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Old February 24th, 2019, 04:17 PM #1
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> scikaiju
Power Ranger
 
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 325
scikaiju
Power Ranger
scikaiju's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 325



Kamen Rider Fusion

A/ N This is the first fic I posted, and honestly up until recently I thought there was nothing but PR fiction allowed in tjis section for the most part.A couple of things to keep in mind, I first started this after Faiz aired, and yes I realize some of the writing here is not to best. I like to think I've at least improved since then. Any way, to any one checking this out I hope you enjoy
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<Episode 1>

His senses slowly came back to him. He eyes were refusing to focus for him. There were people around, he could tell that much. At least his other senses were working. What were they saying?

"... rate normal..."
"... brain activity spiking..."
"... gonna wake up."
"He's already awake."

Suddenly there was a blur in shape of a man over him shining a light in his eyes, "Oh geez!"

"Mr. Davidson, can you hear me?"

"Yeah."

"How do you feel?"

"Cold."

"That's understandable. Somebody get him another blanket." He started to sit up. The blur helped him, "Careful, you’ve been out for awhile. You're going to be a little disoriented for a bit."

Sitting on the edge of the bed he waited for his head to stop spinning. As his eyes finally cleared somebody put another blanket around his shoulders. After another moment he realized he was on a metal bed. Out of habit he ran his fingers threw his hair. It was shorter than he remembered and it was wet. What happened to him? "Where am I?"

"All in due time Mr. Davidson."

"Jack."

"Excuse me?"

"That was one of your questions right? If I remembered my name?"

The Doctor smiled and nodded, "That's one I don't have to worry about. Forgive me," he held out a hand, "Dr. Harold Freidman. I've been with you ever since you been in here."

"Howdy." He noticed his arm as he extended it. There were scars he didn't have before. He glanced at his left and scars were covering it too.

"I'm sure you have a lot of questions. Unfortunately I'm not the one who can answer them for you."

"The non-medical ones anyway," somebody else said. "One of your assistants called me the moment he woke up Doctor." A dark haired man in a suit walked toward them. Jack was getting more confused by the moment. The suit looked him over the turned to Friedman. "Everything is in working order I trust."

"So far, but we haven't tested..."

"Doctor."

"Right." He clapped Jack on the shoulder, "I'll see if I can find you some clothes."

"So Mr. Davidson, you should consider yourself a very lucky man. Not a whole lot of people can live after what you went through."

"Live through what?"

"Let's go a little easy on him sir." Jack sat up a little straighter when he noticed the green eye blond in the room. The suit smiled at his reaction. "He just woke up after all. I'm sure all of this is a lot to absorb all at once."

"I suppose you're right Miss Haily. I'll let you two get acquainted. You will be spending a lot of time together after all."

Jack watched him leave the room. He couldn't quite figure that guy out. A nurse brought him some clothes. Miss Haily excused herself so he could get dressed. He was a little wobbly after getting off the table but he was standing without any problem. Jack saw a mirror on a wall and looked himself over. Hair and eyes were still brown, but scars of various sizes covered his upper body and legs. What happened to him? He wanted some answers and he wanted them now.

"Are you decent?", Haily asked from the other side of the door.

"Give me a moment." he dressed as quickly as he could. Grey sweats and a T-shirt along with the mandatory slippers. Jack had been in hospitals before and he never wore anything like this. "Miss Haily..."

"Call me Rachel."

"Ok... Rachel, where exactly am I?"

She came back into the room. She sat in a chair and motioned for him to do the same. Jack turned it around and straddled it. "I can answer your question," she began, "but I need to ask you one more question." He rolled his eyes but waved it on. Anything to get some answers. "What's the last thing you remember before waking up here?"

"The last thing I remember?" Jack thought about it. Various things floated through his mind. A lot of them didn't make any sense. "I was hiking with my buddy Richie." He thought about it some more. "And I think... there was... a... blue monkey?"

The memory of what happened came back to him.

***
"Come of Jack your falling behind," Richie called back to him. Jack swore under his breath and quickened his pace. Never bet with a guy when his family owns a casino, that was his new motto. "Hey do you see that part of the mountain over there? Do you know what that reminds me of?"

"You say one thing about those stupid Japanese shows you watch and I swear I'm kicking your butt."

"Dude I knew you were a sore loser but come on. Besides you don't know quality programming when you see it."

"Let's just climb the stupid mountain."

Richie chuckled as they headed toward it. They walked up it for awhile when Richie pointed at something, "Hey what's that thing?" Whatever it was it was jumping all over the place. Gunshots could be heard right after they spotted it. "Maybe we should go now."

"Smartest thing I ever heard you say." Before they could turn around the thing stopped. About then they saw the guys dressed in black further down from whatever it was. They were trying to fire at the thing, which from his vantage point looked like a large blue monkey. "What in the world?". The monkey looked at the scene before him then at the mountain around him.

One of the guys said, "Shoot it!". The monkey jumped up and back to avoid the shot. Jack wasn't sure but he thought it was holding something. Several section of the mountain below it exploded causing a rockslide.

"Run!!" Jack turned to run when another set of explosive went off about twenty feet above them. A rock the size of a baseball hit him between the shoulder blades. He went down but Richie picked him back up. Richie looked behind them eyes going wide. He pushed Jack away from him before a mass of rocks covered him. A boulder landed on his legs pinning him to the ground. Jack screamed in pain as he laid there. Another boulder came down and crushed an arm. His vision started to go blurry when the monkey landed by him. Jack looked up at it. Before everything went dark he thought it turned into a blond haired man. The next thing he knew he was waking up here.

***
"Richie." Jack shot out of the chair, "Where's Richie?"

Rachel looked down slightly, "I'm sorry..."

"No! You saved me."

"You were barely alive when we our search team found you. Your legs and left arm were crushed." He looked at his arms, that explained the scars on one.

"So you people thought I want a matching set!" She didn't say anything. "And my legs were crushed, you said so yourself. Why am I still standing?" During his rant he realized something. "Wait, why would you have search teams out? You were after that thing weren't you?"

"One of our teams were."

"What in the hell is going on? Why am I not in a wheelchair? Why are there blue monkeys blowing up mountains? Who are you people?"

A little too calmly for his taste she answered, "I can answer two of those question for you right now. Like I told you, you were in pretty bad shape. You already lost a lot of blood when they found you. Nobody thought you were going to make it much longer. Mr. Anderson suggested a project R&D was working on."

"Anderson, that was the guy in the suit right?"

"Yeah that was him. We developed an experimental treatment for cases like yours. Well not exactly like yours, it was a military application. Look you have to understand nobody knew if the Fusion Project was going work. Mr. Anderson took a..."

"Fusion Project?"

She let out a breath, "A fusion of man and machine."

Jack laughed, "So am I worth six million dollars now? Or did that price go up because of inflation?"

"I’m glad you're finding this funny," she snapped. "I'm sorry, I realize this is a lot to take in. I mean I spent the past couple month getting ready for this. Before you ask it's been six months since your accident."

"Six months." He dropped back in the chair. "But my mom...?"

She looked down at the floor again. "She thinks your dead."

He shot out of the chair again, "What!?"

"After we identified you somebody sent word to your mother that you died in the avalanche."

"So everybody I know thinks I'm dead?" She nodded as he walked away. "So your boss decides to put my nearly lifeless carcass in a program nobody knew was going to work. That's just really convenient for you people."

"You're right." Jack looked at her as she got up and joined him by the window. "Somebody messed up badly here. I'm going to everything in my power to get this fixed."

He calmed down a bit after hearing that, "Thanks."

"Hey not everybody here at World Inc. is trying to mess with you."

"Never heard of it."

"World Inc. policy is to stay away from the public eye as much as possible."

He snorted, "A major corporation that doesn't want publicity. There some rotten stuff is going on in here alright."

"I don't get down to R&D much, so you might be right. They could be growing a vampire down there for all I know," she said with a smile. "You hungry?"

"After six months you figured I'd be starving."

"That was the nutrient bath we kept you in. It basically feed you and kept your muscles from atrophying." He shook his head as they headed for the door. "We’ve made a lot of advances in the medical field the world doesn't know about. We want to make sure things are close to perfect before they are released. The bath seems to work just fine, it should be in hospitals before you know it. Probably should be in hospitals already."

"They might be using it to feed the vampire."

"Maybe we'll see it in the cafeteria. Besides there still some things I need to tell you about the Fusion Project. And about your blue monkey."

***
Anderson entered the security control room and watched the screens that filled the wall. He looked at each screen until he found the one with Haily and this Davidson. They were talking from the look of things, Davidson seemed rather animated at times. Times like these he wished these things came with sound. He would talk to Haily about it later. The more he knew about Davidson the better. An unknown in his organization would not do.

He waved a man foreword and pointed at the screen. "I want to follow these two. They're leaving the room, hurry."

"Over here sir." He was lead to a desk in a corner that had an independent monitor. The guard typed a command into the keyboard and Haily and Davidson were on the screen. The view kept changing as the different cameras watched them. Turning back to the wall he looked for the appropriate screen. There he was, screen eighty seven. The monitor said Haily and Davidson were on camera seventy five, perfect.

He calmly walked over to another wall with a selection of phones and picked up the black one. The first ring just finished when he got an answer, "Yes Mr. Anderson."

"Mitchell, we have slight alteration in the plan. I want the target engaged in section... ," he looked at the monitors again, "section K. Don't let the situation get too out of control unless you have to terminate the target."

"Understood."

Anderson replaced the phone and returned to the monitor. Soon, all he had to do was wait.

"Sir?", the guard spoke up. "Are you sure this is wise?"

"Probably not," he admitted. "But I put a majority of the company finances into this particular project. I want to see if I got my money worth." The guard said nothing else and left him alone with the monitor.

***
"Wait show me that arm movement again," Jack said as he leaned against the wall. Rachel sighed as she raised her left arm across her chest. As he moved it to the right she brought her right arm up to her face. Then she brought her right hand down on something on her waist. "One more time."

"Let's just go," she said as she walked off. Jack caught up with her. "You need to stay serious about this."

"I'm sorry but it's a little hard to take this seriously. You just told me I have an active military prototype keeping me alive. That, might I add, I can turn on by doing that stupid arm movement."

"And saying the activator word," she informed him. Jack just snorted. "It was done to make sure that whoever was bonded to the system couldn't activate it accidently. I mean we don't want a guy to power up every time he get's angry."

Jack waited a couple of beats before saying, "Well if he gets angry couldn't he do the arm movements and say the word anyway?"

"No... well... ah... I."

"Quite a few bugs you have to work out of this system."

"I'll send R&D you comments," she said dryly. She was quiet for a few yards. "Ok it sounds really stupid. I don't know who thought that up."

"Anybody in R&D watch Japanese TV shows?"

"Why?"

"Just a hunch." They turned into another hallway and he noticed something was different. So far Jack had seen a guard or two in every hallway they been in. So where was the guard for this one? The only other person was some janitor. Jack looked at him as they passed. Suddenly men wearing black and holding guns came around the corner ahead of them. Jack looked back to the hallway they came from, there was more coming around that corner too. He held up his hands, "Whoa."

Rachel did the same thing but walk to the guy he thought was in charge. "Mitchell, what's the meaning of this?"

"We got an intruder. I have orders to take care of it." Mitchell had his gun pointed at the janitor, who was apparently going about his business like these guys weren't even here. "Hold it!" The janitor stopped where he was. "Good now lay on the ground now." He slowly turned to face Mitchell. "Don't do anything stupid." Jack knelt down in case the bullets started flying. The janitor cracked his neck and turned into a red bull.

"Oh my god," Rachel blurted.

"Holy... ," Jack started to say before the shooting started. The bull snorted and charged Mitchell and knocked him back. His men kept firing as the bull started toward the other group. The bull stopped and roared at the guard before crashing through a door.

Mitchell got back up to a knee and yelled into a microphone in his vest. "He's running! I want all teams to intercept that thing!" As his men followed the bull he looked at Jack and Rachel. "Is that guy in the project?" Jack nodded. "Well get on the case dummy."

"He's not ready yet," Rachel countered. "He's nowhere near prepared for this yet."

"Nothing better than on the job experience."

"Is that thing with the monkey I saw?", Jack asked her.

"Well yeah, but...:"

"What the activator word?"

"We don't have one yet. They were going to input one when we tested the weapon systems."

"So any word will do?" She nodded and Jack got up and chased after the bull. It crashed through a wall and into the next room. Was not going to be hard to follow that trail, that much was for sure. Going through room to room he tried to think of a word to use. When he caught up with the guards and the bull they were in a garage of some kind. And in all that time only one word rang through his head. "Damn you Richie."

Jack stood there and raised his left arm like Rachel showed him. A belt with a grey, oval metal buckle with a red face plate and two grey pods at the sides appeared around his waist. Moving his arm to the left he brought up his right arm. He looked right at the bull and said, "Henshin!", and slammed his right hand on top of the belt. He lowered his hands as the belt scanned his body. A black body suit with blue armor around his chest, top of his forearms, shins, feet and the back of his hands covered him. His vision had a tint of red as he looked out the helmet that covered his head.

***
In the security room Anderson smiled to himself. Everything was coming together perfectly. Now if the project worked like predicted things could go foreword.

***
Rachel had just come through the hole with Mitchell as Jack charged the bull. He punched it once and then kneed it in the side. Jack backed up then kicked it right in the snout. Suddenly he stopped attacking the bull when he saw his reflection in a windshield. "What are you doing?", she shouted in disbelief.

"I look like a bug."

"He kinda does," Mitchell said, "with those antennas on his forehead."

"You're not helping," Rachel told him. The bull recovered, grabbed him by the neck and tossed him. Jack landed hard on the hood of a car. The bull ran toward him with it's fist over it's head. Jack rolled out of the way as those fist slammed into the hood.

"Glad that's not my car," Mitchell commented.

"Shouldn't you be making sure nobody else gets involved?"

"All teams secure the area," he spoke into the mic. To her he said, "You think I'm going to miss the grand debut?"

***
Jack backed up against a railing as the bull charged again, "Oy." He dropped down and flipped the bull over his shoulder and over the railing. It landed with a sickening thud on the concrete below. But it was still getting up. "I must be crazy." He climbed the railing jumped on top of the bull. As it fell to the ground from the impact Jack started raining punches on it. One of his punches was caught and he was flung off. The bull slowly got to it's feet but Jack was paying attention to something else in his vision. "I got some kind of meter going crazy here!"

"You have a excess energy build up," Rachel shouted from the upper level. "The belt was designed to do that." The bull swung at him again. He ducked and rolled under the arm and kicked it hard in the back. It stumbled foreword and fell on it's face. "You have to reroute the energy, there's a button under the belt." The bull got up and tried to punch him, Jack caught it's arm and threw it. He reached under the belt and found the button and pressed it. Two mini turbines in the belt stated spinning. After a moment he felt a charge run down his right leg.

"No way." Jack looked up above him and said, "I'm only saying this one time for you." Jack took a few steps back and started running at the bull. About halfway he jumped up high in the air. On the way down he extended his right leg and yelled, "Rider kick!" The bull looked up and his foot came into contact with it's chest. Jack landed on his feet as the bull flew backward and exploded. He stood there and watched as the remains burned. What did he just do?

***
Anderson smiled at the scene on the monitor. The project worked as predicted. Now things could proceed as planned. "Send a clean up crew to the garage, and make sure nobody enters until they are done. Have Mitchell check the area for any unexpected witness, I don't want this getting out." He looked at the remains one more time. "And make sure he gets the proper respect he deserves. I'll handle the ceremony myself." He left the control room very satisfied with things. All of his plans were coming together.
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Old February 26th, 2019, 06:41 PM #2
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> scikaiju
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scikaiju
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<Episode 2>

A black and white recording of Davidson and the bull played on the wall. It was somewhat surprising to Davidson engage the creature so intensely. Almost as if he had something against the man. He would have to talk to Haily soon about her observation. Ah, his favorite part was coming up, where Davidson jump down a level to get the bull. His finger hovered over the rewind button. It was so tempting to watch that part again, but he doubted his visitor would appreciate it that much. Davidson had jumped into the air, aiming his right foot at the bull. Anderson froze the image before contact was made. No sense in seeing that part replayed. He memorized that particular image as soon as he saw it.

He pressed a button on the on the control in his desk and the screen went black while a panel slide down hiding it from view. Mitchell walked foreword and stood at ease. Anderson leaned back and steepled his fingers. "Somewhat impressive."

"He's a little raw for my taste," Mitchell replied." The only reason he won is because the bull underestimated him. And I'm sure the bull falling on the back of his neck helped a lot."

"He used his environment to his advantage," he countered.

"He got lucky. Personally I want to see how he does against an opponent with a little more skill."

"If things go right you may get your wish." Anderson leaned foreword and picked up Mitchell's report of the encounter. "Remind me, what did he say as he was performing that last kick?"

"He said 'Rider kick' sir."

"Any idea why he would say something like that?"

"Haily talked to him about it afterwards. Something about honoring a dearly departed friend or something like that."

Anderson closed the file and took that in. A small opening into Davidson psyche, perhaps the first link in handling him. He would put more thought into it later. Right now there were more important matter to deal with. "Have the remains been taken care of?"

Mitchell nodded, "Just as ordered. They're in store room C on the med lab floor. I already had the appropriate people called in. The ceremony will not be disturbed."

"Good, double the guard for the remains. I don't want them touched for any reason. Only the people involved are allowed in. The ceremony will take place in an hour."

"Yes sir." Mitchell saluted and left. Anderson reached for the control the moment he was alone. The panel slide down and the screen came to life. Davidson was still frozen in mid air. What was the best way to handle this situation?

***
After the battle Friedman insisted he return to his room. He told Jack he wanted to make sure nothing went wrong after his transformation. So now Friedman had him hooked up to various monitors in the room. The big surprise was a tech named Armstrong who had him rematerialized the belt so a diagnostic could be hooked up to his new system. There was nothing much he could do except lie there until the test were finished. At least somebody put a mattress on the metal bed since he woke up.

The only thing he could do at the moment was think. Think about how he’d lost six months of his life. About Richie. About the suits Mitchell and his men were wearing. Jack didn't realize it at the time but the men after the monkey wore something similar. These guys were obviously trained and prepared to take them on. Why did they need something like him?

Rachel came into his view and smiled at him, "How you feeling Jack?"

He looked at the wires connecting him to the computers in the room, "Like a string puppet."

Friedman chuckled, "You think this is bad? You should have seen how you were hooked up when you first arrived." There was an image he didn't need. "Everything looks normal on my end. How about you Barry?"

"Everything’s green," Armstrong said before unhooking him from the computer. The belt faded away soon afterward. Jack wanted to ask how it did that but he was afraid of what kind of techno babble he would have gotten. But there was one thing he just had to know.

He propped himself up and said, "So, you were one of the guys who created this system inside me?"

"One of them," he admitted. "Is there something you wanted to know?"

"Yeah, why do I look like a bug?" Rachel rubbed her forehead and started muttering in what sounded like French. He asked a couple of people a few times since he saw his reflection in the windshield. So far nobody had an answer for him.

"Is that all?", Armstrong looked surprised. "It was purely psychological. You’ve seen what you were up against. It was felt that if they saw something similar to them it would cause them to pause momentarily."

"So you turned me into a metal bug..."

"A dragonfly to be exact," he interrupted.

"... with red eyes?"

"We took a little creative license."

"And the power boost in my right foot?"

"That was Tim's idea actually.” He shrugged his shoulders, "Not sure were he got the idea."

"I'm sure Jack does," Rachel told him. Friedman had him unhooked in a matter of moments and they left the room. She pulled up a chair as he swung his legs over the side of the bed. "I looked up those programs you mentioned. Your activator word doesn't seem quite as strange now."

"If I knew what I was going to turn into I would have tried a little harder to think of something else. I'm telling you Richie's having himself a good laugh right about know." he looked up, "Maybe an ‘I told you’ so if he could get away with it."

"I'm sure he wouldn't say that."

"You didn't know Richie. I'm telling you if he was in my position he’d be grinning ear to ear while dancing a little jig."

"Sounds like an interesting guy."

"That's one way of putting it."

She smiled before getting serious again, "I suppose we should continue our little talk. I'm pretty sure nothing in here is going to turn into one of those creatures."

"If it does I'm hiding behind you."

Acting like he didn't say anything she continued, "You already know what the Fusion system can do. It enhances your strength and your speed. Not super strong or fast, we weren't sure if the human body could take it. But you're at least three times stronger than a normal human. That should put you on par with the average Drakan."

"Drakan? Is that what the monkey and bull are called."

"Yeah, they’ve been around for a long time. There have been reports that theorize that the werewolf myth was based on them." She paused, obviously waiting for him to make some kind of remark. When he said nothing she went on, "We think most of them just want to be left alone and live out their lives peacefully. It's the more violent ones that we're concerned with."

"Like the ones who places bombs and set's them off?" She nodded. "I got an idea were this is heading and to be honest with you I really don't want to think about this right now."

"Fair enough. How about after you get something to eat? I did promise you some lunch after all."

"Ok, but the first sign of somebody turning into anything and I'm turning around and heading the other way."

***
Anderson walked the hall with Mitchell right behind him. The people they past greeted them, he barely acknowledge them. Store room C quickly came into view. The guards saw them and reacted immediately, one punched a code into a keypad and the other open the door for them. He said nothing to the men or to the others people in the room. Mitchell gave them and the two guards inside orders, "Guard the hallway. Nobody, and I mean nobody get within fifty feet of this room."

"Understood," one of them said. Mitchell closed the door and stood in front of it.

Anderson walked around the group until he stood at the head of the table. He looked at each of the people standing there then at the remains of the once mighty bull. "Some of you might say it was wrong to sacrifice this one. You might be right, we lost a loyal follower to the cause. One who gave his life to the cause

"Let us not forget we currently live a life of conflict. In that life sacrifices must be made. We had a weapon that needed to be tested."

"So why him?", one of them asked. A breach in protocol but it was better to deal with this now then let it fester.

"Who better than one of the strongest of us," he answered. "Not only that, but one of the bravest as well. Would one of you have agreed to test the prototype so willingly? You all saw the tape of his death. Could any of you look at your certain demise and not flinch?" They all looked at each other but said nothing. He knew that would get them. The alpha always knew how to handle his pack.

"Let us no longer sully this solemn moment with whys or why nots. We are here to herald this ones arrival to the next life. We herald his arrival to the place were our brave and honorable are greeted by there ancestors. The place where we are told at birth peace is finally awarded to us. Let us announce that one worthy of that peace is on his way."

The other turned into various animals. A timber wolf, shark, lizard and other stood around the fallen Drakan. Anderson turned into a green cheetah, dots of various shades of green catching their eyes. He looked at each one with a look of feral superiority. Mitchell, the lone human in the room, stood a little straighter when his gaze came upon him. Anderson put his hands on the table, his fingernails making a clicking sound as they came into contact with the metal it was made of. The other soon followed suit and as one howled at the ceiling.

When they stopped Anderson spoke again, "His ancestors have been warned and are awaiting him. The example he set in death let us use in life." They nodded and returned to their human disguises. Mitchell opened the door and let them out. Soon it was just the two of them. "Is there a problem Mitchell?"

"It just freaks me out a little when you change like that."

"You can 'freak out' all you want, just remember where your loyalties lie."

"Always."

***
"Well this slop is better than I thought it be," Jack said. He picked up a spoonful of what he was eating and let it fall back into the bowl. He hadn't eaten much of it. Rachel forced it on him saying he would love it. Fortunately he was able to hold off tasting it for awhile by talking to her.

"It's not slop," she corrected him, "it's jambalaya. My aunt made it every time I visited. They get it close to her recipe but it's always a little off."

"So, what, you ask them to make a certain dish and they'll make it for you?"

"No this also happens to be one of Mr. Anderson favorite dishes as well. And you have to keep your boss happy you know." Before he could say anything a faint howl filled the air. Everybody in the cafeteria was trying to locate the source. It was low and echoed in the room.

"What the hell?", Jack looked at a vent near their table. It sounded like it was coming from there but ended before he could check.

"I don't know,” Rachel said looking uncertain. Things settled down after a few moments. "Maybe a couple of dogs got into the air ducts or something."

Jack looked at her, "This company develops military prototypes, yet you let stray animals and people who turn into monster just wander in?"

Before she could answer a guy he hadn't seen before walked up to them, "Hi Rachel."

"Hi Terry, what's up."

"Mr. Anderson asked me to find you guys. There's a meeting in his office in an hour and a half that he wants both of you at." He motioned to Jack, "He wants to discuss Mr. Davidson future."

"Nice of him to invite me," Jack mumbled. Rachel shot him a look out of the corner of her eye. "It's my future after all."

***
Haily and Davidson had walked into Anderson Office. He appreciated the way Davidson eyed the two people he wasn't familiar with. Sizing them up like a predator. He could definitely respect that. Anderson stood, "Mr. Davidson, I haven't had a chance to congratulate you on your victory earlier." Davidson remained motionless, all business he liked that. "Please have a seat."

As they sat he gestured to the man seated to his right, "Allow me to introduced Bradley Allen, my VP." Allen nodded. He then turned to the woman on his left, "And this is Heather Williams, she in charge of the Drakan situation. You already met Mitchell," he was standing behind his chair and gave him a two finger salute. "Miss Haily did educate you on the Drakans?"

"We went over the basics," Davidson told him.

"Good. Then she also told you our plans for the Fusion project then?"

"Not quite sir," Haily admitted. "Jack guessed what the intentions were but he didn't want to dwell on it at the time. I felt it was best not to push the matter."

"Why?", Allen asked suddenly.

"He went through a lot in a short period of time..."

"I mean why give him a choice. Do you realize how much money we put into this kid? As far as I'm concerned we own him. He's as much our property as that chair he's sitting on." He shot Davidson a particularly nasty look. "Of course he wants a say we could have mommy foot part of the bill."

Davidson showed his first emotion since he walked in, "Ever have a piece of property kick your..."

"Gentlemen," Anderson interrupted, "please, let's not have this get physical. Mr. Allen is in the wrong here, you can not own a human being." Anderson leaned back in his chair, "However we do own the Fusion system. We seem to have a bit of a dilemma."

"Yes you do," Davidson told him flatly.

"Jack," Haily said in a warning tone

"You’d be dead if it wasn't for us," Allen told him.

"Who asked you to save me?", Davidson shot back.

"We assumed you be grateful."

"You assumed I'd fight those things for you."

"Not all of them," Williams interrupted. "We just want you to handle the more aggressive ones."

"I don't blow things up on command," he informed her.

"You had no problem with out friend earlier," Allen said.

"I was told he was with the monkey."

"What monkey?"

"A Drakan blue monkey," Haily informed them. "If you remember one of our teams was after him six months ago. Jack was caught in the trap it set." That opening Anderson detected earlier just became larger. He leaned foreword slightly to study Davidson. How far could he push that opening before the man pushed back?

"Well I can understand Mr. Davidson reluctance. He wants to get his revenge on the person who did this to him, yet he doesn't want to become a cold blooded killer." Davidson eyes narrowed a bit. Anderson took that a sign that he hit the mark. "If Miss Haily hasn't told you we made it our business to track the Drakans, particularly the more violent ones. When we feel they become a danger to the general public we take them out. As quickly and as quietly as possible. With the resources we have I feel we can help you find your monkey."

"In exchange I take out some of your problems."

"I ask you to handle them. If you can find a more peaceful and nonviolent way to do that, then I suggest you do it. I must warn you though, the ones we've come into contact with were not so eager to find a peaceful solution." Williams' cell phone rang. She excused herself and stood by a window.

Davidson thought about it for a moment. "After I get the monkey I'm out." Allen started to say something but Anderson held up a hand to stop him.

"Agreed."

"Just in time," Williams said as she came back to the desk. "We just sighted a Drakan in a known human disguise about five blocks from here."

"Five blocks?", Davidson said in disbelief.

"What's one doing so close?", Mitchell asked

"He could be trying to find the bull," Haily offered. "It might be his contact."

"We better intercept him," Anderson said. "Mr. Davidson this looks like your first chance to find a nonviolent solution. I'll send Mitchell to back you up just in case and to secure the area. No need in any innocents getting hurt. I wish you luck."

Mitchell headed for the door, "Let's rock and roll buddy."

***
Jack stood in an alley about three blocks from World Inc. One of Mitchell's spotters saw his target enter this block from the other side. The plan was to intercept him in the middle. In order to go in alone he agreed to wear an earpiece so he could contact Mitchell in case this went bad. If he wanted to find a peaceful way out of this he didn't need an armed squad right behind him.

Of course he'd be in a better mood to find that way if his feet weren’t being crushed in these boots they gave him. They told him they didn't have time to find some in his size. A few moments to take another look, that all he asked of the guy. Jack was trying to stretch them out when he saw his apparent target walking around the corner. The guy was even wearing a dark colored trench coat, how cliché could you get? They stared at each other for a moment. "I know who you're looking for, he ain't coming. So why don't we both turn around, go back were we came and forget we ever saw each other."

The man sniffed the air. "I smell Drakan blood. On you."

"Really?", he didn't remember the bull bleeding. Either way this couldn't be good.

"You killed a Drakan." Four insect like legs emerged from it's back. As they lifted him off the ground he transformed into a blue spider.

"Ah hell." Jack needed back up now. He reached for the earpiece when one of the legs caught him the side throwing him into the wall. The earpiece was jarred out of his ear on contact. Jack knew he didn't have time to find it. He got to his feet and raised his left arm across his chest. The belt materialized around his waist, the metal glowing in the light. He moved his arm to the left and raised his right arm to his face. "Henshin!", Jack shouted as he slammed his right hand on top of the belt. The belt scanned him and he was soon wearing the black body suit and blue armor.

"You had your chance ugly." Jack charged the spider. He jumped to avoid one of the larger legs and punched it in the head on the way down. The spider staggered from the blow. Jack kicked out one of it's legs out from under it but it didn't fall. Instead it grabbed him by the neck with his regular arms and lifted him off the ground. Jack stared into it's multiple eyes and kicked it in the gut. The spider dropped him and Jack immediately jumped back up for another kick. It leaped out of the way landing halfway down the alley. It's opened it's mouth and spit something out. Jack raised his arms to block, webbing covered his forearms.

The spider cut the webbing with it's mouth and quickly pulled up on it. Jack went flying in the air before crashing on the other side of the spider. He quickly realized one thing, it was stronger than it looked. The spider repeated the throw move a few more times. As he tried to get to his feet the spider jumped on top of him knocking him back down. It's fangs were reaching for his neck and he was barely keeping them away. The spider was trying to wrestle his arms out of the way in order to finish him off. Jack risked letting go with his right arm and punched the spider in the head three times. It raised up enough for Jack to get his legs under it's belly to push it away. He rolled backwards to his feet and put some distance between them. The spider spit out his webbing again. Jack grabbed a pipe and put in front of him and the webbing caught onto it. The spider tried to throw him again but he was ready for it this time, throwing his weight back. They played tug of war as the pipe bent under the strain.

The meter started going wild again and Jack let go of the pipe. The spider was caught off guard and staggered back trying to keep it's balance. He pressed the button under the belt. Two mini turbines behind the belt's red face plate started spinning and a charge went down his right leg. The spider jumped high in the air. Jack waited for it to descend before he jumped at it. He brought his foot up and caught the spider in the belly. The charge forced the spider to bounce away and explode. Jack flipped backwards so he landed on his feet and not his head. The flaming remains of the spider landed a few yards from him in a heap. That was two he had to live with.

***
On a rooftop a few blocks away a blond haired man watched the battle through a pair of high powered binoculars. He snarled when the spider blew up and held his gaze at the metal insect for several moments. He reached into a pocket and pulled out a cell phone. Quickly dialing a number he waited for an answer, "We have a problem."
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Old February 26th, 2019, 09:35 PM #3
> AkaPrimoKanyeWest
Gritty as a Princess
 
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AkaPrimoKanyeWest
Gritty as a Princess
 
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I like how you deconstruct the concept in certain regard.

Keep up the good work.
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Old February 26th, 2019, 09:45 PM #4
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> scikaiju
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scikaiju
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Thank you, I'm glad you're enjoying this old fic of mine.
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Old February 28th, 2019, 08:21 PM #5
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> scikaiju
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<Episode 3>

Jack met Mitchell and his men on the way out of the alley. Several of them pointed their rifles at him until Mitchell ordered them to lower their weapons. Jack walked up to him. "What happened? I told you to call for back up if the situation went south."

He pointed back toward the alley, "Got thrown into a wall and lost the earpiece. You guys got a way to find that thing right?"

Mitchell let out a groan and waved a man foreword, "Fuller grab a scanner and find that thing before somebody else does." He nodded and went off. "So what happened? We heard the explosion and came running."

"He smelled the bull on me and went monster."

"Funny, you don't spell like bull."

"Cute," Jack started scratching were the web was attached to his forearm. "I thought I got all this crap off."

"Is that webbing?"

"Yeah, the guy turned into a spider and shot it out of his mouth." Jack headed back toward the street. Maybe one of those World Inc. eggheads had something to remove the rest of it.

"Could have been worse," Mitchell said, "he could have shot it out of his butt."

Jack stopped in his tracks and looked at him, "You just had to give me that image didn't you?"

"Hey you're the one who lost my earpiece," Mitchell told him. Then he smiled, "Come on, the coffee is on me."

***
A few blocks away the blond haired man was having a heated discussion over his cell phone. "I am not seeing things. He was taken out by a metal insect. I'm telling you Anderson had that thing created. Who else could have? I am going to tear that thing apart. What do you mean leave it alone? You didn't just see... but... it's dangerous. Alright I'll leave it alone until I'm told otherwise." He ended the conversation.

He pounded the guardrail. Didn't that fool realize how stupid that decision was? He would have to head back and discuss this matter face to face. Before he left he turned back into his original form. The blue fur covering his body moving in the wind he steadied himself. The monkey looked into the sky and howled.

***
Anderson stood there staring a hole into Allen. He forced the file he had into Allen's hand. He waited until the man finished reading the file. He gained no satisfaction as Allen's eyes went wide. "I don't understand how this happened."

"You don't understand," Anderson mocked. "Humans heard the ceremony! There is report after report of people hearing a mysterious howl through out the building. Questions are being asked."

"Mitchell assured me the room was sound proof."

"And you never thought to check?"

"Mitchell..."

"I will deal with Mitchell!", he told him. In his rage he grabbed him by the throat and forced him to his knees, "Because I respected your Father I let you have this position. And I also looked the other way on your other activities. Another mistake like this and I will look at them a little closer. Am I being clear?"

"Understood," he sputtered

"Good." He released Allen's neck and the man gasped for air. Anderson walked away and straightened his suit. "Send Haily in here on your way out. We have matters to discuss."

"Yes sir," Allen replied giving him a look.

Anderson took the few moments he had to get his emotions under control. There was no need for any human to see him in such a state. Haily walked through the door and he gave her a small warm smile, "I'm glad you could see me."

"It's not a problem sir." He offered her a seat on the couch. She sat on one end so he took the other. "I'm assuming this is about Jack."

"He's a rather strong willed individual. I wanted to make sure you're comfortable in your position as his mission operator."

"I handled people more stubborn than Jack before. He's not going to be a problem."

"Good. If I may voice another concern, how do you think he'll react when he finds out you'll be giving him orders?"

"Honestly, I don't know. In the few times we talked today I tried to be open and build a little trust. I'll guess we'll find out when it happens."

"I guess so." He stood and walk to the window. "What's your opinion of him? Based on these talks."

"Like you said, he's strong willed. It's a bit early but I don't think he's the following type. He's also very unhappy about his current situation."

"Well I don't think anyone can fault him for that."

"No we can't. But there might be something that could improve his mood slightly." Anderson gave her his full attention. "His Mother thinks he's dead. It might help if he could call her, let her know he's still alive."

"Hmm. Given the nature of his current situation that could be difficult."

"I know sir."

"But if it helps his moral it can't be too much of a negative. I'll have someone look for her. At the very least we can arrange a phone call."

"He'll be glad to hear it."

"But let's hold off in telling him for now. A lot can happen in six months. I mean there's no need in getting his hopes up and then have things turn out differently."

"You probably right." She got up off the coach, "Well I better get ready for tomorrow. It's going to be interesting to see his reaction to the rest of this stuff."

"You'll be able to handle it," he assured her. After she left he went back to the window and smiled to himself. Davidson just became a little easier to manipulate.

***
Jack slowly woke up but it felt like he could fall back asleep at any moment. He felt dead tired a couple of hours after that second fight. He was able to hold it off until he got some dinner. Then he went back to the room he was using and fell into the bed. Jack forced himself off the bed and went into the bathroom to splash some cold water on his face.

He walked back into the room and saw Rachel by the door. She was dressed a bit more causally then she was yesterday. "Morning."

"Good afternoon," she told him.

"Afternoon? What time is it?"

"One thirty."

"Oy," Jack rubbed his eyes. "Last I checked it was about eight thirty last night."

"Two transformation in one day, after you woke up after six months I might add. I wouldn't have been surprised if you were still sleeping."

"Is this gonna happen every time I take out one of those Drakans for you guys?"

"Well until your body gets used to it. The nutrient bath kept your muscles from going limp, apparently it does nothing for your stamina."

"As long as I keep it to one kill a day," he said a little bitterly.

"Let's try not to think about that unless we have to. Come on, you can use the showers in the gym to clean up. And Mr. Anderson had his shopper pick up some clothing for you."

"He has a personal shopper? Got to be nice having that kind of cash."

"I'm sure it is." She walked off with him following "You should be glad to know I talked him out of what he wanted to buy."

"Let me guess, business casual."

"Yeah, fortunately Mr. Anderson talked him into seeing things my way. I hope you don't mind, I took a few guesses based on what you were wearing when we found you."

"It's cool, as long as it covers me up." The reached the gym after a few minutes. Rachel told him she meet him in the cafeteria. Something about explaining the rest of the situation to him. Great there was more.

The shower felt better than he would have expected. He spent a few minutes under the spray trying to figure everything out. It made his head hurt just thinking about it. And there was still more to add to it. Food, he would think better after some food. Mom always said the brain worked better after a meal. Jack turned off the shower and dried off. He looked around until he found the bags the shopper left for him.

There were still some fancy and high class items in the bag. That shopper was determined to get his taste across no matter what. Luckily there were a few plain items he could wear. Sneakers, blue jeans and a plain black T-shirt, that would do for now. He also found a jean jacket with a sweatshirt hood built into the collar. That would hide the scars on his arm. Jack looked himself over in a mirror, he looked normal enough. Now if he only felt normal.

***
Rachel led Jack down the hall. He was starting to get a little more relax now. Of course he kept eyeing everybody they past. Rachel caught herself doing it a couple of times. She had seen that janitor around before and never expected anything. And if one Drakan was in here, could there be another?

Before she could show him anything else he needed a security I.D. first. Going to the cafeteria and the gym were one thing, and Mr. Anderson worked a few strings to get him into the meeting yesterday. What he was going to see next, she doubted even the boss would let that slide. Although Rachel was surprised at how quiet Jack was during the procedure. After filling out a questionnaire and taking the I.D.'s photo he spent most of the time skimming old magazines. Outside of the occasional comment like, "Britney Spears got married? Damn," he didn't say a word.

After that was over with she took him to the heart of the Drakan operation. The guard looked over their I.D.s and let them through. Jack stood there in the doorway and let out a low whistle. Heather Williams stood in a center of a circle of computers. A map of the city and the surrounding area covered one wall. Various people were either sitting at a computer or moving across the room. Hardly anybody seemed to notice them. Jack walked toward a row of monitors showing various parts of the city outside. "Kind of impressive isn't it?", she asked him.

"A bit. Do they watch the entire building from here?"

"No, there's a separate security room for that. Mr. Anderson wanted it that way."

"Again, it must be nice to have that kind of cash."

"It is," Anderson snuck up behind them. "But it's simpler to keep security and Drakan monitoring separate. It would be hard to explain why we have so many cameras outside in the city."

"I'd bet."

"Hello again Mr. Davidson," Heather came up and shook his hand. "It's a pleasure to see you in more pleasant conditions."

"Likewise," then he mumbled, "I think."

"Yes, my VP can be rather aggravating at times, of course you already found that out," Anderson clapped Jack on the back. "But he's good at what he does so I keep him around." He looked at them. "So, Mr. Davidson, why don't you tell me about what you know about the Drakans so far."

"Well," Jack began, "they can look like humans. They’ve been around for a long, long time. Apparently they can smell Drakan blood on you after you kill one. Oh, and they come in two colors."

"Three colors actually," Rachel told him.

"Three?"

"Blue, red and green," Heather explained. "Blue is the most common and green seems to be the rarest. We think their society is run on a class system based on those colors. With the rarer color being in charge."

"So green's like royalty and blue are the common folks," Jack said. Heather nodded, "So what's red?"

"More than likely the enforcers, or knights if you prefer," Anderson spoke up. "Keepers of the laws that had worked for centuries. Until a band of anarchist rebels rose up and tried to demand a change in
the status quo." Anderson stopped when he realized they were looking at him. "I'm just assuming that is the case. There hadn't been a problem with the Drakans until a few years ago."

"Right," Jack said looking at him funny. "So how long have you guys known about these things?"

"About twenty years," Heather answered. "We've been able to identify most of the rebels in the city."

"Most of them? Is that why one was posing as a janitor under you nose?"

"Actually we already knew he was a Drakan," Anderson said.

Rachel was shocked, "We did?"

"It's great being in the loop ain't it?", Jack teased. She just shot him a look.

"We were assuming he was one of the peaceful one. We were keeping an eye on him, but there was no need in pointing him out," Heather explained.

"Until we caught him in a sector he wasn't authorized to enter," Anderson added. "He was caught on video breaking into a cabinet and photographing files. Security thinks he was copying files based on the Fusion system. Unfortunately the situation during the confrontation made it difficult to know for sure."

"In other words the film went boom when he did," Jack said. Anderson didn't deny it. "Oops."

"You didn't know, "Heather said."Neither did Mitchell."

"I only told him to use force if the Drakan became hostile. Which it did." Anderson walked over to the map and tapped a small part of it. "Fortunately you were there to help out with the situation. And I'm sad to say I may need you to do so again,"

"I told you I don't blow up things on command."

"I'm not asking you to," Anderson said calmly. "I have a scout team checking out an alleged Drakan safe house. The one you encountered late yesterday afternoon was seen exiting the building in question. A simple look around is all it is. But I would like for them to have some kind of back up. Since Mitchell and his team are on a special assignment I was hoping you would step in."

Jack looked like he was mulling it over. "All I do is sit outside and wait?" Anderson nodded. "Ok I'll do it then."

"Excellent, I'll have someone let them know."

"Come on," Rachel pulled him by the arm, "I'll show you what you'll be driving to get there."

***
The doors of the elevator opened at the garage level. Jack followed Rachel down the ramp. Looking down the side he saw a section that was taped off, where he fought the bull he guessed. "So you're suppose to tag along on these assignments?", he asked her.

"I'm you mission operator. My job is to make sure you get your assignments and complete every objective they give you."

"And to make sure I come back like a good little bug." Before she could answer he added, "And if you're supposed to tag along where were you yesterday when I was taking on arachna-man?"

"Mr. Anderson had Mitchell go with you, I wasn't needed."

"Have you ever done this before?"

"Well no,” she admitted, “this is technically my first time out as an operator."

"Great." They were met by a man in a white lab coat. Jack could see he was wearing a shirt with an all too familiar Japanese character. He figured he just meet the man responsible for his weapon. "Just a guess, Tim?"

"How did...," he began, "never mind. Man I can't tell you how glad I am to meet you. I mean you would not believe how excited the Fusion team got over the live data. Nobody thought two transformations in one day was possible. But you also used the charge kick twice too."

"Charge kick," he said to Rachel, "figures."

"My little nickname for it," Tim said proudly. "Your ride's over here. It's a...."

"Wait," he interrupted, "let me guess... a motorcycle."

Tim eyes went wide and he pointed two fingers at him, "Dude, your a fan too?"

Jack mimicked the gesture, "No, I'm not."

"Jack behave yourself," Rachel told him. "Where is the KR-1000?"

"KR!?" Jack looked up," You're just rolling up there ain't you?"

"The bike's over here." Tim led them to a black and grey motorcycle. It looked normal enough, but if Tim had anything to say about it. "Here she is. We based the design on the Ninja, but it's a lot more powerful."

"It doesn't transform or anything, does it?", Jack asked a little apprehensive

"No, I got out voted on that." Jack was never so glad of anything in his life. "But you do have two lasers that pop out on both side of the headlight when you need it to."

"Good to know." Jack grabbed the helmet and got on the bike. Turning on the ignition he jumped on the kick start. The bike roared to life, he could get used to this. He revved it a few times and looked at Rachel, "Get on."

"I was going to take my car."

"The faster I get there the faster I get this over with."

"Alright, I'll navigate." He handed her the helmet and she got on behind him. Jack revved it a few more times and headed out.

Twenty minutes, and several broken speed limits, later they arrived at the meeting point. Jack was grinning way before they got there. First time he was alone he was definitely going to push the limits on this baby. Judging by the death grip around his waist Rachel had a different opinion about the trip. Cutting the engine he said, "You can open you eyes now."

She let go and took off the helmet, "You're a mad man you know that?"

He grinned, "That's what they all say." Looking around he wondered, "So where this scout team?"

"You probably beat them here." Gunshots started ringing in an old building across the street. "They went in early?"

"Knew I should have went faster." Jack got off the bike and ran to the open door. Inside was an open space were the scout team was fighting a blue elephant. It's one whole tusk was covered in a red liquid at the tip. Jack saw a man on the ground trying to cover a hole in his shoulder with his hand. Wasting no time he raised his left arm across his chest to make the belt materialize and he moved his arm to the left. Raising his right arm to his face he shouted, "Henshin!", and slammed his right hand on top of the belt. In moments he was in the black body suit and blue armor.

"Get an ambulance," he told Rachel before going after the beast. One of the scout team members went flying as one of the elephants huge arms bashed into him. Jack got behind him throwing a couple of quick kidney punches. The elephant swung an arm he was able to duck and got a shot into it's gut. He aimed a kick at it's head but it moved. He ended up cracking the broken tuck even more. The elephant screamed in pain and started swinging widely. Jack got hit with a glancing blow that still knocked him back a few feet.

He quickly got to his feet and went after the elephant again. Using his speed advantage he got in close, nailed a punch or kick and got out of range. The elephant swung an arm again and Jack rolled out of the way getting behind the elephant. Waiting for it to turn around Jack unleashed a sidekick with all the power the Fusion system gave him. The elephant barely budged. Underneath the helmet his eyes went wide, "Ah crap." The elephant knocked his leg down and kicked him in the stomach. As the breath left his body Jack was hit with an uppercut that made him see stars as he flipped over in the air. Landing hard on the ground he tried to get up. His limbs were refusing to work. He needed time to get the cobwebs out of his head. Time he didn't have as he felt the elephant come closer.

***
What was Jack doing just lying there on the floor? Oh god, could he be hurt? Rachel looked around and found one of the scout teams gun on the floor. She picked it up, aimed it at the elephant and fired. The bullet didn't have much of an affect but it turned around anyway. It started to come at her. She kept firing and emptied the clip. Rachel looked around but didn't see another weapon that was close enough. She started backing up as the elephant continued it's approach. "Come on Jack where are you?", she muttered.

Almost on cue Jack was flipping over the elephant. He forced his right foot back into it's chest on the way down. Jack landed between them as the elephant staggered backwards. He shielded her as it exploded. Then he fell to his knees and hit the top of the belt. He returned to normal and stayed were he was. Rachel knelt down beside him, "Are you alight?"

He looked right at her. His eyes seemed clear and focused. He didn't slur a word as he said, "I want tomorrow off."

Rachel couldn't help but grin, "I'll see what I can arrange." She let him get his wind back as she called for a medical team and checked on the members of the scout team.
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Old February 28th, 2019, 09:02 PM #6
> AkaPrimoKanyeWest
Gritty as a Princess
 
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AkaPrimoKanyeWest
Gritty as a Princess
 
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Posts: 80,314



Ooh, a Duel Academy-esque tier system. Like.
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Old March 2nd, 2019, 01:16 PM #7
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> scikaiju
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scikaiju
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<Episode 4>

Outside the building Jack was sitting on the steps. Some kind of med tech from World Inc. kept flashing a light in his eyes and asked these really annoying questions. It got real old real quick. "Would you git," he moved his head away, "I just got hit in the head, I'm fine."

"Sir...," he began before Rachel stopped him.

"He's normal, trust me." The tech snorted and packed his gear. She sat next to him on the steps and said, "That was a little close."

"What do you mean? I had me right were he wanted me." She rolled her eyes at the bad joke. "Actually it reminded me of a bully I knew back in high school. He had a mean uppercut too." He rubbed his jaw more from the memory than from the pain. "Any idea why the team went in early?"

"One of the more conscious members said they were supposed to wait for a guy on a black motorcycle,” she explained. ”One pulled up before we did and nodded in their direction. They assumed it was you. The guy was gone by the time they hit the door."

"Anderson has some bright ones working for him, that for sure."

"I'm pretty sure there's going to be some kind of investigation on what happened. Mitchell hates mistakes like this."

"Good for him." Jack got up from the steps and headed for the bike. Rachel followed close by.

"And were do you think you're going?", she asked.

Jack patted the bike's handle," I am taking this thing to the limit. I was holding back because you were on it." She paled slightly, dumbfounded by the thought he could handle a faster speed. She quickly put that plan on hold.

"Friedman is going to want to check you out after this one." He started to protest but she stopped that too. "And I'm your mission operator, so I can make that an order if I had to."

"Alright," he got on the bike. "Need a lift?"

"No I'm going to catch a ride with one of the others." She turned to watch the last car as it was pulling away. Jack was almost positive she said a cuss word in French. Keeping a straight face he held out the helmet. She took it and got on, "Keep it to the speed limit and I can guarantee you can have all day tomorrow to play with your new toy."

Jack grinned, "Deal."

***
The echoes of the howl slowly faded away in the house, and the blue monkey quickly reverted back to his human form. He had decided to wait a few hours after the humans left the building. He had come in the back way in case the front was still being watched. The moment he entered the smell of Drakan blood assaulted his senses. At that moment he knew what happened. The video footage from the hidden security room confirmed it. He popped the tape out of the VCR. That old fool would have to believe him now.

***
Anderson walked the halls of his company, nodding to everyone he met. He went out of the way to be pleasant to the one he remembered snubbing on the day of the ceremony. He always tried to keep his employees happy, Anderson saw everyone who worked for him as part of his pack. And the way he figured it an unhappy employee was practically an invite for a competitor to come into his territory. He would not have that.

He ran into Haily as he exited an elevator. How fortunate, he wanted to talk to her, "Miss Haily."

"Mr. Anderson," she said pleasantly. She was still wearing a more casual look like she did yesterday. He looked around the immediate area and didn't see who he was expecting.

"Where's Mr. Davidson? I haven't seen him all day."

"He’s taking a little R&R sir. Taking on three Drakan in two days I figured it couldn't hurt."

"Of course, we don't want him to burn put too quickly now do we?" He gestured down the hallway, "Join me for a walk?" She agreed and they went down the hall. "I'm assuming Mr. Davidson has the KR-1000 with him?"

"That would be a safe bet," she answered with a bit of a smile.

"I take it he found a part of the job he likes."

"An angry Drakan couldn't pry that bike away from him." He chuckled politely at the joke. "Have you seen my report of the incident yesterday?"

"Yes I have, very thorough Miss Haily."

"It was my first mission report and I wanted to make sure nothing was left out."

"Relax, you did fine." She was quiet for a bit. "Is something on your mind?"

"I was wondering about how the injured members of the scout team were doing. I was trying to find Mitchell to find out how they were."

"Mitchell told me about it last night. There were a few cracked ribs and other bones and that one poor fellow who was gored in the shoulder. Outside of that they're all fine. In fact I believe Mitchell is reminding them and his other teams of proper procedure right now."

"I hated putting that in my report but..."

"You did the right thing," he assured her. "Believe me Mitchell would have come after you if you didn't. I've seen him grill people, it's not pleasant to watch. In fact I would rather face an ‘angry Drakan' with a dull butter knife than be interrogated by him," he said with a smile, Haily smiled back.

They came to another set of elevators and he decided now would be a good time to part ways. "I have to check on something on another floor, so if you will excuse me."

"Of course," she said

"Thanks for walking with me," the elevator doors opened and he stepped through before he remembered something. Before the door closed he held out a hand to stop them. "Oh Miss Haily," she turned to face him. "If you can convince Mr. Davidson to stay in tomorrow stop by R&D. I believe there is something that could help him in future battles."

"I'll let him know as soon as I see him."

"Good," Anderson let the door closed. Sometimes you had to keep a potential competitor happy as well.

***
Jack parked the bike in the World Inc. garage grinning ear to ear. He'd been dreaming about having a machine like this for as long as he could remember. Now if he didn't have to be turned into a freak in order to get it. Turning off the engine he got off and headed for the elevator.

He hated coming back here, he wanted to find his mom. But he told Anderson he'd stay until he got the monkey. And he was always told to keep his word, no matter how disgusted it made you. Besides he still had questions he needed answers to, with more coming to mind every day. Like why his first assignment took place in his mom's old neighborhood. It was just too much of a coincidence to him. If the Drakan had one safe house in the city there could have been more. With all the cameras this place had watching the city that was the only they could find. It smelled a little fishy to him.

Or it could be his distrust of rich people. Either way he figured he had time to sort it out.

Jack reached his floor and walked out. The place was quiet at this time of night. He kinda preferred it that way. The fewer people in the building the less he had to worry about somebody turning into a bull or a snake or something. As he approached his room he heard voices coming from it. Jack stopped right outside the door and peered inside. A few of the guys from the scout team were inside his room. What was going on here?

"I still can't believe how high that thing jumped," one of them said.

"No kidding, who would have thought a guy who turned into an elephant could jump that high," said a second one. "Of course anything can get some air with the proper motivation."

"Yeah, said the first one, "good thing we had our..."

"Good thing Davidson showed up," said a third voice he couldn't see.

"Right," the first one said slowly. "That thing went nuts after it saw us. I thought we were going to die."

"Hey Jack," Mitchell came up from behind him and surprised him. "I was wondering when you were going to show up. Man you must have given that motorcycle quite a work out." The other three in the room came out like they weren't saying anything. No point in asking questions now.

"Yeah I got a pretty good feel for her now,” he told him. “Almost lost it a few times but I can handle her."

"Good to hear. Did you try out the lasers? That the first thing I would have done."

“I got off a couple of practice shots," he admitted.

"Make sure you do that a lot. You never know when you're going to need an accurate shot with them."

"I'll keep that in mind." He pointed to the other three, "So what's this all about?"

"The guys wanted to buy you a drink," Mitchell told him.

"Yeah man," said one he recognized as the third voice, "you saved our hides yesterday. Me and the other wanted to thank you."

"Hey just doing my job," he told them. Jack wasn't in the mood to be in a group right now. Particularly this group so he made up an excuse. "Besides I'm still a little wiped out. I'm just gonna get some sleep in."

"Ok we'll do it some other time," the one who had the first voice said. "You know, I thought they were nuts when they told us only one guy was going to back us up."

Mitchell slapped Jack hard on the back, "I told you this guy was something else. I'll see you tomorrow buddy."

"Yeah, I'll see you tomorrow." Jack watched them leave before entering his room. He took off his jacket and tossed it on a chair absentmindedly. He sat on the edge of the bed and thought about what he just heard before Mitchell showed up. Another question he needed an answer to. And he wasn't sure if he was going to like the answer to this one when he got it.

***
When Rachel returned to work that morning Jack wasn't in his room. She eventually found him in the cafeteria. Walking up to him she saw he was staring out into space, sitting in front of him was a bowl of soggy cereal. How long was he like this? She stood there waiting to be noticed. It took a few moments before he looked at her. "Never took you for the blue jean wearing type."

Rachel took the seat in front of him, "There's a lot about me you don't know about."

"I know you swear in French."

"You speak French?"

"Not a word. But I heard my Mom cuss out my Uncle enough times that I can recognize the tone."

"You can huh?"

"I may not know what's being said but I can usually tell when somebody getting cussed out." He returned his attention to his cereal. Jack looked a little dismayed when he saw the mush in his spoon and dropped it back into the bowl. "So what's in the package?"

"It's yours." She gave him the brown envelope she was carrying. "You got a new driver license, IDs, a new social security number." Jack raised an eyebrow at that one. "You're technically dead, so the higher ups said you needed a new one. I don't get it either." She wasn't looking foreword to saying this next part, "And your checks are in there too."

"My checks?", he said slowly.

"Mr. Anderson is treating you like an outside contractor. You get paid for the jobs we give you."

"So this is my Drakan blood money?"

"I know it's not a pleasant thought but you need something to live on."

"I guess Allen doesn't want me mooching off the company more than necessary." Jack pulled out a white envelope and opened it. "I wonder what a freelance Drakan killer makes." He pulled out the check and his jaw fell, "Whoa. Does Allen know they're paying me this much?"

"I think Allen would have a stroke if he knew what Anderson was paying you." He started looking depressed as he pulled out two more checks. "Does it help to know that it bothers me too?"

"Not really," he admitted.

"Let's put this in your room. We can figure out what you can do about them later. Mr. Anderson wanted me to take you down to R&D. He said there might be something down there to help you out."

"Oh joy."

It took a few minutes for Jack to find a place to put the checks. He didn't looked all the thrilled about going to R&D. More than likely he wanted to go out and play with his toy some more. Hopefully what ever R&D had come up with would lighten his mood. Judging by how anxious he was getting it had better be good.

Rachel led him to R&D. Showing their IDs to the guard she let him go in first. Like with the with the command center Jack stopped inside the door. She saw Tim talking to Barry by a nearby computer and she pushed him in that direction. Barry put down whatever device they where discussing and turned toward them. "Rachel, Jack how are you doing today?"

"We're fine," she told them. "Mr. Anderson said there was something down here that could help Jack." She noticed he was looking around the room. He looked disappointed for some reason, "Jack?"

He looked at her, "You promised me there’d be a vampire."

"Ignore him," she told them.

"It's over here." Tim led them to a table holding various objects and picked up a grey cylinder. As he handed it to Jack she wondered what use that thing was going to be.

So did Jack, "I'm suppose to poke them to death with this thing or something?"

"Snap it," Tim said while making a flicking motion with his fist.

"Snap it," Jack said more in mock as he did the motion. The top part of the cylinder extended about three feet. He snapped it in the other direction and the other end extended the same length. "Ok, that's cool."

"Glad you like it," Barry said as he took the staff from him. He twisted it in the center and it returned to it's original size. Handing it back to Jack he said, "It's only a prototype at this point. We have a few ideas on what to add to it but this should do you until we get that one finished."

"It's designed," Tim added, "to fit between the handle bars of the KR-1000. So you always have it with you."

"Cool, I'll go see if it fits right now." Jack turned around and walked out without saying good bye.

"Great," Rachel said, "you just gave him something else to play with on that bike."

***
Anderson hung up the phone. Mitchell stood in front of the desk waiting patiently. "Williams' people just spotted another rebel. She's contacting Haily and Davidson as we speak

“Are you sure we shouldn't send a team in first? I'm sure some of the boys would like to," Mitchell started grinning, “‘scout ' the area again."

Anderson didn't show any sign of emotion, "I sure they would. But we can't have these scouting accidents too often. Davidson would get too suspicious and I don't care for some of the looks he giving me as it is. Besides he was designed to operate alone, it's about time he started doing exactly that."

***
Jack brought the bike to a stop inside an alley opening. He waited a few moments for Rachel to pull up behind him in her car. Hanging the helmet on the handle bar he looked down the alley. Jack hoped there wasn't another spider down there waiting for him. "Are they sure this is the right spot?"

"Heather and her team are rarely wrong," Rachel answered.

"Huh." Jack got off the bike and took the collapsible staff from it's holder. "So how are we playing this?"

"What do you mean?"

"Do I go in alone or do you go in with me?"

"Since I'm the mission operator I'm suppose to be back at the command center talking to you through an earpiece."

Jack turned his head to look at her, "Why aren't you?"

"I'm a little more hands on than that."

Jack kept the comment he had to himself and just nodded. As he led the way down the alley he noticed this one was a lot straighter than the one he fought the spider in. He didn't even want to think what that thing could have done with a larger space. The end of the alley was bricked off, a dead end. "Guess there's a first time for everything."

Rachel pulled out a cell phone, "I'm going to call Heather and see if we went into the wrong one."

"You mean they couldn't call and tell us we went into the wrong one?"

Before she could answer Jack saw somebody on the roof above them. The person suddenly jumped and landed right in front of them. The red haired woman slowly stood straighter as she looked at them. Jack took a step foreword, ready for an attack. The woman sniffed the air, "Drakan blood."

"Not again." Before she said anything else Jack brought up his left arm across his chest. The grey metal belt appeared around his waist. He waved the arm to the left, but before he could raise his right arm she spoke again.

"The smell is on both of you."

"The elephant," Rachel said out loud. The woman face grew angry when she said that and changed into a red jack rabbit.

Jack raised his right arm to his face. "Henshin!," he shouted as he slammed his right hand on top of the belt. The moment he was in his armor Jack quickly flicked his right wrist extending the staff to it's full length. The rabbit took the time to tie it's ears behind it's head, then waved him on with one hand. Jack charged in swinging the staff at the rabbits head. The rabbit caught it with one hand. "Not good," he muttered.

Before he knew it the rabbit had punched him with her free hand. She nailed him five times with the staff before spinning in place and hitting a kick to his chest. Jack flew back and landed on his butt. The rabbit started spinning the staff around in some very complex looking maneuvers before letting it rest in a crook of her arm. With her free hand she waved him on again. "Great a kung fu expert." He quickly got to his feet and the rabbit tried to spear him with the end of the staff. Jack caught it and braced himself in case she tried to throw him. It wasn't, instead she was slowly pushing him back using the strength of her legs.

Thinking quickly Jack pulled on the staff catching it off guard. As she stumbled foreword he caught her with a clothesline. Jack tried to use the staff to pin her down but the rabbit kneed him in the side a couple of times to get him off of her. He held his ribs as she kicked herself up. The rabbit swung the staff but he ducked and got in a punch to it's stomach. The rabbit took a step back so he went in to press his advantage. He fell into it's trap as she raised her head quickly and caught him under the chin. Then she leaped at him with the staff across his chest. The rabbit had him pinned against the wall and she was still pushing. Jack grabbed the staff as close to the middle as he could and twisted, hoping she wasn't gripping the staff too tightly so this wouldn't work.

The staff returned to it's original size to the rabbits surprise. Jack nailed her with a head butt and they both dropped the staff. Not giving up the advantage he created Jack kept punching the rabbit in the gut and head. The moment the meter started flashing he spun around and hit a side kick to it's stomach. Unlike the elephant she went flying back. Quickly he pushed the button under the belt. The two mini turbines in the belt started spinning and he ran at the moment he felt the charge go down his leg. Jack jumped up and aimed his right leg at her. The rabbit saw it and crossed it's arm in front of her to block. His foot hit her arms and the charge caused her to fly back. In moments she exploded.

***
The blond haired man walked up to an old man sitting on an old porch. The old man didn't look all that pleased to see him. "I hope you don't think you're going to change my mind."

"Of course not," He said plainly. He pulled the video cassette out of his jacket, "I just want to show you what we're up against."
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Old March 4th, 2019, 08:15 PM #8
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<Episode 5>

Jack stood there holding his ribs as the remains of the rabbit slowly burned out. The armor had taken brunt of it and he could breathe with no problem, still it hurt like hell. Maybe a trip to see Freidman wouldn't hurt. Rachel spoke, "Hey," and she tossed the staff to him. "You need a little practice with that thing."

"You think," Jack hit the end of the staff on top of the belt. In moments he was back in his street clothes. "Almost lost to a rabbit. I'm never going to live that down," he muttered to himself, Rachel heard it anyway.

"You're upset because she turned into a rabbit?", Rachel empathized the word she.

"Hey if she turned into a bull, an elephant, a spider or a cobra I wouldn't have a problem. It's just the thought of having my butt kicked by a rabbit." He turned back to the remains, "But I do feel kinda bad about this one though."

"Why?"

"Her human form was hot."

Rachel looked like she was going to say something. Instead she turned around and walked out of the alley, but she did say, "You’re taking this seriously all right?"

"I am taking this seriously," he told her. "Do you have any idea how many Bug Bunny jokes came to mind when I saw her change? I kept those to myself." He hurried up after her. Maybe he should have told her the other reason this bothered him instead of that thing. No point in saying it now, she wouldn't believe it now if he did tell her.

***
Anderson waited in the command center for an early report. Mitchell was hovering near the map, studying it slightly. There were three markers now on the map, two blue and one red. If Davidson did his job soon there would be many more. A phone ringing brought him out of his thoughts as Williams quickly grabbed it. "Hello? Rachel," everyone in the room got very quiet. "You sure?" She put a hand over the phone, "Jack got her."

"Alright Jack," Mitchell exclaimed.

"Did Haily say her?", Anderson asked. Williams nodded in response, "What was it?"

"Rachel which Drakan was it? A red rabbit."

"A rabbit?", Mitchell asked as someone put a red marker on the map at Haily and Davidson position.

"Very good,” he said to the room. “Send a clean up team to clear the remains. Store them with the others when they arrive."

"I'm sending them now Mr. Anderson."

He nodded and left the command center with Mitchell in tow. Anderson waited until they were in the elevator before saying anything to the man. "This was unexpected."

"I take it you knew the rebel?"

"Only by reputation,” he answered. “From my understanding she was one of the rebels best fighters." Anderson looked sideways to gauge Mitchell's reaction. Not even a hint of a reaction crossed his face. The man had a poker face that wouldn't crack, Anderson had to give him that. It was the one of the reason why he got the job. "Maybe it's time to rethink your position on Davidson's fighting abilities."

He still should no signs of a reaction, "I still say he was lucky."

"One victory can be lucky Mitchell. Four takes a little skill."

"You can win four times and still be lucky."

Anderson turned to Mitchell in slight surprise. "If I didn't know better I would think you were jealous of Davidson."

"What's there to be jealous of? The man's a walking weapon with a lethal right foot. If he couldn't beat a rebel I'd be suspicious."

"A very good point. Still, any weapon needs to be fine tuned a little, no matter how good it is. Do you think you can add some training sessions with Davidson to your schedule?"

"I can put him in. Don't worry Mr. Anderson, I'll 'fine tune' him for you." There was something in Mitchell's voice he didn't care for.

"Just so we're clear Mitchell, I said fine tune not break." Mitchell nodded and Anderson left it there. The man was professional enough not to let it go beyond that point. He would only escalate matters if Davidson did. Given Davidson current temperament that was entirely possible. "Of course seeing how he over came one of the rebel's best I doubt much fine tuning will be needed."

"You really respect that rebel don't you?".

"I respected her reputation," he clarified.

"Are you going to herald her into the next life then?".

Anderson looked thoughtful as the doors opened. He walked out saying, "A warrior of her reputation should be shown the proper respect. On the other hand, she was a rebel. Why honor someone who chose to live against tradition."

***
The blond haired man stood behind the old man as he watched the tape. The old man said nothing as he saw the humans encounter the person on the tape and forced him to reveal his true form. After a few moments the metal insect appeared. The blond man looked down at the old him. He leaned foreword slightly as the insect took on the elephant. Neither of them spoke until the elephant died. "Nasty way to go, "the old man said. “Phil was a good man."

"Now do you see what I was talking about? We need to stop this thing now."

"I agree," the old man said while stopping the tape.

"Then let me go after it."

“Not yet,” the old man told him.

"Why not!? Anderson created that thing to mock the Drakan race."

"Maybe so, but we can't do this alone. We already lost Phil and Kendall."

"Then what do we do then?"

"I'm going to get the leaders of some of the other cells together. Maybe even Christopher if I can manage it."

The blond man lip curled in disgust, "And what is that wanna be king going to do about it?"

"Like it or not Christopher commands a lot of respect. After he sees the tape he's the one who's going to be able to get everyone together on this." The blond man snorted and left the room. The old man was right and he knew it. He just didn't like it.

***
Rachel sat at her desk typing up her mission report. Jack was quietly lying on her couch. For awhile there he was trying to be overly nice to her. He stopped trying about an hour ago, either out of ideas or figured she wasn't going to crack. Rachel didn't tell him she wasn't angry at what he said. Shocked, but not angry. If that was how he felt then it was no problem for her. Again she didn't tell him that. If making him think that she was angry kept him in line then that just made her job easier.

She looked over the screen at him. Jack still had that jacket on. It was one thing to look mad, but looking like she didn't care was another. "Why don't you take that jacket off and relax a little."

"I'm fine," was all he said.

She stopped typing for a moment and looked at him. Come to think of it she’d never seen him without that jacket on ever since he got it. Playing a hunch she said, "It's going to start getting hot pretty soon. Don't you think that jacket going to get a little uncomfortable?" She caught him pushing back a sleeve to look at his arm and quickly slide it back.

"I'll live with it."

"I never realized you were that vain."

"I'm not," he said as he sat up. "I'd figured it be easier to explain wearing a jacket in ninety degree weather than explaining all the scars."

She had to admit he had a point. "Well you can probably move to a cooler climate after you get your blue monkey."

"Whenever that's going to be."

"We're going to help you find him, that was part of the deal."

"I'm sure Anderson told his people to put a rush job on that one."

This was getting them nowhere so she dropped it. Getting back to the job at hand she said, "I'm almost done with the report. Is there anything you want to add?"

"Yeah I got a question that's been bothering me."

"You were already told why you look like a bug."

"Not that," Jack said with a slight smile. "The smell of their dead sets these thing off right?"

Rachel nodded, "So far that's been the case."

"So why send the one guy who smells like Drakan blood in first? If I was a couple of blocks away I could understand, but I was still in the building."

Rachel didn't have an immediate answer for him, she was wondering the same thing herself. All she could tell him was, "I'm sure Mr. Anderson has his reasons."

"I'm sure he does. Still doesn't mean I'm gonna like it when I hear it."

"You don't trust him do you?"

"Usually it's just rich people in general, but I trust Anderson about as far as a midget could throw him."

"Maybe you'll change your tune after you see your new place." Jack sat a little straighter and she smiled behind the monitor. She knew that would get his attention.

"My new place? When did this happen?"

"Mr. Anderson pulled some strings and got you an apartment in the city."

"Really?", he said sounding a little cautious.

"You don't have to take it."

"Ok then I won't."

Rachel sighed heavily, "At least check it out first before you make a decision."

"Alright I'll check it out. But I'm not promising anything."

"That's all I ask."

"So when do we check this place out?"

"You have an appointment tomorrow afternoon. Don't worry I know where it is." Jack just nodded and lay back down. Rachel finished her report, putting in the question Jack had. For the things he's done so far she felt he deserved an answer.

***
Anderson read over Haily report with interest. Davidson was asking the right questions. The man was obviously no fool, a blind man could see that. Anderson just had to make sure he didn't receive the right answers. He put that thought on hold as Allen came through the door, "Yes?"

"There could be a problem." Anderson sighed in response. The man was good, in that there was no doubt, but he overreacted to just about everything.

"What is it this time?"

"I just got finished talking to our contacts in the streets. Some of the rebels are starting to notice that Drakan are missing."

"So? Several of our kind are nomadic in nature. It's not uncommon for some of us to just disappear without any warning."

"Not the elephant, our contact said he was never gone from that safe house for more than an hour."

"It's not our concern."

"It's not..."

'No it's not," Anderson interrupted him. As far as I'm concerned the rebels are learning the price for their defiance. The sooner they come back into the fold the sooner the killing stops."

"Are you sure this is the right way to handle it?"

"Like I said they brought this onto themselves." Anderson leaned back in his chair and looked at Allen suspiciously. "You're not becoming sympathetic to their cause are you?"

"Of course not, "Allen fidgeted a little, Anderson smiled.

"Good, because I would hate to have to send Davidson after you."

***
Rachel stood by the building manager while Jack wondered around the apartment. It was pretty modest, a combined living room kitchen area, one bedroom and one bathroom, and fully furnished. Considering what he was getting per assignment Jack could easily afford it. The only thing that could break the deal was his attitude toward Anderson. "Well?", the manager asked.

"Can we have a few moments alone?", he asked while pointing toward Rachel.

"Of course. You know were to find me," she said to Rachel.

"Will do Mrs. Windam."

"Seems like a nice lady," he said after she left.

"Yes she is. You couldn't ask for a better landlord."

"Sounds like you know her personally."

"I should, I live in the building."

Jack turned his head to look at her, "You’re kidding."

"No, I'm going to be two floors above you. If you move in that is." Jack looked around the room some more. "Are you going to take it?"

"Let me guess, no loud music?"

"The walls are sound proof. You can play your music as loud as you like."

"Is there a laundry in the building?"

"Of course."

"Damn," she thought he heard him mutter.

"You can't have any pets though."

"Not a problem, animals don't like me anyway." He crossed his arm and looked deep in thought. "I'm going to hate myself later. Looks like I'm taking it."

Rachel grinned, "Great, we'll talk to Mrs. Windam about finalizing the deal."

"So how did Anderson get this place for me anyway?", he asked.

"One of World Inc. subsidiaries owns the building."

"Is that a fact?" Jack suddenly grabbed a clock that was on the table and looked it over.

"What are you doing?"

"Looking for the bug."

Rachel was positive he was joking. Of course she was positive he was convinced he was right. "Why would the place be bugged?"

"The way Anderson has this city wired and it never crossed your mind your place might be bugged?" He grabbed a lamp and yelled into it, "You hear that? I'm on to you!"

"You can't be serious."

"Nope," he said with a grin.

Rachel groaned as he put the clock back. "Why do you do that?"

"I get bored."

"Let's find Mrs. Windam before she finds out what you're really like." Jack acted hurt by the comment and followed her out. As she closed the door she said, "You know one of these days Mr. Anderson is going to ask for a performance review, and I'm going to remember this."

"Look, I'm shaking," he said. She liked it better when he was feeling a little guilty.

***
Jack bought Rachel a coffee and they sat on a bench. He was dividing his attention between listening to her and watching the crowd. He felt kinda bad about what he pulled in the apartment. Ok, he didn't feel that bad and it wasn't his fault she fell for it. To be honest the whole bugging thing did cross his mind, but even he wasn't that paranoid. The moment he thought that Jack looked up and saw a camera on a lamp post. What was it his uncle told him, "Just because your paranoid doesn't mean nobody’s watching you."

Taking a few moments to think it over he decided the camera didn't belong to World Inc. So he raised his cup in a toast instead of the hand gesture he was planning on. If Rachel saw what he did she ignored it. She was saying, "The best part off this arrangement is if we get a call for an assignment in the middle of the night I can make sure you actually go."

Jack didn't even look at her as he said, "Just remember I haven't signed any contracts yet. And you're not exactly saying anything that's sealing the deal."

"It doesn't matter to me if you move in or not,” she said a little defensively.” Do you think I want you that close when you decide to pull a practical joke?"

"Hey," he pointed a finger at her, "I don't pull practical jokes. I'm a wiseass, there is a difference."

"I smell death," Somebody behind them said. Jack turned to see a man in a business suit standing there. He was sneering right at him. "You killed my kind."

"Jack let's get out of here,” Rachel said looking a little worried.

"Rachel it's alright. I've been expecting this." Jack stood and looked at the man in the suit right in the eyes. "There's an empty lot over there," he jerked his thumb to a fenced in area across the street.

"It will do human." He walked off towards the fence.

"Ok it worked, let's get out of here," Rachel pulled on his arm, Jack didn't budge.

"I can't,” he told her, “it saw what we look like. It's bad enough they can smell me, and you too. The last thing either of us need is a picture going around."

She pulled out her cell phone, "I'm calling command and let them know what's going on."

"If they don't know by now somebody better get fired." Jack crossed the street and looked around. Nobody was paying attention to him. He pushed back a board he saw the guy used and entered. The guy had already removed his suit jacket and set it on top of his briefcase. Jack raised his left arm across his chest. The grey metal belt appeared around his waist. Moving his left arm over he raised his right arm to his face. The man before him turned into a green frog as he said, "Henshin!," and slammed his right hand on top of the belt. After the armor formed he said, "We don't have to do this."

"My kind must be avenged, tradition commands it."

"How did I know you were going to say that?" The frog skin glistened as he moved. Jack mirrored the movement. Part of him actually was actually hoping the Drakan would change his mind. No such luck. The frog opened it's mouth and shot his tongue at him. It wrapped itself around Jack's ankle and the frog pulled it back. Jack landed hard on his back and look into the sky. Out loud he said, "Sad part is I knew he was going to do that too."

The frog suddenly entered his vision as it feet were aimed at him. Jack rolled out of the way as the frog landed were his head was. He swung his arm back catching it behind the knees. It crashed on his back and amphibious eyes glared at him. He got on top of the frog and started punching, trying to stay away from its legs. The frog suddenly put its hands on his chest and pushed. Jack went flying off but he rolled back as he landed. The Drakan was stronger than he looked. Both of them were on a knee looking at each other. At the same time they charged each other.

He ducked a punch and kneed the frog in the gut then nailed an elbow to the back of its head. It jumped off the ground to avoid the stomp. Before it landed the frog twisted and kicked him in the chest. Jack stumbled back fighting to keep his balance. The frog jumped at him again and he back flipped to avoid the hit. He tackled it as soon as it landed. The frog used the momentum from the move to flip him off. Jack planted his hand on the ground and swung his leg around. His shin landed flush on the frog temple. He grabbed its head and kneed it a couple of times before punching it in the back of the head. He grabbed it by the shoulders and threw it across the lot. The meter started flashing and his hand went for the button. Jack hesitated before pressing it. "Get up and leave," he told the frog.

The frog slowly got up and came toward him, "Tradition demands..."

"Idiot," Jack whispered as he pressed the button. The two mini turbines in the belt started spinning and a charge ran down his right leg. Jack ran at the frog, jumped up and planted his right foot in its chest. The frog flew back into the wall and exploded.

Jack watched the remains. As with the other Drakan he waited for the guilt to set in. It did, but again it wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. In fact he felt less guilt now than he did with the rabbit, or the elephant. Jack was starting to get scared about what that said about him.
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Old March 6th, 2019, 12:20 PM #9
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scikaiju
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 325



<Episode 6>

Rachel stood just inside the fence watching as Jack changed back. He just stood there watching the remains of the frog. She had called the command center and followed them into the lot. Rachel caught most of the fight and reported it to Heather. She didn't say it out loud but Rachel heard it in her voice, there could be hell to pay for this one. She turned off the phone and walked toward him. Jack looked startled when he saw her, like he didn't even know she was there.

"This day just went to hell," he said.

"We better get back to World Inc.", she told him, "there's going be some questions about what just happened. I'm not sure what Mr. Anderson is going to say about this."

"What's he gonna do, take me to the woodshed?"

"We better go."

"Yeah you don't know when I'm going to set another one off." He started to walk out there but he stopped at the fence. "I gave him a chance to walk away."

"I heard. I wish he took it."

"So do I." they exited the lot and hurried across the street.

"I didn't think you take on a green that quickly," she told him.

"What, none of the greens are that violent or something?"

"Some are."

Jack stopped as soon as they reached the sidewalk. "You're leaving something out."

"It's a rumor I heard, nothing that's been confirmed." He just stood there waiting for an answer. "I heard something about the green being trained to fight along with the reds. In some case they're actually better than the reds."

"So there're some warrior kings walking around?"

"Possibly," she admitted.

"Oy," Jack said while turning around. "This day just keeps getting better and better."

"I'll see what I can dig up when we get back."

Before going on he turned just enough to look at her. "Is there anything else I should be knowing at this point?"

"No," she said quickly. Something about the way he looked at her said he didn't believe her. Jack apparently decided to let it drop walked off. Lucky for her, but now she was wondering when he was going to bring it back up.

***
Jack found himself back in Anderson's office. They just sat there staring at each other. Rachel, Heather and Allen sat there with a couple of others he didn't recognize. Outside of Allen's ramblings nobody said anything, not that he was paying him any attention. There was something in Anderson gaze that was making the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.

The effect, whatever it was, ended when Allen slammed his hand on top of the desk. Everybody but Anderson reacted in some way. "What the hell were you thinking?!", he yelled. "Going out hunting and killing Drakan on your own."

"We didn't go hunting Drakan," Rachel answered. "The Drakan found us."

"So that gave you the right to take it out without authorization?"

"Jack was worried about our description floating around the Drakan community."

"Why aren't you answering anything Davidson?"

"Why?", he asked innocently. "She's doing a good job of it."

"You think you're funny don't you?" Allen leaned foreword and got in his face. "Does it look like I'm laughing? Does it look like I'm happy? Do any of us here look happy? In fact I want you to tell me one thing you did today that made anybody even remotely happy."

"The guy at the bank looked pretty happy when I gave him the checks." The look on Allen face was priceless as he stammered for a response. Jack gave him a slight smirk as Rachel put a hand over her mouth. He wasn't sure but he thought he saw a small smile on Anderson that quickly went away.

Allen recovered his composure after a moment, "Let's see how funny you think you are after we cancel those checks."

"We are not going to be doing that," Anderson finally said.

"What else can we do to make him learn?", Allen complained.

"He earned that money," Anderson told him. Jack felt uneasy at that thought. "There's no point in denying him that."

"Well he's not getting paid for this one," Allen insisted.

"Of course not, it wasn't an official assignment." Oh yeah, like that really hurt. "But we still need to address this situation."

"We can't let this guy be a loose cannon on the streets."

"With this crap again." Jack leaned foreword this time. "Alright smart guy, let me ask you something. What are the chances that I'll pass a Drakan in disguise and he doesn't get a whiff of me?" Allen didn't look at him. "That's what I thought."

"This does put us in a difficult situation," Anderson said.

"What do you mean 'us'?", he demanded.

"Jack...," Rachel started.

"No. I'm the one who has to walk down the street wondering if somebody is going to get pissed off and turn into a monster."

"Mr. Davidson, please relax. I understand your dilemma. I have R&D working on something counteract the Drakan blood as we speak."

"Really?", that was a little out of the blue

"After your encounter with the spider I thought it could present a problem."

Jack looked at Rachel, "You knew about this?"

"I never informed Miss Haily of the project. I didn't want to disappoint you if we couldn't find anything to counteract it."

"I'm sure you didn't," Jack said. Anderson cocked an eyebrow at his statement. Jack glanced over to Allen, hoping he would say something. He didn't.

"Well,” Anderson said, "I for one consider the matter closed. I'm sure you have things to do to get ready for your move."

"Yeah, the few pieces of clothing I own are going to take hours to pack." Anderson did smile this time. Those hairs started to stand again. He and Rachel stood up and left the office and headed for the elevator. "Interesting meeting."

"It went better than I thought it was going to,” she said. “I was positive both our butts were going to be in a sling in there. We got lucky this time."

"Maybe, but it does make you wonder how much they're keeping from you doesn't it?" Rachel looked at him and quickly turned away. Yup, it really made you wonder.

***
It wasn't long before Allen and Anderson were the only ones in the office. Allen had quickly opened a window and was breathing deep the moment the last person had left. Anderson was slightly amused watching him. Finally Allen said, "How can you stand being in the same room as him?"

"With some of the people I've dealt with I've grown somewhat accustomed to it. I'll admit it's still somewhat maddening at times."

"I'm just glad you have R&D working on the smell."

"I've had Drakan and human scientists working on it for the past year." Allen stepped away from the window looking confused. "Our assassins would be more effective against Drakan targets if, as Davidson would put it, they didn't smell them coming. I only mentioned it to get him to calm down."

"Either way it'll make dealing with him easier." Allen sat back down in his seat.

"True, but it's not our primary concern."

"It's not?"

"No, the frog is. I am familiar with every green in this city. A frog was not one of them. I want to know who this Drakan was and what he was doing in my city."

"I'll get people on it right away," Allen said.

"You better," Anderson told him. He spun his chair around to look out the window. "It's bad enough the rebels have made their base here. I will not tolerate another pack coming into my territory."

***
It had been a week since there had been a Drakan sighting. Jack wasn't complaining, he had some time to try to get his head straight. The feeling, or lack of feeling, he had about the frog was still bothering him. Why would the frog be any different than the other Drakan. In fact it should have been worse, there was no proof the frog was part of the rebels. As far as he knew the thing was just on his way to work or headed home. Wrong place, wrong time, for both of them.

The only person who could possibly understand what he was going through was Mitchell. Too bad he was usually busy or on some assignment, and Jack didn't trust any of his men at the moment. Of course today Mitchell was busy too, flipping him to the training mat for the tenth time. Not the best time to ask a soul searching question, particularly when Jack wanted to punch his face in. Mitchell leaned down to look at him, "Come on Jack concentrate." That nose was such an inviting target at the moment.

He got to his feet, pushing those thoughts down. It was just a training session, not a real fight. He probably wouldn't be standing if this was a real fight. "You're enjoying this a little too much, you know that?"

"Got to keep you sharp man."

"I survived a Kung Fu rabbit, how sharp do I need to be?"

"I have seen a lot of nasty Drakan in my time. There were a few times I barely made it out in one piece."

"Gone hand to hand with a few Drakan have we?", Jack smirked.

Mitchell snorted, "Only with an armed squad right behind me. Lost a lot of good men. "Mitchell launched another attack. Jack was able to block or dodge most of them this time, "Better."

"And here I was thinking you were having a moment."

"You have to expect an attack at any time." He walked to a wall and picked up two fighting staffs that were leaning against it. Tossing one to Jack he said, "Let's upgrade a bit. Rachel said you needed some practice with this."

Jack looked at the staff in his hands. "That got around pretty quick," he muttered. He saw Mitchell's attack coming and blocked it. He was able to get a few swings in but he was mainly avoiding. Mitchell kept up the pressure until he knocked the staff out of his hands. He smiled wickedly and swung the staff. Jack grabbed it and pulled. Mitchell stumbled foreword and Jack clotheslined him to the ground. Jack used a knee to pin the staff to the other man's chest. "Just for the record, the rabbit feel for the same trick."

"Noted. And I think it's break time."

Jack nodded and got off the man. He quickly backed away from the man in case it was another trick. In the moment he had he shook his hands, "Ow." Mitchell tossed him a water bottle and sat against the wall. It looked safe enough so Jack joined him, but far enough away in case Mitchell tried something. He looked back at the session in his mind, ten to one wasn't that impressive. But damn did that one feel good.

***
Just like she thought Rachel found Jack in the cafeteria. It was almost a regular hang out spot for him. Sitting across from him Jack put two fingers to his forehead and saluted. "I see you still in one piece, so I'm assuming things with Mitchell went well."

"I held my own."

She seen Mitchell train his men before, "He threw you around a bit didn't he?"

"That's one way of looking at it."

"And how would you look at it?"

"I was keeping the mat warm," he said with a straight face. Then he rolled his shoulder and grimaced a bit "So what's on the agenda now?"

"I'm not really sure, according to Heather the Drakan have never been this quiet. I think word about you is getting around."

"If word getting around, then this place has got a leak."

"Not necessarily," she said a little too defensively. "You battled a couple of Drakan in some open areas. Who know who saw what. There could have been some other Drakan around we didn't know about."

"I still say there's another mole in here somewhere."

"Whatever." Too bad she couldn't say she didn't the same thought. So she couldn't really argue the point. Her cell phone went off, saved by the ring. "Hello? Yeah we're both still in the building."

"Quiet was nice while it lasted." She hushed him.

"Go ahead Heather. Uh-huh, ok I'll tell him." Rachel closed the phone and said, "We got a job."

"Never would have guessed."

"Heather's people got word of a meeting between some Drakans high up in the rebel's command chain. We're going to check it out and observe them.

"Geez, they're really making sure I'm not a loose cannon aren't they."

"It's nothing like that. It's a nice simple easy assignment. After all the stuff that's been happening lately I'm looking foreword to it, and so should you." As a second thought she added, "Just make sure you stay down wind."

***
The meeting place was an area of a nearby park that was rarely used. Thanks to a photo Heather gave them they quickly identified one of the Drakan. He was patiently sitting on a bench sipping a cup of coffee. The spot was relatively close to the parking area so Jack and Rachel stayed by their vehicles. So far they had been able to watch the Drakan without being noticed. Of course it wasn't long before Jack was bored out of his mind, "Is he here yet?"

"No, " Rachel said flately. It was the fifth time he said that in the last ten minute. He was surprised she hadn't snapped at him yet.

"Doesn't Anderson have teams for this?"

"Yes, but Mitchell retraining all the scout teams. He doesn't want a repeat of what happened last time. And there are no cameras in the park," she said cutting off his next question. "Besides being outside will do you some good. You can air out, so to speak."

"That goes for you too."

"I know, I know. But I don't think my smell is as bad as yours."

"What makes you say that?"

"Well," she said looking at him, "you're usually closer to the Drakan when it's explodes. The closest I've been was when you got the elephant. And you took most of that one."

"Yeah, but how do you know it gets weaker by the time it reaches you," he countered. "I don't think Anderson can find some Drakans to volunteer to find out. Not unless he took them by force."

Rachel looked appalled, "World Inc. would never do that."

"Who said anything about World Inc.?" Before she could answer a scream grabbed their attention. The guy they were watching suddenly changed into his Drakan form. For a few moments they watched as a red ox tore up the area. Finally Jack said, "The damn thing went nuts."

Rachel muttered in French as she fumbled with her phone. "Heather this is Rachel, the Drakan we were watching just went crazy. What do you mean where's Jack?"

He grabbed the phone from her hands. "I am no where near that thing." Rachel took the phone back. Something told him he had to get down there fast. He got on the bike.

"Heather gave you the green light."

"Like I was waiting for it," Jack said as he brought the bike to life. He raised his left arm across his chest and materialized the belt. Moving the arm over he brought up his right, shouted, "Henshin!", and slammed his right hand on top of the belt. He was soon in the black body suit and blue armor and peeled out toward the ox. Jack flipped the switches that activated the lasers. Two panel on the sides of the headlight opened up and two emitters slide foreword. When he was close enough he pressed the buttons under the switches. Two red beams of light shot out. The ox recoiled from the shots.

Jack swerved the bike to the right and went a few yards before turning the bike around. Racing toward the ox he grabbed the staff from it's holder and snapped it to extend one end. He moved the bike to the left and swung the staff into the ox's gut as he passed. Jack turned the bike around and charged again. This time he raised up just high enough to get his right foot on the seat and jumped. Grabbing the staff in both hands he swung on the way down. The staff caught the ox in the head and it went down to a knee.

He quickly extended the other end and whipped it into the side of it’s head this time. The ox's head snapped to the side but slowly turned back to face him, anger glaring in it’s bloodshot eyes. Why couldn't he have any luck with this stupid stick? Quicker than he thought was possible the ox wrapped a massive hand around his neck. The ox ran with Jack in his hand and slammed him against a tree. Jack grunted from the pain and was then lifted off the ground. The ox snorted as it snarled in disgust. He twisted the staff, collapsing it to its’ original size, raised it over his head and planted it between it's eyes. It let go and Jack stomped it’s knee as soon as he landed.

Jack quickly got behind the ox and tried to choke him out with the staff. The ox reached behind him, got to its’ feet and flipped him off. His chest armor scrapped on its’ horn on the way over. Jack rolled out of the way as a fist came hammering down. He got to his feet and jumped up, catching a shoulder under it's chin. The ox looked dazed. He dropped the staff and charged at it, aiming his shoulder at it's chest and knocked it back. Jack was never so glad to see that meter start flashing.

He pressed the button under the belt, activating the mini turbines behind the faceplate. The ox suddenly charged knocking him to the ground. The ox came toward him and he kicked out his right leg, his foot catching it around the waist. The ox took a few steps back before exploding.

Jack got to his feet and hit the top of the belt, returning to his street clothes. What the hell was that about?

***
Anderson looked out the window behind his desk. Mitchell stood silently on the other side as his communicator beeped. "Go ahead," he spoke into the mic. After a few moments he said, "The dart worked as planned Mr. Anderson."

He was very pleased, "Excellent. We told Davidson there were violent Drakan in the world. It's about time he was reminded of that."
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Old March 9th, 2019, 05:02 PM #10
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> scikaiju
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Joined: Dec 2012
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scikaiju
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 325



<Episode 7>

Jack checked the area. It was pretty much deserted now, but if anybody heard the explosion it wouldn't be for long. He doubted anybody would be dumb enough to believe they were filming a part for a movie. Jack grabbed the staff, got the bike back on it’s wheels and flipped the switches back to hide the lasers. He looked up to see that Rachel was still standing in the parking area. "We gotta go!", he shouted to her.

"Right!", she shouted back and got in her car. Jack rode back up to the parking area and grabbed his helmet as she pulled out of her spot. He glanced back to see a police officer come into view. She was looking right at them. He started wondering how good the World Inc. lawyers were as he raced out of the parking area. Jack slowed down enough for Rachel to pull aside him. He motioned for her to go right at the next intersection and that he was going left, she nodded. Probably not necessary but if that cop called it in one of them could get back to World Inc. if the other got caught. He had to remember to thank his Uncle for the tip.

Taking the long way around he returned to Word Inc. and pulled into the garage. Rachel was sitting on the trunk of her car waiting for him to show up. He pulled into the spot next to her and pulled off his helmet. Taking a moment to catch his breath he said, "I wonder how Allen is going to blame me for that one?"

"He doesn't have a reason to, we were no where near it."

"He'll say I rubbed against a tree and waited for the wind to change or something."

"Now that's just plain stupid."

"But would you put it past him?"

"After that last meeting, no," she admitted. "We still have to report to Heather. Hopefully Mr. Anderson will be as generous this time around. Speaking of Anderson," she got right up to him and pointed a finger in his face. "Do you mind explaining that that thing you said about Anderson and experimenting with Drakan lives?"

"I never said he would, I'm just saying I wouldn't be surprised."

"And why wouldn't you be surprised?"

"Whose idea was it to hook me up to the Fusion system? A system you said nobody knew was going to work. So he has some history as far as I'm concerned." She looked a little annoyed as she turned away. "I'm sure he's a wonderful guy once you get to know him."

"But you don't want to get to now him, right?"

"Pretty much."

"Your choice," she said as she started to walk off.

Jack knew he could have handled that better. Rachel was the only one here who felt like she was really on his side. He really didn't want to tick her off. As he got off the bike he noticed something the irked him even more. "Damn it!"

"What?", Rachel asked.

"I scratched the paint."

***
Anderson listened quietly to Haily's report. He wanted to hold this meeting in the Command Center so Williams could give him some instant feedback. He noticed almost right away that Davidson was avoiding looking at the map. Or perhaps the markers on the map? An interesting notion to say the least. Moving toward the front of the map he said, "Are you sure this officer saw you Mr. Davidson?" he looked in his general direction, but not directly at him.

"I'm pretty sure she didn't see the fight, but she might be able to describe the bike."

Anderson walked away from the map. Like he thought Davidson paid him a little more attention. There had to be a way he could use that. A thought to ponder on later. "I'll have our people get on it to contain the information to be on the safe side. Do you know what set the Drakan off?"

"I'm not sure," Haily answered. "We were there for a good hour before it started it’s rampage."

"Maybe a bug got into it’s latte," Davidson joked.

"Perhaps," Anderson allowed a small smile.

"I'll have somebody go over the old reports, "Williams said. “I don't remember reading that this happened before but it doesn't hurt to double check."

"Good. Miss Haily, can you write down what the two of you said today."

"You'll have the report by the end of the day."

He nodded. "Mr. Davidson, I believe Dr. Freidman wanted to see you after this was over."

"My three Drakan/ three thousand mile check up." He looked at Haily, "Which ever comes first."

"Oh, and I was told the KR-1000 will be ready by the end of the day. I realize the damage was merely cosmetic but please be more careful with it in the future."

"I'll try." Somehow he doubted that he would. Haily and Davidson left the room and Williams excused herself and went to an assistant. He looked around the room for a bit before making his exit. They had no clue about what really happened. Mitchell was personally retrieving the dart, so no suspicions would be raised. He would have to remember to give the Drakan scientist who developed it a little more power. After all, he couldn't rely on the smell of Drakan blood all the time.

***
He hated the waiting, he hated the fact he was told to wait. The abomination had to be taken out, a fool had to see that. How long were the old man and the others going to allow Anderson to laugh at them? Of course he had to hear the mumbles about their time being wasted. The old man insisted they wait until Christopher arrived before letting anybody seeing the tape.

He couldn't believe all this hinged on the wanna be king showing up. It wouldn't be so bad if Christopher wasn't a green. The blond haired man was finding hard to believe in the whole 'All sects are equal' when everyone kept bowing to one in the ruling class. Finally the man watching the door moved, he mumbled something then listened. Nodding to everybody else he opened the door. Christopher had decided to arrive. Just about everyone started to get on there knees for the brown haired man who entered, everyone but him that is. Christopher's bodyguard entered after he did and the door was closed once again. "Don't," he said to the room, "I'm not worth the effort." He gestured toward him, "You should follow Jason's example. He knows I'm no better than any of you." He walked over to him. "I'm sorry to hear about Kendall."

"He died fighting," he said trying to keep his voice calm.

"So the rumors I've been hearing are true then?"

"Unfortunately."

"This is ridiculous," somebody said. "There is no way that thing can exist."

"Then how do you explain our people disappearing lately," challenged another.

"I refuse to believe there is a Drakan killer out there."

He had enough, "You better start believing. I've seen it and we have it on tape."

"Funny how you're the only one still alive."

"He was observing Kendall during what was suppose to have been a meeting with our contact when it showed up," the old man spoke up. "The tape is from the safe house Phil was residing in." Everybody started looking at each other, hardly a word was said. His disappearance started the rumor of the Drakan Killer.

Breaking the silence Christopher asked, "Do you have any idea where this... thing came from?"

"We have a theory," the old man began.

"It's no theory," Jason interrupted. "Anderson and his company created this thing." That caused a commotion in the group. The old man shook his head sadly.

"What proof do you have?", someone demanded.

"His men are on the tape."

"Why would he do this?"

"Because," Christopher answered, "we dare to think outside the norm." Great, he gave him the opening to give a speech. He fought hard to keep the disgust off his face. "Anderson, and the ones like him, fears the change we bring. Our only goal is to live in peace with the others. Some of them have proven time and time again that they are willing to let live our way of life peacefully. But Anderson and his like have denied us even that option. So we must take this accusation seriously." It wasn't long before Christopher was back to business. He kept it short, Jason was glad of that. "Maybe it's time you showed us that tape."

***
Rachel stood outside Jack's door wondering if she should ring the doorbell again. Then she thought she heard the mumbling from behind the door and it was coming closer. Jack opened the door and stared at her. He looked like he just got up. She also noticed the flannel shirt he was wearing over a T-shirt. He thought of everything to cover those scars. Rachel gave him a cheerful, "Good Morning."

"I was afraid of this," he said wearily.

She had a feeling she was going to regret asking this, "Afraid of what?"

"That you're a morning person." That wasn't so bad. Jack moved aside to let her in. "Please don't tell me we got a job. I haven't had any caffeine yet."

"No job, I came by to give you this." She put the bag she was carrying on the counter and took out the plant. Rachel handed it to him and said, "A little house warming gift."

"I'm hoping to God it's plastic."

"It is," she informed him.

"Thanks," he put the plant on the counter. "Coffee?"

"Sure," she took a seat as he put water into the pot.

"I got to warn you I make it a little strong," he told her.

"You can strip the paint of the wall with my Dad's coffee, so don't worry."

"So why wait a week to give me a fake plant?"

"I wanted to make sure you were settled in first."

"I came in with a suitcase, it wasn't going to take that long." He covered a yawn and ran his fingers through his hair. "Has R&D fixed that smell problem yet? I'm getting tired of taking half hour showers that never seem to work."

"Nothing yet."

"Great."

"They're working on it. From what I understand they're having a hard time identifying what causing it."

"Maybe whoever working on it should go with us on the next assignment."

"You're not going to start that whole thing with Anderson again are you?"

"No," he said sounding a little annoyed. Maybe it would be better to get this out of the way now.

"Look, I realize I don't have your perspective on this. And you don't have mine. But if were going to be partners I like to think we can be open about these things."

He looked at her for a moment, "Exactly which psycho-babble handbook did you get that one out of?"

"Jack..."

"I understand, partners need to be able to trust each other. Although I thought you were my boss," he got in quickly. Before Rachel could say anything he added, "Can I start the open feast?"

"Why not." She tried to get comfortable, "This should be good."

"I can't get rid of this feeling that Anderson hooked me up to the Fusion prototype, not to save my life, but to see if it would actually work. I also think he gave me the bike and this place to keep me from saying anything about it."

"I can see how it would look like that. But did you ever think that he was actually trying to be nice?"

"Briefly, then I start wondering how many Drakan this is going to end up costing me." The phone rang before she could respond. "Yo. Heather? Hi, how you doing? Quick question before you start." He shot an accusing look toward her, "How did you get this number?"

"Don't look at me, you didn't give me your number."

***
He had just enough time to down a cup of coffee and get dressed before Rachel made them leave. Anderson's cameras had spotted a Lieutenant in the rebels command structure, or that's what they told him. Any questions he had about the whereabouts of Mitchell and his teams were quickly dismissed. Rachel kept up the inquiries when they reached the street. She wasn't having any luck either. "Look, if the Drakan is as high up as you say it is he might have some bodyguards around."

"Would a warrior king need a bodyguard?", he wondered out loud.

"Jack has only gone one on one with these things. I don't know if he can take on more than one without some kind of back up." Rachel flinched and put a hand to the phone, "Sorry."

"Don't be." He stopped at a corner and scanned the crowd. He wasn't sure if he should be worried that they spotted one so close to their building or not. "What's this guy suppose to look like again?"

"Leather coat, red bandanna, and he's got some kind of tribal tattoo on the right side of his face."

"Found him." Rachel stopped talking to confirm his find.

"I think we found him."

"We?", he deadpanned.

Putting her phone up she said, "Do you see anybody with him?"

"Not yet." Jack looked around but he didn't see anybody else dressed like the apparent target. For that matter wouldn't they dress a little differently in order to blend in better? "You think he's one of those warrior kings?"

"I told you that was a rumor." She sighed, "And most of the reports I've pulled up seem to confirm it."

"He's moving," he said as the target started walking away.

"We better follow, but let's make sure it's the right guy first." She pulled the cell phone back out and hit redial, "Heather it's me again. Do you still have the target on camera? Are we in the picture? Thanks. It's him."

"About time they did something other then tell us were to go."

***
Anderson was starting to get anxious. They had never spotted anyone this close to the elusive Christopher. He had seen picture of him and flashes of him on the screens. Unfortunately he couldn't point him out without giving away how he knew. Only Mitchell knew his frustration over the situation. No matter, they had a lead to his location now. "Make sure," he said to Williams over the phone, "they realize they are to just follow. Davidson is not to engage unless it is necessary." If this Drakan was connected to Christopher, there could be an army there waiting for them. A small loss if it got him Christopher.

***
Jack and Rachel followed the target for a few blocks. He still couldn't see any signs of a bodyguard. Definitely a warrior king as far as he was concerned. The target turned a corner ahead of them. Jack jogged foreword to keep him in sight. It looked like he was heading for a construction area. "That can't be good."

Rachel caught up with him and looked around the corner. "You think he's leading us into a trap?"

"That's what I'm thinking. He could have lost us at any time he wanted."

"Same here. Now what do you want to do?"

"He wants us to follow I say why disappoint. You better stay here though, this could get nasty."

"Sorry Jack I can't do that. You're going to need another eyewitness if he starts the fight."

"Stay out of my way then."

"Always do."

Like he thought the guy entered the construction yard. Jack wasn't sure but he thought the guy looked back to make sure they were coming. He should have brought the bike. Hell, he was wishing he had a tank at this point. He entered first, making sure the coast was clear before Rachel followed. He walked ahead looking left to right as she hung back in the shadows. Jack went about ten yards before he noticed a growing shadow on the ground. A yell of, "Die assassin!", caused him to jump out of the way as a red hawk embedded it’s hand into the ground.

Jack got his left arm up and materialized the belt around his waist. Moving the left arm out of the way he brought up his right arm and slammed his right hand on top of the belt while saying, "Henshin!" The hawk freed it’s hand and lunged at him causing him to jump out of the way before the process was finished. Jack got to a knee and noticed he was in the armor anyway. He could change on the go, that would have been nice to know before now. Wings suddenly emerged from its’ back and it flew straight up. "Wasn't expecting that one."

The hawk swooped down, clawed feet aimed at him. Jack ducked out of the way and got ready for another attack. There was no way in hell this plan was going to work. The hawk turned and dived for another attack. He jumped, grabbed the Drakan around the neck and pulled. They both rolled on the ground as they landed. The hawk pushed him off and grunted in pain as it got up. It’s left wing was broken. The original idea was to break a wing by hand, but he'll take any favors he could get at this point.

Jack cautiously approached the hawk, he should have brought the staff. The hawk wasn't backing down. They both threw a straight right punch. Jack staggered from it more than the hawk did. He threw a left hook, the hawk seemed to feel that one so he did it again. The hawk backhanded him, jumped up, grabbed his shoulders with it’s feet and flipped foreword. It’s weight caused him to be lifted off his feet and he crashed on his stomach. The hawk stomped down, forcing his head into the ground. He grabbed it’s other foot to trip it.

He jumped up and aimed a foot at the Drakan's head. The hawk moved out of the way and started to run away. Jack went after it. The hawk headed for a pillar, ran up it and jumped off to flip over him. He had seen too many martial arts movies to fall for that one. He put a foot on the pillar and pushed off. He tackled the hawk in mid air. The hawk started attacking before they hit the ground. Jack was trying to give as good as he got but the hawk was stronger than he was expecting. He got off as soon as he could, he had to think of something else. It started punching and kicking at him before he saw an opening. Jack ducked a punch and grabbed the broken wing. The hawk screamed in pain as he pulled.

Using the wing as leverage he slammed the hawk into a wall. He let go the moment the meter started flashing and pressed the button. He quickly backed up as the mini turbines spun in the belt and ran foreword as he felt the charge go down his leg. Jack jumped at the hawk, landing his right foot on it’s chest. The hawk flew back and exploded. He took a moment to catch his breath. If that thing was a lieutenant he didn't even want to think about the ones in charge.

***
He resisted the urge to pace the room. The old man, Christopher and the other spent most of the time discussing what they saw on the tape. What was there to discuss? The metal bug was a threat and needed to be taken care of.

"Jason," Christopher said as he came up to him. "You'll be glad to know that we're going after the Drakan Killer."

He only cared about one thing, "Who's going after it?"

"We decided to send you and Michael to take it down."

"I don't need help."

"I'm sure you don't, but some of the others think it might have gotten Molly." He heard that rumor too. Molly trained him, she was an excellent fighter. "We think it would be better if more than one Drakan confronted it this time."

"Fine, I'll bring you it’s head."
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Old March 12th, 2019, 05:14 PM #11
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<Episode 8>

Jack leaned against a pillar, very weary all of the sudden. He wasn't that tired, physically any way. He wasn't even sure if the guilt he'd been expecting had finally decided to show up. Hell, maybe the hawk knocked something loose. Rachel came up to him looking very concerned. "Jack, are you all right?"

"Just a little winded," he told her. You can't lie about what you don't know about, right? "That thing was tougher than it looked."

"I think it might be a good idea if Dr. Friedman looked you over."

"Yes mother." She gave him a tired look. He had to smirk at the sight. His Mom used to give him the same look. "Well that's the second assignment I've blown," he said out of nowhere.

"I told Heather he might be leading us into a trap."

"Yeah, well if Allen says anything I'm punching something in. Preferably on him."

"I'll hold him for you." They both turned to the sound of the new voice. Mitchell walked up holstering his gun.

"What are you doing here?", Jack asked.

"I'm training some new recruits. I was watching them survey the area when I saw that thing. It started attacking and I hurried over to try to try to help you out." He looked at the still smoking remains. "Figures I'd be a little late."

Jack held his finger and thumb about an inch apart, "Just a little."

"Well it's the thought that counts right?"

"You sure you saw how the fight started?", Rachel asked him.

Mitchell nodded, "If Allen starts anything I'll back the two of you up all the way. He get’s on my nerves too." He looked at Jack then got a funny look on his face too. "You ok buddy?"

"I'm fine." They just looked at him. "Really."

***
Rachel walked off while Mitchell called his men to their location. She caught Jack looking at the remains momentarily before looking else where. Pulling out her phone she called Heather and gave her the details. "One more thing, have them get Fusion diagnostic system ready. I want a full scan done when we get in."

"I'll make sure it's ready by the time you get back. There's nothing wrong with Jack is there?"

"I don't think so, I just want to double check to make sure. I'll see you when I get in." She hung up and was surprised to see Mitchell standing so close. "What is it?"

"Nothing, I just overheard what you said."

"You don't think it's necessary?"

"Hey like you said, better safe than sorry." One of his men showed up and he waved a signal at him. More than likely secure the area. "Do you mind hearing an outside opinion?"

"Let's hear it."

"Try to get him a couple of days off. There's more going on in that head of his than Jack's letting on. The last thing we need right now is for him to burn out while we're still trying to stop these things."

"I'm overjoyed about your concern." She started to walk off but he stopped her.

"Rachel look, I'm worried about him too, but I have to look at the bigger picture here. You should try looking at it yourself once in awhile." With that he walked off. Rachel resisted the urge to go after him and argue the point. She had to treat Jack as a human, not like some cog in a machine. She knew him too well by now to do otherwise. Although looking at Jack current state, a few days off might not be such a bad idea.

***
Anderson spent most of the day in his personal gym. He had reverted to his Drakan form, a green cheetah, the moment the doors had closed. His anger had nearly overwhelmed him when he read Haily's report. Allen, who had entered later, chose to remain standing by the door. He had seen him vent before, making the mistake of getting too close only once. Allen still had the scars on his chest as a constant reminder.

He could only think of how close they were to Christopher. That thought fueled his frustrations as he tore apart a human shaped practice dummy. His claw ripped through the material as he pictured various faces on the dummy: Davidson, Haily, Mitchell, Christopher. Allowing an animal rage to over take him, Anderson grabbed the dummy by the head and shoulder. Growling he sank his teeth into the dummy's neck and tore the material out. He spat it out of his mouth and looked at what was left of the dummy. Slowly he regained control of his emotions and calmed down.

Turning away from the dummy he changed into his human disguise. Allen walked foreword offering a towel. Anderson wiped his face and looked at the man. "They say venting is good for the soul. I never really believed it until now. We had a link to Christopher and we lost it." He threw the towel down, feeling the frustration rise again. "Did Mitchell confirm their story?"

"I'm afraid so."

"Lovely," he muttered. "What do you know about this rebel?"

"Not much, information about Christopher's inner circle is pretty scarce. From what I was able to find out he was an excellent tracker. Chances were he knew he was being followed the moment Davidson and Haily set after him."

"Christopher knows how to pick his lieutenants, I can not fault him on that. Hopefully this loss will hurt him in some way. Is there any thing else about the situation I should be aware of?"

"Yes. Haily, on Mitchell's recommendation I might add, is asking for some days off for Davidson. Naturally we can't..."

"Give him a week, "Anderson interrupted. “I am not in the mood to see him at the moment."

"Understood,” Allen turned to leave.

"One more thing, the frog." He hesitated a little before answering.

Then he quickly said, "I'm still working on it. Some of the Drakan I've contacted have been a tad secretive when asked if they had one of their pact visiting the city."

"Well keep on it. One of them is bound to let something slip sooner or later." Anderson looked at dummy and the pieces of equipment destroyed during his emotional state. "And make sure everything in here is replaced."

***
He watched Michael drag off the last body off. This was a level of frustration he never knew was possible. Snapping these human like the twigs they were was not satisfying, there was no challenge. "Don't worry, it'll come to us eventually," Michael said coming back into the room. "Even Anderson can't ignore these losses."

"Do you actually think Anderson cares about these humans?" Michael just shrugged. There had to be a way to make this more interesting. “Would you care to make a wager on how many more he will send before he sets the metal bug loose?"

***
Rachel paced the lobby waiting for Jack to show up. He did not sound all that happy when she called and told him Anderson wanted him to come in for a job. She told Anderson that she doubted he would come in. But she thought it would be better to head him off first in case he did. Try to lessen some of that anger that would be obviously building up on the way here. Oh hell, there he was. Jack stormed through the front doors and she got in his path. "Hi.", he went right past her, "Ah, Jack." That went about as well as expected.

He walked right past the elevator and headed for the stairs. She hoped he was going to take out most of his frustrations on the stairs. Rachel just gotten things calmed down with Anderson about that rebel Lieutenant. She did not need this wreaking that right now. Jack stood a flight above looking confused. He looked at her and she offered, "Command Center." He nodded and went on. Rachel hurried after him, maybe she could act as a buffer when they got there. If she was lucky she might calm him down before he got there. Unfortunately Jack noticed Anderson in the hallway leading to the center.

"You gave me a week," he shouted as he walked toward Anderson. She hurried up and got in front of him.

"I realize that Mr. Davidson," he replied calmly, "and I fully intended to give you the full seven days to work through your problems." Jack shot her a look before Anderson continued. "But events have occurred that made me call you in early."

"This better be good." They followed him and Jack turned to her and whispered, "My problems?"

"I had to tell him something to get you the time off." Jack grunted and left it alone. She made a mental note to work on that trust thing they were supposed to have.

Anderson let them enter the Command Center first before starting the briefing. "The situation, like I told you, is rather dire. While you were gone I sent a team to investigate a report of activities at an old Drakan stronghold. That team and the three we sent after them soon disappeared."

"Whoa," Jack features soften slightly.

"Mitchell was ready to go in with a full assault team when we found a survivor. He was in shock and a lot of what he said was gibberish, but we were able to get a description of his assailant. A Drakan monkey," Anderson studied Jack as he said, "reportedly a blue one."

Rachel looked at Jack as soon as he said that. There was a glint of cold anger that passed through his eyes. "Are we sure it's a blue Drakan monkey?", she asked.

"As sure as we can be," he replied.

"Were is he?", Jack demanded.

"Jack we don't know if he still there," she told him.

"You think I care."

"I don't want you to get your hopes up."

"Don't worry I'll get my hopes up after he's a burning pile of trash. Now where is he?"

"Surprisingly enough, the same safe house where we located the elephant," Anderson informed them. Jack's eyes narrowed for some reason.

"Figures," Jack turned and started to leave. He stopped just long enough to turn to her and say, "You coming?"

"I'll get you a report as soon as I can."

***
Jack hurried across town, or at least he tried to. Was traffic slower today for some reason, or was fate trying to keep him from the monkey? Finally he reached the safe house. He decided to wait for Rachel to pull up before heading for the house. For some reason she got in his way. "Now what?"

"You can't go in there angry."

"I like to think of it as being properly motivated. Now if you will excuse me."

"Jack will you stop and think about this for a moment."

"What is your problem? I'm finally excited about a mission for once. You should be pointing me in the right direction and saying 'Go'."

"Four teams went in here and only one man survived. This could be a trap." He looked at her. "Listen to me, the rebels were quiet for a week. One of the rebel leader's top men was spotted in plain sight without any guards. Now there's activity at a place we already know about. If they know about you this could be exactly what they want."

"If the monkey is in there then I'm not going to disappoint them." He moved passed her and went up the steps to the door. When he got there he found it was unlocked. Jack glanced over at Rachel who was standing next to him. Maybe he should take that trap thing a little more seriously. He opened the door and was immediately assaulted by a stench. "Son of a ..." he said while covering up his nose and mouth. "Think I'm going to be sick."

"That's it I'm calling for back up," Rachel told him.

"Wait," Jack thought he saw something in a corner. It looked like it was sitting up and dressed like one of the scout teams. He cautiously went for him, making sure there wasn't going to be any other surprises. Jack kneeled down next to the shape. It was one of the previous team members. "Hey, can you hear me?", he patted the man's face. It was cold, "Damn."

"Jack, is he all right?"

"Call for a wagon."

"About time you got here," said a voice from above.

Jack and Rachel looked up. On the second floor kneeling on the railing was a blue monkey. Jack felt the anger start to rise and he wasn't stopping it. It was the same Drakan, there was no doubt in his mind. He raised his left arm across his chest and the grey metal belt appeared around his waist. Jack moved the arm out of the way and raised his right arm. "Hen... ," was all he got out before something that looked like a claw came at him. Everything went dark soon after.

***
The Drakan that knocked out Jack, a blue scorpion, turned to her. Before she knew it he returned to his human disguise, pulled her in and put a pair of handcuff around her wrist. The monkey jumped down and cuffed Jack's hands around his back. Then they were taken upstairs, thrown in a room and the door locked. She sat there waiting for either them to come back or for Jack to wake up. He started to stir after what she guessed was an half hour, "Oy."

"Are you all right?"

"Was there a elephant standing on my head?", he asked while slowly sitting up.
“Not exactly,” she told him.

"Ok," he looked around the room. "Now why are we still alive?"

"I heard them say I might know something since I'm your handler." He raised an eyebrow at her. "Their words not mine. You, I have no clue. Maybe they think you know something too."

"Me? I'm just the loaded gun. Well loaded foot anyway," he said while getting the cuffs under his leg. It wasn't long before the handcuffs were right in front of him. Jack studied the cuffs for a bit. "Trust me, they're going to parade me around a bit before killing me. Hmm... thirty year old model." He started looking around the room. Jack saw something the caught his interest, "That's doable."

He grabbed two wires and bent the end on one of them. She saw him stick them into the cuff's keyhole in disbelief. "You have got to be kidding me? There is no way you can open these thing like that." Jack ignored her and kept working. In a matter of moments he had a hand free and was working on the other one. "How'd you do that?"

"My Uncle was a lock smith, well he was during his day job. Let's say he taught me a few things before Mom could stop him." Both of his hands were free, "Let me see yours."

"When were you planning on seeing this Uncle of your again?"

"Sometimes in the next six to eight years, it's gonna depend on how well he behaves." Her cuffs were off soon after.

Rachel went to the door and listened. "Did your Uncle teach you how to unlock a door?"

"Henshin!"

She turned in surprise. It wasn't long before she was staring into the red eyes of the insect style helmet. Jack walked up to the door and kicked it down. "That works to."

***

Jack led Rachel through the hallway. It didn't take him long to realize they were on the second floor. Good thing he decided to stay in armor. They reached the stairway, still no Drakan in sight. Not that deep down he was really disappointed or anything. Part of him wanted a crack at the one who sucker punched him after he got the monkey. "I don't suppose you have your phone?", he asked.

"They took it from me. The monkey threw it against a wall to make sure I couldn't use it."

"Great." Jack headed down the stairs first to make sure the floor was clear. "Head back to World Inc. and get Mitchell and his team. I'll stay here to cover you. No arguing."

"I don't like this," she told him.

"I'm just doing what you guys pay me for. Tell Mitchell I'll try to save him some of the second one."

"You," a feral voice said. The monkey was standing in another door.

Jack pointed to the upper level, “Let's take it up." The monkey nodded once and jumped to the upper level. Jack raced up the stairs. The monkey took a swing that he ducked. The stood there looking at each other.

Then the monkey said, "Now you will pay for what you did to my partner."

At the same time he said, "You’re dead after what you did to Richie." They both took a beat to figure out what the other's comment meant. Then they both attack screaming. The fight was primal, nothing fancy, no jumping, no flipping. Just straight punching and kicking. Each one was trying to tear the other apart and neither was backing down. The monkey grabbed him around the throat. Jack pounded its arms until they gave just a little, grabbing the monkey's wrist he removed its hands. Quickly as he could Jack grabbed its left arm. Then he slammed his other hand into the point of its elbow. He smiled behind the helmet as he heard the snap. The monkey grimaced in pain as it clutched it's now useless arm. Jack flexed the fingers on his left hand and said, "One limb down, two to go."

***
Rachel should have left when the fight started. But she was Jack mission operator, it was her job to see the fight through. She was amazed and a little sickened at the way Jack was fighting. He never looked that savage before. It almost seemed like he was enjoying it.

The door opened and the light blinded her. She blinked a few times and saw a man standing there. Her blood went cold, it was the human disguise for the scorpion. He closed the door quickly and a blue scorpion tail emerged from under his coat. It soon turned all the way all the way and came at her. Rachel ducked the initial strike, found a broken piece of scrape wood and turned to face it. It charged at her. Rachel raised the piece of wood over her head stabbed at it. The jagged pointed end pierced the scorpion in one of its eyes. It back up and screamed in pain as it pulled the piece out. It snapped its mandibles angrily and came at her again.

***
He never faced anything that fought like the metal bug before. There was a fury in it he wasn't expecting. It kept attacking his broken arm when it got close enough. For the first time in a long time he felt fear. Jason set himself, if he was going to die he was going to take that thing with him. He jumped up and kicked it under the chin. While it staggered from the blow he ran toward a hole in the wall. Reaching in with his good arm he pulled out a detonator. The bug hit him against the wall, making him drop it. Then the bug stepped on it and threw him to the railing.

"Nothing goes boom today!" It ran over to him quickly and started punching him down. It backed away and he spit some coppery tasting spit out of his mouth. He wasn't sure but it felt like a tooth came out with it. "Oh man," it sounded disappointed, "looks like play time's over. Guess I was wrong, one thing is going boom today." The bug reached for its belt when they heard the scream. The both looked, Michael had just grabbed the female and threw her against the far wall. He was bleeding from one eye and looked like he was going in for the kill. The bug looked at him then to the scene below and back at him. "Damn," it said before jumping over the railing.

***
Jack landed and ran at the scorpion, catching it's tail as it was throwing it at Rachel. He pulled the tail and jerked the scorpion away from her. He had to end this thing fast and get back to the monkey. It snapped its claws at him, keeping him away. He also had to remember to avoid that tail. Seeing an opening Jack dodged a claw and hit a solid punch to the gut. He grabbed the scorpion's arm and tried to break it but the tail swept his legs out from under him. He rolled away from as the stinger struck. Jack stomped the tail after it was stuck in the floor, the scorpion screamed in pain.

A sharp pain started growing in his gut. He looked at the meter, it was almost on continuous flash. That couldn't be good. Jack threw the scorpion away and pressed the button under the belt, activating the mini turbines in it. He clutched at his leg as the charge went down his leg. Jack looked down and could see the electricity go down his leg. He'd worry about it later. Jack jumped up and kicked his right foot into the scorpion's chest. Arcs of electricity could be seen as the foot made contact. The scorpion flew back hard against the wall and exploded.

Jack grabbed his leg and went down momentarily. He probably couldn't use the kick against the monkey any time soon. That was alright he would just break its neck instead. Ignoring the pain, he ran back up the stairs as fast as his leg would let him. The monkey wasn't any where in sight. He did a room by room search before heading back to the stairs. Looking down he could see the door was still closed. How did the monkey get away? Jack slammed his fist onto the railing, cracking it, "Damn it!"
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Old March 16th, 2019, 06:20 PM #12
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scikaiju
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 325



<Episode 9>

He kept to the back alleys and the quieter streets he could find. Jason didn't want to draw any more attention to himself as possible. In his human disguise his broken arm looked much worse. The last thing he needed was one of the humans asking about his condition. Leaning against a wall on his good arm he thought about the fight. He had dreamed of tearing the metal bug apart with his own hands almost nightly.

Then a few hours ago he met up with the real thing. To think he was disappointed after it went down after one blow from Michael. Jason wondered how long he lasted against the bug. Maybe Michael was able to do what he couldn't do. Then he remembered the ferocity the bug fought with and doubted it. Jason got off the wall and looked behind him. No sign of Michael or the bug, a mixed blessing.

Quickly crossing the street he was relieved that the last leg of his journey back to Christopher's temporary base was almost over. Jason was surprised he felt relieved about approaching anything dealing with the would be king. He must be desperate. The guards saw him, one went out to him and the other went inside. Soon the old man and Christopher came out. Christopher got under his good arm, always putting on a show for the troops. "What happened?", the old man asked.

"We...," he tried to catch his breath, "miscalculated slightly."

"Where's Michael?", somebody else asked, he wasn't sure who.

"The last I saw him, he was fighting the metal bug."

"What happened exactly," The old man asked him. He gave them the short version of what he knew.

"So you left Michael to face that thing alone?", someone else accused.

"He did the right thing," Christopher told the man. “We got something a little more valuable than a victory, information we didn't have before." All things considered he would rather have a dead bug. "Let's get him inside and fixed up. After you rest I want to know everything you can remember about this metal bug." He nodded, he was in no shape to do anything else.

***
Jack stared at the ceiling as he waited for Friedman, going over the things that happened in his head. After he took out the scorpion and found out the monkey got away he checked on Rachel. Mitchell and an assault team busted in a few minutes later. Jack made a joke about him being late again. Mitchell took one look at them and immediately called for a med team. Quicker than he thought was possible Mitchell and the med team had both of them in an ambulance and speeding away from the safe house.

When they reached World Inc. Friedman, Barry and some others he recognized practically swamped him the moment the doors opened. He remembered seeing a rush of hallways and faces before being delivered to some kind of diagnostic room. There Friedman and Barry performed every kind of scan they had on his leg. Then they took him to another room and left him there to rest. Eventually Friedman came back looking over some paper work. " 'Bout time doc," he said while sitting up. Big mistake, he gritted his teeth as the pain shot down his leg.

"Careful Jack," he rushed over and helped him to a sitting position. "Your leg going to be a little tender for awhile."

"So what did I do?"

"Basically you cooked the inside of your leg."

"Tell me you're kidding."

"Maybe cooked the wrong term, more like you seared it. Like you would a really rare steak."

"That's not helping doc."

Friedman chuckled, "Sorry. You have some shielding around the conductors in you leg. Normally it protects your, and forgive my phrasing, organic parts when you use the charge kick." Jack resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Tim's nickname for his weapon got around. "However because you let the energy build up get so high this time it overloaded the shielding. Fortunately the charge went down you leg rather quickly or the damage could have been much worse." He sighed heavily, "Maybe if Barry was here to explain the technical aspects."

"No offense but I failed technical mumbo jumbo in school." Friedman snorted in response. "So how long before my leg get's better?"

"Like I said the damage wasn't that bad, but it's going to take awhile to heal. Of course we could speed up the process by putting you in the nutrient bath for a couple of days." Jack shook his head, quickly shooting that idea down. "Then again it might be better to let things heal naturally."

"Tim owes me five bucks," said a voice from behind Friedman. Rachel stood in the doorway. "He actually thought you think about it."

"Like you know me that well."

"You just proved me right."

"Damn, she's right."

"I'll see if I can find you some crutches Jack." and Friedman left them alone. She came closer to his bed. Jack noticed the brace on her left wrist.

"How bad is it?"

"It's just sprained," she said while holding it with her right. "I'll be fine in a couple of days."

"That's better than what I'm doing."

"I heard." She was quiet for a moment, "Jack, thanks for the save."

He waved it off, "I owed you one from the elephant."

"Why did you pick me over the monkey? If you got him you would have been out of here."

"Yeah I..." He found the floor real interesting for a bit. Why did he pick her over the monkey? "I didn't want to listen to Anderson try to guilt me into staying longer if you bought it."

Rachel had a smirk on her face, "I thought as much. Thanks, you just won me another five from Tim. I tell you that boy needs to get out more."

"No kidding... wait, what did he say?"

"Nothing worth repeating. I’ll pull my car up front then I'll take you home." She left the room before he could argue. Jack was left alone with his thoughts again. He went back to thinking about the fight with the monkey.

"Should have broken it's legs first."

***
Anderson stood in the lobby waiting for them to show. Allen was trying to get his attention about something and Mitchell was scanning the area. He knew it was out of habit, Anderson doubted he had anything to worry about in his own building. But that was what he paid the man for. Not that he had anything to worry about from the humans.

The elevator doors opened up and Haily and Davidson walked out, well Haily did anyway. It was a little strange to see Davidson hobble out on crutches, but it meant he wasn't invincible. Just like he had the Fusion system designed. He walked up to them and the other followed. "Mr. Davidson," both of them looked surprised that he was there, "I wanted to congratulate you on your mission."

"The monkey got away."

"True, but from what I understand during the battle you were presented with two options, be a hero or be selfish. You choose the hero option and saved Miss Haily, and for that I am grateful. She would be very hard to replace." Haily blushed slightly. Davidson looked at her.

"Told you he’d try to guilt me." Haily shot him a rather nasty look. Best not inquire about that comment.

"I'm adding a couple of weeks to your time off to heal up some. I'm sure we can handle the Drakan while you are away."

"Don't worry buddy," Mitchell added, "we'll find monkey boy for you as soon as we can."

"Right now I'm just worried about getting my bike."

"He doesn't know?", Anderson asked Haily.

"He doesn't know what?", Davidson asked cautiously.

"The bike's here man," Mitchell told him. "I had somebody get it and put it in the garage while you were being checked out."

"Somebody touched my bike?!" Anderson saw a similar look when he told him they located the monkey.

"I was waiting for the pain killers to kick in before I told him," Haily explained to them.

"What's the fuss about?", Allen asked. "It's just a machine."

"Just a machine?", Davidson and Mitchell said at the same time. Both of them looked at Allen like he grew a second head. Humans.

"No offence Mr. Davidson, but you are in no conditions to be driving the KR-1000. Don't worry, it'll be safe here until you return."

"I'll have a guard on it twenty four seven," Mitchell joked.

"Triple guard," Davidson said. Mitchell smiled but Anderson was positive he was being serious.

"Well I won't keep you any longer. Miss Haily, I want you to take a week off to heal up yourself." She nodded while Davidson grunted something. As they left the building Mitchell leaned in.

"What are you going to do if he gets the monkey?"

"I'll worry about that when we get to it. It was a fluke we found him this time, and it will be awhile before we locate him again. That I am quite sure of. I'll take a look at that file now," he held out a hand. Allen placed the folder he was carrying in it. He scanned the contents briefly before closing it. "Is this information accurate?"

"I wouldn't have brought it to your attention if I wasn't sure." Anderson looked at the door Davidson went through.

"Should I get a team together?", Mitchell asked.

"No, not just yet. I think it would be better if we waited for Davidson." He handed the file back to Allen. "Keep a close eye on this Allen. I want to know the minute anything changes."

***
"Hey." Rachel looked up from her desk. Jack was standing in her doorway. She wasn't expecting to see him today.

"Hi. What are you doing here?"

"I guess my extra time is up. Heather called me this morning. Something about a big job they needed me on."

"I told them your leg was still a little stiff." She got up to help him when he started for the couch. He waved her off. So she leaned against the edge of her desk.

"Nothing I can't handle." Jack sat on the couch like nothing was wrong. But she saw he was keeping his leg a little straight. "So how big a mission is this?"

"We think we located the rebel leader."

He whistled, "That's pretty big."

"We get him and this war is close to being over. Unless, of course, he has somebody just as good as he is as second in command."

"Hopefully that was bird boy. Some how I don't think we're that lucky."

"You never know. So really, how are you doing?"

"I'm fine, well better than what I was."

"Are you still having that nightmare?"

"Why did I tell you about that?", he mumbled. Recently he been having this dream were he was fighting these various Drakan, usually the monkey. Every time, right before he finished it off, the Drakan would turn into his friend Richie. She only found out about it after she went to check on him and he woke up screaming. Rachel doubted he would have even told her otherwise. "It's been couple of days since the last one, so I guess that means I'm getting better."

"I still think it would be best if..."

"I told you no shrinks," he cut her off. "Any baggage I got," he tapped his head, "is staying up here."

She felt like giving up, "It's your breakdown."

"Damn right." He got up, she studied him for any sign of pain. She didn't see any. "So, when do we get started and where are we going?"

"We pinpointed his camp's last location in a forest just outside of the city."

"He got a camp? How many are we talking about here?"

"I'm not sure."

"You're not... ," he sputtered. "Am I getting an assault team back up this time?"

"No," she said slowly. The she quickly cut off his outburst, "Only because we don't know if he's still there. Basically we're just scouting his last know location. If he left maybe we could find a clue to where he went."

"And if he is still there it’d be nice if he conveniently went boom."

"That's one way to put it. Only problem is the fastest route to the spot isn't accessible by car."

"Could it be accessible by say a motorcycle?"

She couldn't help but grin, "I'm sure most of it is." That boy and his toy. "Come on, we can leave as soon as we check in with Heather and Mr. Anderson."

***
Anderson wouldn't let them leave until they went over everything. Jack hung around the door as the finalized the plan. He spent most of the time trying not to bang his head into the wall out of boredom. He didn't see why they were planning the thing. Usually the plan degenerated into him blowing the Drakan up. He had no doubt that was going to be the outcome for this one too. By the time they left World Inc. and reached the forest it was almost dark. Rachel pulled a flashlight and a map out of her glove box before getting on the bike. They rode the path until he couldn't see any where else to go. "Looks like we're walking the rest of the way."

"Great," she sounded unenthusiastic about the idea.

"Your Aunt didn't have any nature trails by her in bayou country?", he said throwing in a Cajun accent.

"No, she lived in the middle of Baton Rouge. And that was the saddest accent I ever heard."

"Everybody's a critic."

"No really, I've been to Louisiana a lot and that was the saddest thing I ever heard. My Aunt would have slapped you silly if she heard you just now."

"Alright already." Jack took the staff from it's holding place between the handle bars as a precaution, "So which way?"

Rachel checked the map. "That way," she pointed the light to the left. "It was pretty sad."

Jack ignored her and let her lead the way. She slowed just enough for him to walk along side her. He guessed they went a mile without seeing anything yet. Jack twirled the staff between his fingers while trying to keep an eye on their surroundings. Suddenly Rachel stopped and turned off the light. "What?"

"Over there," she said softly. He looked ahead of them. There seemed to be some kind of light. "I think we better see if it's them."

"Stay behind me." Jack took the lead and snapped the staff to extend it to the full length. He briefly considered activating the Fusion system. But if it wasn't their target he’d have a hard time explaining what he was wearing. He got close enough to see a fire pit in the middle of a clearing giving off the light. Sitting around the fire was a bunch of kids. The oldest couldn't have been more than sixteen or seventeen years old. Jack was about to tell Rachel they had the wrong spot but she could see for herself. Then a couple of the kids closest to him started sniffing the air, then the other did the same. "You got to be kidding me," he said a little too loudly because they all turned in his direction.

"Who's there?", demanded the oldest. Jack collapsed the staff, handed it to Rachel and walked into the clearing with his hands open. "What do you want?"

"Nothing,” he replied calmly, “just passing through. I didn't mean to disturb you guys."

"He smells funny, "one of the youngest said. Her form seemed to change for a moment before returning to normal.

"It's the Drakan Killer!," a little boy yelled and hid behind the oldest.

"I told you there was no such thing as a Drakan Killer," he chided him. The oldest then looked right at him, "But you have killed our people."

Jack quickly tried to think of a way out of this. "Look, I got some bad intel on this one. I'll just leave and forget I ever saw you guys."

"I can't take that chance." The boy quickly turned into a green wolf. He snarled at Jack and jumped at him. Jack leaped to the side but was able to kick the wolf in the head. The wolf looked stunned for the moment.

Jack raised his left arm across his chest and materialized the belt. He swung his arm over and raised his right arm. "Henshin!", he shouted before slamming his right hand on top of the belt. After it scanned his body he was in the black body suit and blue armor.

The young Drakan either gasped or took a step back. The wolf was stunned, "The story was true."

"Oh my God it is the Drakan Killer."

"I don't want to fight," he told him. The wolf eyes were a mixture of fear and anger. It charged, but again Jack blocked the punch and tossed the youth aside. "I said I didn't want to fight."

The wolf looked at the other kids again. Most of them had dropped their human disguises, but it didn't look like they were going to join in. The wolf looked concerned as he turned his attention back to Jack. "And I said I couldn't take that chance." He got up and went after him again. Jack did everything he could not to hurt the wolf. He dodged or blocked everything the wolf threw at him. Then the wolf tackled him back into he trees. They rolled before Jack flipped him off.

"Watch it." Both of them looked up. Rachel was standing close by, how did he forget about her. The wolf sniffed the air again and growled.

"Don't even think it Fido." Jack ran in and punched the wolf before it could do anything. It stumbled back then swung a fist at him. He ducked it easily and nailed the point of his foot into it's stomach. The wolf doubled over and he brought his knee to it's face. Blood started trickling down it's nose as it tried to retreat. Jack moved faster as he grabbed the wolf by it's shoulders and threw him. The wolf landed hard against a tree. It used that tree to support itself as it got back to his feet. Jack glanced at the meter, it just started flashing. He looked at Rachel and said, “Call it in."

She looked stunned that he said that, "Jack?"

"I said call it in." He pressed the button under the belt and headed for the wolf.

***
Anderson's concentration was interrupted as Williams' phone started ringing. She picked it up and after a moment said, "What the situation Rachel?" She was quiet for a long time before saying, "No." She started to pale.

"Did something happen to Jack?", Mitchell asked. Anderson interest was peaked as well. If Christopher was there surely they would have called for back up. That's if he gave them a chance.

"We were wrong about the target," she said. "It wasn't the rebel leader, it was a bunch of Drakan children. Rachel said they all looked under eighteen. The oldest started fighting Jack. She said he didn't have any other choice but to kill him."

"Whoa, Jack took out a kid?", Mitchell in disbelief.

"We sent him after...children?" Anderson leaned against the map for support. Children, Drakan children. He had nothing to worry about from the humans, but his own kind however. How did this happen? "Allen?" He was no where to be found. Somebody said he left as soon as the phone rang. He knew, Anderson was sure of it. Allen was never in here during Davidson’s assignments. He rushed out the door, almost letting his animal instinct take over. He came to an intersection and sniffed the air. He went down the one with the strongest, freshest sent, "ALLEN!"
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Old March 20th, 2019, 05:01 PM #13
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<Episode 10>

"Call it in." She did not just hear him say that.

"Jack?"

"I said call it in," he told her. He pressed the button under the belt. Before she could say anything to stop him he started for the wolf. Jack grabbed the wolf by the shoulders and pulled him away from the tree. Then he turned around and kicked the tree. He backed up from the tree hoping on one foot before setting his right down. The tree cracked from the impact and started to fall. Suddenly the part he kicked exploded out. Rachel tried to shield herself as chunks of the tree flew in every direction. When it was clear she saw the wolf and the other young Drakan had done the same. Jack stood there not looking at any of them.

"Why...," the wolf started.

"Get out of here," was all Jack said.

"But I don't understand."

"I said get out of here!", he yelled. "Now, before I change my mind. Git!" Unsure of what else to do the wolf nodded and reverted to his human form. The others did the same and the young wolf led them away. They stood there and watched them go. Finally Jack powered down the Fusion system and flexed his right leg a little.

"Jack...," she began.

"Let's go," he cut her off. They walked back to the bike in total silence. His attention was on the path they were taking. Her attention was mostly on what just happened. Jack wasn't kidding when he said they got some wrong Intel on this one. She was going to make sure heads were going to roll for this one. And Rachel wasn't really caring whose head it meant at the moment. It wasn't long before they reached the bike and Jack drove her back to her car. She put a hand on his shoulder when it looked like he was going to leave.

"Jack," he still wouldn't look at her, "what are we going to tell them?"

"Whatever the hell you want." Underneath the helmet he looked really tired. "I got to draw a line some where." Then he drove off and Rachel watched his taillight disappear. She looked at her cell phone then back into the woods, her decision already made. She had to draw a line too.

***
Things seemed to fall apart as soon as he heard they had sent Davidson after children. As he expected the Drakan under him were demanding answers. It took everything he had to keep them from revolting. The fact that damnable excuse for a male Allen disappeared right after helped persuade them. Mitchell had every team he had looking for him. Williams' people were monitoring every camera stationed in the city trying to find a glimpse of him. Allen knew their set up just as well as he did, so he could avoid them for as long as he possibly could. But it would only be a matter of time before he had his hands around his throat, slowly choking the life out of him.

Then there was the other half of the problem to deal with. Haily had been seen sporadically in the building. Apparently doing her best to avoid him. The one time he was able to corner her he asked about Davidson. He apparently decided to lock himself in his apartment. Ignoring any attempts of contact by either Haily or Williams. What was going through his mind? Anderson wasn't sure what he felt toward him. He killed a child, but they rebuilt him to be a weapon. He would sort all this out after he had dealt with Allen.

But there was one hope he was clinging to. The smell on Haily wasn't any different. Usually the smell of death on her was a little stronger each time Davidson killed a rebel. She smelled the same as the last time he saw her. He knew it was entirely possible he was all in his head. A small seed of hope that Davidson hadn't done it. That discovery was the only thing that kept him from ripping into her for not stopping Davidson if he did.

If he needed any more proof the fates were conspiring against him, he got it the moment he turned the corner to his office. He knew the balding grey haired man standing next to his secretary's desk. Rodgers, the alpha of another pack. A powerful and influential one, this could not be even remotely good. Surprisingly the idea that he was here didn't worry him at the moment. The fact that he was here in his territory, in his city, in his building, unannounced and uninvited. It was the height of rudeness and that irked him.

At least it was distracting him from his current problem.

Anderson locked down everything he was feeling as he approached. Rodgers looked very open as he came closer. A trap he would not fall for like others have. "Thomas," he said while holding out a hand.

"Matthew," the other took it. "I apologize for the suddenness of all of this. But I have been hearing some rather disturbing rumors lately. I wanted to discuss them with you."

"Of course," Anderson gestured toward the door. "Let's go in my office and discuss this." If things got rough he could always call for Mitchell if he had too. Rodgers took a seat in front of his desk. He was half way expecting him to take his. Sitting down he asked, "Can I offer you a drink?"

"No thanks, hopefully we can clear this up rather quickly. There have been rumors of a Drakan serial killer in you city."

"Yes, I’ve heard them myself." Right to the point, he was afraid of that. About that time something hit him, Rodgers was a wolf. Haily's report said Davidson killed a green wolf cub. A cold knot formed in his stomach as he felt himself pale. "Probably concocted by the rebels. Anything to draw attention to my city. You know how they operate." He said anything to try to prolong this as he slid his hand closer to the call button under his desk.

"The last one concerned my son." His hand stopped momentarily.

Anderson hoped he sounded concerned as he asked, "Is he all right?"

"I'm not sure," Rodgers said as he shifted in his seat. He looked for any sign of attack. "He was rather incoherent the last time I talked to him."

"What do you mean?" He had heard stories of the seers being able to contact the dead. He never put any stock in it, he barely bought their ability to see your future. He would have never thought Rodgers put any stock in it.

"He told me he was guarding the pack of youths he was with against a Drakan insect. One made of metal if I understood him correctly. Then this Drakan somehow destroyed a tree and let them go."

"Let them go? He's alive?" Anderson felt a great weight lift off his shoulders. Davidson had more character than he was given him credit for. He covered for his outburst, "That's different from the stories I heard about the Drakan Killer."

"I know."

"So where is your son now?"

"I do not know. He wasn't sure if that thing was going to come after him again. He said he was going to seek out the rebels for immediate protection for some reason and to see if they could get him and the others out of the city without being noticed."

"So he's potentially still in my city? Don't worry, I'll put every connection I have to work on finding him and the source of this rumor. Like I said this sounds like something the rebels would come up with. Maybe as some sort of sick way to draw people to the cause."

"Possibly. If I didn't already lose a man in this city I would wonder less."

"This man," he said slowly, “wouldn't happen to have been a frog?"

"A junior VP of mine. So he did die here."

"A rumor my people heard. There was no frog in my territory so I had inquires sent out to other cities to see if they lost anybody recently."

"I didn't hear of any inquires. Although I don't see why you didn't ask your own VP about it. Allen, I believe that was his name." Anderson arched an eyebrow. "I sent my man here to finalize the details of the deal between our two companies with him."

For reason he didn't yet understand pieces of the puzzle were suddenly falling into place, "Really?"

***
Jack stared out the window. The over cast day didn't come close to matching his mood. He barely heard hard the knock at his door. He was a bit surprised, usually she would ring the doorbell a few times then quit. He just kept on ignoring it. "Come on Jack, open up," Rachel voice was muffled. "We got to talk about this."

"What's there to talk about?", he said mainly to himself. He let out a breath, might as well get this over with. Jack went over to open just enough so she could push it open. He went back to the window.

"Finally," he heard her mumble as she came in. She closed the door and sat on the edge of his couch. "How are you feeling?"

"You sent me after a bunch of kids. How am I supposed to feel?"

"I didn't know they were kids either. I was just as shocked as you were."

"Right."

"Look Jack...," he cut her off.

"I don't know if I can do this any more. If this is the price I have to pay, I can't do this. The monkey isn't worth it"

"I'm not going to talk you out of it," she told him. "I've considered quitting myself. Not before I got some answers on how this happened first. I'm still looking into it in case you're wondering."

"What did Anderson say when he found out I let them go?"

"I... didn't tell them you let them go."

Jack looked at her in surprise. He didn't think she would have done that. "So they think I went through with it?" She nodded. "That's gonna be hell to live with."

"They stopped looking for them at any rate. That was the idea when you told me to call it in."

"Yeah. Guess something good came out of this whole situation." He was quiet for a moment. "I had to be able to live with myself."

"I know. What do you want to do now?" Jack thought about it for a few moments. Then he grabbed his jacket and headed for the door. He should have done this the moment he found out what the target really was. "Where are you going?"

"First, I'm going to find out exactly what the hell happened, then I'm giving your boss a piece of my mind." She followed him out the door. "Trying to stop me?"

"I have a few things I want to say myself."

"You were there all that time and you haven't said anything yet?"

"You inspired me."

For the first time since the incident he felt a smile start to form. "More like you want to see how I get answers."

"That too."

***
"We found him in a alley of all places," Mitchell told him. A few moments prior he and his team dragged Allen into his office. Mitchell and his team apparently took a few liberties in apprehending him. Allen was sporting a black eye among other visual injuries. Not that he was disapproving of the treatment. "He was a little feisty when we caught up with him. But we calmed him down a bit before we brought him in."

"Apparently. Now if you will excuse us Mitchell we have something to discuss."

"One more thing," Mitchell leaned in close. “We're positive Jack is on his way here." Anderson nodded slowly and looked at Allen. The man would not look in his direction.

"How soon?"

"Five, ten minutes tops."

"When he arrives make sure nobody stops him on his way up here."

Mitchell glanced over to Allen and grinned, "Understood."

Anderson closed the door and silently went over to his desk. He sat in his chair, steepled his fingers and just stared at Allen. Like the worm he was he started to squirming under his gaze. There was nothing worse than a Drakan with no backbone. Neither said anything until Allen sputtered, "M... M... Mr. Anderson."

"Be quiet," Anderson snapped. Allen sunk back into his chair. "For the past few days I wondered how you could make such a blunder. Or should I say tried to make it look like a blunder. Especially when I warned you after your last major mistake."

"I… I didn't know they were children."

"Yes you did." Anderson got up and slowly circled the room. "Why else would you have disappeared all of the sudden. But for the life of me I couldn't figure out why. Why did you have us send Davidson after children? Even if they were the offspring of the rebels we could have convinced them to come back into the fold."

"I'm sorry."

Anderson ignored him. "I could not figure it out. Then I had the most interesting visit from Thomas Rodgers." Allen stiffened noticeably, he smiled behind his back. "Apparently his son was among the children we sent Davidson after. In fact he was the one Davidson fought,” he waited a couple of moments before adding, “to the death." No kind of reaction from Allen what so ever. Good, that made this just that much easier. "But it wasn't until he gave me an answer to another mystery that things started to come together. One you could not seem to solve, the mysterious frog."

"H… He did, "Allen looked like he was starting to sweat.

"Imagine my surprise when he told me there was a pending deal between our two companies. He was rather taken aback that I knew nothing about it. A merger between our two companies I would have never agreed to. Between us we couldn't figure out how you were planning to pull this off. Then I started looking through some of your personal business files." Allen looked right at him, not sure to be shocked or angry. "Don't look so surprised. I told you I was going to do as much when the humans heard the ceremony.

"And I was rather surprised myself at what I saw. I was expecting to see personal ventures, plans to carve out you own little empire, using funds skimmed from my company. I think I could have almost forgiven that. But what did I see instead? Everything you needed to take over a company. My company."

"I can explain."

"Then the deal with the children became rather clear. The other packs are already paying too much attention to my city because of the rebels. And I will admit the rumors of the Drakan Killer is not helping the situation. But if something happened to the son of a major alpha, then I would be put under a microscope. Eventually the Fusion project would have been discovered. More than likely leaked to the right people. I would have been removed and you would have been in position to buy the company right from under me. And you would have waited until I was removed too. You didn't have the nerve to do it while I am still in control. If you wanted the company so badly you should have challenged me for it, like I did your father. As you should have challenged him in the beginning."

"He wouldn't hear of it," he said through gritted teeth.

"Because he knew you were a sniveling coward. The very fact you planned all of this proved it. He knew it would not have been honorable combat, like tradition demanded."

"You don't know that!", Allen shot out of his chair. "Neither of you knew that."

"Then prove me wrong." Anderson dropped his human form and became the green cheetah. "If you want control of this company so bad than fight me now." Allen glanced at the door. "Mitchell has his orders not to enter the room, no matter what."

"Fine," Allen clenched his fist and reverted into a green shark. He fingered the scars on his chest, a low growl coming from somewhere deep inside him. Allen screamed at the revealing two sets of very sharp teeth. Anderson grinned, showing he had a dangerous bite as well and extended his claws. The circled each other, taking a swipe every so often to test the other defenses. But Anderson was biding his time. Waiting for the smell that was just now assaulting his nostrils. The smell of death, and it was getting closer. Allen was too caught up to notice. Anderson suddenly jumped to his left, making sure to hit the wall hard enough to leave a dent. He returned to his human form and slumped to the ground.

Allen turned his head obviously confused. Anderson put the appropriate amount of fear on his face as the door burst open. Davidson stood there suddenly dumbfounded at the sight, "Holy... !"

"That's Allen!", Anderson shouted. Allen confusion turned into rage as he looked at him. For a brief moment he thought Allen would actually do him harm in retaliation. He bolted for the door and knock Davidson out of the way. He held his shoulder as he got up and staggered toward the door. "Allen's one of them. He's the one that gave me the false information about the rebel leader." He guessed right about the effect that would have on Davidson. There was a brief glint of anger as he got up and put his left arm across his chest. Anderson saw the belt materialized around his waist. He moved his arm across and raised his right.

"Henshin!", he shouted and brought his right hand down on top of the belt. Davidson ran after Allen as the Fusion system activated. Haily took a step after him but stopped. Before she turned to check on him he allowed himself a small smile. Like that man deserved honorable combat.

***
Jack chased after Allen as a red tint took over his vision. The shark was fast but he was quickly gaining on him. It wasn't long before he could grab the fin swinging in front of him. Allen turned to look back just as he reared a fist back. The punch knocked Allen down but Jack ended up falling over him. He beat the shark to his feet and kicked him under the chin. Allen's head snapped back and he aimed another fist at it's throat. The shark laid there on the floor holding his throat trying to breath. Jack stood over him and said, "You I'm not even going to think twice about."

He reached down to pull Allen to his feet. The shark stopped gasping and shoved his fingers into his gut, right under the spot the blue chest armor didn't cover. Jack doubled over in pain as he saw stars. He tried to keep from throwing up in his helmet as the shark grabbed him by the back of his neck. "Annoying little gnat," then he slammed Jack face first through the wall. He threw his left elbow widely catching Allen in the shoulder. Allen let go and Jack kicked out his left foot. Allen stumbled back from the impact and he removed his head from the wall. He turned around to see Allen mouth come at him. Jack ducked the lunge and planted both his fist into the shark's stomach. He grabbed it by the back of it's head and slammed him repeatedly into the wall.

Jack took a few steps back and held his gut. He wasn't sure but it felt like he busted something. The shark recovered faster than he thought and lunge again. Jack had just enough time to get his right arm up. Allen's mouth clamped down on his forearm. He almost went down to his knees as the pressure increased, something was going to give. Then Allen spun to his right. There was a loud crack right before the momentum flipped him over as well. Jack screamed in pain and clutched at his right arm. Keeping his grip on the arm Allen got to his feet. Out of desperation he started punching wildly with his left hand. He nailed the shark in the nose before it let go. Jack held his arm close to his body, Allen grinned evilly and came in for the kill.

Jack saw the grin and yelled again. Not in pain, but from frustration. He launched a side kick when the shark came close enough. His right foot crashed through the two rows of the sharks front teeth. Allen grabbed his mouth and tried to get away again. Jack leaned against a wall, remembered the wolf and went after him. He grabbed a metal trash bin and when he was close enough swung it with all he could muster. The can bent into the shape of Allen's head from the impact. It went down and he started stomping at it and pounding it with his left hand. Allen pushed him back the moment the meter started flashing. Not soon enough. He pressed the button to activate the mini turbines in the belt. Allen grabbed the can and threw it at him. Jack jumped to the wall and kicked off with his left foot. His right foot made contact with the side of it's head. Allen bounced off the other wall and exploded.

***
Rachel raced down the hall after Mitchell showed up to keep an eye on Anderson. She caught the last part of the fight. Anderson and Mitchell showed up when Allen exploded. The sprinkler system went off as Jack cradled his right arm, fell to his knees and put his head to the ground. "Jack!", she ran toward him. She knelt beside him, his every breath was mixed with a small shout of pain. "Tell me what's wrong."

"My... ," he barely got out, " my.. arm... can't... feel... he broke... my arm."

"Jack let me see." He wouldn't move it, he didn't have to. His arm was bending in places that it shouldn't be bending. Under the body suit it looked like a bone was sticking out. "Oh my God," she muttered in French. "Jack listen to me, don't power down. Do you hear me don't power down." She wasn't sure how bad he was bleeding under the suit, it could be the only thing from keeping it from bleeding worse. "Get Friedman and Barry up here," she ordered Mitchell.

"How bad...," he didn't get a chance to finish.

"Get them up here now!", she shouted at him. "Don't worry Jack, you're going to be alright."

"I'll make sure he gets the finest care we can provide," Mr. Anderson said while looking very concerned. "After all, I owe him my life."
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Old March 24th, 2019, 04:40 PM #14
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scikaiju
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Joined: Dec 2012
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<Episode 11>

Jack slowly started to wake up. He noticed one thing right away, he wasn't in his own bed. Propping himself up on his elbows he looked at his surroundings. An off white room hospital room, a way too familiar looking room. Looking at himself he saw he was wearing a grey T-shirt. Now he knew were he was, the World Inc. medical section. Moaning he lay back down and put his hands on his face. "Didn't I do this once already?", he grumbled.

He then removed his hands and stared at his right arm. Suddenly he remembered what happened. Allen was a Drakan and he fought him. Allen had latched on to his forearm trying to crush it before spinning in place. Jack's fist clenched at the memory of the pain that became his right arm. Sitting up he raised a sleeve to get a better look. All of the old scars were there, but there were some new ones. This time they even covered the back of his right hand. "What did they do to me now?"

"Jack?", a male voice said. He looked up to see Rachel and Freidman standing in the doorway. "You’re ahead of schedule," the doctor looked pleased as he told him that.

"Never was any good at staying on a schedule." Slowly he got off the bed. Things weren't as bad as the first time he woke up in the building. Looking at Rachel he asked, “How long was I under this time?"

"Month and a half," she informed him.

"That long for an arm? No wonder it took you guys six month the first time."

"Actually you arm would have only took a couple of weeks."

"Why so long then?" he said while trying to get the light Freidman was holding out of his eyes. "Do you mind?"

"Just doing my job." Freidman put the light away and put a blood pressure cuff around his arm.

"It was decided it was time to upgrade your systems slightly," Rachel told him.

"Did my blood pressure just go up?"

Freidman looked mildly surprised, "I think it did." Rachel just rolled her eyes.

"So what kind of upgrade did they do?"

"Let's worry about that later”, Rachel told him. “Is he ready to leave Dr. Freidman?"

"I have to check a couple of thing first but he should be good to go."

"Fine, I'll back in a few minutes."

When they were alone Jack held up his arm and asked, "What did I overload this time?"

"Actually this time wasn't your fault,” he answered. “It was a flaw in your particular design."

"Remember, if you’re gonna explain it no cooking analogies. I haven't looked at a steak the same way after the last time."

Freidman smiled, "I'll try. You have to remember your left arm and legs had to be totally reconstructed. The rest of you, basically, had to be augmented to keep up. If Allen tried that with your left arm it would have still been damaged but it wouldn't have been as bad. But since your right arm was closer to your original state of being the stress shattered the bone. I didn't think anybody considered you ever be in a situation like this."

"So my right had to be reconstructed too."

"Not to the same extent, but yeah." Great he was more of a freak now than he was before.

***
Rachel waited a half hour before going back. Jack had already changed into the black T-shirt and blue jeans she brought from his apartment. He was staring at his right hand, not really paying attention to anything else. She cleared her throat to get his attention. "Hi there."

"Hey," he answered back. He gave her a small smile, "Let me guess, they got a job for me already."

"You can still joke, I'm guessing that's a good thing. Here," she handed him the jean jacket with a sweatshirt hood built in she was carrying. "They had to cut the old one off of you so I got you one just like it."

“Thanks. How much do I...?" She waved it off. After he put it on she handed him a small bag. "What's in this one?"

"Motorcycle gloves. I figured if you using the jacket to hide the scars on your arm you want to do the same with your hand."

"It might be time for me to move on. You're getting to know me too well."

"You're not that deep or complex Jack."

Jack actually made a hurt sound and put a hand of his chest. "I am hurt, I am shocked, I've been pegged."

"Come on, I'll treat you to some breakfast. Then Mr. Anderson said he wants to see you as soon as possible. He wants to thank you personally for saving his life."

"Huh," he muttered while looking deep in thought. "The head of a major corporation is in my debt. If I was my Uncle I could use this."

"Jack," She said in a tone to cut that thought off right then.

"I said if I was my Uncle."

"Your Uncle influenced you a little too much for my taste." With that she walked out of the room. Before he followed she heard him say.

"My Mom told me the same thing, what are the odds?"

***
Anderson was talking to Armstrong and one of his assistants when Haily and Davidson entered R&D. Several of the scientist looked in there direction and went back to what they were doing. A few, he noticed, were giving him a disdainful look. Word of Davidson apparent killing of the Drakan teenager traveled fast. He knew better of course, if they weren't going to tell what really happened than why should he? It would be interesting to see how soon before the situation reached the boiling point. At least it would be a diversion if nothing else.

Excusing himself from Armstrong for the moment he went over to them. "Mr. Davidson, it’s good to see you up and about. I'm assuming everything is in working order."

"Nothing important fallen off."

He smiled, "Excellent. Mrs. Haily has been keeping me up to date on your condition ever since you were readmitted to the medical ward. She’s been at your side every day."

Davidson turned and opened his mouth but didn't say anything right away, "Nah, way too easy."

"What?", Haily looked at him. "You actually decided not to say anything smart."

"I'm saving it for next time."

"I knew it was too good to last."

Anderson sighed then he remembered he wasn't alone. "Excuse me I'm forgetting my manners. Mr. Davidson I like to introduce you to my new vice president. Walter Taylor," a red haired man stepped foreword, "This is Jack Davidson."

"It's a pleasure to finally meet you Mr. Davidson. I heard a lot about you." He held out a hand that Davidson stared at with his arms crossed. "Is there something wrong?"

"Just wondering what you'll turn into."

"Yes," Anderson said, "that was an unfortunate incident. Took us all by surprise."

Davidson gave him an all too familiar look, "You knew the janitor was a Drakan but not your own V.P.?”

"Like I told you before we have identified very few Drakan in the city. This species have been disguising themselves as human for a very long time. I sure Allen did everything possible to hide his true nature. Although it does explain his hostility toward you."

"I told you animals don't like me," he said to Haily. He noticed Taylor stiffen slightly. Davidson then held out a hand to Taylor who quickly took it. "I don't know what you heard but I'm telling you right now... ," he gave him a sly grin, "it's all true."

Taylor returned the grin, "Then it should be interesting working with you then."

"So what this I hear about an upgrade?", Davidson said turning his attention to him.

"Part of my debt to you for saving my life. Seeing a Drakan up close and personal and seeing what happened to you made me think that we under powered you for your assignments. I thought it was best to rectify that." He gestured toward Armstrong, "Since we're already here, Dr. Armstrong would you care to update Mr. Davidson about what he can expect?"

"Of course." Armstrong came forward, "Jack, all I can say is sorry we didn't foresee what happened.

"Even my Uncle couldn't think of everything."

"And what did your Uncle do?", "Anderson asked. Any information that could help keep Davidson under his thumb was very much appreciated.

"Lock smith," he answered quickly. "Help with his night job."

"You don't want to know," Haily answered before the question was asked.

"Well then, let's get started," Armstrong lead then to the table he was at. "Well the most obvious thing you’re going to notice is you're going to be stronger and slightly faster when you power up the Fusion system. We also made a slight cosmetic change to your armor." He motioned to a jar filled with a blueish liquid on the table. The armor's belt was floating on the inside. Davidson started rubbing his waist. "We replaced it with an updated model. We have a spare here to show you the difference" He picked it up. It looked the same to him, the grey metal belt and the red face gleamed in the light, but then again he didn't have to worry about wearing it. "We’ve gotten rid of the button that activates the charge kick. You have to twist this part of the pod on your right side down, like this. This also gave us the option to add another weapon."

"Uh-oh" Davidson muttered.

"We felt it would give you a little more diversity in the field. When you twist the pod up you can do...,"

Davidson lowered his head. With his hearing Anderson heard him whispered, "Don't say punch."

"Well I guess you could call it the charge punch." Davidson smacked his hand against his forehead. "Is something the matter Jack?"

"Quick question Barry, was this Tim's idea?"

"Who else would it have been?", Tim answered.

"Tim, seriously, you need a life." The people around him got a good chuckle. Tim got red-faced and went to do something else.

"I think that pretty much cover it. Do you think you feel up to testing your new weapon?" Davidson looked at his fist.

"Might as well."

"Good, Miss Haily can show you where we test our weapon systems."

***
They sat in Mr. Anderson office watching the footage of the testing session. Jack armored form was punching and kicking various targets around him. She still didn't see how they got dragonfly out of his look. But the readout showed he was stronger, maybe four or five times stronger than a normal human. His image stopped and looked at something off screen, "Meter's flashing."

"Ok," she heard herself say, "send in the target." A side of beef dropped from the ceiling.

"What the...?" Jack looked up and back off screen. "Can I get an order of ribs out of there after this is over?"

"Just hit the slab of meat."

"Guess this is tonight's dinner special." He reached down and twisted the pod up. He waited a moment, reared back his right hand and pounded it into the slab. It bent almost in half from the impact. After a few moments the slab exploded out covering everything in the immediate area. Jack picked a piece of meat off his chest armor. "Where do I go for a hose down?"

Anderson stopped the tape there, "Interesting."

"You weren't the one covered in meat," Jack told him. "Think I found something worse than smelling like Drakan blood." Anderson chuckled at that then looked at her.

"The upgrades performed better than expected," Rachel said. "Unfortunately we weren't able to test how fast he could run. Even before the upgrades Jack had a tendency to burn out the treadmills before he reached top speed."

"I know, we're still waiting for the new one. So Mr. Davidson how does it feel to have the new option they gave you?"

"Well I've been kicking these things so long it's gonna take awhile to wrap my head around this."

"I'm sure you'll get used to it." Anderson leaned on the desk and steeple his fingers. "When do you think you'll be up for another mission?"

"Not right away," she answered for him. "I mean he just woke up and he has to absorb a few things."

"Why does this sound familiar," Jack said to nobody in particular.

"I guess you’re right. We can do without you for a few days. I talk to the two of you later then." They left the office and walked toward the elevator.

"Want some lunch?", Jack asked.

"You're buying," she told him.

"Ok we're going cheap then. Any idea what they're serving today?"

"Charge punch beef," she said after a beat.

***
That few days turned into exactly two as he got a call from Heather about a sighting. That afternoon he and Rachel were on a college campus. Jack wondered how Anderson got World Inc.'s camera in there. Not that he figured he would ever find out. "So did this one get in on the Drakan college fund?", he asked as they walked through the campus.

"Every one has the right to learn. Wait let me guess your Uncle was down on college right?"

"No he was all for it."

"Surprising."

"You’re telling me."

"Haven't seen the two of you before," said an old man they passed sitting at a chess table. "Never would have thought I'd be unfortunate enough to smell the scent of Drakan blood again either."

"Crap," Jack said as he surveyed the area. A whole lot of people were hanging around. Should he change right now?

"Please relax," the old man got up and stood before them, "I have no intention of fighting you, here or ever. According to rumor you took out Molly. If that is true than I know I have no chance."

"Molly? Red head, turns into a rabbit? Really hot human form?" Rachel elbowed him in the side, "What?"

"Stick to business Jack."

He sighed heavily, "That was her, really a lovely person when you got to know her." The old man looked at him, "So you’re the Drakan Killer. The stories made you seem taller."

"Sorry to disappoint."

"No, actually I was expecting you to be a little shorter. I've been around long enough to know how these things work."

"So Mr...?", Jack looked for a name.

"Call me Max."

"Max, so what are you doing here?"

"Right now I'm waiting for a chess opponent, but I teach philosophy here. Not much I could do after I left World Inc."

"Did you know that?", he asked Rachel.

"It wasn't in the report I read,” she told him. “But after what happened with Allen can you blame them."

"Bradley Allen?", Max asked, a little surprised

"Yeah, turns out he was a Drakan too and attacked Anderson. I had to take him out." Max looked thoughtful.

"I’m surprised it took so long."

"So you’re with the rebels now?", Rachel asked.

"Oh no,” he laughed. “I was too high up in the World Inc. command chain to be fully trusted. Although both sides keep track of me every so often. I'm kind of surprised they sent you to check on me."

"I guess everything ok then, so see ya." Max nodded as he walked off, relived something didn't go to hell for once. They reached the vehicles and he grabbed the helmet off the handle bars. He didn't want to tell Max he wasn't that surprised he was sent to "check" on him.

"Wasn't expecting things to go like that," Rachel told him.

"I'm cool with it."

"What do you think Mr. Anderson and Mitchell are going to think about all of this?"

"Not really caring right now. Every mission you guys send me on, no matter how you word it, in fact my life lately boils down to three things. Find 'em, fight 'em and blow 'em up. If Max back there wants to skip the last two I'm not going to argue."

"I'm not forcing you to. You're supposed to go after the violent ones and he's definitely not violent."

"So let's leave the old guy alone." For now he told himself. Jack had a feeling Max had answers he wanted.

***
Anderson and Taylor listened to Haily's report. To him this wasn't even close to acceptable. Maxwell was a loose end he wanted eliminated. Obviously he underestimated the man ability to withstand the scent of Drakan blood. Well he had other options at his disposal. "You two made the right decision. I hope you understand why I didn't say that he used to work with me."

"Of course, you didn't want us going in thinking it was going to be Allen all over again."

"Quite right. I expect to see a written report on my desk in the morning." She nodded and left the room. "Where's Davidson?"

"He left about a half hour ago," Taylor told him. "He's on his way back to the Campus from the look of things. Mitchell already has a man on the way."

"Good, maybe the job will get done this time."

***
The campus looked a lot quieter as he pulled up. Jack walked between the buildings until he found Max again. Surprisingly he was still sitting at the same chess table as earlier. He sat across from him. "I knew you be back before you even left," he said out of the blue. Max looked up and smiled, "Don't be so surprised, I'm pretty good at reading people. So what do you want to know?" Jack picked up a pawn and just looked at it. "Oh, do you play... Jack was it?"

"Never learned it," he put the piece down.

Max looked disappointed, "Pity. It's a good way to take your mind off things. But you don't want that do you?"

"Why did you leave World Inc.?"

"I disagreed with some of their policies on certain things."

"Did that include the rebels?"

"Rebels in some circles, patriots in others," he said, "but that was on top of the list. What about you son? You think you have reason for leaving too?"

"Let's say I've noticed some things not exactly adding up since I’ve been there."

"You tell these things to that lady you were with?"

"Look I'll admit she's the closest thing I have to a friend in this mess right now. But I don't know if I can tell her this stuff yet."

"That's not the impression I got from seeing the two of you together, but it's your choice. Although she looked a lot more trustworthy than some of the people I knew when I worked there. But if you think I can be of some help, what's the most recent thing that didn't add up? I'm assuming the incident with Allen?"

"You mean outside of him being a Drakan and nobody knowing it? But there was one thing I noticed, when I was going to Anderson's office there was nobody in the hallways. There is always somebody in those hallways. Even when I was staying there you could hear people in that building. Guards walking the hall, cleaning crews doing their jobs, people in the next room getting some after work nookie."

"Really?", Max laughed.

"The walls in the medical section are paper thin."

"Was there any other time you noticed that?"

"Kinda. When I first woke up in World Inc. and Rachel took me to the cafeteria every hallway had a guard but one. And in that one a janitor turned into a red bull and went nuts. It seemed strange at the time but Anderson explained it away so I didn't think twice about it. Probably should have."

"Is there anything else?"

"Yeah I overheard some of the assault team talking once." The other man suddenly gave out a small cry of pain. "Max?" He pulled something out of his neck as his eyes went bloodshot. Jack got out of the way as he pushed the table over and changed into a green bear. He roared at the sky and looked at him. Jack put up his hands, "Max calm down." He jumped back as a set of claws came at him. Jack raised his left arm across his chest and the belt materialized round his waist. He swung his left arm to the side and brought his right arm to his face. He paused monetarily before saying, "Henshin!", and slammed his right hand on top of the belt. As he lowered his arms the belt scanned his body and in moments he was wearing the black body suit and blue insect like armor of the Fusion system. "Max don't make me do this," he pleaded. Max swung at him and Jack caught it trying to force him to the ground.

Max growled and in a burst of strength knocked him away. He picked up and threw a table that Jack had to roll away to roll away from to avoid. He didn't want to hurt Max but he wasn't getting much of a choice at the moment. Max Growled again and swung at his head as he came in. Jack ducked and punched him in the gut. He bent over from the impact. Jack tried to beat him down. Maybe if he knocked him out whatever happened to him would wear off. Too bad Max wasn't cooperating. Another fit of rage had Jack backing up. His backed into one of the chess tables. He reached back to grab the sides, picked up both of his legs and forced both of them into Max's chest. He stumbled back but didn't fall. Jack ran in and tackled him to the ground. It was taking all of his strength to keep the Max down. "Max listen to me! It's Jack! You got to fight it!" His eyes seem to clear momentarily.

"Jack?" Rage quickly returned to his eyes and he pushed him off. Max started pounding on him harder then ever before. Jack fought back doing all he could to survive. An uppercut snapped Max's head back. A side kick to the stomach bent him over again. Max recovered faster than he thought he would. He grabbed Jack by the neck and forced him to his knees. "Max!", he choked out. The Drakan roared and tossed him over another row of chess tables. As he got to his feet and faced Max again the meter started flashing. Out of instinct he went for the button under the belt. The fact it wasn't there brought him back to reality. Max stayed were he was at breathing heavily. He couldn't do it.

They both looked at each other. Max eyes cleared again and in that moment those same eyes pleaded with him. Jack slowly nodded , put his hand on the pod and twisted it down. The twin mini turbines behind the belt's face plate started spinning and a charge quickly built up and ran down his right leg. Jack knelt down and jumped over the tables. He extended his right leg at Max who left himself exposed to what was happening. His right foot came into contact with the Drakan's chest. Max flew back and hit the ground before exploding. Jack fell to his knees watching his remains burn.

***
"So it's done?", Anderson asked.

"Yes sir," Mitchell said. "My man saw the kill himself. But there is one small problem."

He felt the rage start to build, "What small problem?"

"Neither the clean up team or my man can find the dart. They're searching the area looking for it. Don't worry we'll find it in no time."

"They better find it. The last thing I need is for somebody else to find it." He looked out the window behind his desk. "Or find a way to attached it to us."

***
Jack sat on his couch looking at the dart setting on his coffee table. He found it lying on the ground close to where Max was sitting. He didn't see Max get hit with it but he pulled something out of his neck before he went crazy. And this was the only thing around that could do it. "Max," he said out loud, "I don't know why but somebody wanted this to happen to you. I promise you that if it's the last thing I do I will find out why and make them pay."
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Old March 28th, 2019, 01:18 PM #15
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> scikaiju
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scikaiju
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 325



<Episode 12>

"I don't like this," Jason said. The old man just ignored him and sat there. The whole situation stank to high heaven as far as he was concerned. First they were in the middle of an open cafe. Anderson's men could be any where at the moment, they needed more cover to meet their contact. Then there was the matter of the contact. "I still say you should have let me make sure he was still with the cause first."

"I have no reason to doubt him," the old man said between sips of his coffee.

"It's the first time we heard from him in months," he pointed out. "Why now all of the sudden?"

"Ask him yourself." The person they were waiting for walked up and sat in an empty chair at the table. He nodded at both of them and tried to not look suspicious as he looked around the area. "It was good to hear from you again," the old man started. "I was starting to wonder if you were still alive."

"I had to be careful. Anderson put the entire operation into overdrive ever since Jack's system went active."

"So that's the insect's name," Jason said. Their contact nodded. "Do you still have the information you were supposed to give Kendall about that thing?"

"The information is locked up and they keep me under 'need to know' when it comes to his systems. I was going to tell him what little I knew before Anderson locked up the building."

"And that's when Kendall meet up with this Jack?", the old man wondered out loud.

"From what I understand they spotted him a few blocks from the building. And after it got locked down I couldn't get out without being questioned."

"So why now?"

"It was the first chance I thought I had and still be safe. They have cameras all over this city. It's a safe bet more than one saw me enter this place."

"This is a trap," Jason started to get up. The old man put a hand on his shoulder to keep him down.

"Believe me, if I thought they knew what the two of you looked like as humans I wouldn't be here."

"I'm assuming you know more about his systems by now", the old man inquired.

"I written down what I know on this." he pulled a notebook out of his briefcase and handed it to them. "I went into as much detail as I could, but you know more about this technology than I do."

"True," the old man put a hand into a pocket and pulled out a bottle filled with a neon green liquid. "Our people think this should disrupt the systems based on that technology. You're the only one who can get close enough to give it to him."

"If we're lucky" Jason added, "it'll be fatal." Their contact looked a little distraught. Jason raised an eyebrow in suspicion, "You don't approve?"

"I know he's the enemy, but I gotten to know Jack. I don't think he deserves this."

"Tell that to Max."

"Jason," the old man warned.

"No, I heard about this. Jack left him alone."

"He went back and took care of him." He nodded his head toward the old man, "He saw it all."

"Is this true?"

"From what I saw, yes." Then he quickly added, "But Max didn't seem himself. He was more animal than man. I’ve never seen him like that."

Their contact was quiet for a few moments, just staring at the bottle. "I'm going to have to think about this."

"Don't take too long. But I'm telling you this has to be done." Their contact just nodded and silently left the table. Jason stared at the old man in disbelief. "He needed all the facts."

"Facts get in the way of the job."

***
He stood in the center of a quiet part of the park. It looked about the same as the last time he saw it. Of course that was before the Drakan he and Rachel were watching turned into an ox and started trashing the place. It was the reason why he was back here. That Drakans personality change was as sudden as Max's was. Although he had no clue what possessed to think him that he would find another dart. It's been a couple of months since that happened. If there was a dart it was gone long before now. But he had to do something to try to but the pieces together.

"Think it out Davidson," he told himself. He sat on the bench where the Drakan was and looked around. Where did that shot come from? He was in a pretty open area so it could have come from anywhere. But could somebody sneak a gun into the park and fire it without being seen. No, the best option was those buildings across the street, right behind the parking lot where they were. That thing could have gone right over their heads and they didn't even hear it. But he still didn't know who or why. Well actually he had an idea why, it's just the who part that he wasn't seeing. He sighed, there were way too many pieces to this puzzle that didn't fit. Man, he really needed help putting this thing together. "Richie where's that nerd brain of your when I really need it?"

"Jack." He looked up for a moment before he recognized the voice as Rachel's, "I've been looking for you."

"How did you know I'd be here?"

"I... uh...," she looked back at the parking lot, "saw the motorcycle. Thought I’d take a chance to see if it was you."

"Hmm," he tried to look thoughtful. "So you’re driving around town looking for me and you only stopped because you thought the bike might be mine." He made a couple of tsk sounds. "Sounds like you have me on the brain. I'm sorry but that's incurable."

"Get over yourself."

He looked insulted, "No." Then he broke out in a grin, "So what's up?"

"Nothing important," she sat on the bench next to him. "I just want to make sure everything is alright. You’ve been kind of scarce ever since your upgrade."

"Just trying to readjust," he replied while flexing the fingers on his right hand. "But I think my imagination is playing tricks on me though."

"What do you mean?"

"Just some stupid stuff I'm blaming Richie for putting in my head. In those old school riders tapes he used to show me the hero was part machine too. They were super strong in and out of the suit."

"Do you think you’re stronger when the system's powered down?"

"Like I said, it's probably in my head."

"I could have them run some test to find out for sure." He was afraid she was going to say that. "Only problem is there's nothing to show how strong you were before the upgrades."

"Look don't worry about it,” he told her.” I'm sorry brought it up."

"Ok, but I'm still going to talk to R&D to see if this is even possible." Jack just shrugged his shoulders. Right now he had other things on his mind. "So why are you out here? Outside of the garage I never thought you be hanging around you old battle sites unless you had too."

"I'm just... trying to wrap my head around something."

"Need some help? I'm pretty good at figuring stuff out."

"Maybe next time."

"If you want to strain something go right ahead," she said as she got up. "Don't be a stranger though alright, you know were I am if you need to talk about anything."

"I know." He watched her walk off. Jack wanted to tell everything he knew. But that "uh" she uttered put his shields up. He'd been feed too many lines after hearing that sound to know better. Still, she was his closest friend at the moment, “Rachel."

She stopped, "Yeah?"

"Did it ever bother you that Drakan we were watching just went nuts?"

"A little bit," she admitted. "Maybe he had some kind of mental problem or something. It's not like somebody made it go crazy right?"

Jack thought about that dart back at his place, "Right."

***
"That's an interesting possibility,” Barry said. Rachel had just told him what Jack told her about his strength earlier. "To be honest with you I never really thought about it."

There were a lot of things nobody thought about on this project, herself included. "So do you think he's imaging things?"

"I don't want to say anything without anything concrete backing it up. Let me run some simulations on the computer first to see how likely this is. If you can get Jack to come in..."

"Sure give me the hard job." He smiled as he turned to the computer. "Let me know if you find anything." He nodded without turning away from the screen. As she left the room Rachel hoped Jack's mind was playing tricks on him. His mood hasn't been that great ever since they sent him after that group of children. And he was never happy about what he was turned into to begin with. There was no clue on how this was going to affect him. She better make herself more available to talk things over if he wanted to. Of course with Jack that would probably be happening right after hell froze over.

"Yo Rachel!", Mitchell came around the corner. She slowed down so he could catch up. "Did you ever find Jack?"

"Yeah he was in the park getting some air."

"Going over his past ‘victories’?", he made quotation marks in the air as he said that. That was something she never saw him do before. Then again she never saw him in the same light after his big picture comment from a while back either.

"No, I think he needed some 'me' time." At the moment she didn't think it was wise to let him in on Jack's current situation.

"Well his me time is getting into his training time. It's been awhile since his he had one."

"He was a little indisposed for a couple of months," she reminded him.

"All the more reason to catch up. A weapon that's getting dull is of no use to anybody."

She stopped and grabbed his arm to make him face her. "You did not just say that. First of all Jack is not a weapon."

Mitchell freed himself from her grasp. "You may not want to see it that way but it's his place in the universe now. The both of you better get used to it." He walked off.

"I'm really starting to hope Jack did get stronger," she said mainly to herself, "because I can't wait to see the look on your face."

***
"Sorry I'm late," Williams said as she entered the command center. "I wanted to double check the information we gotten a hold of. I'm sure nobody wants a repeat of what happened in the forest." She looked at Haily and Davidson as she passed by them. "Rachel, Jack," she said evenly.

"Did it get a little cold in here?", Davidson muttered to Haily who hushed him.

"The extra caution is appreciated," Anderson told her. "Hopefully with Allen out of the picture it won't happen again."

"Unless there's another Allen in here somewhere," Davidson said.

"Let's hope not." He turned to Williams, "So was the information accurate?"

"It seems that way."

Davidson raised a hand, "For those of us who don't know what the information is."

"Forgive me. Some of our informants have told us of an envoy, possibly carrying something important to the rebels."

"Do we know what it is?", Haily asked.

"It could be a plan," Williams answered, "could be a memo, they could be escorting a person. But there is one little problem. There are apparently three different couriers. They could each have a piece of what ever it is or two of the three could be decoys."

"Good thing my bike gets good gas mileage." Anderson had to smile to that one.

"While that's true it will not necessary for this one. We're sending out three teams. Mitchell will send out two teams to intercept two of the couriers. You will intercept the third Mr. Davidson."

"Alone, of course," he said, not seeming overjoyed by the prospect.

"There is a worry that a team would get in your way seeing how effective you are on your own."

"I'm up to testing that theory out."

"Perhaps on a less sensitive mission," he told him.

"Our information, "Williams continued, "say the three routes they're on will take them through the quieter parts of the city. So hopefully we can contain the situation as much as possible."

Haily asked another question," Are we going to track them to where ever they're going?"

"No, our primary concern is the information they may have. Mr. Davidson you will be stationed here at the docks. It should be quiet this time of year so you shouldn't be stopped as you investigate."

"That's a pretty big area for little old me to cover,” he said sounding surprised.

"I'm sure you can handle it."

"Is it too late to mention I'm allergic to seafood?"

"No you’re not," Haily told him. "You were eating a fish sandwich the other day."

"It comes and goes." Haily obviously wasn't buying the story and crossed her arms in front of her. "I get seasick real easily? Eh, it was worth a shot." Davidson headed out of the room. Haily sighed heavily and followed him out.

"I would have though killing a child would have affected him more," Willaims said after they left.

"I'm sure he's feeling it on the inside," Anderson told her. But he had to agree in some way. If they were trying to convince people he went through with it, or a least felt something, they should at least know how to act.

***
Jack sat on an old crate with his jacket buttoned up. He passed the time by watching his breath on the chilly night and tracking the half moon in the sky. A small part of him remembered there was suppose to be a half moon the night the monkey blew up the mountain. The things you remember about events you wanted to forget. He saw Rachel get off her crate and start walking around trying to warm up. "I told you to bring a heavier jacket."

"Like you knew it was going to be this cold," she snapped while rubbing her arms.

"Well they got this new thing called the Weather Channel."

"Whatever." She paced some more. "You know a gentleman would give me his coat."

"I'll see if I can find you one," he said as he flipped the hood over his head.

"Would it hurt you to at least make the offer?"

"You might take me up on it than I'd be cold." Leaning back he said, "At least it's warmer out here than it was in the command center."

"What were you expecting?" She sat back on her crate, "Do you think we should tell them now? The kids have to be miles away from here by now."

"If they were smart they'll be in another state all together." He scanned the docks again. Same as before nothing but a bunch of water and warehouses. But for a moment he thought he saw an old man in a suit standing by a warehouse door. Looking a little closer he didn't see anything there, but he got off his crate anyway. He knew that old man. "Max?", he uttered quietly.

"You see something?", Rachel asked looking in the direction he was

Jack looked at her than back to the door. "Just... stretching my legs a bit." He then started waving his arms around to keep up the act. But his gaze kept going back to that spot. His imagination was playing trick with him, that had to be it. There was no way Max could have been there.

"Well I think I do," she was pointing toward the other end of the dock. A shadow just went behind a building. No way he’d imagined that one. "Come on, I'll follow while you head that way and cut him off."

"Right, be careful." Jack hurried off to catch whoever it was before she caught up with it. Taking the corner he flat out ran down the space between the buildings. He heard two sets of footsteps coming at him but it turned to one soon enough. Jack slowed down when he saw the briefcase just sitting on the ground. Rachel came up soon after just as confused as he was.

"Did you see anybody?", she asked almost out of breath.

"Would I be standing here if I saw anybody?"

"This one had to be a decoy, why else would he leave it?"

"I don't know, maybe so we stand around looking like a couple of...," he trailed off. They both looked like they had the same thought. "Ah crap," he looked up to see a mass of blue coming at them. He pushed Rachel out of the way as it landed and knocked him back. He stared into the black eyes of a Drakan that looked a like a grasshopper. He quickly raised his left arm and the belt materialized around over the jacket. He moved the arm to the left and raised his right arm. The grasshopper suddenly jumped over him and grabbed him around the neck. The pressure quickly grew and he couldn't breath. Jack tried to elbow the thing behind him but couldn't get a good shot in. Running out of ideas he kicked his right leg back between it's legs. It made a noise and the pressure around his neck stopped. He pushed away to get some distance between them and got his arms back into position. "Henshin!," he choked out and hit the top of the belt. He turned around to face the Drakan as Fusion armor covered him.

Holding his neck for a moment he punched the grasshopper in the face as it straightened up. Unleashing a backhand he made the Drakan spin around. He wasn't expecting the foot that came around and caught him in the head. Jack's head snapped back as he went to a knee. Its’ knee came up and hit him under the chin and he fell to his back. The Drakan stomped his foot down onto his chest and he felt it through the armor. Jack grabbed the foot and twisted. The antennas on it’s’ head went wild as it tried to maintain its’ balance. He kicked it in the back as he got to his feet. The grasshopper went down but it planted its’ hands and kicked both of its’ feet back. Jack went flying from the impact.

Jack slowly got up saying, "Oh yeah, I felt that one." He looked up to see the Drakan rushing at him. "Oy," was all he got out before the grasshopper tackled him and they crashed into a set of crates behind him. Jack slammed his forearms into the side of its’ head, stunning it. Letting his frustration get the better of him he picked the Drakan up, turned and slammed him back into the crates. Jack started throwing punches then threw the grasshopper out of the mess. He ran in with every intention of pounding that bug into the ground. But it jumped out of the way so all he got was concrete. Jack watched as it landed and jumped again, this time landing on the roof of a warehouse. "No you don't," he said as he ran and jumped to the roof too.

The grasshopper looked surprised to see him up there. For a brief moment he impressed himself before he got serious again. He charged the grasshopper praying it was still too shocked to move. Faking a punch he hit a side kick to the stomach. He missed an elbow to the back of its’ head that left him open to a leg sweep. Jack blocked a stomp aimed at his head and got to his feet quickly. He saw the meter start to flash. Jack grabbed the right pod on his belt and twisted up. The charge that built up went up his side and down his right arm rather quickly. Making a fist he ducked a swing and landed a straight punch to its ribs. The grasshopper flew over the side before exploding. He held his back for a moment after it was over, "Gonna feel this one in the morning."

***
"I have some unfortunate news," Mr. Anderson said the next day. Jack muttered something under his breath but she paid attention to the boss. "While all three teams successfully intercepted their targets all three turned out to be decoys. In fact all three cases were rigged to explode when opened."

"Well duh," Jack blurted out," they got a monkey who has explosives as a hobby."

"True, fortunately the one who found this out personally is going to survive."

"You gonna hook him up too?", Jack asked.

"A second operative with the Fusion system cold be helpful," she added. "If he was treated right," she aimed the shot directly at Mitchell who ignored it.

He did say, "Outside of a hand he's not considered a candidate."

"Dude doesn't know how lucky he is then," Jack said as he got up and headed for the door. "I got something to check out, so later."

She got up too, "I have to finish the report. I'll have it for you as soon as I can." She really wasn't in the mood to be in the same room as Mitchell at the moment, no matter who else was in there.

***
Anderson waited until the door was closed before speaking to Mitchell, "Well?"

"Danny found nothing." Anderson didn't bother to hide his disappointment. "If Jack found the dart he's not hiding it in his apartment."

"But we still can't count out the possibility that he has it, so I sent him out for nothing,” he sighed heavily. “At least three rebels operatives are out of the picture so the nights wasn't a total loss." He turned to look out his window. "Are you thinking the same thing I am about the information we received?"

"They were seeing were they got leaks." Anderson's thought exactly.

"Well we have to be a little more careful about what we hear from now on."

***
Jack found the door open and the man he was looking for sitting at his desk. He knocked on the door any way. Dr. Friedman looked at him and gave him a friendly smile after a moment. "Can I come in?"

"Anytime at all," he got up looking a little concerned. "Are you feeling any after affects from last night?"

"Nothing a couple of aspirin won't fix, but that's not why I'm here."

"Oh,” he looked curious, “why are you here than?"

He hesitated for a bit, "I can trust you to keep something on the down low right?"

"Of course, what kind of doctor would I be if I couldn't?"

"Do you remember that Drakan at the college campus from a couple of days back?"

"Yes, I heard it wasn't violent so you let it alone. It was the talk of the building for the rest of the day."

"Yeah but nobody knows I went back." Friedman's demeanor changed slightly.

"And you fought and killed him," he said rather matter of factly. Almost like he was expecting it.

"That wasn't the idea when I went back."

"Oh?"

"I don't know about you but I noticed some things that's not meshing with everything else. I went back hoping he had some answers."

"So what happened?"

"Well we were talking then I think he got hit with something. As crazy as this sounds he went nuts and attacked me right after that. You have to believe me, I didn't want it to happen that way. But after it was over I found this," he reached into a pocket and pulled out a handkerchief. Unwrapping it revealed the black dart. "You think you can tell me what was in this?"

"Maybe, but do you think somebody wanted you to fight the Drakan?"

"I wouldn't believe it either, but it's the only thing that's making sense right now."

"Can I ask you why you want to know so badly?"

"I come across a lot of rotten people in my life, and he was definitely one of the good ones. If somebody wanted this done to him I want to put his head on a pike."

"I'll try my best, but I’m not promising anything but I'll try to see what was in here." Jack nodded than looked over the doctor's shoulder into his open briefcase.

"Hopefully it's not that." He pointed to a bottle holding a neon green liquid. "That's some nasty looking stuff you got there."

"Oh that,” he said nervously, “a colleague of mine gave it too me. I have a patient who's severely sick. He said that would help him in some way." Friedman was quiet for a few moments and looked at him. "Although I'm starting to wonder if the side effects are worse than the actual disease at the moment."

"Nothing can be as bad as that looks, but I'm sure you'll make the right decision."

"I hope your right." He pocketed the dart and patted it. "I'll let you know what I find as soon as I can."

"Thanks Doc. I don't know how it will help, but maybe it'll give another piece of the puzzle I didn't have before." Friedman agreed and he left the room. He reached the elevator and went in. Before the door closed he thought he heard the sound of breaking glass, but he dismissed it. "First you're seeing things and now you’re hearing things. Davidson this place is driving you crazy."
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Old April 1st, 2019, 08:45 PM #16
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scikaiju
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 325



<Episode 13>

Like she thought Jack was walking behind her sulking all the way. He looked that way ever since she told him he was wanted down in R&D. Why it was so hard to get him down there lately she didn't think she would ever know. But she did believe she heard him mumble something like, "What are they thinking about tweaking now?". Too bad she couldn't tell him anything about what they had planned. Mr. Anderson secretary only told her that they thought they had a way to test this strength theory of his.

"Cheer up Jack, at least you'll find out either way if you're right or not."

"If it involves hooking me up to something I'm performing my own test," he answered sounding a little edgy.

"Why are you so grumpy today? I thought you would have felt better knowing if you were stronger or not."

"I guess," he seemed a little distracted. "Sorry, I haven't been sleeping well lately."

She stopped, “Are you having that nightmare again?"

"Most of the time," he kept on walking. Rachel hurried to catch up.

"What about the rest of the time?"

“Just some... things that's been going around in my head."

"Like what?"

"Look I don't want to talk about this, I just want to get this stupid thing over with."

"Alright, but were not done talking about this."

"Yes we are," he said like there was nothing to it. She was positive he did that to push her buttons.

"I can make that an order," she said mainly as a joke. He apparently didn't take it that way.

"Hey,” he snapped, “you can't order me to tell you my personal problems."

"Whoa," she put her hands up, "relax killer." Mistake number two right there and she knew it. Mentally kicking herself she said, "Sorry, slip of the tongue.

"Sure." They walked on in relative silence. Finally he said, "I think we're both gonna need a vacation after this is over." She had to agree, a vacation was sounding pretty good right about now. They arrived at R&D soon enough and stared at the contraption that was in the room. "These guys ain't busy enough."

"Yeah," she found herself agreeing. There was a pad suspended between two poles on the far wall. Numerous wires connected the pad to a row of monitors on a nearby table by the door. Jack walked up to a half empty basket of baseballs. The other half was being picked up by a couple of assistants. "Ah Barry?"

"Hi guys," he came up to them while tossing a ball into the air. "As you can see I had a little brain storm after your last visit Rachel."

"I'm guessing I don't punch anything?", Jack asked while eyeing the ball.

"Without any data from before your upgrade that would be pointless. As would any weight lifting type of test. I figured throwing a few fastballs would the next best thing. I got the idea after I remembered a commercial years ago were a pitcher was pushing his throwing arm into a barrel of rice to keep it strong. I already had several people throw a few to develop a baseline for the test."

"You put a lot of thought into this," she was very impressed with all of this.

"Wouldn't it have been easier to buy a radar gun?", Jack asked him.

"Then they wouldn't have the chance to build something from scratch," Anderson came from behind them. "I thought I come by and see how the test went."

"Can I give it a go?", she asked. Barry tossed her the ball. She moved so she stood behind a tape line on the floor. Rachel threw the ball as hard as she could and hit the pad dead center. After a moment a ninety two popped up on one of the monitors. "Still got it," she smirked to herself.

"That's pretty good," Jack said obviously impressed, then he quickly added, "for a girl."

"Whatever helps you sleep at night." Jack said nothing as he took a ball out of the basket. Then he handed it toward Mr. Anderson.

He held up a hand, "I was never much of an athlete."

"Oh come on, you know you wanna. Besides," he had a sly grin on his face, "I want to see how bad I smoke ya."

Anderson took the ball and studied it," Well, I suppose throwing one won't be too humiliating." He took a spot behind the mark and threw the ball. It registered a seventy two. He adjusted his suit, "Like I said I'm not very athletic."

"It's still better than Tim's best throw," Barry told them.

"No surprise there," Jack muttered as he grabbed another ball and got ready to do the test. He juggled it a few times before actually throwing it. The ball hit the pad harder than she was expecting. Everyone turned to the monitor and waited. One sixty two. Barry whistled at the results.

"Well," he said after a moment, "if this company had baseball team you'd definitely be the star pitcher."

***
The waiting was getting to him. Barry and his group spent a good half hour going over the results after he threw a few more at the pad. Rachel and Anderson were hovering by making some small talk. They tried to get him in on the conversation, but he grunted if he answered at all. His attention was on Barry's group. Too bad he didn't get enhanced hearing to go with the enhanced strength. Better keep quiet about that before they got any ideas. But he had an idea what they were going to say. Most people might say he was being paranoid, but he saw the way these R&D guys looked at him. He could see the wheels turning in their heads, thinking of ways to improve the Fusion systems. It really sucks being a prototype.

"Relax Mr. Davidson," Anderson told him, his frustrations were apparently showing. "Didn't anybody tell you patience was a virtue?"

"My Uncle did once." He snorted as he thought about it, "But I think my mom would kill me if I took after him more."

"I'd believe it," Rachel said.

"One of these days you're going to have to tell me about this Uncle of yours Mr. Davidson."

"I'll have my people call your people and we'll do lunch."

Barry broke away from the group and came toward them. "Well," he began, "it's pretty obvious Jack is stronger in his powered down state. Something we didn't see coming."

"Obviously," he said dryly.

"Well is this stable now?", Rachel asked him. "I mean is he going to get stronger as time goes on?"

"I don't know," Barry admitted, "not without running some more tests first." He knew Barry would be using those words sooner or later.

"Do we have any options?" Anderson wondered. "Obviously this is going to be an inconvenience to Mr. Davidson. If he does become stronger he could become a danger to those around him."

"Thanks, I needed that thought in my head," he mumbled.

Barry started rubbing his chin, “Well, we could adjust the system. After we find out where the power ratios went wrong it'll be easy to fix. Of course he'll have to spend a few days in a tank while we fine tune things."

He had heard enough, "I don't think so."

"But Jack...," Barry started.

"No buts," he cut him off, "I said no."

"Are you sure Mr. Davidson? Something like this could be hard to get used to."

"I'll live with it." With that he left the room. He walked down several hallways before stopping. Leaning against a wall he put his face in his hands. Power ratios, fine tune, they were talking like he was a freaking car. Not for the first time he thought Richie was the lucky one in that avalanche.

"Are you going to be alright?", Rachel asked after she caught up. He put his hands down and nodded. "I knew you wouldn't go for it."

"You should have told them that. I already spent over six months in that goop."

"I was thinking more about the adjustments."

"That too."

She leaned against the wall too, "I'm a pretty good listener you know."

"I know, you say it every chance you get." Jack put his head back against the wall. "I didn't ask for this you know. I didn't wake up one morning wishing somebody would turn me into a freak. But somebody did any way. Now because they were given the ok to tinker with things my boss thinks I could become a danger to everyone around me."

"Hey, it's just a concern he had." She put a hand on his shoulder, "Nobody thinks you're going to be a danger to anybody."

"Yeah, but what about the other night when I pushed you out of the way before I found out I could throw a one sixty fastball? What if I hurt you?"

"You didn't so don't even think about that. Even in the off chance you did get stronger, we'll help you through it. I'll help you get through it." He put a hand on hers, gently, and smiled wearily.

"I know, I'm just tired Rachel." He looked at both of his hands. "Tired of this crap inside me. Tired of smelling like death. I'm tired of this whole situation. I'm tired of feeling like a freakin' lab rat!" He turned and punched the wall in frustration. His fist went through the plaster, a little past his wrist. Just what he needed, a reminder he had to think about this stuff now. "Great, just great."

"Does anything feel like it's broken?", Rachel asked with concern in her voice.

"No," he said more annoyed with himself than anything.

"Did it make you feel any better?"

"It did before I realized I'm probably gonna have to pay to get this fixed." After a moment he stated chuckling at the situation, Rachel joined in. "Mom warned me stuff like this would happen if I wasn't careful."

"Punch a lot of wall in your time huh?"

"I usually saved it for the punching bag in the basement. I got to remember to buy one of those."

"Hey Jack," two security guards passed by. "What happened here?"

He opened his mouth but Rachel spoke first, "Wall sprung a leak."

"You beat me to it," he whined.

"Sure man, sure." Before they walked off one pointed at him, "Don't forget man, tonight at eight o'clock. Without the wall."

"Yeah, yeah." They turned the corner and were out of sight. "I really wish they’d forget about that."

"Forget about what?"

"Nothing important." He tugged on his arm to remove it from the wall, it wouldn't budge. "Uh-oh." He pulled a little harder as Rachel stifled a laugh. "A little help here." She got between him and the wall, reached behind his head and pulled the hood over it.

"I'll see if I can find you some," she patted him on the shoulder and walked off.

He watched her leave shaking his head, "Should have given her the jacket." Looking around he didn't see anybody around. "Oh, what the hell." Putting his foot on the wall he pulled with all he had and freed his hand. He also ended up making the hole bigger. Dusting the gloves off he looked around, still nobody around. So he put his hands in his pockets and walked off whistling.

***
"You should have seen this coming," Anderson said as he paced the room. Armstrong sent every else in the room away so he felt free in expressing dissatisfaction. "This is totally unacceptable."

"I know," Armstrong said, too calmly. "This is the prototype stage after all, things like this are going to happen. Just think about how this information is going to benefit the Fusion system mark two."

"The mark two is the farthest thing on my mind right now." He stopped pacing and calmed himself. "My apologizes Dr. Armstrong. Certain things have been eating at my mind lately. I did not mean to blow this situation out of proportion."

"No worrys sir, I've done the same thing to my staff a few times. This can be fixed, it's just a matter of convincing Jack to let us do it."

"You might have a better time in convincing him to pull his own teeth." Armstrong agreed. Taylor walked in talking on his cell phone. He hung up as he came close. "What is it Taylor?"

"We might have a lead on Christopher."

He refused to get his hopes up. "Are you sure? I will not go through another debacle like the one Allen put us through."

"I'd stake my life on it."

"Good because your life depends in this being accurate." He picked a baseball out of the basket. "Get Mitchell in on this. If this is accurate I don't want Christopher leaving where ever he is alive. Is this understood?"

"Perfectly sir."

"Good." Anderson looked at the ball in his and than at the pad. Not holding anything back this time he threw it into the pad. As he readjusted his tie he looked at the moniter. Four fifty one. "Smoke me indeed."

***
Jack wasn't sure what Hell looked like but this had to be close. That team he saved when all this started finally got him to agree to go out for drinks to thank him. That included the entire scout team on the assignment. But for some reason it grew to include the apparent fan club that was slowly grew among Mitchell's men. Now the whole lot of them were sitting around bragging about the Drakan they’ve killed. He just sat at the bar drinking his beer, ignoring everything around him. Too bad they wouldn't let him do it in peace.

Two of the guards, Terry and Dave, he thought that's what people called them, stood on both sides of him. From the smell they definitely more than a few already. "Jack," Dave said, "we were talking a bit back there and do you know what we realized?"

"You got a collective I.Q. of two?"

"What a kidder," Terry slapped him on the back, spilling some of his beer in the process.

"Naw man, we realized that out of all the guys in the room, you killed more of those freaks than anybody. But I got to know one thing, what are you feeling while your doing it? I mean, I feel good 'cause we're helping getting rid of these freaks. Hell, if I had my way I'd wipe 'em all out if I had the chance, bunch of freaks." Jack looked at Dave through narrowed eyes. He was on the scout team that checked out the safe house with the elephant. "But you, what are you feeling?"

Jack looked at the bottle in his hands then at his reflection in the mirror behind the bar. "Not a thing, not a damn thing." Terry slapped him on the back again.

"I told you this guy was stone cold. You have to be to take out a bunch of kids like he did."

"Good riddance," Dave said after a drink. "Less of those things the better. Get 'em before they can breed, right dude?"

"Damn right," Terry readily agreed.

If he heard any more of this he was going to activate the system and start knocking heads together. The fact that was sounding more and more like a good idea by the moment said it was time to leave. So he quickly finished off his beer and got out from between the two. He doubted either of them noticed he left seeing how they were so into there "conversation".

"Where are you going?", somebody asked.

"Nature’s calling." They nodded and went back to talking. He was almost out of there. Then he ran into Mitchell.

"Leaving early buddy?", he asked. "You don't look that drunk to me."

"I got to drive home." There was a loud crash and a lot of laughing at something. "Glad I don't have to pay for that."

"I see the boys are starting to get a little rowdy. It's good for them to blow off a little steam like this." Jack looked back into the room. An idiot was standing with his back turned to the others and a bottle on his head while a couple of other was taking aim. He would hate to be around when these guys started blowing off a lot of steam. "Sure you can't stay for a few more drinks? There on me."

He tapped his arm, "Don't want to rust." Mitchell gave a short loud laugh.

"That's pretty good, I like that one." Mitchell clapped him on the shoulder and went into the bar. "Alright you goldbricks, time to show you the proper way to get wasted."

That was definitely his cue to leave. Jack got to the front door but took a left into the men's room and locked the door. Leaning against the sink he looked at his reflection in the mirror one more time. Back in school, when he thought about what he would be doing when he was older, this wasn't what he imagined. He pulled down the neckline of his shirt to reveal a couple of the scars. Nope, not even close. He hung his head feeling the weight of the situation. This night was not helping it get any lighter. Three of these guys were in his room back at World Inc. that night. His first major clue that something was up. And he was no closer to figuring out what was up or who shot that dart. But Dave and Terry might have pointed him in the right direction by accident. Oh what a night. Jack looked back into the mirror and saw the amphibious eyes of a green frog staring back at him. "Holy...!", he turned around and saw nothing but empty space. He looked back at the mirror but only saw his reflection. Looking back and forth with his heart beating at warp speed he muttered, "Maybe a few more beers wouldn't hurt."

***
Rachel exited the elevator holding her head. She mumbled a few choice words in French thinking about that meeting she just left. She prayed the aspirin was still in the glove box. If she had to go through that after every mission she was going to hurt somebody. "Rachel." Dr. Freidman walked away from his car. "What are you doing here so late?"

"Accounting has a new penny pinching bean counter. He called me in to go over every expense on the mission Jack's been in. I talking everything from what were paying Jack to how much gas we're using. Would you believe he told me to buy a more fuel efficient car?"

"Wait, would this be a tall, skinny guy with these huge wire frame glasses?"

"You already dealt with him I see."

"He asked me if I really needed a machine that was keeping a patient of mine alive." Rachel groaned, she knew guys like that back in high school. That attitude really rubbed her the wrong way. She was all with saving a little money but that was extreme. It was the same with Freidman apparently.

"Maybe we should introduce him to Jack," she joked.

"That would cruel for one of them, I'm just not sure who at the moment. Oh that reminds me, when you see Jack tell him I identified what was in that dart he gave me."

"What dart?", she asked.

"You know, the one that he said made a Drakan go crazy and attack him. The one at the campus when he went back." A look of realization grew on his face. "You have no clue what I'm talking about do you?" She started shaking her head slowly. "I think I said too much," and he turned to leave.

"Wait, what are you talking about."

"All I can tell you is talk to Jack, he's the one who told me about the dart."

"But why didn't he tell me about it?", she wondered out loud.

***
Jack brought the bike to a stop at a red light. He left the bar and the party a few hours ago and was just driving around town. He decided he needed some air more than he needed another beer. Especially after a bottle of something flew past his head and the guys cheering in approval as it exploded on the wall. He speed off as the light turned green. Jack glanced down a couple of alleys as he past them. A shadow high on a wall caught his attention. It didn't look all that human. He told himself to keep on going and that it was none of his business. Half a block later he turned the bike around and headed back, "Damn it."

He got off the bike and looked down the alley as he took his helmet off. The shadow had just jumped down from where it was. Carefully he went down in case he was falling for another trap. It wasn't long before he found the source of the shadow. The red Drakan he saw had a bald head and a ring of ragged feathers around its’ neck like a vulture. It had a blue Turtle around the neck and twisted, he could hear the sickening snap from where he was. The vulture let the turtle drop and turned his attention to a dark haired woman a little further down the alley. She hunched down and turned into a green Tiger with darker green stripes. He wasn't exactly sure but it looked like the vulture's beak was grinning. The sick bastard was actually enjoying this. "Hey!", he shouted to get it's attention.

"Go away human," the vulture warned, "or your next."

"Right." Jack raised his left arm across his chest and the belt formed around his waist. Swinging his left arm to the side he brought his right up to his face. "Henshin!", and he slammed his right hand on top of the belt. It scanned his body and he was soon wearing the black body suit and blue armor of the Fusion system.

The tiger took a step back, "The Drakan Killer."

"So you're the Killer. After I'm done with this one we'll compare notes.” The vulture turned to look at the tiger. He ran in and pulled the vulture back. "What are...," it started before he punched him. Jack spun in place and kicked him back. "You idiot! We're on the same side." It pointed to the tiger behind him. "She's one of the rebels!"

"I don't know if that's true or not but you're the one with blood on your hands."

"Pot calling the kettle black Killer." The vulture got up and started throwing punches at him. He kept his arms up to block the fist coming at him. Then its’ foot came up and caught him in the gut. He took a step back, side stepped a lunge and brought his knee up. The vulture breathed out hard as he bent from the impact. He went to throw it into the wall but it tripped him up. It started kicking him in the sides as he tried to get up. Then the Vulture grabbed him by the back collar of the armor and pulled him up. He was forced face first into the wall and it leaned against him. "Come on Killer," it said in his ear," you know we're exactly alike, why should we fight?"

"I'm nothing like you," he growled as he pushed off the wall. Jack backhanded the vulture as he turned around. He grabbed it by the shoulder and threw it into the wall and started punching it to the ground. The last punch cracked the vulture's beak up the side. Jack picked the Drakan back up and started punching again. The vulture ducked a punched and pushed him back. It tried to make a move for the tiger and he tried to stop it. Jack came away with a fist full of red feathers as the vulture yelped in pain and grabbed his neck. Its’ eyes narrowed as it jumped up and tried to kick him in the head.

Jack dodged the kick and grabbed it around the neck as it landed. He briefly thought about snapping its’ neck like it did the turtle's. His gaze came around to the tiger. She already smelt like death, he couldn't add to it. He glanced at the meter, it was close to flashing, now he had to think quick. There was a dumpster that looked like it was close enough to use. The vulture elbowed him in the side so he released his grip and punched him in the back of the head. It was stunned long enough for him to rip the lock off and open the lid. The vulture rushed in like he hopped it would. When it was close enough he grabbed it and threw it into the dumpster, the lid clanging loudly as it came down. He twisted the right pod up and he got into position, waiting as the charge went down his arm. The vulture raised the lid looking groggy and saw him perched there. Jack punched it back into the dumpster and slammed the lid down quickly. He held onto it as there was a muffled explosion and the dumper shook a little.

He started breathing heavy after it was over. "I can't be anything like you," he whispered. That comment touched a nerve, no doubt about it. Jack steeped away and was surprised the tiger was still there. "You know, a smart person would have left by now," he said trying not to sound threatening. She said nothing, just staring at him. Taking a step toward her made her back up and fall. He looked at himself, this wasn't going to cut it, so he hit the top of the belt. The system powered down as he knelt down to look her eye to eye. "You all right?"

She reverted back to her human form, blue eyes wide in surprise," You're concerned?" He shrugged his shoulders. "But you're the Drakan Killer."

"So I've heard." He got up and offered her a hand. Warily she took it and he helped her up. "Let me ask one more time, are you all right?"

"I think so," she said sounding a little stunned.

"Ok then. I’d offer to take you home, but my reputation and all." He started to walk off, fully aware he was leaving himself expose if she decided to attack. Right now he really didn't care if she did or not.

"Why are you letting me live?"

"Because," he paused to look at the dumpster as he passed it, "for the first time in a long time I'm pretty sure who the bad guy was."
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Old April 5th, 2019, 03:07 PM #17
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<Episode 14>

He and the thing he was facing were surrounded by a quiet, familiar mountain range. That calm was shattered the moment he shouted, "Henshin!", and charged the shape in front of him. The rage inside him grew as it turned into the blue monkey the closer he got. The moment he was close enough to strike it faded away. Then he was hit from behind. As he went down he kicked out a foot but the monkey wasn't there. He pounded the ground as frustration started mingling with the rage inside of him. When he got to his feet he was greeted by a blue furry foot that knocked him down again.

Quickly he got up and looked around but it was no where to be found. It had to be some where around here but where? He felt something behind him and he swung a fist back. A strike at his head was blocked and he planted a foot into a monkey's gut. It didn't disappear this time, "Gotcha!". He hit an uppercut that snapped its’ head back. Grinning behind the mask he grabbed the monkey by the back of the head and smashed his knee into it’s’ head repeatedly. The monkey somehow grabbed onto his other leg and tripped him.

The next thing he knew that damn Drakan was on top of him trying to pound him into the ground. Blocking the blows as best he could he tried to get a shot in. Finally he got his right hand through, gripping it around the throat and started squeezing. Before long the Drakan stopped beating on his head and tried to remove the hand from around it’s’ neck. Then he got the other hand on its’ neck and squeezed even more. He forced the monkey to its’ back and wouldn't let go. The monkey slowly stopped fighting and its’ eyes went dead. He slowly got to his feet and hovered over the carcass for a moment. "Go to Hell," he spat and walked off.

He didn't get far before a deep, evil laugh filled the air. Turning around the monkey rose up unnaturally and looked at him. Confusion and a hint of fear quickly replaced the rage and frustration. The very next instant it had crossed the distance between them and hit him in the chest. He flew back hard, skidding as he landed. It was on him again and picked him up by the chest armor. They looked eye to eye before it said, "You first," and threw him. The meter started flashing as he staggered to his feet. The monkey grinned, banged its’ chest and held its’ arms wide open. It was almost like it knew what was happening. Well if it wanted to die that bad he was willing to go along with it. He grabbed the right pod and twisted down, nothing happened.

"What?", he twisted the pod up and down several times with the same result. He looked for the button under the belt then started pounding on the pod to try to get it to work. Again the monkey was right in front of him before he knew it. The Drakan palmed his head and jumped. He was planted into the side of the mountain before he was thrown again. The monkey waved its’ hands around its’ waist and the Fusion belt appeared it. His armor faded away that same instant, "No."

It grinned evilly and uttered a demonic sounding, "Henshin." The Fusion armor formed around the monkey's shape. It lifted up a hand made a waving motion. Out of nowhere other shapes started walking foreword. He recognized them almost instantly: a frog, a rabbit, an ox, just about all the Drakan he fought and killed stood by the monkey side. All of they were wearing the Fusion belt. The Drakan glanced at them and nodded once. All the belts glowed brightly and all of them were incased in the Fusion armor.

He started to run but something grabbed his right arm. An old man in a suit held on tightly. "Max what are you doing?" Then something grabbed his left arm. To say he was surprised didn't even begin to cover it. That solemn look he had never seen on that face before but he could recognize that curly hair and those glasses anywhere, "Richie?" His friend said nothing, just looked up the mountain. The armored Drakan, almost as one, reached for the belt. Some twisted the pod down while other pressed the button that used to be there. He struggled to get free, "Whoa... wait, damn it let me go!" The Drakans jumped up and aimed their feet at him.

"NOOO!", Jack woke up screaming, crossing his arms in front of him. Breathing hard he slowly put his arms down and looked around. He was still in his bed, alive for the most part. What the hell, instead of going away that damn nightmare was getting worse. Ever since Max. He sat there waiting for his heart to stop trying to burst through his chest. Jack glanced at the clock. It said it was three in the morning. He'd only been asleep for a few hours. Laying back down he stared at the ceiling for a long time. Finally he swung his legs over the side of the bed and got up saying, "Sleep is over rated any way."

***
The past few nights had been cooler than usual and his left arm was aching from it. Ever since that abomination broke it. One of the things he had to learn to live with from the encounter. Like the fact he was now part of Christopher's inner circle. Only because he was one of the very few that survived the Killer. That group grew by one the other night. Christopher's sister Melissa was the latest to walk away unharmed. The others happened to be a group of children being watched over by Thomas Rodgers son Arron. Of course the pup decided to stay, another green to the cause. That disgusted him more than anything.

Of course he was as much of an outsider in that group as he was to the inner circle. He didn’t escape, the metal bug let them go. Something that stuck in his gut to no end. But that was no where near as bad as what he had been hearing lately. Everybody was united in the opinion that the thing had to be stopped. Now there was talk that it wasn't as evil as originally thought. Maybe it could be persuaded to switch sides. That nonsense made him want to retch. Fortunately it affected other in the circle the same way. They were just as vocal about it as he was.

Too bad the old man was in the other court and was just as vocal about his doubts. "I agree something has to be done," he said after some of the argument had died down. "But I still say we can't do anything without knowing all the facts first."

"The fact is," someone blurted out," it killed our kind."

"We've killed our kind too," someone else countered. "Don't forget that fact."

"That's different."

"How is it different exactly?"

"Because sometimes death is necessary to get the mission done."

"It was on a mission too," Christopher spoke suddenly. He wasn't looking at them, just staring into space.

"Look Christopher, I realize it spared your sister..."

"Saved," he cut in, "it saved my sister."

"That doesn't mean it's not a threat now. That mission is to take us out. What it did can not out weigh what it has done."

"We all done some things for the cause we weren't proud of," the old man told him.

"Or a decision we were forced to live with," Christopher said. Jason's eyes narrowed. What decision did the want to be king regret. Heading up the cause perhaps? Whatever he was feeling Christopher shut it down and was soon back to business. "I'll admit I'm having my doubts about the Drakan Killer. He may be a pawn in all of this. We all know how Anderson likes to manipulate people to get his way."

"He might be doing it now," Jason spoke up. Several of them looked at him for speaking out of turn. Christopher, however, leaned foreword.

"How so?"

"He could have orchestrated the whole event to make sure your sister believed it was saving her."

"You’re reaching for straws here," the old man countered. "I seriously doubt even Anderson would sacrifice one of his own men just for show."

"According to our contact's report he did so to see if the thing would work like they designed it."

The old man shifted in his seat, "Now you want to believe what he says."

"What did your contact," Christopher asked, "tell you about the man inside this thing? What was his name again?"

"Jack Davidson, and he didn't talk about him much. The only time he started any kind of conversation with our contact was when he gave him the dart."

"This fairy tale again," someone moaned.

"We did our own test on it," the old man told them. "Even our people say the compound inside that thing could cause the affect the Killer said it did in the right dosage."

"And depending on the story he told the humans, he could prove whenever he wanted that we're the aggressors in all of this."

"Still doesn't mean we shouldn't do anything about the Killer."

"I agree," Christopher said, surprising every one. "Despite my doubts it should still be considered a threat to us, at the moment. And I might have an idea on how to deal with it."

***
She paid for her cup of coffee and turned to see Jack staring at something. Rachel wasn't sure if she should ask what he was looking at. He could be setting her up again for all she knew. Well if he did she could always "accidently" spill some of her coffee on him. After what Mitchell told her it might not be the last accident Jack could have today. "What's the hold up?"

He pointed into the cafeteria, "Those people over there."

This had to be a set up, "I don't see the problem."

"They're sitting at our table." She was still wasn't seeing it. "We always sit there."

"There are a few dozen empty seats we can sit at."

"That's not the point." He was actually being serious about this.

She pushed past him, "And my Dad said girls were too picky about things." Rachel took a table as far away from that table as she could. She had to smile as Jack took the seat across from her and shot a look at the other table. "I swear you try to make things harder than they have to be."

Jack looked at her with a raised eyebrow, "Why do I get the feeling I did something."

"Mitchell talked to me a bit ago."

"That's something." Jack said as he looked around the room, maybe looking for an escape.

"So why were you beating the crap out of our guys? Mitchell told me he was very surprised when one of his guys went flying a few feet after you pushed him."

He immediately went on the defensive, "First of all it's not my fault nobody told Mitchell and his boys about the upgrade little side effect. And two Dave and Terry had it coming."

"Why did they supposedly have it coming?"

"You should have been at the party."

"Like I should havebeen at the campus when you went back and found that dart?" Jack froze for an instant, like a kid caught getting caught sneaking a cookie.

"Why can't anybody keep there mouth shut around here?” he asked looking and sounding annoyed. “Freidman actually asked me what kind a doctor he would be if he couldn't keep his patient’s secrets for crying out loud."

"Yeah about that, he thought I was in on it. For that matter why wasn't I told about this? If there's some kind of dart that can make the Drakan go crazy I should know about it."

He didn't look at her, "I wanted some more information about it before I told you anything."

"So what do you know about it?"

"You pretty much covered it."

"I still don't know why you didn't tell me. I could have helped you check this out. I'm starting to think you don't trust me." Again he wouldn't look at her. "You don't trust me?"

He quickly said, "I trust you, I trust you. But I felt I needed to play this one a little close to the vest.

"Next thing you'll be telling me you think World Inc. is behind it." He looked at her this time but didn't say anything. He didn't have to, she read it in his face. "Oh my God."

"Not the entire company, I'm pretty sure Heather wouldn't be in on it. And you too," he added as an after thought. "Besides, I don't know who's on what side at the moment. Terry and Dave drove that point home the other night."

"Is that why you beat them up then?"

"It was the main reason."

"What was the... wait I don't want to know. We're going to go over this in detail later."

"Off property, this place makes me a little jumpy lately."

"Lately? You always seemed jumpy when your here."

"It's like I told you before, you guys develop military prototypes yet animals run around and howl in the air ducts. But I haven't ruled out the possibility of it being a couple of Drakan in heat."

After all this time she was still amazed how he could switch gears from being serious to joking without breaking anything. "You are definitely one of a kind."

"Thank you."

"It wasn't a compliment." Jack quickly balled up a napkin and tossed it at her. She tossed it back. "You know, I would love to find out what the Drakan working here, if there are any more here that is, think about you being here."

"I like to know why they needed something like me to begin with. I mean there's a small army here, something like me seems like over kill."

"I guess they needed someone to go hand to hand with them if they had too."

Jack smiled for a moment for some reason. "Still seems like over kill."

"That's why you’re not in charge. A fact I'm grateful for daily." Jack stuck his tongue out at her.

***
As she slowly sat down in the chair Christopher looked out the door. She leaned over slightly to see what held his attention. Melissa was tending to a "boo-boo" on one of the young ones. She had to smile, that one and her brother always had a way with children. The look Christopher had told her he wished things would stay this way forever. But he wouldn't have asked to see her if they were. "So, you’re facing him in the Arena," she started.

He had a small smile on his face," So you saw it before I announced it."

She tapped the side of his leg with her cane. "It doesn't work that way and you know it. Word, however, travels faster than anybody would like. You do remember what I told you about a Drakan made of metal?"

"I remember,” he replied looking distant, “but I have to face him anyway."

"Why do you have to?"

"Because they expect me to," he said as his feature darkened.

"That doesn't mean you should do it."

"Damn it Emily," he let go of some of the frustration he was holding. "Every time someone mentions the Drakan Killer and I'm around they look at me. I can see it in their eyes, I'm the one who's supposed to deal with this thing. The all mighty Christopher, unofficial leader of the great rebellion." A small glint returned to his eyes, "And now I guess I can add slayer of the Drakan Killer to my list of accolades."

"You always did make things sound larger than life."

"And it never impressed you, not even when I was little. Most of us Greens are full of hot air any way."

"True, but you were one of the few who had an actual cause to put your energy into. I doubt half of us would even be here if it wasn't for you. A lot of leaders say things, but you actually believe what you say so they believe what you say."

"But what happens to them if something happens to me?"

"No one is bigger than the cause Christopher, not even you. Even if the others don't want to believe it. We'll survive and go on. Our goal might take longer to complete. Of course there was no guarantee we would get what we want even with you in the lead." She used her cane to get up. Christopher came over to help her and she patted his hand. "And don't think I haven't noticed you telling and showing things to Melissa, just in case."

“I have to be prepared for anything," he said slowly, "you've told me that for as long as I can remember. The reason I asked to see you is will they have to go on without me?"

"I wish I could tell you child, but your path is fuzzy at the time you face the Killer. All I can tell you is the decisions both of you make will not only affect your destinies but of those around both of you." A wave of sadness came over her. "I wish I could tell you more than that," she said softly.

"It's alright Emily, it was more than enough." He kissed her on the forehead and hugged her. She tried to hide the feeling of dread that was growing inside her.

***
This was not the best week he ever had. They had a lead on Melissa so he sent one of his men after her. If something happened to her it had to affect Christopher in some way. Then his man disappeared, to make matter worse Davidson was in the area so he had an idea bout what happened. Now he read this, what was Christopher thinking? The Arena of all places. It was suppose to be a place where Drakan fought in battles of honor. He personally gained control of this company by defeating Allen's father there in combat. Now Christopher was using it to hide? Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Anderson put the file down as the others walked into the command center. Haily and Davidson took there usual spots. Actually Haily was Davidson went to the other side to the room for some reason. "There's more than one place to stand." Haily groaned as he made his way back to her. Like before he thought it was best not to inquire about the situation that much.

"You seem to be in a good mood today Mr. Davidson," he observed.

"I was bound to have one sooner or later."

"I suppose that's true. Before we start you wouldn't happen to know anything about a hole in the wall near R&D would you?"

"A hole in the wall? No, nothing ringing a bell at the moment. You know anything about it Rachel?"

"I think I would have noticed something like that."

"We don't know nothing," Davidson looked totally innocent as he spoke. Anderson had a monitor set up to show that was a lie but decided against it. He would rather see the mood change after he told him what he knew.

"Then I guess we should get down to business. I'll get right to the point, we know where the location of the rebel leader." Like he expected Davidson jovial mood disappeared, replaced by something darker.

"Are you sure this time?"

"I'm quite sure Mr. Davidson. The information was doubled check, then tripled check and doubled checked again. There will be no children this time around."

"Not that it mattered last time," Williams muttered, but not low enough that they didn't hear her. Davidson looked at the ceiling. Haily appeared to be uncomfortable but she was patting him on the back. How much longer before the situation exploded?

Apparently now because Davidson blurted, "They're alive alright, the kids are alive. None of them went boom." There were a few gasp in surprise around the room.

He might as well play along. "But Miss. Haily reported..."

"I lied," she said plainly. Although she did looked relived that it was finally out.

"Why would you lie about something like this?"

"So you’d leave them alone," Davidson told him.

"What would make you think we would go after children?"

"Have Mitchell's men knock back a few and you'll find out." That might explain why two of those men had to be looked at by Freidman and his staff earlier. He confirmed it by leaning over to Haily and saying, "Told you they had it coming." One of these days he was going to have to add sound to the video footage just so he wouldn't be left in the dark about these things.

They outlined the basic plan after about an hour. Williams wasn't sure how to act now that she knew the truth about the children. Davidson acted like nothing was ever wrong between them and even tried to get her to laugh a few times to lighten the mood of the room. Because of that he decided to throw Davidson a bone by saying he could try to take the leader alive if he could. It would make things a little more difficult but he readily agreed to it over Haily objections. After they left to get ready he went to a black phone on the wall. Mitchell picked up after the first ring. "Is your team ready to go?"

"We're getting ready to leave now."

“Good, make sure Haily and Davidson don't see you arrive. Do you remember what we discussed?"

"No rebel will leave the confrontation alive."

"Excellent, make sure it happens."

"What Jack doesn't get we will. But what about Jack?"

He thought about it for a moment. "We'll worry about him later. If he tries anything I'll be ready."

***
When they arrived Jack stared at the cave opening for a long time. He was concentrating so hard she had to nudge him to get his attention. When he looked at her she could see there was concern in his eyes. That was something she wasn't expecting. "What is it?"

"I was just wondering if the monkey was in there with him."

"Only one way to find out, right?" She headed for the cave. He put his hand on her shoulder to stop her. "This is a first."

"Stay out here."

"Jack I'm you mission operator. I'm going in with you."

"Look, I got a bad feeling about this. I'd feel better is you stayed out here."

"You didn't listen to me when I had reservations when they sent you after the monkey," she said as she crossed her arms. She had to remind him who exactly was in charge.

"I know, but you're supposed to be the smart out of the two of us," he snapped. Jack rubbed his face as he calmed down and tried another route. He put both hands on her shoulders, "I'm asking you, friend to friend, to stay out here for this one." She was going to tell him no but she locked eyes with him. Not only was he concerned he actually looked worried.

Slowly she nodded her head, "Alright, but you're filing the report."

"Just as long as you fix my errors, because guys like me are why they invented spell check." Jack squeezed her shoulders then got serious. He looked at the cave and raised his left arm across his chest. She saw the belt appear around his waist. He moved his arm to the side and raised his right arm up. "Henshin!", he cried as he brought his right hand on top of the belt. She backed up a bit as the armor materialized on him. "I'll be out as soon as I can," He said as took the staff from its holder and walked toward the cave. As he reached the mouth of the cave he turned to give her a quick salute then went on. Now she had a bad feeling about this.

***
He traveled through the tunnel until he came to an inner cavern. A surprisingly well lit inner cavern at that. The lights attached to the roof allowed him to see with no problem was only part of what surprised him. The cavern itself looked like a small stadium. The sides were cut to form rows of seats and steps. At the bottom was a group of six men. Jack looked around to see if there was anybody else as he went down the stairs. Five of the men changed shape and surrounded the dark haired guy who didn't change. If they weren't going to attack now neither was he. "I'm guessing you’re the top dog."

"In a matter of speaking," he said as he walked past the others. "I thought you be taller."

"Yeah I get that, so how is this going down? You gonna talk or are your boys and me going to go at it?"

"I'd rather have done this by myself but my guards wouldn't be talked out of it. We don't have to fight you know. We can work this out peacefully."

This might be easier than he thought it would. It couldn't last. "I have an option to bring you in alive if I can. You and me can walk out of here and head to World Inc. right here and now. There wouldn't have to be any more bloodshed."

The rebel leader sighed, sounding very tired. "I know Anderson a little too well. That wouldn't be a bloodless option." Jack had to agree with him on that one. If Dave and Terry were any indication of the situation. "You can always walk away with us and join our cause." Jack slowly shook his head at the offer. "And neither of us can walk away. I'm afraid there's only one way this can end." He changed to a dark green tiger with light green stripes. His mind flashed to the female tiger the other night. Looks like the vulture might have been right after all. No matter, that was then this is now.

"I guess so," he snapped the staff to extend it to its full length. Jack held the staff up and waited for them to make the first move. Neither side had to wait long as two of leader's guards, a blue lizard and a red hammerhead shark, broke rank and charged him. Jack ran at them bringing the staff up to attack in return. At that moment one of the last things his Uncle told him echoed in his head.

If you know you're going down make damn sure you take a couple of them down with you.
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Old April 9th, 2019, 12:22 PM #18
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<Episode 15>

Jack ducked a punch from the hammerhead and cracked the lizard in the head with the staff. The rebel leader and the others ran in to help these two. He jumped over a red lion with a scar on its chest as it tried to grab him. When he landed Jack kicked the leader in the chest, turned and rammed the end of the staff into the lion's gut. Jack tried to drive it through the things as he use the Drakan to knock down the hammerhead. A red fish of some sort hit him with a straight right that he felt through the helmet. He spun around and took a home run swing with the staff into the fish's side. The hammerhead grabbed the staff suddenly as the tiger planted its shin into his gut. Jack went down to a knee as the hammerhead let go of the staff to come in to kick him in the head.

He tried to get off his knees but something pushed him pack down and tried to keep him there. Pushing up just enough to turn over he let a fist fly. A blue mantis’s mandibles went wide as it cried out in pain, he guessed it was a guy. Rocking up then back he kicked it where its spine should have been to knock it foreword. Jack reached for the staff but the lizard shot out its tongue at the staff and flung it away. "Son of a ...," Jack muttered as he backed up to get some room between them. The Drakan regrouped as well and tried to circle him. Looking quickly he saw that the staff didn't land that far away, it was just a matter of getting to it. Easier said than done.

Trying an old trick that worked for him back in high school he made a move toward the leader. The shark and mantis moved to protect him. Jack stopped and changed direction and bowled over the lizard. He rolled off and went for the staff before the lion tackled him to the ground. A red furry hand hauled him up while the claws on the other slashed at the back of his neck. He kicked a foot back that the lion caught and flipped him around and knocked him down. The fish jumped over the lion and stomped a foot into his chest. The armor barely held up, but it still hurt like hell. Both of them picked him up by the arms and held him in place as the mantis jumped up and aimed a kick at him. For a brief moment he was back in the nightmare and freaked. "NO!", He flung the lion in front of him to take the kick. With his right arm free he started raining punches at the fish's head. The tiger leaped up and kneed him in the chest. It roared as it raised a clawed hand over its head.

Jack fell back and put his foot to its stomach to flip it over. He barely ducked a kick by the fish. He got up quickly and elbowed it in the back of the head. A roar caused him to turn and see the hammerhead come at him. Jack picked it up over his head and slammed the thing to the ground. The tiger kicked him square in the back the forced him into a palm strike to the chest by the lion. Then both of them grabbed him and threw him over the rest of the group. He landed and saw stars that cleared to reveal a blue insect foot coming right at him. Jack grabbed the foot to deflect the blow. The mantis guarded itself to protect its lower region from another punch. Jack got to a knee and did throw a punch, right at its knee. The crack was audible as the leg bent backwards and it went down screaming. He didn't have a moment to breathe as the fish jumped on top of him and started pounding away.

***
Rachel paced back in forth in front of the car and motorcycle outside of the cave. Several times she almost went inside to see what was happening but stopped. Jack asked her to stay outside for this assignment and she said she would. What could she really do to help him out in there any way? It was him against who knew how many in there. But she was also his mission operator. She promised herself that she would personally keep track of every assignment he would be assigned to. So she wandered close to the mouth of the cave to see if she could hear anything. There was a scream that she didn't think was human. Or at least that's what she told herself.

"The hell with it," she reached into a pocket and pulled out her cell phone. Maybe Mitchell had an assault team near by and they could get here before it was too late. There was no chance in hell of that happening of course and she knew it, but she didn't want to admit it. She should have insisted that a team went with them on this one. Rachel was about to press send when she heard a noise. It didn't come from the cave. In fact it sounded like a few cars coming to a stop. She didn't have to travel far before she saw a couple of vans that the assault team used and Mitchell was motioning for his men to fall in. She was glad to see them, but why were they here? Nobody told her they were part of the plan.

***
Jack battled his way to his feet as the meter started flashing. The lion threw a punch at him that he barely saw coming. He grabbed it and flipped it over his shoulder, then his hand went to the right pod and twisted it up He blocked a kick from the lizard as the charge went up his side and down his right arm. Jack aimed the fist at the center of the thing's chest and nailed it. In the biggest stroke of luck he ever had it crashed into the fish and exploded. The fish fell backwards smoking and it wasn't moving. The other looked at their fallen comrades, he took that moment they gave him to grab a quick couple of breathes. The tiger balled up a fist then screamed in anger and charged. Jack kicked out on instinct that snapped its head back.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw the hammerhead come at him with his staff in its head. The lion grabbed him from behind and pinned his arms back. Jack dropped to his knees to force the lion to lean over. The hammerhead couldn't stop as it cracked the staff on top of the other one's head. He got out from under it and grabbed the staff. Hoping they hadn't heard about this one he twisted it to collapse to its original size. The hammerhead looked down in surprise as he kicked it in the gut to make it let go. Jack backed up as he snapped it back to its full length. He remembered a few fights back in high school were he was outnumbered for some reason. He never won any of those, something in his brain must have trying to tell him something.

The lion growled, "The stories said you were a demon."

Oh yeah, some demon. His head was pounding. His body was aching like he couldn't believe. Most of his muscles were just this side of feeling like Jell-O. And if it wasn't for his reconstructed legs he doubted he'd even be standing right now. Jack took a deep breath and cracked his neck. "Bring it kitty cat." Why in the hell did he say that? The tiger and the lion came at him. Well, Mom always said his mouth would get him in trouble.

***
Melissa tried to keep her mind off the fact Chris was fighting the Drakan Killer. She did plan to be out there with the others. If she looked confident of his victory then they should feel it too. That was the plan and she tried to make it work like Chris could. But he could do it and look like he wasn't even trying, something she never mastered. So she ended up in Emily's room. The old lady was sitting at her table nursing a tired looking plant. She looked so calm at the moment Melissa actually envied her. She knew deep down she was asking the impossible but she asked it anyway, "Are you sure you don't know what's happening?"

"My gift provides me with glimpses of what might happen," she answered. Then she looked at her over her glasses. "Not once have they provided me the opportunity to do play by play," she said with a smile and a small chuckle.

She sat down feeling the frustration, "I must look like an idiot."

"You look like someone who is worried about her brother. Even if you are conflicted about it," she added softly.

"That noticeable huh?"

"Very, but some what understandable. Your brother has to kill the man who saved your life." She picked up a pitcher and poured some water into the pot. "But the man didn't earn the name ‘Drakan Killer’ because he was nice to us. I'd imagine that's why you set up that little surprise without Christopher knowing." Nothing seemed to get past her.

"You 'saw' that I'd imagine." Out of habit Melissa made sure the cane was out of her reach. She and Chris were bopped with it more than once growing up after such a comment

"More like I heavily suspected, and judging from you reaction I must be right."

"Like you said, the Killer got the name for a reason. Is it wrong for me to help my brother out?" she asked a little too defensively

"Normally I would say no," she sighed heavily. "You have to remember fate brought them together now for a reason. Now it's up to them to decide which path they take from here."

***
The hammerhead threw him over its head. Jack grabbed the staff after he landed and looked up. It came at him with its mouth wide open. He jammed the end of the staff into its mouth. The shark gagged and went backwards holding it mouth. The tiger went to check on him as the lion got between them. Jack glanced at the meter, it was close to flashing again. How long has he been getting his butt kicked here? Ok it was official he had to get out of here while he was still breathing. He turned to run but something tripped him up. Crap, he forgot about the mantis. Jack started kicking at until it let go and he scooted away. He used the staff to get to his feet and stumbled backwards.

"Christopher!", a new voice cried out.

"What?" the leader looked around. Ten more Drakan ran toward them and gathered around the tiger, facing him.

Jack fell to a knee, "Oh come on!"

"What are you doing here?", the tiger demanded.

"Your sister sent us to watch your back," a blue horse answered.

"I told her to make sure you stayed out of this."

"And she told us to make sure you stayed alive." The horse pushed it toward an opening. "Get out of here, we'll finish this thing off for good." The lion had to drag the tiger toward the opening.

Jack got to his feet again. The meter started flashing again while they were talking. An idea came to him and he only had one shot of making it work. Taking a moment to set himself he ran at the group. They stood there waiting for him. As he ran he moved his grip on the staff to the end of the staff and raised it up. He planted the other end on the ground as he reached them and jump. Jack vaulted over the group as he let go of the staff and landed on the other side. He told himself, "don't stop," over and over in his head as he twisted the pod down and ran at the leader.

***
Emily froze as a vision of something dark came to her. Suddenly Christopher's path became very clear. She tried to keep herself calm for Melissa's sake. The child never had the gift like she did but she could sense what others around her were feeling from time to time. It wasn't enough as she suddenly went very rigid. Tears started to form, "No."

She got up and put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "It's all right child, it's all right. But you must be strong for the others. They are going to need you now more than ever."

***
The moment he jumped everything seemed to move in slow motion. The lion saw what was happening and tried to push its leader out of the way. The tiger grabbed the lion and threw it out of the way. Jack extended his right leg and the tiger stood there. It didn't even move or tried to block, it didn't even react as he came closer. His foot came into contact with the tiger's shoulder. It flew back as he landed, Jack turned to the oncoming group. He heard the explosion as he burst threw the group and kept running. He was expecting them to pile on top of him at any moment. The staff was slowly getting closer, it was now or never. He jumped for it, grabbed it as he rolled to a knee and got the staff up to block the first attack. It didn't come.

The Drakan surrounded the flaming remains, some dropped to there knees. Almost as one they looked at the ceiling and howled. Jack remembered hearing a similar howl before, back at World Inc., back when all this started. Then he was confused, now it shook him to his core and his blood went cold. He could hardly breathe, it felt like he was going to have a breakdown or something. Jack collapsed the staff and had to walk away, get as far away from here as he could. He needed to get some air, clear his head. Try to figure out what the hell he was feeling. He chanced a look back, some of the Drakan were staring at him, like they were going to attack him again. Right now he didn't care, he just wanted out of here.

"Now!", a bunch of black uniformed men burst out and took a position around the top row. Before what he was seeing could register they opened fired. The Drakan went down and they kept firing.

"No," what he was feeling started being replaced by anger, "No!". Jack raced up the steps and grabbed the closest one. He slammed him against the wall and shouted, "What are you doing?!"

"Following orders..."

He cut him off, "What orders?"

"What you don't take out we take down. No Drakan leaves alive."

"Who gave you that order?"

"Anderson did."

Jack looked back into the stone stadium. The Drakan were lying on the ground in a growing pool of blood. His grip tightened around the man's uniform. Yelling in anger he tossed the man down the steps. He stormed toward the opening he came in knocking whoever was in his path out of the way. "That son of a bitch!"

***
Anderson sat at his desk awaiting word from the operation. This was the main reason he regretted allowing Haily to accompany Davidson on his missions. If she stayed here and talked to him threw a link than he would have instant word of what was happening. The phone rang and he quickly picked it up, "Yes?" Mitchell was on the other end.

"Mission accomplished Mr. Anderson."

Best news he heard all day. "Excellent. What is Davidson's condition?"

"He's alive but according to my men he didn't appear happy. You might want to get out of there, I don't think I can beat him back."

"Don't worry Mitchell, I'm sure I can handle myself." He looked at a drawer on his desk, "Armstrong and I already had something built in case things get out of hand."

***
Rachel heard the gunshots and hurried back to the cave and went in. She wasn't sure how far she got when Jack rushed past her. "What's going on in there?" He didn't answer her, he just powered down and kept on going. "Jack, wait a minute. Did Mitchell and..."

"Not now," he finally said, there was something in his voice she never heard before. Jack looked at the staff in his hands like it was the first time he seen it. He got a disgusted look on his face and threw it down. She picked it up and saw there was a hint of a reddish liquid on one end of it. He got on his motorcycle and rode off. Rachel put the staff in an inside pocket of her coat as she got in her car and went after him. A quick glance in her rear view mirror showed several assault team members coming out of the cave. What happened in there?

What ever happened in there Jack was taking it pretty heavily. She was barely keeping him in sight on the road. Before long she realized where he was heading, back to World. Inc. What kind of damage management was she going to have to do now? But for whom, that was the big question at the moment. Jack parked the motorcycle by the front door and went in. She parked behind him and raced too cut him off. She saw Jack had gotten to the desk before he fell to his knees and threw up. "Jack!", she went to his side. He pushed her away and got back on his feet. He looked at the secretary behind the desk.

"Where's Anderson?", he demanded angrily.

"In his office." He went off again. She tried to calm him down but he wasn't listening. Everybody they past gave them a wide birth as they passed. Actually part of her was glad he was still moving. It looked like if he stopped he'd fall over. She formed a quick plan in her head, let Jack say what he had to say then get him to Freidman as soon as possible right after. He saw Anderson's door and seemed to get another burst of energy.

Jack walked up and kicked the door in. "Oh man," she muttered. She looked at the door, it was hanging on by one hinge. This was coming out of something alright.

"Mr. Davidson," Anderson didn't look all that surprise to see him in this state, "I understand you are upset but...". Jack grabbed him by the shirt collar and slammed him against the wall.

"Jack put him..."

"Shut up!", he shouted before returning his attention back to Anderson. "What kind of man are you!? What kind of man would organize that kind of massacre? What in the hell did they ever do to you to deserve that?"

Anderson smiled calmly, "I already told you, they wanted to live outside of what worked for centuries. I couldn't have that."

"Why does that matter to you so much?"

"It offends me."

"You're nuts."

"No, I'm saner than most people I know." His eyes went feral looking, cat like. "And I don't appreciate being hassled in this manner."

"What the hell?", Jack let go slightly, "You're one of them?" Rachel backed up for the door as he changed into a green cheetah. Anderson grinned as he grabbed Jack in return and threw him into the opposite wall. He changed back and went into a desk drawer. Jack got to his feet and put his left arm across his chest. The belt appeared around his waist and a small device appeared in Anderson’s hand. Before she could warn him Jack finished the movement and shouted, "Henshin!" Anderson pressed the thing in his hands as Jack brought his hand down on top of the belt. A whistling like sound she never heard before filled the air as the armor formed. Then it faded away surprising them both. "What...?", he looked at her.

"I didn't know about this," she told him.

"Did you really think," Anderson said, "I would have a weapon designed and not have a way to counter act it in case it turned on me?"

Mitchell ran in with his gun up. "He's a Drakan," she told him, "cover him." He looked at Anderson then pointed his gun at her. "Wait, didn't you here what I said?"

Jack fell back down, "Why am I not that surprised?"

"I already knew” Mitchell said casually. “Why do you think he confides in me?"

"So what do you turn into Mitchell?", Jack said between breaths. "I'm guessing a rat." Then he turned to her with an accusing look in his eyes. "Or is that you?", he spat. He didn't actually think she could be in one, could he?

"Don't blame the girl Jack," Mitchell told him. "She didn't know, we weren't sure how well she could act. As for me I'm as human as the two of you. Well," he grinned, "as human as she is anyway. I still got all my original parts, unlike some people in the room." Jack sat there fuming.

"Now don't be crude Mitchell," Anderson said as picked up Jack by the arm and pushed toward the door. "But we do have a problem on our hands at the moment. See if Dr. Armstrong has something that could remedy part of it. I believe he was working on some kind of control unit when he was developing the Fusion system. At the time I didn't think it was necessary, but let's see if he modified it. As I recall when placed the wearing couldn't do anything without being told what to do first. I mean everything. And take her with you, I need to figure out if we can trust her like we did before this. And if not, I'll figure out what to do with her."

***
"I told him it was a mistake not giving you to me," Mitchell told him as he led them down a service hallway. Apparently there were some holding cells designed for Drakan prisoners under the first floor. These guys thought of everything alright. They even had Rachel here pretending to be a prisoner too. "This never would have happened if you were placed in my unit. But he wanted someone who could operate independently. It was good in theory, I'll give him that, but they didn't have to assign you to someone to make you even more independent."

"In case you haven't noticed," Rachel told him, "he's always been like this. Even you couldn't beat it out of him."

"Not for lack of trying. I don't even know why he was picked for this project. I had guys hurt as bad as he was on that mission, one of them should have been put in. I don't know what Anderson saw in this bastard."

"Keep talking," he mumbled. Mitchell jammed the gun into his back.

"What was that 'buddy'? I got to be honest with you, you don't look like you can put up much of a fight right now."

"That's how you like you're targets right? Get them when they can't fight back?"

"Oh get real Jack, this is a war. You kill these things all the time, so don't get on a high horse and preach to me." They reached the ground floor according to the sign. If there was a way out of this he wasn't seeing it. Rachel coughed a few times. He looked over as she opened her coat slightly, there was the staff. She pulled it out so Mitchell wouldn't notice. Then she snapped it back to extend one end. It caught Mitchell in the leg, "What are you...," was all he got out before Jack tagged him on the chin with a right. He grabbed the gun and kicked him in the gut. Whipping the gun across his face knocked him out. Rachel collapsed the staff and handed it to him.

"There's fire exit over there," she pointed out. He didn't move.

"Why are you helping me? You work for them."

"I was in the dark as much as you were. What I knew I told you."

"Yeah right."

She swore in French. "After all this time have I ever given you any reason not to trust me?" God, he wanted to say yes so bad right then she could probably taste it. But if he had to be honest with himself, there was maybe one thing he could think of, that uh she uttered when he asked her how she found him. But then there were all the apparent arguments she fought on his behalf. Rachel also went out of her way to make him feel like less of a freak. And right now, as much as he hated to admit it, they were in the same boat.

He pointed a finger in her face, "Don't make me regret this." Jack tried the door, it wouldn't budge, either stuck or locked. He backed up a few feet and rammed the door open. It lead to a side alleyway. Rachel got out and headed for the sounds of the street. He dumped the gun into a dumpster and followed her.

She peeked around the corner. "Your Uncle ever give you any tips about this?" She looked at him, "You think you can make it?", she sounded concerned.

"I'm on my sixth wind," was all he said as he checked things out. His bike was still out in front of the building. He pushed her around the corner and headed for it. Rachel was going for her car but he stopped her. "Get on the bike," she didn't argue. Quickly he started the engine and rushed off. There had to place in this city were he could hide out for awhile. He should have listened to his Uncle more when he talked about it.

***
"So he got away." Mitchell remained silent, but that mark on his face spoke volumes. Haily and Davidson were a little more resourceful than he thought. A pity things worked out the way they did, that could have been helpful to him in the war against what was left of the rebels. "When will your men return to base?"

"They're still securing the Arena, but they should be back within the hour. In the meantime I'll get another team together and track Jack and Rachel down. I'll have someone tell them to get on the case the moment they return."

"Let's give them a few more hours before we go after them, shall we." Mitchell wasn't sure what to say.

"I'm not sure that's wise, the longer we wait the harder they'll be to find."

"I always thought the hunt was a little more interesting if the prey had a slight edge." Mitchell didn't look convinced, but he would follow orders. "It's not like you can't locate Davidson whenever you want."

"Rachel could find away to counter act it."

"Like I said, it makes things more interesting." Mitchell nodded and left the room. It was a problem he admitted to himself. Haily might know a couple of things that could possibly hurt him, but not by much. Davidson, on the other hand, was basically a loaded weapon in a man who could be feeling like prey and if he thought he had nothing to lose it could get messy. But there was an upside to today’s situation. The rebels were dealt a devastating blow. He doubted they could recover, and that could only help him in the long run. Then his thoughts turned to the late Christopher. He was a rather formidable foe over the years, he felt the need to say something. Anderson looked out the window over looking the city, his city, and sighed. There was only one thing he could say, "Farewell cousin."
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Old April 13th, 2019, 06:12 PM #19
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scikaiju
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 325



<Episode 16>

When nobody heard anything from Christopher his inner circle sent somebody to check out the Arena. Word came an hour later, Christopher was dead. The news spread like wildfire soon after. People were weeping while others were cursing Anderson and the Drakan Killer. Some just wandered around with a blank look on there face or sat in stunned silence. He, on there other hand, didn't know what to feel. On one hand he couldn't stand the wanna be king. But the effect his death had wasn't helpful to the cause. Jason stayed away from the others for that reason. He didn't want to explain himself to the others, no good could come from the situation.

The old woman, Emily, walked by where he was standing and looked at him. Then she stopped and studied him a little more closely. After a moment she said, "I thought you would have been pleased at the way things turned out."

"Don't try your hocus pocus crap with me old woman. I know better than to think you can see into my soul."

She actually chuckled at him. "Nobody needs a special gift to see how you felt about him. They can see it in your eyes how much you despised him."

"He obviously didn't know it, did he?", he shot back.

"Oh Christopher knew Jason, he knew. In fact he told me he was glad you were around." She smiled as he raised a questioning eyebrow. "He always felt that you and the ones like you kept him honest." She turned to leave, "He always appreciated that, even if he despised the way you did things."

"Then why did he send me on those missions then? If he despised them so much he should have found another way."

"Because those missions needed your particular skills. And he knew he would have to live with the results. If there was a way for this rebellion to complete it goals without shedding a drop of blood he would have jumped on it in a heartbeat. But like any good student of history he knew that was rarely the case and steeled himself for it."

"So as far as he was concerned I was a necessary evil then, is that what you're saying?"

"If you wish to put it that way."

"So how did he see me then?"

"As a poor soul he was condemning to hell." She stopped and turned just enough to give him another look over. "But you were already on you way there, weren't you?" With that she started walking away again. He was not going to let her talk down to him like that.

"If you two were so close why aren't you weeping like the others?"

Without stopping she said, "We all grieve in our own way. I prefer to be there for those who need me while grieving in private." She turned the corner and left him alone again. He kicked himself for letting her get in his head like that. Jason was going to need a clear head for the next couple of days. The old man informed him that a special council meeting was going to take place soon. Something about choosing a new figure head to rally the troops around or some crap like that. Knowing his luck it would probably be another green.

***
The next half hour was a blur, or at least that was how it seemed to her. Rachel was in such a daze she didn't realize Jack stopped in front of their building until he got off the motorcycle. He looked at her and said, "Get to your apartment, grab what you need and meet me back here in fifteen minutes." Actually it sounded more like an order but he went in the building before she could say anything. There wasn't much she could say, they both knew this would be the first place they'd looked for them. The situation still didn't seem real to her. Anderson was a Drakan, and he'd been sending Jack after his own kind. She tried to put it out of her mind as she shoved some essentials into a bag. Part of her was surprised the black and gray motorcycle was still parked out front as she reached the ground floor. Rachel wouldn't have been surprised to see if it was gone. Jack came out a moment later with a backpack over his shoulder, looking around for any sign of trouble.

They were on the road in the next instant. She convinced him to head for this overpass in a run down part of the city. Jack wasn't sure about it until she told him the cameras didn't go that far yet. And as far as she knew it was till true. He shot her a disbelieving look back at her but he asked for directions. It was an hour ride before he parked the KR-1000 under the overpass. Jack got off, leaned against the closest pillar and slide to the ground. By the time she kneeled down next to him Jack was already out. She wasn't sure what kind of injuries he had, he could have had a concussion for all she knew. Rachel opened an eyelid, the eye reacted to the light like it should. Where was Friedman when you needed him? Right now she was hoping it was just exhaustion, he must have been running on adrenaline for the past couple of hours.

Rachel looked around seeing a market that looked pretty close. She checked her pockets looking to see how much cash she had on her. No way was she trusting a credit card at this point. She looked at Jack and checked out the surrounding area, particularly the overpass. Hopefully there was enough metal in the area to hid them for a bit. She raced over to the market and bought some sandwiches that looked edible. She also picked up some small bags of chips and a couple of cans of soda. Rachel wasn't sure how she was going to explain the aluminum foil without Jack blowing his top.

He was still sleeping when she got back so she pulled up a crate and ate her sandwich. Rachel kept some kind of guard, who else was going to at the moment. Jack startled her by gasping loudly as he woke up. She quickly went to his side, "Talk to me." He calmed down and waved her away. Jack just sat there, not really looking at anything. Like she thought his stomach started growling so she handed him the other sandwich. He grunted a thanks and quietly ate. After a few moments Jack crushed the can and threw it. The clang seemed louder than it should have been as it hit another pillar. Jack got to his feet and started pacing. "So what do we do now?"

"I don't know," he said as he ran his hands through his hair. Then he walked up to another pillar and kicked it. "He was a Drakan! The bastard was a freaking Drakan the entire time!" Then he turned to her, "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I already told you I didn't know." He wasn't listening.

"And I'm still not convinced you don't turn into anything."

"Well I don't so get over it," she snapped. Oh yeah that was helping things. "Look, we can argue about this later but we got to do something."

"So what do you suggest then?"

"I don't know, maybe the rebels..."

"Oh the rebels," Jack said very sarcastically as he moved around in grand fashion, "Of course they'll help us out, why didn't I think of that? As soon as we explain that I was a pawn in all this they will surely take us in." Then he raised up a finger like he realized something, "No, wait... they're not." He got in her face and yelled, "I killed the big cheese!"

"Don't yell at me. I'm not the one who got us in this mess."

"So you’re blaming me for this? So this is all my fault for not following orders like a good little bug?"

"No!", she had to walk away. This was getting them no where. "We need to think this out why we still have the time." She turned to see he was listening to her. He was staring at the motorcycle. "What is it?"

"Can they track the bike?", he asked.

"Why?", She wasn't sure were this was going. He couldn't be worried about losing his toy while being in this mess.

"It just hit me we'll have better luck not getting caught if we split up. So can they track the bike?"

Oh for crying out loud. "I don't think separating is such a good idea right now."

"Can they track the bike?", he repeated.

"Would you listen to me..."

"Yes or no," he interrupted, "can they track the bike?"

She let out a heavy breath, "No, they can not track the bike."

"See, that wasn't so hard." He got on the motorcycle and started the engine. She tried to get a word in but he revved the engine every time she opened her mouth. Jack looked at her and said, "Good luck," as he put on the helmet. It was no time before she saw him disappear from sight.

To the air she said the thing she was trying to tell him, "Because the tracker isn't in the bike."

***
OK, we got her," his man said. Mitchell looked through the offered binoculars. Jack just rode off and left her there. "What about Davidson?"

"Now that they're separated we can get Jack later. Right now to get her before he hooks backs up with her." He handed the binoculars back to the man and headed for the van. Mitchell pulled the device Anderson gave him out of his pocket. It looked like an oversized remote for a car alarm but it only had the one button. Anderson told him it worked on Jack earlier. He guessed he'd find out later to see if it did or not. Mitchell looked up and saw his reflection in the windshield, he'll have to pay Jack back for that mark on his face later too.

***
The light on his intercom went on, his appointments had arrived. Anderson got up and walked around the desk to great them as the door opened. An older man in a dark gray suit came in with a stern looking, balding man in a general's uniform. He held out a hand to both of them as he spoke, "Senator Henning, General Rhodes thank you for coming on such short notice."

"This better be good Anderson," Henning said a he took a chair. "I'm missing a... important meeting for this." The General rolled his eyes as he sat. He has the same idea as Anderson about what this "meeting" actually was. Anderson took his chair, might as well get this over with.

"We had a slight problem with one of the projects you contacted my company to work on."

"Which one," Rhodes asked.

"Who cares," Henning told him, "he didn't need to drag us here for something he could have had someone call in to our offices. Which is what this is sounding like." He got up to leave.

"It's the Fusion project," Anderson said calmly. Rhodes put a hand on the Senator shoulder to force him to sit back down.

"What happened with the project?"

"What is this project about exactly?", Henning cut in. Rhodes looked rightfully dumbfounded.

"You don't know what it is?", the General asked.

"Do you have any idea how many projects cross my desk? I can't keep track of them all."

"Quite," This was why he hated working with this particular government official. You could actually look at his record and see where he stopped caring. Why did he keep helping him get re-elected? Keeping his attention on Rhodes he continued, "To put it frankly, our test subject walked out with it."

"You just don't walk out with a military prototype, "Henning argued. Anderson just ignored him.

"You could with this one and nobody would know it," Rhodes informed him. "Is the test subject stable?"

"Physically yes, mentally... that's another story. He apparently became mentally unstable in the past couple of weeks. Seeing monster and thinking we were out to get him, things like that. Unfortunately nobody realized at the time that the person we assigned to watch him was feeding his dementia. They forced their way out of the building this afternoon."

"This could hurt us, couldn't it?", Henning asked, finally seeming to get the big picture.

"They both know it's a military prototype. That alone could lead to question that none of us want asked."

"So what do you want us to do?"

"Well General, because of the nature of the project we have our own specially trained security force. They are after them as we speak. But, I'm afraid the project worked a little too well. In case they fail I thought you might be able to assist in the capture."

"Don't you have something like the project to help you take it out?", the Senator asked. He couldn't be serious? "There has to be something here to help you take it out. Enough of the black op budget gets funneled into here." Ah, he saw it now, the Senator didn't want anything to get attached to him.

"It's not that simple Senator," Rhodes said. "There are other factors involved in this project." Henning opened his mouth to say something but Anderson spoke first.

"At the moment we're putting the project on hold until we discovered what caused this. While I firmly believe the problem is solely within the test subject, some of our scientists think it could have been a glitch in the system."

"That's one hell of a glitch," Rhodes joked.

"Yeah well, you better catch this person or there's going to be Hell to pay." Henning got up and left. Rhodes looked relieved he was gone, a feeling he shared. The mood of the room changed dramatically as Rhodes relaxed.

"I got word Christopher was taken care of, so I'm assuming the project wasn't a total loss."

"At least Davidson did the job he was made for before this happened. To be honest I should have seen this coming. He always seemed to be suspicious of everything, but I thought I could handle it."

"Well we all make mistakes," Rhodes added, "sir. So what do you want me to do in case Mitchell loses him?"

Anderson picked up a file and handed it to him. "Plan B as they say. The basic information about Haily and Davidson is in there. I'm sure you know who to hand this to in case you have to?"

"I know the perfect person and I already have a cover story. It's a little run of the mill but it'll work."

"Good, I'll leave it in your hands then."

***
He kept riding until he got tired again. How long was he on the road? He should have took that clock. Jack saw a diner across the way, must be his lucky day. He parked the bike, entered and put the helmet on the counter as he took a stool. He glanced around the place, it looked normal enough. A waitress walked over and handed him a worn menu. She started going over the special when she looked at him. "No offense honey, but you look like hell. Wait, let me guess, I should see the other guy right? If I had a dime every time I saw that."

"Lady I'm the other guy they keep talking about." She smiled sadly and poured him a cup of coffee.

"We're out of decaf, but it looks like you could use the buzz right now. I'll be back in a few so you can make up you mind." The coffee tasted like mud but he survived worse, so far.

God, what a mess he was in. He doubted even his Uncle could talk his way out of a hole this deep. There was no place in the city where he could hide for long. There were so many cameras in this city a fly couldn't fart without them knowing about it. So how do the rebels hide out for so long? What was the name of the guy his Uncle said could help you get out of town? Nick, that was it. He put his face in his hands, his mom was going to kill him for even considering this. Hell, she would kill him for getting into this mess to begin with.

Jack heard a sniffing noise and a cold spot started growing in his stomach. No not here, not now. He glanced over to a guy a couple of stools over, a trucker who looked like he hadn't seen the inside of a shower for a while. A big sucker too. The trucker kept sniffing the air turning his head in Jack's direction. Jack put a hand up to cover his face and hoped he wasn't noticed. The man clapped once and made a joyous sound. Taking a chance Jack looked over at him, he was smelling his food. Jack let out the breath he was holding. He forgot about that after what happened. This whole smelling like death crap was going to make hiding that much harder. He smacked his forehead as he remembered something else, "Damn it."

By the time the waitress returned and asked, "So did you figure out what you wanted yet?", he had put some money on the counter and was half way out the door.

***
Rachel walked for who knows how long. The entire time she was calling Jack every name in the book in any language she could think of. Out of all the things she did for him. Out of all the battles she fought for him in the boardrooms. He had the nerve to go off and leave her alone. She expected it but she didn't think he’d actually do it. She hoped he choked on his idea. There were no crooks in her family, how was she supposed to know what to do in this situation. A few more choice words came to mind.

She kicked a can that was in her path, then she saw the van. One similar to the ones she saw at the cave. Rachel turned around and headed the other way. Going back to World Inc. didn't seem like an option. Because she thought Anderson wasn’t going to find her all that trustworthy after what happened. She went a few feet before another van pulled up a few yards in front of her. "Oh no," she went into a side alley and went right into a construction yard. And there was another van that blocked the only exit she could see. Mitchell was leaning against the hood.

"Hey Rachel," he said with a wave. "You know Mr. Anderson is really disappointed in you. Gather round boys.” His men can out from behind the van. None of them were carrying any guns. The only good thing in this situation. "The man just wanted to talk."

"That's a laugh, a man. Anderson not a man he's one of them."

Mitchell talked to his men. “See, I told you she would say Anderson was a Drakan. She tried the same thing with me earlier. I didn't believe it then and you shouldn't believe it now."

"You son of a..."

"Mr. Anderson was hoping you would come back under you own free will. I told him you wouldn't. Take her into custody boys, do try to be gentle. You know how he hates it what a prisoner gets roughed up." A few men walked toward to her. "It didn't have to be this way Rachel," he said sadly.

"Go to Hell." Another quickly growing sound could be heard in the background, another engine. How many men did they need to take her in? Then she saw what was making the noise. Jack came around the van drove right down the middle of them and right at her. Mitchell's team had to jump out of the way to avoid getting run over. He kicked one close to her as he skidded to a stop. Jack ripped off the helmet as he jumped off the KR-1000 and smashed the helmet into the head of another one. Then he dropped the helmet and raised his left arm across his chest.

***
"Henshin!" Jack said as he slammed his right hand on top of the belt. It scanned his body and the black body suit and the blue insect like armor formed around him. He survived the situation quickly. Ten men, well nine if you didn't count the one still on the ground, in black uniforms plus Mitchell surrounded him, waiting for somebody to make the first move. He was really sick of being outnumbered today. "All right listen up. I'm tired, I'm irritable and I'm ticked off. Not really a good combination for you guys. So why don't guys just go away and we'll do this some other day."

Mitchell walked foreword, "Not going to happen Jack. Do it just like I told you guys." What an idiot. Mitchell and his troops each pulled out a nightstick.

"That's the best you got?" Jack brought up his hands and wiggled his fingers, "Look at me I'm scared." Then they turned something on the stick and each one extended an inch and a spark flew out. "OK, that could be a problem." He took a step backwards toward the bike. Two of them came at him as he reached back and grabbed the staff. He swung and snapped one end to extend it to clock one guy in the side if the head. He repeated it to nail the other. Two down, he looked at the others, "Next."

"Not one at a time you idiots!", Mitchell yelled at them. The others rushed him. Jack swung the staff and they stopped in their tracks. They looked at each other and came in again. He kicked one in the chest as he came close enough. As that one went flying back another snuck in and jammed the nightstick into his side. He felt the electric charge go through his body. Screaming he grabbed him guy the wrist and pulled the stick away. Grabbing another one he swung them together. They fell to the ground as Jack jumped over them and rammed the staff into a group of them.

A couple of them jumped on top of him jamming their sticks into him. His anger got the best of him and he forced them off of him. He threw the staff at Rachel who had to duck to avoid getting hit. "Watch it."

"Guard yourself." Someone he recognized from the party ran at him. Jack kneeled down and hooked one arm around a leg while grabbing a handful of uniform with the other. He picked him up and slammed him to the ground. He elbowed another and felt something give. Seeing another stick come at him swatted it away and clothesline him down. Jack turned to see Mitchell right in front of him with a device in his hand. He recognized it, Anderson had the same thing to make the armor go away. "Ah hell."

"Let's see how tough you are now," he said as he pressed the button. It made the same sound as before. Jack looked at himself, the armor wasn't reacting this time. "What's with this piece of crap?", Mitchell looked at him with desperation in his eyes.

"Well," he said sounding very relieved, "ain't that a kick in the nuts? Actually," he lifted his foot right between the other guys legs, "that not a bad idea." Mitchell went down crying in agony, Jack reached down and picked him up. "You know, I'm surprised you had any." He took the device from his hand and crushed it. Looking at him Jack brought him in quickly so his head would slam against the helmet. Then he ran toward the van and tossed him. Mitchell hit the top of the van at a corner. His back bent at an awkward angle as there was a crack as he screamed and fell to the ground face first. Jack walked over and used his foot to turn him over. He stared down at the man and glanced at the meter. It wasn't close to flashing, so there wasn't any temptation there. Still, it would be so easy to end it right here and now. Jack raised up his right hand and made a fist. Fear danced in Mitchell's eyes. Then he reared back and yelled. Mitchell closed his eyes as Rachel cried out for him stop. He let the fist fly as it crashed into the side of the van near the engine. He felt around until he got a handful of wires and tubing and pulled them out. Throwing it to the ground he looked at the others and held his arms wide, "Who else wants some?" Those who could didn't think twice about running, good he was still feeling the fight he had with the rebels. He powered down and got down on one knee so he could look Mitchell right in the eyes. "You wanna know the biggest difference between you in me? I don't enjoy this in any way." He got up walked to the bike and Rachel. She already collapsed the staff and was putting it back. She walked up to him as he said, “We're getting out of here."

"Why did you come back?" He grabbed her jacket and pushed her toward the bike, "Hey!"

"Less talking and more moving." They got on the bike and he took a moment to look at Mitchell. "Next time I don't hold back," he muttered and drove off.

***
It was hours before he received word. Taylor was telling him the basic of the reports. Most of the team he sent out was in the medical wing. Mitchell was paralyzed for the most part. But he wasn't paying attention, he was watching the television station on the wall monitor, waiting for it. Then the news came on and Rhodes was soon pictured. He put up a hand to silence Taylor as he raised the volume. Rhodes was speaking, "We are looking for these two in a case of espionage. They took some sensitive material and they might sell it to some unfriendly faction. Any help the public can provide will be greatly appreciated." Yes that was old but it would be effective.

An anchor appeared next with a picture of Haily and Davidson next to his head, "Authorities say Rachel Haily is five nine with blond hair and green eyes with no identifying marks. Jack Davidson is six two with brown hair and eyes. Most of Davidson body is covered in scars from an accident in the mountains. Davidson is to be considered armed and dangerous and shouldn't be approached. A reward is available for those who provide information leading to their capture."

Anderson lowered the volume and smiled. Yes it was true that the hunt was more exciting when your prey had the advantage. But even a hunter had to look past the excitement for the most efficient means of getting the job done. Granted this method would cause more problems and questions that were necessary. But with most of the city looking for them, they had no place to hide. It was only a matter of time before Haily and Davidson were caught and brought back here.
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Old April 17th, 2019, 05:38 PM #20
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scikaiju
Power Ranger
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 325



<Episode 17>

The rain outside made a pinging sound as it hit the old storm drain they were hiding in. Jack kept guard near the opening while Rachel sat a little further in. He kept one eye on the look out for any World Inc. troops and the other on her. Not that he thought she would try anything, but because of the way she was acting. Rachel hadn't said anything to him since he pointed this place out. He still didn't understand why she asked if this thing was made of metal. But the sad part was he knew why he was getting the silent treatment now. He didn't really treat her all that gently when he came back for her, and the whole fact he just up and left her. Jack walked over to her and sat across from her. Rachel turned to look further down into the tunnel. "Look, I'm not making any excuses..."

"That because you don't have any excuses to make," She said finally. All right he had that one coming.

"I know I overreacted... "

"Overreacted," she gave out a short laugh, "that's the understatement of the year." That one got on what was left of his nerves a bit.

"I'm trying to say I'm sorry here." And that came out sounding a little angrier than he had in mind. He was mentally kicking himself as she finally looked at him.

"You're damn right you’re sorry! How could you act like that, after everything I've done for you? First you act like I was in on this the entire time! Then you go off and leave me on my own. And then when you do come back you freaking manhandle me!" He didn't think it was manhandling exactly but he caught those words before they came out of his mouth. One thing he learned in his short life, never correct an angry woman or you'd never hear the end of it.

"You're right," was all he could say at the moment.

"You're damn right I'm right." Yeah it was going to take awhile to fix this one, if ever. They were quiet for a few more moments.

"We should head out in the morning," he said. "Unless there's a power outage because of the rain."

"The command center has a back up generator,” she told him. “And the cameras have a solar battery of R&D design that can last around eight hours."

There went that idea. "I'm guessing change over time is minimal."

"They practice the emergency drill at least once a day so they have it done to a science by now." She reached into the grocery bag she had with her and pulled out a box of aluminum foil. Again with the metal, what the hell? "Before we decide on or go anywhere there's something we need to do first."

"I don't care how kinky you are now ain't the time," he said to try to lighten the mood. She didn't look like she found it all that funny. "If you're planning to poach a rat I think I heard some down that way."

"I wish you would stay serious...", she started before stopping. "This is the best idea I had for blocking the tracker's signal."

"Wait, you said they couldn't track the bike."

Slowly she said, "And they can't"

He didn't like where this was heading. "Then where is it?"

Rachel looked a little apprehensive as she leaned in, reached behind his head and tapped a spot at the base of his skull, "Right about here."

He knocked her arm away, "Ah hell no! How long has this piece of crap been in my head?"

Rachel found something down the tunnel interesting again, "Since you were first bonded with the Fusion system."

"Son of a bitch!", Jack got up and walked away. Anything he felt about treating her the way he did quickly disappeared. Half of him wanted to get on the bike and leave her sorry butt again. That half was starting to sound like it had the right idea. "This is how you found me the other day wasn't it? You should have told me about this thing."

"Anderson said it was to be kept under need to know."

"I think I needed to know before now!"

"I should have told you but I didn't know when."

"I know, how about this, ' we can get out over there, oh and by the way....', that sounded like a good time to me."

"All right, we both made mistakes here. But this still need to be done. Now turn around and sit down." Not believing he was doing this Jack did as he was told. There was a sound of foil being ripped then she pulled his hood back. "This should fix it so they can't pinpoint our location," she said as she worked. In moments she put the hood over head. As he turned to look at her Jack could hear his hair rub against the foil.

"I hate you."

"Get over it," Rachel shot back as he got back on his feet. She put the foil back in the bag. "We might be eating those rats before long. I'm hoping somebody in your family knew how to cook over an open fire."

"What your Aunt in the bayou never cook a lizard?" Again she didn't find it funny, right know he didn't care. He pulled out an envelope and handed it to her. "We shouldn't be starving anytime soon." She opened it and her eyes went wide in surprise.

"Where did you get this?"

"Whenever I deposited a check I always kept a couple of thousand of it in cash. Just in case Anderson decided to take everything away after I got the monkey." Rachel slowly went from shocked to angry. Way angrier then she looked before. A moment later he realized why. "Telling you sounded a whole lot better in my head."

"You were going to go off and leave me on my own when you had this?". She slapped the envelope into his chest, "You jerk!"

"Ok , so I'm one up in the mistake department." This day keeps getting better and better. Thank God it was almost over. "Its going to be a long night, you better get some sleep while I keep watch."

"No, I'll keep watch," she said after calming down a bit, "you look like you need the sleep more than I do.” He started to protest but she cut in, "And I will use this foil to gag you if I have too."

"Fine," he said as he sat back down. "Wake me up in a few hours to take over." Rachel agreed and took a spot near the opening. He tried to get comfortable, trying to decide which nightmare was worse. The one he was in now or the one he was in when he was asleep.

***
Anderson studied the blinking light on the telephone. There was a temptation to "accidentally" lose the call. No that wouldn't work, the man on the other end would just call back and be even more annoying. Humans could be so taxing at times. Taking a moment to calculate the distance of his closest assassin Anderson picked up the receiver, "Good morning Senator, sorry about the delay but there was a report on my desk that needed my full attention."

"Is that right," Henning said. "Would today's paper be part of that so called report?"

Anderson glanced down at his desk at said paper. Haily and Davidson picture was featured on the front page. "Not particularly. Why do you ask, was there something in there you found interesting?"

"Is this your idea of handling it?!", Henning yelled. "I thought the project was classified, why are you announcing it all over the news?"

"They were only told about Haily and Davidson." He hated explaining himself to the humans. It was almost as bad as a blue questioning his decision, if not worse. "Nothing of the project was mentioned."

"Unless they spill it. God what a mess you put us in." This from a man who was unfamiliar with the project to begin with. It was almost humorous.

"We've taken precaution in case the local authorities apprehend them before we do." Which might be the case since they lost Davidson's signal hours ago. Williams had her people going over the system in case it was a glitch. But he thought Mitchell assumption was correct and Haily had found a way to block it.

"You know what?", Henning continued, "I don't care. I'm going to launch a full investigation into your company for allowing this to happen." Anderson did laugh out loud this time. "Do you think this is funny Anderson?" It was time to put this human in his place.

"I don't think you will be doing that Senator."

"Don't think Rhodes will go against me on this."

"How did you win reelection last time Senator?", he asked idly

He was apparently thrown by the change of subject, "I don't see what this has to do with anything."

"Oh yes I remember now, the person projected to beat you by a very wide margin dropped out of the race suddenly. A particularly nasty drug habit I believe."

"What are you getting at?"

He allowed himself a small smile, "Who do you think found and released that information?"

"You...", Henning sputtered.

"Not me personally, I have very thorough people working for me. People who will stop at nothing until they find something. No matter how small it may be. Then I also have a group under me who will take that information and spin it into something as large as possible. Although I must admit I love seeing the product of their work after they're done. It's as close to being little masterpieces as one can get."

"Are you threatening me Anderson?"

"Of course not Senator. All I'm saying is that if any investigation is launched at my company, by anybody, the world will find out how you like to be tied up by your mistress and whipped."

"I do not..."

"You will after I'm done with you, "he said coolly. “Even I am surprised at how convincing the evidence they create can be. I'm sure your wife, whose is the sole name on the deed to the house and cars you own, will find it convincing as well. So I suggest you be a good little Senator and leave this alone." He hung up before Henning could respond. While it was useful to have same man in charge of the budget committee Henning was becoming a problem. Perhaps it was time to cut ties and support someone else. Taylor walked in a few minutes later going over the report in his hand. Best to get this out of the way now before anything else was discussed. "Contact Rhodes and see who else is in Henning's committee. I want to know everything about them.

"Of course sir," Taylor said as he put the report down on his desk.

"So what went wrong yesterday?"

"During the interviews I discovered two flaws in the assault team plan to capture them." He stood there not saying anything else. Times like this he missed how Allen would get to the point without being asked. He almost thought Taylor felt he was in control of the situation this way.

Anderson sighed loudly, just for effect. A small sign to tell him otherwise. "What were they?"

"They overestimated their ability to take down Davidson."

"That much was obvious Mr. Taylor."

"Yes sir," he agreed. "The second was Mitchell use of the system disrupter. He apparently used it after Davidson powered up sir." Anderson suspected as much. He told Mitchell it was designed to disrupt the activation sequence. "Dr. Armstrong says he can have another one ready in no time."

He was going to dismiss him but he thought the information over. “I must admit what Mitchell tried intrigues me. Have Armstrong look into it." Taylor nodded in response. He doubted Armstrong would be all that pleased with the request. R&D was already working on several ideas to counter the Fusion system. But depending on the prey, it was nice to have options.

***`
That morning had been a rough one. When she woke Jack up for his shift at guard duty he went to run his hand through his hair. Rachel had to remind about the tracker in his head. He grumbled something as he got up took her spot by the opening. She went to sleep rather quickly but it seemed like no time before he was jostling her awake, "What?"

"Time to move," he told her. Rachel looked outside, it was daylight. She was expecting crack of dawn, but she was grateful for the couple of extra hours of sleep. But she was also surprised he was still there.

"Any idea on what we do now?"

"I think I know a place we can hide out for a while, for a couple of days at least. I'm assuming there are cameras located at the ways in and out of the city."

She shrugged, "Possibly, I never thought to find out. It never seemed that important."

"I think it be better if we played it paranoid and assume they do."

"Ok then what do we do?"

He looked a little disgusted before he spoke. "My Uncle knew a guy that specialized in getting things and people out of the town without being noticed. I'll try to track him down and see if he could help us. It's gonna cost us a bit though."

Rubbing the back of her neck she said, "I can't believe this is sounding like a good idea." She looked at him in disbelief, "And you grew up with this stuff?"

"Mom made sure it stayed out of the house as much as possible. But I saw it enough to recognize it when I see it."

Now she had to know, "Is that what happened with Anderson? Is that why you didn't trust him?"

He sighed, "That was part of it, but I also distrust rich people, so it was kind of a double whammy." He looked outside before speaking again, "We better get going, it's gonna be a tricky couple of days." Jack walked the KR-1000 out of the tunnel and waited until she got on before starting the engine. Almost at once she wished he didn't leave the helmet behind yesterday as she kept a hand on top of the hood to keep it from flying off. After a few miles he pulled into a gas station saying he wanted to be sure he had a full tank, just in case. They stood on either side of the motorcycle not looking at each other. They might have been getting along a bit ago but there was still some animosity there. She looked around to take her minds off thing when she noticed something strange.

"Why is everybody looking at us?", she wondered out loud.

"Maybe they're wonder how I got stuck with you," he said.

"Jackass," she muttered. Then she heard him smack himself, hopefully in the head. Good, she wished she did it first. How much longer was he going to act like this? More importantly how much longer was she going to be stuck with him? After another moment he started tugging on her jacket. "Would you quit it."

"You might want to see this," Jack told her.

"What is it?, she snapped as she turned to see what was so important. He was pointing to something behind him, looking a little panicked. Rachel wasn't sure what she was supposed to be looking at until she saw the newspaper machines. Their pictures were on each and every one of them. She held on to the motorcycle to keep from falling over. She uttered one word in French, "Merde."

"My thoughts exactly," he said as he pulled the nozzle out of the gas tank.

"People are on their phones, what do we do?"

"I say we add stealing gas to whatever they're saying about us." They jumped on the KR-1000 and Jack got them out of there quick. She spotted a police car coming at them from the other direction. Jack saw it before she could point it out and yelled, "Lean with it!", right before taking a hard right into an alley. Rachel held on for dear life as he drove around the things and people in the alley at high speeds. After exiting the alley and almost getting blindsided by a truck Rachel closed her eyes and just leaned in whatever direction it felt like they were going. To think she called him a madman after he first got this thing. Suddenly they came to a stop. She opened an eye, they were in another alley.

"Is giving them a chance to block us in that good of an idea?"

"Would you rather I've lead them to the place I was telling you about?"

"I guess not," Rachel answered as she got off the motorcycle. "I haven't exactly been on the run before, I'm a little new at this."

"Not like I have a whole lot of experience at this either," he shot back. Jack closed his eyes and looked like he was trying to calm down. "Besides I figured we could use a moment or two to catch our breath. Well I could any way," he started rubbing his chest, about were Rachel was holding on. "Damn you got a death grip."

Rachel smile despite the situation, "I like to stay breathing, what can I say." He returned the smile. "So how far away is this place?"

"Not far, a few blocks I think. I'm going to need to see some street signs to know for sure."

She really didn't want to know the answer to this thought she just had, but she had to know. "I'm assuming our faces being on the front page of the papers might affect us getting out of town."

"Price might get jacked up." She stated getting a headache thinking about all of this. It was hard to believe that yesterday morning their biggest problem was were to sit in the cafeteria.

***
She walked the halls trying to avoid the others. But they found her anyway to offer their condolences. Was it possible to get sick of people saying they were sorry for her loss? Melissa was positive she reached that point a long time ago. Besides she had other things on her mind that she wanted to think about. Alone, if that was at all possible. She turned a corner that lead to the outside and ran into Emily and a small blond child. "Is something wrong?"

“Nothing to concern yourself about,” Emily told her. "Samantha here needed help looking for her ball. She thought I could help her look for it. How did you put it little one, people said I had a knack for finding things?"

"And it was right were she said it was," the girl beamed. Melissa smiled back even though she didn't want to.

"That's good, now you better get going before your parents start getting worried." She hugged the ball and ran off. "I wish I was that young again," she said out loud.

"I think just about everyone wish they could be today," Emily replied. "You know I have always marveled at the way children can bounce back from most things."

"You didn't really use you 'knack' to find that ball did you?"

"If I wanted to young one, but sometimes you need to know the right questions to ask." Emily studied her for a moment, "Is there something wrong Melissa?"

"I just needed some air." It wasn't a total lie. Not that the woman before her ever believed them to begin with.

"I wouldn't, it's going to rain soon." Melissa gave her a quizzical look. "My shoulder always aches when it's about to rain. And my shoulder is never wrong," she gave her a sly smile. "So what is wrong?"

"The special council meeting that's coming up. Part of me is afraid they're going to pick me."

"Oh,” she replied with mild surprise, “why would you think that? Did you get a feeling off one of them?"

"Chris warned me once that if anything happened to him then I'd be put in charge in order to gain sympathy."

"Warned?", it was strange to see her looking uncertain. "I'm not sure I understand."

"I'd just be a figure head, very little actual power, if any. Not that I want to be put in that position, but I don't want to be used like that either. But I'm not a leader either, not like Chris was." Emily put a hand on her shoulder.

"No offense child, but Christopher wasn't that leader either, at least not at first. He slowly grew into the role. Him being right more than he was wrong helped his confidence a lot during those early times, and helped the other gain confidence in him." She sat down on a nearby barrel. "It's just too bad that aura of that role grew faster than he did into it."

"I noticed, there were times I had to force him to step back for a few moments here and there. There are times I think the position would have killed him sooner or later."

The old woman nodded, "If Christopher had one failing is that he thought he had to live up to his own legend. If the Killer didn't kill him something else would have. If you are granted that position make sure you learn from his mistake. I don't think I can stand losing the two of you."

“I don't think either have much to worry about. I mean what are the odds that would really happen?" Emily grunted before she got up and walked off saying nothing more. Melissa hated it when she did that. It meant she knew or 'saw' something and wasn't letting on what it was.

***
Waiting until it started getting dark and with the hood as far over his head as it would go Jack checked out the street. The first thing he noticed was that they were closer to the hideout than he thought. They should probably head there as soon as he got back. They cops haven't found them yet and that alley felt a little too open for his taste. With that out of the way he started out to search for a newsstand. More than likely not the smartest move he could make at the moment, but he had to know what they were saying about him and Rachel. Besides he could use a good piece of fiction right now. He found a machine quickly enough and bought one. Reading it on the way back he tried to keep his reaction to minimum, trying to avoid attracting any attention. When he finally got back to Rachel he told her, "They said I'm crazy." Then he noticed the three guys in black leather who had her surrounded. One had his hand around covering her mouth. "Why me?", he muttered. "Let her go," he said to them hoping he sounded a bit convincing.

The skinny one with the beard and a chain around his neck said, "He's smells like Drakan blood too."

Jack looked up and held his arms wide, "Seriously why me?"

The one with a scar over his right eye, who had Rachel up against the wall, pointed at the paper in his hands. "I told ya she looked familiar. These punks are the one they’re looking for." Those two started counting the money from the look of it. The third, a fat bald guy with a dragon tattoo on his head just stared at him

"Smell the death on this one boys, I'd betcha this chump the Drakan Killer." The other two started looking scared. In fact scar let go of Rachel. Now if only the third one looked that way. "Imagine the respect when the red and greens found out us blues took him out."

"Rather have the money," scar said.

"They say anything about him being dead or alive? Either way we turn her in for the reward and word gets out that we took out the Killer." The dragon tattoo stated and his gut looked like it was getting bigger as he changed into a blue hippo. "Remind me to keep something to prove I did it. And make sure she don't go any where" Jack dropped the paper as he raised his left arm up across his chest. The belt appeared and he swung it to the side and raised his right arm.

"Henshin!", he slammed his right hand on top of the belt and the armor covered him. Jack ran in and planted his foot in the Drakan stomach. It bent over and backed up, then it looked at him and smiled. "Ah crap," he said as he ducked a right cross and punched it between the eyes. The Drakan put its hands up to cover its face, Jack came in and it kicked its leg out. He got hit in the chest and flew back. The hippo put his hands down and smiled at him again.

"I thought you were supposed to be tough chump." It looked at the others, who stayed in their human form. "You could take this guy Tony", it said to the bearded one, who gave it the finger. Jack got to his feet and ran at the Drakan again. The hippo patted its stomach, daring him to do it again. But he jumped and flipped over the Drakan and kicked it in the back as he landed. It stumbled foreword and tried to turn around. Jack hit a right cross of his own that kept it staggering. He tried punching it down but the hippo would only go down to a knee. Backing up a bit he kicked it in the head. As its head snapped around it's leg swung out catching him by surprise and behind the knees. He landed on his back and tried to get up before the hippo did, no such luck. It dragged him up by the arm and slammed him into the wall. Then it slammed him face first in the other wall. The hippo repeated the move a few more times before letting him drop. The Drakan wiped something off his mouth, "Tougher than I thought you'd be. Tony!", it yelled while holding out a hand. The bearded guy threw the chain at the hippo.

Jack rolled out of the way as an end of it was whipped at him. He was forced to roll a few more times before he could get up to a knee. He got an arm up and the chain wrapped around his forearm. The hippo started to pull it but he moved first, hitting a quick jump kick under its chin. He glanced at the bike, thinking about getting the staff. That moment gave the Drakan the chance to clock him in the back of head. Jack lashed back with a backhand that luckily found its jaw. That gave him time to get rid of the stars he was seeing. Now if only that damn ringing would go away. Jack turned and snapped its head back with and uppercut. Then he saw scar pull out a knife and take a step toward Rachel. The hippo saw that he was distracted and wrapped the chain around his neck and pulled it tight. Jack grabbed at the chain but it kept getting tighter. The Drakan kicked him behind the knee to force him down. It was getting harder and harder to breath, despite little protection the body suit gave him. The meter started flashing, he hoped he wasn’t imagining it as he twisted the right pod down. The mini turbines started spinning as he reached behind his head and grabbed the chain. Jack tried to pull the chain open while the hippo pulled it tighter. It seemed like forever but the chain finally snapped. Not even thinking twice he kicked his right foot back. The foot hit its stomach and the hippo flew back into some garbage cans and exploded.

Jack grabbed a length of the chain that was left and slowly got to his feet. He looked at the other two and waved them on. They looked at each other, turned and ran out of there. He dropped back to his knees and held his neck. "Bout time that Killer crap started working for me." Jack hit the belt again to power down the system and looked at Rachel," They do anything to you?"

It took a few moments but she said, "They found me right before you got back." He was surprised he felt relived that she was all right. It not like he shouldn't be feeling nothing, but still. But that was too close this time, no doubt about it.

"We better get out of here in case they have friends nearby, or decide to call the cops."

***
Anderson walked the hall of the medical section with Taylor and Armstrong in tow. The head of R&D talked the entire way while he listened. When they arrived at the door he was heading for he looked at him, "Are you what you are saying is even possible?"

Armstrong looked a little hurt, "Have I ever told you anything that wasn't?"

"Excuse my doubts Dr. Armstrong, but it was six months before you said Davidson was ready."

"I know, but we also had to rebuild his left arm and both of his legs from what was left after his accident. Granted spine injuries are always a little tricky, but I'm comfortable we can get it done in a fraction of the time. This is the Mark 2 I'm talking about here sir. It's one of the improvements we've made from Jack's design."

"I'll need to think it over," he told them. "Stay out here, I wish to talk to him in private." He had already made up his mind by the time he entered the room. Mitchell was there in the darkened laying in the bed. He glanced at him briefly before returning his gaze to the ceiling. Anderson had the sudden urge to say don't get up. Obviously Davidson influence, he'll be glad when it was gone. Anderson walked up to the bed and clasped his hands behind his back. "Mitchell, I have a proposition for you."
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