. “The sightings seem to be focused in this area here,” he said pointing to the highlighted area.

“Is there anything in this area that sticks out?”

“Nothing that any of us are seeing,” Ryo said. “There’s that mountain range over here but it’s not close to any of the areas of activities.”

“That range has been checked over more than once,” Hawk informed him. “From the ground and air.”

“That might leave the underground,” Bridge said thinking it over. Fingers flying over the keyboard the map changed to show known underground caverns in the mountain range.

“Don’t tell me it’s another electricity eating rock monster,” Bill complained.

“There hasn’t been any reports of power loss,” Ryo reminded him.

Getting an incoming call Hawk hit his communicator, “Hawk here.”

“Captain,” Jess replied, “we might have found something. Ken took a scan of it and he’s uploading it to you now.” After a minute or so of nothing she said, “Ah Ken, start with the transmitting.”

Over the line they heard him say, “I just remembered how to take an image with this thing give me a moment.”

“Give it here,” she said. There was a brief argument between them before they started getting the scan upload on their end.

“I almost had it,” Ken complained.

“Oh yeah, they dated” Ryo smirked. Bill got a chuckle out of it as well.

“We’re getting the image now Jess,” Hawk said. “What did you get?”

“I think pretty good proof people are seeing something.” Bridge brought the image up for all of them to see. Hawk leaned in as they all saw the gigantic footprint on the ground.

“So I’m guessing we didn’t get hacked then,” Bill said.

“If we did we’re dealing with somebody dedicated to the joke,” Ryo commented.

“Have you found any more?”, Hawk asked them.

“Just the one so far,” she answered. “Ken eyeballing the footprint at being just slightly larger than a Scan Track.”

“Scott, for future reference I usually don’t take guesstimates in an official report,” Hawk said.

“I’ll remember to bring my tape measure next time,” he said. Hawk just raised an eyebrow at the statement. “I just stepped in it deep didn’t I?”

Jess quickly said, “We’ll look for more of the prints and question some of the locals on if they saw anything, Wade out. Before the connection cut completely they heard, “Would you think…”

“Definitely dated,” Ryo smirked again.

Bill joined in, “Any bets on how long civilian is going to last?”

A couple of days after they discovered the footprints, and they found several, they were able to get a small idea on what they were dealing with. Based on how some of the prints were spaced and what few eyewitness accounts they could get they were dealing with something that walks on all fours. Bridge was able to get a rough length from how they were spaced as well, but that was about it. Each of the eyewitnesses seemed to describe a different four legged beast. Still they were able to narrow the search parameters now. Although right now Ken was hanging onto a railing trying to get his stomach to settle down after Ryo landed their Razor Wing at an air field near one of the sightings. “Hang out here for a minute,” Ryo told him. “The local police chief wanted to talk about our search.”

“And we couldn’t have taken a Scan Track for this why?”, Ken asked.

“Because we’re in the next round of air searches,” Ryo said. “I shouldn’t be long.” Not to mention Bill was part of the ground search on this one and the Captain thought two of them in one vehicle was a bad idea at this point.

“Take your time,” Ken said holding his stomach. Ryo winced a bit, trying not to think of the two of them up in the air.

The meeting with the police chief didn’t start out much better, “I really wish you people would leave. You’re stirring up people more than necessary and making my job harder as a result.”

“We’re trying o help ease the situation,” Ryo tried to assure him. “We have proof, that we showed you, that something is out there. Unfortunately this is the area the creature has been spotted the most.”

“A creature nobody has apparently seen,” the Chief shot back. “A couple of pranksters take advantage of some mass hysteria is enough to mobilize the army apparently. Why don’t you take on a real problem like that giant guy, he causes as much damage as those monsters.”

“We’re looking into the situation,” he said not wanting to have this discussion with somebody else since there was no easy way to explain Richardson’s order. The Chief started to say something else before a monstrous roar made both of them duck. Running outside he saw Ken looking in a particular direction, “Did you see anything?”

“I saw through something,” he said mysteriously while looking confused himself.

“You’re talking nonsense,” the Chief told him.

“There was something there,” he insisted, “but it was see through. Then it disappeared entirely.” Daxium was able to tell where it was going since they were this close to it. Unfortunately Ken had to make something up on how he knew, “It looked like it was heading in that direction.”

Ryo tapped his communicator, “Watanabe to Hawk, Ken might have spotted the creature. If he’s right it might be able to turn invisible.”

“fF all the nonsense…” the Chief started to say.

“Get in the air now,” Hawk ordered, and see if you can track it. I’ll have Bridge get a lock on your Razor Wing and we’ll try to figure out a way to cut it off.”

“That damn fool believed that story?”, the Chief spat.

Not even bothering hiding his annoyance Ryo looked him right in the eyes, “That damn fool as you called him has seen more strange creatures up close than you can possibly imagine. Come on Ken, let’s see if we can follow the trail.” He just held on to his stomach.

Once they were in the air Ryo was able to spot the trial it was making easy enough. Feeding what they were seeing to the ground teams and Castle. Bridge was able to determine it was heading toward a nearby city. “We’re going to try to head it off on the outskirts as best we can,” Hawk said. “It’s traveling too fast for us to set up anything further away.”

Not taking his eyes off the control panel Ken offered, “Maybe we can distract it with a couple of missiles.”

“It’s a good idea Captain,” Ryo said, “we might be able to slow it down to give you more time if nothing else.”

“We don’t know what type of damage it can take,” Hawk told them. “And if you make it mad enough it could come after you and you wouldn’t know it. Keep tracking it while we set up things on our side, Hawk out.”

“Don’t say I never tried,” Ken said. They followed it for a few miles as the city came into view as well as the force that was waiting for a target.

“Looks like the party is almost ready to start,” Ryo commented.

“I’ll take your word for it,” he replied clutching the white bag.

Back at Castle Bridge announced, “I think I narrowed down it’s location based on Razor Wing 2’s sensor.”

“Send it,” Hawk ordered. “Scan Tracks twenty to twenty-four and Razor Wings ten through twelve fire off a round at those coordinates. Let’s see if we can make it show itself.” Several missiles fired off as cannons fired from the ground and zeroed in on the programmed coordinates. Some hit the ground, some exploded in midair as they hit something. A roar of pain was followed y the creature showing itself. With a brown hide and ridges on it’s back, a giant horn on it’s nose seemed to have a slight glow to it. “There it is, all units fire!” Ryo got their Razor Wing out of the way as the other units unleashed their firepower. The monster’s horn started to glow as it’s ears moved toward it and a wild arc of electricity shot out. “Shit that thing shoots electricity too,” Hawk curded

“Ken hold it down!” Ryo shouted as he tried to make sure they weren’t hit by the arcs. It wasn’t good enough as his controls sparked and exploded around him, “Argh!”

“Ryo, Ken get out of there!,” Hawk shouted seeing the damage from his vantage point. Ken went for his ejector seat when he noticed Ryo wasn’t moving.

“Ryo?”, Ken reached over and shook him as best as he could. “Ryo! I think Ryo’s out!” he said over the line. Survival instincts kicked in as he vaguely recalled how to switch flight control over to him as Hawk ordered him to get out. Getting control of the stick he tried to steady their decent and head toward the city. Forgetting exactly where he was he pulled up on the stick and got the nose up for a few yards before they hit the ground. Then they crashed.

Leaving Jamira in command for a moment Hawk, Bill and Jess took their Scan Track to the crash site. They found the mangled jet and Ken with a bleeding cut on his forehead under Ryo’s arm as he helped him away from the wreckage. “Watanabe, Scott are you alright?”, Hawk asked as Bill went to help Ken with Ryo.

“Still here Captain,” Ryo said trying to stand on his own. “Thanks to Ken.”

“Ken good job,” Hawk told him. “You didn’t bail out on your partner in a dangerous situation. I’m proud of you.” Ken, who started to look a little green, gave him a weak thumbs up as he started rocking back and forth. Pointing to his right he said, “There’s a trash can over there.” Ken’s hand went to his mouth as his cheeks puffed out as he ran for it. “Ryo you can sit the rest of this one out.”

“I’m good to go Captain,” he insisted. “Just point me at that thing while we can still see it.

“Alright then,” he nodded. “Ryo get in the Scan Track with Jess, Bill and myself…”

“Blegh!” cut him off as Ken threw up in the trash can. They all winced a little from the sound. Jess started to go to him but Hawk stopped her.

“He’ll be fine. Scott stay here, we’ll meet up with you later. The rest of you get in the Scan Track. We got to stop that thing before it breaks the line.”

“Yes sir,” they shouted. Ken got his stomach under control after they left and pulled out the Spark Magnifier.

Appearing from a column of light Daxium took a fighting stance, “Shiah!” Neronga roared in challenge at the new threat as the giant ran toward him, stopping so he was right between the creature and the city. “What is the giant doing?”, Jamira asked over the line.

“I think Ultraman is trying to help us defend the line,” Hawk said. The four legged monster tried to get around him but Daxium kept getting in his way. Seeing the horn glow again Daxium spread his arms and formed the energy shield in front of him to deflect the electrical attack. Dropping the field the giant ran in, Neronga reared up on his hind legs to meet him. Grappling for a bit Daxium forced the creature down to the ground. Getting on top of the creature he started pounding on it with his fist. Picking it up he pushed it further away from the line. Neronga tried to use it’s tail to knock him down as he got up. Daxium easily jumped over it but was caught off balance as Neronga jumped up as he landed.

Grunting as he crashed to the ground he couldn’t react in time as Neronga jumped right on top of him. Swiping his clawed feet at his head a couple of times he walked over the fallen giant and continued on toward the city. “Damn it,” Hawk cursed as he hit the side of the Scan Track. “All units open fire!” Neronga roared again and fired the electric beam that took out several Scan Tracks and Razor Wings. Daxium slowly got up to his feet, crossed his arms and flung them down as he went into Hyper Mode. Holding out his right hand he extended the Light Flash from his fingertips. Swinging it above his head a couple of times he wrapped it around the creature’s neck and pulled. The monster choked out a protest as it struggled to go forward.

Daxium started to draw in energy for the Light Stream to finish this quickly when Neronga suddenly jumped backwards crashing into him. In Hyper Mode the creature as able to easily batter him around. He was able to get enough room to flip backwards himself and kick the monster under the chin in the process. Two extended fingers quickly drew a circle in the air forming the Hyper Saw as the jewel started flashing red.

The Saw sliced through the creature’s tail cutting half of it off. As it thrashed on the ground in pain Daxium switched over to Power Mode and went at Neronga. Grabbing him by the neck he picked him up and slammed him down head first on the ground. Picking him up again he held him over his head and threw him away from the city. Hawk saw him put a fist by that jewel. “Of shit he’s using it again. Any unit in the target zone get the hell out of there now!” As the giant reared the fist back Neronga tried to surprise him again by jumping at him. Daxium threw the punch and caught Neronga mid jump in the chest. The unfocused energy of the Giga Wave obliterated him on contact. Watching for a moment as the particles that was left of Neronga floated away and burned out he flew off into the sky, “Shiah!”

With a fresh bandage and wrap on his forehead Ken laid on the bed in is room. He was feeling weaker than usual after Dax returned him. Daxium said he was feeling it and put it down to the fact their bodies weren’t used to multiple form changes in a battle yet. Of course that crash landing didn’t do him any favors either. A chime at his door that he probably spent too much time deciding to ignore or not got him up. When the door opened he was shocked to see Hawk standing on the other side. “Oh crap I missed a meeting or something didn’t I? I’m sorry I had to lie down for…”

“Easy Ken,” He said. “I postponed it for later. Ryo need to rest up some too. So how are you doing son?”

“I’ve been better,” Ken answered honestly.

“I figured as much,” Hawk chuckled. “Ken, you acted like a real member of the team out there today. So let me to officially welcome you to Monster Squad.” He reached for something in the hallway and showed him a UNDF uniform jacket. It took a Ken a moment to realize the tag held the name Scott. “You officially can’t wear a full uniform but I pulled a few strings and got you this. We all agreed that you deserved at least this much.”

Ken took it not sure what to say or do, “I… thank you…” He tried it on and looked himself over in the mirror. After he was disqualified from the academy he positive he was never going to wear one of these. Despite at how he was forced to join now he started to smile.

“Looks like a perfect fit,” Hawk commented. “Do us proud son.”

“Yes sir,” Ken saluted him. Hawk returned it and left the room. He was a step closer but he was going to make Ken a full part of this team yet if it killed him.

ED – Shinedown – Fly from the Inside
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Old April 15th, 2019, 05:02 PM #9
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Joined: Dec 2012
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Episode 8

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in My Light

The streets of the city were quiet as a war was engaged in the skies above it. Razor Wings shot through the skies as they tried to shoot down the creatures that appeared out of nowhere. With triangle shaped bodies and a head that seemed to be built into their shoulders they zipped around the buildings making them harder to hit. Few of the pilots were brave enough, or foolish enough to try and follow the creatures. Razor Wing one had one of those pilots as it followed one creature before being forced to pull before he hit a building. “I swear these damn things are getting faster,” Bill said.

“Just concentrate on where you’re flying,” Hawk said behind him.

In Razor Wing two Ryo flew over the skyline until he spotted one n the open. “Jess four o’clock.”

“I see it,” she answered as she got a target lock on her sensors. “Firing missile.” A lone missile trailed after it and caught it as it exploded. As it fell to the ground Ryo and Jess noticed something about the creatures. “They’re getting lower to the ground.”

“I see them,” Hawk said over the line. “Ground team, are they in firing range yet?”

Standing by a Scan track in his newly acquired UNDF jacket, but left unzip, Ken hit the communicator built into it, “Just about Captain.”

“Fire as soon as you see the points of their teeth,” he ordered.

“You heard the man,” Ken told the others. When they looked at him it took him a moment to figure out why, “I mean roger.”

“Well work on it later,” Hawk said. Was that a chuckle? Please let that be a chuckle.

After a few more minutes the Razor Wings were able to force the creatures low enough for the Scan Tracks to get a lock. “Targets in range!”, somebody shouted.

“Let ‘em have it!”, Ken said. He put his fingers in his ears as the cannons mounted on the back of the Scan Tracks fired. He had to remember to wear that helmet one of these days. Several creatures took a hit. Those that avoided the initial wave tried to fly up but were met by the Razor Wings waiting for them. Another half hour saw the final creature taken out. “I would have ran out of bags a while ago,” Ken commented as he watched the Razor Wings in the sky.

“Hawk to ground units, the sky is clear. Help with the clean up duty while we make sure no more show up.”

“Scan Track…,” Ken took a moment to check the side of the vehicle , “fourteen acknowledge.” He hopped into the passenger seat saying, “Who wants to see a dead monster up close and poke it with a stick?” They found one near a school yard and pulled up a few yards from it. Getting out Ken had a vague flashback of Daxium fighting a larger version of this thing and started rubbing his left forearm a bit. Dax wasn’t getting any type of reaction from it, still Ken and the other pulled their weapons as they got closer. “Area’s clear,” Ken announced taking a look at his wrist scanner.

“Fuller,” one of the others said to the man still in the Scan Track, “pull her up.” Fuller acknowledged and turned the track around and backed it up. “Keep it coming,” he waved him on, “keep it coming. Stop.”

“This is going to suck,” Ken commented as a back compartment opened up. Trying to keep his hands away from the mouth he and the trooper picked up the creature and placed it in the compartment. “Don’t they supply gloves for this part?”, he asked shaking his hands.

“Take that jacket off!” Ken looked around as Commander Jamira came out of another Scan Track and made a beeline toward him. “I said take that jacket off now! You don’t deserve to wear it civilian. That’s an order!”

Ken held his ground, “Well here’s the thing, Captain Hawk told me to wear this whenever I’m on duty. Now in order to obey you I have to disobey him. And that’s a can of worms I don’t want to open.” He had a line about the Captain outranking him, but seeing how it looked like the Commander was close to strangling to him as it was he didn’t say anything.

“Watch your back civilian,” he sneered before storming off.

Once he and his Scan Track was on his way Ken hit his communicator, “Scott to Hawk, just to warn you Commander Jamira might be coming to you with some issues he has with me wearing this jacket.”

“It’ll be the fifth time he’s brought this issue up since I gave it to you a couple of days ago. Respect isn’t going to come overnight, it’s going to come a day at a time.”

“Understood, Scott out.” Ken looked at the retreating Scan track and whispered, “Not him either.”

“Creature is secured,” Fuller announced.

“Hey,” he asked the trooper by him, “what do they do with these things any way?”

“Some of them are dissected to study,” he answered. “Some of them are destroyed. Some of us think it what they make the chip beef out of for the SOS in the cafeteria.”

Ken made a face and held his stomach, “Don’t tell me shit like that, I had that for breakfast his morning.”

“The people are demanding answers.” Richardson sat there looking a little tired as the board members started trying to talk over one another. But that was the general consensus the best as he could gather. Fortunately Peter wasn’t one of the as he silently sat in his chair as he watched the others.

“I would hardly refer to reporters as people,” Richardson said during a lull in this particular storm. Naturally that comment started it all over again.

“Well they’re asking what the people want to know,” one of them said. “What are we going to do about Ultraman? Some polls say he’s as bad as those monsters. Especially after one of those weapons of his tore up that street. They’re still repairing the damage.”

“What he is doing is no different than when we fire a missile,” Richardson argued. “He’s just on a more massive scale then what we are.”

“And Ultraman does seem to be helping us with the monsters,” Peter piped in.

“So far,” another one said.

“And the moment he turns against us,” Richardson told her, “I will be the first to give the order to open fire. I know Captain Hawk and Alpha Team have been studying the giant for any sign of a potential weakness. And more than likely some of the other units are as well.”

“I know one of the bigger complaints is that our weapons don’t seem to be effective against giant threats,” Peter told them. “I know Dr. Williams has a team working on improving our weapons potency. But maybe it’s time to consider his other idea.”

“That super jet of his,” the first board member said.

“It could help ease the public anxiety,” Peter offered. “Especially if it works like he says it will.”

“Perhaps it’s time to look more into it,” Richardson said. Several board members nodded in agreement. Enough to get the motion passed.

A fourth member raised their hands, “Commander Jamira came to me about an issue he had.”

“Do you want to narrow that one down?”, Peter asked. “He does seem to have several. He didn’t get control of Alpha Team. He doesn’t like the fact we’re getting called like we’re the police.”

“It’s about the civilian wearing a uniform jacket.”

“Oh that one,” Richardson snorted.

“It was Captain Hawk’s idea after all,” Peter said taking the lead. “If he felt he deserves it this soon then I feel we should back him. This was the board’s idea after all,” he quickly reminded them when a couple of them looked like they wanted to argue the point. “We trusted his judgment so far. And we all know he wouldn’t do anything that would affect his team in a negative way. Beside this is a relative minor issue and not worth this board’s time and energy.”

“I agree,” Richardson said. “If anything this is an issue between Hawk and Jamira. The moment it affects our ability to protect the public then we’ll take the matter into our hands. Is there anything else?” He waited a moment for somebody to speak up. “Then I guess this meeting is over.” Everyone else packed what they had and left. Peter lingered for a few moments so he said, “Have I ever told you that I’m glad you are on my side.”

“Honestly Henry the only side I’m on is mine,” he said with a bit of a smile.

Richardson snorted,” You father told me the same things on a few occasions.

“Like father, like son as they say,” he said closing up his briefcase. “I’m still not a fan of this civilian operative nonsense.”

“I know Peter.”

He started leaving the room saying, “But even I’ll admit it revealed something I never expected.”

“I know,” Richardson said, surprising Peter a bit. “Who would have believed that nobody was a genius? I mean look at him.”

“I know, just a fascinating discovery isn’t it?” In the hallway he started smiling to himself, “But that wasn’t what I was talking about.”

In his quarters Ken sat at the desk in the room and opened his cell phone. Knowing Rose she’d keep that promise to hunt him down if he didn’t keep in touch. After a few rings she picked up, “Hello?”

Ken started smiling, “Hey Rose.”

“Hey yourself,” he could hear the smile in her voice. “So they actually let you have phone privileges?”

“I’m not a prisoner you know.”

“You were acting like one in the days before you left,” she shot back. “How has everything been going? You been showing those other mechanics how it’s done yet?”

“Not exactly, they put me on a field team.”

She was quiet for a few moments, “Are they crazy?!”

“I know. But at least if any of the vehicles on an assignment I’m right there to fix it.”

“That’s probably what they were thinking,” she laughed. “So you learn anything new about yourself yet?”

Outside of apparently being a genius this entire time? “Nothing yet, it’s only been a few weeks.”

“You can figure out something about yourself in a few weeks. Wait… the UNDF has some advanced comm. gear. Why didn’t you use that to call me?”

“They say I can,” he said poking at the computer at his desk. “I haven’t figured out how to get an outside line yet.”

“Well ask somebody then. Wait I’m talking to Ken ‘I can figure it out on my own’ Scott here.”

“Why does everybody make that sound like a bad thing,” he said getting a little annoyed.

“Because you can only get so far on your own. You’re part of a team now, you’re going to have to learn to work like you’re part of one sooner or later.”

“So they keep telling me.” He changed the subject, “How are things at the garage going?”

“We’re still pretty busy,” she answered. “Johnny’s been picking up the slack on the new model cars after you left. Jeff’s acting like he’s king of the garage.”

“When didn’t he?”, Ken asked half joking.

Rose laughed anyway, “Good thing I’m still around to keep him in check then. So,” based on tone of her voice he had a feeling he knew what was coming, “meet anybody interesting of the female persuasion yet?” And there it was.

The alarm went off just about then, saved by the creature alert. “Sorry Rose, duty calls gotta go.”

Running to the war room Ken got to the door the same time as Bill. They looked at each other for a moment before Bill said, “Actual team members in first civilian,” and he hurried his way inside.

“Bite me jackass,” Ken told him going in himself. That’s when he noticed Hawk was there staring at the two of them.

“Gentlemen,” he spoke, “and I use that term very loosely at the moment.”

“Sorry Captain,” Ken said. Hawk glanced at Jess and Ryo who quickly stood between them. This was going to be one of the larger struggles with this situation.

“What are we looking at Bridge?”, Hawk said looking at the ceiling. The table top in front of them started to glow and a holo image of the a mountain range appeared over it. A rather large dot appeared under it’s surface.

“We’re not exactly sure yet,” he said from his station. “The reading just popped up a few minutes ago.

“How does something that large just appear out of nowhere?”, Ryo asked out loud.

“If we could figure that out maybe we could intercept these things before they become active,” Hawk said. “Ken I don’t need a quip right now.”

“Wasn’t going to say a word,” Ken told him.

“The look on your face said otherwise,” Jess smirked.

“Is the object doing anything?”, Hawk asked before ken could respond.

“Not at the moment,” he said studying the readings. “It appears to just be sitting there.”

“Looks like we got lucky on this one,” Hawk commented. Taking a light pen out of the console he started drawing on the image. “I want a perimeter set up on the ground here. Bill, Ryo I want you to coordinate a plan for a sky net above it with the other pilots. If we catch it right we might be able to damage it as it appears out of the mountain.”

“I don’t suppose you guys have some mines or something?”, Ken asked. “We could place them around the creature and set them off as soon as it pops up.”

“There’s one problem with that plan,” Jess told him, “we don’t know where the creature is going to break through at.”

“And I don’t want to take the chance that we’d accidently leave some active mines behind for somebody to come across if they get buried once it emerges,” Hawk added. “It’s a good plan Ken, you just have to think a little further ahead.”

“So is the civilian flying on this one?”, Bill said shooting him a look.

Hawk looked at him, “He can fly with you since you’re volunteering.” Bill paled a little as Ken gave him a wicked grin.

“He’s pretty good on the ground,” Bill quickly got out, “he can do this on the ground.”

“I got no problem being in the Wing’s backseat for this one,” Ken said.

“Which is why you’re taking one of the Tracks,” Hawk told him. “I’ll fly with Bill in Razor Wing one. Ken you help coordinate things on the ground. And try to keep away from Commander Jamira, he’s still not happy with you wearing that.”

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Ken said, then added, “sir.”

“You’re getting better at remembering that,” Hawk smirked. “All right people let’s catch this thing before it get it’s pants up.”

“Roger,” they all said, even Ken. Now if he could convince him to zip that jacket up and look a little more professional.

Within the hour Razor Wings and Scan Tracks launched from their respective bays from Castle. Inside the Avatar watched their progress on a monitor, highlighting the position of the vehicle Scott was in. His masters assured him this creature, Melba, would bring something different to attack Ultraman with. Of course they said that about the last monster they sent through. But they might be right with this one. Ultraman could fly but he had never seen him fight in the air. The only real question was how much of a nuisance were the troops going to be?

The perimeter went up around the mountain according to plan that Hawk had come up with. According to Bridge the creature didn’t change position the entire time. Which left them with a while bunch of waiting to do. As it was Ken was leaning against the hood of the Scan Track looking at the mountain. He could feel the creature inside from here. “I do not like this,” Dax had said in his head. “I should be trying to dig it out and destroy it.”

Glancing at the other guys in the Track he spoke low enough that they wouldn’t hear him, “We’ve gone over this Dax.”

“I know, it is just frustrating knowing that it is this close. We never had this problem before.”

“You’re the one who told me to trust Richardson.”

“Wade to Scott,” from his communicator brought him back to the here and now.

“What is it Jess?”, he said hitting it.

“We got a little pool going on,” she answered. “We wanted to know if you wanted in.”

“What’s the bet?”

“We’re trying to guess what Ultraman is going to mode shift into to beat this one if he shows up.”

“Mode shift?”

“That’s what we call it when Ultraman changes form,” Ryo answered. “What do you say man, you want in?”

“Maybe next time,” Ken said. “I still have to study the reports on those fights. Or do you guys call them encounters. And not to sound like the new guy but isn’t that against the rules?”

Bridge cut into the comm. system saying, “We got movement!”

“All units prepare to fire,” Hawk ordered.

Ken checked his wrist scanner for any stray life sign that wasn’t supposed to be there. He wasn’t getting anything outside of them with the range he got. He looked at the guys inside the Track, “You getting any stray blips on that thing?”

“If anybody is watching they’re staying out of range,” was the reply. Ken nodded, but he could have used it as an excuse to get out of thee and let Dax loose on whatever that thing was. “I got movement on the mountain,” the guy watching the scanner said suddenly. Ken’s hand started for the Spark magnifier thinking that people were on the mountain. Then he saw what they were seeing, the face of the mountain started breaking up. There was a monstrous cry as a head appeared, followed by a long neck with some sort of blade like fin.

“All units open fire!” Hawk shouted. They all locked on the head. It screams were cut off by the explosions. More of the mountainside broke away as the creature freed itself. It’s reptilian like body had claws instead of hands and these long protrusions like spikes coming from it’s shoulders. And these bright round glowing eyes that seemed to zero in right at Ken.

“That can’t be good,” he muttered. Those eyes seem to glow right before energy like shot fired out of them. Ken and the guys in the Scan Track ducked for cover as the ground seemed to explode around them.

“Lasers!”, Bill shouted as it started firing those shots at the other Scan Tracks. “It got lasers!”

“Ken,” Jess muttered as Ryo looked worried as well.

“Razor Wings take the heat off the Scant Tracks,” Hawk said. As ordered the Wings unleashed another barrage of missiles at the creature. It looked at the sky and fired at the Razor Wings who scattered to avoid it. The creature cried out one more time. Then leather like wings appeared from the protrusions and it took to the air. “It’s giving chase, scatter.”

“Damn thing faster than it looks,” Ryo grunted.

“We need some rear weapons on these jets,” Jess said as she looked back.

“Worry about it later,” Hawk told her.

“All Scan Tracks try to knock it out of the sky,” Jamira ordered. Those not caught in the original barrage did so. Those that were did what they could if the men and women inside were able.

Ken shook the dirt off of him, slowly getting to his feet. Holding his head he hit the communicator then looked at it when it didn’t make it’s usual beep, broken. “Hope I don’t have to pay for that.” Looking at the others in the Scan Track he called out, “You guys alright?” He didn’t get an answer. “Hey,” he said going to the window and saw that all of them looked lifeless. “Shit,” he cursed as he checked for a pulse on each man. He felt a huge weight lift from his shoulders as he got a pulse on all of them. “Don’t do that me,” he told them knowing he wasn’t going to get an answer. Looking up at the sky he saw the creature smash it’s claws into any Razor Wing within reach. “Stay right here,” he told the unconscious men as he took out the Spark Magnifier and held it over his head.

Appearing from a column of light Daxium looked up and Melba and took off after it, “Shiah!” The creature saw him and changed course to meet him. Daxium moved out of the way to avoid impact. He quickly turned around to fire off a Flash Bolt that hit it right between the shoulder blades. Melba cried out in pain as it started to fall to the ground. It was able to pull up before crashing and went at the giant again firing off those eye bolts of his. Forming the energy to block those initial shots he flew out of the way to avoid Melba’s head on crash.

Giving chase to the still flying Melba Daxium reached out to grab a wing when the monster turned around and smack one of those claws into his head. A grunt of pain escaped as he lost his balance for a split second. It was long enough for Melba to start flying around him trying to bash him out of the sky. The giant covered him up to protect himself. Dropping slightly to avoid one of those claws Daxium saw the opening to kick him in the gut. Melba’s body bent from the blow as the light giant started punching him in the head. He kept up the assault as the monster started falling to the ground. Then it stopped in midair and fired off those energy bursts. Daxium recoiled from the first couple of shots but then he got out of the way and started flying around the creature trying to avoid those energy shots. Seeing no other way out of this he took a few shots he fired off another Flash Bolt. The impact made Melba stop just long enough for Daxium to fly right into him.

Grabbing him around the waist Daxium pointed them toward some open ground and they crashed in a mushroom like cloud of smoke and dirt. Daxium slowly stood up waiting for the smoke to clear away enough that he could see the condition of his opponent. He was knocked back by those eyes blasts a second before Melba emerged from the smoke. The jewel started flashing red as he started back up but Melba knocked him back down and started clubbing him. Razor Wing one and two but fired some missiles that distracted the monster enough for Daxium to fly out of there. Going high enough that he could see Melba coming at him he put his hands to the jewel in his chest. Drawing in energy ashe spread them wide he raised his right arm and lowered his left. Bringing them together at the wrist he fired the Dimensional Storm Ray. The multi colored stream of energy hit Melba head on. Moments later he exploded. Daxium hovered there for a moment before flying off, “Shiah!”

A sphere of light formed that shrank down to a shape of a man and quickly broke apart as Ken stumbled forward by his Scan Track. “We have got to work on that landing Dax,” he said out loud. A groan from the Scan track caught his attention as he ran toward it. “Hang on guys,” he said as he hit his communicator. “Right busted.” He looked around to see some headlights coming in his direction. Waving his arms he shouted, “Hey! Over here! We got wounded!”

Another one down the Avatar thought darkly. The troopers had a chance to take their shots and do some damage as soon as Melba emerged. That cavern was a little too deep in the mountain for this one. He should have taken that into account. “What is it going to take Scott?”

Hours later Ken caught up with Jess and the others in one of the rec rooms. They looked happy to see him but something seemed off for some reason. Jess came up to him saying, “Ken, how are you feeling?”

“My head’s ringing little but they say I’m alright up here.”

“You’re a lucky son of a bitch do you know that?”, Bill told him. “I saw the area around blow up, I thought all four of you were dead.”

“I jumped behind the Scan Track,” Ken said. “I don’t know how they got hurt worse than me.”

“I guess your GLC is still working,” Jess joked. Instead of laughing they all just looked at her. “Good luck charm,” she explained.

“I guess so,” Ken shrugged. “That’s the one thing I don’t like about this set up. Before I joined, a monster showed up and I ran like hell out of there as fast as I could.”

“Welcome to the big leagues Ken” Ryo laughed.

“Oh before I forget,” he said after a moment, “who won the pool?”

Judging how they were all standing it wasn’t any of them. Which would explain the look he picked up earlier. “That would be me,” Hawk said coming up behind them. “Everybody was saying Hyper or Power mode so I decided to go for the apparent long shot. Luck was with me tonight.”

“You participated in a pool that’s probably against the rules?”, Ken said looking at him.

“It helped relieve a little of the tension that was building up,” he explained. “As long as it doesn’t go too far I’m willing to turn a blind eye to it.”

“We were about to get a late dinner in the mess,” Jess spoke up. “Are you coming?”

“Actually I told the guys with me in the Track that since we all survived I buy them a glass of whatever passes for beer around here.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” Hawk said clapping him on the shoulder. “There’ll be a briefing for the mission in the morning so I expect you to be there.”

“I’ll be there,” he said going past them. He saw the other three come around the corner. “Hey what took you guys long?”

“My fault,” Fuller said. “I had them examine my head a little more carefully. I swore that when I came too for a bit you were glowing for a second.”

“Really?”, Ken said thinking fast. “Must have been how the light was hitting me or something.” Ken didn’t see that Hawk was still standing here and overheard them. He nodded to himself before heading to the mess with the others.

ED – Shinedown – Fly From the Inside
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Old April 19th, 2019, 06:51 PM #10
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

Episode 9

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

This one had to be the guy, nobody else he had been around had even set off the tiniest reaction in Dax. Of course the only real question was what was he going to do after that? He couldn’t go to Hawk without spilling his secret. And somehow he doubted Richardson would be all that subtle in his handling of the matter, and his secret would still be exposed. He’ll worry about that later. Taking a deep breath he opened the door in front of him and entered the office on the other side. The secretary got an attitude real quick, “Can I help you?”

“Captain Hawk sent me,” Ken told her, “with a file for Mr. Brooks.”

The secretary looked at him for a few moments before buzzing Brooks. The other door opened and Brooks greeted him warmly, “Ah yeas I was expecting this, thank you.” He took the file but he didn’t look at it. Instead he seemed to study him. “So, you are our civilian operative. We might as well make this official, Peter Brooks,” he extended a hand.

“Ken Scott,” he said as he took it. Then he stared at their hands. Nothing.

“Is there anything wrong Mr. Scott?”, Brooks asked noticing his reaction. “Or may I call you Ken?”

“Sure,” he said snapping out of it. Trying to cover up the surprise reaction on his face he said, “I’m still
amazed at how young you look. I thought I’d see a wrinkle or two up close.”

Brooks chuckled as he let go, “I get that a lot. Good genes I suppose.”

“Well I better get back,” Ken said heading for the door.

“Oh Ken,” he called out, “if nobody had said it before, I apologize about your first visit here. A very unfortunate incident.”

“Yeah,” Ken said still looking confused, “thanks.”

“Interesting guy,” the secretary said after he left, but not really meaning it.

“My dear you have no idea,” Brooks said with a bit of a smirk.

Ken walked the halls until he found an empty hallway and leaned against the wall. Looking in he was soon in the protected area in his mind and was face to face with Daxium, “Anything?”

Daxium didn’t look pleased with his answer, “Nothing.”

“What the hell, it had to be him,” Ken insisted. “I went up to everybody I remember seeing in the group. I even went up to a couple of people who looked vaguely familiar. I pretty sure one of them wasn’t even in the group at all.”

“Perhaps the person I felt was not in that particular group,” Daxium suggested. “Pershaps he or she was in an adjoining room.”

“No, whatever you sensed I felt it going behind us,” he said. “And I’ve been all over that floor since we’ve been back and nothing. It had to be from somebody in that group of people.”

“Then whomever I felt is now masking his energy signature from me now,” Daxium told him. “Unfortunately we now have a new problem as a result.”

That didn’t sound good, “What problem?”

“As I detected this individual it is more than likely he or she detected me as well.”

“So whoever this is knows we’re Ultraman?”

Daxium nodded, “I am afraid so.”

“Great, just fucking great,” Ken spat as he paced around in front of Daxium. “Not only are back at square one now we have to watch our back even more.”

“Do not worry Ken I will be more diligent in discovering the source of this dark energy.”

“Just don’t broadcast yourself while you’re doing it. We got enough problems as it is.” Ken looked back out in the hallway and blinked his eyes a few times as he got off the wall. Seeing nobody else around he continued on his way.

“All right people,” Hawk said as they gathered around the holo table. “You know Dr. Williams has been hounding the board to get this super jet of his built. Before I go any further we all do know about this right?”, he asked looking at Ken in particular.

“I mentioned it to him once,” Jess spoke up.

“That’s all you said,” Ken told her.

Because that’s all I know,” she informed him.

“That’s all anybody knew,” Hawk said. “He designed most of this in his personal time but nobody knew what it even looked like. Until now that is.” Pressing some controls on the table a rough diagram of this particular ship hovered over it. Hawk figured they were wearing the same expression he was when he first saw it. “Okay Ken, you’re the newly discovered genius, what do you think?” Normally he wouldn’t put a new member on the spot like that but he was going to get that boy to his full potential, kicking and screaming if necessary.

Ken leaned in to get a better look at it. He picked up pretty quick that he could manipulate the holo image, using the light pen to turn it around he studied it for a few moments. “I think it looks like a giant mess.”

“I have to agree with the civilian,” Bill said.

“If this is the cockpit,” Ryo pointed out the front section of the jet, “why are there three seats up front by what I’m assuming the controls?”

“And what are these seats back here?”, Jess pointed to a couple of sections in the back.

“Time out chairs,” Bill joked.

“So we’ll be calling them the Waters’ seats,” Jess joked back.

“I’m surprised nobody mentioned this apparent empty space here,” Hawk showed them. “Granted this is a work in progress and Dr. Williams has said he’d be willing to let us work on it with him to make it a little more presentable. Bill. Ryo start with the cockpit and try to simplify it a little. Everybody is getting a copy of these plans so I want you all brainstorming ideas. Are there any questions?”

Jess spoke up, “Assuming this will actually work, how soon before Commander Jamira wants a super vehicle of his own?” Bill and Ryo both laughed a bit as Ken looked at all three of them.

Hawk chuckled as well, “Probably as soon as he finds out we have exclusive rights to this one. Anything else?”

“Am I going to be working on this?” Ken asked.

“Once a mechanic,” Jess smirked.

“If I can get it pass the chief,” Hawk told him. “I know Williams wants you involved. But I don’t want you waist deep in something and miss a meeting or we get called on a mission. Is that understood?”

“Captain I can handle it,” Ken insisted.

Hawk repeated what he just said, “Is that understood?”

“Yes sir,” Ken said.

“If there’s nothing else then you’re dismissed.”

“Getting waist deep in an engine,” Jess told Ken in a low teasing voice as they left the room. “I bet you got all excited.”

“Really?”, Ken replied. “Is that the best shot you got?”

“You got excited. You’re the only guy I know who actually bought those automobile magazines for the cars and not the half naked women.”

If Ken had a response it was cut off by the closing door. Hawk looked at the plans for the super jet one more time. If Williams was right about this thing then it was going to be a huge help. If he was wrong it was going to be a huge waste of time and money. If it failed in the field, well he had no plans on being buried in that oversized coffin.

Hours later Ken sat in one of the break rooms studying the plans for that super jet, among other things. True to his word Hawk was trying to get Ken caught up on everything. There were several data pads and books sprawled over the table. His vision started to get a little blurry so he put the pad down and rubbed his eyes. “Now this brings back some memories,” Jess said as she came over holding two cups of coffee. “A day or two before a big test your kitchen table used to look a lot like this.”

“Thanks,” he said as he took the offered cup. Looking at the mess he cleared a spot so she could set her cup down as well. “I guess old habits die hard. Mom used to yell at me for being so disorganized.”

“I remember,” Jess said with a smile. “She begged me more than once to help you organize things better. Even offered to pay me once.” Picking up one of the pads she asked, “Is your head ready to explode yet?”

“Just about,” he said. “The Captain thinks I have a lot of space to fill up here. Somebody should tell him it’s a lost cause.”

“Don’t let him hear you say that. Otherwise he’ll let you have it with his ‘living to your full potential’ speech.”

“I’ve heard that speech a couple of time so far,” Ken grimaced.

“I’d bet,” Jess could help but get a chuckle out of that. Taking a sip of her coffee she remembered something, “Before I forget again how’s your shoulder?”

“My shoulder?”

“I saw you grab your left shoulder after your first mission with us,” she told him. Ken remembered that, he also remembered thinking nobody caught him either. “You looked like you were in pain.”

“I think I strained it when I ejected from the Razor Wing. I really didn’t feel it until after the mission was over. I took a couple of aspirin when we got back, I was fine later.”

“How come you didn’t say anything?”

“It wasn’t anything major,” he insisted. “Besides I didn’t want to look like a wuss my first time out.”

“Wow,” Jess said with mock amazement, “you can change. You used to whimper like a little baby when you stubbed your big toe.”

“I was looking for some sympathy back then,” Ken quickly said. “It obviously worked more than once.”

“Try it now, I’ll tell you to walk it off,” Jess informed him and took another sip.

“Anything else about the way I do things you want to ask me about?”

“Well there was one thing that caught my attention.” Him and his big mouth. “What is with you going up to all the random people around the base?”

“Just trying to be friendly,” he said. “I’m trying to be seen as more than just the ‘civilian’.”

“I can understand that,” she said. “But the people I’ve seen you go up to were people in that group we passed during your first time here.”

“Really? I didn’t notice. It must be why I thought they looked approachable, I’ve seen them before.”

“I guess,” she said. Ken tried not to look nervous. He had heard that tone of voice from her before, especially in the month leading up to their break up. She didn’t quite believe what he was saying. If anybody in this outfit could figure out his secret it would be her. And he didn’t want to know what Richardson would so if anybody else discovered the connection between him and Daxium. And it was bad enough the one person who probably did know could take him out before he noticed.

Damn it, why did he get caught on video?

“As you can see Tom,” the field reporter said as she looked into the camera, “the devastation is incredible no matter how you look at it.” The image changed to an aerial view of what used to be a power plant that something had literally tore through. “Scientists and meteorologists are still baffled by this phenomenon. Tornados just appearing out of nowhere and apparently striking at various buildings for the third time this week.”

The footage went to a scientist in front of a weather map, “This is a very interesting phenomenon. Tornados are being formed in conditions not suitable for their birth. If this is natural it throws everything we know about this right out the window.”

After a brief return to the field reporter she sent it back to the newscaster, “Thank you Stacey. Authorities are still trying to locate survivors of this latest incident. Random polling indicates the citizens think that these sudden tornados are a big a threat to the populace as the giant monsters that have shown up recently and the giant the fights them.”

Inside a break room someone used the remote to lower the volume, “I wish Richardson would take that stupid order off. I want my shot at the giant.”

“He seems to be helping us so far Phil,” the guy next to him said.

“The freak is probably behind this monster mess,” Phil stated.

In the back of the room, with another pad in his hand, Ken listened to the two of them argue. In the back of his head he put it down as another reason not to piss off Richardson. Forget about the media hunting him down, most of the people around here wanted a chance to take down Dax. And a few probably wouldn’t think twice about taking that potshot against him. Grabbing the pad he got out of the room feeling a weight come down hard on his shoulders. “Ken,” Hawk called out when he saw him come out of the room. When he didn’t answer right away he called out a little louder, “Ken.”

“Sorry Captain,” he said when he finally heard him. “My head was elsewhere.”

“Are you all right son?”, Hawk said taking a closer look at him. “It looks like something is bothering you.”

Taking a quick glance at the pad in his hand, and thanks to that conversation with Jess a couple of days ago, he said, “Head started to hurt trying to cram all of this in there.”

“Ah,” he said in understanding, “didn’t your parents ever tell you don’t cram the night before the test, you don’t remember as much. This is the same thing.”

“I’ve heard that once or twice,” he said. Hawk took the pad from his hand, “Hey.”

“You’re taking a break,” he told him. “I can make that an order if I have too.”

“I thought you just did,” Ken frowned.

“I put a little more authority in my voce,” as he studied what was on the pad. “Ask the others, you don’t want to hear me put it in. Walk with me. What do you think about these tornados?”, he asked out of the blue.

“Kinda freaky,” Ken answered, “but I don’t think it’s something we can handle.”

“Try telling that to the people calling in. Times like this I feel that hotline was a bad idea.”

“We’re getting that flooded with calls huh?’

“We were getting flooded before the giant creatures showed up. Now it’s like a log jam. Bridge is still trying to get another server set up to help handle the load. But I’ll be honest with you Ken, part of me thinks they might be right.”

“Whoa, wait a second,” Ken stopped him. “You think something might be behind these tornados?”

“Ken,” he began, “I have seen creatures of all shapes and sizes. I have seen monsters made out of rock. I have seen ones that breathes fire, shoot electricity and fire lasers out of it’s eyes. There was even one that turned itself invisible.”

“Well when you put it that way,” Ken joked.

“And not to mention our giant friend,” Hawk continued. “I don’t think I’d be surprised by anything anymore.” Looking at the pad one more time he handed it back to Ken. “Make sure you update that after the super jet gets built. I’m sure regulations are either going to change or get added to. I’m pretty sure the Chief will throw in something about maintenance so I want you to keep up.”

“Speaking of the jet I have one question,” Ken told him. “Where are we going to launch the thing from? The damn thing is huge.”

Hawk told him, “One issue at a time Ken.”

“Is Degola acting in a satisfactory manner?”, his masters asked. The Avatar looked over to a lower section of the cavern. Down there a creature stood in the shadows looking up at him. A low growl echoed throughout the cavern as it stepped forward. The Avatar blasted another horse carcass down there that the creature quickly picked up and devoured.

“So far yes,” he said returning his attention to the vortex. “So far neither the UNDF nor the giant has been able to detect him. As far as most people know a tornado is just coming out of nowhere.”

“Excellent,” he said. “Our scientist worked hard to develop that particular ability. Heads would have rolled if it did not.” Something made the Avatar think that wasn’t just a colorful metaphor. “Is the plan still in place?”

“It’s proceeding on schedule. I’m almost ready to start the final attack.”

“Excellent,” he said again. “But there is one more thing. We are well aware that you are still experimenting with the abilities we have given you. Despite our warnings otherwise.”

“And I’m not sure you appreciate the danger I would be in if I am discovered,” he shot back. “An entire army would be sent after me.” Not to mention Scott and Ultraman. “I have to be able to defend myself. No matter how much we disrupt their forces, the will reorganize. Especially if they find out it was me all along.”

“Then we suggest that you do not let that happen. Cripple them so they cannot.” The vortex looked like it slowly collapsed on itself as it closed. The Avatar’s hand glowed with energy after the fact.

“Don’t let that happen,” he sneered. “They’ll know it was me as soon as I make my final assault.” Dispersing the energy from his hand by blasting a wall beside him he walked over to the ledge overlooking the creature. “Perhaps one more target before we make your final push.” Using the dark energy at his command an image of what he had in mind. Degola seemed transfixed by the image. The Avatar smiled to himself, apparently his masters were not aware he could do this. “Now go have some fun before the real party starts.”

Everyone walked into the war room to find Hawk and Bridge waiting for them. As they took their positions around the table Hawk looked at all of them, “A couple of you know that I have my misgivings about this tornado business. As a personal favor I had Bridge track the sightings. Bridge show them what you showed me.”

“When I did so I found something weird,” he said as he pulled up a map over the holo table. “As you know these tornados have been appearing out of the blue. And so far they have struck a hospital,” a little blue tornado marked the spot on the map, “an old steel factory, a power plant and this one just came in, an armory.” They all looked at the spots on the map.

“It’s pretty much a straight line,” Jess said.

“Pretty much,” Hawk agreed.

“And the weird thing these are the only buildings these tornados have touched when they hit the ground,” Bridge informed them.

“But tornados leave a path of destruction,” Ryo said.

“And attack trailer parks,” Bill commented.

Jess told him, “Bill shut up.”

“Any thoughts?”, Hawk asked.

“Well the hospital and power plant are important,” Ryo said.

“The armory is important to us in a way,” Bill continued. “The steel mill is throwing me.”

“What do you think those Razor Wings and Scan Tracks are made out of?”, Ken asked him.

“They’re made out of a special metal alloy,” Jess told him.

“A majority of which is manufactured at that mill,” Hawk informed them. “And that hospital takes some of wounded we don’t have room or can’t get them here in time. That power plant helps power most of the sensor net in that sector. And that armory is used by both us and the military.”

“That’s a pretty particular tornado,” Ryo commented.

“So they only hit things that have some importance to our operation,” Jess said out loud. “Is there anything else in this line that is important to us?”

“Well if the tornados keep heading in this direction,” Bridge extended the line. The map went 3D as it stopped at a mountain range, and a particular building embedded in the mountain. “It should hit right about here.”

“I don’t suppose it’s too much to think that’s a backup base?”, Ken asked.

“Ken now you can shut up,” Jess told him.

“I’m just asking.”

“I already took this information to the board,” Hawk told them. “Richardson and Brooks seem to take the information to heart and helped me convince the rest of the board. We’re on alert but we’re still trying to figure out how to defend ourselves against something like this. We’re built to hold up against natural phenomenon. Since this might be unnatural I’m not sure how well we’re going to do.”

“Are there any clouds at all?”, Ryo asked. “Maybe there’s something hiding in those that we can take out.”

“Possible,” Hawk mused. “Bridge did you get any meteorological data?”

Ken zoned out as Dax started sensing something, something big and getting closer. Without thinking he turned his head toward the source. Jess eyes him wondering what was going on in that head of his. Then the alerts went off.

“A tornado is starting to form,” Bridge said. “Detection system are going off as well, there’s a giant creature inside.”

“I want Razor Wings in the air now!”, Hawk said. “Ken head topside to make sure everybody headed inside.”

“Captain?” Ken asked stunned.

“No questions Ken,” he said. “You want to be part of this unit this is some of things you have to do. Come on people we got a job to do!”

As they ran for the hanger Bridge headed for the control room. Ken was left there by himself, “Okay then, where’s the door to the roof?”

Razor Wings launched as soon as the alert sounded. People inside the hanger scrambled to get the jets in position to launch while the pilots and wingmen tried not to get in each other’s way as they ran for their vehicles. Elsewhere what limited defenses Castle had were brought online. Board members and non essential personal were secured in safety bunkers deeper in the mountain. Finally Razor Wings one and two launched and they got their first real look at the tornado, wondering how it was just standing there. “Do we have any idea on how we’re supposed to handle this?”, Bill asked.

Behind him Hawk said, “We’ll try Ryo suggestion first. Ryo take a couple of Razor Wings and head in there.”

“Acknowledged,” he replied. “Razor Wings twelve and fourteen, form up me.”

“Have I mentioned this is the most dumbass thing we’ve done?”, Jess commented.

“I’m trying not to think about it,” he told her. Flying in a triangle formation Jess and the other wingmen armed their weapons as they approached the cloud over the tornado.

Entering the cloud there were a few tense silent moments that passed before all three exited. “The cloud is empty!”, Jess called out. “Repeat the cloud is empty!”

“Then what’s keeping the tornado in place?”, Bill asked.

“I think we’re about to find out,” Hawk said.

Ken finally hit the roof of Castle as the tornado stopped spinning as fast to reveal a giant shape inside of it. Looking around as the winds whipped around him he spotted a couple of people huddled in the corner. “Lousy spot for some personal nookie time!”, he shouted over the howl of the winds. “Get inside!”, he pushed them toward the door he just came out of. He looked around to if there was anybody else dumb enough to be up there, beside him that was, even checking his wrist scanner to pick up any life signs. That tornado started to come toward the base as a set of laser like lightning came from the inside and struck Castle head on. Ken dropped to a knee as the entire base shook.

“Target the shape in the funnel,” Hawk ordered. The armaments on Castle struck first as the Razor Wings joined in soon after. The funnel slowly faded away revealing the creature inside. Wild brown fur covered most of it’s body, with claw finger and toes on it’s exposed leathery skin. A low growl came from it’s large dog like nose and mouth. Pointing it’s hand at Castle that yellow laser like lightning erupted from this fingers. Various section of the base exploded. “Get that creature’s attention!”

Ken got to his feet after the second assault and pulled out the Spark Magnifier. “This better work or I’m going to have some explaining to do.” He looked up at the jets in the sky, if any of them looked down here he was going to have some explaining to do any way. Instead of holding it over his head he pointed at the monster. Engulfed in a ball of light as always the column of light instead appeared in front of Castle. Before long Daxium stood before the creature and took a defensive stance.

“Shiah!” Daxium didn’t waste any time in trying to push Degola away from the base. The furry monster protested as it tried to dig his clawed feet into the ground, throwing in a knee strike when he thought he could. After a brief struggle he was able to toss the giant to the ground with an angry grunt and continued toward the base. Daxium grabbed him from behind when it looked like he was going to fire those beams from his fingers. The soldiers manning the remaining guns of Castle’s defensive line to the opportunity to get in a few free shots the giant was giving them. Again Degola threw Daxium off and turned to face him, hitting him with those beams.

“Try to aid Ultraman in getting that thing away from base,” Hawk said over the line.

“Acknowledged,” Jess, Ryo and the other Razor Wings answered. Flying up behind Degola Jess got a target lock, “Firing missiles.” Several missiles from the formation of Razor Wings impacted the back of the monster’s head. It stumbled forward as Daxium got under it and flipped him over his shoulder. Jumping on top of the fallen monster he started pounding him on the head. Degola swiped his clawed fingers into his side. Daxium grunted in pain as he did it again and again. Forcing Daxium off of him Degola got to his feet fast and slashed those claws against the giant’s head several times, spark like energy flying off from the impact. Then point blank he fired those lasers from his fingers and sent Daxium straight back into the mountain side. Both the mountain and Castle shook from the impact. The creature pinned him there with those laser until another round of missile fire from the Razor Wings distracted him. Daxium fell to a knee as the jewel started flashing red. Getting to his feet he crossed his arms in front of his chest and flung them down going into Hyper Mode.

Now Daxium was fast enough to avoid those lasers as he jumped and rolled out of the way as he slowly got closer. Jumping up one more time he spun around with a backhand that nailed Degola flush in that oversized jaw of his. Daxium jumped up again for a spin kick. Degola made a desperate grab for him. Dxium saw it coming and jumped back, flipping in the sky before landing on top of the mountain. He jumped off to nail him with another flying kick. Holding out his right hand he extended the Laser Flash and started whipping the monster with it.

Trying to set the monster up for the Light Stream the air started to form a tornado around Degola again. The wind spun around him fast enough to deflect the light whip each time he tried. Again Daxium was rocked by those lasers. Setting his feet he got ready for the run as he drew in energy form the surroundings. His vision accelerated to the point where he could see where to strike between the wing gusts of the funnel. With almost a slight flinch Daxium was behind the monster as the jewel started to blink faster. Inside the tornado an explosion shot skyward in the funnel before it disappeared completely. Retracting the Laser Flash Daxium shot off into the sky. “Shiah!”

A couple of hours later various crews were still cleaning up the internal damage near the front of Castle. Richardson and Peter walked the halls surveying the damage. “I never really expected that we would get hit,” Peter confessed. “Not like this at any point.”

“We were just lucky I was able to talk them into putting in the gun emplacements into the place when we first built it,” Richardson told him. “Otherwise I don’t know how much damage would have been done to the place if that thing got any closer.”

“Well maybe you can talk the board into upgrading our defenses.”

“I’m planning on it. I trust I’ll have your help in the matter Peter?”

“Of course Harold. You know you can count on me.”

In another part of the base Alpha team was helping clean up the debris in a hanger that took a lot of the initial damage as Hawk walked in. “We got lucky this time. Casualties were kept to a minimum, a few unlucky bastards were caught outside but they’ll pull through. How are things in here?”

Ryo spoke up, “A good chunk of the place isn’t that badly damaged actually. The only real damage was to the hanger opening over there. Some of the techs said they might have to rebuild the door completely.”

“We might as well redo the entire hanger while we’re at it,” Hawk said as he took a good look around.

“A possible hanger for that super jet?”, Ken said out loud.

“My thoughts exactly,” Hawk confirmed with a nod. “We can still fit a few razor Wings in here. It’s going to take a little bit of juggling, but I think we can pull it off. Oh Ken the two found on the roof said you didn’t follow them down to the bunker?”

“I was making sure nobody else was on the roof,” he answered.

“Trying to play the hero?”, Jess teased.

“What hero, I was following orders,” Ken shot back.

Hawk spoke up, “Just remember there’s a fine line between a good soldier and a dead one. We just got you in this team Ken. I’m in no hurry to bury you.”

“I’m not exactly in a hurry for that either,” he said. Then Ken noticed the look Hawk gave him before he turned around to say something to Bill. While he wondered what that meant he looked over to see Jess give him the same look before going back to her task. Neither Ryo nor Bill gave him that look, but he was not liking something about it just the same. That couldn’t mean what he thought it did, did it?

ED – Shinedown – Fly From the Inside
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Old April 23rd, 2019, 10:20 AM #11
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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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Old April 28th, 2019, 05:57 PM #12
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Joined: Dec 2012
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Episode 11

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

Peter Brooks stared out one of the windows of his Family’s estate. For generations a Brooks has lived within these walls and he had no intention of stopping that tradition anytime soon. For a long time if he had anything thing to say about it and he planned on having that say, especially with his master’s gifts. Pushing the boundaries of their limits, despite their warnings, he grew stronger. And he was almost off the ground that last time too, he as sure of it. Then one of the help walked into the room disrupting his concentration. He dissipated the energy aura around him fast enough to keep his secret intact. Still he almost gave into the desire to blast her to atoms. He held back only because he would still have the skeleton to deal with. “Note to self,” he said out loud, “find out how much power it is going to take to disintegrate skeletal structure.”

Walking away from the window his thoughts turned toward Scott and Ultraman as his phone went off. He looked at it with some confusion when he realized the number calling him was his own. Mainly out of curiosity he answered it, “Hello?” At the same time a dark energy vortex started right in front of him and the shape of one of his masters appeared inside. “I told you not to contact me here,” he hissed as he looked around to see if any of the servants were around.

“You do not tell us what we can and can not do Avatar,” he told him. “And your insubordination will not be tolerated in front of our new ally.”

“What new ally?”, he asked warily.

“One from beyond this pitiful planet. Check the primitive communication device in your hand.”

Looking at his phone one more time he cautiously put it back up to his ear and repeated , “Hello?” This time he was greeted with a strange otherworldly laughter.

In a special military museum two guards wandered the darkened halls on their nightly patrol. “I still don’t see why they need two of us,” the younger of the pair complained like always. “Nothing ever happens around here.”

“Company policy,” the older one said as he swung his light around the exhibit. “Just because nothing has happened doesn’t mean nothing won’t.”

“Do you have any idea how tired I am of hearing that?”

He shot back, “Probably as tired as I am of hearing you complain about it.” They walked the rest of the way in silence, just like the old man preferred. He spent several hours a night trying to figure out what he did to the manager to get stuck training his punk. At least they were near the end of their rounds then he could pass him off to Dan for monitor duty, then he could get some quiet time for an hour.

“Chuck come in,” his walkie talkie squawked as it came to life.

“What is it Dan?”

“They seriously need to upgrade the equipment around here,” the youth complained, again.

“I got some movement in the exhibit in front of you,” he answered. “I can’t make it out.”

“No way,” the youth said, squinting his eyes and trying to see through the darkness. Chuck frowned, they weren’t supposed to trick the young buck here with the report scare for another couple of weeks yet. Nice for Dan to let him know the time table had changed.

“Alright Dan, me and junior will check it out.”

“Aren’t we supposed to get guns for this?”, the youth asked.

“Not in the budget.” Carefully checking from the opening of the room Chuck slowly walked in. They were in the Desert Storm exhibit, and Dan usually hid by the old Hummer in the middle of the room. Making sure the young gun was still behind him he made his way towards it. Not seeing his reflection in the case on the left he figured he was hiding somewhere on the right. As they got closer Chuck figured Dan must have found a good spot hiding spot this time around because he couldn’t see him anywhere. Walking past it he was a little disappointed nothing happened,

“I just saw it again,” Dan unexpectedly called in. “It’s behind you.”

Dan had better not be trying to get him too, otherwise he’d stick this flashlight up his ass. He motioned for the kid to head back toward the door while he checked the back. He didn’t get far before he saw a flash of light in front of the Hummer. Heading over he saw the kid was just standing there. He wasn’t moving and had a freaked out look on his face, and a slight glow around his body. Seeing movement out of the corner of his eye he turned to his left. There was nothing there at all. Turning toward the door he went for his walkie talkie as he saw a pair of round glowing eyes. Hearing an echoing “Hohohoho,” a huge claw like appendage pointed at him and there was a bright flash of light.

Dan ran out of there the moment he saw the thing blast Chuck and the kid and flagged down the first police car he came across. After checking it out for themselves they immediately took him to the station and contacted the UNDF. Captain Hawk and Commander Jamira responded to the call on their behalf, more of a PR move on Richardson’s part than anything else. Currently Jamira was staring Dan down in one of the interrogation rooms. “I think you’re wasting our time,” Jamira sneered. “You and whatever buddy you have working here are trying to get famous by pulling one over on us.”

“The police saw the same thing I did,” Dan insisted.

“I have the police reports right here,” Hawk, who was sitting next to the table with a data pad in hand, tapped a folder hat was on it. “We both read it.”

“And I don’t have to believe it,” the Commander stated while Hawk kept his attention on the pad.

“And I’m not a big believer in wasting time and money on the job,” Hawk stood to show both of them the image on the pad. Dan looked surprised as he recognized the Desert Storm exhibit and his two frozen co-workers. “Bridge just hacked into the security feed, this is live footage.” Jamira grumbled something and walked away. “Did you see what did this?”

“Not clearly,” Dan answered. “I saw a shape sticking to the shadows. That’s why I sent in Chuck and the kid. Then that thing did … that to them and I went looking for help.”

“Left them there,” Jamira muttered a little too loudly.

“You did the right thing,” Hawk assured him. “Is there anything else that you can remember? Anything that seemed out of place.”

“Well,” he said slowly, “Chuck looked one way for some reason, then when he turned around he got blasted.”

“All right,” Hawk nodded, “is there anything else?”

“Somebody was laughing,” as it occurred to him.

“Laughing?”, Hawk repeated as Jamira grumbled something else as he left the room. “Don’t mind him.”

“I know it sounds crazy,” Dan admitted, “But over the walkie I heard somebody laughing before Chuck got shot.”

“Did you recognize the voice?”

“It wasn’t anybody I knew, if it was they were disguising their voice.”

“Thank you for the information sir,” Hawk said. “We’ll check it out immediately.” Shaking Dan’s hand he exited the room and found Jamira pacing the halls. “You were voted Mr. Personality back in school weren’t you?”

“I don’t like having my time wasted,” he stated. “And I don’t like how everybody expects us to act like the police.”

“I think this one is a little over the police’s head,” Hawk said looking at the video feed on the pad again. “No this looks like something that’s right up our alley.”

“Then I’ll take my team in and blast the thing back to wherever it came from.”

“We still have civilians in there,” he reminded him.

“And they’re probably already dead,” Jamira snapped.

“We don’t know that for sure,” Hawk argued. “And I’m not going to operate under that assumption. I’m sending in Alpha Team.”

“Looking for more glory for Monster Squad,” he sneered.

“The glory hunter tag belongs to beta Team the last I heard,” Hawk said leaving Jamira standing there steaming.

Within the hour Alpha Team was mobilized and at the museum. Ken tried not think about this to much, shooting things in the sky was one thing but up close that was another thing entirely, while Ryo and Jess checked the door in the front of the building. “Clear,” Ryo said as he waved them in. Procedure and protocol swirled in his head as he tried to remember everything they drilled into him these past couple of months. “Just like we practiced,” Ryo said as he past him on the way into the building. Ken tried not to think about the times he screwed up in practice. Heading toward the door that lead to the room the disturbance was in Ken and Bill checked the entry way.

“Clear,” Bill said after he looked at Ken who nodded. Heading toward the door to the exhibit they kept an eye out for anything strange an ear open for that laughter the Captain told them about. Getting there they could see one of the guards still standing there like a glowing statue. Ryo and Bill took point at the door. Looking at the gun in his hand he hit the button that that activated reticule in his visor.

Jess saw him do it and smirked, “Cheater.”

Ken smirked back, “Some of us didn’t have a mobile with six shooters over their bed.”

“Neither did I,” Jess told him. Then that smirk got a little bigger, “They were forty fives.” Ryo waved them in and they made their way to the closest of the guards while the other two covered them. Ken kept an eye on the area while Jess ran her wrist scanner over the guy. “I’m getting life signs but they’re faint. Ken check the other one.”

“Right,” he hurried over as Bill ran in to cover him. “I’m getting the same thing,” he said after a moment.

“I wonder if we can move them,” Bill wondered out loud.

“We’ll find out later,” Jess said. “Wade to Bridge, do you see anything?”

“Just you four,” he answered. “Can you get to the security room? Maybe we can see what they saw from there.”

“Watanabe to Miller,” Ryo said into her communicator,” meet us in the main lobby. Bridge can you give us direction to the security…?”


The sound echoed throughout the room as they tried to cover every cover they could see. Standing back tot back with the rest of them Ken tried to hid his confusion. Why didn’t Dax tell him anything was there? “Nine o’clock!”, Bill shouted. All of them turned to face what he saw. They saw glowing eyes and humongous claws that were connected to a creature with dull gray skin and a segmented looking armor, almost insect like body. Then it split into four identical ones in the next second.

“Open fire,” Ryo ordered. None of them hesitated in pulling the trigger. All of them were stunned as their shots went through all four of them. Then they disappeared without a trace.

“What the fuck?’, Bill muttered. That thought ran through Ken’s mind as well as Dax still wasn’t telling him the creature was there.

“Did anybody get that thing’s life signs?”, Jess asked.

“I couldn’t zero in on it,” Ryo told her. Then they saw those glowing eyes at the far end of the room. “Watch out,” he was able to get out before it fired it fired a beam from it’s claw. They got behind cover fast to avoid ending up like the other two. “Where in the hell did that one come from?”

“Think I got something,” Bill said as he messed with his scanner. “Goes without saying that it’s not human.”

“Send the information to the rest of us,” Ryo told him. In moments they saw what he picked up. “Keep an eye on your scanners and an eye on your surroundings.”

“I just lost it,” Jess announced, as did the rest of them.

“What the hell is that thing,” Ryo said out loud. As the three of them went forward a little bit Ken stayed where he was. They were going to need a little extra help on this one. Making sure he wasn’t in their line of sight he reached for the Spark Magnifier.

“No Ken,” Daxium said suddenly.

He couldn’t keep the shock out of his face, “What do you mean no?”

“This being is not my target.”

Before he could ask what that meant he saw the thing again. “Behind you!”, hearing his warning Jess quickly turned around and shot it in the shoulder. It disappeared again in an instant.

“Good thing civilian held back,” Bill commented. Too bad that wasn’t his actual plan.

“We better stick to pairs,” Jess offered. “Ken stick with me.” They took half the room while Ryo and Bill took the other. Everyone glanced at their scanners every so often to see if they got another hit. Ken saw movement out of the corner of his eye and pointed his gun at it. Then he remembered what happened to the guard as it faded from sight. “Ken look out!”, Jess shouted as he started to turn around. She pushed him out of the way as she took the blast. She stopped moving and emitted the same glow as the guards.

“Jess!”, Ryo shouted.

“No,” Ken whispered. Without thinking he leaned to the side and started firing at the creature. Again laughter filled the air as images of the creature shot toward the door and out of the room.

“All units outside look out for the creature,” Ryo said. Ken stood up and stared at Jess feeling totally helpless.

“What do you mean no?” Without Scott knowing Richardson had all of his conversations recorded when he went out on a mission. As such he knew he could talk to the alien. Of course he knew that before he made that offer to join the UNDF. “What do you mean no?” Right now he, Patricia and Williams listened to a particular line over and over. “What do you mean no?”

“The alien refused to help?”, Richardson said through his teeth as he sat there fuming. “We had a deal! Scott was supposed to be able to control him!”

“I don’t think Scott could control him to begin with,” Williams said. Richardson gave him a look that made him fall backwards into his chair.

“I believe,” Patricia spoke up, “what the good doctor is trying to say is while he is in Scott’s body Daxium is the one in control when he is called upon.”

“Exactly,” Williams said as he freed himself from the chair. “Scott and Daxium are two separate entities. He can’t control Daxium any more than he can control Scott.”

“We had a deal!,” Richardson exploded, Williams nearly fell back intot eh chair. “He fights those monsters for us. Why didn’t he do that? Did Scott say why?”

“Scott isn’t exactly talkative at the moment,” his bodyguard informed him. “He’s too busy staying with Wade and the other victims. I pushed him on it, he eventually pushed back. From the ramblings Scott implied Daxium wouldn’t confront the creature because it was from this universe and not the dark one.”

“Why does that matter?”, Richardson demanded.

“Scott wouldn’t say,” she told him, “in fact I don’t think he knows either.” Richardson pounded the desk.

“This is all speculation on my part of course,” Williams spoke up, “but the alien’s mission is to fight and defeat creatures from this dark universe. Since the creature is from this universe he doesn’t see it as the enemy.”

“He had better start,” Richardson said, “or he and Scott are going to star in the next alien autopsy.”

“That would be doing Scott a favor in his current state of mind,” Patricia said. Richardson humphed at that statement.

In one of the lab several scientist and technicians ran scanners of the affect people. Since the glow didn’t affect anybody else who touched it they were transported back to Castle. Ken silently watched them from one of the observation rooms. Several times Daxium tried to tell him that he was sorry this turn of events. Each time he ignored the attempt. Right know he focused on the techs as they continued their work and went over the readings they collected. Hawk walked into the room and stood beside him as he watched with him. After a bit he said, “They say they’re in a state of suspended animation. They’re perfectly fine we just need to figure out how to get them out of it. One of them said something about hacking into Jess’s wrist scanner to see if they can get some sort of reading.”

Ken lowered his head a little bit. The Captain put a hand on the younger man’s shoulder, “She’s going to be fine Ken.”

“It shouldn’t have happened,” he muttered.

“Nobody is blaming you son,” he assured him. “My first instinct would have been to go for the first image too. And she would have done that the same for any one of us.” He watched as Ken squeezed his eyes shut. “We’ll get that thing if it’s the last thing we do. Hell Ultraman won’t even know there was a problem.” Hawk didn’t expect him to snarl a little more.

“Like he even cares,” Ken said as he turned and left the room, almost running over Ryo in the process.

“Easy Ken,” he said quickly getting out of the way. “Ken?”

“Let him go,” Hawk told him as he walked into the room and joined him

“I didn’t think he’d take it that hard,” Ryo commented. “I mean I know they picked up the friendship again once he joined but still.”

“Just give him some time to get his head on straight. Any updates on the scanner?”

“Bridge is writing a program to get through the field interference as we speak.” Hawk nodded. Ryo looked at his wingman and the others and said, “Is it wrong that I was expecting Ultraman to show up at some point during it all?”

“I think we all were son,” he commented. Hawk thought about Ken’s reaction just now and some other things he’d overheard and seen since he joined up. “Ryo, do you know where Ken stands on the whole Ultraman business?”

After thinking it over he had to admit, “I don’t really know. I’ve seen him look a little irritated or annoyed when some of the other units say they want a shot at taking Ultraman down. But outside of that whenever somebody asks him about it he gives as vague of an answer as possible and he changes the subject. Why?”

“No real reason,” Hawk told him. “He seemed pissed at Ultraman at the moment and wanted to know if there was a history of it before now or because of what happened. I’m going to see how Bridge is coming along.” Once alone in the corridor he looked thoughtful for a moment, “I couldn’t have been that off the mark, could I?”

The whole compound was abuzz from the events of the previous night. One of their own was out of commission and the lack of an appearance by Ultraman to stop the monster. Brooks just happened to walk by to overhear Jamira boast that he had been right to not trust the “giant freak” all along. The man was going to be unbearable after this. More so than usual at this rate. But he had to admit his masters were right this time around, the giant wouldn’t attack something from this universe. As it was they were looking for more hostile races on the off chance the UNDF was able to take this Baltan, as they were called, out. It was so simple he was surprised he hadn’t thought of it before. But right now the continued success rate was going to depend on Scott’s influence on the giant.

“Speak of the devil,” he mumbled to himself as he entered one of the observation halls. Scott was looking out the hall’s large windows at the world outside, not even paying attention to anything else. Peter’s hand twitched ever so slightly, nobody would know and he wouldn’t have time to react. Then common sense returned to him as he realized there were several security cameras on the deck and more than a few of them catalogue his path. It might be a bit risky but perhaps he could underscore his faith in the giant a little more, if what he heard was right. Putting on a concerned look he walked up to him, “Is everything alright Ken?” Scott jumped a little. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you, and you did say I could cal you Ken, correct?”

“Yeah,” he said as he regained his composure. “Did you need something Mr. Brooks?”

“Not really, you looked upset. And please call me Peter.”

“I had a lot on my mind recently.”

“Yes we all have,” he said. “Especially since last night. We put our faith in a so called superior being and just like that he doesn’t appear when we need him the most.” Scott lowered his head and Peter silently enjoyed seeing the anger grow inside of him. “My father was never a religious man, I guess some of it rubbed off on me, I’m sorry if I upset you in some way.”

“No I just…,” he paused, “but this time I think I see his point.”

“Well he always said that the only one you can really put any faith in those around you, even then you should expect to be disappointed. He was a rather cynical man”

“Doesn’t mean he wasn’t right,” Scott suddenly got this strange look on his face and left him alone in a hurry. Peter wondered if he just realized he was speaking to one of his “prime suspects”.

Another thought ran through his head as well, “Perhaps I might have pushed a little too much this time.”

The lab where Jess and the others were was empty by the time Ken came back, on lunch or something right now he really didn’t care. Walking over to her he leaned back against a table and just stared at her. “Looks like I screwed up again huh?”, he told her. “I don’t know if I should apologize for falling into that trap like an idiot or for trusting Dax like an idiot.” His only answer to that was the sensation of Dax was trying to tell him something again. Fed up he looked inside and was face to face with Daxium. “What do you want?”

“I realize you are upset with me Ken…”

“Upset!”, he exploded. “It’s your fault this happened!”

“My mission only pertains to the beings from the dark universe. I cannot in good conscious knowingly harm a being not involved in the war.”

“But you have no problem commandeering the body of somebody from this universe when it suits your needs do you?”

“Ken that is not how our situation works…”

“Do you even care that could have been us if she didn’t push me out of the way?”, Ken demanded getting angrier and angrier with each passing second. “I would have been the one frozen in time and what would you have done then?”

“We’re fortunate that didn’t happen.”

He got right in his silver face and spat, “Tell that to Jess.” Looking back out he was face to face with the frozen Jessica. “Sorry you had to see that,” he told here knowing she didn’t see or hear any of it. “God Jess this is where I need you to tell me to snap the hell out of it.”

At his masters request he set this Baltan up in a safe area, so he decided to place him, her the hell if he knew, in one of his contact areas. Not one of his regular spot but one he had used before once or twice in the past. In fact he almost forgot about it. He remembered why as soon as he passed those small towns that were nearby. He was fairly well known now thanks to all the media attention so it would be hard to explain why he headed out here on a semi regular basis. As it was Brooks had to study maps of the area to find an alternate route to the mountains that held the hidden area. It added an hour to his travel time but it did the deed.

Right now he and the Baltan stood in front of a swirling vortex as his masters spoke to them, “And there is no sign of the light being?”

“None so far,” Brooks answered.

“Excellent,” he said, “things are finally going our way Avatar.”

“It appears so,” he agreed. “So what are we going to do with… our friend here?”

“He has been compensated already,” the figure in the vortex replied. “Once he has completed his task he will be set free. Then begins the next step in taking over this bastard planet and use it population to invade the light universe.”

The Baltan suddenly spoke up, “No.”

The shape in the vortex turned to look at him as Peter took a few moments to process what he just heard, “I beg your pardon?”

“This planet is now ours,” the Baltan said in response. “We will subject the population and add it to our empire.”

“I do believe we had dibs on this planet first, and might I add for much longer,” Brooks informed him.

“That is not our concern. You have seen what I can do. From what I have witnessed you prove to be no threat to us. This planet will be ours.” The Baltan turned away and headed out of the cave.

Peter looked back at the portal, putting a hand to his chin. The form in the portal seemed to nod his head before fading away. He grinned ever so slightly, “I do believe I have a word to say about that.”

“And what would that be?”, the Baltan said without turning around.

Hand crackling with dark energy Peter caught hit with a beam that knocked the alien to the ground, “Gotcha.” Watching him struggle to get up Peter blasted him again. “Arrogant creature, do you really think I’m going to prefer that insufferable trait in you when I don’t tolerate it in others?” Keeping the beam on him the alien writhed and screamed in pain. A thought occurred to him that made him smile, “I’m not going to kill you, not just yet. But I am going to try something I’ve done before, just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.” The beam continuing to hold him down he got close enough to put that hand on his chest. It’s round eyes and various parts of it’s armor started leaking dark energy as it was ravaged from the inside and forcible changed. “Let’s see if we can draw Ultraman out of hiding, hmm?”

“It has a hyper mode too?”, Bill asked while Hawk and the others looked one. Bridge had just presented them with a theory about the creature moving trick.

“Not exactly,” Bridge said trying to find a way to clarify his findings. “It’s more like it’s teleporting, but at such a speed it’s leaving an after image of itself in it’s place.”

“How did you figure that out?”, Ryo asked him. “I saw some eggheads arguing about it about five minutes before the Captain called this meeting.”

“They are working on theory,” Bridge explained. “Me and a few others were trying to get the facts. Facts we got we got when we finally got into your wrist scanners readout and found something you didn’t notice before,” he imputed the results from the combined readout into the holo table between them. “I’m sure you three remember this particular moment,” he commented as the creature apparently split into four. “We were able to get a life sign reading at this range surprisingly enough. I’m going to slow it down so you can see it’s heartbeat.” After a moment they could see the heart start beating on one image and finish on another. The pattern was random but they could see the heartbeat clear as day.

“You don’t have to tell me that Williams is salivating trying to figure out how that works,” Hawk said.

“I needed a boat to get across the hallway to get here,” Bridge joked.

“How does that help us defeat that thing?”, Ken demanded.

“Easy son,” Hawk told him, “one step at a time.”

”We want to get the bastard too,” Ryo assured him.

“But Civilian does have a point,” Bill added.

“We’re working on it,” Bridge told him. Before he could go one the alarms sounded. Hooking it the table into the alert system he pulled it up on the table. “The creature is back, I’ve found a news feed. I’m patching into it now.” Soon the computers pulled up several screen that Bridge was able to condense into a single 3D image. Hawk looked past it at Ken and his reaction. The others watched as a now giant sized alien trashed around some town.

“And he can grow to Ultraman size too,” Bill said. “Great.”

“Maybe he’ll show up this time,” Ryo commented. Ken’s features darkened a bit.

“I want all Razor Wings in the air and Scan Tracks on the ground,” Hawk ordered.

“Yes sir,” they answered and headed for the door. Hawk held Ken back so he could have a moment alone with him.”

“Ken I want you civilian evacuation duty for this one.”

“Captain I can do my job,” he protested.

“And I don’t your head is in the right place at the moment,” he said firmly. “And I don’t want others to get hurt because of it.” Ken didn’t have an immediate response as he looked away, but Hawk could see the young man seething. “We’ll talk after this over, but can I trust you to follow orders?”

He hesitated to answer at first but eventually he said, “Yes sir.”

“Good, but don’t worry son we’re planning on showing that giant bastard that you don’t fuck with Monster Squad.” He didn’t look convinced but he didn’t argue the point either.

The UNDF forces mobilized quickly and were engaging the giant creature within minutes. Those giants claws of his seemed to be able to fire some sort of destructive ray as well. Razor Wings danced around it while Scan Tracks tried to get it’s attention to give the evacuation teams more time to do their jobs. However any paying attention to the conflict would have noticed a familiar energy signature in it’s beam if you knew what to look for. One person did and he was on the street making sure it was clear. “Scott to Castle, sector K8 is clear heading toward K7.”

“Understood,” Bridge answered.

Trying very hard to ignore the creature he kept his focus on his wrist scanner. Not seeing any life signs so far he looked down at his communicator as Richardson bellowed, “What are you waiting for Scott?! Set that bastard after it?” Ken switched his communicator off with a little more force than was necessary. Of course Daxium was practically screaming at him trying to get his attention. Since that was the one voice he couldn’t readily turn off he finally got fed up enough to look inwards.

“What?!”, he demanded once they were face to face. “Now that it’s your size you’re suddenly interested. Well forget it, you said this was our problem and we’ll take care of it.”

“Ken can you not sense the dark energy coming from the creature now?”

He had to look away as he answered, “Yes.”

“Then let me out to battle him.”

“No,” he said shaking his head. “Because that thing is working with whomever working with those guys you’re fighting and is probably waiting to see if you’re going to show up.”

Daxium tried to reason with him, “We do not know if that creature has been working with them this entire time.”

“If they weren’t working together before they are now!”, he snapped. “I let you out and we just handed them the perfect weapon because you won’t go after anything from this universe as long as they don’t mess with it. And you can’t tell me they won’t search the universe looking for somebody else.”

“There is some truth to your words,” Daxium was forced to admit. “This goes against my original mission statement but I feel I need to modify it given the circumstances.”

“So you’ll get off your ass and help us?”

“In certain situations,” he amended. “If the threat, as you put it, is my size then I will fight it.”

“I guess it will have to do for now,” Ken said bitterly.

“I’m sorry that this has put a strain on our friendship Ken.”

“So am I Dax,” he agreed. “We’ll talk after this is over.”

“Agreed.” Coming back to his senses Ken checked his scanner one more time to make sure the area was still clear. Grateful he didn’t give into the urge to throw the Spark Magnifier into his dresser he held it in his hand. Taking one more look he held it over his head and squeezed the handle.

The column of light faded away revealing Daxium facing the Alien Baltan and took a fighting stance, “Shiah!”

“Finally the bastard doing what he’s told,” Richardson muttered as he watched the feed from his office.

“About time,” Hawk said. “All units keep out of their way.” Over the line he heard Jamira grumble something.

The Baltan stopped it’s rampage and stared at Daxium before uttering a deep, “Hohohoho.” Raising it’s claws it fired another blast, Daxium did a cartwheel to get out of the way and prepared to fire a Flashbolt when he noticed the alien was gone. Remembering what he learned through Ken he quickly spun around with a kick that caught the Baltan in the gut. He dodged when it fired another blast. He looked up in surprise as the building behind him started emitting that same glow as the others. It was enough of a distraction to blast him with that destructive beam. Grunting in pain he fell back against a building and then a knee.

The Baltan was on top of him in no time pounding him with those massive claw like appendages. The giant fought back hard eventually forcing the alien back. Stunning it with several punches a hard kick sent it flying back. As it struggled to it’s feet Daxium saw his chance and prepared to fire the Dimensional Storm Ray. Crossing his hands at the wrist a multi-colored stream of energy fired out of his upright right hand. The baltan quickly used it’s teleportation trick to avoid it. As the ground behind it’s previous position exploded upon impact of the ray. It set up position as he turned around to find him and fired the destructive beam again. Rolling out of the way at the last second he crossed his arms across his chest and flung them down going into Hyper Mode. Catching the alien off with his new speed he quickly got closer avoiding the beams. Jumping up he delivered a flying kick that knocked it to the ground.

A few more quick blows and he was able to force the Baltan into the open area between the town and the nearby mountain range. With more room to maneuver he held out his right arm as the Light Flash whip extended from his hand. Striking the alien a few time it tried to fire it’s destructive beam again. Daxium jumped up and flipped back to avoid it. Then he ran in and black flipped again catching him under the chin with the tip of his foot. Back flipping away from him a few times he drew a circle in the air and threw the Hyper Saw. Daxium watched the image ready for it to stop. He didn’t know it could fire that beam while teleporting. Knocked back he was suddenly hit from behind knocked him forward.

Forced to his knee as the images circled around him and fired at will. The humans watching this wanted to help but felt helpless as the couldn’t get a clear lock on their sensors. Those like Jamira enjoyed seeing the giant being taken down a peg or two. In the middle of the barrage Daxium started to draw in energy as the jewel started to flash, vision speeding up enough to catch a glimpse of the alien’s solid form during it all. Trying to time this just right he made the faintest of flinches and in less than a second he caught the Baltan and slammed both of them into the mountain causing it to shake and crumble a bit. Arms almost a blur he pounded away at the alien’s body as the jewel started to flash faster. Stepping back he extended the Light Flash one more time and spun around slicing through the Baltan and the mountainside. The Baltan exploded a moment later and Daxium fell to a knee. Forcing himself back up he flew off into the sky, “Shiah!”

Bill watched him fly off saying, “Did that look pissed to anybody else? Because that looked pissed to me.”

“We’ll discuss it later,” Hawk told him. “Castle what is the condition of the others?”

“Wade to Hawk, what the hell just happened?”, Jess asked sounding confused. Back at Castle she and the guards looked around trying to figure out what happened.

Hawk and everybody in Alpha Team who heard that felt very relieved at hearing her voice, a relief that they didn’t think was possible. “I’ll explain later. All units return to Castle.”

Despite her protest that she was perfectly fine the doctors in Castle medical wing insisted that she and the guards stay overnight for observation. Although the Captain jokingly threatened to make it an order she put her foot down at being put in a bed. She’ll stay in the room if she had to but a bed was for sleeping … and other things. And she wasn’t in the mode for either at the moment. As it was she had to endure the Captain and the others hovering around her sat she sat it the table in the room to make sure she was alright. “I’m fine,” she said getting aggravated. “How many times do I have to say it?”

“We were just worried about you Jess, that’s all,” Ryo said for the group/

“Oh yeah, you were really worried,” she said with a slight smirk. “Four of you and I don’t see a gift among you.”

“The gift shop wasn’t open,” Ken said without missing a beat. Just like old times, well almost.

“That was my line,” Bill told him.

“Then say it faster next time,” Ken shot back.

“You’re assuming there’s going to be a next time,” Jess piped in.

“Excuse me,” a male nurse said from the door. “Dr. Jones wanted the patient to get her rest.”

“I’m fine,” she insisted. Tilting her head as she watched him leave she muttered, “And so are you.”

Bill caught the look on her face, “Maybe one of us should stay around to protect him from her.”

She gave him a look that Ken had seen more than once in his short life, “I’m glad I didn’t say that one.”

“She’s going to let him have it?”, Ryo asked. When he said yeas he patted Bill on the shoulder, “Nice knowing you man.”

Hawk decided then to speak up, “Unfortunately the doctors can overrule me so we better go. I know you’re an independent woman and all, but I’m having Bridge going over the security footage while you were in the lab. He see’s anybody taking the opportunity to get all grabby hands his ass is going to be dust.”

“Then the Captain is going to let the rest of us have a turn,” Bill joke.

With a look from Hawk Ryo started to shepard him toward the door. He told Jess, “Get your rest now, because I’m going to work you double time tomorrow.”

“Yes sir,” she said with a salute. As they started to leave she got Ken’s wrist before he could get out of reach. “Can you stay for a moment longer?”, she said as he looked at her. Once they were alone she said, “So I hear you went all Mister Grumpy Face once I got frozen.” He didn’t answer her right away. “You’re not reading anything into that are you? I would have done that for anybody on the team.”

“I know, it’s…,” he hesitated before continuing, “I just got you back as a friend. I’d hate to think I screwed that up again.”

“You are going to have to act like your brother to screw it up again, and we both know that’s not happening anytime soon,” she told him. He slowly started to smile. “But move faster next time, because I’m going to let you get blasted.”

“Fair enough,” he said. “I’d better get going before Bill starts getting thoughts in his head.”

“Yeah that will be a dangerous thing,” she said. “Because I will be forced to hurt him.”

He went to the door before turning back around, “Do you want me to get that nurse back in here? Give you two a little alone time?”

“You’re lucky I don’t have my gun.”

ED – Shinedown – Fly From the Inside
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Old May 2nd, 2019, 12:25 PM #13
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Joined: Dec 2012
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Episode 12

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn In My Light

Head for the garage, hanger, he still didn’t know what they called it around here but that was what he was told. Ken couldn’t help but wonder why the Captain called him down there. Granted he didn’t spend as much time down there as he thought he would, especially since Doctor Williams kept calling him to help with the “super jet”, and that was in between the missions and his studies, when he was down there he got along with pretty much everybody. Hell it was the only place on the entire base were nobody called him the civilian. They pretty much accepted him as one of their own as soon as he got elbow deep in one of the Scan Track’s engine blocks they had put aside for maintenance. He was sure if anybody had a problem with him they would have gone to him first and not to Captain Hawk.

Once there he looked around until he heard Hawk call out, “Ken over here.” Finally seeing him he walked over there saying hi to a couple of people as he based them.

“Dude, what did you do?”, one of them asked.

He could only answer with, “Hell if I know.” The Captain apparently overheard and didn’t look amused. Trying to appease him he tried to think of the most appropriate way to respond. “You wanted to see me sir?”

“Don’t force it you look like you’re about to break something,” Hawk told him. “I called you down here because I wanted your opinion on something.” Curious he followed to a area of the hanger that had something covered by a tarp tucked away in the corner. Hawk removed the cover to reveal an old GTO in pristine condition. Ken put his hand to his mouth to keep his jaw from dropping. “Since you were a mechanic in your previous life I thought you might be able to figure out the problem I’m having with her.”

“You knew I was a mechanic before I joined up, so why show me this now?”

“This is my baby,” he replied. “I’m not going to show her to anybody just off the street. Besides I’ve asked around and the guys around here say you’re pretty good.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Ken smirked. “What kind of problem are you having with her?”

“I’m getting this sputtering sound after she’s been running for awhile.”

“Let me hear it.” Hawk got behind the wheel and brought the engine to life. Ken lowered his head and closed his eyes and listened. After a bit he heard what the Captain was talking about. Singling for him to cut it off he waited until he was out of the car before saying, “Two questions, how long has it been doing that? And why haven’t you had the guys around here look at it first?”

“For a few months and the Chef won’t allow it,” he answered. “He says it’s misappropriation of labor and material. I’d figured since you not officially part of his staff I’d be able to get around it. Do you think you know what’s wrong with her?”

“I got an idea or two,” he said thinking it over. Thinking some more he started smiling to himself, “But if you can fix it so they won’t miss either of us for a couple of hours I know a place where you won’t have to worry about the Chief bitching about materials and labor.”

Hawk just looked at him, trying to figure out if this was a big heaping pile of BS or not. “Just out of morbid curiosity I’m going to arrange that just to see what you’re talking about.”

“Great you get thing ready and I’ll arrange things on my end.” Hawk shook his head and reached for his communicator. Meanwhile Ken reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. Dialing a familiar number he waited until he heard a greeting he used to hear in his sleep. “Hey Boss it’s Ken. Please tell me Rose is there and Jeff isn’t.” Smiling when he got the answer he said, “Perfect, tell her I got a customer for her.”

Within the hour Hawk was following Ken off of base and to the garage he used to work at. They would have been out of there sooner but Hawk wanted them to go in civilian gear, a simple task for Ken since all he had to do was take off his jacket. A half hour later he pulled up and told the Captain to let him go in first. A huge smile on his face as he opened the door he went, “My God, this place is still open?”

“Get in here you jackass,” Rose told him before giving him a hug. “Why did you stay away do long?”

“You guys are the one who pushed me to join,” he reminded her. Pulling away he looked at her stomach, “I’d asked if you’ve been busy but I think I already have me answer.”

She slapped his arm, “Who told you? I just found out a couple of weeks ago.”

“Janet sent me an e-mail. Congratulations,” he hugged her again. “You planning on turning this one into a grease jockey too?”

“Maybe, if it’s a boy I’ll probably do something a little more frilly,” she joked. “Now where’s this machine you wanted me to look at?”

“Oh right,” Ken said heading for the door. “Bring her in Captain.” John ran over and raised the garage door to let Hawk coast his baby through the opening. Rose stared at it for a long time after it came to a stop. Ken looked at her, “Ah Rose, you starting to drool a little. Rose? Somebody get me a bucket.”

“That’s a nineteen sixties GTO,” she said as she walked in front of it. When she finally heard the sputtering in the engine she shot the dirtiest look at Hawk that Ken had ever seen on her, “What did you do to it?”

“That’s my commanding officer,” Ken said in her ear.

“So? He’s not mine,” she shot back.

“Not to sound insensitive or anything Miss,” Hawk began, “but have you worked on a GTO before? This is my pride and joy and I don’t want to hand her off to just anybody.”

“I cut my teeth on my Grandfather’s,” she informed him. “How long has it been doing that?”

“A few months,” Hawk answered.

She winced, “Why did you wait so long to get her up here?”

“I didn’t know this place existed,” he told her.

“That’s because our boss,” she looked right at him through his office window and spoke a little louder, “doesn’t advertise.” He looked back at her and shook his head.

John looked at Ken then to Hawk as he joked, “Most of us figured some money would have opened up once we unloaded him on you guys.”

“Don’t you just feel the love,” Ken deadpanned.

Rose shoved him, “How come you didn’t tell him about this place sooner then?”

“I just found out he had it today,” he said. “What do you think? Fuel valves?”

“One of the first things that popped into my head,” Rose answered. “Hopefully it’ll be an easy fix. So what are you doing here? You could have just given him directions.”

“I wanted to make sure my old boss gave my new boss a good deal. At least try to weasel a finder’s fee out of him.”

Peter walked by a series of monitors in the control room trying to look mildly interested in what was going on. But in actually he was trying to see what was going on one screen in particular as he passed by it. His masters had him plant a new monster in the sector it was covering, Magnatron. It was in the middle of open country and it should have gone unnoticed until it was too late. Then he discovered one of the idiots on the board approved a sensor station to placate the scientists in the operation. Fortunately he was in the control room enough that his presence wasn’t immediately questioned and that brought him a little extra time in case Magmatron was discovered before it was ready. That came close to happening with Melba but he was able to break free then.

So far it had been days and nothing was amiss with the sensors yet. But he couldn’t relax just yet, worst case the sensor went off and the entire base would mobilize. But perhaps he placed it deep enough underground they wouldn’t detect it. Continuing on he noticed the person stationed at the screen lean forward a bit. Obviously he started to relax a bit too soon.

“I’m getting a reading,” she said. “Two point eight on the Richter scale.”

“I’m pulling it up on the man screen,” Bridge announced. In moments the entire room was looking at what she was. “I’m not getting any sort of life sign reading. What’s the usual seismic activity for the area?”

“It’s pretty stable,” she answered. “It’s never been above a one once since the installation went active.”

Peter faked looking concerned as he asked, “Is this something we should be worried about?”

“I’m not sure yet,” Bridge answered. “I’m going to dig through the archives for any other sensor readings done in the area. For all we know it could be a regular spike we weren’t previously aware of. Jill, keep an eye on it in the meantime. Will notify Captain Hawk in case it gets worse.”

“You got it,” she said going back to her screen. Peter took that opportunity to leave saying he didn’t want to get in their way. But he put that accidental tip about seismic activity and put it away in his mind the next time his masters wanted to place a monster underground. It would definitely hid the fact something was there for a little longer.

“It’s true, you do learn something new every day.”

Walking up to Hawk’s office she saw the door was open so she knocked to announce her presence. The Captain looked up from a report he was reading so she asked, “I hear you saw Ken in his natural habitat the other day.”

“And you are officially the last person on the team to ask me that,” he told her while putting the report down. “Please tell me you’re not going to ask what he was like while he was there.”

“It’s Ken in a garage,” she said walking up to the desk. “I knew what he was like when we were dating. I don’t imagine it changed all that much.” Turning her head to get a look at the file Hawk turned it so she wouldn’t have to stretch her neck. “Unusual seismic activity huh? Is that something we should be worried about?”

“Bridge just gave me this particular report,” he told her. “Apparently it’s been steadily growing for the past couple of days. He figures it something we should keep an eye on.”

“Could it be another monster?”

“Wade I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to think everything is caused by a monster.”

“The world mysteries are solved then,” she smirked. “We just have to figure out what kind of monster it is this time.”

“That’s why we have Bridge and the others, we just have to stop them when they show up.”

“That makes it sound so easy,” she said.

“It’s a breeze to make something sound easy,” he said. “Those who are really good at it go into command.” She smiled at his joke. “Do me a favor and get the others up to speed if you see them. We’re sending a survey team to the area to check things out so I want the prepared for it just in case.”

“Yes sir,” she saluted. :If it is a monster it’s a good thing it’s in a remote area.”

“You’re speaking to the choir Jess. Oh if you can see if Williams had heard about this yet. When this outfit started he pushed hard for a vehicle that could dig underground. He was shot down pretty quick but something like this might spark it back up again.”

“I’ll have Bill do that part. Last time I did that Williams talked my ear off.”

“And I thought you liked Bill.”

“Eh, he owes me one. He made me go with him when he wanted to talk to Jamira’s Beta Team.”

“I heard about that,” he grimaced. “Carry on as planned then.”

With the sun beating down overhead a lone Scan Track rolled to a stop in the middle of an area with only knee high dry grass and a few boulders of various sizes. Most of the occupants exited and looked around the area. “Why would they want a sensor station all the way out here?”, one of them asked.

“Who know,” The one still in the Track answered. “I want to know why they wanted it to look like a rock.”

The third one answered, “They figured it would attract less attention than if they put up the standard shack.”

“Wasn’t really looking for an answer Larry, just thinking out loud.”

“Stacy stop arguing with Larry,” the first spoke up. “The map says it’s that one over there. Pull the track up closer.”

“On it,” Stacy said. He and Larry moved out of the way as she stopped the Scan track right next to the fake boulder. “It’s all you now Jase.”

He nodded as he used his wrist scanner to send a signal to open up the façade. Larry hopped in the back to keep an eye on the radar for any outsiders coming into range. Stacy got out and kneeled next to Jase as he studied the readings. “I’m not picking up anything out of the ordinary. Hold on, we got a spike coming.” They had time to brace themselves as the ground started to shake around them. “That was a five point three. “Larry see if you can get an ultrasound look at what’s under us.”

“I’m already doing it,” he answered. After several moments he announced, “I think I got something. Something big. Stacy send the feed back to Castle.”

“Right,” she jumped into the seat next to him and established a link. “Scan Track seventeen to Castle we are sending you an image now.”

“Image received,” Bridge responded.

“Here comes a big one!,” Jase shouted.

“Something’s coming up!”, Larry yelled at the same time. A huge rock like spire shot out of the ground obliterating the Scan Track, the fake boulder and the poor souls sent out there to investigate.

After Castle lost contact with the Scan track alerts rang throughout the complex. Ryo and Ken ran into the Alpha Team war room as the others waited for them. “We got a hot one,” Hawk told all of them. “Bridge do you have that new images yet?”

“I just got them Captain,” he answered. “I’m hooking the satellite feed into the war room now.” The holo table came to life to show them the brand new terrain that literally popped up moments ago.”

Eyes on what he was seeing Ken thought, “Dax, are you picking up anything?”

“Not from this distance,” was the response.

“Just remember our deal in case it’s like last time.”

In the real world Jess, “Does this have to do with that seismic report you let me look at?”

“I’m afraid so,” Hawk said. “We lost contact with the team we sent out there.”

“Bridge spoke up,” They sent us an ultrasound image right before we lost contact.”

“Show us,” Hawk ordered. The satellite image rose up to show the area underneath it. Right under the spire was an organic mass that was pretty sizeable.

Bill commented, “I’m guessing that’s not part of the local scenery.”

Ryo looked at it and wondered out loud, “Where are these things coming from?” Ken silently wondered how the person behind this was getting them past Dax. According to him the energy needed to pen a portal for something this size should have alerted him the moment it happened.

“You know the drill people,” Hawk said, “Wings in the air and Tracks on the ground. I want that thing surrounded eight ways to Sunday. Ken I want you and the other Scan Tracks to keep an extra eye open. I do not want to lose anybody else to this thing.”

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Ken told him.

“Monster Squad move out.”

It was a long quiet trip in the Scan Tracks as the Razor Wings went on ahead of them. Ken’s Track and the others kept an open ear to the comm. chatter as they got closer. Adding that to keeping an eye on their surrounding and waiting for Dax to pick up something was Getting Ken one sizable headache. “I’m not seeing anything so far,” the guy sitting behind them at the sensor control said. Ken jumped a little forgetting he was there.

Hearing hawk in his head saying he had to rely on those with him instead of trying to do it all himself he said, “Let me know the moment you see anything out of the ordinary.”

“Does that count?”, the driver said pointing at the horizon ahead of them as the peak of the spire was starting to come into view.

“We already knew about that,” Ken said. “Anything new pops up let me know.”

“Hopefully not literally,” the scanner guy grinned.

“I’m obviously too soft on you guys,” Ken told them.

“All Scan Tracks slow down and circle the spire,” Hawk order from Razor Wing one. “For now do a continuous scan. Razor Wings two, four and twelve fly around the spire to see if the mass underneath it reacts.”

“Understood,” Ken said in a hail of acknowledgments. “Of this is going to be fun.”

“This is what we signed on for,” the driver said as he pulled them into position. “Well most of sighed up anyway,” he smirked shooting a look toward Ken. He didn’t respond, mainly because was sending him a hard buzz in the back of his head.

Over the comm. channel he heard Jamira say, “Beta Team begin ultrasonic scanning of the mass.” They acknowledged him seconds later.

“Hey I think I’m getting something,” scanner guy said. “The spire is starting to vibrate a bit.” That went with the spike in the buzz he was getting.

“Keep that engine running,” Ken said.

“You really didn’t have to tell me that,” the driver told him.

“Oh shit,” Ken blurted as another spire shot up near Beta Team’s location.

“Razor Wings open fire,” Hawk ordered. The missiles payload barely did anything to the spire as it continued to grow. From his position he saw the ground start to shake in the area around the Scan Tracks. He saw them start to move before he could even utter a word.

“Captain!”, Bridge yelled over the link. “It’s the ultrasonic. We lost the previous team right after the initiated it. There were too many this time around for it to get an accurate lock from the look of things.”

“Understood. All units performing an ultrasonic scan are to cease immediately.” He watched as the ground slowly stopped shaking. “Any damage ground team?”

“We’re just a little shaken up,” Ken said over the line. Then he realized what he said, “No pun intended. Beta Team looked like they took the worst of it.”

“Keep your nose out of our business civilian,” Jamira barked. “We should have had that bit of information before we set out. I’m going to…”

“Take it up with me Commander,” Hawk cut him off. “After this is over. Bridge keep a eye on those readings. I want to know the second that thing starts making some noise.”

“Understood Captain,” he replied.

Jess clicked into the line, “Captain maybe we should make some noise first. If it’s incubating underground maybe we can force it out before it’s ready.”

“That might what the spires are for,” Ryo added. “To protect it from attack before it’s ready.

“I don’t suppose you guys have a giant drill back at base I don’t know about yet,” Ken asked.

“Don’t say that over an open line,” Hawk told him hoping Williams wasn’t listening back at base.

“What did I say now?”, Ken asked. Before he could get an answer the ground started to shake, particularly around the Track he was in. “What the Hell?” Looking around he saw the ground wasn’t shaking as bad around the other Scan Tracks. And that sensation he was getting from Dax spike so high he was practically yelling that his head felt like he was going to split open. He got the message clear as day, that monster was detecting Dax and was going to attack. “Back us up now!”, he yelled at the driver. He didn’t argue as he put the machine into reverse and drove as fast as the machine could go. Others were doinght he same as more spires of various sizes started to shot up from the ground. Hawk ordered the Razor Wings to target the new uprising rocks and again it was no good. A sudden spire caught their Scan Track by the side and flipped Ken and the others over several times.

The mass of spires finally started to crack as a brown Tyrannosaurs type of head was visible and roared revealing ragged grey looking teeth. More of it broke free revealing similar leathery skin and small spire like protrusions on it’s back. Shaking the loose debris off it’s body and looked around. Still functioning Scan Tracks opened fire on the creature. The missiles impacted it’s hide but it didn’t act like it was affected. The spires on it’s back started to glow as more spires rose from the ground around in the direction it was looking “Captain are you seeing that?”, Bill asked.

“I see it,” he replied. “Razor Wing two we are going to fly behind it and attack those things on it’s back.”

“Roger,” Ryo and Jess answered. Waiting for Razor Wing two to form up both jets flew around and coming up on the rear of the monster as a tail with four spikes, two on each side, was freed revealing the whole monster. Targeting the same spike on it’s back Jess and hawk each fired a missile. The monster roared in pain for a bit and quickly turned around to face it’s attackers. Bill and Ryo both moved to avoid a row of spires coming at them.

“Good thing that thing doesn’t shoot anything,” Ryo commented.

“Don’t jinx it,” jess said as she looked back to make sure they were going to get caught from behind.

In the flipped over Scan Track Ken slowly came to holding his head, feeling blood under his hand, as he tried to figure out where the hell he was. The driver and scanner guy was both still out but he got a pulse on both. Dam it hurt to move. Carefully unhooking himself from his seat he lowered himself down, using the leg that didn’t hurt that much to break out the window and crawled out. Trying to stand he stumbled to a knee as blood started to drip down his face now. Eyes slowly focused on the monster. IN the next instant the Spark Magnifier was in his hand and over his head as he disappeared in a ball of light that formed as giant column of light revealing he being inside, “Shiah!”

Jumping over the rock spires in the way he landed a flying kick to the monster’s head. Magnatron stumbled to the side to fight falling down. It looked at Daxium and roared again before spinning round trying to catch the giant with it’s spiked tail. Daxium easily ducked it and ran in trying to knock it down. The creature stood it’s ground and pounded Daxium on the back sending him to the ground. Stomping him on the back as the Razor Wings tried to get him to stop with their missiles. It backed away as the spires on it’s back started to glow again as a spire rose up and caught him in the gut sending him into the air and crashing back to the ground. Getting to a knee he fired off a Flashbolt despite the pain that caught the creature off guard. Getting to his feet he ran at Magnatron only to stop when he saw the spires on it’s back start to glow again. Backing up to avoid another one coming up from the ground he and the humans around the battle were stunned to see to see rocks rise up from the ground and hover in the air. Daxium continued to back away in order to make sure he wasn’t surrounded.

Without warning on of the rock fragments shot forward that he easily sidestepped. Then another came at him the he barely dodged. Then more came at him so fast he had to put up the force shield to protect himself from the barrage. “I told you not to jinx it,” Jess told Ryo. Seeing a small opening in the barrage he dropped the field and banged his forearms together to go into Power Mode. Magnatron sent more rocks in his direction that he smashed and kicked in the air as he ran forward.

“He’s going old School,” Bill quipped.

Finally past the floating rocks he punched Magnatron with all he had, it’s head whipped at the side from the impact. Keeping up the barrage he had the giant monster backing up. Grabbing it by the head and with a huge grunt he picked it up in a suplex like move slamming back to the ground. Getting to his feet he straddled the creature and started punching it. A rock flew up and nailed him in the back of the head. More came at him forcing him off Magnatron. Getting to it’s feet it swung around smashing it’s tail into his side. He wasn’t fast enough in this form to avoid that spike tail as it came at him again and again. Scan tracks and Razor Wings fired away but more spires formed to protect it from them. Buta few were able to get through as the creature practically pinned itself in and hinder it’s movements. The Jewel starting to flash Daxium grabbed it’s tail and wouldn’t let go.

The monster cried out in surprise as it tried to get away. Daxium started swinging side to side by the tail by the tail, slamming it into the spires to break them free of the enclosure then spun the creature around in a circle before letting go. As it got up he put his fist by the blinking jewel and drew in energy as the spires on it’s back started to glow. Punching the ground unleashing the Giga Wave huge spires formed between him and the monster. The wave crashed through them all leaving a huge cloud of dust that hung in the air. Daxium stood there waiting for it to clear when another barrage of rocks flew at him through the dust smacking him to the ground. “Holy shit,” Bill said as everyone looked on stunned as the dust cleared revealing Magntron with more rocks floating around him.

Jewel starting to blink faster as more rocks came at him and not seeing any other choice he jumped up and flew into the air. The rocks tried to follow him put he flew just fast enough to outpace them Stopping in the air and hovering above the creature he put his hands to his chest and drew in energy one more time then threw his arms out. Moving his right arm up and the left one down he circled them back to his chest, seemingly condensing the energy trapped between the in to a ball of swirling energy between his hands. More spires formed around Magnatron. Twisting his arms and bringing the heel of his hands together as he forced his hands forward the globe shot toward the monster before it could form it’s rocky shield all the way. The globe of energy hit denting it’s skin into a similar shape as it continued to spin. Then it went in and Magnatron exploded a moment later. Daxium stayed just long enough to make sure it was really gone before flying off, “Shaih!”

When one of the surviving Scan Tracks found them Ken was trying to free the driver. They hurried out and quickly signaled the other units and took over. “Hang back civilian we got this.” Ken was about to argue when the man cut him off, “Look man you’re not in that great of shape yourself. Tony, check him out while Mike and me get the other two out. This one time Ken decided to listen to him.

When he was finally cleared of the medical wing he walked to the halls to the Alpha Team war room. A few people stopped and asked how he was, a far cry from when he first walked these hall. Although something told him that civilian nickname was going to stay around for the long haul. Could be worse he guessed. “Oh Mr. Scott,” Dr. Williams said as he saw him come in the other direction, “if I could ask you a…”

Figure what it was going to be and seeing nobody else around and since he asked Dax ahead of time he said, “He called it the Storm Globe,” and kept on walking.

“Ah,” Williams uttered as he took a corner too soon and almost ran into a wall.

When he got to the war room the team was already looking at the new geography that Dax and the monster created. “I’m guessing that’s not going away anytime soon,” he said as he joined them at the table.

“Not according to the experts,” Hawk answered. “Apparently this is as permanent s you can get. The higher ups are trying to figure what to do with it.”

“I’ve been saying we should name it,” Bill spoke up.

“I like that idea,” Ken said. “Mt. Scott has a nice little ring to it.”

“Oh yeah he’s back to normal,” Ryo commented.

“If you call that normal,” Jess smirked. Ken acted hurt by their comments.

“Let’s not forget we lost people today,” Hawk reminded them. “Seeing all that carnage all I can say is that you are damn lucky Ken. I guess your GLC is still working.”

“I still don’t understand why Ultraman waited until now to use that new move he used today,” Ryo asked.

“He probably didn’t see a need to use it before now,” Bill speculated. “That wave punch thing he does was pretty effective before now.”

Jess looked right at Ken as she asked, “I wonder if he has any other weapons he hasn’t used yet?”

Ken looked right back as he said, “You’re going to have to ask him.” He didn’t see Hawk raise an eyebrow but he remained silent.

“If he does,” Ryo spoke up, “I hope they’re not as destructive as that wave thing of his.”

“Amen,” Bill agreed.

“I think we all want that,” Hawk added.”No matter how helpful Ultraman has been we’re still talking about an alien at the end of the day.” Ken tried not to wince at his choice of words. “His definition of hazardous might not be the same as ours. But that’s something we’ve been dealing with since he showed up. Right now I think we all need to stop thinking about this and get ourselves some dinner.”

“Great I’m starving,” Bill said as he headed for the door.

“It’s barely real food down there,” Ryo said as he followed him.

“It’s better than nothing,” he announced.

“I can’t agree I’m agreeing with Bill,” Ken said.

“You can’t believe,” Jess told him. Hawk watched them, proud of the fact they were his team. And while he choose those words to gauge Ken’s reaction, he was proud to have him aboard too. This might just work out after all.”

ED –Shinedown –Fly From the Inside
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Old May 6th, 2019, 04:59 PM #14
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

Episode 13

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

He could not believe he was able to get this day off, not that he was going to miss it for the world. He was always there for his niece’s birthday and he wasn’t going to stop now. Before he could get out of there though the Chief made him double check the gear in the trunk of his car. For some reason regulations demanded that personnel’s private vehicles should be filled with the same standard equipment, flares, barricade markers things like that. Ken questioned it the moment it was brought to his attention but Hawk wouldn’t budge on that one. “If you’re going to be part of this organization then you’re going to have to follow the rules like everyone else,” he said. It was a pain in the ass but nobody was going to say he wasn’t a team player. Besides they let him fill up his tank for free in the garage he’ll carry around some unwanted equipment.

“Everything checks out Scott,” the Chief said as he put the last marker back in it’s holder in the trunk. And he checked every single one too, he was doing this on purpose. “You are good to go.”

“Thank you sir,” Ken ripped off his uniform jacket and threw it in the trunk. Slamming the hood down he added, “Don’t let me stop you if you have anything important to do.”

“Humph,” he grunted as he walked away and was soon barking at somebody else for doing something wrong.

“So glad I wasn’t assigned down here now,” Ken muttered.

“I thought you would have been out of here by now,” he looked up to see Jess and Captain Hawk walk up to him. For some reason the Captain had his hands behind his back.

“No need o see me off,” he said as he opened the trunk back up to toss the wrist scanner in there. “I promise I’ll be back, maybe.”

“I can’t let you go just yet son,” Hawk said. “You forgot something important.”

“Oh no you don’t,” Ken quickly told him. “I didn’t forget anything. I filled out all the paperwork in triplicate. I crossed all the ‘Ts’ and dotted every ‘I’. I just spent the last twenty minutes…”

Pulling a wrapped present from behind his back he asked, “Are you sure about that?”

Ken looked at it for a few moments before saying, “I knew that.” Taking the gift he placed in the passenger seat with a little more care than he did his jacket and scanner.

“Don’t feel bad Ken,” Jess spoke up. “Bill was in such a hurry to get out of here once he forgot his suitcase when he went on vacation.”

“That sounds like something Dr. Williams would do,” he commented.

“You don’t want to know what he left behind,” Hawk smirked. “Now what are you standing around here for? You got a party to go to. Get out of here and enjoy it and that’s an order.”

“Sir yes sir,” he saluted as he got in the car. Jess waved goodbye as he pulled out of his spot and was soon out of there.

In the control room the section that was connected to the various orbital satellites was busy as usual. An early theory that popped up when the creatures first started to appear was that they were alien in origin. Nothing was ever recorded to prove that theory but there were still people who insisted that communication with these things be made to see what they wanted, particularly with Ultraman. One person in particular was at trying hard to stay awake at his station, unfortunately busy as usual meant boring as hell. His eyelids starting to droop so he almost missed the blip on the screen in front of him. Waking up fully he saw it again and a third time said it was getting closer. “Bridge,” he called out, “I think I have something.”

“I’m putting it up on the big screen now,” he announced. In moments the satellite readings were up for everyone to see. “Too far away to be one of ours,” Bridge commented. “Check the star charts and see if it’s a comet or something. I’ll check the records to see if this was launched before the UNDF became active.”

“On it,” he said as he brought up the database. Bridge worked diligently until he found the old launch records while the other tried to match up the object’s trajectory with the ones they already had on file. Several minutes went by before he spoke up again, “It’s not an orbit we have on file.”

Bridge looked back saying, “And I have nothing on file that’s supposed to be coming back on this path.”

Another person asked, “Did you guys discover something new?”

“It’s possible,” Bridge conceded.

The first one grinned, “It’d be sweet if we did.”

“Not if it’s a planet killer,” a fourth voice pointed out.

“Killjoy,” the first one told her.

“We’ll keep an eye on it for now,” Bridge said. I’ll send it to the astronomy guys to work on it in a little more detail, and to make sure it’s not coming this way.” He looked back at the guy who first picked it up, “With a note saying you get naming rights if it is something new.” The guy started grinning as he went back to his station. Although had to admit to a little bit of jealousy, having your name on an asteroid, or whatever it was, would be kind of cool.

Even if Ken didn’t know where he was going all he had to do was look for the balloons. Janet went all out when it came to birthdays. Hopefully that wouldn’t change anytime soon. Already some kids were running around the yard and a few of the adults waved as he pulled up. He waved back seeing Rose and some of the others from the garage as he got out of the car. One little brown haired girl in particular stopped what she was doing as soon as she saw him and ran toward him, “Uncle Ken!”

“Hey birthday girl,” he said scooping her up. “How’s my favorite niece?”

Rose was close enough to hear him and of course had to say something, “And what if your brother and sister-in-law have another girl?”

Not missing a beat he replied, “Then I’ll have two favorite nieces.”

“You can’t have two favorite nieces,” Nicole informed him.

Ken countered with, “You can have two favorite anything. You can have two favorite book, two favorite songs, two favorite flavors of ice cream. Speaking of which mine happens to be strawberry and butter pecan. And if you have either one I’m going to be diving in spoon first.” Putting Nicole down he took her hand and headed for the party. The brown haired little girl stood fast and looked back at the car.

She looked up at him and asked, “Where is it?”

Playing dumb he asked, “Where’s what?”

“You know.”

“Am I not good enough for you?”

“Uncle Ken,” she whined.

Smiling a bit he told her, “Check the front seat.” With a smile on her face she quickly retrieved the gift. Now she headed to the party with him.

“Nicole,” a woman with the same brown hair called out. “Put that with the others. And your friends are waiting for you so you guys can finish that game.”

“Okay mom,” she said and hurried off. The woman came up to him and hugged him.

“I’m happy you came.”

“Do you think I’m going to miss the big oh eight?”, he joked. “How are you guys doing Janet?”

“We’re doing,” she answered. “My hours have finally picked up so that helps out a lot.”

“That’s good to hear, you know I worry about you guys.”

“Look who bothered to show up.” Ken resisted rolling his eyes as his brother came out of the house. With a beer in his hand Ken couldn’t help but wonder how many of those he had so far. “Come to show me up with some outlandish gift from the money from your government job?”

“Don’t worry Jeff,” he said trying to keep his tone even, “I made sure you don’t look bad when the gifts are opened.”

Rose commented, “He did enough of that back at the garage.”

“Now you listen here…,” he began starting to get a little loud.

An older woman with streaks of gray just showing in her hair quickly got involved before he could say anything else, “Jeff why don’t you go check on those burgers.” He walked off mumbling something about it being his house. She turned toward Rose, “And you know better than to get him started like that. You’re not my daughter but that won’t stop me from knocking some sense into you.”

“Yes ma’am,” she said going over to help Janet with the kids and their game.

Then the woman looked at Ken, “Now let me get a look at you and make sure everything on you is in one piece.”

“I’m fine mom,” he said hugging here. “Everything is where it’s supposed to be.”

“You will not believe how many years I lost when I found out you were on one of those units that takes on those monsters.”

“It was a surprised to me too mom, it’s not like I asked to be put on it.”

“How… close do you get to those things?”

“Well this is a no win,” he said. “I tell you and you’ll hit me, I don’t and you’ll hit me.”

“Don’t get smart with wise guy,” she playfully slapped him on the side of the head as they joined the rest of the party.

Peter was surprised by the sudden summons by his masters, a sudden urge to get up and leave what he was doing. He hated it when they did that, especially when he was in a UNDF board meeting or something else of importance. He was starting to run out of excuses to get away when the sensation came. Obviously his masters still didn’t appreciate the position he was in, or they didn’t particularly care despite the many times he brought it up. Still he came when they called since he wouldn’t put it past them to just show up where he was if he ever decided to ignore the summons. And wouldn’t that be fun to try and get out of. “You are late Avatar,” the voice in the vortex said.

“Try giving me a little more warning in the future,” he said adjusting the cuff of his shirt. Like always they ignored his complaint. “So what sort of creature are you sending through this time?”

“We are sending nothing,” the voice said. Now this was a surprise his masters weren’t usually prone to social calls. “Thanks to the contacts we have made in your universe we have learned that something of interest has just come into range of your planet.” Inside the vortex the image changed to show him an asteroid floating in space.

“A giant floating rock,” he said and not impressed. “Like the last hunk of rock you gave me worked so well.”

“Not just any ‘floating rock’ Avatar,” one of his master said while coming back into view. “This one contains something special, the monster Makeena.”

“And a long as we don’t infect it with dark energy it shouldn’t alert our giant friend,” Peter said fully appreciating this hunk of rock now.

“Exactly, however there is a problem. Right now it will pass your planet. You need to change it’s path so that it will be caught in your planet’s gravitational pull.”

“And how do you expect me to do that?”, Peter demanded. “Fly out there and give it a push?”

The energy around the vortex pulsated briefly, “Belligerence will not be tolerated Avatar!”

“My sincerest apologies my masters,” he said with a slight bow, but not really meaning it. “But it is a rather daunting task.”

“We will create a portal near the creature. You will use the power we gave you to move it closer through said portal. We will close the portal once it is on the correct path.”

“Oh is that all?”, Peter said dryly. The view in the portal once again changed to that of the creature harmlessly floating in space. Building up his power from within he held out his hands and shot the portal with the dark energy given to him. In space it enveloped the creature through a larger portal. Preparing himself for a moment he put all his dark energy into changing it’s path toward the planet. He sweated from the strain before the view went away. Stopping the beam he dropped to his knees in exhaustion.

“It is done,” his masters said. “Before long it will collide with your planet.”

“Lovely,” Peter said stretching his neck, feeling the strain of that task on every inch of his body. “Hopefully I won’t fall asleep through it.

At that time Ken was talking to Janet and some of the guys from the garage when the sensation Dax was suddenly feeling hit him like a ton of bricks. Looking around he eventually looked up at the sky. Janet looked concerned, “Are you alright Ken?”

“I’m fine,” he said covering it up. “I just thought I heard something.”

“With all the freaks you come across I’d be a little jumpy too,” John joked.

“I’m going to head to the little boy’s room,” he told them. “I’ll be right back. Don’t start eating that cake without me.” Inside he made sure he was alone before saying, “What the hell was that?”

Inside him Dax answered, “I do not know.”

“It moved,” Bridge said as he and the other in the room looked at the new reading astronomy sent them. The object had definitely changed it’s trajectory, there was no way that could had happen.

Out of all that was going on Bridge had one main concern, “How close is it going to come to the planet?”

After a couple of quick calculations he got his answer, “It’s going to hit us.”

“Oh shit,” somebody muttered.

“Now what?”, Bridge demanded.

“It’s speeding up. Impact in less than two minutes!”

Bridge hit his communicator immediately, “Captain Hawk to the control room now!”

Ken tried to play off the sudden sensation Dax had sent him, God he was lucky Jeff wasn’t around at that particular moment. He hadn’t gotten anything since but it didn’t make either him or Dax any less nervous. Still he tried to not let it affect the party, always deflecting things back to the kids or the party when anybody asked him. And he definitely avoided any UNDF questions. Yeah he was supposed to be a representative all the time, but he was off the clock and at his nieces’ party so he didn’t particularly care at the moment. Besides as long as Jeff stayed about twenty feet away he was enjoying himself. “Uncle Ken!”, Nicole called out. “Your car is beeping!”

“Nicole stay away from there!”, Janet shouted at her. “I’m sorry Ken I don’t know what she set off but…”

He frowned, “I think I know what it is. And if I’m right she didn’t set it off.”

“Base checking in on you?”, Rose asked.

“Something like that.” This had better be good he thought to himself. Putting the key in the trunk lock somebody said something that caught his attention.

“What the hell is that?”

Looking up he say something in the sky too, something big and looked like it was on fire and looked like it was fire. It took him a moment to realize it was coming down, and right at them. “Oh shit,” he muttered. He looked at the rest of them just standing around looking at it. “Down!”, he shouted. “Everybody get down now!” Parents were covering their kids as they did what he ordered. “Come on mom,” he said running toward her, “I’ll help you down.”

“Is it going to…?”

“I’ll let you know in a moment,” he cut her off. Getting her to the ground he kept an eye on the object. Of all the times to leave the Spark Magnifier in the trunk. Dax silently agreed with him. When it looked like it was going to hit he covered his mom and ducked his head. Then nothing, there was a strong warm breeze that wasn’t there before momentarily but not what he was expecting. He and a couple of others looked up and saw a dull grey, rocky meteor standing upright in a field across the street. “The fuck?”, he whispered.

“Get down,” Jeff mocked.

“Not now,” he snapped.

“What does that mean?”, his mom asked.

“That I’m back on the clock.” Running over to his car he opened the trunk and quickly put on his uniform jacket. He was in such a rush that with his eyes on the meteor he failed to see the Spark Magnifier fall out of the pocket as he put it on. Jeff, however, saw it fall out. “Scott to Castle.”

“Scott!”, Hawk practically yelled over the line. “Where the hell were you?! We had an unknown object on an impact trajectory with the planet. It just crash landed a few moments ago.”

“I’m aware of that Captain I’m looking right at it.”

“Bridge?”, Hawk asked.

“His communicator indicates he’s in the vicinity of the object,” he quickly answered.

“Okay Ken you’re the point man for this until we get mobilized. Do you remember the proper procedure for this?”

“Vaguely,” he admitted as he strapped on the wrist scanner. “I’m supposed to cordon off the area with those markers you make me carry right.”

“Right,” Hawk responded, “and there’s a basic scanner package in them. We’ll pick up the readings as soon as you activate them. Call back once you do.”

“Right, Scott out.” He looked at the others, “Sorry guys but the party has to be rescheduled.”

“You can’t do that!”, Jeff protested. Nicole quickly agreed with him.

“Jeff it’s the smart thing to do,” Janet told him “we can always get things going again later.”

Pulling his ponytail out from the jacket collar he pulled the markers out and slung them over his shoulder. “If you can’t get out of here make sure the kids don’t get anywhere near that thing.” As he headed off Jeff went back to the thing that fell out of his coat, wondering exactly how important it exactly was.

Ken was wondering what he was going to do about the traffic that had stopped between him and the object once he saw the situation. Well on the upside he didn’t have to worry about being run over. Fortunately a couple of police cars were in the group as the officers tried to get the people moving. Getting the attention of one of them he waved him over as he crossed through the jam. “I don’t have time to argue. I’m part of the UNDF,” he showed him the identification card they gave him for situations such as this, not that he ever thought he’d actually get to use it. “I need you guys to keep these guys away from that thing, totally away from here if possible. There some ground vehicles coming in and they’re going to have to get into position to surround that thing”

“We’ll do what we can sir.”

“Wow, you just called me sir. That’s never happened before. Call in back up if you have too.”

“My partner’s doing that now.”

“Great, see if you can get some volunteers from the crowd while you’re at it.” Okay was that the right thing to say? There had to be some civically minded ex-military guys in this mess somewhere right? Ken made his way through the crowd with some assist from the police. Checking his wrist scanner for any radiation spikes he got a few yards away for it to be in maximum scanner range before planting the first one into the ground. Looking at the size of this things and the rest of the marker, “Yeah this is going to take awhile.”

“And so far this hasn’t been all that impressive,” Peter remarked as he watched the Makeena through a vortex.

“Patience Avatar,” his master said. “The creature is just acclimating itself to the atmosphere. The process takes time.”

“And if I speeded up the process it’ll draw out our giant friend,” Peter added. “You obviously don’t need me here at the moment so I’ll take my leave and head back to Castle.” The vortex closed without another word. Exiting the cave he looked around as he called his secretary, “This is Brooks, I understand there’s a situation going on. I want to be kept up to date on what’s happening.”

Finally getting the last one set he used his wrist scanner to make sure everything was set before turning them on. A small blue laser line emitted from the top and connected each marker before fading out of sight. He was about to contact Castle when he noticed somebody coming right at him. More specifically Jeff and the cop from earlier right on is tail, “Get him out of here!”

“I have every right to be here as you do,” he shot back.

The officer got between them, “Sir I’m going to have to insist that you head back.”

“He lives across the street,” Ken told the officer. “Carry him back if you have to.”

“Don’t listen to him,” Jeff interjected, “this moron is just a mechanic.”

“That may be sir but this mechanic has enough authority to have you arrested if he wanted to.”

“Now listen to the nice police officer and head back home,” Ken told Jeff. He snorted before turning around before turning around and storming off as the officer made sure he did head back home. Ken turned around, mainly to hide the smile on his face, “That felt way too good to be healthy. Scott to Castle.”

“Took you a bit longer than necessary to call in son,” Hawk answered.

“Had a slight crowd control problem,” he said. “You guys getting this?”

“Loud and clear Ken,” Bridge answered.” As they spoke Jeff hurried over to Ken’s car. Not realizing Nicole was watching him he picked up the thing Ken dropped and pocketed it with a satisfied smirk.

“Let’s see how Mister High and Mighty starts acting when he doesn’t have this.”

“Can you describe what you’re seeing Ken?”, Hawk asked.

“What’s to describe?”, he asked back. “It’s big, it’s rocky, it landed….” He knelt down to get a better look at the ground underneath it.

After a couple of moments Hawk spoke up, “Don’t go quiet on me now son. What are you seeing?”

“I might be wrong about this but everything I learned in high school and saw in disaster movies said this thing should have left a huge ass crater, it least it should have dug a trench in the ground. It barely made a dent from what I can see.”

Looking at Bridge Hawk covered his communicator just long enough to say, “I’m going to turn him into one of us yet.” Removing his hand he went on, “That’s usually the case Ken, any ideas on what’s going on?”

“I’m not sure. This thing was coming in pretty fast from what I saw. It’s almost like… no that’s too crazy to say out loud.”

“After everything we’ve seen so far?”, Hawk countered. “Come on son what’s going on in that head of yours?”

“I was about to say it’s almost like it slowed down and landed.”

“Yeah that’s pretty out there,” Bridge commented.

“No comments from the peanut gallery,” Ken shot back.

“It’s a working theory at the moment,” hawk cut in. “I’m scrambling the Scan Tracks and keeping the Razor Wings on standby at the moment.”

“I hope the Tracks can get through the traffic jam we have at the moment.”

“How bad are we talking?”, Hawk asked.

“It’s mainly some idiots taking picture with their phones and cameras instead getting back in their cars and getting out of here.”

“Well it’s going to Jamira’s problem when he arrives.”

“Yeah remind me to stay out of his way when he gets here.”

“Ken,” Bridge spoke up, “are you standing in the scanning field?”

“No,” he answered, “I’m standing a couple of feet away. Do you need me to back up a bit?”

“Is there a group of people in the field on the other side? Because I’m getting a huge heartbeat reading here.”

“Not that I can see,” Ken said jogging around the object.

Hawk looked over Bridge’s shoulder to see what he was seeing as he readjusted things on their end. They looked at each other, that wasn’t a group reading. “Ken get out of there now!”

“What are you…?”, then he looked at the meteor. “Figures,” he muttered and ran out of there. Out of habit he reached for the Spark Magnifier. He stopped when he realized it wasn’t there. Looking around where he was he tried not to panic, and was failing, “I had it when I left the base. The trunk.” He ran for his car only to stop when he saw the cop from earlier. Pulling him aside he made sure nobody else could overhear him, “I need you to get these people out of here now. There’s something inside that thing and I don’t know when it’s going to come out.”

“Understood,” he looked back at the meteor himself before relaying the information to the other units. “I need you people to keep moving this is an emergency situation.”

Making his way through the mess he made it back to his brother’s house and headed for his car. His mom asked, “Ken what’s going on?”

“It just became an emergency situation and all of you need to get out of here now.”

“What about you?”

“It’s all part of the job mom. Now get everybody packed up this party is going to get violent before too long.” She wanted to argue but didn’t knowing the situation was worse than he was letting based on the look on his face. But he was going to hear an earful later. He searched the trunk of his car but didn’t find it. As he started to look under the car he missed the superior look his older brother was giving him. Nicole saw him place the cylinder in his coat pocket. Ken stood back up and looked around where he was standing, panic hitting red alert levels, “Dax, we have a problem.”

Going the long way around Jamira and a squadron of Scan Tracks covered the meteor. If the readings were right then there was another monster in there and they had to contain that thing now, “Jackson, the rock covering it, how thick is it?”

“Scanning,” he replied. “I can’t get a clear reading from this distance, even with the markers the civilian put in place. It survived entry into the atmosphere so I’m assuming it’s pretty thick.”

“I say we find out how thick. All units target the object and…”

“Do not fire!”, Hawk said over the line. “The area hasn’t been cleared of civilians. Repeat, do not fire.”

Jamira was seething at him for cutting in, they had the perfect opportunity to stop that thing before it started and that idiot was wasting it. Looking at his driver he said, “Did that sound garbled to you?”

He started grinning, “Only understood a couple of words sir.”

“Any civilians still in the area should have moved faster,” another in his unit said.

Another added, “He probably means the wanna be in his unit.”

Jamira smirked to himself, now these were soldiers. “All units open fire.” Hawk yelled over the line again until Jamira shut the radio off. He’ll show him how this should be taken care of. The Scan Tracks in his unit and a few others fired on the creature. Through the explosion Jamira could see the exterior start to crumble. Then it started to fall away, or so he thought. It seemed to get taller then open up and unfold. Inside a huge pair of limbs and a head appeared and roared.

Back at Castle Hawk looked on, “It wasn’t inside the meteor it was the meteor.”

“Should we scramble the Razor Wings?”, Bridge asked

“As soon as possible,” he said heading for the door. “I’m on my way and Jamira better hope something happens to him before I get there.”

The monster didn’t move around much as the Scan Tracks kept pounding him. Before long it was getting the rock like plating up to block the assault. Before anybody knew it the Razor Wings flew overhead and unleashed their payload as well. At least it was staying where it was for the most part. Something Ken was grateful for since he was still trying to evacuate Jeff’s neighborhood. “Come on let’s move!”, he shouted as he waved people on. “Don’t trample anybody but get the hell out of here!”

Damn it this was killing him, he needed the Spark Magnifier but he needed to find out who took it first. And with the monster right there he couldn’t exactly stop anybody he saw at the party and ask. When it looked like everybody left he headed back towards Jeff’s house. Maybe somebody kicked it under a bush or something. And that was how you grasp at straws. “Nicole!”, he heard Janet shout out. Ken turned around to see his niece come running at him with her mother right behind her. He did not need this now.

“Nicole it’s not safe to be here!”, he told her.

“Daddy took this,” she said.

“Nicole come on,” Janet ran to grab her but she struggled to get away. “Don’t fight me Nicole.”

“Daddy took this from Uncle Ken!”, she insisted.

“Daddy took what?”, he asked. His jaw nearly hit the ground when she showed him the Spark Magnifier. He took it from her, “Your daddy had this?”

“I saw him,” she said. “I took it from him. I know stealing’s wrong but…”

Kneeling down to her level he said, “You’re right. Ninety nine point nine percent of the time stealing is very, very wrong. But this one time you did good kid.” Kissing her on the top of the head he picked her up and handed her to Janet, “Now get out of here before I kick both your butts.”

Janet nodded and ran away from the monster. Nicole looked over her shoulder and watched her uncle run toward it. He stopped and held his hand over his head. She watched as he disappeared in a flash of light and a multicolored giant appeared from another and faced the monster, “Shiah!”

Not wasting anytime Daxium charged Makeena trying to force him further away from the dwellings. The creature seemed surprised to see something his size come at him, but it still fought from being forced back just the same. Throwing a punch Daxium recoiled in pain as it turned around and he hit it’s armored shell. He tried a kick and the monster did it again and Daxium stumbled back. Bringing his hands to his side he quickly fired a Flash Bolt. Makeena wrapped part of his outer shell around himself again and it deflected back at the unprepared giant. Crying out in pain as he fell to the ground he quickly rolled to his feet. The creature came in quickly and backhanded him sending him further back.

Realizing he wasn’t going to last long at this rate he banged his forearms together and switched over to Power mode. This time when he went o kick he still felt the pain as Makeena protected himself but it went stumbling back in surprise this time. Daxium poured on the attack, each strike forcing the monster from space further and further back. Makeena suddenly folded his armor and Daxium jumped back ready from what was next, or so he thought. Instead of attacking Makeena knelt down and put it’s hands to his face while making a peculiar noise. In the safe zone Daxium had created Ken felt his confusion and did something he never did and concentrated to see what he was seeing. He was just as confused, “Is that thing crying?”

“I… I am not sure,” Daxium said inside their connection.

“Maybe he didn’t mean to land here,” Ken speculated. “Maybe it was a mistake and he’s just scared.”

“A possibility, one with a simple solution. With my assistance he may be able to go back into space.”

“Sounds like a plan to me. Oh I’m going to love hearing the theories that going to be coming out of this one at the next meeting.”

Elsewhere the beings from the dark dimension watched. The only thing that surprised them more than the fact that the giant from the light dimension showed up was the reaction of the creature they were told about. Well they would soon fix that As Daxium slowly came closer toward Makeena he held his hands open to show he wasn’t going to attack him again he stopped and looked up at the sky. He felt the wave of dark energy before he saw it. An vortex formed above Makeena and started assaulting him with bolts of dark energy. Daxium tried to help the creature but couldn’t get close until the bolts stopped and Makeena stood there. Eyes glowing purple he charged the giant and unmercifully assaulted him. Daxium took the brunt of it before ducking and flipping him over his shoulder. Makeena got up as Daxium tried to calm him down to no avail as he attacked again.

Knocking him down again Makeena squatted down and surrounded himself with the rock again and lifted off. Flying up so fast the hovering Razor almost couldn’t avoid him he altered his course to crash into Daxium as he stood up again. Then he did it again from behind. On the third try the giant was ready for it and caught him, feet digging trenches into the ground until they stopped. The jewel started to flash as he drew on all his strength as and repeatedly slammed the meteor into the ground then threw him overhead. Makeena slowly came out of his shell as he brought his fist up to his chest, preparing to unleash the Giga Wave. The he saw the dwelling of Ken’s brother and others would be in it’s path. Going over the options he had in his head so he wouldn’t endanger it in case the creature would move he suddenly he crossed his arms over his chest and brought them down and mode shifted into Hyper Mode. Extending the Light Stream whip he swirled it around his head before wrapping it around the creature. Rearing the other hand back and drawing in energy from the surroundings he slammed it down on the wrist and the Light Pulse shot through the whip and into Makeena, a second later he exploded. Daxium stood there, clenching his fists and feeling no satisfaction over this. He flew off with a sharp, “Shiah!”

Ken reappeared, falling to a knee and holding his chest. “Those multiple mode shifts still suck,” he grunted. Looking back at where the battle was all he could say was, “We’re facing a bunch of bastards.”

With the board’s approval Hawk quickly organized a party to help the civilians hurt during the evacuation and help ease some of the chaos that was happening in the aftermath. He argued since they fired the first shot to antagonize the creature it was the least they could do to help out. Surprisingly enough Richardson agreed with him, especially since it would make for some good PR. In no time Hawk and the rest of Alpha Team were there joining Ken and trying to build up some good will. Jess in particular was having a bit of a time trying to find the parents of a little boy that was with her. Though she had to smile when they did find them. “Jessica Wade?”, hearing her name she was greeted by a familiar face.

“Mrs. Scott,” she said as the older woman hugged her out of the blue, “how are you?”

“I’m fine. And ‘Mrs. Scott’? Are you trying to make me sound like an old woman?”

“Sorry, force of habit drilled into me by my family.” It looked like she was trying to say something but stopping short from actually saying it. “What is it?”

“I always told myself I’d tell you something in gratitude the next time I saw you. But I can’t think of a way to say it without sounding like a total bitch.”

“Well you said it was in gratitude so I’ll try not to be offended.”

“Alright dear, you asked for it,” she said with what had to be a family smirk. “I always thought you breaking up with Ken was the best thing that ever happened to him. Only because he started growing a backbone where Jeff was concerned.”

“Good thing you told me you were grateful for it first.” Although she still wasn’t sure how she should take it.

“Uh-oh,” Ken said walking up to them, “my mom and my ex. No good can come of this.”

“Only if you say anything stupid,” his mom warned him.

“Which is pretty regular,” Jess added. “More so now a days.”

“I knew I was going to get ganged up on,” Ken whined.

“Uncle Ken!”, Nicole shouted as she ran up to him with a piece of paper in her hand. “I drew you a picture.”

“And I can’t wait to see it.” Ken took it and opened it fully prepared to be the proud uncle. Actually looking at it his eyes bugged out a little. There was a drawing of a man with a ponytail flying to the side in a UNDF jacket with his hand over his head. Instead of a hand though there was a drawing of a flash of light. And behind him was something that looked suspiciously like Dax. “This is great Nicole. Just great.” Nicole beamed as she left them alone. This could be a problem.

Jess, who was looking over his shoulder at the drawing, said, “You’re niece thinks you’re Ultraman?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”, he asked her with the straightest face he could manage. Then he broke out in a grin, “I’m the coolest guy she knows.”

“Then she needs to meet more people.”

“Hey civilian,” Bill said walking up to him, “you dropped you GLC.”

Catching it after it was tossed to him Ken pocketed it, “Thanks I was looking for that.” And he was so grateful one of the team found it were he put it and Jeff was right there to witness it. The look on his face alone was worth the risk.

Of course Jeff being Jeff he tried to save some face. “Ha, you’re in trouble now. How dare you lose you Global… Locating… Comp… What does GLC stand for?”

Bill just gave him the strangest look, “Good luck charm.” And again the look on his older brother’s face was worth it.

Just to rub it in Ken added, “My life been great since I found it.” Jeff walked off grumbling something colorful.

“So you’re the smart one then?”, Bill asked.

“I think things are going great,” Hawk said as he and Ryo joined them. “at this rate we should be back at base in no time. Then I get the ‘joy’ of dealing with Jamira over what happened,” he added looking a little dismayed.

“What did you steal from me?!”, Jeff shouted. They looked over to see him and a very frightened Nicole. “I swear to God I out to..,” he raised his hand as to strike her. Nicole flinched expecting the blow but Ken was already there grabbing his wrist.

“You do and I swear to God I’ll put you in the hospital.”

“And I’ll press charges,” Jeff threatened him.

“Does it look like I give a damn?”

Taken by surprise by the look in his little brother’s eyes he said, “You and what army tough guy?”

Before either of them knew it Jess was standing beside him, then Ryo, then Bill and Hawk. Looking back at them then to his brother Ken couldn’t keep the smirk off of his face, “This one.”

Looking at them Jeff walked off saying, “Losers.”

As Ken made sure Nicole was alright Bill asked, “How are you two related again?”

“You have no idea how many times I’ve asked that?”, Jess commented.

“Captain I’m going to take my niece home,” Ken said. “I’ll be back at Castle later.”

“Take your time,” he told him, glancing where his brother went. “Report back when you do.”

“Yes sir. Come on sweetie let’s find Mommy and Grandma,” and he took her hand asking himself that same question for the millionth time this year. “Oh,” he looked back to make sure the others couldn’t hear him, “And we have to talk about something you saw today.”

ED – Shinedown- Fly From the Inside
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Old May 10th, 2019, 10:39 AM #15
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Joined: Dec 2012
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Episode 14

OP -Mercy Drive - Burn In My Light

He had heard rumors of a regular poker game when he first arrived at Castle. Considering how the people around here treated him back then Ken wasn't all that surprised that he wasn't invited to join in right away. He didn't think it would take as long as it did but eventually Jess and Ryo invited him in. Even Bill seemed happy to see him the first time around, or as he put it happy to see his money. Things were a little awkward the first couple of hands, but after a couple of jokes things loosened up a bit. Now that it was a couple of months later they acted like they played together for years.

As it was Ken felt free enough to throw his uniform jacket on the couch as soon as he came in. Actually he kinda like hanging out with his teammates in this situation, everybody was much more relaxed. Jess had her jacket unzipped while Bill had his hanging on the back of his chair. Ryo, while the only in the full, official looking uniform, seemed a lot more like he remembered him from thier acedemy days. Everybody was so relaxed and chilled he almost hated to do this. Almost. "Full House, jacks over eights."

"Damnit," Bill grunted as he threw his cards on the table. Jess pushed hers back toward the deck while Ryo looked at his hand.

"That's five wins in a row."

"Not my fault I hit a lucky streak," he told him while collecting the chips he just won.

Jess eyed him, "If I didn't know any better I'd swear you were cheating."

Ken eyed her right back, "You two are the only ones with long sleeves at the moment to hide any cards. And if I hid them under the scanner they'd be all sweaty and smelly."

"Looks like civillian covered all the bases," Bill chuckled as he took the cards and shuffled them.

"Yeah," Ken agreed, "next thing you'll be accusing me of dealing from the bottom of the deck like Bill does."

"I do not...", he started to protest before he realized Ken just got the reaction he was looking for. "Screw you civilian."

"Buy me dinner first," Ken shot back. "And I am not a cheap or easy date."

"You are not worth that much work," Jess told him. "I should know."

"You weren't complaining all that much back when he were dating," Ken told her.

She didn't miss a beat, "I didnt know any better."

"You're just mad I'm beating you at cards."

"You think so?", and there was no mistaking the challenge her voice.

He wasn't backing down, "Oh I know so."

"Sounds like we're being dealt out fo this hand," Bill told Ryo.

"Looks like," he agreed.

Bill looked at both of them and started smiling, "Maybe the two of you should make this a little more interesting. You know instead of money maybe something a little more personal as it were."

Both Ken and Jess eyed him suspisiously. Ryo spoke for them, "Define personal."

"Nothing too extreme," he explained. "Maybe a small token of victory for the winner."

And Ken was suddenly not liking that grin Jess was giving him. "Alright, if I win I get to cut that thing off the back of your head." His hand immediately went for his ponytail. "What's the matter Ken?", she dared to ask innocently. "Not feeling as confident now."

"I'm still in," he said a little too quickly. Seeing how he was used to having it he wasn't looking to lose it anytime soon. "If I win...," he said slowly. He tried to think of somethng that would: a) get her to call off the bet and b) not cause her to knock his block off in the process. "If I win... I get to see the twins."

And if looks could kill he would be so dead right about now.

Oblivious to all of that Bill pumped his fist under the table and gave out a small, "Yes."

"Alone," he quickly ammended.

"You suck."

"Wait," Ryo spoke up, "you two used to date. You mean you guys never..." he trailed off but they all got his meaning.

"With Miss 'I'm not doing anything untill I'm married' here?," he replied. "Please." Jess raised an eyebrow at his answer but said nothing. "Let's get this over with."

"Ryo deals," Jess said suddenly. "You pissed off Bill and beating I'm you fair and square."

"Fair enough," Ryo said as he took the deck from Bill. Ken and Jess never took their eyes off each other as he shuffled and dealt the cards between them. Slowly both of them reached for their cards.

The sirens went off with Hawk commanding, "Alpha Team prepare to launch ASAP!"

"Duty calls," Ryo said spriging out of his chair while Bill grabbed his jacket.

Zipping up her's Jess told Ken, "We are finishing this hand as soon as we get back."

"You bet we are," he told her. Reaching for his ponytail one more time he grabbed his jacket and followed them out.

Several Scan Tracks pulled up around a forest park and Alpha team, a.k.a Monster Squad, Piled out and stood in formation as Hawk adressed them. "Alright people you know the deal, look for and clear out any civilians you find." Back at Castle Hawk had told them that Bridge up a steady reading, but it was too generalized to pin point an exact positision. And to avoid a PR disaster like last time they were sent in to discover what it was and get people to saftey. And seeing how this was a govenmnet funded park try to take the object out before they were forced to call in the heavy attialry. They were still hearing about the damage caused the first time a monster showed up in a forest park. Hawk continued, "Because of the sheer size of the area to cover more ground I want you to to do this search seperately. Because you will be alone I want all of you to be extra careful and to stay in constant contact. Any of you discover anything hit you communicator and the rest of us will home in on your location. Is that Understood?"

"Yes sir!", they responded.

"Search teams move out. Scan track try to scan the park as best as you can and link your sensors to Castle. Let's see if we can get a little more specific about what and where this thing is."

"Hey Ken," Jess called out. "Don't for get, snip snip," she made a scissor motion with her fingers.

"You better hope I don't find the coldest room in the building," he shot back. The he touched his ponytail before puttng his helmet on and heading out in another direction.

Hawk glanced over at Ryo who only said, "Best if you didn't know."

"Part of me was afraid you were going to say that," he said as they each picked a path and started their own search.

"This is Scott, I finally convinced a couple to head back to their car. They should be heading your way soon enough"

"Understood Scott, we'll keep an eye out for them. Scan track Forty Three out." It had been an hour so far and that was the third group that he had located and sent to safety so far. And those two were the only ones to argue the point so far.

"I'm guess the acedemy had the class about dealing with morons after I was DQed," he said mainly to himself before he kept looking. But from the communications he and the others have been overhearing the park was surprisenly crowded for a non holiday weekday. Well as far as he knew, it seemed that way to him. Then again it's been awhile since he's been to the park during a holiday.

Checking his wrist scanner again he tried to detect anybody else or anythng that looked out of place. Not seeing anything right away he kept going along the path then he stopped. Standing a few yards away, and with his back to him stood a man with salt and pepper hair wearing and wearing an army jacket and some jeans, not to mention some very worn sneakers. He checked his wrist scanner again, tapping the screen after a bit. The guy was well within range of the scanner, so why wasn't he picking him up. Now would probably be a good time to hit his commnicator.

"Ken!", Daxium spoke up suddenly. At the same time this guy turned around and and closed the distance between them faster than he thought was possible and grabbed his wrist, stopping him from hitting the communicator. Staring into a pair of mirrored sunglasses for a bit the man twisted a bit and sent Ken flying over his shoulder.

"Oof," he grunted as he hit the ground. Going for his gun the stranger put a foot on his wrist and put enough weight on it to keepo him from drawing it.

They started at each other for a few moments. Eventually the stranger said, "You're not exactly human are you?" Ken tried to betray nothing but wondered how in the hell this guy knew that. "But the energy I'm getting off of you isn't eactly like the the one I'm after either. Which begs the question what exactly are you?"

"Ken," Dax spoke up again, "I'm sensing an energy similar to mine but it feels different, fainter." That's when Ken noticed the triangular pendant with the circular green jewel in the center of it hanging around his neck.

"That sounds like something I should be asking you," Ken told him. Before long the stranger took his foot off his wrist and Ken shook his wrist to get some some feeling back into it. Refusing the offered hand he stood up and studied the man. "So what are you then?"

"Well if i'm right I'm someone in a simialr situation as you," he answered. "I'm just a lot further from home."

"Okay let's say I know what you're talking about, " Ken said trying hard not to verify anything. "What exactly are you looking for?"

"Something I've been looking for for way to long," he answered. "Somethng that changed my life in a way I never expected."

Okay that last part was sounding way to familar to be comfortable, "So does this thing have a name?"

Looking further into the woods he said, "Gudis."

"After what happened with the Baltan I sincerly doubt we should be trusting this Gudis," Brooks told the being in the swirling vortex before him "A mass of practically goo you found floating around the dimensional void."

"A sentinant mass willing to help anyone willing to assist it," he was corrected. Brooks hid his hand as it started crackling with dark energy. He was so annoyed with them right now. "It is a situation we have under control."

"No," he argued, "the Baltan was a situation we could control, especially if there was some checking of what they actually wanted before hand. Makeena was a situation we culd control, especially after you found out it was exactly as viscious as you were led to believe. This is something from another reality entirely. We have no idea of knowing exactly what it is oher than what it already told us."

The edge of the vortex started to grow in intensity, "Do you question our decision Avatar?"

Brooks stood his ground, "In this situation I am." Although their previous dispaly of displeasure were as impressive as the one he was seeing now he fully expected them to actually lash out at him this time. He prepared himslef accordenly seeing how close those "stray" energy bolts were coming toward him.

Slowly the vortex returned to normal, "Fortunate for you other among us share your concerns."

He simply said, "Oh?" He had a more interesting retort in mind but he was to avoid any violence being done to his body at the moment.

"Yes, as a compromise we provided enough dark energy to Gudis to make sure it arrived in your dimension. And it will be just enough that we can monitor it's actions whenever we want."

"Well, that does change things a bit," Brooks admitted. "Not to mention a waste of a perfectly good moment of defiance."

"A moment that will not happen again Avatar."

"Of course my masters," he said with a slight bow. The vortex faded soon after. Hand still crackling with energy he blasted the wall in front of him.

"Let me get this straight," Ken said as he followed the stranger down the path, "this Gudis only wants to make everything part of it?"

"Yes and no," he answered. "Everything would still look the same, more or less, but everything would be connected to it. There would be no individuality, no free will. Just Gudis until it uses the planet up and it moves on to the next one. Although it hit a snag when it reached Mars in my universe. It got there and found a dead world already and got stuck some how."

"Wait, how do you know it was on Mars?"

He looked back at him and smirked, "I was there."

Ken didn't know how to respond other than with a slightly sarcastic, "Of course you were."

"I was an astronught before I ended there and joined up with him," he explained. "How did you met your guy?" Again Ken wasn't verifing anything. "Have it your way then."

Instead he said, "Since you're tracking this thing can you tell me how you can find it."

"I used to be able to," he said looking around. "I'm still sensing something but it's been altered somehow. I can't pinpoint it like I used to."

Ken had a sick feeling he knew how and why it was altered. Hanging back a bit he lowered his head and whispered, "You getting anything?"

"Not so far," Dax answered. Ken looked back up to see the stranger look back at him, smiling again.

"I see you can talk to yours too."

"I still don't know what you're talking about," he said trying to save face and knowing he was failing miserably. If this guy suspected before he pretty much knew now. "So... is the weather nice where you come from?"

"Castle to Hawk," Bridge caaled

"Hawk here," he answered the hail while continuing down the trail looking for anything out of place.

"I think I have better fix thanks to the additonal data from the Scan Track's sensors."

"I don't want to hear 'you think you do' in this situation Bridge," he told him. "Either you do or you don't."

"It's more like we've shrunk the general search area," he ammended.

"That's still not very helpful," he sighed, "but it's better than nothing. Who's closest to this new area?"

"Checking now." After a moment he got his answer, "Ryo, Jefferson, Mike and Ken are the closest." Checking the readings one more time he added, "Actually it looks like Ken's well inside the new search area."

"What the... Hawk to Scott. Wy are you further along than anybody else?"

Where he was he glanced at the stranger before saying, "I was chasing a crackpot who refused who refused to cooperate and I lost track of him. I've been trying to find him before he hurt himself."

Of all the rookie...."Call for assistance in that situation in the future Ken. But right now I have a new assignment for you. Bridge has reset the search area and you're the closest to it. Try and discover what it is, back up is heading your way in the mean time."

"Understood, Scott out."

"Chasing a crackpot?", the stranger asked.

"I'm following you," he told him, "it's like I'm chasing you."

In the meantime Hawk told Bridge, "Send the new coordinates to everybody else and have tem cordon off the area as best they can. I'll send Ryo and the others to back up Ken."

"Yes sir, Castle out."

Hawk looked at Ken's general reaction wondering if that was the real reason why he was out that far. "Hawk to Watanabe..."

"Hold up," the stranger said after a bit. Ken looked past him to see he didn't need to say he found it. In a middle of a field was a partictularly brown liquid. In the middle of that was something roughly the size of a man. It had a single solid like body, it had a bulbish like head and large red eyes and a mandible like vertical mouth. A pair of tenticles hung limp in front of it and didn't move, they didn't even twitch. Either it didn't know they where there or it didn't care. The stranger looked a little perplexed, "I didn't expect it to revert back to this shape."

"Okay is this where you," without really thinking Ken crossed his wrists together, "do whatever you do?"

The stranger held the pendant in his hand and looked at it. "This would have been the place but not now. I have to use a lot of energy to cross dimensions. Usually it builds back up after awhile. But I'm not sensing it now, I may have made one jump to many."

"Alright then," Ken said as he stepped forward. Holding up his wrist scanner he tried to get a clear shot of the creature. "Unless you want to say cheese you might want to step out of frame."

"And why don't you do what you do?", he shot back.

"Not his size. Scott to Hawk."

"Hawk here, what do you have?"

"I found the creature and sending you an image of it now."

"Good job son. I'll relay the image back to Castle to see if they can determin anything from it. Hawk out."

"The name's Jack by the way," the Stranger said out of the blue. He looked at Ken wth a little chagrin, "I over heard yours during the previous transmission. It only seemed far."

Ken nodded and looked back at the Gudis, "You have beaten this thing before right?"

"I thought I did," he said while taking off his sunglasses. "I never thought it would slip through a dimensional crack." Remembering why Dax and the other monsters were here Ken had an idea what caused that crack but didn't say anything about it. "I think the only way to really destroy Gudis is to obliterate every atom in it's body."

"Yeah... we're going to work on that."

"Ken." He looked around to see Ryo and the others hurry toward him. Wondering how he was going to explain "Jack" he looked at his other side and saw he had already disappeared.

"How in the hell...?"

"That's the thing huh?", Ryo asked as he saw Gudis in the somewhat flesh.

"Ugly sucker," Jefferson commented.

"It's probably a beauty queen where it comes from," Ryo commented. "Watanabe to Hawk we've arrived at it's location."

"Acknowledge, Bridge says scientists are curious about that slime that's around it. Try to get a more detailed scan of the substance while we try to figure out how to deal with it."

"Understood, Watanabe out. You heard him Ken," and he turned back toward the creature.

He on the other hand, "Me? You're the one with senority."

"And Hawk put you on point.," Ryo countered.

"Paper-Rock-Sissiors." Jefferson adn Mike laughed but Ryo obliged. Ken put out sissiors. Ryo had out rock. "Shit. Two out of three."

"I have senority so no," He said with a smirk.

"We technically have senority too," Jefferson said as Ken looked at them.

Grunting Ken carfully walked toward the creature. Mike called out, "Careful, that stuff looks hazerdus to your health."

"You think," Ken shot back. Getting onto scanning ranger he paused momentarily At this range Dax was getting a faint sense of dark energy. He watched the Gudis for any sign it detected him. Nothing so far. Doing the scan he hurried back to the others. "That stuff stinks up close."

"What did it smell like?", Ryo asked "You know they're going to want to know."

"Kind of like rotting vegtables." Remembering what this Jack guy told him he hoped it wasn't too late already.

"Bill," Jess waved him over as she spotted him.

"It's a little wierd not being in the air for this one huh?", he said when he was close enough.

"A bit," she admitted. A lot was more like it. She was too used to veiwing the situation from the confines of a cockpit. And the fact she was used to situations involving giant creatured was a little unnerving once she thought about it. More than likely the others felt the same way but it made her feel a little silly. But right now Bill's look was concerning her a bit. "Hey are you okay? You look a little distracted."

"I grew up around here," he said. "This is hitting a little close to home."

"You did? I never knew that.

"What's to know?", he said. "I grew up in an orphanage. I was never adopted until I was in my teens. Some of the nuns hated me because instead of helping keep the younger kids in like I riled them up instead."

She smiled, "Yeah that sounds like you all right." Thinking abit she asked, "How close is it?"

"Over that ridge over there," he turned and pointed toward part of the mountain. "I already told the Captain about it and he assured me they already evacuated it."

She studied him a bit, "You don't believe him or something?"

"Oh I believe him," he quickly said.

"But...," she nudged.

"But," he continued, "but when I was there the head nun had a bit of a captain of he ship mentality. I'm talking the going down with the ship type of thing. If she's still there I can imagine she's still putting up a fight about leaving."

"I'm sure our guys can perseuade her to leave," Jess assured him.

"Only if they're prepared to shot her with this baby," he joked while patting his gun. "Speaking of do you think Ken's still about mad about it."

"If he's anything like I remember," she said thinking it over, "he's calmed down enough from wanting to beat the crap out of you to landing one solid kick to the nuts and calling it even."

BIll winced, "I hope he's changed more than that because out of the two I'd prefer getting beat up."

Actually if Ken wanted to beat him up that would actually be a step up from what she remembered of him when they were dating in high school. He looked around and squinted, "What the..."

"What is it?", Jess asked as he went to investigate. He knelt down next to a rose bush that was literally wilting before their eyes. "I look around to see if can find anything else."

"Water to Hawk."

"Hawk here, what do you have Bill?"

"I have a plant going to brown real fast right in front of me," he said.

"Bill!", Jess called back, "I found a tree dying more and more by the second."

"I heard," Hawk said before Bill could say anything. "Hawk to all units look around for any signs of rapidly dying floral or vegetion."

Where they were Ken and the others looked around, "This whole area's dying." Ryo reported as much.

Every unit reported signs of dying vegation near their location. Given what was in the middle of it all there could only be one reason. Hawk gave the order, "Ryo take it out."

"That's probably be easier if we were in the Razor Wings," Bill commented, while making sure his communicator was off.

"You heard him," Ryo said. "Mike scan for a potential weak spot we can exploit."

Keeping an eye on the GUdis for any sort of reaction Ken commented, "That order would be a little easier to follow if we had some grenades or something."

"You don't hear me arguing," Ryo said. "But we have what we have."

"I think I have something," Mike told them. "Just under it's chin, I think you call that a chin, and a little to the right."

"Our right or it's right?", Ken asked. Ryo shot him a look. "I'm just making sure."

"Ours," Mike clarified.

"All right guys," Ryo said, "set the guns for full power and take aim." All of them drew their weapons and adjusted their settings. Ken and Jefferson hit the switch on the side that activated the targeting reticle in their helmet visor and took aim like the others. Still the creature didn't react. To make sure of that Ryo spoke just loud enough for them to hear, "Fire."

They did so in unison. What they didn't expect was for the slime to react. It raised up blocking the blast then fell back to the ground. "Shit," Ken muttered even as he tried to line up another shot. Now the Gudis looked alive as red glowing eyes focused on them and opened it's mouth surprising them again with an energy blast of it's own. It was powerful enough that it knocked them to the ground.

Mike was the first one up but still groggy enough that he didn't see the Gudis come up behind him and wrap a tenticle around his neck. He struggled to breath as he fought to get it off of him. The others soon came to their senses and opened fired again trying to get the creature to release him. It swung the tentacle in such a way and at such a speed that Mike stopped struggling and he went limp. Gudis flung his body away where he landed in a heap. It looked at them again and fired another energy blast.

Expecting it this time they jumped out of the way. "Fall back!", Ryo ordered. Another blast forced them to go in different direction. Ryo relayed in the situation as he got in contact with Hawk and called for back up.

Ken stopped where he was when he didn't see Ryo and Jefferson in sight. Looking back to see where Gudis was, and realizing it was looking right back at him, he said, "Dax, just this one time."

Inside his head he heard, "I agree Ken."

"Good." With the Gudis coming toward him he reached into his jacket pulled out the Spark Magnifier. Pointing it at the creature he was envolped in it's light and was replaced with a human sized Daxium. The creature screeched and backed up into the slime and started pulling it in, leaving behind brown dead Earth in it's wake. Gudis started to grow into gigantic size.

Daxium looked up at him as he brought his wrist together, almost crossed at his waist. His eyes flashing a bit he threw the right one up into the air and grew in size to amtch the creature. "Shiah!"

Elsewhere the stranger from another univere looked up as well, more in amusment than in awe. "It's been awhile since I've seen it from this angle." Looking at his pendant in his hand he could feel the spirit was willing, however the energy was nowhere close to being able. "I guess we better let a new generation handle it. Let's see if we can find out where he changed."

At the Castle command center Richardson, Peter and Jamira were watching things unfold as Ultraman started fighting the creature as the rest of the crew around them focused on their jobs. "One does wonder how he gets there so fast," Peter said out loud. While he couldn't specifically point out that Scott was Ultraman without rasinging any unnessary questions, hopefully he could raise enough curosity about it that he would he would become a little more choosey about unleashing the giant at some point. More than likely not but one could always hope.

"He's there," Richardson barked, "that's all that matters."

"Since he's there we should send out the Razor Wings and target both of them now," Jamira demanded.

"We've gone over this Commander," Richardson told him. "Ultraman is not to be touched until my say so."

"Then say so already!", Jamira practically screamed, drawing more than a few looks from Peter and those around them. To his credit Richardson didn't look fazed by the Commander's outburst. Unless you knew what to look for like Peter did. And underneath that calm exterior Richardson was fumming.

"And there is a reason why Captain Hawk is the one in over all command of the military forces around here," he said evenly. "I suggest you learn why and remember it. You are dismissed." Jamira looked like he was about to say something but thought better of it. He stormed out hitting the door as it opened.

"You may want to be careful Harold," Peter said allowing him a few moments to calm down. "More than a few board members agree with him. Not to mention that more than a few people around here consider Ultraman just as big of a threat as the monsters he fights."

"As I have been told that on several occasions," Richardson reposonded, only letting a hint of the annoyance he was feeling out. "As have a few public polls those board members have been fit to show me."

"So why let the order stay in place?"

"Because he is still an ally. And I will not condone any action on a ally wthout concrete proof he's not." Or, Peter thought, make him an enemy since he had a feeling Richardson knew Scott and Ultraman's little secret as well. After all it only made sense given the facts.

Now the question was how many people around here have put those facts together?"

Daxium dodged to the left as the tenticle came at him. So far Gudis had been able to keep him at bay and kept him from using any of his energy based attacks. He couldn't even switch forms without being attack. On occasion he had been able to close enough to keep the creature from using it's own energy blast so in that respect it was basically a stand off.

The humans were far enough away that they couldn't actively particiapate in the battle. So Daxium, for the first time since coming to this dimension, was truely fighting alone. And in a way he preferred it. While he was grateful for the assistance they occasionally provided he was still more concerned about their safety when they were involved. From his connection to Ken he knew that this Hawk was hurrying to get his units into position, and he silently admired his dedication to the fight.

Seeing one of the tenticles come at him Daxium was able to block and make his way inside their reach. Unloading several punches on it's body he forced it back a bit. A spin kick knocked it further back. Then a tententicle wrapped around his wrist. Daxium was momentarily surprised at a dip in his power levels right before Gudis flung him into the mountain. Daxium broke free and held his wrist as he forced his way to some open space. He looked at his wrist then at the creature, it could drain his energy much ike it could drain the life out of the area around it.

Embolden by this fact Gudis lashed out again again trying to get ahold of a limb. Daxium blocked each attempt and continued to back up trying to locate an opening he could exploit. Then the Gudis fired off a series of energy blast that rocked the giant and forced him to cover up from the onslaught. Thinking quick he put his shield up against the barrage, a couple of shot reflected back at Gudis causing him to stop and scream in pain. Seeing the open Daxium rushed in but he failed to realize it was a trap until it was too late. A tenticle came in low and slammed him at the knee. He went down and the other one quickly wrapped around his neck. Gudis seemed to cackle as he drained the light energy from the giant, even more so once the jewel on his chest started to blink.

Realizing he couldn't remove the tenticles Daxium dropped both hands to one side and aimed a flashbolt at the point Ken's fallen comrade had pointed out. It worked as Gudis screamed in pain. and he felt the grip around his neck loosen. Another flashbolt freed him and backed the Gudis up. Not taking the moment to cherish his newly won freedom he backflipped a couple of times, set up and fired the Dimensional Storm Ray. It caught Gudis flush and it exploded. Daxium stood and watched the area for a moment. Yes he defeated the creature... yet something was nagging his in the back of his mind. Not seeing a immediate threat and knowing his time was short he flew off into the air, "Shiah!"

Ken materailzed from the orb of light close to where he first changed. Behind him this Jack person leaned on a tree branch that was over his head. "I almost thought you had him." When Ken looked back he wasn't there. Looking around he found the pendant he was wearing hanging from that same branch. He took it and studied it, some lighting was flashing inside the jewel but it was weak, barely visable. And right then Ken knew, Jack was sent home but not all of him could make the trip.

The mood back at Castle was a somber one as the team returned. But that was always the case when they lost one of their own on an assignment. Ken and Jess made their way back to the rec room they were in earlier after the Captain finshed with the post mission briefing. Throwing her jacket on the couch Jess put her hands over her head and streched, "God I need to get out of here for awhile."

"I guess it's a little late to get a pass from the Captain," Ken said as he headed for the table.

"Unfortunately," she conceded as she joined him. Both of them looked att he cards still face down on the table. "Seems a bit stupid now doesn't it."

"A bit," he agreed.

"You want to call the bet off?"

"If you want to." Inside his head he did a little happy dance.

"It was a childish bet anyway. I don't know why we listened to Bill in the first place." She looked at him then at the cards then back at him. "Maybe it's because you're a year older and you memory is starting to fade first, but I seem to recall that we slept together more than once back in high school."

"Well it was your birthday," he said with a shrug. "Then it was my birthday." With a smirk he added, "And I don't know about you but I haven't looked at Arbor day the same way since."

The corner of her lip crinkled in the smallest hint of a smile. "So what was with the whole 'not before I'm married' BS?"

"From what I've overheard you have a pretty good reputation around here," he explained. "I didn't want to accidentally ruin it and get you angry with me all over again. And if Bill thought he had a chance with you I'm pretty sure you'd put me in the medical wing."

"You're damn right," she said with a finger poke to his chest. Again they looked at the cards. Both of them thinking the same thing. "Somebody probably messed with them."

"I wouldn't doubt it. I don't even remember what I had."

"I don't think I even looked at mine." One more time the cards called to them. She looke at him, "Since the bets off it couldn't hurt to look."

"I thought you'd ever say it." He stood by the cards he had. "Just the cards we have now."

"Turn them over all at once," she agreed. Jess had a pair of kings. Ken had three of a kind with fours. "You lucky S.O.B."

"Well you know what they say, lucky at cards total moron at love," he told her as he headed for the exit.

"Just because you were once doesn't mean you always will be," she told. Stopping at he door he didn't look convinced. "Ken you are a great guy that any woman would love to have in their life. Trust me, I should know. Show a little of that backbone like you did against your brother and the girl around here will be swooning all around you."

"Swooning?", he said cracking a smile. "That's a bit much don't you think?"

"I'm just trying to rebuild your confidence," she told him. "Epsecially since you're obvioulsy still so devastated I broke up with you."

"You keep telling yourself that." Pausing a bit at the door he looked back, "Thanks Jess."

She waved it off, "Just be happy you're ex if still friendly with you."

"Every day." Walking back to his quarters his mind went a million places at once. What happened to Mike popped up first but he did not need to dweal on that at the moment. After that conversation he started thinking about how he screwed up things with Jess but he didn't want to stay there either. So that left him with one safe, more or less, subject that was floating around in his head. Making sure he was alone he pulled the pendant out of his pocket. The chain dangled from his hand as he looked at it. Part of him feltDax trying to feed some of his energy to it but so far he was being rejected.

"I almost thought you had him."

As those words rang in his head his fingers closed around it, "What the hell did we miss?"

ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside
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Old May 14th, 2019, 10:55 AM #16
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Episode 15

OP - Mercy Drive - Burn in my Light

Sitting on the edge of a computer console Jess waited for the enevidiable to happen. Then again this could have been the day the unimaginable actually happened. Glancing back at the screen she watched the ongoing battle of red and green lights for a few minutes. Then like all the other times the red lights won out in the end. She wasn't even surprised by the very angry sounding, "Damnit!", that came from the chamber underneath the console. She'd witness this particular even a couple of times but she knew enough to do nothing as Ken slid out of the chamber frustrated beyind belief.

Although he let it get the best of him this time as he slapped the bottom of the console on the way out. Looking back at the screen she tried a joke to ease the tension, "That didn't work either." The look on his face said the attempt failed, big time. It would probably be a good idea not to mention that was the fastest the machine had beaten him so far.

"I almost had it," he grumbled.

Kneeling down she went, "Ken as somebody who's known you for a long time now this is, what, the tenth time you 'almost had it' since you've been here?"

While he wouldn't look at her he mumbled, "Twelfth."

"Twelve times," she told him. "Look I'm not trying to be mean or negative or anything, but maybe it's time to admit this can't be beat."

"I can beat it," he insisted as he got to his feet. "I can almost see the solution in my head. I'm almost there I can get it."

"God I wish you showed this much determination back when we were dating when you brother was pushing your buttons to get what he wanted."

He gave he a look then left the room, "Whatever."

"All right that was a low blow," she said following him out. "I'm sorry. But damnit Ken...," she stopped herself. "No, I'm not going to start this conversation out in the open like this."

"Why not?", he demanded, turning to face her. "We both know I'm the one who screwed it up."

"And I could have been a little more patiant with the situation," she told him, remember something similar she told the Captain when he first asked her about it, after they lost Joe. "I could have told Jeff off at least once."

"I think Mom would have paid you if you did," he told her.

"Great, now you tell me," she smiled. It took a couple of moments but he started smiling too. "Okay we narrowly avoid the post break-up argument ten years after the fact. But serioulsy Ken, twelve times..."

"I know," he said as they started walking again. "It's just I just found out I'm supposed to be a genius at this crap. One way or another I should be able to see a solution somewhere."

"And a bunch of other geniuses created that thing, the odds aren't exactly in your favor. Everybody from Captain Hawk on down have been telling you this. Besides if a miricle did happen and you do beat it they're just going to make it harder. It's how those guys work."

"I'm technically one of 'those guys' you know."

"Like you said you just found out. they known for years. Actually I'm glad you didn't hind out until recently. If you would have found out years ago you'd be just as stuffy as the rest of them. Then I would be forced to hurt you."

"I'll keep that in mind in case MENSA ever opens a mechanics wing," he told her.

Jess gave a playful jab to the ribs, "You better."

In another part of the Castle complex Captain Hawk, Commander Jamira, Richardson, his assistant slash bodyguard Patricia, Brooks and a cople of the other board members listened to a few of the scientists as they discussed the ecological damage resulting from the last monster attack. There was a bit of information Richardson and a few others were having a hard time trying to digest. "What do you mean there's nothing alive?"

"The subsatance the creature secreated killed everything in an on the ground it stood on," he explained. "Animal life, plant life, bacteria... When I say it's dead Earth I mean dead Earth."

"What about the plants life we discovered that looked like it was starting to be affected?", Hawk asked.

"We studied those as well," said another. "Some of them might be salvagable. Most I personally doubt can be saved at all."

Brooks spoke up, "What about this dead Earth itself? Is there any way to correct the damage done?"

"We're looking into it," replied the first one. "We think it's possible to salvage the area but we would have to know invasive the substance was..."

"Can we replicate the slime to use on another monster?", Jamira asked. The scientist looked among themselves somewhat bewildered by the questions.

Hawk decided to speak for them, "I don't think using a substance that is almost as leathal as some of the creatures we've been in combat against, if not more so, is a good idea."

"It's a potential weapon we can use," he argued. "It would be stupid not to take advantage of it."

"I have to agree with the good Captain," Brooks piped in, "Some of the beasts have proven to be rather mobile in the past. What if you miss in a populated area."

"Then we don't miss." Everybody knew he wasn't joking.

"Commander," Brooks began, "There must be limits..."

Jamira cut him off, "I'm trying to save lives here! Thise things don't hold back and neither should we."

"And I heard that same bunch of bull back before you were born," Richardson told him. "One side got a gun so the other got a bigger one than the other got a bigger gun than that and so on and so on. I didn't believe in it then and I don't believe in it now."

"So says the man who's betting on the giant freak," he muttered just loud enough for those close to him could here, which included Richardson.

"That will be enough Commander," Hawk quickly barked.

Richardson responded any way, "A valid opinion, While destructive in his own right Ultraman has helped more than he hindered. Then we have the situations where he decided to either not use or modify his most powerful weapon. Will this slime do the same?" Jamira didn't have an immediate answer. "Sometimes the potential cure can be worse than the desease. I suggest you remember that."

"Yes sir," Jamira said before leaving the room. Hawk looked at the board and excused himself before following him out.

"Well that's going to be a unpleasant conversation," Brooks quipped after they were gone.

Richardson added, "And the man wonders way he's not in charge of the attack forces."

One of the other board members said, "Getting back to this dead Earth, wasn't there an orphange near by?"

"Yes there was," Brooks answered. "I believe Captain Hawk's report indicated one of Alpha team grew up there."

"Yes," Richardson said recalling the report. Behind him Patricia pulled the report up on her tablet and showed it to him. "Waters. I believe Hawk sent him along with the research team. Partly to help ease things over from the incident and partily to help keep an eye on things. We still don't know if the danger is over after all, especially of this slime did as much damage as we think. Besides it will be good PR in the long run." Just about everybody quickly agreed with him on the last point.

Silently Brooks wished that Gudis creature had made it's way over here.

"I'm open!," Bill shouted as he played a game of soccer with some of the kids from the orphange. Once he did he got the ball toward the opposing goal. Although instead of taking the shot he quickly passed to one of the smaller players on his team let him get the goal. "Alright," he gave him a high five and quickly got both teams ready for the next play.

"I'm not sure that's what the Captain had in mind by keeping an eye on things," one of the UNDF members commented as they studied the vegetation nearby.

Ryo looked back before scanning another group of plants, "At least he's keeping most of he kids occupied and out from under foot."

"Too bad the nuns won't let some of the older kids help out," he commented. "I'm sure they know the area pretty well. They could point out any potential spots quicker than we can find them."

"I tried," Ryo told him. "I even suggested that maybe some of the nuns could go instead. The head nun shut that down almost as fast as she did with the kids. She seriously said she didn't want the woman under her charge to go out alone in the woods with male hooligans."

"We have females with us on this particular team."

"I tried pointing that out too but she didn't want them to do anything ungodly with her girls either."

"Well we know where her mind is at," he laughed.

"Joshua!", they heqard one of the nun called. The looked over to see a boy doing a hand in the air pose similar to the one Ultraman usually took when he appeared. "Sister Victoria doesn't like you to play as that thing remember."

"And she's one of those," he added while going back to his readings.

"I didn't think you were part of the pro-Ultraman group," Ryo commented.

"I'm not," he told him. "Nor am I in the anti-group either. I guess you could say I'm in the wait and see group."

"Fair enough."

"Johnson to Watanabe," his communicator chirped.

"Watanabe here, what do you have Johnson?"

"This sector seems clear so far. We're going to double check things then head to the next search sector."

"Understood. Everything on this side of the mountain looks clear too. But check your area for any streams of rivers that may connect the other side of the mountain with this one."

"I think some of the others are doing that now and Bridge is going over evey geological survey they can find but we'll keep an eye out. Johnson out."

Ryo looked at the mountain briefly, "I wish Bridge would hurry up with those findings."

"So you know Ultraman?", a small boy asked Bill between plays.

"Well not personally," he answered, "but I'm usually around when he shows up."

"Is he really tall?", asked another.

"Oh he's huge, almost as tall as that mountain over there." After that the floodgates officailly opened.

"Where does he come from?"

"Where does he go?"

"Is he scared to fight the monsters?"

"How does he the lights from his hands?"

"Whoa, you guys are asking me things even the eggheads back at base don't know," he said quickly in an attempt to close this particular gate. "Now if you want to ask me about the jets I fly..." He realized that was a mistake as soon as it left his mouth as that floodgate opened wide one more time. "Where's Ryo when I need him?"

"Children!", a stern looking older woman start over not looking happy. Bill felt an old fear creep up in the back of his mind. "It's time for your study period, so get back inside." The children quickly went back inside the building leaving the two of them alone. She looked him over with a bit of disdain. She had that look for as long as he could remember so he didn't really think anything of it. "Hello William," she said evenly.

"Sister Vicoria," he greeted her with a genuine grin. "It's good to see you still up and kicking."

"Yes," she said with little enthusiasum. "Are you and your... organization almost done here?"

"Probably," he said looking back to see where the others were. "We're not sure how far what ever that stuff the monster was putting out went. We're just trying to be thourogh, making sure nothing was left over that could harm the kids or anybody else in the area."

"I beleive just by showing up you potenially put the children in danger," she told him.

"Sister believe me if we show up the danger is already here. Like I said we're just being extra cautious right now."

"And yet you don't do anything about that giant false idol."

"That's a new one," Bill couldn't help but smirk, "I never heard Ultraman called that before."

"That is what that thing is," she insisted. "The children talk more about that giant heathan than they do the lord."

"I don't recall there being all that much talking about the lord when I was here," Bill told her.

"There is when I am around," she counted.

"Because we knew had to," he informed her. "As soon as you left the room we went back to talking about what we were before you came in."

"And I see you quickly learned to lie after you left this place."

"Oh I learned to lie long before I left this place."

"You become somewhat delusional too," she told him. "I suggest you and your organazation finish whatever it is you're doing and leave before you corrupt the children even more. Good day William." She turned around sharply and walked before he could say anything.

"And I was actually happy to see her too," he said to himself. "Waters to Watanabe, do we have an ETA on the finish of this job? The head cheese is starting to act like I remember her." As he walked away from the building he failed to notice a group of daisies nearby that started to droop.

Not being able to beat the unbeatable situation one more time non withstanding this had been a pretty decent day so far. The text he had to study had been getting smaller and smaller the more he caught up with the study program Hawk set up for him. Picking up one of the data pads he put it back down and reached into his pocket. Pulling out the triangular pendant that had been left behind by the stranger he only knew as Jack he couldn't get his last words out of his head, "I almost thought you had him."

"Dax, you getting anything yet?"

Somewhere deep inside his mind he got a responce, "Still nothing I'm afraid. The energy signature inside is still weak. I have continued trying to try and share mine but so far it has been rejected."

Ken was confused, "Rejected? If you two are similar why would he do that?"

"Perhaps we are not similar enough," Daxium offered. "Perhaps..."

And he never really trails off when talking. "Perhaps what?"

"Perhaps he feel his job is done."

"What in the hell does that mean?"

"Hawk to Scott," came from his communicator.

"Crap," he quickly shoved the pendant back into his picket, despite the fact the Captain coldn't see him, before responding, "Scott here."

"Relax Ken," he chuckled. "Jessica and myself were heading to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee and wondered if you wanted to join us. I'm sure you could use a break from all the studing you have been doing."

He looked at those barely touched datapads. "Sure, I'll be right there."

"And you can tell me your side about the lastest attempt she was just telling me about."

"Thanks Jess," he muttered. "Permission to kill her when I get there."

"Denied," Hak quickly told, although he did chuckle a bit. "Beside, she's standing right here and heard everything."

"Permission to plan my own funeral before I get there."

"I'll consider it," he chuckled again. "But it better be a cheap one, we have a budget around here."

"Yes sir, I'll meet you there." Ending the conversation he reached into his pocket one more time and fingered the pendant.

"Perhaps if you took it to Dr. William," Daxium offered, "maybe he would have a different insight that we currently do not."

There was a thought. Williams was one of the few people around here who knew his secret. And out of the three he was the one he liked the most. Still, "I'm still halfway expecting him the jack the Spark Magnifier behind my back on those check ups. I'm not sure I want to trust this guy in his hands unless I absolutely have to."

"Bridge," said one of the techs, "I just got a hit on that substance were told to look out for." He was afraid he was going to say that.

"How strong is it?", he asked pulling up the screen. If they didn'y find a way to contain this now that patch of dead Earth was going to get bigger.

"Not that strong, but if I'm reading this right it's growing stronger by the moment."

"You're not reading it wrong," he was forced to admit. Linking into the Scan track's sensor package he tried to get a clearer picture of what was happening. "Now this is strange," he muttered, "It looks like it's pooling into one spot. Castle to Watanabe."

"I'm here Bridge what is it?", he quickly responded.

"We're getting a reading off that substance and you're the closest one to the source. Is there any dying vegetation near you?"

"Not that I can see at the moment," he said. "Give a moment to do a search. Damn it how did it get on this side of the range. Bill, you and the others spread out check the area over."

"You got it," he said. "You two look over in that direction."

"Ryo," Bridge spoke up, "science section theorized the reason why you and the others didn't notice

anything right a way when you found the creature was the substance affects the smaller organisms first."

"I read the report Bridge, but thanks any way."

"Ryo!", Bill shouted. "There a patch of brown grass that's getting larger by the second." Ryo ran over and saw that he wasn't kidding. He could literailly see the grass die right in front of him. "This seemed faster than it was last time."

"Bridge you said we were the closest, where's the substance coming from this time?"

"That's ther the thing it's not coming it's growing," he said, "Almost like it mashing together."

"How is it doing that?"

"If I knew that I wouldn't be trying not to panic right now."

"Alright where is it mashing then?" This wasn't making any sense. Unless there was an underground stream somewhere it shouldn't have gotten on this side of the mountains, much less pool up in a single spot.

"About a mile and a half west of your current location," he answered.

Bill looked in that direction and blanched a little. "The orphanage," and he ran back there as fast as he could.

"Bill wait," Ryo said in vain. "Damn it. Watanabe to all field units, meet back up at the orphanage. We have a situation."

In one of the Castle cafeterias Ken, Jess and Hawk were making the usual small talk, after the initial teasing about Ken's latest test go around. Then Hawk started to ask about their acedemy days. He was already a military man before being assigned this duty so he never had the particulr "pleasure" of going through the academy process. Right now Ken was retelling his short time there , "But there was this one instructor who got on my nerves fast. I know he probably still knows more than I do but damn if he didn't get annoying fast. He was teaching, and I kid you not, proper field safety procedure in a combat situation."

"Wait," Jess interrupted him, "did he talk in this long slow monotone voice?", going so far as to mimic the tone of voice to highlight the point.

"And he walked like he had five sticks up his ass?"

"Yes," she confirmed.

"Oh God it has to be the same guy. There's no way there can be two like that."

"Would you believe he tried to instruct me on how to clean a gun?"

"Didn't you tell him you were practically brought up on the shooting range? At least since starting school?"

"He wouldn't listen," she said. "I think he's head of admissions now or something."

Remembering the guy when he was there, and forgetting where he was for the moment, Ken went, "Who in the hell did he blow?" Jess wincing slightly made him remember where he was, and more importantly who he was with. Then he looked at Hawk as a mild case of panic set in.

Taking a sip of his coffee he waited a moment before saying, "Saying some disparinging things about a higher up if frowned upon. Considering I know exactly who the two of you are talking about," and Ken figured he was about to be royally chewed out," I would say that question passed though my head more than once."

Being struck speechless for the moment Jess spoke for him, "Ah... Captain?"

"I'm on a break," he explained, "and currently in the company of people I know fairly well." He glanced at Ken, "well one not quite as long as the other. I feel I can be a little lax in this situation. But if you said that in my preseance after this was over the lecture would have been on in full force." Seeing the younger man visiably relax made him smle behind his cup.

"Bridge to Hawk," he called out over the line.

"Hawk here."

"We're getting readings for that substance and Ryo is reportig that plants in the area are already starting to die, faster this time around.

"Understood. Get all avaialble Razor Wings in the air," Hawk ordered. "And have a Scan Track ready for me, Jess and Ken."

"Understood, Bridge out."

"This is what get for sending both pilots on an assignment," Hawk mumbled as they hurried toward the door.

"That boy is as insufferable now as he was when he was here," Sister Victoria ranted in her office. Her listener was another nun who had been there almost as long as she had. "The nerve of that scoundrel, daring to tell me the children only talk about the Lord when I am around."

The other one finally spoke up, "I don't know why you're so suprised. I've been trying to tel you that for the past thirty years now."

"You don't kow what you're talking about," she said dimissing it.

"No, of course not," she sighed. "I just have my own eyes and ears."

"Is it wrong for me to want the children to respect the Lord?"

"Respect is one thing," she countered, "teaching them they have to, especially when you're around. That seems a biger disserves than not talking about him at all."

"Thay's enough Cheryl," she ordered. Before the discussion could continue the room started to shake.

"What in the world?"

Bill ran in, slamming the door open, "We got to evacuate the orphange!"

"Now wait a miniute," Sister Victoria protested, "we just went trough this nonsense."

"And this nonsense is a lot closer this time around," he told them. "We already got some of the kids out thanks to the other nuns."

"I better go help," Sister Cheryal said. "Lord only knows where some of the hiding places the children like to use are."

"Make sure you check the cubby hole under the stairs in the west end," Bill told her. as she proceeded him out of the room. He looked toward Sister Victoria who stubbornly held her ground. "Ah Sister, out is this way.

"I have been the head of this orphange for almost thirty years," she informed him. "My place is here, no where else."

"I don't have time for this," said. Because he knew she wasn't going to budge on this no matter how hard she pleaded. Which, in his mind, left him only one option. "I hope this doesn't send me to hell."

Walking toward her he grabbed her by the arm, "What do you think you are doing?" Without another word he hauled her over his shoulder and took her out of the room. "Put me down! This is Blasphamy! I said put me down at once!"

"Once we're outside," he snapped. Silently he hoped around a lot of people who could protect him from her.

Hawk ordered them out of the Scan Track as he surveyed the area. According to Bridge the substance was pooling under the ground about a mile away from the orphanage. Thank heavan for small favors. As it was they could see the growing patch of dying vegation. Before putting his helmet on Ken said, "It can't be happening this fast."

"Yet it is," Jess told him.

Hawk hit his communicator and contacted Castle, "Hawk to Bridge, do you have any idea how it got on this side of the mountains?"

"I haven't found anything yet," he answered. "There's nothing on record say that anything is connecting your side with the other."

"Bridge," Jess spoke up, "are you getting any kind of reading from underground?"

"Early sensor sweeps indicates something might be moving underground," he said. "Something big." Jess glanced in Ken's direction but he didn't notice.

"No suprise there," Hawk said. "Jess, Ken scout the area for any civilians. I'm going to head to the orphanage to see if Bill and Ryo need a hand setting up a defense perimitter."

"Right," Jess answered for the both of them. "Ken I'll take the area to the left, you take the right."

"Got it." They went off in seperate directions. But Ken held something back, not that he could explain to the others how he knew to begin with. The closer they got the more the pendant reacted to Dax. And the feeling he was getting was if it was the Gudis it was reforming way too soon. Then again Dax was sensing dark energy a bit more easily now than he did the first time.

"What's keeping that last truck from going?!", Ryo demanded as he looked at something that should have been gone hours ago.

"Who do you think?", Bill shot back, sporting a newly earned black eye.

"You have got to be kidding me," he groaned as he jogged over to see the head nun still refusing to get on the truck. "Sister we are trying to get the area clear and keep the kids safe. Empathis on keeping the kids safe. Now would you please get on the truck so we can do just that."

"And I have told al of you my place and purpose is here and I will not run from it," she insisted.

"Victoria," one of the other nun spoke up.

"My place is here," she said firmly as a Scan Track pulled up.

"I ordered that this area was to be evacuated already," Hawk barked as he got out. "What's going on?"

"She's going on," Bill said frustrated beyond belief. Hawk stared at his new facial feature before he turned his attention to the sister.

Before he could say anything she went on, "I told William, I told them over there," she pointed toward his troops, "I told all of them my place is here. I don't care what kind of authority you think you have or can act on but I will not leave the orphange on any condition."

Hawk did not have the time for this, "Lady my main concern right now if for the children's safety. You don't want to leave, fine." Banging the side of the truck a couple of times he shouted, "Get them out of here now!" The other nuns protested but the truck pulled out any way. Turning back toward the Sister he told her plainly, "You stay out of the way. you do anything to impede my men in any way I will have you arrested on the spot."

"You do not have the authority to...", she started to protest but he cut it off quick.

"Yes I do and I have no qualms about arresting a nun in this situation." She walked off in a huff, naturally toward the orphange. Taking a moment he gestured toward Bill's eye.

"Popped me one as soon as I set her on the ground," he explained. Then added, "She's a tad old school."

"Obviously." Before Hawk could go on the ground started to shake hard. Bill rushed over to keep the Sister from falling as Hawk held on to the Scan Track. The ground shook so much Ken and Jess felt it where they were just as a giant tendril looking thing smashed itself free from the ground. Hawk took a quick look to see where the tendril was, realizing it was too close to the orphange to call in a Razor Wing strike. He looked round to see it fall down in the direction of Bill and the Sister.

"No you don't," Bill turned to protect the nun by pushing her behind him puled his gun and fired. The tendril stopped just long enough for Ryo to run over and pull them out of the way before it fell all the way.

"Come on," he said as he directed them toward Hawk's Scan Track. A little further away another one came up from the ground. Over her protest they pushed the nun into the vehicle with Ryo hopping into the back to man the cannons on top as Hawk drove them out of there. Ryo got a bead on the tendril closest to them and fired as more of the creature revealed itself. It looked like the first one but with some changes, the bulbus haed wasn't quite as large and it also had a more humaniod appearece with it's face with a very flat nose and mouth.

Ken saw it from where he was and didn't hesitate to raise the Spark Magnifier over his head.

This new version of Gudis ignored the colum of light as Daxium appeared. In turn he realized the foreign creature was heading for the orphange. Quickly getting between it and the building he took a defensive stance, "Shiah!" The Gudis didn't seem all that worried he was there.

"What is that giant heathan doing?". Sister Victoria asked as she watched out the window.

Bill answered her, "If you're talking about Ultraman it looks like he's trying to defend the orphange."

"Why would that false idol protect something that's under the Lord's care?"

"How do you know he didn't send him?", Hawk told her as he continued driving.

While they sped away Daxium got past thse tendrils, close enough to land a few blows before backing up. The first Gudis cold drain his energy with prolong contact. Part of him was afraid that the indifference in this one was because it could do the same. Right then it started flailing away with those tendrils a bit causing him to cover up and make sure they didn't wrap arpund something on him. Then it opened it's mouth and fired a bubble like energy blast that exploded on impact and sent him flying toward the orphange. The walls shook as he landed hard on the ground. Seeing the tendrils come at him he quickly rolled out of the way. He got a quick glance behind it to see a trail of dead Earth seemingly following it.

When it fired another round of the energy bubbles Daxium quickly threw his arms open to create the protective shield in front of him. When the blasting stop he quickly dropped the shield and fired off a flash bolt that exploded in a shower of sparks on Gudis' body causing it to cry out. He was setting up for another one when it did something he wasn't expecting. "You will die today giant," it said in a deep raspy voice.

Everyone was caught off guard at this. Bill forgot the sister was there as he uttered, "Holy shit it spoke."

Daxium was stunned long enough for it to lash both tendrils into the side of his head. Grunting in pain as he fell to a knee then they came at him from the other direction forcing to him all fours. One of them wrapped around his arm and started draining his energy as it pulled him up only to knock him back down with the other one. It came at him one more time and he grabbed it out of instinct then quickly let go as he felt the drain increase momentarily. But he missed as the first one wrapped itself around his ankle while it pulled and sent him to his back. Gudis started whipping him with those tendrils before stopping as the jewel started to flash. Slowlying getting to his feet he got into another stance but was powerless to stop it from firing another bubble at him.

But this one was different as it quickly surrounded him. Even worse he felt the drain on his energy increase every second as he tried to escape. The Gudis laughed as he struggled, "Soon you and the rest of this planet will be one with me." The drain was so great Ken was starting to feel it in the safety zone Daxium had created, falling to a knee himself. Inside his pocket the pendent flashed with a brilliant light and something seemed to explode. In the outisde world there was a brief glimps of a red and silver giant that took Gudis by surprise, enough to cause it to back up. It fired some sort of energy blast from his hand that shattered the bubble around Daxium before disappearing completely.

The jewel falashing faster than it was before Daxium was still in a knelling position as he realized the giant did something else. There were memories of fight with this creature that was forgien to him. In all of them the creature was defeated, in all of them it came back. And he quickly realized they all had one thing in common, the ground. The Gudis was connected to the ground it was on. Looking at the creature he stood and banged his forearms together shifting into Power mode. Launching an attack that caught Gudis off guard he pounded the creature before grabbing it's tendril, it was goind to drain more of his energy but it was necessary risk in order to pull this off. Feeling it full force he fought it as he started to fly and ripped it off the ground. GOing as high as he could with the drain he started spinning making the creature go around and around until he let it go launching it into the air.

As it came down Daxium already had his hand by the jewel and drew in what energy he could as he flew at the creature. With everything he had left he punched the creature with the full unfiltered force of the Giga Wave. Gudis was obliterated on contact. The jewel flashing faster and faster he tried to sense something of the creature but couldn't. From Ken he recalled what the stranger said about thinking the only way to destroy it was destroying every atom of it's being and hoped he was able to accomplish just that, and hoped the humans could confirm it, as he flew off, "Shiah!"

Ken immediately dropped to a knee as he appeared from the ball of light. Without even thinking he reached into his pocket for the pendant. The green jewel in the center was now cracked and blackened. He was almost afraid of what that meant. "Was he able to get home?"

It took a moment but Daxium finally answered, "I'm afraid not. He used what little energy he had left to help us."

Wrapping his fingers around it he felt a bit of sadness to well up inside him, "He was a long way from home just to die."

"Indeed," Daxium sounded sad as well.

"Do you think that's ever going to happen to us?"

"I am not sure," he answered after a moment. "But I truely hope that is not our fate."

"You and me both pal," he pocketed the pendant one last time, "you and me both."

"Double check everything," Hawk told the crew heading into the orphange. "It wasn't hit directly but it was rattled pretty bad. I want to know that building is strucuturely sound before I let the kids and nuns set a foot back in there."

"Thank you Captain," Sister Victoria said, although it pained her to do so.

"No problem at all Sister," he told her. Looking back he saw some of his men, including Ryo, Jess and Ken, playing soccer with the kids. "And I hate to disrupt your routine like this again."

"It'll help the children work out some nervous energy from the past couple of hours," she said. She noticed Bill hovering close by, "William I though you would be joining the other with keeping the children occupied."

"I wanted to apologize for beng so rough with you earlier," he said.

"I realize you were doing your job," she said. "As I hope you knewe I was doing mine."

"Of course Sister, of course."

"While I still don't believe in the hea... this Ultraman," she corrected herself, "I realize he may be part of God's plan."

"Well you and the other nuns always said he works in mysterious ways," Bill said. "And I've seen some mysterious ways in this outfit let me tell you."

"Yes," she said a bit stiffly. "If you will excuse me... and if you're Captain will let me I will check on the condition of the orphange myself."

"With supervision," Hawk told her. "I don't want anything falling on you and nobody to be there to help."

"I'm surprised it took you this long to get inside," Bill joked. Sister Victoria said nothing before giving a small nod and walking away. Seeing the moment Bill ran toward the group behind them shouting, "Pass me the ball! I'm In!"

ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside
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Old May 19th, 2019, 10:28 AM #17
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I'm hoping this allowed because I'm having an issue posting the next chapter, the board is telling me that it's having an issue with a dash and to please remove it. But outside the ones I have for the opening anf ending themes I have no idea where this dash is nor is the board telling me where it is because I would be willing to remove it. So I'm going to post the fanfiction link for the time being those who want to read it. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5556104/16/Ultraman-Daxium
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Old May 22nd, 2019, 04:51 PM #18
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Episode 17

OP - Mercy Drive - Burn In My Light

Rushing into one of the training areas Ken was glad to see there was still a crowd around the shooting range. looking for a familiar face he spotted Bill he made his way through the crowd and stood next to him. The one or two protest he heard quickly gave way to cheering the participants. He had found out a couple of weeks that there was a friendly shooting competition held for the four years. Jess being one of the participants he wasn't going to miss this for the world. Although Richardson' assistant slash bodyguard Patricia Stanson standing right next to her surprised him a little. He had to raise his voice so Bill could hear him over the crowd, "Where we at?"

He looked at him out of the corner of his eye, "Where in the hell have you been civilian?"

"Williams just now let me go," he answered.

"Any way it's the final round so you just made it," Bill told him. "Part three for today, they keep tieing."

"And Jess was never a big fan of ties."

"Neither is the boss's guard," Bill informed him. "Last year they went a half hour before there finally a winner."

The crowd quieted down as two more targets appeared at the end of the range. By luck of the draw Patricia went first. You could hear a pin drop as she took aim and fired five times. All five landed by the heart of the target. Bill whistled, "That's going to be a hard one."

"She can do it," Ken told him not taking his eyes off either of them.

Making sure she had five rounds in her weapon Patricia checked hers to make sure. "It might be prudent to remember who works with who is in charge," Patricia said without looking at her, although low enough that nobody in the crowd could hear her.

She looked at her out of the corner of her eye as she took aim. "It might be prudent to remember who my captain is." She fired five times all landed near the heart, tie score again. "Then you'd know I don't care," she finished as the crowd cheered.

They went two more rounds, still tieing. Both of them were trying to ignore the crowd growing anticipation and the couple of bets they overheard. A new target came up and Patricia aimed and fired but on her last shot the bullet went wide. Two inches left of the heart. She cursed as she stared at the wayward bullet hole.

Jess forced down the growing excitement suddenly growing inside her. She took aim and pulled the trigger as she breathed out. Five shots all near the heart. She won.

"Yeah!," Bill exclaimed as he pumped his fist into the air.

"Woo!", Ken shouted and clapped his hands over his head. "That's my...", he lowered his hands, still trying to clap but not connecting, and gave out a slightly awkward and more subdued, "teammate." Bill gave him a look as the crowd broke up.

"So you did show up," Ryo said as he came up behind them.

"Williams didn't want to stop working on that damn super jet," Ken told him. "He didn't understand why everybody thought this was important. I even tried that BS spiel he used on me on the ship about that damn seat."

"I heard that a lot from other people on the project," Ryo commented.

"At least you showed up," Jess said as she joined the group. "I do appreciate it."

"You think I'd miss this?", he asked her. "I already knew you were a top shot, I wanted to watch as everybody else saw it."

"Like we needed you to tell us that," Bill told him.

"Yeah Ken," Ryo quickly agreed.

"Well I just won it for the second time," Jess informed him. She won it the other two, last she she won it the saw way I did today with a shot going wild." She looked toward her left at the door as Patricia left the training are and lost a bit of her smile. "Would you believe she tried to intimidate me by mentioning her position."

Bill was in disbelief, "She tried to get you to throw it?"

Ken snorted and mumbled, "Like boss like employee."

"What was that?", Ryo asked him.

He quickly said, "Talking to myself." Before they could say anything else he was bumped from behind, rather roughly, from a group of Beta Team members as they passed.

"Dude what the hell?", Bill demanded.

Ryo told both of them, "Just ignore them."

"You're not the one getting bumped every time you turn around," Ken protested.

"They're just upset none of them got promoted to take Jamira's position after he got busted and disappeared," Ryo explained. "They're just looking for an east target. Somebody to blame basically." Ken looked at him and the rest of the team and started to feel guilty all over again because he gave in to Jamira's demand that he quit in order to help with the evacuation at the docks. "I hear they're giving the new guy in charge some attitude too, so you're not the only target."

"Enough of those posers," Bill spoke up. He put an arm around Jess, "We got a winner here, we need to celebrate."

"Here, here," Ryo agreed.

"If you guys are buying the beer I'm in," Jess told the. "Oh Ken," she said as Bill and Ryo headed for the door. "The 'That's my girl' I'm pretty sure you almost uttered."

He was going to say he wasn't but she knew him better than that. So instead he said, "It was a slip I caught it. I know you hate that phrase because it sounds possessive."

"Actually," she gave him a look he couldn't quite interpret, "I think at that moment it would have been okay." Whatever that look was she lost it as she pointed a finger at him, "But only at that moment, is that clear?"

He snapped at attention and gave her a quick salute, "Ma'am yes ma'am."

"Alright smart ass for that you're buying the first round."

The vortex formed in front of him as scheduled. Then several bolts of dark energy erupted from it and struck him full on. Brooks stood there momentarily frozen for the moment before being sent flying back toward the rear of the cavern. Arcs of dark energy still raged at the edge of the vortex as he slowly got to a knee. "You knew Avatar! You knew who the light being bonded with!"

"And what," he said hoarsely as he stayed kneeling, mainly not to tempt another bolt in appearing defiant, "would you have had me do if I told you?"

"To kill him at once!", came the reply with no hesitation, Actually it would have surprised him if there was.

"Exactly," he told them. "Unfortunately the only access I have to him is at the base. Where security, not to mention cameras, are everywhere."

"That is not our concern!"

"It would have been once you sent a creature a creature over," he said trying to keep the defiance out of his voice. "Knowing what I could do they would hunt me down like a dog. You want me to place it where it could do the most damage I wouldn't be able to. And that's if they don't kill me while I try to escape. Now I know you could replace me if that happened. But how long would it take you? And while that was happening they would be shoring up their forces even more without any hindrance."

The edges of the vortex still lashed out the occasional bolt of energy that hit the surroundings as he waited for their response. "You are on what you humans refer to as probation," the darken image of the Zetton inside finally said. "This will be the only respite of our wrath. With hold any more information or make a mistake of this magnitude again and it will result in your termination."

And they didn't mean fired, that he was most certain of. "Your mercy is most appreciated my masters.'

"We are sending a creature through the breach, Eleking."

"I understand my master," he bowed as best as he could in this position. "Is there anywhere specific you wanted me to place this one?"

"We will send it over the dimensional divide once it is ready," he was told. But somewhere in one of your cities will be sufficient."

Where there would be even more cameras, wonderful. "As you wish my masters."

"Be prepared."

The vortex swirled itself out of existence and all was quiet. He snarled before unleashing a yell out of anger and raised both hands to blast the walls on either side of him in a rage. That moment past he stood, straightened out his sleeves and composed himself. "A parting shot from the former commander no doubt. I truly hope whatever process they are putting him through is slow and painful until his demise."

She found Ken in the cafeteria, face in a datapad. And there were three more on the table next to him. Picking up a second coffee she headed over there. "Want some company?"

"Have I ever turned that offer down?" he said looking up.

"Well there was those times in high school before we hooked up and I broke you out of your shell." He conceded as he took the offered cup. Although his attention went back to pad as soon as she sat down. Speaking of high school. "I see Captain Hawk has you hitting the books again."

He sighed, "I'm lucky he didn't triple my workload after what I did."

"That officially didn't happen," she reminded him. "Still makes you a dumbass though."

"Yeah I deserved that shot alright," he sighed again. She stared at him a bit, almost like she was studying him. "What?"

"I'm trying to remember the last time you were in this mood."

"Do you want before or after our break-up?"

"Do I really want to know about the after?"

"No you don't. At least not those first couple of weeks." He put the pad down and looked at her when something occurred to him. "Why did you just call me a dumbass when I saw you give Bill hell when he said it?"

"Because I'm the only one allowed to call you that," she said matter of factly. She pushed one of the other pads toward him. "I'm pretty sure it's in that one."

"I'll be sure to skip that page."

"If only I had something to throw at you."

"Ken Scott?" Both of them looked up to see a man in a UNDF uniform he didn't recognize. An older guy, maybe in his forties. Gray eyes seemed to study both of them. Jess stood up immediately as she recognized him.

"Commander Reid."

"Commander?", he looked at her as he stood up as well.

"Commander Justin Reid," he introduced himself, although not offering a hand. "In charge of Beta Team." Those last two words made Ken stiffen up a bit. The commander noticed, "Is there a problem I should be aware of Scott?"

"God I hope not," he blurted without thinking. Which caused the commander to raise an eyebrow.

Thinking this was a good time to step in Jess said, "Commander Jamira had some small issues with Ken's status," and what was the best way to saw this, "and the uniform jacket he is currently wearing."

Commander Reid nodded and inspected Ken a little closer, including the ponytail. "Hmm, he's definitely not regulation, that's for sure." He looked at her and she looked at him, both looking a little worried. "I suppose that's why Captain Hawk kept finding ways to put this off every time I asked to see this civilian operative of his."

"You wanted to meet him?", Jess asked when Ken's mouth refused to work.

"Yes," he answered, "I wanted to size him up with my own eyes. Personally think this civilian business is a bunch of bureaucratic nonsense. But Hawk thinks there's something to you and I respect his opinion. Tell me Scott, do you do your job?"

"Best I can... sir."

"Then as of right now I don't have a problem with you," he gave him a friendly smile. "Make sure it stays that way."

"Yes sir," he answered, with more than a little relief.

After he left Jess leaned in and said, "That's going to take some getting used to after Jamira."

"Do you think I should still avoid him, just in case?"

"Talk that over with Captain Hawk," she told him. "I don't want you to call me a dumbass in case I'm wrong."

"The way you shoot?", he was looking and acting more like his old self now that he relaxed even more. "No way in hell am I that crazy."

"And you learned that pretty fast too as I recall," she smirked.

"God I hate the smell down here." Two men in utility workers uniforms walk through one of the tunnels underneath the city. Hours earlier there were several calls from the same block about strange power fluctuations. Not finding a problem above ground the foreman sent them underground to se if one of the connectors was faulty or if the cables were corroded or looked chewed through.

"It's all in your head," the one in front said as he ducked under a pipe. "This service tunnel isn't even connected to a sewer line."

"I know that Sherlock," the other one snapped. "It's the old, musty smell, like a tomb."

"I don't want to know how you know that," he quipped.

"And I'm not a fan of the dust falling on top of us either."

"It's just dust knocked loose from the rumble from the traffic above us."

He looked up at that thought, "And how old is the concrete above us? And what is the dust made of any way?" He covered his mouth at the same time he tried to blow out his nose the get whatever he thought was in there out.

"Stop thinking about it before you have a breakdown," his partner told him. He kept on complaining so when they hit an intersection he said, "Let's split up, we'll cover more territory faster that way. Then you can get out of here."

He looked up at the ceiling one more time, "If you say so."

"Just call me if you find a problem." They went in separate directions and he enjoyed the silence. But after a bit it occurred to him that it was a little too quiet. "His nonsense is getting is getting to you," he told himself. But he still felt the need to talk out loud to break the silence. "Hopefully whatever the problem is it's easy to spot."

Going about ten more yards he found the problem. Something that looked like a cross between a slug and a tadpole, maybe three feet long with pale skin. Then again those crescent shaped horns made it look like nothing he had ever seen. And it was currently affixed to a transformer by it's tail. Some how it seemed to be drawing energy from the machine itself. "Eddie you have to get to my location now.You have to see this." The only response he got was static, "Eddie? Eddie."

"I don't think your friend will be responding any time soon."

He jumped and looked behind him at the sound, seeing a man dressed in black standing in the shadows. "Who are you? What happened to Eddie?"

"He's currently a smoldering pile of bones at the moment. I do really need to work on that."

"You did...", he grabbed a wrench from his tool belt. The other person's hand started to glow with a dark purplish light, highlighting his features.

"I was hoping you would do something like that," Brooks as he blasted the poor soul, again leaving the bones. "I would have done it any way, but it seemed more sporting if I was defending myself after all."

Brooks stepped over the remains and gazed at the over sized tadpole. "I do hope you become a little more impressive than you are now. Although watching the giant trying to take on what is basically an electrified slug might be amusing for a moment or two." As he walked away he missed as the baby Eleking started growing arms and legs.

"And these were found underground in those tunnels?", Hawk asked the crew foreman as they stood inside a tent. The burnt skeletal remains of somebody found a few hours ago when a couple of his men went missing.. Two more members of his crew had found this set ran out of there and he called the police. They in turn contacted the UNDF when they saw their charred condition. As it was Hawk was having a hard time not thinking about his lost teammate.

Th chief nodded, "And the police wouldn't let us go back down there to search for my other man. And they made us wait for you to show up before bringing these above ground."

"Now we don't have proof this is one of your men," Hawk told him. His gut said it was a lie. But his gut had been wrong before.

He hoped this was one of those times.

"The police said their covering all the exits," he said. "They should have been spotted by now."

"They could have come across this poor bastard and got scared,' Hawk said. "They might have ran and got twisted around. It can happen to even the most experienced of men."

"Watanabe to Hawk."

"Excuse me a moment." He walked out of the tent, mainly to keep the crowd that had showed up from seeing the skeleton. "Hawk here, what did you find Ryo?"

"Captain we found another skeleton," he answered.

"Damnit," he looked back to make sure the man in the tent didn't hear. "What condition is it in?"

"Same as the first one."

"Bring it above ground," Hawk ordered.

"Understood, Watanabe out."

Hawk ran an hand over his mouth. He hated writing those letters to the family members of the men and women he'd lost over the years. Despite the fact this wasn't one of his own he wasn't looking forward to doing this face to face. "Mr. Fisher..."

"I overheard you Captain," He said. "Get the thing that did this to them."

All he could say was, "Yes sir," as he escorted him out of the tent. Handing him off to another officer he hit his communicator, "Hawk to all units underground, another set of remains have been found. Report anything suspicious and do not engage unless you're forced. Given what this thing can apparently do we are going to need a battle plan once we know exactly what we're dealing with. Hawk out." He scanned the crowd that was being held back by the barricades and security until he found the back and ponytail he was looking for, "Ken!", and waved him over.

"Yes sir," he said after running over.

"Find Price, I want the two of you to to take the remains in the tent and load it into a Scan Track while Ryo brings up the other one."

"Yes sir," he said without hesitation, but he did take eyes off of him and looked at the tent. Hawk watched him turn a little green around the gills.

He put a hand on his shoulder to get his attention off the tent, "Not everything about the job is pretty son. This is one of the things you have to deal with when you wear the uniform." He looked at the tent himself, "And this one is rough because I've seen this before. We all have, before you joined up. Our old teammate Joe."

Ken knew that name, it was Richardson's son but that's about it. "Do you know what did it?"

"According to his father he was hit by a stray blast from that creature the night Ultraman first showed up." Looking at the ground, and a little said, he muttered, "I still don't know why Richardson wanted to be up there. To be honest with you son most day I'm not sure I want to know the reason. Let's hurry up and get this over with. I'm going to contact Bridge and see if he's picking up any life signs underground. If we are dealing with the same thing I want to be prepared."

"On it," he told him. Finding Price they quickly entered the tent. Both of them stopped short once they saw the skeleton.

"Geez," Price uttered.

"Tell me about it," Ken told him. Price found a sheet to cover the skeleton, at least they wouldn't have to look as they carried it out. One or two in the crowd protested that they covered it up. Ken pretended those who were protesting where Jeff and put the mental blinders up. A third man opened the back of the Scan Track and they slid it in.

"Glad I don't have to ride with this thing," Price commented as the Scan Track was closed. Then Ken realized this was his Track.

"The second one is going in yours," he joked. The other two walked off and he went back to crowd control duty.

"Ken," Daxium spoke up inside his head. He felt him come to the forefront a little bit as the moved the skeleton and as he talked to the Captain so he half way expected him to make contact. Ken glanced around to make sure nobody was close enough to overhear him talking to himself.

"What is it Dax?"

"Ken the body..."

"I felt it too," he didn't want to saw the words dark energy out loud, but there was a feint trace of it on those bones.

"Not that, I have seen a body in that condition as well, when I first crossed the dimensional breach. I saw Joseph Richardson die." Ken started to slow his pace. "It was not a blast from the creature I fought."

Ken came to a stop and looked around before softly saying, "How?"

"Before I could bond with him a concentrated beam of dark energy came out of the shadows and rendered him to his skeletal structure. Unfortunately I did have the time to search for the culprit as my energy was fading fast. But I fear I know who was the one responsible."

He had a feeling he knew too, "The one helping the guys you're at war with. The one I felt back at base." He felt Daxium's silent acknowledgment inside him. Ken looked as Ryo's group, and he had a similar expression that Hawk did a few minutes ago, carry out the one they found then back at the Scan Track that held the first one. "Richardson lied."

The sun had and the city streets were still filled with Scan Tracks and various other support vehicles as well as the local military and police. The search area had grown to include blocks in several directions and was evacuated as quickly as possible during the night. Several Razor Wing units in the sky above with several squadrons back at Castle ready to launch at a moments notice. But most of the troops in know realized Monster Squad was on edge having lost a teammate the same way and tried not get in their way.

"Nothing on the sensors so far," Ken said as he and Jess checked some the alleys on foot.

She replied with a grunt and kept on going. Ryo and Bill were acting the same way the last time he saw them so he got used to it fast. "If it's the same... thing that got Joe we'll find it." He stopped himself from saying "the same guy" since he had no way to explain how he knew that.

"He wasn't your teammate," she said in a tone that made it sound like he was an outsider. Which he was to a lot of people on the force, especially at the beginning, and he usually didn't care. But from her, right now, that one actually hurt. Ken stopped and looked away. Jess looked back and knew him well enough to read him. "You didn't deserve that, I'm sorry."

He tried to act like it was nothing, "It's fine." And there might have been a time where both of them actually believed that.

"No it's not fine. It's not your fault you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Seeing that skeleton ripped off a scab on a wound that not exactly healed yet."

"I'm sure I've made more than a few mistakes over the years," he said. Both of them remained silent for awhile as they continued on. "So what was Joe like."

"Why do you want to know?"

"Mainly because you guys rarely talk about him when I'm around. And if it's affecting you guys like this maybe it's time to talk about him."

She looked at him slowly broke out in a smile, "I'm glad this part of you didn't change. Well Joe was nothing like his father for one, he didn't even try to use his name to get ahead. He insisted on earning anything he got while he was one of us. And he could joke with the best of them. I think you would have liked him."

There was something in here voice that made him ask, "So were you two...?", he trailed off because he didn't want to say it out loud for some reason.

"I didn't see Joe in that way," she answered. It was none of his business if they were or not, but he was hoping he was keeping the relief off his face. Not that he should be feeling any sort of relief, it was over a long time ago. "No Joe was a good friend," she went on, "and nothing more than that. Actually he was trying to find you so we could get into contact again."

"How did he find out about me?"

She started to answer but looked embarrassed about something. Eventually she said, "I was talking about you one night. He thought that maybe I wanted to get back in touch, to catch up. I told him you'd probably wouldn't be interested but he was still trying to do it."

"I wouldn't have minded." She looked at him. "Catching up I mean." Before the conversation could be get even more awkward Daxium started sensing dark energy. Their wrist scanners went off at the same time so she missed him looking in that direction.

"Where in the hell did something that large come from?", she said as they ran toward the source. "Tell Captain Hawk where we are."

"On it. Scott to Hawk. We have a massive hit on our wrists scanners roughly thirty yards from our position, ah what the hell's over there?"

"We got it to Ken as well as it's location. Try to get a visual confirmation but do not engage until we get there."

"Understood, Scott out. Why did we get the fun job?"

"You better hope your communicator's off," Jess said. He looked down at it with a worried look. So he missed her smirk, "Got you."

It didn't take long to find the source. They didn't have to look all that hard.It suddenly stood up, towering over the buildings in the area. Whatever it was, a pale yellow that was almost white and black markings all over it's body and instead of eyes were two rotating crescent like horns, turned around. where it's mouth was supposed to be was a solid glowing mass.

"That's not looking like the first giant monster," Ken commented.

"God I hope that doesn't mean there's two of them," Jess said. Behind her Ken shuddered a bit at that thought. They heard the familiar whine of missiles as they were fired, first from the Razor Wings then by the Scan Tracks in position. "Wade to Hawk we're heading back tot he main line. I don;t think our guns are going to do much against that."

"Understood and acknowledged," Hawk answered as he checked the weapons systems of the Razor Wing while Bill got them into position to launch. "Bridge, which unit is closest to their position right now?"

"Commander Reid's unit," he answered. The took a moment to look at each other right before they ducked as the missiles hit the creature.

"Both of you get out of there now," Hawk ordered. "I'll let him know the two of you are heading his way. Bill hit the after burners as soon as we launch."

"Well be there in a few minutes Captain," he replied.

"This is going to be interesting," Ken muttered as communications were cut off and they got going again.

"He's not Jamira," she reminded him.It didn't help, "Yeah but he still has Jamira's men with him."

"I wasn't going to mention that part."

The creature cried out and recoiled in pain as more of the missiles struck it. As the Razor Wings came in close and it tried to smash it out of the sky with it's tail. The pilot were able to avoid it easily as the Scan Tracks took another shot at it. The creature turned toward them and arc shape blasts of energy shot out of it's mouth. The first couple of Scan Tracks took a direct hit and exploded on impact. Others were able to back away to safety.

Razor Wing One flew over the scene as Bill cut back on the after burners. Hawk took a moment to observe the devastation and loss of life. "Damn it to hell." He'd had to give them a well deserved moment of silence later, like always. "We have to take out that thing's weapon. I hope you got some flying tricks up your sleeves Bill."

"Then you better hold to your ass Captain," Bill told him as he took them in. Hawk got off a shot and Bill flew them out of the way right before this thing shot of of it's own at them. Several Razor Wings followed suit but a couple of the pilots weren't fast enough to avoid the creature's return fire.

"Let's take her in again," Hawk ordered.

On the ground Jess and Ken ran as fast as they could until they found Reid's Scan Track. "Get over here now!" he ordered as he spotted them. In the Track one of Jamira's men, who had been chaffing under Reid's order not to do anything until they got to them, so he decided to do as his former leader would have done, took aim and fired at the creature. "Wait until they're clear!" he chastised him. Right then the creature looked in their direction and fired. The blast hit the asphalt right behind them and sent Ken and Jess flying. She landed hard on the ground. He rolled as he hit. Both weren't moving right away. "You with me,' he ordered one of his men as they ran toward them. Her uniform and his jacket and jeans were torn but there wasn't any major bleeding that he could see so far.

Jess moved first as she tried to get to her feet. Then Ken tried to as they reached them. "I'm okay," she insisted as Reid went to help her, "just got the wind knocked out of me."

Ken on the other hand started feeling a pain in his left wrist the grew stronger and tighter every second, "Fuck."

Reid looked at him, "Scott how are you?"

He wiggled his fingers and gingerly moved his wrist, wincing the entire time but there was some movement. "I think I sprained it," he grunted. the other guy got on his right and helped him up. Jess ended up moving under her own power. They all got to the Scan Track and hid behind it.

"Do not fire until I tell to," Reid told his gunner as the other man ran his wrist scanners over the two just in case.

"She's fine," he said. Then he went to Ken's arm, "This is broke, couple of inches from the wrist, not sprained. I think you did it when you hit before you rolled."

"But I can move my hand," he grunted. "You're not supposed to move it if something's broke."

He started securing Ken's arm as Reid told him, "Don't argue with the tech Scott. You need

to get to the perimeter line and to the med station. You're no good to me like this."

"I still got a good arm," he protested.

"And I can't take the chance your arm is going to distract you at the wrong moment. Get in, we'll take you there and rush back."

"Commander I can walk," Ken argued. "We can't lose a set of guns because of me."

"Scott," he started to argue back.

"Commander," Jess spoke up, "Ken's right. We need to keep all of our guns in place."

"And you got the best shot here," he said pointing at Jess. Reid looked at both of them not believing he was hearing any of this.

"Wade, get behind the gun," he said at last.

Jamira's man protested, "I'm manning the gun!"

"And now she is," he told him. "You can escort Scott..."

"I am doing nothing with the civilian! He's the reason why Commander Jamira is gone!"

"Former Commander Jamira was removed because he couldn't follow orders. Now I'm giving you an order."

"I'll go alone," Ken said as he started off. "I'll be safer that way at least."

Reid looked at his gunner and he refused to budge. "Get him out of there," he told the others. Jamira's man had to be dragged out of the chair. He put up quite a fight until they got him out. Reid didn't see a sign of Ken any where, the kid could move apparently. "Wade take his spot. "Manuel keep you gun pointed at him," he gestured at his former gunner, "we can't just leave him here." As they took their positions in the Scan Track Reid look back at Jess, "I hope you're as good a shot as everybody says you are."

"Right now so am I," she told him. She looked out the window as the column of light appeared and faded away to reveal Ultraman and he took his usual fighting pose.


Eleking cried out, startled, as Daxium appeared. He surveyed the area around them closely and quickly. It had been awhile since he faced one of these creatures in a city environment. He could adjust. Jumping over the buildings between them in front of him he landed he landed on the other side of the creature and tried to throw it down. It was as caught off guard as much as he thought it would be as it fought back until it freed himself from his grip. Eleking didn't wait as it attacked him with it's tail. Daxium covered up and blocked as he backed up, very aware how little room he he had to maneuver with.

Kicking Eleking he backed flipped a few times to create some space between them and fired off as flashbolt as it turned around. Eleking recoiled in pain as it backed up then fired off it's own energy shot. Daxium quickly raised his energy field to block the blast then banged his forearms together to modeshift into Power Mode. Eleking fired again. Daxium took the chance and batted each blast out of the sky. Not worrying about what damage to the surrounding area, or his own hands and arms, that action caused he charged the creature. It surprised by twisting in such away that it caught him and threw him into a building using his own momentum. The side smashed in as he tried to stop himself from hitting it to no avail. Eleking didn't give him a chance to recover as it started bashing him with it's tail, knocking him further into the destroyed building. Trying to block the barrage Daxium grabbed the tail startling Eleking enough that he was able to get to his feet as he held on and tried to get a better grip on the tail.

Eleking tried to run but his grip was too strong. Suddenly it stopped, clenched it's fist and started concentrating as arcs of electricity flowed between his crescent horns. Daxium was stuck in place until the creature stopped and pull it's tail free. Then lashed it around wildly hitting him and the buildings surrounding them. Then it turned around and shot him with his arc shaped blast point blank. As Daxium crashed to the ground it fired again and again. When it stopped Daxium was slow to get up but when he did it wrapped it's tail around him, trapping his arms to his sides and concentrated one more time. He yelled out in extreme pain as he was electrocuted on the spot.

The Jewel flashed red as fell to his knees during a brief respite before it began again. Hawk ordered all units to attack in an attempt to help the giant. Jess tried to aim the Scan Track's cannon eyeing those horns, "Commander."

He saw what she was trying to target and asked, "Do you think you can do it from here?"

"Just give me distance, wind speed and direction."

"Murphy!", he said to the man manning the sensors.

"Already sending it Commander."

Seeing the information she quickly adjusted her her targeting and fired before getting a clear lock in fear in the case the monster moved. Two missiles launched, one just missed. The other one hit and exploded on impact destroying the horn. Eleking cried out and released Daxium as it trashed around. Reid told her, "I'm stealing you from Alpha Team."

"You're not ready for the fight Captain Hawk's going to put up," she said with a grin.

Daxium slowly got one knee up to brace himself after he was free. Eleking stumbled forward trying to clutch at his ruined horn as the tail whipped wildly around hitting the buildings and the street. Standing up held his hand to his chest and drew it back as he drew in energy. Punching the ground he unleashed a Giga Wave. It ripped up the street as the wave rushed up and bisected Eleking before disappearing as it exploded. Making sure it was gone he flew off into the sky, "Shiah!"

When Ken materialized from the ball of light he saw he was close to that med station Reid had ordered him to, "Nice landing zone Dax."

"You were hurt because of my war," he answered. "It was the least I could do."

"Our war bud," Ken corrected him. Making sure his arm was still secured he headed toward the station.

"We may have a problem within Alpha Team," Patricia said as she put a file on Richardson's desk. He had already read the medical report, Wade was going to be sore and stiff for a while but otherwise fit for duty despite the minor scrapes. Outside of his own scrapes Scott's broken arm was going to keep him out of the action for a bit but Richardson was positive he could find a way to get him out there to unleash the giant when needed. So he really wasn't seeing a problem right away.

"I don't suppose this has anything to do with the fact Wade beat you in that silly contest this year," he said as he picked the folder up and look at the contents.

"Something worse," she said and stood a little straighter, almost insulted by the comment. "As you know we found two more burnt skeletons similar to what happened to Joseph. Captain Hawk told Scott the version you told him of what happened. But if you will read the highlighted transcript we recorded off Scott's communicator."

"How?", he read out loud. "The guy you're helping the ones your at war with." He cocked an eyebrow, "The one I felt back at base. Richardson lied." Closing it and putting the file down and looked at his assistant, "You think the giant told him?"

She replied, "That is one way to interpret the information at hand."

"Do you think he will tell Hawk and the others?"

"He had several opportunities," she answered, "But he didn't say anything to Captain Hawk. Not even to Wade, the one person in the unit he seems closest to, after he came up. However he may be planning to use it against you."

Leaning back in his chair he didn't seem impressed or threatened, "Let him try. Once he does I'll throw back the fact he kept the fact there was an enemy agent in our midst from us."

"And how are you going to do that without revealing the fact we've been listening in on him this entire time?"

"I'll worry about that when it happens. I don't think we're lucky enough for that agent to be Jamira. Try to find out who it might possibly be."

"He or she had hid this fact from us for a long time, it may take awhile."

"I don;t care how, just get it done."

Ken looked at his first ever cast in twenty eight years of life. At least they let him walk out of the med wing under his own power. Fortunately the pain he was feeling when he hit the ground helped cover up the pain he felt from Daxium's fight with that creature, so that was a good thing there. With nothing else to do since Hawk relieved him of most of his duties for the time being he headed for one of the break-rooms. He looked at it wondering how he was going to explain this to his friends and family once they eventually found out, and his mom was going to freak. Or kill him. And his money was on the kill part. "This is were you been hiding." He looked up to see Ryo and the others come towards him, still looking a bit apprehensive since nobody found the thing that did that to those poor bastards. Too bad he couldn't tell them they should be looking for a man and not a creature like they thought. "I heard of people trying to get out of work but this one a little extreme," Ryo said with a smile.

He lightly tapped the red wrapping that was part of the cast, "I least I made sure it matched the uniform."

"How long are they letting you sit on the sidelines civilian?", Bill asked.

"They want me to come in every couple of weeks to see how things are healing but at least a couple of months." Something behind them caught his eye, three of Jamira men, including the gunner in the Scan track, in civilian clothing and duffels over their shoulders walked past the room looking angry, more than usual. "What's going on there?"

Jess looked back and saw them, "Reid's cleaning house."

"Word around base," Ryo said, "is Reid got all the Jamira loyalist together and told them he was the one in charge now and he wasn't going to stand for another incident of defiance like what happened on the last mission. Basically he told them if they couldn't deal with that he'll gladly transfer them to another division off base and get people who could. Those three are the ones that took the offer."

"Yeah I'm not going to miss them," Bill commented.

"I don't think any of us are," Jess agreed. "And their not going to realize how good they had it under Jamira when they try their crap elsewhere. But enough about them," she took a marker out of her pocket, "time to get to business."

"Aren't I supposed to be drunk and passed out before you start drawing on me?", Ken asked.

"Or if you have a cast," she said as she carefully too his broken arm, "Your friends can sign it." She signed her name and gave the marker to Ryo who did the same.

Bill was handed the marker and looked at him, "She threatened to shot me if I didn't do this."

"I'd believe it," Ken said before they both grinned as he signed his name.

"I wondered where that marker went," Hawk said as he came into the room. He said nothing else as he came closer. It was worrying them a bit that none of them could read his expression. He held out a hand asking for the marker that Bill quickly gave him. Then still without a word he leaned in and sighed his name as well. Then he looked at them with a slight smile of his own, "We are a team after all." Capping the marker he pointed it at Ken, "You in particular should remember that."

He saluted him with his good hand, "Yes sir."

"I'm pretty sure that sunk in by now," Jess said.

"He had better by now," Bill joined in.

Ryo added, "If not than he's denser than I remember from the academy."

"Hey," Ken spoke up, "I resemble that remark."

"Come on," Hawk told all of them, "this rounds on me. As soon as we find something that's not going to react with that pain killer I know they put you on."

In his home Brooks sat on the floor of his office and concentrated. The door was locked, his phone was turned off and the staff was told to disturb him for anything. The only way he could be bothered now was if his masters decided to communicate with him.

Feeling the silence he concentrated, feeling the dark energy inside him. He let it well up, grow, let it expand as he pushed it top do what he wanted. Then he felt it, he rose off the floor. High enough that he could lower his leg and stand comfortably. After months of trying he finally did it. Now to figure out a way to transfer that to actual flying. And his master were none the wiser to this new discover having found a way to blocked his experimentation of his powers from the long ago.

Although he should thank them. If it wasn't for their "punishment" he would have had the extra determination to push his powers like this, harder than he was before. Now the only questions were how far could he push his power, and what exactly could he do with it that they never suspected.

ED - Shinedown - Fly on the Inside
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Old May 26th, 2019, 12:30 PM #19
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Joined: Dec 2012
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Episodes 18

OP -Mercy Drive - Shine In My Light

Jess pulled into an old diner's parking lot and looked at the building. To be completely honest she was a little surprised when Ken invited her and the others out to this place. he claimed it was one of his favorite places to eat back when he was working at that garage. As it was only her and Ryo were able to get away and take him up on the invitation. Sitting beside her Ryo stared at the building, "He really eats here? Of his own free will?"

"You sound surprised," she told her usual wingman as she started to get out. "This looks like the type of place he would take me on a more casual date." And usually some of the better times they had, well before his brother stuck his nose in things. Getting out of that memory she looked over at Ryo in his dress shirt and slacks then at her jeans and blouse. "I told you that you were over dressing for this place before we left Castle."

"A man should always dress his best," he told her as he adjusted a sleeve. She scanned the windows until she saw Ken. And the brunette girl sitting with him. Both of them noted how happy each of them looked. Ryo looked over at her, "Do you think he had a girlfriend this entire time?"

"He would have said something," she said. Of course he would have. In fact he specifically said he wasn't currently seeing anyone when Richardson had them bring him in. Besides things were long over between the two of them. If he was seeing anybody that was his business and not hers. Still who was this woman?

Then this mystery woman stood up revealing a very noticeable baby bump. Jess repeated, "He would have said something."

"Which one of us are you trying to convince?", Ryo asked her.

"Shut up," she told her wingman as she headed for the diner. Entering to some very familiar smells they made their way to Ken's table. "Are we early?", she asked him. Her eyes immediately went to the black brace currently on his left arm, a reminder of the broken bone he received on the last mission he was on.

He looked up at them and grinned, "Glad you guys could make it. I just showed up myself and ran into a old co-worker of mine. Rose...," and he waved her back over.

"Co-worker," Jess repeated. Of course it was one of his friends from the garage. He even told her about her once. To Ryo she said, "I told you he would have said something." He just gave her a disbelieving look.

"What?", Ken asked catching it. "You two didn't think that me and her..."

"Well with the baby bump we saw," Ryo admitted.

"Granted I could probably take her husband but give me some credit now."

"And I could do a hell of a lot better than this jerk," Rose told them.

"Keep telling yourself that," Ken told her. “Guys this is Rose. Rose this is Ryo Watanabe, we went to the academy together. The short time I was actually there."

"Hi," Rose said shaking his hand.

"Hello," he greeted her.

"And this is Jessica Wade..."

With a surprised look she asked Ken, "The same Jessica Wade you used to date in high school?"

Jess glanced over at Ken, who was giving her a look that she translated in her head as please don't hurt me, before saying, "That would be me."

"Well now," she broke into a grin as she eyed the two of them, "working with your ex are we?"

In response Ken pointed at her, "Stop it."

Oblivious to her and Ryo's confusion Rose asked him, "What? I can't ask a question?"

"As many times I've seen that look on your face right before you tried to set me up on a blind date? I'm cutting this off at the pass now."

"Fine," she sighed. "If you want to be alone and miserable for the rest of your life see if I try and help you again."

"I'll believe it when I see it."

"Let's not get into an argument here," Jess cut in.

"Trust me this isn't an argument," Rose told her. "This is just round God only knows at this point. Besides this big lug here knows I'd wipe the floor with him in a real fight."

"Only because Mom told me never to hit a girl."

"See he admits it," Rose said with a smirk. "I better get back to the garage. Remind your Captain to bring his car in for a tune up next week." She gave Ken a quick kiss on the cheek. "Don't be a stranger. Nice meeting the two of you."

"Likewise," Ryo said as she walked past them.

"Same here," Jess agreed.

"See you around Rose," Ken told her. She stopped by him and gave Jess the once over one more time.

She leaned in and asked Ken, "You seriously just let her go? You are a moron."

"Drop it," he said through his teeth. Rose just shrugged her shoulders and continued on her way.

"So," Ryo said, mainly to spare Jess and Ken from the sudden awkward silence, "you ready to come back to Castle yet?"

"I never should have been given this leave to begin with," Ken said as they sat down in the booth.

"You wouldn't follow the doctor's orders," Jess reminded him. "They told you no heavy lifting while you were healing up."

"And like I told them I still have a good arm," he told her.

"We heard you tell the Captain that when he put you on leave," Ryo told him. "He's just looking out for your wellbeing."

Jess added, "Besides, as much as you seemed to hate being there those first couple of weeks I'm surprised you didn't want to leave."

"What can I say," he said with a small shrug, "I just decided to go with it. The place grows on you... like a fungus."

"And there's a lovely thought right before we eat," Ryo commented as he took a menu from the holder on the table. "You eat here all the time, what would you recommend?"

Jess took one as well and spoke for him, "If he's anything like I remember it'll be the Philly cheesesteak."

Ken looked at her with a slight smile, "It's why it's my favorite place to eat."

"Here's the reports you asked for Captain," Reid said as he walked into the office and gave him a vanilla folder. Two months in and Hawk still wasn't used to the lead of Beta Team being so cordial. Jamira would have one of his men to the report outside his door without a word. Then again why did he put up with that behavior for so long?

"Thank you Commander," he said as he offered him the seat on the other side of the desk. Reid took it as he flipped through the file. "The Jamira regulars are still giving you some problems I see."

"It's not as bad as it was," Reid replied. "Once the worst three were removed the others started to calm down. Slowly," he amended, "but I haven't reprimanded then as often as I did. Right now they're just testing the boundaries." Hawk nodded as he continued reading. "I didn't put it in but they still don't care for your civilian."

"Them and a few others on base," Hawk sighed. "I'm sure I'm on more than few dislikes lists as well." Closing the file and putting it down he looked at the Commander. "Any word at all?"

"I think you would have heard something before I would have Gabe," Reid told him. "Where ever Jamira went he is hiding himself pretty good. It's almost like he fell off the face of the planet. I've even had people keeping tabs on those who were loyal to him. Unfortunately they don't seem to know where he is either.

"I don't like this Justin, I don't like it one bit," Hawk told him. "I've known Jamira for a long time and I could use several words to describe him. A stubborn, pig-headed ass being on the top of the list. But a hider, no. He wouldn't be hiding like this, especially if he thought he was in the right. And he thought he was in the right even after they stripped him of command."

Reid shook his head, "Then the only other explanation is something happened to him. We both know Jamira rubbed a lot of people the wrong way."

"And we haven't found a body yet either," Hawk reminded him.

"Do you think somebody would take it that far?"

Hawk frowned before answering, "I honestly don't know any more.

A few days later Brook's masters sent over sent over an gillman like aquatic humanoid they called Ragon. By design it attacked from the sea. The UNDF quickly set up a defensive line at a coastal city and attacked when it came to shore. Still in his possession of his UNDF ID Ken was able to get close enough to the conflict to unleash Daxium to take on the creature. He did his best to keep the monster from entering the heart of the city. Ragon fought with a wild enough style that he was forced to block the attacks as beast as he could with both arms.

Getting close he grappled with the beast. With a grunt he herded Ragon toward the water. Throwing the creature down it opened it's mouth as it laid there and spit a blue flame like beam at the giant. Daxium acted fast in getting his shield up. As soon as the creature stopped he dropped the field and quickly set up the Dimensional Storm Ray and destroyed the creature with the beam out of his hand. Glancing down at his left arm for a moment he shot off into the air, "Shiah!"

Near the alley he released Daxium Ken reappeared from a ball of light. Leaning back against the brick wall he grimaced a bit as he held the brace around his left arm. "Dax I know you have to attack and defend yourself but could try and watch the arm a bit more?"

Not getting an immediate answer he looked around and stepped out onto the sidewalk and headed for his car. He was stopped by a Scan Track, something he was hoping to avoid. The driver just looked at him, "Ken?"

"Yo Chuck," he greeted him in return, then to the others in the Track he added, "Larry, Paul, new guy I don't know."

They didn't respond but Chuck spoke up, "What are you doing all the way out here?" Which was one of the reasons why he was looking to avoid any and all members of the UNDF.

"I heard stuff was going down and I'd figure I'd see if there was anything I could do to help," he told them. It was pretty lose to the truth. "I'd helped evacuate enough cities when I was on duty that I got an idea on what I'm doing."

Larry shook his head then leaned over a bit to get a better look at him, "The Captain is going to flip when he hears about this."

"What to flip about?", Ken asked. "I made sure to stay out of harm’s way."

"I'm sure he'll love that explanation when you get back to Castle," Chuck told him. "See you when you get back to Castle."

"I'll see you then," he gave them a waved as they drove off. But he knew that this was going to get back to Hawk. Like the other encounters he's happen to be seen at. "Yeah, that's going to be a fun conversation."

A couple of weeks later Ken did return to Castle. Despite what he told Jess and Ryo he was surprised exactly how much he actually missed this place. Taking his usual parking place he got out and looked around, loving that he didn't have to go far to get the familiar smells and sounds of a garage even in this high tech place. Reaching into the backseat he retrieved and put on his uniform jacket. The only thing missing was the wrist scanner, but that didn't exactly fit around the brace. Just a few more weeks he told himself. Before long he was able to spot the person in charge of the hanger as he put his bag over his shoulder, "Hey Chief."

"Scott," he replied, not taking his eyes off the pad in his hand. "Captain Hawk said he wanted to see you as soon as you got your belongings back in your quarters."

Despite knowing that was coming he tried not to wince, "What kind of mood is he in?"

"You'll find out when you get there," was all he said. "You'll find your adjusted workload when you officially check in."

And that didn't sound good. "Adjusted how?"

"Expect to push a lot of paper. Hey Jones, I said track 37 not 43!", he walked off leaving Ken standing there.

Wondering exactly how long he could put this off he readjusted his bag and headed for the elevator. More than few greeted him when he reached his floor, a far cry from his first trip down these halls. Well his second trip technically, he wasn't sure he was conscious for most of the first one.

"Mr. Scott," he looked around to see Peter Brooks come toward him, at least it wasn't Richardson. There were several messages on his phone from his secretary, more or less demanding his presence on base. Considering the situation he didn't get on Hawk's bad side. "Welcome back from your little vacation."

He had several comments about that quote unquote vacation swirling around in his head. He wisely kept them to himself, maybe Hawk and the others were rubbing off on him. Instead he said, "Thank you sir."

For some reason Brooks started walking with him, "So how is your arm exactly? If you don't mind me asking that is."

"As well as can be expected," he answered while wiggling the fingers on his left hand. "They gave me some exercises to work on to get some strength back."

"Good, good," Brooks said. "I see everyone wants you back at full strength as soon as possible." There was something in the way he said that that made Ken glance at him. Whatever it was it was gone almost as fast as he noticed it. "I would love to stay and chat some more but I do have some meetings to attend and you need to get settled back in. Have a good day."

"You too...", he got out before Brooks hurried off. All this time he still hadn't figured that guy out. Outside of being one of the suspects for the dark energy blip the first time he was here.

"The upgrades should be ready in a week," Bridge said as he sat in Hawk's office. "They would be finished faster but I'm having trouble getting Williams and his team involved."

"He's almost done with that super jet of his," Hawk said as he looked over the estimates had supplied him. "And seeing how the board in getting more onboard with this thing by the day it's going to be hard to get him away from the thing."

"I understand that Captain," Bridge replied. "I'm just saying it's frustrating."

"Duly noted," he said with a small smirk. "Is there anything else I should be aware of?"

"No, that should be it," Bridge told him.

"That will be all then." Bridge nodded and rose out of his seat. As he exited Hawk started to take another look at those estimates.

At least he was until another voice from the other room caught his attention, "Bridge my man."

"Ken," he heard Bridge call out. "How are you doing?"

"About as well as can be expected." Ken went quiet for a moment, "What kind of mood is he in?"

And Hawk briefly wondered when people were going to figure out he could hear them through the vent grates. Not that he was going to say anything any time soon, he secretly enjoyed the little edge it gave him.

Bridge answered, "He was in a pretty good mood when I was in there. Then again he hasn't seen you yet."

"Funny," Ken uttered, "attack the guy trying to help you open up. I better get in there before that mood changes. See you around."

"See you Ken."

Ken walked in and stared at the three folders Hawk just finished putting on his desk. He started looking a bit apprehensive as he said, "Ken Scott reporting for duty sir."

"Ken," he replied pleasantly, he was happy to see the young man again, "please have a seat." he did so glancing at those folders. Clasping his hands in front of him Hawk looked at him for a few moments before opening a random folder, "I see you've been busy while you were on leave."

"Trying not to be bored sir," he said while trying to read the file. Hawk quickly closed it. "Idle hands and all that jazz."

"Normally I would appreciate that," Hawk told him. "But not when I told you to take the time off to heal up properly I meant it. And you have been doing something because the doctors have been saying you're arm's not healing like it should. And seeing how you have been spotted at the three giant monster attacks I think I know why." The fingers on Ken's left hand twitched, Hawk assumed involuntarily. "I put you on leave to keep you out of these situations and to keep the stress off that arm. What if you got blasted again or rebroke it while helping somebody?"

"I was just trying to help," he said just loud enough to be heard. "I am trained for this sort of thing."

"Yes, one of the reports mentioned you said something similar to that." Hawk leaned forward, "Look Ken, I'm proud at how you jumped into the role, I will never deny that. But that leave was for your own good. You're damn lucky that injury didn't require any surgery. And I don't appreciate you putting yourself in situations that may keep you out longer than necessary. Now the doctors are saying you're healed enough for light duty. And I'm going to make sure you stick to the 'light' part of that sentence."

Ken sighed, "The Chief mentioned there would be paper to be pushed."

"Oh you better believe it," Hawk told him. "For the next two week we're going to put your secretarial skills to the test. And you will be stationed in the outer room of this office so I can keep an eye on you." Ken started to protest but Hawk ut him off, "I can make that three weeks just as easily Scott."

"Yes sir," he said giving in.

"Seeing how eager you are to keep busy you can start today. You can start by familiarizing yourself with the desk in the other room. I'll call you if I need you."

"Yes sir," he repeated as he got up and headed for the door.

"Ken," Hawk said to stop him, "it's good to have you back son."

"Never thought I'd say this after my first few weeks here but it's good to be back."

He nodded, "If it's not out there I have a scheduled appointment at one. Sooner if you can figure out the intercom or later if we get an alert that interrupts our day."

"Yes sir. Ah," he paused at the door, "if we get an alert?"

"You're still part of the team so you'll be going out with the rest of us. We'll figure out what kind of role, if any, you'll have then." Picking up the folders to put back into the file he told him, "Now get to work, and you better be able to make a decent pot of coffee."

Brooks waved the smoke from his face as he stabilized another monster that came through the breach. Red in color with the wings and bat shape head, he quickly realized the smoke was coming from the creature. "Another spewer, wonderful."

The form of one of his masters appeared in the vortex, "Going over your reports of our creatures defeat we realized that the deadly smoke Bogun emitted damage the giant." Brooks remembered that battle as well, he also recalled that the light giant was hesitant to use his hyper speed finisher as well. Instead revealing the pulse like effect through his whip.

"Seeing how effective the smoke was I'm surprised you waited so long in trying it again."

"Barrangas had to be specially created," the Zetton in the Vortex told him. "It will emit the toxic gas continuously, leaving a cloud constantly around it."

"Then it's fortunate the dark energy you provided me makes me immune to it's affect," Brooks commented as he glanced around the quickly filling chamber. The Zetton inside said nothing. "I'll find an appropriate place to put him then.

"Yes you will," the figure said and the vortex dissipated out of existence.

The smoke swirled around him as he uttered out loud, "Would it be that hard to say good-bye at least once? I suspect it would actually." He looked over at the creature who had already increased in size. "Now how do I conceal you long enough to get you into the city? The smoke is going to be a bit of a problem."

"Hey Chad!" the foreman bellowed. "Hurry with that hole! We're behind schedule as it is!"

"I'm going as fast as the drill will go!", Chad called back. "Any faster and the machine will over heat and seize up."

"Just hurry it up!", he yelled.

"Will do," he muttered knowing the foreman had already turned around and started yelling at somebody else. "God help me if I work under another micro manager."

"He just wants to get things done on schedule," his buddy said.

"According to him we were behind schedule the second we started." The other guy shook his head and left before the foreman zeroed in on him.

Chad looked around the construction site. Or should he have said new high rise. The old one was damaged during a battle between a monster and that giant guy. It was so bad they had to tear it down and start anew. So there was at least one good thing coming out of those giant freaks battles, the construction business was booming.

A dark smoke started coming to come from the hole. "Oh shit," he said as he stopped the drill. The smoke continued to pour out as he checked the drill bit readout.

"What the fuck did you do?!", the foreman shouted as he and some other came toward him.

"I don't know!", Chad said as he started to pull the drill itself out of the ground. "Everything is still green on the controls. Maybe it's a pocket of something."

"You better not have fucked up that drill head," he went on ignoring everything Chad just said.

"I'm checking it now," he told him. Using the top of his shirt to try and protect himself from the smoke. It was still rank as hell though. "Drill heads still... looks... g.." he started getting woozy, fast. So much so he was unconscious before he even hit the ground. The foreman and a couple of others tried to drag him out of there but they were overcome by the smoke as well.

Given the situation the military and UNDF was scrambled rather quickly. Out of the unit nicknamed Monster Squad by the others Hawk, Ryo and Ken set up a temporary command center while Jess and Bill were back at Castle ready to launch at a moment’s notice. All of them looking at an ariel view of the construction site that was now covered in that smoke that was now a couple of yards high. "Those closest to the opening died first," Bridge said over the comm line. "Medical's treating the others who inhaled it now. Right now their chance of survival is depending on how much they breathed in."

"Did we get an analysis of the smoke yet?", Hawk asked.

"We were able to get a man in a containment suit in there to get a sample," Bridge informed him. "But we're still going over the data he collected. But we did get some blood samples from the deceased and those who inhaled the stuff processed and got a hit from the database. It's the same as the smoke that two headed slug was spewing out a while back."

Ken remembered that night clear enough, outside of the "wonderful" blind date Rose set him up on it was also the night he was rudely introduced to his current teammates. Hawk must have been thinking the same thing because he looked back at him when Bridge said that. Although he didn't need Bridge to tell him there was something there, he could sense the creature through Daxium from where he was.

"Is that why the smoke staying in place like that?", Ken asked since he couldn't exactly explain how he knew in to begin with. "Because that's starting to weird me out a little." The majority of the smoke did stop at the edge of the construction site, although there was some spill over in the surrounding area truth be told it was more than a bit freaky.

"You're not the only one civilian," Bill said over the line.

"We'll need to get over it," Hawk told them. "Bridge, are we getting anything underground?"

"Nothing so far," he answered. "I think the smoke is interfering with our sensors somehow."

"We have a couple of Scan Tracks close to the affected area," Hawk said as he went over unit placements. "Have you patched into their sensors yet?"

"I already did and got the same results."

"I wonder why we could detect the first monster and not this one?", Ryo asked.

Jess answered, "The first one didn't start spewing until after it was above ground. Maybe that has something to do with it."

"Bridge," Hawk spoke up, "check the readings around that time and see if there was any type of interference then."

"I'll pull it up," he responded.

"Let me know if you find anything, Hawk out."

"Understood, Castle out."

"How's the evacuation going?", Hawk asked as he faced Ryo and Ken. "That smoke is stationary now but we can't count on it to stay that way. Not to mention that we have no idea when that creature is going to break out above ground."

And Ken was wondering how he was going to get away when that happened.

"We're still evacuating people in a mile radius of the construction site," Ryo answered. "Needless to say there are some very unhappy people feeling they were forced to move."

"I'd rather they be unhappy then dead," Hawk informed him. "Unfortunately people who don't want to move can be stubborn too. Ryo, Ken," he glanced at his arm, "and I hope I don't regret this decision later, take a couple of squads and see that nobody's trying to sneak in or if we missed anybody."

"And if we run into any reporters?", Ryo asked. More than a few have tried as they ran across some photographers or reporters trying to get a close up of the creature whenever they get an alert, particularly in the city.

"You know the drill." Hawk told him. "If there's no immediate danger give a brief statement and send them on their way. Ken..." he looked over at him.

"Keep quiet and let somebody else from the unit handle it," he answered.

"I was going to say watch your arm," he smirked, "but that works too. Now move out."

"Come on Ken," Ryo as he handed him one of the helmets with a full faceplate to protect them from the smoke.

Ryo was on the way out while Ken stood there staring at the helmet with a bit of a grimace on his face. "I hope this things works better than it did against the happy flower." Remembering that incident as well Hawk silently hoped it did as well.

"Initiating sonic scans now," Reid said over the line.

Back at the Castle control room everyone tensed up slightly as the scan started. Everyone remembered how this one creature that could control the Earth itself reacted when they tried a similar scan. "I have the reading," Bridge said looking at the sensor readings of several Scan Tracks that were placed around the construction site. "I'm linking up the respective scans now. Remember to keep it low for right now."

"We have it as low as it can be and still be on," Reid told him. "Do you have anything yet?"

"A massive blob that's not telling me anything," Bridge responded. In all honestly he was expecting that on this sonic level. Reminding himself that the earth mover didn't emit smoke he said, "All Track in the link start to raise the sonic frequency slowly."

"You heard the man," Reid told the man behind the scanner station in the vehicle. Being linked they could keep the frequency increase relatively even. Bridge kept his eyes on the readings until he saw a clearer picture.

"Stop right there," he said. Switching what he saw to the main screen in front of the room the people inside stopped what they were doing when he did so.

"Is it the same creature?", Reid asked.

"Not exactly Commander."

"Show me."

"Patch me in too Bridge," Hawk said over the line.

"Patching both of you in now," he told them as he hit the appropriate commands into the computer.

After studying the image for a few moments Reid broke the silence, "I think I'm seeing a set of wings."

"I'm seeing it too," Hawk confirmed.

"We're estimating the creature's mass to be larger than the two headed creature," Bridge said as the people in the room fed him the information. "And so far we're only detecting one head."

"So," Reid spoke up, "unless the two head one was some sort of strange larval form then this is a different creature entirely."

"Commander," Hawk said, "at this point I wouldn't be surprised by anything. But we could use a drill vehicle right about now. And word of what I just said does not get to Williams in any form."

In his office Brooks monitored the situation. In a way he had to admire Hawk's efficiency. Within a couple of hours he had the area evacuated, cordon off, set up troop placement and found a way to retrieve the dead. Actually the whole program seemed faster now that Jamira wasn't there, or it could just be his imagination. Also his earlier hunch had paid dividends as the troops he sent out to patrol found some that were trying to sneak into the cordoned off area.

It was a shame that he was going to have to kill him eventually.

Perhaps even in this conflict. And Reid seemed competent enough to take over if that did happen. Although at that time Brooks thought he might wish Jamira was still around, then again maybe not. While he would have made a mess of thing in the transition he would be next to impossible to deal with.

Still he might as well get this over with. And hopefully his masters were still unaware that he could do this. Focusing the dark energy they granted him he opened a portal to view Barrangas through the smoke. Opening a vortex like this to talk to them was no problem, and one he figured out rather quickly. But to create one that didn't send out any ripples they could be detected by them, well all modesty aside, that took a little skill.

As did this. Concentrating on the energy that linked them he made contact with the creature's mind, something his masters said was impossible. But the headache doing so gave him was more than worth it as he proved them wrong. While he couldn't control the creature directly, it's emotion, instincts, urges and will was far too strong for that, he could nudge it into action. As he did with a simple thought.

Barrangas arise.

"What the hell ever happened to freedom of the press?", a cameraman demanded as Ken and the female UNDF officer with him tried to get him and the female reporter behind him to get back into their van.

"Feel free to get the hell out of here then," Ken said getting annoyed with the situation. Ryo could not be having this much of a problem. Of course Ken's unit was the one who decided to split up into groups of two. "This is a restricted area. And wearing WW2 era gasmasks doesn't count."

"The people have.." he went on.

"The people are safe at home, watching the coverage I assuming," his partner told him. "If you try to persist any further we will be forced to detain both of you."

"Come on Trevor," the reporter said, "they're not going to budge. "Let's go." When the cameraman wouldn't budge she dragged him by the arm. "Come on."

"Alright Sara, alright," he finally conceded as they got into the van.

Watching them leave Ken commented, "They are so going to try somewhere else."

"More than likely," she said. "I wonder what she looks like under that mask. She sounded cute."

Ken snorted, "I saw how you looked at her while she was leaving, you're approaching horn dog territory there Janice."

"Be in the dry spell I've been in," she told him, "And you had the same look. She probably doesn't even play for my team."

"One more me then," he said with a smirk.

"And you'd still strike out. Come on fellow horn dog, there's probably somebody else around here."

"Yes ma'am." As soon as he said that he somebody jump deeper into an alley, "Over there!" They ran in to find a boy who couldn't be older than ten try to climb a fence. Janice rushed over and pulled him off of it.

"Let go of me!", He squirmed in her grasp. "I gotta get home!"

"Easy kid," she said, struggling to keep a hold of him while he squirmed. "It's too dangerous for you to go back in there right now."

"You don't understand!" he yelled. "My mom told me to stay home! I'm grounded!"

"I'm sure she'll understand this one time," Ken said, not really believing his story. If he was grounded he would have jumped at the chance to get out of it. Then the kid kicked him in the shin as he continued to try and get away. "Ow!" The ground started to shake before he could react, "Whoa," Ken's hand almost went for the Spark Magnifier as the kid stopped fighting.

On both of their comms they heard Bridge announce, "The creature is trying to break through! I repeat the creature is trying to break through!"

"Razor Wing units launch now!", Hawk said right after. "All search units retreat to the safety zones."

The kid didn't struggle as much as the both grabbed him under the arms and escorted him to the street. About then they felt the ground shake again, this time with monstrous roar in the background. He looked around wondering how he was going to do this. "Janice," he finally said, "take the kid. I thought I saw somebody else over there."

She looked in the direction he was pointing, "I'm not seeing..."

"I have to be sure," he cut her off. "I'll catch up with you as soon as I check it out."

"Alright," she conceded. "But I better see you soon."

"As soon as I'm sure," he told her. Running after the "person" he saw he stopped as soon as he was in the alley. Trying to peek without being he seen he made sure she was headed toward the safe zone with kid. Once he was sure he ran toward the smoke filled area.

Barrangas continued his way to the surface and broke free with one final roar. A deep red in color he walked away from the hole as the smoke swirled around his feet. Roaring one more time smoke seemingly feel out of the holes in the half horns on either side of his head. Wings that seemed a tad too small for his body flexed a bit right before the first couple of missiles hit him from various angles. Roaring in anger he increased the amount of smoke trying to obscure his body from view.

In the air the razor wings came into view. Jess silently cursed as she realized the smoke was playing havoc with her targeting sensors. "Razor Wing One to all air units. Switch over to manual targeting and aim for the center of the huge mass of smoke."

She got a round of confirms as Bill told her, "The board's going to give you hell of that if one of those missiles hit the city."

"As big as that thing is we're going to hit something," she told him as she lined up a shot and fired. There was an explosion as her missile hit that was followed by several others. The smoke cleared enough that they could see the creature inside.

Pulling the jet into a circle pattern outside the monster's reach Bill looked at it before saying, "Would you hit me if I said I don't think we're going to run out of missiles before that thing goes down?"

"Once we hit the ground, yes."

"Then I'm running as soon as we land."

Jess was about to respond when she saw a flash in the smoke below. For a brief second she thought one of the missiles missed. Then a giant column of light appeared revealing Ultraman on the inside. He took his usual fighting pose, while flexing his left wrist a bit, and shouted his customary, "Shiah!"

Looking at the helmet in front of her she commented, "I don't think we have to worry about our missiles anymore."

Ignoring the smoke Daxium rushed right toward Barrangas, who towered over him a bit, and bunched it right in the snout. The creature fought back in some attacks that he easily avoided. Pivoting on on foot he planted a foot into it's gut. Seeing he had the advantage he tried to grapple with the monster. Barrangas positioned his head just enough that he spewed the smoke full blast right into his face. Making a brief gagging sound backed up out of instinct to get out of the way. The creature charged him trying to knock him down but he held his footing.

He tried to fire a flashbolt but the creature rammed into him again. Barrangas surprised him by grabbing him into a bear hug and blowing the smoke straight into his face. Daxium struggled to keep his face out of the way as he tried to get free. Realizing the monster was pushing against him he fell back using the creature's own momentum to fling it off him and kept on the attack. Pounding the creature to try and keep it down and subdue it. But it used it's own considerable strength to knock him back. Rolling to his feet as the diamond shape jewel on his chest started flashing he charged again. Barrangas used his own tactic against him as it grabbed him and used his momentum to slam him into a building still under construction. While he was stunned Barrangas and pinned his arms to the building, using it's full weight to keep him in place, and started spewing the deadly smoke again.

Daxium grunted and struggled to get free but felt himself keep weaker, to the point that his legs started to give out on him. In the air above jess watched, determination forming on her face, "Bill...".

"Already ahead of you," he said. Razor Wings seven and ten form up and follow me. We're going to cook us one giant, ugly ass turkey." After a couple of quick "Rodger" they were quickly in formation and heading for the back of the creature."

"Missiles away!" Jess announced as she pressed the trigger.. Three set of missiles hit Barrangas right in the back. The creature roared and reaction and let him go. Quickly banging his forearms together he shifted into Power Mode and kicked Barrangas back. Not wasting a moment he attacked Barrangas with renewed urgency. Kicking the creature down he backed up as he put a hand by the jewel to ready the Giga Wave.

The wings on Barrangas' back started to flap causing the smoke to rush toward him forcing Daxium to cover his face. Daxium and the rest around them watched as the creature lifted off the ground and into the air.

"Holy shit!", Bill exclaimed. "That thing can fly?"

On the ground Hawk grabbed a helmet and out it onshouting orders, "Target is airborne! I repeat target is airborne! Break out whatever breathing units we have to spare and pass them out to the civilians in the area, and I want children to be front of the line." He knew it wasn't going to be enough if Ultraman couldn't beat this thing but it was the best he had at the moment.

Daxium quickly took off and followed Barrangas trying to knock it back down to Earth. But the creature fought back creating some space between them. It rose even higher still until it turned around and came at him in a dive bomb like attack. Daxium flew backwards toward the ground to give himself time to set up and fire the Storm Globe. It caught the monster flush in the face causing it to explode in midair.

Hanging in the air Daxium noticed that the dark smoke quickly dissipate into nothing. Satisfied that the threat was over he flew off into the sky, "Shiah!"

"There you are," Ryo called out as Ken ran up to them. "Exactly how do you get lost in a city you grew up in? And Janice wanted me to tell you that she's going to hurt your good arm when she see you."

"With all the smoke and commotion I got turned around a couple of times," he said. "And this brace doesn't exactly come with a built in GPS."

"And I'm assuming you never found your mystery person."

"I had to be sure," he replied with a shrug.

"I suppose so," Ryo agreed. "And since I know Hawk is going to ask, how is you arm."

"I might have banged it against something in the confusion at least once."

"He's going to put you on desk duty for a month now, you know that right?"

"It's better than latrine duty," then he looked down at his communicator hoping he didn't hear that.

Ken leaned against the hood of his car as Hawk's GTO pulled up next to his. Wearing his civilian gear he looked at the diner behind him as he got out, "So this is the place you invited us to."

"It's not as deadly as it looks," Ken joked. "So why did you invite me to it."

"Actually," he looked back as cars he recognized as Jess and Bill's pulled into the parking lo as well. "I thought we try that team outing again."

"Oh for you everybody shows up... sir," he quickly added when Hawk gave him a look that quickly turned into a smirk that made the younger man relax a bit. Then he got a good look into Bill's car. "Is that Bridge?"

"He took some convincing," Hawk admitted.

"Bridge, my man," Ken called out as he got out of the car. He gave him a small wave and muttered some sort of hello. Just like he usually did when he wasn't in the confines of Castle. "I'm going to break you out of that shell if it kills one of us."

"Pretty brave thing to say in front of somebody who knows what you were like in high school," Jess told him.

"It just proves it can happen," Ken quickly told her.

"And I thought I was quick on my feet," Bill commented.

"Lousy jokes don't count as quick," Ryo told him. Looking at the diner and frowned a bit, "I'm still suffering heartburn from the last time I was here."

"Just means the food is good," Bill said. Still Ryo held his stomach.

"Seeing how I grew up in Philly," Hawk said as they headed for the diner, "that Philly cheesesteak I keep hearing you talk about better impress."

"I thought it was pretty good when I tried it," Jess told him.

"Yeah but she dated the civilian, what kind of taste could she... have...," he trailed off when she shot him a look that could kill.

Ryo leaned over to him, "Just so you know, you're probably getting shot later."

"Anybody want to take some bets on when?", Ken joked.

"I can get video proof," Bridge offered. Bill looked betrayed.

Ken put his arm around Bridge's shoulders and told him, "That's the spirit," as they entered the diner.

ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside
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Old May 31st, 2019, 07:53 PM #20
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

Episode 19

OP - Mercy Drive - Burn In My Light

As Hawk lead the section of Alpha Team that were immediately under him, known by most on base as Monster Squad, they all took a moment to gaze at the giant black jet with the usual red highlights of the standard UNDF colors, taking up a good chunk of the room, a hanger retrofitted a bit after a giant monster attack directly on Castle, a few Razor Wings were on standby in sitting on the side. The big machine, code named Alpha One, was triangular in shape with a couple of engine ports on the back, although the wing were looking more like wings now since the last time they were in here. Still Hawk honestly had doubts the thing would actually fly but the techs and experts assured him it would.

"There you are," Dr. Williams said and came toward them. Or at least that looked like his plan, he somehow got his foot stuck between a couple of thick cables and couldn't free himself. Hawk tried not to frown while he was slowly shaking his head as couple of people quickly hurried over and helped get him free.

Behind him Bill muttered, "Only that guy." Hawk shot him a look to silently reprimand him. But it was hard to disagree.

"A beauty, isn't it?", William said as he turned around to look back at the ship, but he kept walking backwards. Ryo, Bill and a couple of other deck hands were poised to catch him since he was backing right into a crate that was in his path. But he turned around and avoided it. "I never thought I'd see the day it was built."

"She's quite impressive," Hawk told him. "In all honesty I never thought she'd get built either." Probably for a different reason than Williams but there was no need to say it out loud.

"Come, come," Williams motioned them to follow him toward the Alpha One. "It's maiden flight awaits. Oh I wish I had a bottle of Champaign to christian it properly."

"Ah, Captain," Jess said after they went a few feet. She gestured behind them at Ken who was frozen by the doors staring at the jet with his helmet in hand, and he was looking a little green at the moment.

"Oh I'm sure he's just taking a moment to admire it a little longer," Williams told them.

"I'm sure that's it," Ryo said looking worried. He leaned in closer to Bill, "How close is our station to his again?"

"I'm sure it's out of spew range," Bill assured him. "But I'm taking the seat furthest away."

"Not if I get there first," Ryo told him. Hawk cleared his throat and they both shut up.

Williams lead them into the ship and on to the now fully functional bridge. Those currently not frozen in dread outside to a second marvel at their stations. Each of them spent time in the simulator so they knew what each switch and button did what when you used it. Still the real thing made them wonder if it was enough. Hawk looked around and realized they were still short a man. "Does anyone want to head out and collect our wayward mechanic?'

"Wade to Tony," Jess said into her communicator, "can you nudge Ken toward the Alpha One for me please."

"We've been nudging," came the reply. "We just upgraded to a slight push."

"Take it up to a full on shove if you have too," she told him, remembering some of the things she had to do when they were dating back in high school. "Wade out."

"While we're waiting," Bill spoke up, "did anyone else bring some barf bags for the civilian? I got two."

"I grabbed four," Ryo answered.

"I have three," Jess said.

"Now I'm ashamed of all of you," Hawk told them. "I'm aware Ken has an affliction too. But don't you think this will embarrass him at all? How would you feel if you were him and you found out everyone expected you to throw up over everything?"

Ken walked onto the bridge looking like he was in a foul mood. He had that look all day so it wasn't like he overheard what they were saying. Still nobody said anything right away. He sulked over to his station and practically slammed a stack of those sealable white bags onto the station beside him. "You got anymore add them to the stack," was all he said. Jess, Ryo and Bill put the ones they brought on top of it. To Hawk's surprise he did look grateful for the extras.

As the rest of them took their station Ryo opened a communication link to Bridge in the control room, "Castle this si Alpha One, we are ready for our test and maiden flight."

"Acknowledge Alpha One. Skies are clear and calm like the ocean. Perfect weather for a test flight."

Ryo smiled, "Acknowledged Castle, Alpha One preparing to take off." He turned around to look at the Captain's station. "Does the captain wish to say a few words before we take off?"

"That's never been my style Ryo," Hawk told him, although he did appreciate the gesture. "Just keep it smooth and steady for the maiden flight."

"Oh let's give this ship a proper shake down," Williams insisted. "Let's do a few barrel rolls and the like."

"Permission to aim directly at him sir," Ken said from his station.

"Denied," Hawk quickly said. "Engine status?"

Looking at his screen Ken replied, "Everything's green." Hawk thought he heard him mutter the word, "Unfortunately," but let it go.

"Wade, weapons status?"

"We're ready to go hot at a moment's notice," she answered.

"Flight status?"

Bill looked at Ryo and nodded. Ryo said, "We're ready to go Captain."

"Captain’s station is green as well. Ryo, Bill this is officially your show now."

"Yes sir," Ryo replied. "Alpha One to castle we are ready to launch."

"Acknowledged Alpha One, opening hanger now." The wall in front of them opened and a ramp extended and personal quickly got out of the way as the engines came to life. "Alpha One you are a go for launch."

"Rodger, Alpha One launching now." Ryo push the throttle forward and the super jet went forward with a lurch. Ken's hand immediately went to the bags next to him. Dr. Williams was the only one who didn't flinch when he did so.

"I can't believe that albatross got off the ground," Richardson said to no one in particular. In the control room he stood with several other members as they watched the launch on the main screen. From the celebration going on behind him none of the others heard him. well one of them apparently did as he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked next to him to see a sympathetic smile on Peter's face.

"You're not the only one Harold," he said over the commotion. "I'm personally surprised it got green lighted at all."

"Then what did you vote for it to begin with?"

"Well Dr. Williams enthusiasm about the project was rather catching," he said sheepishly. "later on I started to wonder exactly what i was thinking?"

"You're not the only one," Richardson said as he led Peter through the board members still congratulating themselves. After exiting the control he looked back at the door and mumbled, "You would think they did it single handedly." The younger man nodded in agreement as they walked down the hallway. "I can almost hear what your father would have said after he found out. You haven't told him about that thing yet have you?"

"I do believe he would have said something to you about it by now if I did. In fact I'm expecting a rather long message or two by the time I get home."

"I'd thank you for taking the blunt of his initial outburst but i know that would just be the warm up for that blow hard."

"Yes," Peter chuckled, "we both know my father all too well." Richardson didn't notice when Peter stuffed his hand into his pocket when it startled to crackle in annoyance with dark energy. "So," he said lightly, "what are we going to do with those extra Razor Wings now the Alpha One is in operation?"

"Ugh," Richardson groaned, "Alpha One. First it Ultraman and now it's that. I swear nobody can think of a decent name for anything anu more. As far as the razor Wings are concerned Captain Hawk hasn't officially decided yet. He said he wanted to see how the experiment went before doing so."

"I assume the good Captain would like to have options," Peter mused. "It might be a good thing, have the proper equipment for the job depending on what it is. Similar to what Ultraman does I suppose."

Nodding Richardson agreed, "I suppose."

"Although," Peter went on, "rumor has it Hawk is looking for anew person to main the engineering station on the jet. Given Scott's condition and all."

"He was looking for one before the jet was even completed," Richardson informed him. "Unfortunately Williams was given full authority over staffing the thing by the board."

"I recall. I also believe we were the two votes for the negative category."

"Right," Richardson agreed. "Scot being here was my idea to begin with and I know Williams enough to know he never too his condition into account when he assigned the core stations. And believe me I tried to talk to him out of putting Scott in there."

"I'm sure he appreciated the effort Harold."

Given the threats he used to get the bastard to sign up to begin with that was highly doubtful. "I'm sure he would be, but let's not tell him."

"Have to keep up the image, I understand completely. I hate to leave suddenly..."

"But we both have things to do," Richardson finished for him. "There’s always that isn't there?"

Greeting his secretary with a nod as he passed her desk Peter entered his office and quickly locked the door behind him, making sure it was locked for the moment. Finally taking his hand out of his pocket he studied it a bit. "I usually have better control than that." With a smirk he added, "Then again he always slightly annoying and everybody has their limits."

Going to his desk he pulled up the flight plan Hawk's men drew up for the initial flight. One Williams protested for it's simplicity if the grapevine was to believed. His masters sent out a little surprise not that long ago so it should be interesting to see how Monster Squad would handle that. Well along with the little surprise he set up for the trip. He was slightly curious how Scott was going to keep his secret in that situation.

Getting out of the Scan Track Commander Reid looked up at the sound of a roaring engine as the Alpha One passed over the tree line. He knew the general flight plan Hawk's crew had come up with as he glanced at the time, they were early according to his estimation. "Williams must have talked him into pushing the engines," he mused mainly to himself. He also silently hoped this was just a coincidence since Beta Team was assigned to answer the call that came from this forest area.

"That should have been us," somebody behind him grumbled. It wasn't the first time Reid had heard that since taking Beta over, it became more frequent the closer it came to launch time." he knew it was part inter-squad rivalry, part alpha male attitude Jamira installed early in his command.

Still he said, almost automatically by now, "Beta primarily a ground unit. Alphas are the flyers."

"Then the dork should have came up with a tank." He quickly quieted down looked back right at him. That outburst was all Jamira. The sooner it got through their thick skulls that he would tolerate that attitude anymore the happier they would all be. At least he'd be happier he was getting sick of dealing with it.

Letting out a breath to calm him down he walked over to the local police officer waiting for them standing in front a taped off section of the forest while motioning for the least annoying man in the Track to follow along. "Hello," he said extending a hand. When it was took he added, "Jason Reid, I'm the head of Beta Team." Part of his personal approach in dealing with the locals. Some were a bit put off just by seeing the uniform, especially if they weren't the ones who called them in. A rank like Commander would put them on the defensive a bit, protecting their territory as it were. Give them a name and just say he was in charge and most would relax a bit.

"Tony Malory," the officer said. "What I called you for is over here." Reid nodded as the officer lead them past the police tape and into the woods. "We were called in this morning. After seeing it we eventually decided to call you in. All be honest with you, part of me is hoping this is part of an elaborate prank. But with the way things are been going...", he trailed off.

"It's better to be safe than sorry. I rather have my time wasted than have a real threat being ignored," Reid assured him. Soon they were there, from appearances it looked like someone put up various statues in the middle of the woods. What Reid noticed right away was that just about all of them were rearing back from something, all looked like they were afraid of something. He looked over to his man and they both nodded and started scanning the area with their wrist scanners.

Getting closer to one of the statues he took a good look at the details in it's features. If this was a prank then the person behind it was damn good, he could see individual teeth in it's mouth as well as a tongue. "Was there anything suspicious about the statues that you notice Officer Malory? Outside of being out here I mean."

"Well this one over here," he said pointing toward one near the front of this particular line. Reid went over there with him but didn't see anything that stood out right away, but he waited for Malory to continue. "Now I know this is going to sound like I'm nuts."

"Like you said, the way it's been going lately," Reid tried to assure him.

"Well I'm positive this one looks like Tom Smith," he went on. "We play poker with a couple of other guys every Saturday night. The nights i'm not on duty that is. I've tried calling his cell already but he's not picking up."

"Does he come this way often?", Reid asked.

"Almost every night," Malory informed him. "It's a shortcut to his apartment building from his job."

"Is he married?"

"Divorced three years ago. He's been sowing his oats again, he's had a new girl just about every night."

"So nobody regular to contact," Reid mused.

"Commander," his man called out. Excusing himself he went over to see what he found. "I did a scan on a couple of these to be sure. My readings say the stone is only a few millimeters thick."

"Is it an empty shell then?"

"No," he answered, trying to keep his voice low. "The inside is organic. I'm reading internal organs."

Reid held up his wrist scanner and took a reading for himself. He felt sick in his stomach as he got the same reading. Even more so once he realized the person inside the shell was dead, as well as the rest of them. Behind the Malory had overheard them any way and looked what was his friend in utter horror. "Reid to Castle."

"Turned into stone?", Hawk repeated once he was told.

"That's correct Captain," Bridge confirmed. "I went over the readings Commander Reid sent in and have to agree with his findings." They were all stunned silent as they tried to process this. Ever since the monsters started attacking they’ve seen a lot of strange things. But turning people into stone? What could have caused that?

"Normally I'd make a comment about a woman with snakes for hair,' Bill said, mainly to break the silence that started to become a little uncomfortable, "but even I know that would be in bad taste."

"Are we going to investigate?", Williams asked, sounding a tad too excited about the prospect.

Ryo turned to look at him, "With an experimental craft that hasn't fully been tested yet? Captain I realize that this is our duty but I feel have we have a huge hindrance going in."

"For the most part I agree," Hawk said. "I don't think this ship is ready for actual combat."

"Captain Hawk," Williams protested, "I personally over saw the construction of this vessel. I will personally vouch for it's fitness. Ask Scott over there if he disagrees." Hawk glanced back at Ken who was a couple of shades of green at this point, with a several of those sealed bags at his feet.

Ryo winched, mainly from the memory of their academy days, "I'm sure he'd answer if he could at the moment."

Williams went over to his station and looked at him curiously, "Do you have this same problem when you..."

"Captain," Jess spoke up at the same time Ken shot Williams a look for almost blowing his secret. He put a hand over his mouth immediately regretting the action while she continued, "Maybe we can help look for the creature that did this. According to these sensors we have a pretty good range."

Ryo was forced to confirm her point, "That we do."

"Yeah Captain," Bill joined in. "In fact we could probably cover more ground if we used those jets stored in the back."

"I agree with Bill," Ryo quickly added.

Jess shook her head and ahd to take the jab, "Pilots and their toys."

"And you're just as anxious to fire the big cannon this thing has," Ryo shot back.

"Despite me better judgment that sounds like a good Idea," Hawk told them after quickly thinking it over. "Ryo, Bill take the Alpha Twos and prepare a spiral search pattern. Hawk to Castle, Alpha One will help Commander Reid and Beta team in the search of the area. Given the experimental nature of the flight we will only engage if necessary."

"Understood Alpha One," Bridge responded. "I'm sure Commander Reid will appreciate the help. I'm informing him now."

"Captain we're preparing to switch control over to you," Ryo announced from his station. In front of Hawk a control stick, matching the one Ryo and Bill had at their station, lowered from the console in front of him and moved forward a bit. Taking the stick he punched in the correct command sequence that would give him of the jet.

"I have the stick. Ken apologies in advanced if this ends up being a bumpy ride." Ken mumbled something that sounded like an affirmative. "You two go now."

"At least you skipped breakfast this morning," Bill joked as they passed Ken.

"That was an unnecessary shot man," Ryo as they jogged down the corridor.

"If you can't take a shot at your friend," Bill commented as they hit the fork in the corridor and each took a separate path. Near the aft of the ship they both jumped into a one man cockpit that was just above floor level. A canopy came down as they completed a quick preflight check before activating their comm.

"Alpha Two-A ready to disengage," Ryo announced.

"Alpha Two-B ready to disengage," Bill quickly added. "And I should have been A."

"Acknowledge and file a complaint that I'll be sure to ignore," Hawk told him. "You are free to disengage now."

"Rodger," both announced. Almost at the same time they hit the control in their separate cockpits. In the rear of Alpha One two panels lowered as two one man fighter jets were slowly backed out by a small ramp. On both black and red jets a tail fin popped into position as two sets of wings extended out and locked into place.

"Disengage," Ryo ordered and both of them released the clamps that were holding the Alpha Twos in place. Both fell out the rest of the way before the engines came to life and the shot forward under the Alpha One.

"Whoo hoo!", Bill celebrated. "That actually worked!"

"Let's just hope the reengaging is just as smooth," Ryo told him.

"Why are they surprised my device actually worked?", Williams asked. "I designed it myself."

"Maybe because you weren't exactly sure how do to it until the last third of construction," Jess offered.

"Dr. Williams if you would please sit down in one of the empty chairs." Hawk cut off his reply. "all this pacing is starting to make me nervous."

"Not words I want to hear right now," Ken muttered. The Alpha One started to shake and he immediately reached for another bag.

Still amazed he had anything left in his stomach at this point Hawk said, "Sorry son, I'm still finding the feel for here."

Starting their search from the point the stoned humans were discovered they started expanding their search grid. They found nothing out of the ordinary at first. If this was one of the usual sized creatures they have been fighting lately there wasn't a whole lot of places it could hide. as far as Ryo could tell. "I'm not picking up anything so far on any of my sensors, how about you Bill?"

"A whole lot of nothing," he replied.

"Right. Watranabe to Hawk unless you're picking up something I don't think it's hear any more."

"We're not getting anything either," Hawk answered. "Commander Reid, have you and your men find any more petrified people?"

Walking through the trees trying to keep an eye on both his wrist scanner and his surrounding Reid answered, "Not so far. I already have Bridge listening to the police bands for anything similar." Stopping and looking at the ground he spoke back up, "You care if I make a suggestion Hawk?"

"I'm listening Jason."

"Is there anything in that fancy new toy of yours that can scan underground. Part of me is thinking that this is another burrower."

Hawk glanced over at Williams who seemed to be thinking it over. Getting up and headed over to Jess's station he said, "It should be possible I would just need to readjust the setting. Should take no time at all." Half gesturing and half pushing her out of the chair Williams took it for himself and started on those readjustments.

With her seat apparently taken over she strolled over to Ken and gave his shoulder a slight squeeze. "How are you holding up? Not counting the throw up bags that is."

He started to answer then he got a wide eyed look on his face, "Engine readout just went dark!"

"Sorry, sorry," Williams said doing something over there right before his station came back on.

"Not in my current condition huh doc."

"I'm getting something," Williams announced. "It's underground. Activating weapons."

"Doctor wait!", Hawk cried out trying to stop him but he already had the button pressed. There was an explosive sound somewhere inside the ship and the alarms started to go off.

"Engines are offline!", Ken yelled as Jess quickly ran toward an empty seat.

"That wasn't my fault!", Williams cried out. "That wasn't my fault!"

"Not now Doctor!", Hawk shouted. "Ken engines!"

"I can't get them to come back up!", he answered doing whatever he could to make it not so.

"We're going down!", Hawk told him trying to fight it. "Brace for impact!"

"This shouldn't be happening," Williams stated as he assumed crash position.

"This not a good start," Bill commented as he watched the Alpha One go down.

"Not a good time Bill," Ryo snapped.

"Alpha One has crashed landed," Bridge said as he pulled up a image from a satellite flying over the area. while not being an experienced pilot Hawk was able to keep them from landing nose first. Although the strip behind them indicated that they took a good chunk of the forest in order to do so. "Castle to Alpha One come in. Captain Hawk respond. Captain Hawk!"

"We're here Bridge," Hawk grunted, a bit of pain edging his voice. "Everybody else respond."

"I'm here," Jess called out using the chair to get back up.

"That wasn't my fault," Williams repeated as he righted himself.

"I survived worse," Ken moaned, although he shook his left arm a bit and hoped none of them saw.

"Confirmed and great to hear Captain," Bridge said with a smile. "What's the status of the Alpha One?"

Over the line he heard Ken mutter, "I don't believe it."

"What is it?", Hawk asked.

"Outside of the engines being dead readings are saying this hunk of junk is still air worthy."

"Not now Doctor," Hawk said cutting off Williams response yet again. "The two of you get to the engine room and find out just what the hell happened."

"He overloaded the system by activating the weapons that's what happened," Ken said as he took off his helmet.

Williams stood at his full height and looked right at him, "We tested the weapons while the engines were running a hundred times."

Ken wasn't backing down, "Welcome to a hundred and one. I've told you we should have put them put them on separate lines."

"And what use would that have been?"

"We’d still be in the air for one." He stopped and got a weird look on his face, "Why am I saying that like it's a good thing?"

"You two," Hawk snapped getting their full attention. "Engines. Now!" As soon as they exited the bridge they could hear them start up again. Taking a moment to regain his composure he said into his comm., "Bridge we might be here for a while. We'll keep you posted on our status as soon as I find out myself."

"Understood Captain, Castle out," Bridge said. He switched to another comm. line, "Castle to Commander Reid, were you able to get the position of the creature before the crash?"

"Affirmative Bridge," he answered. "I already ordered the wagons to circle it. We're going to need more though if it decides to come up for air."

"Understood scrambling units now."

In a few moments after the crash Richardson and brooks returned to the control room. Staying out of the activity going around them. "If it could get any worse," Richardson mumbled.

Besides him Brooks smiled on the inside. Yes they could get much worse. Making sure no one was paying him any particular attention to him he closed his eyes and concentrated on the dark energy that permeated the creature. Gakuma arise.

"The creature is moving!", Bridge announced. On the main screen footage of a quadruped came out of the ground and shook the dirt off it's brownish gray, rigged body all the way down to the tip of it's tail.. The single horn on it's head swinging back and forth along with it's head.

"Commander Reid's forces are not in position yet," somebody to their left announced.

"Base units are almost ready to scramble," said someone to their right.

"Watanabe to Castle, me and Bill are going to try to lead the creature away from the Alpha One."

Acknowledge Watanabe," Bridge told him, "be careful and Castle out."

With nothing else to do at the moment Jess volunteered to watch over Ken and Dr. Williams in case they didn't get the word to abandon the Alpha One. Or at least referee if they started going at it again. "Are you sure it's not the intake you were worried about?", she heard the good doctor say from somewhere behind a giant cooling coil.

Coming out from an opening in a wall with his ponytail tucked into his jacket collar Ken replied, "It's the first thing I checked and yes I'm sure." On solid ground he looked and sounded like he always did. She was always amazed at how fast he could bounce back after being that green, even when they were younger.

"Well I'm not seeing any cracks in the transfer units," Williams told him.

"Start checking the lines then," Ken told him as he went to another opening.

Hearing footsteps come up behind her she looked back despite knowing that it was going to be Hawk. "How are they doing?"

"They haven't found anything yet. So far they seem kind of," right then Ken popped out of the hole and looked in a particular direction with a nervous look on his face, exiting all the way out as she continued, "oblivious to what's going on outside."

"Hmm, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not at the moment,' Hawk mused. “I'm suddenly glad the Alpha Twos have VOTL capabilities so we don't have worry about them for the moment."

"I found it," Williams called out. Jess and Hawk walked over to the other side of the engine room so they could see him behind the power generator a Ken made his way over to him. "A hole in the line, at least a foot long."

"How in the hell did that happen?", Ken asked not exactly looking for an answer. Once he got there he was surprised by something Daxium thought he was picking up. Making sure Jess and the Captain weren't looking he held a hand over it. It was pretty feint at this point and with the monster right there he might have missed it if he was in a rush but there was a slight trace of dark energy at the edges of the gap. "Shit," he whispered.

"How bad is it Ken?", Hawk asked.

"It's like he said," he called back. "About a foot gap in the line. It looks like it melted through but it should be a simple fix." Moving a bit better look at what was behind the two of them he pointed, "That third locker behind you. There should be a section of replacement lines. We're going to need the one labeled 7-J."

"I got it," Jess told him.

"Great," Ken said, "I'll get the tools we're going to need from the storage unit Doc."

"Ken," Jess called out again, "I'm not seeing it."

"It's clearly labeled," Williams told her, "plain as day."

"Doctor," Hawk spoke up, "she's not seeing it because it's not there."

"No way," Ken said as he freed himself from the engine. "That was full last night. Going over to her he saw that it was empty. Checking the others lockers they found they were empty as well. "No, me and two others doubled check these last night before I went off shift. These were full."

"Well they're not now," Jess said.

"Time we push that genius brain of your," Hawk told him, "We need to get air born or abandon ship because right now we're sitting ducks."

"I'm thinking, I'm thinking," he said holding his head. "We can't use a line from another part of the system because all the major systems are tied together by the same line." Going over to the storage unit in the wall he studied the tool situation. "If we had something to fill the gap. Wait..."

"Ken?", Hawk asked as he raced out of the room and followed him back to the bridge. Walking to one of the consoles he watched the younger man pull up the information on the ongoing battle outside. "Why are you looking up Scan Track placement?"

"Because my first thought was a hardware store and they're too far away," he said. "Scott to Commander Reid, I hate to interrupt but I'm going to need something from Scan Tracks 47, 52 and 78."

"Scott I can't send those Tracks to you at the moment," he replied.

"I'll be going to them, just have them look for me."

"Reid this is Hawk just do as he asks this one time."

"Yes sir," he sighed. "I'll give the orders to those three. Reid out."

"Thanks Captain," Ken said as he programmed the information into his wrist scanner. "And I need to take the Alpha Three."

"Go and don't prove me wrong," Hawk said as he left.

On the outside of the Alpha One, near the back another ramp lowered and Ken rode out on a motorcycle and headed toward the nearest Scan Track.

At Castle stood back in the Control Room and wondered what Scott's plan was. He specifically stated three Scan Tracks, so if he was planning on releasing the giant now how would he explain the delay?

The driver of Scan Track 52 saw Ken coming and came to a stop once he was close enough. "What do you need Ken?"

"I need in your toolbox," he said and the driver popped the back hatch. Getting into the box he quickly located what he was looking for, a role of duct tape."

The gunman happened to see it and went, "Seriously?"

"If you got a better idea I'm all ears," Ken told him. Not hearing anything he closed the hatched and was backed on the Alpha Three and headed off with the role on his wrist.

Still shaking his head the gunman told the driver, "Get in contact with Track 47 and 78 and tell them to have it ready for him."

Two quick trips thanks to that call ahead and Ken had already returned to the Alpha One and headed back toward the engine room.

"Duct tape?", Reid said out loud once word of what Ken needed got back to him. "That's what he needed so badly?" He took his mind off it long enough to order, "Right flank keep's it attention! It's starting to move toward the Alpha One again."

"We see it Commander," Ryo said he and Bill fired on the creature to get it's attention again.

"How long can we keep this up?" Reid wondered out loud. A few more minutes of firing at the creature finally did the trick as it finally started to move away from the down jet.

"Razor Wings are flying into the area and are getting into position now Commander," his scanner man answered.

"About time," he said. "All Razor Wings this is Commander Reid..."

"Commander!", his gunman called out. "The Alpha One is in the air."

"What?", Reid exclaimed as he looked back. As hard as it was to believe there it was hovering above the trees. "I'll be damned. Whatever he did actually worked."

"This is not possible," Williams said in downright amazement from one of the empty chairs upfront. "This should not be happening."

"Don't question it Doctor," Hawk told him from his chair. "This goes against my earlier judgment but Reid and the men helped us out so let's return the favor. Jess prep the ship's main cannon."

"Captain this will not..." Williams started to protest.

"Prepping the big gun now," Jess stated. She looked over to Ken expecting to hear some sort of joke. But he was busy staring at his screen and turning a light pale at the moment.

"How many shots are we going to get with that set up?", Hawk asked seeing how Ken wrapped all three roles around that gap.

"With that... that... hack job?", Williams demanded.

"One if we're lucky," Ken cut in. Putting a hand up to keep whatever was left in his stomach down he muttered after it subsided, "And if God really loves me."

The Alpha One got into position to fire without the creature noticing. On the bottom of the ship another set of panels opened and a large electronic cannon lowered into position. In a few seconds it powered up to full strength. "Fire!" Hawk ordered.

"Firing," Jess responded and hit the control. A redish gold beam shot from the cannon and his the creature dead in the side. It roared out in pain and fell to the side. "Direct hit!"

Alarms started to go off again. "Engines are sputtering," Ken called out. "Get us on the ground now!"

"Way ahead of you," hawk said as he put her down on the ground. While not as rough as their first landing it was still a bit bumpy as they touched down. Realizing they were all safe and sound Hawk looked back at Ken with a slight grin, "And that's supposed to be get us on the ground now sir."

Ken smiled back, "Lost my head for a second, won't happen again sir."

"Captain," Jess said. "Readings are saying the creature is still alive."

"Damn it," he said. "Is there any way to get us back in the air?"

"Captain,' she repeated a little more subdued, "according to this it's heavily wounded. I don't think it's going to make it." They walked over to her station to see what she was seeing. Pulling up the audio they heard breath after ragged breath. Like it was in immense pain.

"Hawk to Reid," he said softly. "Are you getting this reading on the creature?"

"Yes Captain we are," he sounded as disturbed as they were at this.

Right now there was only one order he could give in this situation, "Commander put it out of it's misery."

"Under..." The ground started to shake, "What the?"

Not far away a similar creature, slightly bigger and with two horns on it's head emerged from the ground. It looked around until it saw the dying creature and went over to it. Nudging it a bit it let out a low, mournful growl and backed up. Opening it's mouth and emitted a ray that coated the other one in stone. Then it looked at the Alpha One and let out an angry roar.

Nobody on board needed a translation for that. "Abandon ship!", Hawk ordered.

"Open fire on the new one!" Reid yelled out. "Watanabe..."

"We're on it Commander," he said. "Razor Wings form up on me and the Alpha Two-B."

Hawk and the rest of them ran down the entry ramp to see the monster still coming at them despite the new barrage. "Ken," Hawk said not taking his eyes off the situation, "take Dr. Williams and head toward the nearest Scan track. Wade we'll head in the other direction. It's bound to follow one of us so the other group should get to safety."

"Rodger," Jess said.

"Come on Doc," ken said grabbing him by the arm and heading to the right over his protest but he ran once the monster roared again. Getting close to the trees Ken looked back and saw the creature was heading toward them. "It must be sensing Dax. Doc stay back."

"What are you going to do?", he asked in a panic.

"What do you think?" He pulled the Spark Magnifier out of the inner pocket of his uniform jacket and held it over his head.

The other Gakuma reared back in surprise as the column of light appeared and faded away to reveal Daxium, "Shiah!" The creature fired it's beam again. The giant jumped out of the way as the tops of the trees in the way became petrified. Twisting ion the air it startled it's body as he landed. Gabbing one of the horns he started landing punches at it's back and neck. Gakuma tried to buck in order to throw him off. Feeling himself lose his grip Daxium uses the momentum the creature gave to rolled forward. Daxium threw up the field when he realized it was going to fire it's beam again. He grunted in surprise when Gakuma turned it into stone disk.

Gakuma jumped forward knocking the giant stone onto the giant and forcing him to the ground. Taking the advantage it jumped up and down on the disk trying to force him into the ground. The stone crumbled before that could happen and began to continue to jump on Daxium for a bit before walking off him. Slowly getting to his knees Daxium watched the creature as best he could. He was so worried about the beam he forgot about the tail as it came around and smashed into his head knocking him back down. Shaking his head to clear the stars from his vision he saw the creature prepare to fire the beam again and rolled out of the way. Realizing that it missed Gakuma fired again but to no avail.

Rolling to a knee he fired off a flashbolt that exploded on contact. Seeing the creature in pain started toward the creature but was caught off guard when it fired it's beam one more time. Catching him at the foot, stone quickly formed up to his knee. "Gah!" Daxium grunted in pain as he fell clutching at it as he dropped to the other one. It started to go past his knee on onto his fingers as the crystal started to flash.

"Do we got a clkear shot at the creature," Reid demanded.

Fortunately his gunner was pro Ultraman and truthfully replied, "Ultraman's in the way. I can't get a clear shot from this position."

"Razor Wings it's up to you to distract that thing."

Before they could respond or get in positions Daxium banged his forearms together and modeshifted into the red form of Power, the switch breaking the stone and free his body. Getting to his feet he grabbed the charging Gakuma by the horns and stopped it in it's tracks. He forced it's head away from him and any of the troops around them as it fired the beam one more time. Moving quick to change his grip to he had it around the neck. With a grunt he forced the monster into air and fell back dropping it on it's head. While Gakuma stunned he grabbed it by the tail and started swinging eventually letting it go and watched it land hard deeper into the forest. Drawing in energy he set up and unleashed the Giga wave that tore up the ground and destroyed Gakuma. Switching back to Normal Mode he fired the Dimensional Storm Ray and took care of the one covered in stone before flying off into the sky, "Shiah!"

Williams watched as ball of light appeared in front of him that quickly condensed into the shape of a man and broke away revealing Ken on the inside. He quickly dropped down and clutched the same knee Daxium got shot at. Concerned about the pain etching his face Williams went, "Are you alright?"

"As fine as I can be," he grunted between breaths. "Dax modeshifting more than once still takes a bit out of me, not to mention this," he gently patted his knee. Feeling the pain quickly subside he slowly tried to get his feet under himself, grunting every so often and waving Williams off, until he stood under his own power. Trying to get some more feeling into his leg he started walking around but with a noticeable limp for the time being.

"How are you going to explain your leg when they find us?"

"I'll tell them I stepped on it wrong,' he said thinking it out for a moment. "It sounds believable enough. I've had enough practice coming up with excuses since I was high jacked into this."

"Two creatures," Peter ranted in his office after it was over. "Two creatures and they couldn't both attack at once. I swear those Zetton bastards are trying to lose this war at times." A vortex started to form right in front of him and he quickly sent out a pulse of dark energy to temporarily disable the security cameras in the room.

"Avatar there is a problem," a voice said before the darken shape could be seen."

"Oh, you saw the utter failure of the Gakumas too?" In most cases this would be border line belligerence in their eyes and they would disciplined him for it. But apparently now was not one of those times.

"No," it answered, "those are not that we speak of. An experiment has escaped."

"Escaped?", the Gakumas dropped out of his mind as this had his full attention.

"Yes. Somehow it overpowered it's guard and found a way to create a rift into your world."

"This could be bad. How dangerous is this experiment?"

"More than you originally gave it credit for."

"Than I...?" Quickly it dawned on him on what this experiment was exactly. "Of course it would be him. Who else could it be?"

Elsewhere a hiker was walking along a path until he came to the lake. He stopped and tried to get a good picture of it. Supposedly this was the one those two giant creatures came out of. The UNDF said it was currently safe but people stopped using it all the same. More than a few pointing out they said that after the first creature came out of it then we got another. Truth be told part of his was worried that was one was going to pop out of the water right there and then.

Admiring the calm water he reached down and grabbed his bag when he thought he saw a flash out of the corner of his eye. He looked around and saw a man dressed in dirty rags curled up by the water line. He wasn't there before grabbed the small first aid kit out of his bag and hurried over to him. "Hey, you all right?"

As he got closer he saw the shaggy beard and dirty skin of the stranger. He had some welts that were visible where the clothes were ripped but he didn't look hurt otherwise. This stranger looked in his direction causing the hiker to stopped out of a sudden fear that crawled up his spine. "Help me," he uttered softly and tried to grab at him.

Finding his courage again he got close enough to touch him. "I'll help you just relax. We'll call the police and..."

"NO!", he sat up and shouted startling the hiker he scooted back quickly. A little calmer he went on, "Not police... the UNDF... Hawk... Need to call Hawk."

"Okay," he said mainly hoping it would keep him calm. "We'll call the UNDF and ask for this Hawk. But they're going to want your name."

"Right name, they'll want my name," much to the hiker's relief it looked he was calming down and acted like he was thinking a little more clearly. "My name is... My name is...," His face twisted and he grunted as he held his gut and seemed to curl into himself.

"Relax mam," was the last thing the hiker said as the stranger started to glow. Rearing up he screamed at the heavens as the energy expanded instantly killing the hiker.

Breathing heavily after the wave he produced faded he went on to say, "Jamira. My name is..." He looked up to see the man he just killed then at the glow fading from his hands. Getting up he staggered forward trying to comprehend what he had just done."

ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside
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