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Old April 21st, 2019, 06:11 PM #21
scikaiju's Avatar
> scikaiju
Power Ranger
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402
Power Ranger
scikaiju's Avatar
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

<Episode 18>

"We got a slight problem," Jack said as soon as he saw Rachel. He was surprised to see her outside the warehouse they were hiding out at. Well, it wasn't much of a warehouse, it hasn't been used for as long as he could remember. He only knew about because his Uncle would hide out here every so often, usually after a hot "job". He was surprised that when his Uncle showed it too him it had a couple of escape routes built in, one were his bike was quietly resting. That amazed him when his Uncle showed him the place when he was younger. He couldn't blame Rachel for standing outside though. They both had been cooped up in the place for the last two days. Actually he wasn't to sure how much longer they could stay there and not get caught.

Rachel, who was having her own doubts about the place, sighed and started rubbing her forehead, "Do I even want to know?"

"Nick won't help."

"I knew I didn't want to know," she started rubbing with both hands now. "And why won't he help?

"Well, seeing how we're not only wanted by the police but the Army and the US government we are officially too hot to handle. He said he was doing me a favor by forgetting he saw me." He went to rub the back of his head but stopped, he was suddenly worried about moving the hood and foil. So he started scratching the beard that was growing instead. He really, really hated having to think about stuff like this now.

"Not to mention World Inc., the rebels and any Drakan not involved in this conflict we come across. I'm assuming you didn't tell him about that part.”

"What sane person would believe it without proof? Guess I could have powered up." Then he added when it looked like she was going to say something, "I'm joking."

"I don't see how you can." She looked at the night sky before asking, "You sure we can trust him to keep his word?"

"Out of all the guys my Uncle hung around with he was the one I trusted the most. Hell, I think I trusted him more than my own Uncle."

"I'm sorry, but I have to meet this Uncle of yours one of these days."

"Well if we're caught maybe we'll be lucky enough to get sent to the same prison. I'll make the introductions." She tried not to smile, but there was a small one playing on her lips. Things were still messed up between them but they were getting better. But he doubted things would be the way they were before this crap started. "We better get back and figure out what we're going to do now."

She nodded as they walked off. A sound caught their attention, somebody seeing him on the street was the first thought racing through his head. But it wasn't, two guys had apparently grabbed a woman off the streets. His guts were twisting on the inside, he wanted to help but.... Jack was trying to force himself to turn around and try to live with it, hope... pray this wasn't added to the nightmare. Then he got a good look at the woman, forgot everything he was just thinking and ran at them. "Let her go!", he shouted and threw a right hook as the closest one turned around, not holding anything back. The first guy spun completely around before falling to the ground. The second guy let the woman go and tried to run. "No you don't you son of a bitch!", he grabbed him and threw him further into the alley.

Jack waved him on, the guy tried to run past him. He caught the bastard and threw him into a wall. Holding him to the wall with his left hand Jack stated wailing away with his right, again holding nothing back. A one sixty two fastball finally made him stop. Jack looked at the guys face, his nose was bent to one side among other things, and let him drop. He grabbed some newspaper and tried wiping the blood off the glove and made sure the hood was still in place. The last thing he needed was to give Anderson a clear signal from this damn chip in his head. He caught the woman trying to look at him out of the corner of his eye. He turned away and deepened his voice, "Get out of here."

"What... who...," she sputtered. This was tearing him up inside.

"Get out of here!", he snapped. God he hated talking to her that way.

"But I wanted...," Jack didn't stay to listen, he just walked off praying she wouldn't follow. He saw Rachel looking at him dumbfounded. This was going to be a tough on to explain. "Wait," the woman said, "that's the girl they're looking for." He could feel her staring at the back of his head. Please not here, not like this. "Jack?", she put a hand on his shoulder and said a little more urgently, "Jack?"

He just looked straight ahead. Lie to her you moron, he told himself. Don't get her involved in this. Uncle Pete already screwed her life up as it is. Tell her Jack who. I don't know what you're talking about. Yell at her to go away. Break her heart damn it, something to get her away from here. Tears started to form in his eyes as she reached for his chin to make him face her. Jack grabbed the hand and felt it trembling. He closed his eyes, he couldn't to this, not to her. He finally looked at her and she put a hand to her mouth, looking like she just saw a ghost. God why was it so hard to speak. "Hey Mom."

Was he trying to drive her crazy? All right she could see trying to help the poor woman. But going ballistic like that and then letting her get a good look at him. What in the hell was he thinking? Jack looked at her then said something to the woman. Whoever this woman was nodded, said something to him and headed back toward the street. Jack put his hands in his pockets and walked toward her. "Are you trying to get us caught?", she asked but he kept on walking. "I'm talking to you."

"I'll explain it later."

"How about you explain it now? How could you take a stupid risk like that?"

"Stupid risk?" He turned to her and snapped, "Fine when it's your mother getting dragged into an alley I'll just keep on walking!"

"Wait... what?"

"That was my Mom Rachel, what was I supposed to do?"

"Your Mom," she was dumbstruck as he turned around. "But Mr. Anderson said his people couldn't find her." Jack stopped in his tracks, turning just enough to look at her.

"Ok, now we gotta talk."

The hour was getting late and quite a few of his personnel had already left for the evening. There was some paperwork on his desk that needed his signature that he was taking his time with. A rival CEO in his city had invited him to a banquet to support whatever needy cause was trendy this month. He should probably finish this up and go. Anderson had already blown off the last two he was invited to and he had to keep up appearances. Even if being in a room with that many humans made him nauseous. The way these inferior being pretended to be superior to everything else. Davidson had no idea of the favor he did for him by making his armor blue, not that he would ever understand it.

A knock at his door caught his attention and Taylor walked in. Well it would distract him from the papers on his desk for a few moments. At the very least it would allow him to be fashionably late for the banquet. "What is it Mr. Taylor?"

"I realize it's late sir but Dr. Armstrong called me last minute. The hand scanners are ready for field use." Anderson just nodded in response. The scanners were designed to pick up Davidson tracking signal at relatively close range by using a tighter and stronger beam. He made a mental note to have some attached to the cameras on the outside. A more cost effective way of searching for them other than having several of his men out there on foot. "He says the maximum range is about twenty feet."

"Hmm, I was hoping for a greater range but that will have to do for now. Is there anything else?"

"Yes sir there is," he said as he put some folders on his desk. "Like you asked I talked to Mitchell and we narrowed the candidates for the task force leadership, temporarily of course, down to three. All we need is you final approval."

"Fine I'll look these over in the morning," he picked one up and skimmed through it. He wanted Mitchell's personal opinion on these men before promoting any of them. Not that he didn't trust Taylor’s opinion on the matter, but Mitchell did train these men. It better be early in the morning, Mitchell was scheduled to go into the mark two program soon.

"We wouldn't have to do this if Mitchell selected a new second in command," Taylor commented. Anderson said nothing for a moment. They lost the previous second in the same conflict that delivered Davidson to them. He suspected that Mitchell held the fact Davidson survived and was bonded to the Fusion system over his own men against him.

"Perhaps," Anderson told him, "but few had the experience and qualifications he did. If he was in better shape when they found him I might have considered him for the program."

"Hmm," his VP uttered. "Can I ask you something that has been bothering me?" Anderson leaned back in his chair and told him to continue. "Why did you pick Davidson for the Fusion program? I've gone over the reports of the incident and the medical resources I have access to and I can't figure it out. Several of our men where qualified for the program. So what made him so special?"

"To be honest with you, I don't really know. And I have asked myself that same question every so often since the decision was made. We had several men in the program's prep stage. Several men who were very loyal and very dedicated I might add. But when I saw Davidson's mangled form floating there in that tube next to the others, something told me he was the one to green light. I very rarely listen to my gut, as they say, but when I do it is rarely wrong. And up until recently he did not disappoint."

"And you never thought this would happen?"

"I knew it was in the realm of possibilities. I also know we can handle the situation." He turned his chair around and looked out the window at the night skyline. "I just wish I had the foresight to green light another one at the time." As he sat there an idea came to him. There were a few still in the mark one prep stage. Surly one of them could be used. The person wouldn't even have to beat Davidson, just keep him busy and dispose of the occasional rebel until Mitchell was ready. "Mr. Taylor," he swung his chair back around, "have someone bring me the files on those who survived the incident. I want the information no later than two tomorrow." Instead of complying Taylor looked confused. "Is there something in that order you did not understand?"

"Excuse me sir, but you only green lighted Davidson?"

"I believe that is what I said."

"Then why was I recently handed a file on another one green lighted into the program at about the same time."

"Another one?", Anderson went back in his memories to when he gave the order. He personally gave the word on the spot, he pointed right at Davidson. There was no way another could have been green lighted without his say so. Allen, it had to be him. His files indicated he had everything to take over the company but not this. A back up plan perhaps, in case something went wrong or not fast enough. Perhaps something to personally take him out, that would be his style. Still somebody else had to know about this if Taylor was given a case file. "Is Armstrong still in the building?"

"I believe so."

"Get him up here. And bring me that file." He wanted answers and he wanted them now. Looks like he was missing that banquet after all.

Rachel sat on one of the cots they found while Jack took in what she just told him. "You told him to look for my Mom?", Jack demanded. Oh yeah, he was reacting just like she thought he would.

"I asked him to look her so you could talk to her," she explained. She was halfway expecting him to cut her off at some point. "I was trying to make things a little easier for you. But like I said Anderson kept telling me they couldn't find any info on her."

"I'm pretty sure they did," he sat in a folding chair by the ratty old card table that was set up. "That first assignment they sent me on, the safe house and the elephant. The same one with the trap that damn monkey set for me. That was in my Mom's old neighborhood."

"Please tell me you’re kidding."

"I know it's more than likely some weird coincidence, but it always seemed a bit strange to me."

"Jack I didn't think...", she was at a lose for words, "I mean I never believed..." She couldn't believe she handed Anderson a string to control Jack like a puppet with.

"I know it's not your fault," he said. Too bad she knew him well enough to know that a small part probably did. "We were both getting jerked around,” he gave her a sly grin, “and not in the good way either."

She got the implied meaning, "Did you have to go to the gutter for that one?"

"Yes I did," he answered matter of factly.

"Why for God sakes?"

"I'm a guy."

Before she could say anything a knock at the door made her jump. It was strange though, two knock, then four and the three. Jack got up and went to the door and knocked once then three times then he put a hand on the doorknob. She quickly figured out who was on the other side, "You didn't tell her where to find us?"

"Yell at me later," he muttered before opening the door. For some reason he looked down and said, "Oh no, Rufus," before backing up and letting his mother in. Rachel got a better look at her now, she had the same dark hair Jack did but her eyes were blue. She came in with a pet Taxi that she quietly put on the table. Jack just stared at the case as he closed the door. Nobody said anything for a while before he said, "Really want to make sure it's me don't you?

"I can't think of a better test," she said as she open the taxi and a brown tabby cat walked out surveying the area. It saw Rachel as she check it out and started rubbing against her arm. She scratched it behind the ear and it started purring up a storm. Jack's Mom looked at him and said, "Well?"

He sighed, "Make sure the cat doesn't runaway." He walked up slowly and held out a hand to pet it. The cat saw him and started hissing and swiped at him with its claws. Jack backed up, looked at him Mom and asked, "Happy now?"

Rachel tried to calm the cat down, "What did you do to this cat?"

"I told you animals don't like me."

"I don't believe that, you had to do something otherwise it wouldn't be acting like this."

"I didn't do anything to the damn cat!", he snapped. "Gah if you only knew how tired I am of saying that."

Then his Mom took him into her arms, "My baby's alive." OK now she was officially confused. "Rufus had hated him from the moment they set eyes on each other." She turned back to Jack and reached for the hood, "Let me get a good look at you." He quickly put both hands on top of his heads to keep the hood firmly in place.

"Trust me that's not a good idea."

"What do you mean...,” she got a good look inside the hood, “is that foil in there? Jack what's going on?"

"It's long story Mom."

"Oh trust me I got time. First I have a guy in a suit over a year ago telling me you're dead. Then I turn on the news a few days ago and find out you're wanted by the government."

"It's a really long story," he amended.

"All this time and you couldn't let me know you were alive?", she smacked him on the arm.

"I wanted to, do you have any idea how many times I drove by the house? And what was I suppose to do? Walk up to the door and say ‘Hey, guess what’ ?"

"It would have been better than finding out the way I did."

"I know, but things were... complicated."

"Does it involve little miss thing over here?", she jerked a thumb in her direction.

"Excuse me," Rachel crossed her, "miss thing?" Jack got between them.

"She's not the enemy Mom."

"Jack I can talk for myself,” Rachel told him.

"Yeah, but you never argued against her before."

His mom crossed her arms, "And what is that suppose to mean exactly?" Jack opened his mouth and saw the look on her face. He put his hands up and silently sat in a chair. "Whatever, I'm just glad my boys alive," she put a hand on his shoulder and he put one of his on top of it. To her she said, "I'm sorry honey, I'm still a little shocked about this whole thing."

"It's all right Mrs. Davidson."

"Call me Helen, all of Jacks friends do. I am assuming the two of you are friends."

"I like to think we were before the current situation," she told her.

"Right now we're just kinda stuck with each other," Jack added. Rachel was about to comment on that, all right go off on him, when he said, "I didn't mean it like that." Quickly changing the subject he turned to his mother. "I know I should be keeping a low profile these days, but when I saw those two drag you into the alley...", he couldn't finish the thought.

"Hey, I gotta pay the bill somehow." Rachel's eyes went wide as Jack groaned. She saw her discomfort and told her, "Honey, I'm joking."

It took her a moment to get out, "Well I see where you get your sense of humor."

"He should have taken more after me than he did his Uncle. What did you steal that got everybody in the country looking for you?"

"I didn't steal anything," Jack told her. Then he started rubbing his left arm, "Not that I had an option either way. It's the main reason I talking to you right now."

"Jack was in an accident, that much was true," Rachel took over, Jack looked a little uncomfortable explaining this. "He was fitted with an experimental life support system. I was his... uh... his case worker." It was close enough to the truth at any point.

"Case worker huh?", she wasn't sure if Helen believed her or not. She smacked Jack lightly on the arm, "So what happened, you miss a couple of payments?"

"That part is...," he searched for the right word, "complicated."

"So I hear," she told him. They both looked at each other and started from the beginning. Not everything of course, they both left the Drakan and rebels out of it, just the basic of the situation. Although Jack did say he did some things he wasn't exactly proud of. Helen took it all in quietly. Well, she did until Jack told her about his plan to split up and what happened afterwards. Then she went right into Mother mode. "You were going to leave this poor girl on her own when you had all that money?" She then proceeded to slap him on the back of the head.

"Ow!", Jack grabbed his head.

"I raised you better than that."

"Yes Mom." She slapped him in the back of the head again.

"And don't use that tone of voice with me young man." After a moment she did it a third time. Despite all the crap he put her threw lately Rachel tried not to enjoy the sight all that much.

"What was that one for?"

"For thinking what you were thinking."

"That your the best Mom in the world?", he said right before getting out of range. She put her hand to her face.

"Sometimes I wonder who he takes after more me or Petey."

"Petey was his Uncle right?" Rachel wondered out loud.

"He told you about him huh?” she sighed. “Petey moved in with us after I lost Ken in a car crash. Jack was only three months old when it happened. I try to stop myself from thinking about the type of man Jack could have been if he was around, and I wouldn't trade who he is now for anything in the world. Although there are times I swear Ken possessed Jack because sometimes they act almost exactly alike."

"I don't want to sound like I'm second guessing or anything, but considering his 'night job'," Rachel felt weird asking this after that, "was he really the best person to bring in to help?" Helen chuckled a bit.

“You would not believe how many times I asked myself that. And I told myself the same thing again and again, if you can't count on family who can you count on? Besides I've been handling my brother for years so he wasn't going to be a problem. The people he hung around with on the other hand," she went quiet for a bit. "It felt like an uphill battle on both sides at times, but I got us threw it." Helen put Rufus back into the taxi, glanced at Jack then turned to her. She gave her that same sly grin that Jack sported more times than she cared to remember and said, "So... how has my boy been behaving himself?"

Mom stayed for a couple of hour, mostly telling some embarrassing stories about him. Naturally Rachel told a few more currents ones. Naturally he spoke only when spoken to. Not out of respect, because if he complained about any of it Mom had some really embarrassing stories she was sitting on. And Rachel was going to hard enough to be around as it was. He was surprised at how well they appeared to be getting along now. At one point he went to get the make shift storeroom they had to get something to eat and came back they looked at him and stifled a laugh, both of them. He made a mental note not to tick her off anytime soon.

The night ended with his Mom saying she would try to see him again as soon as she could. He wasn't expecting it to be that morning with her pounding on the door. His concern quickly turned to worry as he let her in. "What wrong Mom?"

"You and Rachel have to get out of here. The police are coming, somebody saw you and followed you here last night." Once again he was asking why me?

"I'm gonna kill Nick."

"Nick was the one who told me, he was hoping I knew how to warn you."

He turned to Rachel who was already packing her things. Jack did the same while grabbing some cans of food. She caught a couple he threw at her asking, "Any idea when they'll be here?" The sound of sirens was followed by several cars screeching to a halt in front of the building.

His Uncle did say they were always around when you didn't want them. "Answers that question," Jack and his mom both said. He went to a wall and slide part of it back, revealing one of those hidden passages and the bike. Turning around he looked right at his mom. "This just got a bit more complicated," he mumbled. No way he was going to leave her here. He pulled the envelope of money out of his pocket and put it in the backpack. Handing it to here he said, "You two take the bike I'll go another way."

"Jack now is not the time to split up," Rachel argued.

"Listen to her," his mom added.

"We don't have time for a debate, go! I'll meet you in the back alley by Arnold." He pushed them toward the bike. As they got on Rachel gave her a slightly worried look. "She taught me how to drive these things so you'll be in good hands."

"What are you talking about, you’re better at driving these things than I am."

Rachel uttered an, "Oh God," as he closed the panel. He heard the bike's engine start up and fad away as he backed away from the door. There was another way out on the opposite wall and he could have made it if he already didn't make up his mind a few minutes ago. By the time the S.W.A.T. team busted in he was on his knees with his hands on top of his head. Jack was told to lie on his stomach by one of them as the others checked the warehouse. He hoped this bought them some time as they concentrated on him.

"All clear," S.W.A.T. number two said as his hand were cuffed behind his back and he was raised to his feet. "Where's the other one you were with?"

"What other one?", he said as emotionless as possible.

"Smart guy huh?" S.W.A.T. number one said as he pulled the hood off his head. And now Anderson had a good idea where he was. Number one saw the foil and pulled it out. "Hey looky here boys. Trying to keep the mothership from finding you?" He just bit his tongue to keep quiet. "Jack Davidson you are under arrest for theft of government property and treason. You have the right to remain silent...," he began as he was dragged out the door. He was surprised there wasn't a media blitz too as he was escorted to a nearby van. He was placed in and a guard joined him. As they drove off two things bugged him, one his guard wasn't really guarding him all that closely. Two, he knew he saw this guy before. Ten minutes in the guard pulled out a cell phone and dialed a number.

"We got him, prepare to switch vehicles in a few minutes." He closed the phone and gave him a big grin, "Bossman is gonna love seeing you again."

Now things were clicking together. "You're one of Anderson goons," That's were he saw him, he was one of the jackasses from the party. "Then I'm not gonna regret this later." The van turned sharply catching the guard off guard as Jack jumped at him. His shoulder rammed into the guards chest then he snapped his head up catching the guard under the chin. He went down and a quick kick kept him down, hopefully for long enough. Jack got the cuffs under than in front of him like his Uncle showed him and searched the guard for a key and found one. Nobody in front seemed to noticed and he briefly wondered if they had one of those devices Anderson used on him to keep the armor from appearing. Only one way to find out. Kneeling down on top of the fallen "cop" he raised his left arm across his chest to make the belt appear. Swinging the arm to the side he brought up his right arm, "Henshin!", and brought his right hand down.

A bit later the van stopped in front of a waiting unmarked van. One of the guards went back and opened the door. He was surprised to be staring into the red eyes of a blue metal insect crouching by the opening. Jack waved at him slightly before jumping at him and knocked him out without much trouble. He spotted a third guard taking to a guy dressed like a Men in Black reject. The third one charged but Jack grabbed him by the neck before he could react. Looking at MIB he said, "Don't think I'll regret this one either." Jack spun the guard around and tossed him at the other one. MIB caught him with no effort and threw him into the wall. "I don't believe this. Does he got pictures on you guys or something? Is that why you’re working for him?"

"Cute human," MIB said as he put his sunglasses in his pocket as horn grew from his head and he turned into a red goat.

"I don't know what you're talking about. I don't see a human standing," Jack said before he charged the Drakan.

Rachel held on as Helen drove down a back street. The ride wasn't as bad as Jack's when he was pushing the engine but it was close. "What's that?", Helen pointed to something. As they got closer she could see it was a S.W.A.T. van sitting there and several officers laying on the ground knocked out. Jack was not dumb enough to power up the system and take them out, was he? Helen stopped the KR-1000 where it was and made her get off.

"What are you doing?" Personally she didn't want to be this close to the police as it was, unconscious or not.

"Jack might be hurt," she said as she got off and looked around the area. "Maybe it was this Anderson guy you told me about got them." She was trying not to think of that but it was possible. Then they noticed the big hole in a wooden fence. More than possible. About then something blue and black flew over the fence and landed a few yards in front of them. She knew who it was but Helen was going, "Oh my God!"

"Oy." Jack got to his feet and looked at them, "Get her out of here!"

His mom recognized his voice, "Jack?" A red Drakan, looked like a goat, calmly walked threw the hole. Jack got out of the way as it tried to ram it with it’s horns. The Drakan grabbed the punch Jack aimed at his head. He went to a knee yelling in pain as it twisted the arm. Rachel went to the motorcycle and activated the lasers hidden by the headlight. It recoiled in pain as it was truck by the beams and came toward them. Jack grabbed it from behind around the waist and threw it back. He started punching and kicking it while he had the opening. At one point he grabbed it by the scruff of hair under its’ chin and planted a fist right between it's eyes then spun around and kicked it back. His hand went for the right pod but he hesitated and looked back at them. She knew what he was thinking and looked around. The building to their left looked abandoned.

"Jack that door by you! The door!" He saw it and nodded. Jack reached the goat as it was getting up and punched it where the laser burned its’ flesh. The Drakan bent over in pain as he grab and threw it head first into the door. Jack twisted the pod up and went in. She grabbed Helen by the arm and pulled her back, "You'll be safer back her, hopefully."

"What is going on?" An explosion came from the building that got her attention. "What in the hell?" After a few moments Jack came out in his street clothes. It took a few more moments but he finally looked in there direction.

"Helen...," Rachel tried to explain what happened before she cut her off.

"Complicated doesn't even begin to describe what I just saw."
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Old April 25th, 2019, 10:13 AM #22
scikaiju's Avatar
> scikaiju
Power Ranger
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402
Power Ranger
scikaiju's Avatar
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

<Episode 19>

"Complicated doesn't even begin to describe what I just saw," Jack mom told her. Rachel wasn't exactly sure were to start explaining what they left out from the previous night. Jack slowly walked up, holding the back of his head. His exposed head she realized. He showed her the inside of the hood to confirm what she was thinking.

"Good thing I kept the foil in my bag," she muttered as she started rummaging through it.

"It’s not exactly Arnold's," he said as he looked around, "but it's better than nothing." She looked around too. God only knew how fast Anderson would get another team mobilized. Helen just stared at her son, who was trying not to look too uncomfortable from her gaze.

"They turned you into a...," she struggled, looking for the right word. "What was the name of that stupid show Richie made you watch? Kamen Rider, that was it."

"I try not to think about it that much," he told her.

"And what are you exactly in all of this?", Helen asked her. "I'm pretty sure you're not a case worker so don't try to tell me that again."

Rachel found the box of foil before she answered, "I'm... I was his mission operator."

"Mission operator?", she paced the alley. "And you sent him after those things?"

"We sent him after one side," she offered.

"And what in the hell does that mean?"

"Mom it's.... ,"Jack started.

Helen pinched the bridge of her nose and held up the other hand. "So help me if you say complicated I will beat both of you right here and right now."

Rachel leaned over toward back and whispered, "She really wouldn't do it, would she?"

"How do you think she kept my uncle and his friends in line," he answered. Rachel gave in to an urge to take a step back. "Not gonna help you," he said with a grin. Then he saw the look on his mom face and the grin disappeared as he took a couple of steps back of his own. "I'm done."

"Too bad I know better," she sighed. "Can you at least tell me why you're walking around with foil in that hood now?"

"There's a tracking chip in my head. According to Rachel it blocks the signal."

Helen took the foil from her hands. "Give me that jacket. I'll fix the hood while you two tell me what's going on."

"That's all right," Jack said quickly. "I'll just sit in front of you, we really don't have the time to argue about this.

"Then give me the jacket," she said firmly and held out a hand. Jack hesitated but he took the jacket off. Her eyes went wide as she saw the scars on his arms. She shot an accusing look toward her but said nothing. Helen sat down on the back bumper of the van and pulled out a length of the foil. "You better start at the beginning."

Jack sat inside the van in an attempt to block the signal as they told her everything else. The details of Jack's accident. The Drakan, Anderson and the rebels were a little harder to explain. Fortunately seeing the one Jack fought help things a bit. Helen quietly listened to all of it as she lined the hood and soon handed it back to Jack. As he put it on the guard on the inside started to stir. Jack knocked him back out with a quick punch, "Nighty night."

"Assaulting a police officer isn't going to help your situation," his mom scolded.

He jumped out of the van while double checking the hood saying, "That's not a cop. He's one of the guys working for Anderson that we were telling you about."

"Does he," she pointed toward the 'officer' , "turn into anything then?"

"I don't think he would have went down that easy if he was one of them."

"And the... Drakan you threw in that building? The explosion I heard?" Jack looked at the ground. She couldn't even look her in the eyes. Helen looked very sad as she said, "You did say there were some things you weren't proud of." She hugged her son.

"I'm sorry Mom," he said quietly. "I didn't want to get you involved in this."

She pulled back slightly saying, "Don't be sorry. You're my boy, you can drag me into just about any mess you get yourself into." He smiled at the comment. "So, how's your food situation?"

"I think we got enough to last us few days," Rachel told her.

Helen nodded. "Do you remember that lot a couple of blocks down?", she asked Jack. "I'll meet you there in a half hour with some more food for you."

"Mom, you don't have to do that."

"And," she went on like he never said anything, "if I don't see you there in a half hour I will track you down myself. We both know you don't want that."

"I'll be there," he said. Helen patted him on the arm and went off. Jack looked at the unconscious men around the area. A sour look crossed his face. "You thinking what I'm thinking?"

"About your Mom?" He nodded, "I'm afraid so."

As they sat waiting in the lot Jack tried not to let the queasy feeling in his stomach take him over. How in the hell was he suppose to ask his Mom what Rachel and him had talked about. Rachel put a supportive hand on his shoulder as they saw her come up. This was going to suck. He got to his feet and gave her a quick hug, "You're late."

She slapped him on the side of the arm, "Watch it young man." She reached into one the bags she had and pulled out two black motorcycle helmets. "I swung by the house to pick these up. I didn't see any at the warehouse when I was there. So I figured you could use them" To Rachel she said, "They belong to Ken and me, years ago. It almost seems like forever at this point. Oh I also thought you might want this too." She handed him a picture. Jack had to bite his lip to make sure he still felt anything. It was a picture himself and Richie, taken about a month before that damn accident.

"Thanks Mom," he put the photo in a pocket on the front of his jacket. Trying to hide what he was feeling he patted the helmet in his hands. "I don't know why you're giving us these. You know my head harder than this thing."

"And that's why I have to keep telling you things over and over," she smiled at him and he returned it. Now if only he felt like smiling at the moment. His mom looked at him funny, she knew what he was feeling, he had no doubt about that. He always had a hard time hiding things from her. She moved a couple of stray hairs out of his face. "It's all right Jack." She handed him the other bag she was carrying. "This should last you a couple of weeks. I'm not sure about Rachel but I know you can be a bottomless pit at times."

"Hey I've seen Rachel eat, she can pack it away." He ducked the empty pop can that was thrown at him, "It was worth it."

"Was he always like this?", Rachel asked her.

"Unfortunately, but like I told you I wouldn't have him any other way." She hugged him again, “I better get home. I know it's kinda dangerous for you but try to let me know how you're doing, huh." He grabbed her by the arm to stop her.

"Yeah, about that." This was sooo gonna suck.

"What is it?"

"Well, thanks to some stuff I just recently found out," his eyes glanced over to Rachel, "you might be in trouble."

"What Jack is trying to say is," Rachel spoke up, "Anderson knows about you. We both think there's a good chance he might use you to get to Jack."

"No offense honey but that boss of your sounds like a real bastard."

"He's a Drakan who sent me after his own kind. Trust me Mom that doesn't even begin to describe him."

"No argument there," Rachel agreed.

"So what am I suppose to do then?", his mom wondered. "That machine of yours isn't exactly built for three."

If this plan didn't make her knock him out nothing would. "You have to get out of town. It's the only way they can't get to you."

"And how am I suppose to do that without a ton of questions?", she demanded.

He looked over to Rachel who just shrugged her shoulders, "This part of the plan was your idea."

"Thanks a lot." Jack looked at the ground to set himself before facing her again. "You're gonna have to go to Nick."

She backed up and held up her hands, "You did not just say that."

"I know this sounds crazy but it's the only way."

"The only way he says," she said to the sky. "I've heard enough from my brother to know Nick doesn't relocate people for free. And I'm sure as hell not taking any of that money you have on you."

"I know, I know but listen to me I thought this out." She shook her head but she was listening. "Go to Nick and tell him that I'm calling in the Ashley incident back from ninety-nine. He'll know what I'm talking about and it'll get you to any city in the country."

"Do I want to know the story behind this Ashley thing?"

"Better if you didn't."

"This is what I get for letting Pete in the house," she mumbled. "Then I guess this is good bye then."

"I guess," his voice cracked slightly. He knew this was going to be hard, but nothing like this.

To Rachel surprise his mom went over to hug her. "Take care of my boy, you hear? I just got him back."

"I will," she promised.

"And if he gives you any trouble just slap him in back of the head. That always worked for me."

"I'll remember that Helen," she replied with a laugh. Then she hugged him and neither of them wanted to let go.

"Jack I just want you to know, no matter what you've done, no matter what you do or what you think you have to do, I'll love you no matter what."

"I love you too Mom."

"I know baby, I know." She kissed him on the cheek, "Take care of yourself, for my sake at least," and walked away. A few steps away she turned and said, "You better have told that poor girl thank you." As she continued on Jack promised himself he was going to find her again, no matter what. Right now he just had another reason to be pissed at Anderson.

Rachel came over while he was wiping a tear from his eye. "Are you going to be all right?"

"Yeah," he lied. Taking a few moments to get himself under control he asked, “What did she mean I better have thanked you?"

"I'm assuming," Rachel said, "she meant when I saved your bacon from that Drakan."

"I should thank you for that? You nearly fried my bacon with those lasers."

"Oh quit your bitching," she told him. Then she added, "Chipmunk." He knew he was going to regret the two of them talking last night.

"If your mom's a gabber you better pray to God I never meet her."

He spent a few minutes that morning to visit Mitchell and offer a few encouraging word before he went into the Mark Two program. Despite being only human he proved his worth in Anderson's eyes several times over. Mitchell should be very happy with the rank he favored him with. That afternoon he cleared his schedule and with Taylor, Armstrong and Perez, the new assault team temporary commander, drove to a dock on the edge of town Allen apparently owned. Anderson sat quietly in the limo, fortunately none of his fellow passengers were in a talking mood either. Taylor was doing something on his PDA. Armstrong was still engrossed in the other Mark One's file, he was just as surprised as anybody to learn about its existence. Allen was far more resourceful than anybody gave him credit for. Perez sat there by himself fuming, an hour after he accepted the job they received word they had captured Davidson only to lose him again. Not the best way to start a new position. Anderson himself should have been madder about the situation than what he was. Part of him was particularly pleased with Davidson performance, and that it once again proved he made the right choice. Although he doubted any of his companions would share his point of view.

The building they arrived at was unassuming at first glance. Perez gestured to the men getting out of the car behind them to survey the area. Perez himself doubled checked the clip in the gun before returning it to its holster. Anderson gave an amused look toward Taylor, tying to impress the boss on the first day. They approached the building and a door opened. Perez got in front of them as a man in his fifties and wearing a lab coat walked out. He asked had a metal flask halfway to his lips before he noticed them. "Oh bloody hell," he muttered with a bit of an accent as he quickly tried to hide the flask.

Anderson recognized him almost immediately, "Dr. Parker? I was under the impression you left the company some time ago."

"I don't know what you're talking about," he grumbled as he came forward. "I've been here over a year an a half on that special assignment you gave me." He put a hand on the balding spot on his head, "Starting to think Allen forgot about my assigned exile. Hey," he looked at the group, "were is the esteemed Mr. Allen? He usually comes here to scream at the top of his lungs at how slow things are going."

"Mr. Allen is no longer with the company."

"Explains why I haven't seen him in months. What happened?"

Anderson looked him dead in the eyes, "He went against me."

"Ah," Parker said while he looked at the group. He looked like he was going to try to run. "Couldn't happen to a nicer fellow, if you get my drift."

"Relax Dr. Parker, we're here to see the test subject."

"Finally come to check out what I'm doing here." He shot a look at Armstrong, "Or have you come to see to see how to do it right? If I heard the rumor mill correctly that is."

"There's a reason why I'm the one still in the main lab Parker," Armstrong said with an annoyed look on his face.

"So says the man who needs help."

"Just remember who's in charge of Research and Development."

"Only because you’re a gre..."

"Mr. Perez," Anderson quickly interrupted their “discussion”, "we'll be inside the building if we need you." Perez nodded while shooting a warning look to the scientist. Mitchell was one of the few humans who knew what they really were and he was in no rush to expand that number. When they were alone he said, "Dr. Parker, I assure you your rank had nothing to do with who was made head of..."

"The hell it didn't!", Parker exploded. "I stood by and swallowed every IQ test you could come up with that was shoved down my throat. Because who could ever believe a red could be more than just muscles. And the results were the same every time, I'm smarter than anybody you got under that roof of yours. Hell, I make this twit look like Forest freakin' Gump. But heaven forbid if a green should ever take an order from a red."

"Sounds like the rebel rhetoric to me," Armstrong said. Anderson had to admit he had a point.

"They probably appreciate me a bit more than you lot do." He pulled out a pack of cigarettes out of his coat and lit one up. "Come on then, the guinea pig is this way."

"Is it wise to be smoking around the test subject and the equipment?", Taylor asked.

"Probably not," Parker admitted between puffs. "Not exactly the most optimums of conditions to begin with." The inside of the building was the exact opposite of R&D. The room was barely lit, small and outside of themselves deserted. A familiar tube of blue liquid was in the center of the room. They all could see a man floating inside of it. Anderson checked out the rest of the room. An operating table was pushed against a wall, a still bloody sheet was on top of it. There were various charts of the human body. Graphs and things written on several chalkboards filled the room. Parker sat on the edge of a very cluttered desk and gestured toward the tube. "Well there he is, Fusion mark one."

"Where is the rest of your staff Dr. Parker?", Anderson asked not looking at him but at the person in the tube. He recognized this one from that night. Definitely in better shape now than he was back then.

"You’ve already seen him."

"You did all that surgery by yourself?"

"Even I'm not that daft," Parker sounded insulted. "Allen was able to sneak in some of your precious R&D boys and girl when I needed them.

"Who?", Armstrong demanded.

"Wouldn't you like to know," Parker answered with a devilish grin.

Armstrong started to say something but held his tongue. Instead he put his briefcase on the table, pulled out a red folder marked "confidential" and slapped it on the desk. "Since you’ve been out of the loop you obviously don't know about the improvements we made to the system."

"Yes," Anderson added, "we come a long way since the program started."

Parker took the file and leafed through it. "So there is another Fusion already out there," he muttered. A few moments later he put the file down and crossed his arms. "Impressive."

"I'm glad you think so," Armstrong said, but his tone said otherwise. "I think you'll agree we can implements these upgrades in a matter of weeks."

"No need," the man said suddenly, "I already put them in."

"Wha... ," Taylor sputtered, "how... ?"

"I believe Mr. Taylor is trying to ask how you accomplished these improvements and when?", Anderson said for him.

"It wasn't that hard to figure out," he finally flicked some of the ash off the end of the cigarette and letting it drop to the floor. "Hell, any half wit could see it. I put them into this bloke a few month after I got him." Armstrong was at a loss for words. People under him already knew about the upgrades he came up with before Davidson run in with Allen. Anderson made a mental note not to go near R&D until the fire died down.

Still, he might as well get to the point of why they came. "So when will the subject be ready Dr. Parker? Since you are so far ahead of the curve and all."

"Not anytime soon. The bloke was barely alive in that oversized fish tank when I got my hands on him. The boy was a mess, it's a miracle he survived this long. Especially in this mess, seeing how I'm all alone and all that."

"Consider that changed Dr. Parker." Armstrong clasps his hands behind his back. Starting today you will have a proper staff to order around." Armstrong looked betrayed but he didn't personally care if he was or not. "I just have one condition."

Parker expression soured and he muttered, "Knew it was too good to be true. So what's this condition?"

"According to the file this one's armor is still the default gray. I liked that changed to blue." Parker raised an eyebrow.

"Is that all?"

"Do we have a deal Dr. Parker?"

"I'd be stupid to say no then, wouldn't I?"

This was the moment she had been dreading for the past week. She was asked to come to the "war" room as some called it. Chris hated that name, but he recognized the need for it. Melissa stood outside the door for a few moments. The faint scent of Drakan blood came from the room. Thanks to Anderson's assassin she was marked with that scent too. Her scent would have joined with her bodyguard's if it wasn't for the Drakan Killer. Melissa's thoughts darkened, if it wasn’t for the Drakan Killer she wouldn't be in this situation to begin with.

Setting her resolve she opened the door. The other cell leaders looked at her, faces betraying nothing. Their emotions on the other hand was a different story. For a brief moment she felt several flashes of pride, disgust and annoyance. The biggest source of the latter came from Jason standing in the corner over there. His eyes narrowed as she looked at him. She never did trust that one, and she never saw what her brother saw in him either. There was an empty chair, Chris's chair she had no doubt about that. Reluctantly she took the chair. "Melissa," one of the older men said, he name wasn't coming to her at the moment, "Thank you for joining us." She didn't know what to say so she just nodded. He understood her discomfort and got to the point. "The council has decided, unanimously," he looked at a couple of the others like he was daring them to say something, "that you should be the one who should take over for Christopher." Well there it was and she hasn't imploded yet.

"I'll try to fill the post to the best of my abilities." He was satisfied with her reply. How in the hell was she suppose to fill the position that belonged to her brother? Fortunately this particular meeting was kept rather short. They basically they updated each other what their cell had been doing over the past week. She guessed they didn't want to bore the new figure head with details, how very kind of them. After about an hour everyone started to leave. "Lance," a blond headed man her and her brother knew for years turned and came her way. There was nobody in that room she trusted more than him.

"What is it Melissa?", he asked, his voice filled with concern.

"You might have guessed Chris told some of the things that went on in here. I'm embarrassed to say I never really paid that much attention, I'd figured this wouldn't be happening." She took a deep breath before continuing, "I was hoping you would get me up to speed on things."

Lance gave her a warm smile and sat in the chair next to her, "Of course. You might want to get comfortable this going to take awhile."

"I didn't think it wasn't."

Emily sat in her darken room and cleared her thoughts. A feeling that was rattling her bones told her something major was going to happen. If she was lucky the fates would give her a hint on what that was. She felt like she moved so she opened her eyes. The setting surprised her slightly, the Arena. Emily realized what she was seeing, Christopher's encounter with the Drakan Killer. There was the Drakan made of metal that she warned him about so long ago standing at one part of the arena. At the other was Christopher and one of his bodyguards. Silently she watched as the Killer pole vaulted over the group of Drakan that Melissa had sent to protect her brother. She watched as the Killer jumped up and aimed its’ right foot at him. She could not turn away as Christopher tossed his bodyguard to the side and took the blow.

The Killer turned and ran as Christopher flew back and exploded. It broke through and leaped toward a staff that was lying on the ground and turned ready for another attack. The other surrounded Christopher's body and heralded him to the afterlife. Emily studied the Killer. Strong feeling were coming from him, almost like a floodgate suddenly broke inside him. Confusion, hurt, sadness and surprisingly enough guilt. It ... he turned to leave then they came in. The troopers dressed in black surrounded the upper level of the Arena and open fired. Ignoring the massacre around her she studied the Killer. Those feelings that was coming from him disappeared, replaced by different ones. Betrayal, anger...hate, pure hatred came from him in waves. He was as sickened by this event as she was. He ran up the stairs and grabbed the closest trooper. Something was said and the Killer looked back into the Arena as another wave of anger and hate came from him. He took it out on several of the troopers as he made his way out again.

Emily closed her eyes as she felt herself move again. This wasn't what she was expecting but it gave her some insight into the Killer now and it gave her much to think about. She opened her eyes again, but realized she wasn't in her room. Well she was and she wasn't. It was her room, she recognized everything in here. But it wasn't because she was looking at herself and a young man she had never seen before. Emily knelt down to get a good look at him. He had brown hair and a light complexion. His brown eyes barely had the spark of life in them, like something dark and evil slowly took it from him. She looked at the rest of him, gym shoes, a black T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. Nothing at all that made him stand out, well except those scars covering his arms. A light of realization hit her. This was the real face of the Drakan Killer. He was in the same room as her.

She looked at herself, she didn't look afraid. In fact she almost looked concerned for the young man. But why was he here, this event never happened. But she wasn't seeing something from the past was she? Fate always did throw you a curve ball when you looked for answers. But when was this going to happen? Emily opened her eyes again and was alone. She tried to absorb what fate decided showed her. Emily knew she had an idea about what was going to happen. And nobody, particularly Melissa was going to be happy about it.

Jack should have woken up Rachel a few hours ago to take over for guard duty. But if he had to be honest with himself he didn't want to fall asleep. From finding out about Anderson and the adrenaline of being on the run for the first couple of days the nightmare went away. Then they came back right after in full force. Of course his waking hours weren't much better. Like before he started seeing the Drakan he killed. Right now he watched as the red rabbit, Molly that's what Max said her name was, walk up and sit right in front of him. All she did was stare at him, just stare. Jack closed his eyes and muttered, "You're not there," over and over again. When he opened them she was gone.

Wiping the sweat off his forehead he pulled the picture out of his pocket for the hundredth time. There they were, smiling like a couple of idiots holding two fingers behind the other ones head. For the hundredth time he felt his heart sink faster than he thought was humanly possible. That man was his best friend, they do just about anything for each other no questions asked. But after all this time, ever since he woke up in that room at World Inc., he never found out were Richie was buried. God, what kind a friend was he? Was that why Richie always held him down in the nightmare?

A pair of headlight that stopped in front of the tunnel they were hiding in broke through his self pity and got his attention. Jack put the picture back and got to his feet with Rachel waking up from the lights, "What the hell?" A man with gray hair wearing coverall and a ball cap stood in front of the lights. He looked at them and then at a paper in his hands.

"You're the ones I'm looking for all right. Of course I could smell that before I even looked at this." Great another Drakan. Jack started to put his left arm up. "Whoa!," he shouted putting up both hands. "Down boy, heel! I didn't come to fight." Jack kept his arm part of the way up just in case as Rachel came up behind him.

“Who are you," she demanded, "and what do you want?"

"Name's Dustin," he raised his ball cap slightly, "but folks tend to call me Dusty. And right now, I'm the closest thing in the world you two got for a friend."
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Old April 30th, 2019, 04:25 PM #23
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

<Episode 20>

Jack stood there as the old guy claimed he was there only friend they had in the world. He glanced back at Rachel who was just as confused as he was. Still keeping his left arm part of the way up he asked, "Why should we believe you?"

The other man just gave him a ragged grin, "Do you think y'all have another option?"

Wiggling the fingers on his left hand slightly he answered, "I'm pretty sure I can make one if I have too."

Dusty coughed out a laugh, "Bet you could too, and in record time I'd bet. But like I said I didn't come to fight I just come to help you guys out."

"How did you know where to find us?", Rachel demanded.

"It wasn't easy I'll tell you what." Dusty waved an arm wide, "Do you have any idea how many places there are to hide in this city? Well... I guess you two would have a good idea. The guy who asked me to find the two of you owes me a ton of gas money though."

Jack lowered his arm, but not by much, "Somebody asked you to find us? So you're not our only friend in the world." That was one lie he caught him in

"If you want to get technical, but I'm here and he ain't. That got to count for something."

"Who asked you to find us?", Rachel asked him.

Dusty looked hesitant to answer. "Let's just say he's a mutual acquaintance and leave it at that. Be trouble for him if the wrong people found out about this huge favor he asked me to do."

"I don't trust him," Jack mumbled.

"I agree," she replied, "but right now any port in the storm is a good one."

He looked at her in disbelief, "You can't be serious."

"Like he said we don't have a whole lot of options right now." To Dusty she said, "What do you want us to do?"

He pointed to the light behind him, "Y'all can hop in the truck and I'll take you to where you can be safe."

"I think," Rachel countered, "we'll follow you on our motorcycle." He mouthed the word 'our' but she ignored him. "Jack isn't in the mood to give it up just yet."

The older guy scratched the side of his head, "You do realize Anderson has his boys on the look out for that ride of yours?"

"We'll chance it," Rachel told him.

"Suit yourself," Dusty walked to the driver side door and opened it. "How do I know you two won't ditch me when I ain't looking?"

"How do we know you're not leading us into a trap?", he shot back.

"A bit paranoid ain't ya. Then again who could blame ya." He got behind the wheel of the truck and waited while Jack pulled his bike out of the tunnel and they got on. Dusty backed his truck up a bit and they got a good look at the rust bucket of a truck he was driving. He shouted out the passenger window, "Now don't out run ol' Bessie with that fancy cycle of yours."

Jack looked back at her, "You got us following a guy who named his Sanford and Son truck 'Bessie'."

"Would you feel better if he named it Mertle?", she told him. "Besides if he can find us so can World Inc. . If he's offering us a safe harbor we can at least listen to him. It not like you can't handle it if things go wrong."

He strapped on the helmet saying, "Why do I keep listening to you? You're not even my boss anymore." He started the engine and followed 'Bessie' down the road.

Dusty lead them to what looked liked an old car junkyard. Maybe not exactly old, there were a few newer model among the old. She could tell some of them were missing things like doors or a hood as they passed them. Jack tensed up as the truck they were following stopped in front of a beat up old shack. Dusty got out saying, "Home sweet home. Come on in, can I fix you guys some coffee? Maybe grab you a beer if you want?"

"I ain't thirsty," Jack said plainly.

"I never drink coffee this late," Rachel added. Dusty snorted in response. She didn't know if he was insulted or not. They followed him into the shack. Both of them looked around in surprised, things were way different on the inside. While the outside looked old and almost abandoned the interior was well kept and pristine. Outside from the various boxes and clothes on the floor that is. "Interesting," she ended up saying.

"I get that a lot," Dusty replied while sitting in an old easy chair. "Keep telling myself I'm going to fix up the outside." He chuckled, “Of course I've been telling myself that for the last twenty years. Relax and make yourself at home." They both sat on a couch that was close to the door. "Take that coat of your off boy and stay awhile."

"I'm fine," he said.

"Friedman already told me about that thing in your head. I took the proper precautions so don't worry."

"Friedman?!", they both exclaimed. Rachel asked, "How do you know Dr. Friedman?"

"And why you telling us now?"," Jack added.

"We went to the same medical school." He reached over and poured himself a cup of coffee. "That's when he found out what a Drakan was actually. We both got a bit drunk and I got a little too relaxed. I'll tell you, explaining that sobered us up real quick." He smiled from the memory. "As for why now, this is the only place I was sure we won't be overheard."

"You said you took precaution?", Rachel was curious. "What are you talking about?"

"I got a signal jammer set up in the house," he said casually as he took a sip. "Got some more around here that I need to get in place so you can walk around without that stuff around your head." He motioned for Jack to remove the hood. Reluctantly he did so, then he started scratching the back of his head for a couple of moments. Dusty chuckled again, "Bet that felt pretty good."

"You have no idea." Jack looked like he had a thought, "Are these jammers portable?"

The older man looked thoughtful, "Well I guess, if I could hook up the right kind of battery. I imagine so."

"Then hook me up man."

"You might want to rethink that after you see it." He pulled a shirt off of something near him. It was the size of an old portable TV. It had what looked like a small TV antenna on the top of it. Over all it was about a foot and a half tall.

Jack looked at it saying, "That's gonna be a little noticeable. You got anything smaller?"

"This is the small one." Jack looked a little dismayed. "This has got a range of about twenty five, thirty feet so you should be all right in the house."

"We're did you get this?" Rachel asked.

"I built it," Dusty said with a little pride. "I may be a doctor by trade but I need something to do between patients. Besides I always had a bit of a knack with this stuff so it wasn't much of a problem."

"How many more of these do you have?" Rachel said while finding herself looking out the window. She wasn't sure about Jack but she was expecting World Inc. task force to bust in. Rachel felt a little better when she caught Jack doing the same thing.

"About four or five,” he answered, "I still got to test a couple of them to make sure they work. I already have some spots marked out on the grounds. That should give you some room to stretch your legs. I know about being cooped up all to well. In the morning you can give me a hand if you want."

"Dude why is that thing so big? I seen people talk on cell phone that are about the size of credit cards."

"I got to work with what I got," he replied. "If I had the right parts I could make these things the size of a remote if I wanted too. Besides this one's a special build."

"I'm almost afraid to ask...,"Jack started. Dusty picked up remote and turned on the television.

"Don't want anything to mess with my shows," he said with a smirk.

"Hey, cool Gunsmoke."

"A man with taste."

"You two are going to get along great," she remarked to Jack. "So you’re a doctor and you can make things like that signal jammer?" Dusty nodded, "Can you take things apart, or maybe deactivate some things?" Jack looked at her tapping the back of his head, getting the idea.

"I suppose." Dusty rubbed his chin, "What did you have in mind?"

"The tracking chip in Jack's head."

"Don't ask for anything small do ya? Huh, gonna have to see if Friedman can get me the plans. Don't want to go poking around in there with out a road map, so to speak. Also gonna have to see if I can get the right equipment for the job. I can do a lot of things here, that ain't one of them."

Jack eye narrowed, "How exactly?"

"I got my connections."

"World Inc. ...."

Dusty leaned foreword, looking serious for the first time, "Boy, I don't deal with that particular devil."

"So you’re with the rebels then," Rachel said.

"Not exactly," he told her. "When they have someone too sick or injured that can't take care of they come to me. And sometimes to return the favor they let me have or borrow some things I need. That's about as involved in this mess that I get. But to do what you ask, it's gonna take me a few days to get everything set up."

"We're not going anywhere."

"There she goes talking for me again," Jack mumbled. She elbowed him in the side.

"I'll start making the calls in the morning. Right now I'm betting you two want to get some rest." He pointed down a hallway, "The bedrooms are that way. Bathroom is that door at the end of the hall. Room on the right is mine. You two can figure out how you're gonna share the one on the left."

"I got dibs," Jack said quickly. She elbowed his side even harder this time, "What was that for?" She just looked at him, eyebrow slightly raised. "Don't you give that look." After a few moments he looked away, "All right, I got dibs on the coach." Dusty chuckled as he finished his coffee and went to bed.

"I'm going to bed too," she said. Rachel got to the door than got in, "Enjoy the couch."

Anderson walked along the walls of the Command Center watching the others inside. Williams was going over some kind of read out in her hands. She was trying to things ready for the other Fusion operative. Maybe more, but there was no need to think that far ahead. Unlike with Davidson, however, they had to a shorter amount of time to prepare. "Mr. Anderson," she called out.

"Yes Miss. Williams," he said as he walked toward her.

"Are you sure about this?", he was expecting this to come up sooner or later. Perhaps it was better to get this out of the way know. "Having another person you know virtually nothing about I mean."

"And you think I should know better after Mr. Davidson?"

"More or less," he had to admire her, she wasn't backing down. "This person could turn out worse then Jack in any case you could come up with."

"A valid concern Miss. Williams. We have taken the proper measures in case something similar with Davidson happens this time around, just in case. I prefer to think of this one as a practice until Mitchell becomes active, maybe that will help you too." Williams nodded and took another read out from an assistant. Anderson excused himself and left the Center to let her work. Granted he was trying to placate her concerns, but even he had to admit that Dr. Parker came up with a rather ingenious solution to the potential problem. Armstrong, of course, wasn't all that enamored with the idea. Parker was more than happy to rub in the fact he thought of something the other man didn't. Strange how he never saw the, let's call it competition, between the two. Then again he was never down in R&D unless he had to be.

Anderson reached inside his jacket, pulled out a cell phone and stopped by a row of windows. There were two rings on the other end before he heard, "This is Taylor." He sent Taylor out to talk to several candidates for mission operator. Not for Mitchell, but for the recently discovered Fusion subject. This time he wouldn't make the mistake of hiring somebody so... human this time around.

"How are the interviews going?"

"As well as can be expected," his VP sounded tired. "But I'm pleased to say it looks like we have at least two potential candidates."

"Excellent. What were their reactions to the nature of the assignment?"

"Some what cautious sir. The Drakan Killer legend isn't exactly a well liked tale among our circle." That was one way of putting it. Some Drakan he had overheard went into graphic detail on how they would handle the Killer

"I expected as much. How many did you tell this to?"

"Chen and Douglas, the two I was talking about. If I had to be honest, I'd say Chen was our best option out of the two."

"What makes you say that?"

"Douglas's brother has rumored ties to the rebels, too much of a security risk. I almost didn't interview him because of it."

"That doesn't mean Chen is clean," he stated. "He could just be better at hiding his affiliation. Arrange meetings for both of them next week. Separately of course. I want to talk to them personally to feel them out. In the mean time we should tell Perez to have some of his people watch them just in case."

"I believe Perez already has a couple of men watching them as we speak."

The past few weeks have been full of surprises. "How did he manage that?"

"He tagged along sir. Perez wanted to personally check out these men himself. Something about making sure we didn't have another Haily to go along with potentially another Davidson."

"That seems to be a common fear going around," he quipped.


"Nothing important Mr. Taylor. Have Perez report to me when you get back." Anderson ended the call and returned the phone back inside his jacket. He admired Perez initiative for joining in on the interviews and assigned men to monitor a potential leak. But part of him thought it was best to remind him that he was only temporarily in charge. Anderson knew he was more than qualified for the position, but he trusted Mitchell like no other. He chuckled to himself as he realized he trusted that human more then most Drakan he knew. Very high praise from him for someone he considered a lower species.

On her second official day on the "job" she finally understood why Chris spent so much of his limited free time in the gym. It was after hours and most of the others were asleep, except for a few guards roaming the halls. So no one saw her pound away at the beat up punching bag hanging from the ceiling. Melissa wasn't really worried about her technique. At the moment she was picturing the faces of those who were annoying her to no end. It didn't really matter who was picturing in her mind's eye. Those two jackasses on the council. Anderson and his circle. Those under her who can't seem to go to the bathroom without her say so. She pounded the bag even harder when she pictured the face of the Drakan Killer.

Melissa stopped and leaned on the bag. Thanks to the Lance and council she learned the Killer's real name, Jack Davidson. That was good news to her. That meant it was human, it wasn't some kind of demon from Hell. If the Killer was just human then how did it apparently kill her brother, his guards and the ones she sent to protect him? What kind of human could do that? She mentally kicked herself, that was the legend about the Killer talking. She seen him in action and Jack Davidson was definitely no demon. He was more than human, that much was certain. Melissa muttered, "What did you do to him Anderson?"

"Talking to your cousin again?", Emily voice surprised her. "Christopher did the same thing down here from time to time. Although he was usually hitting that thing using words I won't repeat."

"I've had a hard time still thinking of him as family lately." Emily just nodded as she took a seat on a near by bench. "So what have you been trying to tell me for the past two days?" The older woman was surprisingly quiet. "I don't need a special gift to see something eating at you." She sat next to her, "So what's up?"

"I had a vision," was all she said.

Melissa wasn't sure if she should be worried or not. She never had to drag what the vision was out of her before. "And...?"

"It was about the Drakan Killer," she said softly. "He was here in my vision."

"The Killer finds out where we are?" She found herself going over the various escape routes and plans in her head. "How did he...?"

"He wasn't attacking us," she said. "I was talking to him."

"Are you sure you where talking to him here?", she pointed at the ground to empathize her point.

"You know I can't leave the habitat, not without the proper precaution. No, I was talking to the Killer in my room. It looked like I was guiding him in something." That was a lot to take in all at once. Then Emily hit Melissa with her next statement. "I can only think of one answer as to way he was, or will be here."

She had to stop this line of thinking right now, "Emily please don't ask me to do that."

"I can't think of another way to explain it," she said calmly.

Melissa got off the bench and walked away. "Do you have any idea what kind of trouble that's going to cause? The cells have been splintering since Chris's death. That would pull them apart even further."

"And I wouldn't have told you of this if it wasn't important child. My vision are rarely wrong, you know this."

"And they're also open to interpretation," she snapped back. Emily was taken aback.

"You never doubted me before," she said, hurt evident in her voice. Melissa forced her self to ignore it.

"And I never had this many people relaying on me before. I can't make a decision like that on blind faith, not any more."

Emily looked very stoic as she stood. "The decision, as always, is yours. But I do ask you to think about it a little longer. As leader you have to weigh every option presented to you equally." She left her alone. Melissa screamed and pounded the bag in frustration before she left the room.

It took a few minutes for Rachel to remember where she was. As often as she woke up somewhere different lately she should be used to it by now. Apparently, judging by the clock, Jack and Dusty decided to let her sleep in that morning. Grabbing a fresh set of clothes from her bag she headed for the bathroom and took a shower that felt way too good. After she got dressed she found breakfast was already on the table. Apparently they decided to not wait for her. So she ate quickly and went to find them. It didn't take that long actually. They were a few yards away from the house placing another one of those jammers Dusty put together. She quicken her pace so she could lend a hand.

Dusty knelt down and flipped a few switches. After a few moments he said, "It's working." At those words Jacked pulled the hood back and wiped the sweat from his forehead. "You ain't getting tired on me already are you son?"

"I have foil wrapped around my head. Do you have any idea how hot it gets under here?" He looked over to her, "looked who finally decided to get up."

She ignored him and talked to Dusty, "Thanks for breakfast."

Dusty checked out a few more things on the jammer, "Don't thank me thank Jack over here. Best flapjacks I ever had."

"You can cook?", she said in disbelief. "You never told me that."

"You never asked."

"Son, that joke older than I am," Dusty commented while he arranged some junk to hide the jammer.

"Wait, I know your Uncle taught you, right?"

Jack snorted, "My Uncle can burn water." Dusty whistled as he got up.

"Now that's a bad cook. Come on we got a few more of these to set up."

"Anything I can do to help?", she asked.

"You wanna lift these things for a change?", Jack said while pointing at the remaining jammers.

"Sorry, but I already had things figured out before I found you guys. Even put up a couple of warning markers so he wouldn't go out of bounds on accident."

"He just needed a mule," Jack said dryly as he put the hood back over his head. "Say, you don't turn into a..."

"Son," he cut him off, "I'm only gonna tell you this once. Never ask a Drakan what his true form is. Height of rudeness don't ya know."

"Don't you know any better," she put in. Jack just shot her a look. Oh there was no way she could let that pass. "So, how was the couch?"

"Lumpy," he sounded irritated, "very lumpy."

"You know," Dusty said suddenly, "if you two want to share that bed in the guest room go right ahead, it ain't gonna bother me none. All I ask is that y'all keep it kinda quiet so this old man can get some sleep."

Rachel and Jack both froze in place. They looked at each other briefly than looked away just as quick. Jack took a jammer saying, "The couch is kinda comfy actually."

"I think I'll double check those markers," she said at the same time while leaving rather quickly.

Dusty looked at both of them, "Was it something I said?"

Jack sat on the hood of an old Chevy just inside the jammer range. But he still had the hood on just case. He wanted to be alone with his demons for the moment. Mainly he wanted to be alone, he was also trying to avoid Rachel. It was easy enough to do the lot Dusty owned was pretty big. Outside of Dusty's Drakan medical practice he also ran this auto part yard to pay the bills. So he could lose himself for awhile if he wanted to, and forget that the red bull walked with him for awhile. Of course it helped that Rachel was trying to avoid him too. Or at least he thought she was until she came into view, "Hi."

"Hey." They were quiet for a few moments. "Look Rachel..."

"Jack we...,"she started. They both laughed that they spoke at the same time. He patted the hood next to him and she hopped on. "About what Dusty said."

"Yeah, I know."

"Look, I wanted you to know that I care about you as a friend." She stopped and looked at him, "We are still friend right."

"Yeah, we are," he didn't even have to think twice in answering that one. "I care about you too, as a friend. That's way I'm staying on the couch." He wasn't sure but she looked relieved. "I don't what some of these old people are thinking, two people our age can't just be friends. Something has to be going between them."

"Exactly," she agreed readily. "I wouldn't be surprised if your mom thought the same thing."

"But she was smart enough not to say anything. Although that would explain a couple of the looks she gave you." She shoved him than smiled, he had to smile back. For a brief moment things felt like they were before everything went south. He didn't realized how much he missed that. Then a scream of pain filled the air. Jack and Rachel ran to try to find the source and quickly discovered it. A red kangaroo was fighting a blue bobcat. The bobcat raked it claws at the other one who used it's thick legs to jump out of the way. Jack raised his left arm across his chest to bring out the belt. He swung his arm to the left and raised his right arm, "Henshin!", and brought down his right hand.

After the armor formed he ran toward the fight but he slowed to a stop watching them. "Get in there!", Rachel yelled at him. "One of them might be Dusty. You got to help him."

"Which one?", he shot back. About then the kangaroo fell to its back and kicked the bobcat with both feet. The blue Drakan crashed into an old van and reverted back to Dusty. Rachel called out his name as she went to him. Jack got between them and the kangaroo, "Friend of yours?"

"No," he grunted as Rachel helped him out. "That's one of Anderson spies. I caught him checking you two out."

"How do you know...," Jack started before it charged him, "later." The Drakan threw a right cross he ducked easily. Jack countered with an uppercut but the Drakan jumped out of the way. He rushed in but grabbed nothing but air as the Drakan jumped again. As he stumbled and tried to keep his balance the kangaroo landed, jumped again and planted both feet right in the middle of his back. Jack pounded a fist into the ground as he got up and blocked a knee aimed at his head. He pushed it back and nailed a solid fist to its’ head. It covered up as he tried to get in another shot. Then it spun around sharply, Jack got ready for a backhand. He wasn't expecting it to go down and sweep his legs out from under him.

The kangaroo jumped up again. Jack got his feet up catching it in the stomach. He heard the breath quickly leave its’ body as it backed up. Jack kicked it under the chin. He quickly got up, threw it into a stack of cars and started pounding away. He backed up and let it fall to the ground. "Who do you work for?", he demand. Jack didn't know if Dusty was telling the truth or not, but he had to be sure. The kangaroo held up a hand for him to back off, maybe it was going to talk. Then it jumped to its’ feet and flew right at him. Jack crashed to his back from the impact, stunned. When the stars cleared he raised up saw that the kangaroo disappeared. "Son of a ...," he grunted as he searched the area. Rachel and Dusty looked around too. "Did you see where it went?"

"He was jumping around all over the place," Dusty said. "It was hard to keep track."

"I think it landed that way," Rachel pointed near the house.

Jack perked up as an engine started, one he knew all to well, "Ah hell no." He ran and leaped on top of a trailer. Some guy with blond hair wearing black leather was revving up his bike. All right now he was pissed. He leaped from stack to stack to gain ground. The long haired biker didn't see him until he was right in his path. He skidded the bike to a stop. Jack grabbed him and threw him off of it. The biker turned back into the red kangaroo as it landed. Jack didn't give it a chance to react as he ran in. It fell to the ground and he picked him back up. An elbow to the face caught him by surprised. The Drakan tried to kick him but he caught it by the foot and flung it into a post. The Drakan got up and Jack tackled it but he was flung off. The meter flashed as it tried to jump away. Jack went after it on foot, he twisted the pod down on the fly. The two mini turbines in the belt started spin as he saw his chance. He jumped up at the same time it did. Jack stuck out his right foot and caught it in mid air in the side. The Kangaroo jerked to the side as it direction was forcibly changed. It exploded before it reached the ground.

Jack landed and powered down the system as Rachel and Dusty ran up. "Is it me," she started, "or were you more worried about that Drakan taking your motorcycle than it telling World Inc. where we are."

"Rules of the road little lady," Dusty said, holding his side. "Never touch another man ride."

"Something like that." Jack walked up to Dusty and looked him right in the eye. “Do you mind telling me how you knew that was a spy?"

*end theme-Papa Roach-Sometimes*
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Old May 4th, 2019, 03:20 PM #24
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Joined: Dec 2012
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<Episode 21>

Dusty looked himself over in the mirror in the bathroom. Outside on the huge bruise that was forming on his side he seemed fine after his battle with the kangaroo. "Hmm," he mused as he examined his side, "nothing seems like its broken." He glanced over to her and grinned, "Guess being older than dirt and tougher than leather can be a good thing." She just smiled back. "Ah, don't you worry about me little lady, I've survived worse than this little mark."

"If you say so." Rachel looked down the hall at Jack. He was leaning against the wall not really paying that much attention to them. She knew that look all to well, his guard was up. And she should know, she had seen it enough times in the past couple of weeks. "So Dusty..."

"Y'all still want to know how I knew that boy was a spy right?", he finished for her as he buttoned his shirt up while he walked by.

"It crossed my mind a few times," Jack finally said.

"If your looking for a deep conspiracy, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to disappoint ya." Dusty sat in his chair slowly. "Caught that boy snooping around here a few times. Every time I run him off he’d yell I'd be lucky if he didn't tell Anderson what's going on here."

"Weren't you worried he say anything?", Rachel asked him.

"What was he gonna tell him? That a doctor is running an auto part yard? I didn't last this long without knowing how to hide things."

"Still doesn't mean it can't be found," Jack told him.

"That depends on how good the finder is and how much better the hider is." He grunted as he readjusted himself in his chair. "And that made no sense what so ever."

"We get what you mean," she told him. "Right Jack?"

"If you say so." Rachel shook her head. Dusty went to pour himself a cup of coffee, he was trying to look like he wasn't holding his side while he did it. Before either of them knew it Jack was already there pouring some into Dusty’s cup.

"Much obliged"

"No problem," Jack sat on the couch. "So why did you risk your neck and fight him?"

"Be kinda hard to explain why I'm hiding the Drakan Killer to every Drakan in town." Dusty took a sip before continuing, "Besides, I've kinda taken a shine to the two of ya already. Hate to see you up and leave so soon."

"I'd bet," Jack said flatly.

"Is that so hard to believe?"

"Seeing how most Drakan I've come across wants to kick my ass, yeah it is."

"Jack,” Rachel warned him.

"Rachel," he returned mocking her tone.

"Hey you two," Dusty interrupted. "If that's how he feels it's not gonna bother me any. Can't blame a guy for reacting to what life's been throwing at him." He looked over at her and winked, "Doesn't mean he couldn't be a little nicer about it though." Jack rolled his eyes.

Rachel smirked as an idea came to her. "Maybe we should make him cook dinner."

Dusty agreed, "It's the least he could do after being so rude to this injured old man."

Jack looked at both of them, realizing he wasn't going to get out of this one. He got up saying, "I knew it was going to be a mistake fixing breakfast this morning."

"Little lady, I like the way you think."

"You got to know how to handle him." Rachel looked into the kitchen. Jack pulled a bottle of some nasty looking yellow liquid out of the fridge. He looked at her and suddenly had an evil looking grin on his face. "Those bedroom doors have locks on them right?"

It took Dusty a few days to arrange to get the chip out of his head. He led him and Rachel to the back of the lot. Out of jammer range too, just his luck. They stopped in front of two semi trailers that were next to each other. They were so close together Jack couldn't even see a gap. Glancing over to Rachel he said, "At least one of them will be blocking the signal."

"You're assuming we're going in."

"Why wouldn't we?", Dusty asked her a he opened a door to the one on the left. "I mean I have to operate somewhere. I'm not gonna do it in my living room like some quack."

When the walked in Jack and Rachel discovered it was it was another one of Dusty’s special builds. The two trailers were joined together to form one giant room. Well two if you count the glass barrier and two doors on either side of it as a wall. The other side of the glass looked almost like an operating room. Jack ignored that chill going down up and down his spine. "I'm guessing you didn't do this on your own."

"What are you talking about son? I'm just that good," Dusty face was serious before breaking out into a grin. "I had a few friends with, as you say, rebel connections help out."

"Your friends are good," Rachel said.

"You be surprised what you can get done when you promise free medical care. Now just to be on the safe side," he walked over to a jammer that was near the sink and flipped it on. "I'm gonna scrub up, so you can change in that booth over there," he pointed to the door that was on the left. "Rachel, care to give me a hand?"

"I am so dead," Jack muttered as he opened the door.

"Boy you will be if you keep talking like that."

"You do realize I have no medical training what so ever," Rachel informed him.

"You ain't operating little lady, just hand me the things I ask for. Don't worry I'll give you a quick lesson on what's what before we start. I'm assuming you're a quick study because you have to keep up with all the crap he pulls," he said with another grin.

Jack had a comeback but kept it to himself. No point in ticking off the guy who was going to be poking around in his head. Well no more than necessary any way. He took off his jacket, gloves and shirt and put on a hospital gown that was in there. Opening the door that lead to the operating room and was hit with a scent that smelled like a hospital. That Drakan was definitely good at what he did, side job or not. Rachel and Dusty were already in there dressed in scrubs, she was nodding every so often as he pointed out the various tools he was going to use. Which wasn't many, much to his surprise. Just a couple of cutting tools and some kind of camera attached to a TV. "So now what?"

"Plant it there son," Dusty pointed to what looked like a massage chair. As he sat in it Dusty said, "I may have a fancy set up but I'm still just a back alley surgeon, so to speak. Right now the strongest thing I can give you is a local."

"Is that wise?", Rachel asked him. Jack was questioning it himself at the moment. "Shouldn't he be out if you're going to be doing surgery?"

"If I was going to do surgery, yeah. But today I'm just taking a look around to see where things are at in the great wide open here," Dusty tapped him on the head.

"Hey!", he protested.

"Please son, it's not like I'm hurting anything in there." Duty walked over to some plans that were on the table and looked them over. "Fortunately who ever designed this thing put an access tube leading to that little bugger in your head. Makes my job a whole lot easier, let me tell ya." He picked up a needle with a clear liquid inside and said, "Say howdy to the local."

Jack looked over at Rachel before he put his face in head rest. Her eye had a distant look to them, "Rachel what's up?"

"What?", she was startled. "Sorry, I was just remembering when you went back to the medical wing after your run in with Allen." She bit her lower lip, "You were in so much pain back then, I..." Jack took her hand, she squeezed back.

He gave her a small smile, "At least I'm in better shape this time around." Rachel smiled back as she put the mask on and gloved up. Jack leaned into the chair as Dusty pulled the gown away from his back. He whistled suddenly, Jack looked back at him, "You wanna take a picture and take it back to your bedroom?"

"Sorry Jack," he said, “but damn son they messed you up."

Jack held up his right arm, "You should get a good look at this one."

He tried to relax as Dusty was getting ready to stick him with the needle. "Now don't you worry son, this can be completely painless...," he stuck him with the needle.


"...When I want it to be."

"I know that was for something."

"Let's just say Max was an old friend of mine." All of them were quiet as he stuck him a few more times, a lot less painfully this time around. "I know it wasn't your fault son. Hell I tested the compound in that dart myself."

"I was kicking myself for a few days after that one too."

Dusty grunted as he turned on the monitor. Jack felt his back go numb and he tried to get comfortable. Dusty asked for a scalpel and he felt the blade slice into him. Now that felt weird. He felt Rachel's hand squeezing his shoulder soon after.

"Relax," she told him. That was going to be easier said than done. Dusty asked for that scope on the tray and put in the opening he made. Jack left arm shot out suddenly and Rachel shrieked. He started laughing. Rachel realized it was a joke a moment later. "Vous âne!"

"Yeah," Dusty said plainly, "that one never gets old."

"Just trying to lighten the mood."

"Try pulling something this old dog hasn't seen before, ya hear." Dusty went quiet as he restarted the information. "Ok I'm turning the scope on. Now this might feel a bit weird for awhile. Might I also suggest that you keep from moving as much as possible." Weird, slightly painful was more like it, but he kept as still as he could. His foot was tapping like crazy, but his back was perfectly still. He should have asked for a couple of beers first. "Well," Dusty said after staring at the screen for what seemed like forever, "one thing for sure, this is definitely Drakan tech."

"Wait," Rachel spoke up, "Drakan Technology?"

"No offense little lady, but do you think humans could come up with something like this?"

"Get with it Rachel, even I figured that one out." Dusty breathed in sharply and he got this weird feeling on the back of his neck. "She's staring daggers at me isn't she?"

"Son, I'd say the only thing keeping her from whacking you one is this thing attached to you. I'd offer to keep it in but she might tear it out. And I got to return it by Friday." After another long ten minutes he said, "Ok, I'm getting close to the little bugger. So I appreciate it if you can stay quiet so I can concentrate." He closed his eyes and thought about just about anything else at the moment. Out of the blue Dusty said, "What do you know, there is a brain in there." Jack heard Rachel laughed for a bit. "All right I found it." He was quiet for a couple of moments, "I'm taking out the scope." It seemed to take longer going out that it did going in. "Rachel, put some pressure on that would you. I made the incision small enough so he shouldn't need any stitches."

"Sure." Rachel pressed some gauze onto his back. "Are you feeling all right?" He nodded. She started patting the back of his head, "Can you feel that?"

Without thinking first he answered, "Yeah." Then she smacked him in the back of the head, "Ow!"

"That was for that stupid so called joke and the 'get with it' comment."

He looked at her, "Damn, you hit harder than my mom."

Dusty chuckled as he watched them, "Well, your head gonna be ringing for a couple of hours and your back might be sore for a couple of days." Staring at the plans he called Rachel over and he put his hand up to keep the gauze in place. "How well do you know his systems?"

"Just the basic of what they told me, why?"

"Look at this." They spent a few moments as Dusty went over something in the plans with her. That fact he was keeping quiet while he was talking started to worry him.

Rachel eyes went wide, "I didn't know about that." Now it was official, something was up.

"Exactly how was a screwed over?"

"Well son, "Dusty began as he rubbed his chin, "I can take that chip out no problem. But they fixed it so the source powering the systems keeping you alive runs threw the chip. Anything happens to that chip and those lines get disconnected, those system loses power and well...".

"And bye bye Jack", he finished for him. "Great, just freaking great."

"There's got to be a way around it," Rachel said.

"I'm sure there is," Dusty answered, " but the thing is I can't do it here. I'd need some specialized medical equipment."

"Like they have at World Inc.", she added. Dusty just nodded as he rolled up the plans.

"Don't think they be up to doing me any favors anytime soon," he commented. Rachel just looked at him sadly.

"I'll fetch the truck to take you back up to the house. I want you off you feet for the next couple of days to be on the safe side." Dusty left them alone. Rachel looked at the floor.

"I didn't know..."

"I know you didn't," he said softly. "You wouldn't let me go through this if you did. At least I hope you wouldn't." He tried to get her to return the smile at least, no go. "I have to give those bastards credit for one thing though, they thought of just about everything."

Mentally he counting down from ten and twisted the handle on the detonator. There was a slightly muffled explosion and Jason looked over the barrier at the smoking concrete hut in the middle of the field. He walked over and opened the door and looked inside with a flashlight at the results. His newest mixture worked perfectly. There was not much he could do now a days. He appeared at those war meetings as a favor for the old man. But ever since they "elected" another green, a woman no less, he couldn't stomach being there any longer. Christopher was bad enough, but now every one was looking toward his sister for inspiration, someone else to bow down too. It made him sick to his stomach.

As he turned back to his barrier he saw the old man pull a notebook out of his backpack. "Was there a rule change about underling's privacy?", Jason said angrily as he walked up and snatched the notebook out of his hands. The old man didn't even show a hint of anything, and that infuriated him even more.

"I see you still working on plans to blow up the main World Inc. building," he said causally.

"It would end this a whole lot quicker."

"It could also give the others an excuse to join in Anderson's crusade. You have to think of all the possibilities Jason, not just the one you like."

"Are you done with the lecture yet?", Jason demanded as he packed his equipment into the backpack and zipped it up.

"I'm not lecturing, just giving out some advice. Advice you used to ask for if I remember correctly."

"Now we're going down memory lane."

"I'd figure we hold hands and sing next." The old man looked at him, obviously expecting him to laugh. He wasn't cooperating. "Right."

"Why are you out this way Nathan?"

"Do I need a reason?"

"You're never out here unless there's something."

"Unfortunately this time your right. Our cell is being absorbed into another one."

"They can't do that!", he exploded.

"Jason our cell is just the two of us. Even when Kendall was alive I was pulling every string and calling in every favor I had to keep us independent."

"Then we get more to join us."

"Nobody wants to join us. You're not exactly a people person. Both Kendall and myself were asked several times how we could stand being around you. Like it or not we're going to be part of another cell."

"Do you have any idea who's?"

From the look on the old man's face he knew he wasn't going to like it. "Melissa's."


"She personally requested it, I couldn't say no. Besides, I don't think any of the other leaders would have taken us together, if at all."

"I will not bow down to that woman!"

"No one expects you to."

"She's a green, of course she does."

"Have you ever seen or heard of her talking down to or demanding anything from a blue or red? I sure as hell haven't. She's been nothing but cordial to me every time I've dealt with her. We're damn lucky because I don't think any of the other cell leaders would be as generous."

He had heard enough. Jason slung the backpack over his shoulder, "You keep believing that Nathan," and he walked away.

"That attitude is going to get you killed one of these days, you know that."

"As long as I take the other guy with me who cares?"

Emily watered the plant on her table. Even in this dark environment a few buds were starting to sprout. She always took that as a sign that no matter how dark things were, life could flourish. And there were going to be some dark times coming up if things stayed they way they were. In fact she should be expecting a potentially dark moment of her own any time now. That's if she hasn't lost the ability to read her expected visitor correctly. After last time it was entirely possible she did. She was thankful when someone started banging on the door, "Come in."

Melissa stormed in and slammed the door shut. She waved some papers in front of her, "What in the hell is this?!"

"A detailed account of my vision."

"I saw that. I told you..."

"I know what you said child, and I told you that you had to weigh everything carefully. You can't do that without all the information involved."

The child looked conflicted, "Emily I can't do this. There are factors involved even I don't want to think about. Not without a crate of aspirin right next to me."

"Sit," she motioned to a chair. Melissa stood there. "Sit," she said a little more forcibly and the child did so. "I know you think you have the world on your shoulders. And right now child, if we have to be honest, you do." Melissa looked surprised she said that but said nothing. "Most people would break under that sort or pressure. But you have withstood it better than most of the others in the council probably expected. Child I have know you since you were a babe in your mother's arms, I know how strong you really are. I wouldn't add to your burden if I didn't think you could handle it." Melissa looked at the paper in her hands. "You have several options in front of you Melissa, it's up to you to choose the right one."

"What if I don't know which one is the right choice?"

"I'm going to tell you the same thing I told your brother." Melissa looked at her. Emily leaned in and placed a finger on the young woman's chest, "Look in here. People can lie and information can be false. But that voice inside you will never let you down, no matter how many direction you find yourself being pulled in. It will guide you down the right path."

"All have I to do is listen," she said. Melissa took one last look at the paper in her hands. She then folded them up and put them in her pocket. "I'd better go, I need to think about some things."

"I know you do child." Emily returned her attention to her plant. "I'm sure you'll find the right path to take us down."

Those couple of days of rest Dusty prescribed for Jack went by quickly. Dusty had him pegged as a complainer but he was proven wrong. Jack even refused any offer to sleep in a bed for those couple of days instead of the couch. Although he complained about being kept to light housework around the place after those days were over, again Dusty’s idea. He didn't want to be babied and felt he could pull his own weight. They didn't budge on the issue. Right now he was in the kitchen drying the dishes, or at least he was supposed to be doing that. When Rachel walked in he was leaning against the sink with his head down. As she got closer she could see his eyes were squeezed shut. "Is everything all right?"

He opened his eyes and looked up, but not at her. Jack was looking out the window, almost like he was searching for something. Then he relaxed and said, "I'm fine."

"Are you sure? I can get Dusty..."

"I'm fine," he repeated. Then he changed the subject, "The clean glasses are over there if you want to get something to drink." He reached into the sink to grab something else but there was nothing there so he pounded the counter top lightly.

"That's not why I came in. Dusty said he's expecting some rebel company tomorrow."

"We better make ourselves scarce for a couple of hours then." He threw the towel into the sink, "I don't think Dusty wants another fight around here anytime soon."

"You know," Dusty said from the doorway, "and I don't want to be telling you two your business, but sooner or later you're going to have to work with the rebels. Tomorrow might be a good place to start."

"I was changed and sent out to kill them. I don't think playing nice is in the cards."

"Not anytime soon any way," Rachel agreed with him.

"Then it might be time to start mending some bridges." Dusty pulled a piece of paper out. "They always tell me where they're going when they get a piece of info from inside World Inc. they have to check out. Just in case it's a trap and they can't move the wounded all that far, mind you." Jack took the paper and looked it over. "It's dried up river bed a mile or so out of town."

"I know where it is."

Jack put it down on the table as she said, “What do you want to do?"

"I think... I'm gonna take a ride." He walked past her and Dusty and grabbed his gloves and jacket. Picking up his helmet he looked at the other one sitting there and then to her. "I think I'll do this one solo, if it ok with you." She nodded.

"Here son," he said as he tossed Jack a phone of some kind. "Give us a call if you find anything. It's special build so you don't have to be worried about being traced."

"Sure thing."

"You better come back," she told him.

He put a hand on his chest," Please, it's me."

"That's why I said it." He gave her that stupid little sly grin of his as he pulled the hood over his head and walked out. "I hope he's doing the right thing."

"So do I little lady, so do I," Dusty said taking the paper. "Just out of curiosity, how long has he been having those nightmares of his?"

"It's been awhile, since before we left World Inc. I've tried to get him to talk about them."

"But nothing right? We might want to keep an eye on him."

Rachel watched as Jack drove toward the gate. "Trust me, I have been."

Jack sat on his bike in the darkness on the high side of the River bed. Even he could see this would be a perfect place for a trap, hopefully the rebels would figure that out too. Deep down he knew Dusty was right, he would have to deal with the rebels one of these days. Personally he was hoping for later, much, much later. Somewhere around the time they stopped being super pissed about him killing their leader. That might take fifty or sixty years, if he was lucky. Maybe he should have asked Barry what kind of warranty he was under. Probably got voided the moment after he "resigned" from World Inc. He adjusted himself in his seat as he saw some movement in the riverbed. A group of about seven could be seen in the moonlight. They were being careful, flashing the lights in their hands behind them and up the sides of the riverbed, they were expecting a trap too. Jack rolled the bike back a bit to make sure he wasn't spotted. The last thing he wanted was to be outnumbered by another bunch of Drakan.

Then he saw some movement across the way, then another one and another. A sound behind him caught his attention. Jack swung his helmet toward the sound, it crashed into the head of someone behind him, someone dressed in a black uniform. He knew that uniform, it was one of Anderson's troopers. Scanning the area he saw a couple of more on this side of the bed and figured there was more across the way. "Look out!", he yelled at the rebels. The looked up about the same time the troopers made their move. The Drakan changed into their true forms as a couple of guns on this side went off. An explosion rocked the ground behind them, even he knew there were probably more bombs further back, the rebels were trapped. He had to give them a hand. He raised his left arm across his chest and the belt appeared. He swung that arm to the side and raised his right. "Henshin!" and he slammed his hand on top of the belt.

The armor formed around him as he brought the bike to life. He drove up and down the side of the riverbed finding all the troopers he could and either take them out or make them jump out of the way. Bring the bike around he saw the troopers on the other side started running down into the river bed with those shock sticks in their hands. Jack brought the bike down into the riverbed and drove right threw them. All but one jumped out of the way, he skidded to a stop and kicked him square in the chest. That went flying back as he got off the bike. One of the troopers pointed behind him and he looked back. Jack, the rebels and the troopers just stared as the one he knocked down got up like there was nothing behind that kick. "How many Drakan does he have working for him?"

The trooper yelled and changed into a blue crab. The rebels took the opportunity to go after the other troopers. Jack stared at the claws on that Drakan, especially the bigger one. He turned to grab the staff off the bike, the crab moved quicker than he thought it would and wrapped a claw around his wrist. The pressure made him drop the staff. Then the crab threw him away from the bike. Snapping it's claws it came toward him. Jack sidestepped a lunge and kneed it in the gut. The crab acted like it wasn't affected, this one might take awhile. He got distracted as a trooper landed hard by him and the crab backhanded him. It got the big claw around his neck and started squeezing. Then it ran and smashed him into the bed wall and started pounding with the other one. Jack was gasping for air as a green furry hand grabbed on of its’ eyes and pulled. It screamed and let him go. Jack slide down the wall gulping in the air as a green wolf fought the other Drakan. A trooper reached him as he got to his feet. A quick jab took care of him. He ran in and shoulder blocked the crab back a few feet. Standing next to the wolf he asked, "You that same punk kid from the woods?"

The wolf nodded, "Consider us even," he said as he went after another trooper. Jack saw some cracks in the crabs shell on its’ chest. They almost looked like claw marks.

"Fair enough", Jack said as he targeted those marks. The crab kicked him under the chin flipping him over. Fido left a little too soon. He rolled out of the way and landed a hard punch to the cracks. The crab yelled and started swinging wildly. Jack ducked out of the way and went for a side kick when he saw a chance. The Drakan caught his foot and laughed sharply, the bastard was faking the whole thing. It pulled him in and started pounding away. Jack quickly got his arms up trying to block most of the assault. When he saw an opening he grabbed the bigger claw with both hands and started pulling. After a few moments there was a cracking sound and the claw started bending backwards. It screamed, actually in pain this time, and started backing away, he went in and stated pounding away. At its’ head, it's gut, the crack in it's shell whatever he saw a place he could get a hit in. He grabbed the Drakan and threw it to the side as the meter started flashing. He grabbed the right pod and twisted it down, and the mini turbines inside the belt started spinning. Running at the Crab he jumped up and aimed his right leg at it. His foot hit the cracks on it's chest and it flew back and exploded.

Jack stood there as he landed then looked around. There were troopers on the ground, some where still fighting the rebels, others were running away. The wolf and three others were just standing at there. They stared at each other for a long time. One of the rebels started to come at him but the wolf held up an arm to stop him. Jack looked at the ground and saw a walkie talkie sitting there, must have come off one of the troopers. He bent down and picked it up. Looking it over he looked at the wolf and tossed it to him, "You might find that useful." The wolf nodded once more. He went over to his bike and picked up the staff and put it back in its place. When it looked like nothing else was going to attack him he gunned the engine and rode off, letting the rebels handle what was left.

Anderson stood behind his desk looking out the window as Taylor gave a verbal report of the operation. Perez was less than happy to discover that there was a Drakan in his command without him knowing it. He'll handle that in the morning. Right now he had a more pressing concerns. They spent weeks setting up that operation, everything was planned to the last detail. Davidson involvement was not one of them. Looking away from the window he said, "Mr. Taylor."

He closed the file in his hands, "Yes sir?"

"Get in contact with Logan. I want to see him tomorrow."

"Logan sir?", Taylor said looking a little uneasy.

"Yes Mr. Taylor." He looked back out the window. "As long as Mr. Davidson stayed out of our affairs I would have waited for Mitchell, or at least for this other Fusion operative Allen had stashed away. But he just made himself a nuisance. It is time to take care of him."

*end theme - Papa Roach - Sometimes*
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Old May 8th, 2019, 02:33 PM #25
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

<Episode 22>

Rachel could only remember one other time she felt like this, when Jack went into that cave to face the rebel leader. Just like before the fact she didn't know what was happening to him was getting to her. But he wasn't just facing the rebels, Anderson's men were there too. Kind of like last time too. Not for the first time tonight she was thinking that she have talked him out of going, find another way to mend bridges as Dusty put it. Dusty, on the other hand, was sitting in his chair watching TV. The only sign she could see that he was worried was his tapping foot, something she never seen him do before. Rachel got off the couch and looked out the window before walking the floor, "Where is he?"

"Jack's alright," Dusty said. "No point in thinking otherwise. Bad vibes and all that crap."

"I should have gone with him."

"No offense little lady, and do what exactly?", he asked her. Rachel opened her mouth but nothing came out. She sat back on the couch, not sure about what to do. "Didn't mean to burst your bubble but I'm pretty sure you would have done more harm than good."

"I'm not used to being left behind," she ended up saying. God, that even sounded lame to her.

"If you say so," he replied. The way he said it told her that he didn't exactly believe her. Fortunately he decided not to push it and left it alone. After a few moments she got up and started walking the floor again. "Remind me to pick up some wood to fix that hole you're gonna make in my floor."

She ignored that comment. "Are you even sure that phone is even going to work? I mean how would we even know that Jack was the one calling?"

"I told you it was one of my special builds. And see that phone right over here?", he pointed to phone by his coffee maker. "It has two lines that I built into it. A regular phone line and a dedicated line connected to the one I gave Jack. If that second light starts blinking it'll be him." Right then it started flashing, she wasn't sure but Dusty looked like he relaxed a little too. He gave her a grin, "Speak of the devil. Here I'll put it on speaker phone for ya." There was a click before Dusty said, "Hello?"

"Yeah," Jack voice came over the phone, "I'm gonna miss curfew by a bit." She was glad to hear one of his stupid jokes.

"Well son, I won't ground you this time since you called," Dusty said with a chuckle.

"Did everything go alright Jack?", she asked.

"My God, both of you are still up? You got nothing better to do?"

"You just caught her getting a late night snack," Dusty covered for her with a wink.

"Oh," why did he sound strange? Then he went back to normal, "The whole thing was a trap by Anderson. His guys jumped out of the woods, set off a few bombs, one of them was a Drakan stuff like that."

"Are you alright?", she asked him. "You're not hurt or anything?"

"Nothing a couple of aspirin and a night rest won't cure." He paused, "That punk kid from the woods was there."

"Wait a second, he's still around?" To Dusty she whispered, "I'll explain later." He nodded in response.

"Yeah, and if it wasn't for him I might have went a couple of rounds with the rebels too."

"Not exactly what I had in mind when I told you about this," Dusty said looking a little dismayed.

"What can I say, that's been my life now a days," he said plainly. "I'll be back soon enough. I'm going to wait a bit and go back for my helmet before heading back."

"You’re gonna risk your neck going back for a helmet?" Dusty asked in disbelief. "That's a bit nuts son."

"That was my Dad's helmet," he explained. "My Mom would kick my ass if she found out I left that behind."

Rachel looked over to Dusty, "I met her, she would."

"Whoa," he said suddenly, "this phone just beeped. This thing got call waiting?"

"Sounds like the battery is getting low," he answered. "Hmm, could have sworn that it had a full charge when I gave it to you."

"Anyway, don't wait up," he told them.

"I'll put the aspirin on the kitchen table for you," Rachel told him. "See you in the morning." Dusty ended the call and Rachel fell back into the couch letting out a huge breath. Dusty chuckled as he got up.

"Told you he’d be alright. You can stay up if you want. But if you will excuse me this old man is going to bed."

"Night Dusty," she called out. Jack was alright, now why couldn't she stop smiling.

Lance agreed to join her as she questioned Arron and the others about what happened. Arron looked nervous standing there before them. He reminded Melissa of when he was trying to ask Chris if he could stay on. Chris wasn't sure if having the son of one of the area's most powerful alphas was a good idea or not. Emily convinced him some how that it was. Emily convinced just about everybody that it was a good idea. She was good at convincing people if something was a good idea or not. Thoughts for latter, right now she had other things to deal with. "OK Arron, why don't you tell us what happened last night."

"Keep in mind”, Lance added," that we already talked to the others." The youth nodded.

"Well we we're following the tip we were given. Everything was quiet then somebody shouted 'look out'. The next thing I knew Anderson's men were coming out of the woods, shots were being fired and there was an explosion behind us."

"Is that how it began?", Lance asked as he started circling the youth.

"I'm pretty sure, everything happened so fast it was hard to keep track." Lance glanced over to her looking annoyed. Not that they thought he was lying to them. Out of the seven she had sent who were there they had four different stories on how it started. The only thing consistent with each story was the shout out.

Now for the big question, "Do you have any idea who gave the warning?"

"No clue," she closed her eyes before he answered. Sometimes she could get a feeling off a person and she was now. Fear, anxiety, nervousness. Everything she learned to associate with one thing.

"You're lying."

"No, I'm not."

"Kid," Lance said, "if she says you're lying, you are lying."

"If you don't know who than you have a good idea who it was. Tell us who you think it was Arron. We're trying to figure out what exactly happened."

He didn't look at them as he whispered, "I think it was the Drakan Killer."

Lance looked up at the ceiling and groaned, "Why him of all people?"

"He did help us out during the mess afterwards," he mumbled. Melissa and Lance looked at each other. That was the only other constant part of each story, the Killer fighting Anderson's men and one of his Drakan soldiers.

"So do you have idea why he decided to help you?"

"I don't know" She knew he was being truthful.

"So why did you help the Killer with the crab?", Lance asked him.

"He was helping us out so I figured I'd return the favor."

"That's all well and good." Lance stopped walking and got in his face, "So why did you let him go?!"

Arron looked away, "I owed him."

"You owed him," Lance cried in disbelief.

"Lance," Melissa said to make him back away. "Arron, I understand thinking you owe him something." Oh Lord did she understand that. "And most of us wouldn't fault you for trying to repay your debt, but the other thought you were trying to give orders."

"I wasn't...."

"Did you tell the others about that debt of yours," Lance demanded. Arron didn't answer.

"Arron, why do we stay in our human forms when were in the habitat?"

"Because we don't know who is in what class when we’re human."

"Right that way we can remind ourselves we're all equal. Even then we have to be careful about the choices we make, particularly us greens. You might have thought you were repaying your debt but the others thought you were falling into old habits. No matter what you stepped out of bounds when you decided to let him go. What do you think an appropriate punishment would be Lance?"

"Two weeks hard labor in the garden center sounds about right," he said after thinking about it for awhile.

"That sounds good to me too. Arron report to the garden center in the morning. I'm sure Frank has some dirty jobs he needs done."

"Yes ma'am," he said and left them alone.

"Like the situation wasn't bad enough," Lance groaned while pinching the bridge of his nose. "Now the Drakan Killer not even sure what side he's on."

"Nothing is never simple Lance," She told him. "Friedman said Davidson left World Inc. on rather bad terms."

"He also said he attacked Anderson,” Lance reminded here, “but that was according to the company rumor mill. The only people who know what really happen are Anderson and the Killer. And that's if he really broke off from World Inc. This could be an elaborate trap for all we know. Hell nobody could know what's really going on."

Maybe not nobody, she fingered the folded up paper in her pocket that Emily gave her. "We got to take things one at a time I guess and hope everything comes out for the best. So when are you coming back?"

"In a few days for the next meeting. There were a couple of things that just started brewing in my cell when I left. I have to see if anything needs my attention so I'd better go."

"Lance, do me a favor would you," she pulled the paper out and handed it to him. "Read this and let me know what you think about it. I don't want an immediate reaction, think it over for those couple of days. I really need somebody else’s opinion on it."

"No problem," he looked a little confused. "I'll let you know in a few days." She nodded and watched him leave. She already had an idea on what she was going to do already. Melissa just wanted to know she wasn't crazy just for considering it.

"Why wasn't I informed there was a Drakan on my assault team?", Perez demanded. Anderson looked up at him over some reports Taylor had given him. The man did look rather upset.

"Which team?', he asked, allowing himself a small sly grin.

"What?!", Perez slammed his hands down onto his desk. His grin quickly disappeared. "Exactly how many of those bastards Drakan are working for me?"

"For you, none," he answered coldly. Perez backed off. He got his emotion under control after a moment. "However, there are several working for me. I kept quiet about it because of reaction such as yours."

"Me and the men don't like it one bit."

"I don't pay you and the men to like it, I pay you to follow orders. The rebels are a pain in the Drakan communities’ side as well as ours. With a common enemy an alliance, no matter how," he searched for the right word, "uneasy, is only natural. Mitchell understood that and the sooner you understand that the smoother things will run."

Perez crossed his arms and looked over him, "That worked great with Allen didn't it?"

Anderson mood and features darkened slightly, "I suggest, Mr. Perez, that in the future you check all of your facts before making similar comments. There were factors involved in the Allen situation that only Mitchell and myself were aware of." He rose from his chair and stared the other man down. Perez backed away even more. "You may not like it but that union is necessary, particularly now. Mr. Davidson is an x-factor in any plans we may have in dealing with the rebels. No one knows when he'll show up next and what he'll do. If you can not see the value of such an alliance than I will find somebody who can." Anderson straightened out his tie before he sat back down, "Of course the big question is how Davidson just happened to be there last night. I am not a big believer in coincidences, so I would suggest you find out how. Dismissed."

Perez said nothing as he left the room. Mitchell could not come out of the mark two program soon enough. Bastard Drakan indeed. On his desk the light on his intercom lit up, now what? He pressed the button, "Yes?"

"Mr. Taylor and a ... guest are here to see you Mr. Anderson." Finally some good news.

"Send them in." Taylor came in first and held the door open. An older man, with gray hairs playing at his temples, wearing a brown trench coat and sunglasses entered. Anderson rose but didn't smile, the other man wouldn't see it any way. The older man held a white cane out in front of him, but he didn't swing it from side to side. Instead every so often he taped it hard once on the ground in front of him. He stopped a few feet from the desk. "Mr. Logan, you are doing well I see."

"I can't complain," he reached out with his right hand and found the chair and sat down. "It's been awhile since I've heard from you."

"It's been awhile since I've had a target worth your considerable talents."

"That never stopped you before Anderson. So who’s the unlucky bastard that crossed you this time?"

"I assume you heard of the Drakan Killer."

Logan actually laughed out loud, "Now I know why you man seemed so shocked to see me."

"I didn't realize he be so unprofessional to say anything," He said mainly to Taylor with a raised eyebrow. Taylor started looking nervous.

"He didn't have to," Logan gave him a small smile. "Perhaps he needs a little demo. What do you say Taylor? Do you think you could put a hand on me before I can stop you?"

"I don't think that would be proper," Taylor said.

"You might as well comply Mr. Taylor," Anderson told him. "Mr. Logan will not leave until you do." Taylor nodded and silently walked behind Logan. The older man lowered and twisted his head slightly. Taylor reached out with his left hand, he was right handed so it was a good ploy. Logan cane suddenly came up and smacked his hand away as he rose up and shoved the chair into Taylor. A straight palm shot to the chest knocked Taylor to the floor and Logan placed the tip of his cane into the other man's throat. The choking sound he was making said the cane was being pressed in rather hard. Anderson rose up just enough to look at him. "Are you satisfied now Mr. Taylor?"

"Yes sir," he gurgled. Logan let him go and stood there as Taylor got to his feet.

"So, Mr. Logan, about the assignment..."

"Why do you want the Drakan Killer dead?", Logan asked. "Outside of the obvious reasons."

"Let's just say he's a mistake I want rectified."

"Hmm, I may have to raise my asking price for this one."

"Now wait just a minute," Taylor said before Anderson quieted him.

"The price is yours to name, within reason of course. We have audio feeds you can listen to of the killer in combat. I'll have somebody help you go over them if you want for your research."

"That will do for a start," Logan told him

Anderson raised an eyebrow, "For a start?"

"For a target as large as the Drakan Killer I'd rather witness him in action live."

"That might prove to be a little difficult Mr. Logan."

"If you want him gone bad enough I'm sure you'll find away." Logan headed for the door. He stopped just long enough for Taylor to open the door for him.

"He's asking for too much," Taylor said after they were alone. "There is no way we can arrange that."

"Mr. Taylor," Anderson sat back in his chair, "if we want this done we have to find away."

After talking with Dusty Jack found out there was a vehicle paint shop on site. Apparently the old Drakan was trying to expand his customer base a couple of years ago, it didn't go well. But he kept it up and all the equipment still worked, so Jack decided to paint his bike. Surprisingly Rachel agreed. Anderson's men did know what the bike looks like she said. Maybe a new paint job would buy him a little time. He took a couple of days and right now he was carefully spraying a coat of red paint. Putting the spray gun down Jack waited a couple of moments the carefully peeled away some of the protective paper he taped on to the bike earlier. Now instead of a black and gray motorcycle it was blue with black and red highlights. Of course now he was suddenly reminded of his armor color scheme but it was too late to do anything about it. Jack pulled off his face mask and took a moment to admire his work, "Not bad."

"Nice work son," Dusty said coming into the building. "I'd barely recognize that ride of yours."

"Yeah, I'm gonna let this dry then put a protective coat over it."

"Looks like you did this before," he said examining the paint lines.

"I used to work at a paint shop before it closed down."

"Huh," Dusty muttered. Then he glanced over to him, "What do you think Rachel is going to say about this?"

"I dunno," Jack said. "I don't think she would care." He went outside to get some fresh air, Dusty followed.

"You sure about that? She seemed kinda interested that you were interested to me."

Jack looked at him funny, "You implying something there Dusty?"

"Not at all son, just stating some observations I've made. Old doctor's habit I'm afraid."

"Well your observations are a little off," even he thought he sounded a bit defensive. "Me and Rachel are just friends. If something was going to happen don't you think it would have happened by now?"

"Who said I said something was gonna happen between the two of ya?", he said evenly and with a grin. "Besides who are you trying to convince there?" Jack found he couldn't answer the question. About then a shout could be heard.

"Rachel," he said getting worried. He ran off toward the source of the scream, almost knocking Dusty over. They found Rachel on the ground holding her right leg. She removed her hand and looked at it, a hint of blood could be seen on her fingers. He was kneeling down beside her in the next moment, "What happened?"

"I got stupid," she told him. Rachel pointed to a stack of cars, "That car there on top over there looked like the one my Dad used to have. So I climbed up there to check it out. I lost my footing on and fell. My leg scrapped against that one." Jack looked at the car, a rusty jagged edge of the door had a bit of her blue jeans hooked on to it.

Dusty examined her leg, "It looks worse than what it is, you scraped it pretty good. But I will say you are one lucky little lady, a little closer to that door and I'd be taking you to my operation room for some stitches. Then Jack would have to be my nurse, and I know you wouldn't want that," he grinned.

"Nobody wants that Dusty," he told him. Rachel couldn't help but laugh.

"Either way it's pretty minor," Dusty looked like he had an idea and looked at him, "Think you can handle this one Jack?"

"Not a problem." He helped Rachel to his feet, "Come on."

Despite her protest he put her left arm over his shoulder and helped her walk to the operating room. She was expecting him to say something like, "And you say I'm reckless," but he said nothing. They entered the trailer and he left her to get on the exam bed as he washed his hands and looked for a first aid kit. Rachel looked around a bit as well and found a spare towel. Making sure Jack wasn't looking she pulled her jeans down and got on the table. She used the towel to cover her under ware as he turned around with the kit and a tray. He put it down and held the tray by her leg. "You sure you know what you're doing?"

"Mom had us take a first aid class together," he said. "I'm going to have to clean this out and I'm telling you now, this is gonna sting. A lot."

She grimaced as he gently cleaned her scrap with some soap and water. "Aren't you supposed to say it's going to sting a little?"

"I thought you were big enough to handle it," there was light tone to his voice as he waved his hand over it, creating some wind that took away the sting. Then he put some kind of ointment on it.

"What ever, I'm just glad it wasn't closer to my butt."

"That's funny, I was just wishing it was closer to your butt."

She shot a dirty look at him, "You perv."

Jack got a tad defensive, "Hey, you've seen me naked. I'm just trying to even the score."

"What are you talking about?", right after she said that she remembered.

"Well for one thing when I first woke up at World Inc I had nothing but a towel covering the good," he motioned around his waste. "So that told me I wasn't wearing anything in that goop they had me in. And two you were there everyday checking in on me during my second trip in. I'm not just taking Anderson's word for it, I asked around."

She felt her face grow hot and looked away, "You were my key to steady employment."

Jack snorted, "That made my lie about not wanting to be guilted into staying sound genius."

She looked at him, "Your what?"

"My li...," his face went red, "my line... my.. my line," he shut up pretty quick. There was an uncomfortable silence as he finished dressing her wound. This was ridiculous, they were two fully grown adults. They should be able to talk this out with out any problems. Fortunately for her he changed the subject. "I'd been meaning to ask, how did you get involved in this Drakan mess?"

"You're asking me now after how long have we been together?"

"Never had a chance to ask. I mean there was usually a mission we were sent on, we been on the run stuff like that."

"Well it was kind of like you in a way," she said remember the day. "A few years ago I was on a college campus doing some late night studying."

"What were you studying?"

"Business management with a minor in psychology." Jack nodded as he started taping some gauze to her leg. "Well I was going back to my dorm when a Drakan landed right in front of me followed by a couple of the guys from the assault team. Of course I didn't know that at the time, so I freaked. They darted the Drakan and dragged him away and said I saw nothing and tell nobody. Like anybody was going believe me if I did. A couple of days after I graduated Anderson showed up at my house. He explained what I saw and offered me a job on the spot. I ended up working under Heather in the Drakan tracking center. She told me once that I'd be doing her job before either of us knew it," she smiled at the memory. "Actually she's the reason why I was made your mission operator."

"Really?", he said looking interested.

"Really. Mr. Anderson came into the Command Center one day and asked her if she could come up with any candidates for the job. She said she knew the perfect person and brought me into the conversation. The rest, as they say, is history."

"I'm going to have to thank her when this mess is over with," Jack said as he finished taping her leg up. "If she's still talking to us that is. I hope she's ok."

"I'm sure she is."

"Well, we're done here," he said. "Do you want me to head back to the house and grab you a clean pair of pants?"

"No need," Jack turned around as she removed the towel and pulled her jeans up. She had to smile, that was kind of sweet some how. "I can do it when we get back." She tested her leg, "Want to walk me back?" Jack got under arm and let her lean against him.

Things were kind of quiet for a couple of weeks. Jack and Rachel started helping Dusty fix up the outside of his house as payment for helping them out. One of the first things they did was replace the shingles on his roof. Rachel surprised him by being a pretty decent handy woman, according to her something her dad insisted on. One day Dusty said a load of siding was ready for him and he was going to need help getting it on "Bessie". Luckily there was only one guy there so they could load the truck while Dusty talked to him keeping his attention. The last thing any of them wanted was to be recognized. On the way back Rachel rode with Dusty as he took the lead on his bike. A shadow on the road next to him caught his attention before a red shape flew down and buzzed him. Jack nearly lost control of the bike as he skidded to a stop. The truck stopped right next to him as Dusty and Rachel jumped out. "Did you see that?", he shouted as he ripped his helmet off and looked into the sky.

"I didn't see where it went," Rachel told him while scanning the sky too.

"There!," Dusty pointed. A red owl landed a few yards in front of them by a bridge. It folded its’ wings into it's back started slowly walking toward them.

"Dusty," he risked a glance back at the old Drakan. He was already getting Rachel behind him. Jack returned his attention to the owl and raised his left hand across his chest and the belt formed around his waist. He swung his arm to the side and brought his right arm up to his face. "Henshin!," he shouted and slammed his right and on top of the belt. After his body was scanned he was wearing a black body suit with blue body armor. Jack got his hands ready to fight. At least with Dusty watching Rachel he wouldn't have to worry about her getting hurt. He started at the owl through the red lenses of his helmet as it stopped and stood where it was. Almost as once they charged each other.

The owl threw a punch that stopped him in his tracks. It spun and aimed a kick at his head. Jack ducked and landed a right to its’ gut. He threw a left at its head that knocked it back. The Drakan spun and charged suddenly knocking him to the ground. The owl tried to get on top of him but he was able to push him off. Jack got to his feet and waited as the owl charged him again. He grabbed the red Drakan and threw him over his head. The owl flew through the air and crashed on the street. Too bad he threw close to where Rachel and Dusty was. He went to attack it from behind but the owl turned it's head completely around and stared at him. "Gah!!," he cried out in surprised.

The owl backhanded him hard and he fell to the ground. It grabbed him by the back of his chest armor and hauled him up. The owl unfolded the wings from its’ back and carried him into the air. Then it went into a nose dive and slammed him into the ground. The armor took the brunt of it, but damn that still hurt. It tried to do it again but he had enough of his senses to start throwing elbows back at the owl and it dropped him. Jack landed roughly on the ground and the owl dove at him. He jumped backwards whipping his right leg up. The tip of his boot caught the owl under its’ beak and knocked for loop. It lay on the ground stunned as he took a moment to clear the cobwebs from his own head before continuing the attack. Jack started pounding and kicking away at the owl who could barely block his shots. It spread its’ wings quickly knocking him back and it tried to fly away. The meter started flashing as it kept getting higher and higher, Jack wasn't sure he could jump that high and not miss. He looked around and ran toward the bike. Jack got it on it wheels and popped out the lasers. Raising it up on its rear wheel he tried to aim them at the retreating Drakan and fired away. Two burst hit the owl and knocked it to the ground. A device of some kind dropped off it as it hit. Jack twisted the right pod up and ran at it. The charge went up his side and down his arm as the red Drakan got to its’ feet and looked at him. When he got close enough he threw an uppercut that hit it in the chest. The owl flew up from the charge and exploded.

Jack deactivated the armor and put his hands in his knees breathing hard. Rachel and Dusty ran up as he made sure the hood was still place. "Why didn't you let him go?", Dusty asked him.

"It saw what you looked like," he said between breaths. "Even if Rachel and me left your place you still be in trouble with the other Drakan."

"Didn't know you cared," Dusty said.

Jack looked at him and grinned, "I don't, well not by much any way."

"I feel the same way son," and he slapped him on the back. Dusty walked over to the device the owl dropped and picked it up, looking it over.

"We better get out of here," Rachel said to him.

"Best idea I heard all day."

An hour after Davidson killed his man, Anderson’s limo pulled up along side Logan. His driver got out and helped him into the vehicle, sitting next to him. As they drove off he asked, "What did you think?"

"I heard the battle just fine from the bridge," Logan told him. "Got a good picture of what to expect. Sacrificing your own man seems a tad brutal but it got the job done and the info I needed. Too be honest I was expecting somebody a little more dominate based on the stories going around."

"I think that's why he's so successful, people keep underestimating him. Almost like an assassin I know. So are you still up for the job?"

"Of course, how many times am I going to get a chance to kill a modern legend?"

Anderson smiled, "Excellent Mr. Logan."

end theme-Papa Roach-sometimes
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Old May 12th, 2019, 09:33 AM #26
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

<Episode 23>

-opening theme-Waterproof Blonde-Just close your eyes-

Jack found himself alone in the house with Rachel. A couple of hours ago Dusty told them he was going to someplace to experiment with that device the owl dropped when he fought it the other day. Neither of them couldn't figure out why he couldn't do it here. Then again Dusty did things his own way so they didn't give it a second thought. At the moment the old Drakan was the last thing on his mind. He was standing in her bedroom doorway while Rachel was sitting on her bed. "You sure we should be doing this?", he asked her.

"It's not like we're going to be doing anything wrong," she told him. She patted part of the bed next to her, "Sit down and relax a bit. I'm not going to hurt you, much," she smiled.

Jack sat on the bed saying, "I gotta warn you, I can get a little dirty."

Rachel just kept smiling at him, "I'm sure I can handle what ever you think you can dish out." She leaned over, turned on the TV and old Nintendo system she found and handed him a controller. "I used to love playing this game when I was younger."

"Never took you for the wrestling game type," he told her as the game started. "I'd figured you played Tetris if anything at all."

"This was the only type of game I could beat my cousins with on a regular basis," she informed him while getting the options set. "I don't really care to watch the actual thing but I haven't found anybody who could give me a hard time at this."

"That's because you never went up against me."

"Let me guess, unofficial block champion."

"Actually that was Richie," they choose their characters. "He was the only guy who could beat me at video games."

"Well you're up against person number two now so get used to it," she hit start. Neither of them played this particular game in years so it took couple of moments for them to get back into the swing of things. After several minutes Jack put his left hand in front of her face while he kept pressing buttons with his right. "Vous âne."

"I told you I get dirty." Next thing he knew his character was on his back on the mat. "What the hell, you cheated."

"You're the one who put your in my face. And I didn't cheat."

"You did too." He put both hands on the controller and eventually got her character in a submission move, "Give up."

"In your dreams," she told him. They kept going until the time limit ran out. Rachel put the controller down and looked at him with a big ol' grin on her face, "I told you that would be fun. I almost had you there."

"You keep telling yourself that."

"Five more minutes and I would have beat you."

"No you wouldn't."

"Yes I would've."

They stared at each other for a moment before both of them said, "Rematch."

Before they could get another game going the phone by her rang. Before he could say anything she answered it, "Hi Dusty."

How the hell..., "Are you psychic now?"

She held up a hand and listen to the phone, "You want us where? I think I know where that is. No, you don't have to come and get us. See you in a bit, bye."

"Does he need me for a mule again? And for that matter how in the hell did you know that was him to begin with."

"No," she told him, "he wants to show us something. And Dusty told me that he's the only who now how to call into that special build of his, so it couldn't be anybody but him."

"Am I the only one who thinks he has way too much free time?"

"Yes you are," she said as she patted his knee and got up. "We better get going. Whatever he wanted to show us sounded important."

"Does this have anything to do with that thing the owl dropped?", she nodded as he followed her out the door. "Did he tell you what that thing was? Dusty kept changing the subject when I asked him about it."

"You too?", she turned to him looking confused. "That's weird."

Jack put on his jacket and handed her a helmet, "Here comes that bad feeling again."

They found Dusty where he said he was going to be, an old side street under a bridge. Dusty was sitting on Bessie's back bumper throwing a rock up in the air and catching it. Rachel removed her helmet, got off the KR-1000 and walked over to him, Jack soon stood beside her. "Hey little lady, Jack," he said to them. "Did you have any trouble finding the place?"

"No," she told him, "Jack knew where the place was."

"Is that so," Dusty gave him a quizzical look.

"Had a few friends race their cars here back in high school." She wouldn't have been surprised he was in few of them himself. The look on Dusty face told her he had the same thought. "So what's with the meet up in the middle of nowhere?"

"Y'all probably figured out it had something to do with this do dad," he reached into the truck bed for the device.

"We had a hunch," she told him. "So what is it?"

Dusty turned it on and showed them the screen. There was a small green dot beeping a little off the center of the screen. He pointed to the dot, "That's Jack."

"What?," he took the device from him. She could see from her angle that the dot actually got closer to the center.

"Friedman heard rumors about this thing back at World Inc.," he told them. "I wanted to make sure that this thing couldn't send a signal back to Anderson. Last thing any of us need is for him to find out where you are."

"We appreciate the concern Dusty,” she said. “But you could have told us about this before now."

"I wanted to make sure first before I said anything."

"So the foils not any good now?", Jack said pointing to his head.

"The foil kept Anderson men from finding us for this long," she told him. "This has to be using a stronger receiver."

"Friedman heard that too," Dusty confirmed.

"Do you know what kind of range it ha?"

"I was about to find out. Jack, do me a favor and walk away until we tell you to stop." Jack said nothing as he handed her the device and walked away. Rachel and Dusty watched as the dot get further away from the center of the screen.

"Jack stop right there," she called out when it disappeared completely from the screen. "How far do you think that is?"

"I don't like to eyeball," he said. Dusty reached into his pocket and pulled out a tape measure." Hold that if you don't mind." She took hold of the tab and walked toward Jack. When he reached him he took a look and called out, "Little over twenty feet."

"Plenty of space to get ready for something," Jack said.

"And Mitchell trained his men to be able to do just that," she added.

"Why couldn't we do this at your place?", Jack asked. "I got to sit down."

"Cause the jammers I designed mess that thing up pretty good," Dusty said winding up the tape measure. "But son, I'm afraid it gets a little worse."

"What now?", he asked wearily.

"One of the reason I took so long in calling you was I took a bit of a Sunday drive around town. I spotted a few things that looked like that contraption attached to various things. I'd bet dollars to donuts those are sending a signal back to World Inc."

Jack turned away saying, "Son of a bitch."

"Well, at least you don't have to worry about them at Dusty place," she said. It was the only thing she could say at the moment.

Dusty added, "Yeah son, you two got a safe haven as long as you need it."

"Thanks Dusty," he said softly before walking off. He punched one of the pillars in frustration before leaning on it. This was the last thing he needed to find out about. Now he had to worry about going into the city and giving his position away to World Inc.

"I think we better leave him alone for a bit," Dusty whispered to her. "Give him some time to get his head around it. Come on, I'll give you a lift back."

"No, I better stay with him," Rachel said while keeping her eyes on Jack. "I don't want him to start thinking he's alone in all of this." Dusty nodded and squeezed her shoulder before he left. She walked up to him and put an arm around his shoulders. He looked like he appreciated it. "We'll figure something out, just wait and see."

After a moment he said, "We lasted this long, right?"

She smiled, "Yeah, we just have to be a little more careful that's all."

Anderson walked into his office surprised to find a person already inside. Logan stood by the window, back to the door. Anderson closed the door and waited. He doubted that the other man wanted to kill him. If he did he wouldn't be breathing at this particular moment. But he kept his guard up never the less. The seer said no human could stop him, a Drakan with a vendetta was an entirely different matter. "Mr. Logan, this is quite the surprise."

"You’re guarded," he said turning around slightly. "I don't blame you. How fast do you think your troops would get here if I did anything to you? Would you even be breathing?"

He tried to keep calm, but this line of questions was making him uneasy. "I'm sure that would depend on the mood you were in at the time."

Logan laughed, "You're right."

He had a little better time keeping his annoyance under control, "I'm only assuming the job is done at this point. That is the only reason I can think to why you are here."

"No, I'm still tracking the Killer down. But I did have a few questions in need of answers."

"I'll do my best to answer them," Anderson said. “To a certain extent of course."

"Fair enough," Logan agreed. "When I observed the battle you set up there was a girl with him. Was it that Haily I was told about?"

"More than likely. All they have is each other at the moment. I doubt anybody would be helping them."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Logan chuckled.

"Somebody else was with them?" Who would willing help two fugitives wanted by the United States government?

Logan nodded, "A Drakan."

To say he was shocked would have been an understatement, "On of us is helping Davidson? Are you sure?"

Logan finally turned to his direction and faced him, "I wouldn't confuse a human for one of us. My question is why?"

"I would like to know the answer to that myself Mr. Logan." He thought it over, "Could it have been one of the rebels?"

"I doubt it, I've been keeping an ear on various things. I don't think an alliance between the rebels and the Drakan Killer could have been kept quiet for this long." Anderson knew he was right. His sources would have indicated such a union before now.

But still this displeased him to a certain extent, "Then we have a man who thinks outside the norm. Do you know who this person is?"

"I have an idea who."

"I'll send out a team to take care of this traitor then." He reached for the phone but Logan put his cane on top of it. Anderson raised an eyebrow in question despite the other man's blindness.

"I wouldn't trouble them over this," he said.

"He needs to be taught a lesson."

"I'll take care of this... heh... ‘traitor’ as you put it. Free of charge too."

"Really? That doesn't sound like something you would ever offer. Not in the years I've known you at any point."

"Perhaps," Logan chuckled, "but I could use the exercise."

"If you wish. So why didn't you tell me this sooner?"

"Didn't think it was that important," Logan answered as he left the office. "I'll contact you in two days to let you know if I found him or not." That was the problem with assassins, particularly that one. Even if he sent a team to correct the attitude he’d be down a team. Then he would have an assassin looking for answers. Perhaps he should start looking for some human mercenaries to deal with.

There were time she often wondered how Chris stayed awake during these cell meetings. Each one took a turn giving an update of their cell's situation. Usually it was the same thing every time. New members to the cause, had to find a new source for supplies. The latest skirmish with Anderson's army. There were a few times she found herself nodding off, like now. However they caught her this time. "Are we boring you Melissa?", Lance asked with a humorous glint in his eye.

She was still embarrassed, "No... I was... going over something in my head."

"Deep in thought huh?", said a balding man named Jerry who started grinning. "Christopher was often deep in thought during these meetings."

"He was so deep one time," Lance added, "it sounded a whole lot like he was snoring." He, Jerry and a few of the other started laughing. She should be glad they were comfortable enough around her now to joke around a bit. But she was still embarrassed and some of the others were annoyed at the situation. Lance looked at a couple of them and sighed, "Some people have no sense of humor."

"I don't see how this is the time for humor," Drake said. It was hard to miss him in any situation. He was the only person Melissa knew who had slicked back hair. And from the occasional feeling she got he was very opposed to her being here. While nobody said anything she knew he was one of the one of the few who wanted to vote against her taking Chris's spot. "Your brother would know that."

Melissa eyes narrowed slightly in annoyance, "That's an interesting point of view Drake. Because this seem like the perfect situation where he would try to lighten the mood."

"He did too," Jerry put in. "Hell I remember that one time he called Drake Dracula for an entire meeting." The other started laughing again while Drake was getting madder and madder.

"Alright people," Melissa said to calm them down. It took a few moments but things finally settled down. Lance gave her a small smile. They were finally starting to listen to her without him having to repeat it. That was one hurdle she didn't have to worry about for awhile now. Time to get back to business, "My cell discovered a potential lead on a World Inc. supply convoy."

"What are they carrying?" Drake asked.

"Medical supplies," she told them, "very specific medical supplies."

"Anything we can use?", Rhonda asked, she was a woman who had her red hair in ponytail.

"There are a few things they're carrying that we need. So I'm making the convoy a top priority."

"So we stop the convoy in route," Drake said. "My cell can do that in our sleep."

"I'm sure you can, but Anderson bumped up security on just about everything lately. I think it be better if we followed the convoy to its destination."

"If he has extra guards on the convoy he'll definitely going to have extra at where ever it's going," Drake countered.

"I'm aware of that," Melissa told him. "But like I said there's suppose to be very specific equipment."

Lance asked, "What's so special about this equipment?"

"Friedman was able to get a quick look at a partial inventory." She took a breath, hesitant to tell them this. "He recognized several pieces if equipment that was used to turn Davidson into what he is now." Their reaction was exactly what she thought it was going to be.

"He's making another Drakan Killer," Jerry started to sweat.

"We don't know for sure," she admitted. "That's why I want to find out one way or another."

"We have to take out the convoy," Drake interrupted, "We make sure they don't get those parts."

"He'll just ship more," Jerry countered, "and we may not find out about it next time. Besides we don't know if he’s building another one of these things."

"It's possible they're doing a partial delivery," Rhonda added. "That equipment could have already be delivered by the time we intercept the trucks."

"Either way we should we should stop the convoy. Take what we need and get rid of the rest of it."

"And what if he's has another one on the way?" Melissa asked him. "We need to find out sure one if he is or not. The last thing we need is another Drakan Killer out there. Especially one we know is working for Anderson."

Drake stood up and leaned foreword, "Your brother would know that we should take out the trucks."

Melissa slowly rose up and started him right in the eyes. She didn't even try to hide the anger as she spoke to him, "Don't presume to tell me what my brother would or would not have done. Even if he would have sent a team to stop the convoy I wouldn't, because I think finding out if Anderson is changing somebody else into a killing machine is more important." She looked around to the others, "I don't know what most of you expected when you voted for me to take over his position as leader. If you thought I was just going to sit her, nod when I was suppose to, repeat what ever you decided and look pretty then I suggest you start rethinking things. You made me the leader and that's exactly what I plan on doing, lead to the best of my abilities. Now, if any of you have a problem with that then you know were the door is." She sat back down and waited. This was coming for a long time. She prayed this wouldn't cause the cells to split permanently.

Drake snorted and headed for the door. She didn't need her gift to feel his confusion as he noticed nobody else was joining him. He looked at the others and got a disgusted look on his face. He slammed the door behind him and every one was quiet. She wanted to relax but couldn't. It could have been worse, but the absence of Drake's cell was going to hurt. Lance looked over to her and said, "I knew you had it in you kid." That made her feel a little better. But know she was glad she was keeping the plan about Davidson from them now. God only know how they would react to that.

Jack sat on the wooden steps of the house just staring out into space. When he was younger he heard the phrase "a prison with no walls". Back then he had no idea what that meant, now he had a pretty good idea. Why was it when things were looking up something came along to bring everything back down again? God, Richie was the lucky one. Dusty came out of the house and took a seat on an old folding chair across from him. He motioned the jacket he was still wearing, "Didn't think it was that cold out here."

"I didn't notice,” sad part is it was true.

"I can see why," Dusty said staring out at the horizon. "You got a lot on your mind. That's the thing about the mind though, you put too much on it and it'll start reacting in different ways. Like those nightmares of yours for example."

"I've been having nightmares for as long as I can remember," he replied getting frustrated. He was tired of talking about something so stupid.

"Yeah, but usually people go back sleep when they have one, not stay up for the rest of the night like somebody I know. That's gotta be coming from someplace."

"Dusty," he said sounding tired, not really in the mood to fight, "do us both a favor and stay out of my head."

"Alright son, what ever you say. But I'm here if you ever need an ear."

Jack gave him a small smile, "Bad enough I got Rachel telling me that every chance she gets." Dusty chuckled and they were quiet for a few minutes. To break the silence he asked, "What exactly is Rachel fixing in there any way?"

Dusty slapped his knee, "Wouldn't you know it, she told me and I've done forgot." He leaned foreword and shouted, "Hey Rachel, what did you say you were making again?"

She came to the door smiling, "My aunt Jambalaya. Trust me you're going to love it."

Jack got a big grin on his face, "Ah, that slop you forced down my throat back at World Inc."

Rachel stopped smiling, "It's not slop. God I swear you're impossible," and she walked back into the house. He had to laugh out loud.

Dusty started shaking his head, "Sometimes you two remind me of an old married couple, you know that?" Jack just shrugged. “Of course most of the time you two remind me of a couple who don't realize they're heading that way."

"You're implying something again Dusty."

"This old man ain't implying anything," he said trying to sound innocent. "I'm just sating one of those wrong observations you said I was making." He opened his mouth to say something but the Drakan cut him off, "I know, I know you're just," he made quote mark with his fingers, "friends." Jack waved him off and started to get up when Rachel reappeared. She looked right at him with no expression on her face and had something behind her back.

"Dusty she's gonna beat me with something."

"Well if she does you had it coming," Dusty told him.

"I probably should for that slop remark." Rachel knelt down and revealed the cupcake she had behind her back. There was a single candle on top of it. "I shouldn't give you this either." She smiled at him, "Happy birthday Jack." She handed him the cupcake and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.

Jack found himself blushing and speechless, "You shouldn't..."

"Yes I should have," she said matter of factly. "You obviously weren’t going to tell anybody. Fortunately I remembered the date from your file."

"Now you’re gonna have to find out when hers is," Dusty said, "seeing how you're 'friends' and all."

"He already missed it," she told him.

"What? Why didn't you say anything?", Jack asked her.

"You were getting your upgrade after the Allen thing. It's no big deal." She started to go back into the house.

"Wait," he blew out the candle and got to his feet. He broke the cupcake in half and handed her one of the pieces. "A very belated happy birthday Rachel." He leaned in and returned the peck on the cheek. Both of them kind of smiled as she went back into the house.

"Yup," Dusty said after a moment, "those observations of mine are waaay off."

"Would you shut it," he snapped.

"I was hoping the three of you would be here," A new voice said. Jack and Dusty both turned to the man with the sunglasses, trench coat and a cane who was a few yards away from the house. Where the hell did he come from? He wasn't there a second ago.

"You know this guy?", he asked Dusty.

"Never saw him before today," He replied

"I was afraid you were gonna say that," Jack pulled the foil lined hood over his head just in case.

"You know," the man said, "I'm not surprised to find you here with all this scrape Davidson. Maybe Anderson can use the stuff here to salvage whatever they used to make you the Drakan Killer."

That was all he needed to hear. Jack raised his left arm across his chest, the belt appeared around his waist and he swung his arm to the side and brought his right arm to his face. "Henshin!", he shouted as he slammed his right hand on top of the belt. Jack ran in after the armor formed around him. The man didn't change form for some reason. He threw a straight punch that the other man caught with no problem, then he planted a foot right into his gut that floored him. "What the hell?" The old man folded up his cane and put it into his coat before changing form to a red bat. Jack got to his feet and started throwing punches. The bat's ears wiggled slightly as it dodged every blow before landing an open palm shot to his chest armor that knocked him back, "Damn it."

"Is it a little early to say you're disappointing me at the moment?", the bat asked. Jack tried to kick its’ leg out from under him, but the bat flew up with the leather like wings under it's arms. He raced for his bike and snapped the staff to its full length. The bat landed and Jack slowly approached it. What got him was that it looked like the bat was actually nodding in approval. Jack circled the Drakan before attacking from behind. The bat blocked the shot but Jack kicked him in the side with his right foot. It stumbled and he swung the other end of the staff at its’ head. The Drakan ducked and swept out it's leg. Jack jumped over it and kicked his leg at him that it caught and the bat swung him into a stack of cars. He dropped the staff from the impact while the bat backed up from the noise as the cars fell around him. Jack slowly got to his feet shaking the cobwebs out of his head and charged the red Drakan. He connected with a right hook that staggered the back. He kept throwing punches until the bat caught one and flipped him to the ground. Keeping its’ grip on his arm the bat put a foot on his head then started pulling. Jack was screaming in pain as a blue bobcat tackled the bat to the ground.

"Jack, get out of here!", Dusty cried out as he tried to hold the other Drakan to the ground. The bat quickly knocked the old blue Drakan off. Before either of them knew it Dusty was pinned against an old Ford Mercury.

"I was going to save you for last," the bat said. "But if you're in such a hurry to die...", it raised it's hand for a killing blow. Jack quickly got up and threw the bat off of Dusty. He speared the Drakan with a tackle and drove him into a dumpster. The bat wasn't stunned long enough as it punched his way out.

Rachel ran up to Dusty as he returned to his human form. "Doesn't anybody listen to me when I tell them to get out of here?" She ignored him and kept her attention to the fight Jack was in. The bat threw Jack into the side of a trailer when she noticed it. The bat's ears moved as it backed away from noise. Jack recovered and waited a bit to attack again. He was being blocked t every turn, but she had the answer. Rachel picked up a pipe and Dusty asked, "What are you planning on doing?"

"I'm going to make a little music," she answered.

Dusty grinned as he picked up a pipe as well, "I see what your getting at little lady." Both of them ran off in different directions.

Jack landed near the staff, picked it up and swung with all he had. The Drakan caught it mid swing and threw him again. He skidded across the ground and slowly got to a knee. "Oy," he muttered between breaths. Then the banging started to the left of them. The bat looked in that direction as another banging sound started on the right. He grinned behind the helmet, sometimes it was good to have someone to watch your back. Jack started running and pounded his armored forearm against the cars he passed. The bat tried to figure out where the new noises was coming from but all three were moving. It waked into something, it felt like a metal barrel. The Drakan starting pounding it to counter act the banging. In moments it hearing was centered and he could focus on each sound. There was a click above him and the sound of something spinning. It turned itself toward the sound as Jack jumped off a trailer and reared his right fist back. The bat caught him around the wrist with both hands. Jack landed on his left foot as he kicked out with his right. The bat flew backwards and exploded a moment later.

Jack deactivated the armor and fell to his knees clutching his arm. He wasn't expecting the bat to hang on as he kicked it. Damn thing felt like it was going to pull his arm off and take it with him. Rachel and Dusty came into view "Jack is anything broken?", she asked looking at his arm.

"No," he grunted as Dusty checked his arm out. "But remind me never to do that again."

"No worry there son." To Rachel he said, "Come on, let get him to the operating room. Nothing's wrong but I still want to check him out."

Melissa was in Emily's room with Lance. Nobody but the three of them knew what was in that letter Emily gave her. All of them knew they were past the point of no return with her decision. "Lance," she started, "you don't have to be here when he comes, if he comes that is. There's going to be a lot of trouble when the others find out. It's best to keep yourself out of the storm as much as possible."

"Then you shouldn't have shown me the letter," he said. "Besides, somebody has to make sure you don't get yourself killed."

Melissa nodded, God she was glad to have him as a friend. "Friedman told me he knows where's he's at. I'm going to send Nathan along to make the offer. After that it's going to be up to Davidson if he takes it or not." She looked at Emily who nodded once, but she had that look on her face saying she knew he was going to take it. She started to hate that look. "As you know I'm keeping the other cells in the dark about this. I'm trusting you guys to keep this quiet for as long as we can."

"Of course kid."

Emily said, "No one will her this from me child."

"Good," she hung her shoulders. "God help us all if I made the wrong choice."

-end theme-Papa Roach-Sometimes-
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Old May 16th, 2019, 07:01 PM #27
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<Episode 24>

*opening theme-Ana-We Are*

He stared out the window of his office tuning out just about everything else. Three days, it had been three days since Logan said he would contact him if he found Davidson or not. And if Logan said if it was going to be two day it was always two days, no matter what. That could only mean one thing and that couldn't be possible. That human could not be that good, could he?

Anderson chided himself, only a fool who believed in the Drakan killer legend would allow such thoughts to rule them. He knew better, he looked into Davidson eyes. The human knew how to fight, in that there was no doubt, but he didn't have the warrior fire within him. If anything did happen to Logan then Davidson couldn't have done it alone. Perhaps he and the rebels did come to an agreement of sorts. But which one, that was the question. Who would be able to keep something like that quiet for this long? And how did they convince the others to keep this secret as well. Christopher possibly, but he was dead. Anderson smirked to himself, whomever that person was belonged on his payroll.

The door open, drawing part of his attention. He waited a few moments before saying, "What is it Mr. Taylor?"

"I had Logan's usual haunts checked out."

Anderson turned around in mild surprise, "I didn't ask for that to be done."

"Rhodes contacted us sir," Taylor informed him. "There was a situation that he required Logan's talents for. We were the last ones to contact him. Since we were both looking for him I thought it was prudent to ask for his assistance."

Anderson grunted, he would never have asked assistance for anything, it was a sign of weakness. The senior Allen taught him that. But the damage was already done, "What did the good General have to say?"

"Logan hasn't been seen at any of his usual haunts. None of his contacts have heard from him in the past few days. Apparently he had a couple of assignments waiting for him after he was done with us."

He let out a small sigh, "And I suppose none of his contacts knew who the mysterious Drakan helping Davidson was," he already knew the answer, but he felt the need to ask anyway.

"No sir," he said confirming his suspicion. "Apparently he only shared that bit of information with you. Logan told no one his target was the Drakan Killer. Then again who would believe him?"

"Quite," Anderson returned his gaze to the city below. Although he kept his outside demeanor calm inside he felt an animal rage building. One of his own was helping Davidson, right under his nose. And that fool Logan had an idea who. In his younger days he would tried to force the identity out of him. Of course he would most likely be dead right now if he tried. Perhaps Logan was able to dispose of this traitor. "Is there anything else Mr. Taylor?"

"Senator Henning is trying to make some noise again. He demanding answers to why we haven't located Davidson and Haily yet."

That human was impossible to deal with. "Contact Jefferson and have him send something to the good Senator. If he didn't believe my warning from last time he should after that."

"Yes sir," he started to leave, "I almost forgot. Dr. Parker contacted us, Apparently Dr. Armstrong is denying him some equipment he needs for the other Mark one."

Anderson sighed again, this feud was getting tiresome, "I'll talk to Armstrong about it. If there is nothing else." Taylor nodded and left. His thoughts returned to Davidson. After a while he started to smile to himself. If by some small chance Davidson was able to defeat Logan then the Fusion system worked better than he ever dreamed. A small sense of pride started to grow inside of him. If he ever had the chance to meet Davidson face to face again he would have to tell that to him.

Jack sat on a barrel as Dusty stood by him looking at his house. The outside was pretty close to matching the inside. The old Drakan estimated they be done in another week tops, barring another Drakan showing up as he put it. Jack flexed his shoulder thinking about the last one, it was still a little sore after that. He wasn't complaining, if Rachel and Dusty wasn't around he doubted he’d be breathing right now. Come to think of it a couple of his last few fight he needed somebody help. Jack started wonder if he and Rachel would have to go on the run again if things became too dangerous for Dusty. He could take care of himself, but Jack didn't want that on his conscious

"Not bad son," the old Drakan said after a bit. "Never thought this dump would ever take shape."

"Just glad to help out," he replied. "It's the least we could do after all of the things you done for us."

Dusty grinned at him, "The least you could do is nothing at all. No, all I did was give y'all a place to stay, nothing important."

"Considering where we were when you found us...", he started.

"No need to finish son," Dusty said as he sat next to him. "I've been thinking, I got a decent size basement. With a little work we might make part of it into a small bedroom. That couch can't be getting any more comfortable."

Jack started to smile, "And you're bringing this up when we're about done with the outside."

Dusty snorted, "I know, I know, probably should have brought it up sooner. Actually Rachel’s been down there a few times getting some ideas for it. So you might wanna hurry up and get a say in the thing."

"I just need a bed Dusty," he told him.

"Good," Rachel said as she came out to join them. "Because that was all I was planning on. Well maybe a dresser to put your stuff in, but only if you were good" she teased as he handed him one of the pop cans she was carrying. Jack didn't notice she was looking at him with a strange glint in her eyes until he opened his. Pop sprayed him for a quick moment. He wiped it off his face with his hand as she started laughing, "I'm sorry I couldn't resist."

"Little lady that was a waste of good soda," Dusty complained.

"Come on Jack it as just a joke," she said as he remained quiet.

"That was pretty good," he finally said, "I didn't think you had it in you." He got up and grabbed the can out of her hand before she could react. "But of course you realize," he said with a slight southern drawl, "this means war." Jack started shaking the can as Rachel started backing up, he slowly followed. She looked over to Dusty for some kind of help.

"That accent was pretty good," he said after a bit. "That Cajun one couldn't have been as bad as you said it was."

"Dusty!", she cried out. Jack looked at him then back at Rachel with a raised eyebrow. He started shaking the can harder.

"Was I suppose to keep quiet about that?", the Drakan said innocently.

"Oh I am definitely gonna enjoy this now," Jack aid with a evil grin.

"Jack," she said sternly, "you don't want to do this.

"Oh yes I do," he shot back.

"I'm your mission operator and I'm telling you to put the down that can."

"You stop being that the moment we left World Inc."

"Jack I'm warning you," she ran out of room as she backed into the side of the house. She screamed as he opened the can in such a way that both of them got sprayed. "Way to go genius, you got yourself too."

"It was worth it," he told her "You got something right there," he wiped a drop off the tip of her nose with his finger.

"Oh thanks a lot," she replied sarcastically. They locked eyes for a few moments before he turned away, blushing a bit. He didn't notice she blushed a little too. Dusty looked at them with a knowing look on his face, he was getting really annoyed by that look. He was going to tell him to don't even think it when a new voice called out.

"I'm surprised you guys are still together." Jack turned sharply to the voice ready for anything. They all were when they saw who it was.

"Dr. Friedman," Rachel called out and went up to him.

"Doc," Jack took his hand. "Come to drag me back for a check up?"

"That would be a losing battle," he laughed. "No I just came by to see if you two were all right."

"I keep telling you they are Harry," Dusty said. "Grab a chair and stay a spell."

Friedman took a lawn chair to sit in. Rachel sat next to Jack on the barrel. "So has this old coot drove you two crazy yet?"

"Jack can be a pain in the ass at times," Dusty joked, "but he's bearable to be around. Personally I don't see how the little lady here stands being around him all the time. Oh wait, he said ‘old coot' didn't he?", they laughed.

"How have you been friends with him this long," Jack asked Friedman with a wink.

"Beats me, I should probably be approaching sainthood by now." They laughed again, "But I got to be honest with you guys."

Jack and Dusty both went, "Uh-oh."

"What is it?"," Rachel asked, she sounded worried too.

"I have another reason as to why I'm here," he looked back behind him and waved somebody foreword. An older man came foreword cautiously. Jack got a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach as the newcomer came closer.

"Nathan?", Dusty asked as he got up. He stood between him and Jack, "What are you doing here?"

"Good to see you again Dusty," he said before looking at them. "This would be Miss Haily and the rather infamous Mr. Davidson I presume."

"You would presume right," Rachel answered. "Dusty, who is this guy?"

"This, little lady, would be a rebel." Jack immediately shot up and stood in front of Rachel.

"Hold on, we came to talk," Friedman said quickly. "He has a proposition for you."

"Then maybe we should take this inside then," Dusty said. Jack moved to let Friedman and this Nathan character into the house. Before following he scanned the area looking for any sign of a trap. Rachel and Dusty did the same. Nice to know he wasn't the only one feeling paranoid at the moment.

Dusty, Jack and herself were all understandably nervous as they looked at the other two in total silence. Jack never took his eyes off of Nathan as he stood next to her. Dusty asked if anybody wanted a drink but nobody said anything. They kept staring at each other for several moments before Friedman said, "Well this is getting us no where."

"A little warning would have been nice," Jack told him.

"I got to go with Jack on this one," Dusty added. "I don't mind you dropping in out of the blue, but if you're gonna bring company I would have set something up."

"Or give us time to get ready," she mumbled. Jack grunted in agreement.

"I wanted to make sure you’d still be here when we came," he explained. "Let's face it, Jack and the rebels don't have the best of relationships."

"That goes without saying," Nathan said finally. "I guess I might as well get to the point to why I'm here." He took a deep breath. To Rachel it looked like he couldn't believe what was about to come out of his mouth, "I've been asked to offer you an invitation."

"To what?", Rachel asked as Jack eyes narrowed a bit

"To join us," he said. She and Dusty were shocked but Jack looked unfazed to her. "You don't seem all that surprised Davidson."

"Not the first time I heard it. Your leader made me the same offer when I faced him."

She was shocked again, "You never told me that."

"I try not to think about that day too much."

"Hmm," Nathan said, "knowing Christopher I wouldn't be surprised. I hope this day will end better than that one did." They all heard the edge in his voice. "But you might want to think about taking the offer. A Drakan or two already found you, judging by the smell around here. It's only a matter of time before Anderson's men find you here too."

"I don't scare easily," Jack told him.

"I didn't think you did Davidson, I'm just stating fact."

"Why are you offering this all of the sudden?", Rachel asked. "It's a bit out of the blue."

"I'd imagine it would have something to do with the other night. He did help our people out then,"

"I'd helped you guy out one time," Jack said plainly.

"Well twice if you count the dart you gave me," Friedman put in. "And you let the kids go too."

"Still," Rachel said, "it seems a bit strange."

Dusty added, "It smells like a trap to this old man."

"If I was in your position I'd be thinking the same thing," Nathan admitted. "But I was told by my current leader to assure you that you'd be safe."

"Maybe we better step out for a bit," Friedman said getting up. "Give them time to think this over." Nathan agreed and they walked outside. The three of them looked at each other.

"Any idea who this new leader is?", Jack asked Dusty.

"I told you son, my contacts with the rebels is kinda limited. I don't keep up on the coming and goings. Starting to wish I did though," he sighed. "What do you two think?"

"I think," Jack said as he started at the ceiling, “we're back in the run again if I say no."

"Not necessarily," Dusty tried to argue.

"The rebel would know were we are," Rachel countered. "There's bound to be a few rebels with a grudge who would come looking for him."

"And you want to walk into that?"

"Staying here might put you in danger Dusty."

"Anything happens to me and they lost their free medical care," Dusty told her flatly. "Hell if they do anything to you the same thing gonna happen."

"I think they can here you Dusty," Rachel told him pointing at the door.

"I don't care!", he said loudly. "You may have stayed here a little while but I think of you two like my own family. Hell it's not your fault you're in this mess, it's this damn war! The two of you shouldn't have to keep paying the price for their stupidity."

"Dusty calm down" She tried to get him to sit back down. "Even you said we have to deal with them sooner or later."

"I know I did darlin'. But I meant of equal ground, not like this."

"I don't want to leave either Dusty," Jack said softly. Dusty tried to hide hat his eyes were starting to water. "But I don't think we have much of a choice."

“Then I'm going with you to check things out," Dusty said after a moment. They started to protest but he cut them off, "No arguing, my mind's already made up. Besides somebody gotta make sure they treat the two of you right."

"Thanks Dusty," she said. "I'll let Friedman know our decision.” Rachel turned toward the door and saw Friedman standing there. He nodded and went back outside. Jack grabbed his backpack and started throwing his clothes in it. She figured she better do the same. Rachel took a quick look around the house, it seemed like it was just last night that Dusty found them. Now they had to leave when things were just starting to feel like home. She didn't want to even think about how this was affecting Jack.

This entire situation sucked. Again, why was it that when everything looked liked they were going right something happened to knock it down again? Of course now he was dragging more people along for the ride. Jack didn't think the situation could get any worse then Nathan said they had to be blindfolded. Now he had no idea where the hell they were going. Fortunately Dusty insisted that he drive them there in Bessie. That made him feel a little better. Dusty said that any of this felt like a trap he turn the rust bucket around and get them out of there. He should have insisted they bring his bike along too, just for the get away if they had too.

After what seemed like forever he felt Bessie come to a stop and her engine turn off. Jack was going for his blindfold when Friedman said they had to keep them on a little longer. Rachel let out a small curse as the door opened and they were helped out. Dusty guided them a little way before he heard a door open and they were led inside. The door was closed before Friedman told them, "All right you can take them off now." Jack quickly ripped his off, all he could see was a poorly lit tunnel.

"Quaint," Rachel said looking around.

"This is one of the tunnels leading to this cell's base," Dusty informed them.

"Cell?", Jack asked with a raised eyebrow.

"As in more than one?", Rachel looked surprised. "World Inc's Intel never said anything about there being more than one group of rebels. But I guess that makes sense, if Anderson located one then the other could keep going."

"I'm pretty sure Anderson thought it was need to know," Friedman offered.

"This way," Nathan took the lead. All three of them kept an eye on their surroundings. Friedman tried to make some small talk, find out how they been but he and Rachel pretty much ignored him. About half a mile later Nathan took a side tunnel, then another one after that and a few more yards stopped in front of a wall and knocked hard three times. There was a loud click and part of the wall swung in. As they walked in the guy on the other side stared at Jack, he gave him a quick glance before following the other down the winding set of stairs. A couple of flights and short walk later Nathan proclaimed, "The main square so to speak."

Jack and Rachel were staring at the sight in front of them. Under a bunch of lights was an underground community. A couple of house like structures were set up. Everyone, they looked human but he had a feeling they were all Drakans, were dressed normally enough but a few looked a little ragged around the edges. Children were playing and running around. Several of the adults stopped what they were doing and looked at them. Soon all of them stopped and looked in their direction. "This is only a small part of the habitat," Nathan explained. "Most of the tunnels lead to other parts, living area, eating area and so forth. I think I see her, come this way."

He followed but he was paying attention to everybody else. Some of the Drakan looked at him in contempt, most of them had fear in their eyes. Several parents held their children close to them as he passed. Then his gaze fell on a man with short blond hair with a look of disgust on his face. "I think I know him." he murmured.

"What did you say Jack?", Rachel asked him.

Jack looked away and said, "Nothing.” He started shaking his head, "I can't believe Anderson consider these people a threat."

"Us, maybe," a female voice said. "The idea we represent, most definitely." Jack saw a dark haired woman with blue eyes walk toward them. She was followed by guy with long blond hair and an old woman. He recognized her almost immediately.

"I don't believe it."

"Hello again Mr. Davidson, it good to see you under slightly better circumstances."

"You two know each other?", Rachel asked in disbelief.

"You could say that," Jack said.

"He saved my life once," she answered. "Although I'm surprised you took me up on my offer so soon."

"You're the leader?", it was Jack turn to be surprised.

"Thanks to you," she said bitterly, "yes. When I talk to somebody I prefer to see their entire face."

"Not sure that's good idea," he told her.

"We had the signal jammers in place for a while now so you don't have to worry about being located."

Jack turned to Rachel getting really annoyed, "Did everybody know about this bug in my head before I did?"

"In a way child," the old woman spoke up. She turned around and pulled up her hair to reveal a scar on the back of her neck, "It was one of Anderson earlier attempts to control the situation. Several of us have similar trackers implanted in our bodies.

"Anderson had his people connect them to their nervous system," Friedman explained, "in such away that if they were removed the damage would be permanent."

"Like I needed more proof he was a bastard," Jack mumbled.

"So... uh...," Rachel looked at the leader trying to get a name.

"Melissa," she offered.

"Melissa, why did you send for us? It seemed a little sudden. We could only think of a couple of reason why, but it didn't seem like much to offer an alliance."

"True," she agreed, "but as they say the enemy of my enemy is my friend. If were both have a common enemy then we should consider joining forces."

"If he's really gone from Anderson that is," the guy with her said.

Melissa turned her head and in a warning tone said, "Lance."

"Trust me, I have no loyalty toward Anderson," Jack told them. "He sent me after his own kind for crying out loud. He sent me after kids for God's sake. Why would I be loyal to him after all that crap?"

"The incident with the children happened a while ago," The old woman said. "Why did you stay so long then?"

"I was trying to figure out what was going on." He looked at the floor before he looked back at them, "That and we had a deal. One of you was responsible for putting me in this position. I help him and he would help me find that damn mon...," he trailed off as a light went off in his head, "monkey," he said softly and turned back to the crowd as he scanned their human faces. In his mind he was back in the mountains on that day. His legs and left arm were crushed by boulders. The blue monkey landed by him and turned into a man with short blond hair. Just like the one over there with disgust etched in his face. Rachel and Dusty tried to get his attention but he didn't hear them. Slowly the anger he was feeling started to show on his face. "You," he hissed between his teeth.

Screaming he charged the man. The other Drakan quickly got out of his way as the man stood there. Jack tackled him to the ground and started wailing away with his fists. The others didn't shy away from the fight. Dusty and somebody else had to drag him off the blond haired man. "Let me go!", he screamed as he struggled to free himself.

"Calm down son," Dusty told him, "you ain't helping yourself any."

"I told you he couldn't be trusted around us," Lance said but Melissa ignored him.

"What was that about?", she demanded.

"That's the monkey! Let me go damn it!!!"

Rachel looked at the man, who was being held back as well, then back to him, "Jack are you sure?"

"Would I be trying to kill him if I wasn't?", he shot back not taking his eyes off his target.

Rachel went to Melissa, "Listen to me, World Inc. heard some info on a rebel operative. A team was sent out but it was a trap. Jack and a friend of his was caught in that trap as well. The rebel was a blue Drakan monkey."

"Really?", Melissa asked as he stop struggling. "What was the date of this." That day was burned into his memory and told her the date without hesitation. "Please tell me you didn't have a operation that day."

"I'm afraid so," Nathan answered as she closed her eyes. "That’s pretty close to how Jason described it."

Melissa sighed before speaking, "Then it appears we are partially responsible for the Drakan Killer existence." The crowd started talking among themselves at the news. "We do seem to have a slight problem right here," she said looking at the two of them.

"Perhaps," the old woman started, "a call of honor combat is in order." Melissa acted like she was surprised she even said that.

"Honor... combat?", Rachel wondered out loud.

Dusty explained, "It's an old tradition. When somebody is wronged, I mean really, really wronged, the person can challenge the other to, well, combat."

"Does that mean I get to kill him?", Jack turned away just long enough to see the old woman nod once. "What she said, I call that."

"I accept," Jason said before anybody else could say anything.

Melissa shook her head and walked off with the old woman following. The crowd slowly disappeared, buzzing about what just happened. Jason grinned and followed them soon after. Dusty let him go saying, "Think before you call for something like that." He didn't care, he was finally going to get his hands on that damn monkey.

"Honor combat?", Melissa said as she paced Emily's room. "I'm trying to do this as peacefully as I can. I probably could have worked things out between the two of them. But you had to give them an option to tear each other apart." Emily just sat there tending to her plant. She hated it when she did that.

"I beg to differ child," she finally said. "I doubt even your brother could even handle that." That took her by surprise, to everybody else her brother could do just about anything. "Even I felt the hatred emanating between the two of them."

Melissa looked away, she didn't want to admit it but the power behind that emotion almost knocked her for a loop. "There has to be another way."

“Perhaps there is child, but until you find it the strife between them would eventually spread to the others. Trust me child, there is no other way. This must be dealt with now if we are to continue foreword."

"And if they kill each other in the process?" Emily said nothing. "I just hope this doesn't blow up in our faces."

"Maybe you can back out," Rachel said. Jack just ignored her, he just paced like a caged animal. Dusty gave them a quick lesson about the thing before he left them alone. She could use him right about know to try to talk some sense into this knucklehead. "Jack we're trying to make peace with these guys remember?"

"Not while he's here," he said. "We can talk about getting along after I kill him."

"Killing him isn't going to help us any."

"I really don't care," and he went back to ignoring her. God he could be impossible when he wanted to. About then two men came walking in, one carrying a bowl of something. "What do you want?"

"Tradition says that those in honor combat must be marked for combat," he gestured to the bowl the other was carrying. "Please remove your Jacket, shirt and gloves."

"What ever you’re gonna put on me isn't going to be seen for long." They said nothing, just staring at him. "Whatever," Jack bared his upper body. The two looked at the scars covering him then at each other. Then they began marking his chest with the grease like substance. She was expecting him to make a comment, a joke or something but he kept quiet. They lead them to an open area with a pit dug into the floor. It was already pretty crowded but she could see the human form of the monkey already in the pit. Without any prompting Jack jumped in and stood behind the line marked on the floor. Rachel looked around as the other Drakan were talking to each other as they pointed at Jack. A cold spot started to form in her stomach, dear God what was he thinking.

She could see Melissa raise a hand to grab everyone attention. "A call of honor combat has been made." A hand on her shoulder made her jump until she saw it was Dusty. He smiled and squeezed her shoulder as Melissa continued talking. "It has been years since one has been called for, but today we must heed it's call. Are the two ready?" The monkey changed into his true form and nodded, is marking could still be seen on his fur. Jack raised his left arm across his chest and the Fusion belt appeared. The Drakan started buzzing again as he moved his arm to the side and brought his right arm to his face. "No matter the outcome no one will do anything to the combatants after it is over, is that clear?" Nobody said anything. The spot in her stomach started to grow with each passing moment. They stood there in the pit just staring at each other, but she could see Jack finger on his right hand twitching slightly. Melissa raised a hand above her head, she didn't look pleased as she brought it down, "Begin!"

Rachel closed her eyes as she heard Jack shout out, "Henshin!"

-To be continued-

*ending theme-Papa Roach-Sometimes*
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Old May 20th, 2019, 12:35 PM #28
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Joined: Dec 2012
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

<Episode 25>

*Opening theme-Ana-We Are*

Rachel and Dusty thought he was out his mind, but he didn't care. A Drakan woman he saved turned out to be the rebel leader, but he didn't care. He was surrounded by a bunch of people who more than likely wanted him dead, but he didn't care. He had stuff that smelled like crap painted on him, but he didn't care. All he cared about at the moment was that he was finally going to get his hands on the monkey. No nightmares, no Rachel getting herself in danger, nothing to get in his way this time. Damn it, he could taste it.

The rebel leader was making a speech but he zoned her out. All but the part where she asked if they were ready. The monkey changed into his true form and a fresh wave of rage flowed through him. Jack immediately raised his left arm across his chest to make the belt appear around his waist. Just as fast he swung his left arm to the side and brought his right arm up to his face and waited. They stood there burning holes into each others with their eyes as they waited for Melissa to let them loose. It seemed like forever but she finally gave the word and brought her hand down. Wasting no time he slammed his right hand on top of the belt and shouted, "Henshin!"

Jack yelled in rage as he charged and the armor formed around him. The monkey did the same and they quickly got within arms reach of each other. He threw a wild right the monkey easily ducked under and backhanded him. Jack nearly fell from the blow but he kept his balance long enough to sink a knee into its’ gut as it tried to grab him. The monkey fell to its’ back and kicked him away giving itself enough space to get its’ breath back. It then leaped up catching Jack by surprise and brought him crashing down on the ground. The Drakan started pounding away at his head. Jack took the blows before he could plant his left fist into it’s rib cage. It stopped long enough for him to push the Drakan off.

The monkey backed up to regroup then charged again. Jack jumped and flipped over the attack, as he landed he spun around and smashed his armored forearm into it’s face. Behind the helmet he grinned as he thought he saw a tooth fly out. He grabbed him by the back of the neck and forced its’ head down as he brought his knee up hard. The monkey rocked back holding its' face. His advantage was short lived as the monkey suddenly swept his legs out from under him.

How was that damn metal bug stronger than last time? That question entered his mind more than once so far. That wasn't possible and once again he pushed that thought to the side. Thoughts like that would get him killed. A point proven when it got up and spun around, its right foot coming out of nowhere and connected with the left side of his face. The killer jumped at him, but he had enough of his senses intact to duck. He jumped on its’ back and tried to break the Killer's neck. The metal bug was able to flip him over to the ground. It raised its’ right fist and aimed it at his head. Jason was barely able to roll out of the way.

Quickly seeing an opening he rushed in and got the bug off its’ feet. Putting as much into it as he could put into it Jason ran and rammed the Killer into the side of the pit. He allowed himself a small feeling of satisfaction as he heard its’ breath leave it's body. Jason did everything in his power to keep his advantage and pounded the Killer into the wall. It some how was able to block one of his punches and grabbed his left arm. He panicked momentarily as he saw a shot aimed for his elbow and quickly freed his arm. It hit him too late that what the Killer wanted him to do as that same fist smashed him in the face. How did that damn metal bug get stronger than last time?

Despite her better judgment Rachel opened her eyes and watched what was going on. This entire mess was almost as savage as the last time Jack and the monkey got there hands on each other. Last time she convinced herself that she stayed because she was Jack's mission operator. Now her concern for his well being made her stay this time. Deep down she realized that was the real reason she stayed that time too.

Jack ducked down and grabbed the monkeys legs to bring it down and started pounding away at its’ head. Besides here Dusty was screaming, "Come on Jack! Get that son of a bitch!". She took her eyes away just long enough to see the other Drakan's reaction to his out cry. If any of them were surprised that he was cheering for Jack they didn't show it.

Still, housing them was bad enough. There was no point in adding fuel to the fire. "Dusty calm down. You were against this too."

"I know darlin', but if he's responsible for Jack being turned into what he is than he got what he has coming."

No matter how hard she tried she couldn't come up with an argument against it. Almost silently she uttered, "Come on Jack."

Melissa spent what little time she had before this to steady herself. The wave of hatred from their previous encounter was evident and she needed to brace herself for it this time. Still she was getting sick to her stomach from it. Davidson and Jason were down there trying to tear each other apart and neither of them seeming to care. What was making her sicker was the fact some in the crowd was actually enjoying the debacle. She tried to calm herself and felt a hand on her shoulder. Emily's touch was able to calm her slightly, something she was grateful for at the moment.

Lance eyes never left the pit. "I never expected anything like this." Davidson went flying over Jason's head and landed with a thud. "I knew Davidson would be angry, but I didn't think this level was possible."

She did, she found out when Davidson saved her. In her head the Vulture had him pinned against the wall and said, "Come on Killer, you know we're exactly alike, why should we fight?"

Right before he said, "I'm nothing like you!", there was a brief spike of anger. Not as bad as when he spotted Jason in the crowd, but it was close. The vulture hit a nerve then, she realized that now. Her mind went back to the fight when Davidson caught Jason when he charge at him, spun around and planted him into the ground. A quick wave of satisfaction flowed though him. Some how Melissa doubted that she would get the feeling of regret that she got when Davidson killed the Vulture.

"I get the feeling there's more to Mr. Davidson than we know Lance."

The meter started flashing a couple of minutes ago. If he was smart he would have ended this then. But when the monkey went boom he wanted the explosion to be big. Now if only that damn Drakan would get back on its’ feet. Damn it, he wanted it standing for this. Jack backed away to let the monkey get to his feet, which it was doing slowly. "Come on you ugly son of a bitch!", he yelled at the monkey. "You are not crapping out on me now!"

Anger flashed in its’ eyes as the monkey swung wildly at him. Jack ducked it and grabbed the right pod as it stumbled foreword. He twisted it down and the two mini turbines in the belt started spinning and redirected the energy that had built up. Jack waited as the charged went down his leg and the monkey turned around. He launched a kick, no jumping, no flipping, nothing fancy. Just a simple straight side kick aimed right at it’s head.

Jason turned around and saw the metal bug's right foot coming at him. He tried to back up to avoid it but was stopped by the wall of the pit. Little arcs of electricity could be seen on the bottom of its’ foot. It was an eternity before he realized the foot wasn't coming any closer. The metal bug stood there with it's foot in the air. Jason looked at it in total confusion as it’s hand slowly became a fist. Suddenly the bug yelled, brought its’ foot down with a stomp and walked off. In moments the part of the floor it stomped on exploded out. Jason slumped to the floor staring at the bug, who had its’ hands on its’ head.

Then it looked at the ceiling and screamed. He barely registered the commotion of the Drakans around him. Jason was starting to get back to his feet when the bug turned back around, forced him against the wall and stared him in the eyes. After a moment it said, "We take down Anderson then we finish this. Agreed?" In a total state of shock Jason managed to barely nod his head in agreement. The Killer let him go and walked away. Jason slumped back down to the ground.

Rachel could not believe what she just saw. After all of that he was letting the monkey go. Jack powered the system down as he came toward them. Dusty offered a hand to help him out of the pit but he ignored it. "Son, I don't get what just happened," Dusty said.

"Not now," was all he said. He wouldn't even look at them, he just stood there shaking. The other Drakan backed away but he looked like he wasn't exactly caring at the moment.

Rachel looked back at the monkey and the rest of the Drakan. He was still sitting on the ground. Some of the others around him were pointing and talking among themselves. Their leader, Melissa, was no where to be seen. "I'm not sure," she said, "but I think you just humiliated him."

Dusty said he wasn't exactly sure if she was right or not. Jack grabbed his clothes and started walking away, but she did hear him say, "Good."

Emily stood there as Melissa and Lance stared as Mr. Davidson walked out of the pit. Much like his encounter with Christopher the fates kept the outcome of this from her. But even she was surprised at this turn of events. "He just walking away?", Lance said to no one in particular. "I saw Davidson twist that thing on his belt, just like you described. He had him dead to rights. Why is he letting him go?"

Melissa stared at Mr. Davidson intently. She kept her face neutral, but she knew the child well enough to see how conflicted she was. "Like I said, there's more to him than we know."

"But why? The way those two were going at it I was positive we were going to have to bury somebody."

"Perhaps," Emily spoke, "he realized things might go smoother for him if he let Jason live."

Lance looked at her with a hint of amusement, "No offense Emily, but I highly doubt that. I don't live in this habitat but I know of Jason’s reputation." He gestured at the remaining crowd as they walked away, "I'd bet you anything there be a few here that would be glad if Jason bought it just now."

"Perhaps young one," she replied. Fate might have hidden the outcome from her but she knew one thing for certain. Letting Jason live would make things harder for Davidson. The Drakan living here were nervous enough with him among them. Jason could very well use that to his advantage if he played it right. She would have to make sure she counteracted any ill will Jason could cultivate in the habitat. To them she said, "Mind reading is not one of my gifts and Mr. Davidson's thoughts are his and his alone."

"No one asking you to read his mind Emily," Melissa said, but she expected the child wished she could at the moment. "Hopefully those who would have wanted Jason dead are a very small minority and Davidson gained a point or two with the others."

"Wouldn't be much if he did kid," Lance told her.

"I know, but a girl in charge can hope right? Anything that would make the job a little easier." She attempted a smile but both of them knew she didn't feel it. "If you two will excuse me, I need to go over the sleeping quarters arrangement again. After what we just witness I think it might be a good idea if Davidson and Jason were as far a part as possible."

"Good idea, you don't want the two of them to go at it after passing each other in a hallway." Lance followed Melissa away from the hallway leading to the pit. Emily waited a few moments before leaving her own way. She heard Lance speak out loud, "But what kind of person lets the man he hates more than anything live?"

Emily smiled to herself and softly said, "A champion."

It took Rachel a couple of minutes to find Jack again. He was in some kind of storage hallway. From the look of things he was trying to get whatever they painted on him off and kicking any crate that was nearby. Jack finally saw her standing there after a few minutes. "I had him," he said, "I freaking had him! And I let him go!" Jack kicked another crate in anger, "Gah!"

Rachel sat on a crate that looked like it hasn’t been abused yet, "Which begs the question, why?"

"I don't know," he said turning away from her. "Something in my head said it be better if I let him live." He pounded the wall before leaning against it, "Why did I have to listen right then?"

"I wish I could tell you."

"So do I because he's the reason why Richie is dead and I was turned into a freak."

"Jack you are not a freak," she told him. "In fact you’re the most normal person I know."

Jack snorted and turned to look at her. "Now there's a laugh and a half. Normal people aren't covered in scars. Normal people don't turn into blue metal dragonflies with red eyes. Normal people don't kick or punch something and have it blow up. Me and normal parted ways a long time ago."

She just sat there and looked at him, "Do you feel any better now that you got that little rant out of your system?"

"No," he answered as he grabbed his shirt and put it on. "Thanks for listening anyway."

"What are friends for," she smiled at him. Rachel handed him his jacket as he smiled back. "But I have to admit, you do have a way to keep people guessing."

"Blame my upbringing."

"I'm telling you he's a real life Kamen Rider," a young sounding voice said. They looked down the hallway and saw a group of teenagers walk by.

"Is that part of that Power Ranger crap you keep watching?", one of the other asked.

The source of the first voice turned around and said, "For the last time it's not Power Ran... ," he trailed off when he noticed them standing there. The other turned around and stared at them with eyes wide open. Several awkward moments later the boys started running away in different direction. The one who called Jack a Kamen Rider stayed put the longest.

Rachel found the whole thing kind of amusing. Jack, on the other hand, stood there with a strange look on his face, "My God, they're every where."

"Jack we're surrounded by Drakan, they're going to be all over the place."

"That's not what I was talking about."

"Then what?"

"It's nothing, don't worry about it." Jack ran his fingers through his hair before putting on his jacket. "Come on, let's see if anybody brought our bags down yet."

"Dusty said he was going to get them, after he took care of something first," she told him. Rachel looked around and tried not to sigh out loud, "At least we got another roof over our head, for a little while at least."

"Both of them are staying?", Melissa asked. She wasn't sure how more surprises she could be today. The plan was for Davidson to stay here and work with them. That woman that came with them, Rachel that what Dusty said her name was, wasn't suppose to be part of it. Hell, Melisa didn't even know she was part of the equation.

"They're kinda a package deal little lady," Dusty told her. She would like to know exactly when he became Davidson’s personal spokes man. "You get one you get the other. They’ve been through a lot together. Personally speaking, I wouldn't dream about splitting them up."

"That going to but us in a bit of a bind Dusty."

"Maybe," he said, "but I keep hearing how you keep getting new members to the cause. They don't seem to be hurting you too much." His tone change to something more light hearted, "Besides Rachel can be a bit of a buffer at times. Jack can take a bit of getting used too. I got a long with him just fine of course, but for somebody not as easy going as me he might be a bit much at first."

Melissa crossed her arms over her chest and smiled, "Why do I get the feeling I was just insulted."

"This old country doctor just makin' an observation, that's all," he snickered. Then he got all serious again, "But I'm trusting you to keep the two of them safe. I would really hate it if anything ever happened to them, particularly if somebody under your watch ended up doing it."

Her eyes narrowed a bit, "Are you threatening me Dusty?". She sensed no malice coming from him, but still. She couldn't remember a time were Dusty made anything even close to a threat, why now? And more importantly what would he threaten to do?

"Now, I know what you’re thinking little lady and I would never do that. I'm a doctor and wouldn't turn away anybody in need of treatment. Hell, if Anderson was at my door near death I'd do everything I could to nurse him back to health. Might not make any new friends around here if I did, but that wouldn't stop me."

Al right, know she had to now, "Why are you fighting for them Dusty?"

"I consider them family to me," he said seriously.

She nodded, now she understood why he was doing this, "Then you have my word that I'll make sure none of my people will harm them. However, I can't make the same promise for my cousin."

"I wasn't expecting you too darlin'." For some reason he looked undecided on something. After a little prodding he ended up saying, "I probably shouldn't be saying this, but... Jack is going through some things."

"What kind of things?", now she knew she couldn't take any more surprises today.

"It's not my place to say, but you'll more than likely find out soon enough. He wouldn't tell me about it, and I'm not sure how much he told Rachel but I don't think it’s much. So I was kinda hoping Emily might be able get a word or two out of him."

"You know Emily doesn't work that way Dusty. Davidson is going to have to open himself up to her before she does anything." She suddenly remembered a part of the vision Emily had, particularly the part where she described Davidson. "But I'm sure Emily will be around if he needs somebody to listen." He seemed satisfied with that and left. Melissa sat back down in her chair, if only that vision Emily had let her in on what exactly was suppose to be haunting Davidson.

Jack and Rachel stood around the main area of the underground city, well calling it a city seemed a tad overkill, waiting for the person that was suppose to them to their rooms. He kept an eye on the Drakan around them. A few of them were doing their best to look like they weren't staring at them. He understood the logic behind having him here. If they were going to work together it’d be best if they were in the same place, and time could be wasted if he had to travel from Dusty place to here. Not to mention it increase the chances of World Inc. finding him if he did that. Now if he could get rid of the feeling that he just put his head on the chopping block.

"Judging by the bags I'm guessing you're the ones in need of a guide." They looked around until they saw a guy with blue dreadlocks coming toward them. Wow, how in the hell did they miss him. He looked right at Jack for a bit, "You know, I always pictured you’d be taller." He was so sick of hearing that. "Any way, think of me as the official welcoming committee. Just call me Sparky."

"Sparky?", Jack wondered out loud as he took the offered hand. He felt a painful jolt through the glove, "OW!" He took his hand away trying to shake away the pain.

Sparky was grinning ear to ear, "Want to guess what I am?"

"I got a pretty good idea," he said dryly. Sparky held out a hand to Rachel who politely declined.

"Hey, I never do the same trick twice in a row, and never to any one as lovely as you." Rachel blushed slightly while Jack narrowed his eyes at the Drakan. Sparky saw that and backed off. "Well, I guess you too are kind of tired, so if you will be so kind as to follow me." He led them down one of the hallways leading away from the main area. After a few yards Sparky started sniffing the air. From an upcoming corner a guy walked into view and came toward them. Jack tensed up just in case. "Hey new guy," Sparky greeted him, "how you doing? Remind me to give you the tour later." Jack and the "new guy" stared at each other as they passed. Sparky smelt him coming.

"Somebody you know?", Rachel asked.

"Never seen him before today," Sparky replied.

Jack stopped and looked back at the guy then back to Sparky a couple of times, "And he smelt like Drakan blood?" Sparky nodded and kept walking. Jack quickened his pace so he could catch up. "Wait a minute. You don't have a sudden urge to kick the crap out of him?"

"No, why should I?", Sparky asked.

"What the hell? Every time I come across a Drakan they usually want to tear me a new one."

"No offense man, but have you ever smelled yourself."

Jack straighten up a little, "Sorry, I haven't had a chance to grab a shower yet."

Their guide laughed, "That's not what I meant. Humans have a very unique smell to them. And you mix that scent with Drakan blood and it's kind of an insult to some of us."

"Do you have a problem with that mix of smells?", Rachel asked him, starting to get between them.

"Nah, I realize this is a war, death is gonna happen no matter what. Besides, I wasn't the one killed so I'm cool with the two of you. Even if I was killed it be a little late to have a problem with ya. Life's too short you know."

"Interesting way of looking at things," she said as her and Jack looked at each other confused. Sparky just talked away, telling them when breakfast, lunch and dinner usually were around here. Then they stopped in front of a door that he opened.

"And here is your humble abode." They stepped in and found a small brick walled room with hardly anything inside it. Just a single box spring and mattress and a dresser."

"Ok, where's my room?", Jack asked.

"This is your room," Sparky told him.

"Uh-oh," Rachel muttered, he was getting that same feeling.

"Then where's her room?"

"You're looking at it. We weren't expecting two of you and space is down here is at a premium."

Both of them stared at the bed in the corner. Jack raised a hand saying, "Can I get a cot or something?"

"I think I can arrange that. It should be here in a few minutes. Now you two behave yourself while you in here," he teased.

"We're just friends," they said at he same time. They looked at each other in surprise that the other one said it. Sparky grinned and left them alone. Oh this was going to be awkward.

Normally she wouldn't have done this with newcomers, but considering Davidson history it felt like a good idea to check on them. Granted she was still having some misgiving about letting the Drakan Killer in here. But as much as she hated to admit Emily visions were never wrong. Still, she’d be lucky if the whole thing didn't blow up in her face. She turned the corner leading to their room and quickly went back behind it. Davidson was leaning on the wall next to the door. What was he doing out in the hallway? Was he standing guard or something?

Then she heard it, "Come on he has to be asleep by now. We'll make him pay for all those Drakan he killed."

"What if he isn't in there?", a second voice asked.

"Then that girl probably is in there. She smells like death too, that makes her just as responsible in my book." The two of them came into this hallway and saw Davidson there.

He faced them saying, "You really might want to think twice about this." For a brief second she saw the man who saved her from the vulture in the alley. The two of them looked like they were ready to jump him.

She stepped out from hiding demanding, "What's going on here?" The two Drakan froze in place. Davidson turned his head just enough to look at her then back at them.

"Nothing going on," he lied to her. "These two were here to tell me when I can expect that cot I asked for."

She raised an eyebrow, "From my understanding it was already delivered."

"Really," he acted surprised as he opened the door. "What do you know there it is, already made up too. You guys are good." he gave them a thumbs up. "Well I guess this goodnight then," he entered and closed the door behind him. The other two were about to speak but she quickly cut them off.

"Not one word. I heard what you two were planning. I told all of you that there wasn't going to be any payback against him. If you don't like it that transfer to Lance's cell is still open. Right now I suggest the two of you get as far away from here as possible." They said nothing as they walked off. Melissa held her head and groaned, this wouldn't have happened if her brother was still alive.

Dusty told him last night that he’d be back this morning with his bike. When he asked if there was any place he could store it he was directed to a large garage looking area with various vans and cars parked inside it. There they told him if could clear out a space he could claim it for the bike. He found a spot and started clearing crates. Rachel found him after a bit and starting helping him. In no time they had a spot cleared out and were waiting. As they waited he sat next to her and said, "Rachel, I've been thinking. Maybe you should go back with Dusty when he leaves."

She looked at him suspiciously, "You trying to get rid of me again?"

"No, it just might be safer for you if you were with Dusty than with me."

"Jack, since I've been with you I've sprung my wrist, found out my boss was secretly a Drakan, became homeless and wanted by the US government. If that's the worse things that going to happen to me I'm doing pretty good. Besides I heard about what almost happened last night. Don't worry about me, I can take care of myself. I think I proved that to you a couple of times already." She put a hand on his shoulder, "We started this together and we're going to finish this together." He nodded, at least he wasn't alone in all of this crap.

Dusty pulled up a few minutes later. He and Jack were able to get his bike off of Bessie in no time. "Well," he said, "I hate to drop this ride of your off and run, but I got a guy looking at an old Ford engine in an hour or so."

"Thanks Dusty," she said while she hugged him around the neck. "I know we were a bother to you."

"Now listen here little lady, you two were no such thing. Hell, this old man was grateful for the company. And you haven't seen the last of me by a long shot. I'm going to be dropping by from time to time to make sure they're treating y'all right." He got that humorous glint in his eyes again and spoke a little louder, "And they better too or I'll start charging 'em through the nose."

"Then I guess we'll be seeing you later," Jack said as he shook his hand.

"You know it son." Dusty pulled him in close, "Now you take care of yourself, and the little lady too. Ya hear me?"

"I hear you Dusty." He said his goodbyes, got back into Bessie and drove off with a wave. Jack looked over to Rachel after a bit, "I wonder when life is going to throw us that next curve ball?"

*Ending theme-Papa Roach-Sometimes*
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Old May 24th, 2019, 05:40 PM #29
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

<Episode 26>

* Opening Theme - Ana- We Are *

Some how he got the feeling being in the run again would have been easier on the nerves. Rachel and himself were hanging around the main area waiting. Jack was trying hard to not let the stares get to him. But it wasn't easy. For some strange reason he was reminded of high school of all places. Mainly in the way some of the guys back then looked they wanted to kick his ass. For some reason it was oddly comforting, something he was familiar with he guessed. He'd have to remember to ask Rachel about that later. "So how long are we suppose to be waiting here again?", he asked her while he leaned against a pillar.

"I have no idea," she told him. "All the guy said was that we be put to work and somebody would tell us where."

"I wonder who's gonna draw the short straw," Jack half joked. Rachel gave a small laugh anyway. Jack started feeling a small tug on his jacket.

"Excuse me," said a little girl, who looked half afraid to keep talking.

Rachel knelt down and tried to appear nonthreatening, "Can we help you?"

"My brother threw Polly up there." Both of them looked around until the saw a small white bear in a gutter hanging between two rafters.

"Is that Polly?" The little girl nodded. "Now that wasn't very nice of him was it?", She shook her head this time. "Don't worry we'll get Polly down for you. Jack ghe’s asleepet the bear for her."

"Why do I have to get the bear?"

"Because she asking you to," Rachel told him. The little girls eyes were pleading with him. How in the hell did his mom ever say no when he gave her that look.

"Never let it be said I left a bear hanging," he sighed. And of course there were no ladders near by so he had to do this the heard way. He tested the pillar, it seemed pretty sturdy and started climbing. Jack reached the gutter with no problem, but he got the feeling he was being watched and looked down. All the Drakan in the area was staring at him. "Does anybody else want to get the bear?", he asked the crowd. Nobody said anything so he reached over, grabbed the bear and dropped down. He dusted it off a bit and handed it back to the girl, "Here you go."

"Thank you," she said as she grabbed the bear. The girl surprised him with a quick hug before running off.

Jack started rubbing the back of his head and said, "Tell your brother I said he was a jerk." After a few moments he mumbled, "God, please don't let him be an eight foot tall Drakan."

"Knowing your luck he probably will be," Rachel teased him.

"You're not helping," he told her flatly.

"Well, at least that's one little girl you won't have to worry about for awhile," she said.

"I don't think here parent will be too happy about it though," Melissa said as she came up to them. Jack and Rachel looked at each other and shrugged, if they were going to be that upset that he helped her out that was their problem. "The legend of the Drakan Killer had a surprising little side effect," Melissa explained. "You basically became our new boogieman Mr. Davidson. I've heard many of the parents around here say 'Be good or the Drakan Killer will get you'. Although I don't think any of the children here thought they actually see you in person."

"Did it ever work?", Jack asked, he was curious now.

"It worked like a charm when you arrived yesterday Mr. Davidson. Before we get started is there anything I can do that will make your stay a little easier?"

"Yeah there is you high and mightiness," Jack said, "stop calling me Mr. Davidson. The last Drakan who called me that is on my ass kicking to do list." Rachel put her face in her hand and slowly started shaking her head.

Melissa crossed her arm in front of her not looking impressed, "Fine, I won't call you Mr. Davidson if you don't call me your high and mightiness, or anything else for that matter. I have a name and I prefer to be called by it."

"Same here," he told her.

"All right then. So...," she looked really uncomfortable, "Jack, is there anything else?"

"He's fine," Rachel said quickly. "We were just wondering what we could do to help out."

"I can speak for myself," Jack complained.

"I know," she replied, "that's why I spoke up." Jack stuck his tongue out at her that she ignored.

Melissa looked slightly amused at the exchange, "Well if you two will follow me I'll show you were you'll be working today."

That caught them by surprise. "We weren't expecting you to show up," Rachel said.

"I was heading that way any way and thought it would save some time," she explained.

"Makes sense," Rachel said and turned to Jack. "Let's go 'Boogie'," she snickered.

"Be careful or I'm gonna get you next," he shot back.

Melissa led them through a series of underground tunnels. Rachel thought it might be a good idea to see if they could get a map of the complex. Anybody could get lost down here if they weren't careful. Of course the fact they used to work for Anderson and World Inc. might be a problem. She and Melissa were going to have to talk about that sooner or later. "Here we are," Melissa said over what sounded like a ... waterfall? Rachel and Jack entered another huge area. The overhead lighting showed a dirt floor under their feet. That waterfall she heard turned out to be water coming from a storm drain that was over a small pond of sorts. Melissa softly said, "Emily said it was going to rain today."

Jack whistled as she said, "I wasn't expecting anything like this."

"Getting this set up was the hardest part," she told them. "It took us a while to find any usable ground under all the concrete. We got lucky that storm drain was here and not somewhere else. I have no idea how we would have transferred the water to here if it wasn't."

"You know," Jack said, “I gotta ask. How go you find a place like this to begin with?"

"By going through a lot of forgotten paperwork," she answered. "Rumor has it that all of this was supposed to be a bomb shelter of sorts during the fifties. Seeing how it wasn't on any public record we could find I'm assuming the public wasn't supposed to know about it."

"So politicians’ worrying about their own skin first isn’t a new thing then," Jack joked.

Melissa smiled slightly, "And you find this surprising. We expanded and rebuilt as we needed too." She looked around until she spotted somebody, "There's Frank, he's in charge of the garden center." An old bald man hobbled over to them with a cane and looked her and Jack over.

"This them?', he asked not looking at Melissa.

"Yes Frank," she said like she gone through this before.

Frank looked Jack over one more time. "He looks like a wimp to me. I'm telling you now, you work for me you're gonna work hard. And I don't want to hear any complaining, do you hear me?

Before they could answer somebody yelled out, "Comin' through!" A group of children ran through the garden center being chased by one who dropped his human disguise. They all laughed as they passed between them.

"Blasted kids!", Frank shouted as he shook his fist at them. "No manners. They wouldn't have gotten away with that when I was growing up." He walked off still mumbling but Jack kept his eyes on the children.

"Was that bug two colors?", he asked after a moment.

"Yes he was." Melissa explained further, "Some of the younger ones decided to dye parts of their skin a different color to show their devotion for the cause. We keep telling them that will make it easier for them to spot. But you know kids at that age, they never listen. Hopefully they'll grow out of it sooner or later."

"Some never do," Rachel said looking right at Jack.

"Oh you're just a riot today ain't you?" She just grinned at him as he took off the jacket. "So where do we start?"

Melissa pulled her hair back in a ponytail and headed for a rack lined with gardening tool. "Usually you just pick a spot and start from there." She handed Jack a shovel while she handed Rachel a hoe and took one for herself. "We're replanting so you don't have to worry about digging anything up by accident."

"You're going to be working down here too?", Rachel asked.

"Going a little far to keep an eye on us aren't you?", Jack asked with a raised eyebrow.

Melissa actually laughed this time, "We all do a turn in the garden center. Every so often I have to give somebody a long term assignment for a disciplinary problem, but that's pretty rare." She led them to a patch of dirt that looked like it hadn't been tended to yet. "We got a saying, you want to eat, you have to help grow it. Don't get me wrong we have other sources of food as well. If you noticed there no kind of livestock down here. But we grow our own produce, and what we don't use we send to the other cells."

Jack stuck his Shovel into the ground and leaned against it, "And that line gets everybody down here?"

"Well, almost everybody," she admitted. "We got a few that miss there turn down here, no matter hard some of the others try to guilt them into it."

"This is just a wild guess on my part, but hat guy with the blue hair, uh... Sparky. He's never been down here has he?"

"How did you know that?", she asked.

"Just a vibe I learned to read while growing up."

"Uncle related I'd imagine," Rachel said. Jack simply nodded.

"Well, I'm sure that's an... interesting story but..., " Melissa started.

"But we got work to do," Rachel finished for her as they started at the ground.

"There has been no sign of Davidson, Haily or Logan sir," Taylor informed him. "Davidson hasn't been in the city and so far our street teams haven't been able to get a signal from the tracker in his head. Where ever they're hiding it's keeping them pretty well protected." That was an understatement Anderson mused. His city was huge, plenty of places a person could hide. But they would find them eventually, Davidson had to slip up sometime.

"Did Dr. Parker get that new shipment yet?", he asked changing the subject slightly. They were all taken by surprise when a group of rebels intercepted the last one.

"We confirmed a successful delivery," his VP said. "Although the good doctor is still claiming Armstrong did something to it."

"The wisest decision I ever made was to keep those two separated," he said while turning his chair around to look out the window. "Did Armstrong check out?"

"We tracked Dr. Armstrong movement to a few days before the delivery was intercepted. If he was the one who warned the rebels we couldn't prove it." For the most part he was glad, Armstrong was a valuable resource, it would be horrendous if he turned traitor. But that still left a problem.

"Then there is still a leak somewhere. Tell Perez to have somebody on this full time. I want this leak, or leaks, fixed as soon as possible."

"Yes sir," Taylor responded. "Oh, I almost forgot to mention. Apparently some of the men are still trying to figure out who among them is a Drakan."

Anderson sighed, that much was to be expected. Humans could be so suspicious at times. He imagined it gave them a sense of control or something like that. He hated the fact he had to deal with them on a daily basis. "I'll talk to Perez about it. We need our men working together and not against each other if we want to control the rebels. That will be all Mr. Taylor."

"Uh sir," he said before leaving. "I was wondering, do you think it's possible that Davidson and Logan both died?"

An interesting question, one that never entered his head. Anderson looked down at the street below, like he was trying to divine an answer from the commotion that was daily life. "It's possible," he said slowly, "but something tells me Davidson is still alive. Until I see a body I will not believe otherwise."

Oh was he was going to going to be sore in the morning. They both worked in that garden center for hours. Well Mom always said good honest worked never hurt anybody. Then again she never worked underground. Both of them were thankful the time went fast and it was time to grab lunch. Melissa showed them where the eatery was, basically it was an underground cafeteria. Jack and Rachel grabbed a bowl of the stew they were serving and a warm pop. They found a table near the back nobody was using and sat across from each other. Jack had to smile as he realized what they done, "This almost seems like old times."

Rachel started grinning too, "Just don't start complaining about people taking our table this time around all right."

Jack glanced around the room, "From some of the looks they're giving us I don't think that's gonna be a problem. I'd bet you dollar to donuts that this table has unofficially been labeled as ours." Jack took a taste of the stew, "Not bad."

"I guess working for it makes it taste better," she said. Rachel sighed suddenly, "I can't believe we were talking about something that happened a few months ago as old times."

"It's only been that long?". She nodded, "Damn, I could have sworn it was longer than that." They ate in relative silence for a bit. Jack looked up at her and she started wondering if he would have made it this far without her by his side. Part of him was saying he was crazy for trying to ditch her back then. He apparently stared a little too long because she noticed.

"What is it?"

"Just thinking," he said, "nothing to worry about."

"The fact that you’re thinking at all gives me cause to worry."

"Look at my side, do you see it splitting?", he told her. She started laughing and so did he. Yeah he left himself open for that one. They stopped when a young man sat at the table next to them. Normally he wouldn't have worried about it but the kid kept staring at him. Rachel was mumbling that he should ignore him but it was getting in his last nerve. "Can I help you with something?"

"I'm sorry, I just needed to talk to you." he looked around nervously before saying, "I guess I look a little different in regular light than in front of a campfire."

Jack took a long hard look at the kid, he did see him before, "Fido?"

"Jack," Rachel said in that warning tone of hers.

"It's all right, I've probably been called worse," the kid said. "My name is Arron by the way. I know you're Jack," he looked over to her," I apologize, but I don't think I ever heard your name."

"It's Rachel," she said as he nodded. The kid was acting older than he looked, must have been a green thing. "You said you wanted to talk about something."

"Well it's more of a question actually."

"Something like why you're still alive?", Jack asked for him. Arron nodded as he played with his stew. "I couldn't kill bunch of kids, simple as that."

"I'm not a kid, I just turned eighteen," he said a little too defensively. Now his age was starting to show.

"But you weren't eighteen back then were you?", Rachel said. Arron turned away embarrassed.

"Kid, you were just defending the others," Jack told him. "I was the bad guy in that situation."

"Like you were defending Rachel when it looked like I was threatening her." Jack briefly made eye contact with her as he said that. They quickly looked somewhere else, their turn to be embarrassed. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean anything."

"Don't worry about it Fido," Jack said quickly.

"So are the other children here too?", Rachel asked changing the subject.

"No, they're safely at home now. My father doesn't exactly trust Anderson, I guess some of that rubbed off on me. So I thought the rebels might have been a better option."

"So why are you still here then?", Jack asked. "A smart person would have high tailed it out of here by now."

"I know, but I discovered I believed in their cause. I was never really comfortable with anybody doing something for me because they thought they had too. When we were brought here to wait for travel arrangements to be made I felt like I belonged. It took awhile but I was finally able to convince Christopher to let me stay, he was in charge of things before Melissa."

Jack started to play with his stew again, "We've meet."

"Everybody knows," he informed him. Arron quickly apologized, "I'm sorry I shouldn't have said it like that. I have to be on guard duty soon, if you will excuse me." As he left Jack looked at Rachel then at the other Drakan. This might have gotten a little harder.

She knew the biggest challenge for this alliance would come the first time she needed Davidson for a mission. There were so many things that could go wrong it gave her a headache just thinking about it. This was the path she had chosen and it was too late to get off it now. That challenge came three days later in the form of a letter from Lance. As she waited for the others to enter the make shift operation room they had she read the note again. Anderson had several deliveries made to a warehouse on the outskirt of the city. Surveillance equipment mainly, but there might be something else there they could use.

Rachel surprisingly entered first, alone, "Where's Jack?"

"Trying to drag Sparky away from his motorcycle," she informed her while sitting down. "I guess me or Dusty should have warned you that Jack's a little over protective of that machine."

"He wouldn't be the only one," she told her. "I've seen how some of the men around here treat the cars and vans we have like babies." There was some nervous laughter and an uncomfortable silence as they waited for the others. Melissa she might as well get this over with. "So you were Jack's mission operator?" Rachel answered yes. "What exactly did you do in that position?"

"Technically I was supposed to send Jack out on his mission and monitor things from World Inc." She seemed hesitant to say, "I'd imagine you can tell I didn't exactly do that."

"From the moment I got close enough to you,” she replied. “Well, actually when you were far enough away from him that I could. The smell of Drakan blood on you isn't as strong as it is for him. So what did you end up doing?"

"I accompanied him into the field. Anderson wanted a written report after every mission. That was my first major assignment and I wanted to make sure those reports were as accurate as possible."

"So you were there when Jack killed Christopher."

"No," she said.

"You just said..."

"I know, but that time was different. Jack had a bad feeling about that one and talked me into staying outside while he went in. He never told me what happened, and I asked a lot those first couple of days because he went after Anderson right after it went down." Melissa wanted to call her on a lie, but she was telling the truth. She pushed her ability as hard as she could to find the faintest hint of a lie in there. God, she wanted somebody to confirm Emily vision, somebody that wasn't Davidson. "Is that all you needed from me?"

"No, actually I had something else in mind. I need you to be his mission operator again, well it's not exactly the same job. I'm going to have to send Jack out on some missions, teamed up with my men more times than not. What I need is somebody with a level had out there with him. According to Dusty and Friedman you're the perfect person for the job.

She seemed to be taken aback, "Sure, but why me?"

"Because I'm pretty sure Jack wouldn't listen to one of my men. Or one of my men might try to antagonize him into doing something stupid. You're technically the only neutral party here. And after what happened with Christopher I don't think anybody would trust my safety out in the field." Rachel thought it over and accepted the position.

"... I'm telling you, I got some great ways to make some money with that ride of yours," Sparky was saying as he followed Davidson into the room.

"Do you ever shut up?", he snapped.

"Not when there's money involved," Arron said behind them. The two others she sent for came soon after. Davidson leaned against the wall next to Rachel as they got started. Melissa went over the letter and the basic of the job. Get in with a van, locate the surveillance equipment and anything else they could use then get out. A simple snatch and run job.

"Are there any questions?"

"How are we going to fit all of us and whatever we need without taking the time to be choosy?", one of the other asked.

"Simple," Jack spoke up, "me and Rachel follow you guys on my bike to free up some space." That caused a bit of a commotion.

"It's a trick!"

"You don't trust anybody around that bike do ya?", Sparky said with a grin after things died down a bit.

"No, I thought the lasers might come in handy," he said.

"Laser?", Melissa asked for them all. He was telling the truth.

"The KR-1000 as built in World Inc. R&D department," Rachel explained. "It looks like a regular motorcycle but the engine most definitely isn't. Not only was it designed to be the fastest thing on the road it as also built with a pair of laser for offensive purposes."

She got a way too familiar feeling from Sparky. "The fastest thing on the road you say?"

"You had to get him started didn't you," Jack said to Rachel

"You might," Melissa told him, "want to be careful in how you address your operator."

"My...," Jack was dumbfounded. "You mean she's gonna be..."

"Your boss," Rachel said while not looking at him, but she was smiling, "again."

"Well son of a bitch," Jack said as he left the room. The others followed him out.

"Rachel," she called out, "don't to enjoy this too much, huh."

"I'm very serious when it comes to my job," she told her. "But you have to admit the look on Jack face was priceless," she added before following.

"Well, Dusty did warn me about those two," Melissa said to herself.

To smooth things over with the others Sparky said he ride his bike along side them. The other two agreed but said it as on his head if they bolted. On the way there he looked over at them and yelled out that they had to race one of these days. Rachel said she was sorry she brought it up the tenth time he did it. "What were we saying the other day about old times?", he asked her after Sparky finally shut up.

"So you're alright with this then?"

"It just caught me by surprise. There's nobody else I would want for the job."

"You just took all the fun out of this, do you know that?"

"That was the idea." She slapped him lightly on the side if the helmet. In moments they reached a single story building with the familiar World Inc. logo on it. Arron and one of the other guys jumped out of the van, got the gate open and waved them through. They traveled to the back where the loading docks were. He jumped off the bike and quickly picked the lock on the door then he and Sparky went in and worked on the sliding door of the docks. The van, Arron and Rachel entered with flashlights in hand.

"Where are the guards?", Rachel asked looking around. Jack took a flashlight and looked around the ceiling and doorways. He didn't see any signs of a security system or force either.

"I got a bad feeling about this," Arron said.

"Then let's hurry up and get the stuff," Jack told him. He waved Arron over and quietly said, "Keep an eye on her, just in case." He nodded and pointed Rachel toward some crates.

"Jack give me a hand here," Sparky called out. He was working on a big crate labeled surveillance. He reached under and helped him pick it up. As they headed for the van Sparky lost his grip and his end fell to the ground. It busted open on impact but the equipment they were expecting wasn't inside. Sparky picked up a cinder block that was inside. He and Jack just looked at each other, "Oh crap."

"Check the others," the guy driving the van ordered. Jack found a couple of crowbars and tossed one to Arron. They opened five more crates, all of them had the blocks inside of them."

"Merde," Rachel muttered as the light came on and a World Inc. assault team surrounded them.

"Put your hands up now!", one of them commanded. Almost at once Arron changed into a green wolf and got Rachel into hiding. They started firing as Jack and the other dove for cover, but the driver took one to the head. Sparky turned into a blue eel with a slick looking skin as the other one turned into a red lynx and jumped the assault team. Jack took the chance and got his left arm up while he knelt behind a crate. The belt appeared and he swung it to the side and raised his right arm to his face.

"Henshin!", he shouted as he slammed his right hand on top of the belt. His body was scanned by the belt and in moments was covered by the black bodysuit and blue armor. He leaped over the crate he was hiding behind and tackled a group of them. Lucky for him the bullets ricocheted off the armor. Jack got up and came face to face with one of the troopers as he grabbed Jack by the shoulders and threw him. He crashed into the wall hard. Drakan, definitely a Drakan, "Were Rachel and Friedman the only humans there," he muttered as the trooper turned into a red praying mantis.

The Mantis went after the Lynx next as a couple of troopers got in his way. Sparky knocked them down and said, "We got to help Danny." He glanced over to where Rachel and Arron where, the trooper dropped their guns and brought out the shock sticks. Jack was started to get worried until Rachel grabbed a fire extinguisher and blinded them, giving the wolf a chance to knock them out. He didn't have to worry about them. Jack rushed ahead of Sparky and punched the mantis on the side of the head. Sparky dragged the lynx out of there saying, "Let Jack handle this guy."

"Thanks a lot Sparky," he muttered as he spun around and kicked the mantis in the gut. A shock to his his back made him fall to his knees. The lynx tackled the trooper behind him as the mantis wrapped a spiked forearm around his neck and started squeezing. Jack quickly kicked it in the gut again to make it let go and started throwing punches. It jumped up suddenly and kicked him right into Sparky. He got up and tried to run at it but the mantis grabbed the lynx and threw it at him. Sparky jumped over them and placed both hands on its’ chest. The Drakan recoiled from the shock but not for long enough as it threw him into the truck parking area. Jack tackled it from behind, grabbed its’ head and started pounding it into the concrete. It reached over and grabbed a cinder block and swung it into the side of his head. The damn thing didn't look that flexible as it quickly ducked out of the way. Another trooper ran in and started jabbing him with the shock stick to make him back up. Every time Jack tried to make move the bastard would shock him again. Finally he grabbed the stick and crushed it. He glared at him from behind the helmet as he grabbed him by the vest and threw him into a stack of crates.

Looking around he saw the meter start flashing as the mantis grabbed a pipe and started to stalk Sparky in the lower section of the loading bay. Jack ran in and twisted the pod down. It raised the pipe above it's head, going to impale Sparky, as he shouted out, "HEY!". The mantis saw him swung as Jack slid under the attack and panted his foot into it’s chest. The Drakan flew back into the wall and exploded. Jack swung his legs around until he was kneeling in the upper platform and looked around. Anybody in a World Inc. uniform was down for the count so he deactivated the system. Arron and the lynx changed back into their human forms.

"Is everybody all right?" Rachel asked. Jack looked over to her and saw the vulture behind her, nobody else was seeing it. He closed his eyes and started willing it away. "Jack?", Rachel sounded concerned as she came over to him.

"Nothing broken," he said trying to hide his relief that the vulture actually went away.

"We better get out of here and tell them what happened," she said.

Sparky changed back into his human form and grabbed him by the hand. "Dude, from now on I am officially your best friend. Come to me for anything. I mean it, anything you want, no question asked. You and me are going to be inseparable"

Jack slapped his forehead and looked at her, "Just what I needed, a blue haired freak following me everywhere I go."

* Ending Theme - Papa Roach- Sometimes *
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Old May 28th, 2019, 05:41 PM #30
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

<Episode 27>

*Opening theme - Ana - We Are*

Melissa braced herself as she stood in front of the others, to pay their last respect for the man they lost a few hours ago. They all knew death was going to be part of the deal. But it was still hard to live with. She remembered her brother having a hard time doing this, he was never comfortable at heralding someone over to they next life. Usually because the body wasn't there, like now. Several times he didn't want to do it, but he put those feeling aside because, as he put it, some traditions shouldn't be left behind. And Melissa knew she could do no less. As she looked over the crowd she saw Haily and Davidson standing near the back of the room. They were told they could miss this seeing how they weren't Drakans. She was glad they came anyway, to at least show they were part of this as well.

"It's never easy losing one of our own," she began. "Particularly someone who was with us for a long time. He shared our joy and he shared our sorrow. All of us will feel his lose. His family and friends most of all." She was ready for the renewed wave of sadness as she was feeling it herself. "I know some of you think he was taken from us before he should have. I know this because that was my initial reaction as well. But as Emily would no doubt say, fate decides when it's our time to leave this plane of existence." There were several nods in agreement.

"Unfortunately, this life we lead proves that point, because many of our own have been lost." She resisted the urge to look in Davidson’s direction, but she had a feeling several of them were. "We can take some small comfort that he died wanting to better our lives and those of our children and future generations. So as we herald him into the next life let us not live in sorrow that he is gone. Instead let us live like he did, in happiness and with the hope this will soon be over." Melissa reverted to her tiger form and the others did the same. She sensed some fear from Haily and Davidson direction but it was small and understandable.

They all looked at the ceiling above them and howled. The feeling of sadness was pierced by something that took her completely by surprise. Panic... anxiety… guilt? It was almost overwhelming. She looked at the source, or she would have if he wasn't already gone. Melissa sensed the confusion from Haily as she realized Davidson wasn't there as well. "Let's...," she tried to continue, "let us hope our herald has warned his ancestors that he is coming and that he is worthy." The crowd slowly dispersed, nobody was indicating that they noticed anything was wrong as they resumed human form. She was suddenly reminded of Emily letter, she described a similar situation from her vision. She started thinking that maybe it was a mistake for him to show up for this.

Emily walked the hallways of the habitat slowly. She left before the service was over knowing what was going to happen. But she saw that the child felt it, she was caught off guard but she covered it quickly. But right now Melissa wasn't her primary concern, he was. Like she thought he ran to a corridor that was seldom used. The young man was leaning over, his hands on the wall and breathing heavily. She could still see the look of panic and confusion etched on his face. Normally she would have waited for him to come to her, but Emily saw his pain once before and didn't want him to go through this alone again. "Are you alright child?", she asked.

Davidson quickly composed himself and tried to act normally," Yeah, I'm fine. I was," he seemed lost for a second," never any good at funerals." Emily knew it was a lie but she said nothing about it.

But she did say, "Few of us are."

"If you say so. Emily was it?"

"Indeed it is Jack. May I call you Jack?"

He gave her a half smile, "You can call me just about anything you want."

"I think I'll stick with Jack child," she smiled back. "I meant to introduce myself earlier but the others have kept me rather busy the past few days."

"They put you to work too?"

Emily chuckled, “Not exactly child. No, I'm more of a spiritual adviser for them around here. You could say I'm a seer. I see the future, sometimes the past and occasionally I help those who need to speak to those who have past on when the time is right." Jack expression went blank for a brief moment.

"No offense," he ended up saying, "but I never been a big believer in all of that."

"Like I said before, very few of us are. Care to walk with an old woman?"

"Sure, when is she showing up?"

Emily smirked and waged her finger at him, "I see I'm going to have to keep an eye on you." Jack offered her an arm that she took and they headed down the corridor. Unlike most people he let her set the pace and the path.

After a couple of moments of silence he said, "So you have one of those...," he trailed off but he did tap the back of his head.

"Yes child, Anderson had his doctors implant it a few years ago."

"I guess you didn't see that one coming." Emily smacked his leg with her cane. "Ow, ok I had that one coming."

"Yes you did," she agreed. "And who said I didn't see it coming, as you put it."

He looked confused, "If you saw it coming..."

"Why didn't I try to avoid it," she finished for him. "I have been living for a long time child and if I have learned anything it's that fate will not be denied. If something is destined to happen to you it will happen. No matter how hard you try to fight it." She caught him looking at his left hand and his face suddenly became very sad. "The others were outrage of course. How dare he do such a thing to a seer? But very few of them did anything about it."

"Is Anderson that powerful?"

"He has the right friends and can cover his track very well. I assume he was rather upset when Dusty and the other down here developed those jamming machines."

Jack snorted, "I bet he was. I'm pretty sure I would have been caught by now if Rachel didn't figure out metal blocked this things signal."

"Your lady friend seems like a very nice person," she told him.

"She is, Rachel is one of the smartest people I know," he voice and expression lightened a bit. Emily smiled to herself.

"And you care about her."

He looked confused again, "Of course I care about her, she's my friend." Then his expression changed again and pointed a finger at her, "Whoa, wait a minute I'm stopping this right now. Dusty tried to hook us up almost as soon as we started living with him. I am not going through that again."

Emily started laughing, "Dusty always was a romantic at heart. But don't you worry child, I would never try to force you two together. If you are destined to be with each other than fate will bring you together when it's ready."

"Good thing I don't believe in fate," he said plainly and looking straight ahead.

"Yes it is," she answered with a small hint of a knowing smile. Jack caught it and gave her a strange look.

"There you are," Rachel said as she came around the corner. "What happened?"

Emily answered before he could, "it's my fault I'm afraid. I needed to go back to my room for something and I asked him for some assistance. Actually my room is a couple of corners down," she pointed her cane down the hallway behind Rachel.

"Really?", Jack asked before covering himself. "Time flies when you're having a good talk."

"Some of the other say I have a tendency to make things sound longer and harder than they actually are."

Jack looked at Rachel, "Just so you know, at no point did those words come out of my mouth."

"I'm sure you would be limping now if they did," Melissa said coming up behind them.

"Is this the after services meeting hall or something?", Jack asked.

"Not quite," Melissa said. "Actually I wanted to talk to Emily about something."

"Well then," Jack began, "I'll just let you two have that talk." He went to let go but she wouldn't let him.

"I'll have an opening to talk to you in ten minutes," she told Melissa. "Now if you'll excuse me, how often am I going to be escorted back to my room by a handsome young man?"

"Where did he go?", Rachel asked with a smile.

Jack just looked at her, "I'm rubbing off on you, you know that?"

Emily patted his arm as they continue walking, "Don't mind her child, she’s just jealous."

Jack took off his jacket as he entered their room and fell on the cot as soon as he got in range. It was bad enough the mission was a bust but Melissa wanted to that heralding thing as soon as she found out they lost a man. Of course he had to freak out again for no apparent reason after hearing that howl. What in the hell was happening to him? Maybe things will be clearer in the morning, if he got any sleep that is. Stupid nightmares.

Rachel came in shortly after and saw him there. He said nothing, just staring at the ceiling. She sat on her bed asking, "So what really happened?"

"I was walking Emily back to her room. We already went over this."

"I might buy that, except I saw her leave after you were already gone. Jack you have to talk to me. I want to try to help if anything bothering you."

"There's nothing to talk about," he said flatly.

"I guess that's why you keep waking up in the middle of the night screaming," she shot back. He said nothing. Rachel sighed as he started unbuttoning her blouse. Then she looked at him, "Do you mind?", she said with a bit of annoyance.

He grunted as he rolled over to face the wall to give her some privacy. Finally he said, "I'd tell you if I had a problem with anything."

"I want to believe that Jack, I really do," she told him. "Unfortunately you keep waking up the neighbors and they're looking at me for answers. From what I understand a couple of them actually complained to Melissa."

"Then I'll find a muzzle tomorrow, that should make them happy."

"Jack that isn't funny." She placed a hand on his shoulder and rolled him back over to his back. She was already wearing that over sized blue T-shirt she found. "I'm starting to get worried about you."

He rose up and took her hand, "There's noting to worry about. I'm just going through a bit of a rough spot right now. I'll be over it before you and the nosy neighbors know it."

"This rough spot of yours has been going on for a coupe of month now."

"And I can handle it," he assured her. "The moment I can't you'll be the first person I talk too. I promise," he crossed his heart to prove the point. Rachel looked like she was going to keep arguing the point. "Look, we both had a long night, and I don't know about you but I'm really tired. I just want to get some sleep."

She looked unconvinced but pulled away saying, "We're not done talking about this."

"If you say so." He turned back over as she turned off the light. "Night Rachel."

"Goodnight Jack," she said back. He laid there for a long time. He doubted she understand if he did tell her.

The trap they set last night could have gone better. Yes his forces were able to eliminate one rebel, his body was in cold storage right now. Still the others that were with him escape and he had losses of his own. But there was a bit of information that intrigued him. Anderson put the tips of his fingers together as he looked at Perez. "Are your men positive he was there?"

"Unless there is a third mark one out there we don't know about who hooked up with Hailys’ twin," he answered.

Anderson cocked an eyebrow, "There's no need to get sarcastic Mr. Perez."

Taylor spoke up beside him, "This does make the second reported time Davidson intentionally helped the rebels."

"Except this time our spotter seen him come in with the rebels," Perez added. "From the look of things he and the rebels might have joined forces. Of course that just my opinion sir," he said.

"And it appears your opinion might be correct Mr. Perez," Anderson agreed. "Step up your training program for the men. We're going to have to assume they're going to encounter Davidson on every mission from now on."

"Yes sir, I'll have them start immediately," he gave a quick salute and left his office.

Anderson leaned back in his chair and uncharacteristically sighed out loud. "That makes our situation that much harder. If Davidson and the rebels can learn to work as a cohesive unit we might," he held up a finger, "might mind you, have some trouble."

"I'd imagine that would depend on how much trust they were able to build between them," his VP said.

"True Mr. Taylor, very true." He thought this over, how could he use this to his benefit? "Of course I have been telling the other Alphas that the Drakan Killer was a concoction of the rebels’ propaganda. They would be unintentionally supporting my claim by working with him."

"A small bright spot at least," Taylor agreed. "I'll start a contingency plan to spin this bit of information."

"Speaking of contingency plan, what is the update for Mitchell and the other mark one?"

"From the looks of thing it appears Allen's pet project is going to beat Mitchell out of the gate, to use the expression. Of course Dr. Armstrong is doing everything in his power to prove that estimate wrong."

"Of course he is," he allowed himself a small smile. "One thing bother me about this, why didn't we hear about this union before now. Christopher may have been able to convince the others to remain quiet but he is dead. Who else has the influence to keep this quiet?"

"Christopher had a sister didn't he?", Taylor asked. "Could she have convinced them?"

"Yes he did, Melissa, but she would have to be desperate to house Christopher's killer." He got up from his chair, he needed to think this over. "If anything important comes up I'll be in my personal gym. I need to relieve some frustration."

"I'll order the replacement equipment now," Taylor said.

Anderson smiled again, "Good man."

Like she expected Jack was acting like nothing happened to him. A couple of Drakan looked at him with annoyance, but he ignored them. He had another nightmare but this time he tried to cut off his initial scream. Rachel was already awake, she was expecting it. She remained motionless and watched him. Jack had sat there breathing hard then quickly turned his head around the room, almost like he was searching for something. She caught him doing that few times back at Dusty's. Mumbling something he laid back down. Rachel wasn't sure if he ever went back to sleep.

Right now he was trying to respect whatever period of mourning they had around here. Joking around only when he saw the other Drakan were. But for the most part it looked like he was trying to avoid knocking out Sparky. When that Drakan said they were going to be inseparable he meant it. A few moments after spotting them he trailed Jack just about everywhere he went in the habitat, talking his ear off. At one point she came down a hallway and saw Jack push him out of a room he was entering, "Dude a little privacy please."

"One man operation, you got it," Sparky said. "I'll be right here waiting for you."

Rachel recognized that look on Jack's face. Good thing for Sparky she just happened to be walking by. "Jack you did say you wanted to go to the garden center later right?", she asked. It looked like Jack's initial hunch was right as his blue eyes went wide. Jack saw it too.

"Yeah," he played along, "how about I meet you down there? You're coming too, right Sparky?"

"I... I..," he stammered, "I think I hear my mom calling me."

Another Drakan that was in the hallway asked, "I thought you said you mother was in Florida?"

"She yells really loud," and he was gone in a flash.

He looked at her looking very relived, "Thank you."

She smiled as she went on her way, "Any time."

Although she wouldn't say the Drakan were accepting Jack, she would say they were slowly getting use to him being there. Actually Rachel was surprised at grateful looks the parents around here were giving him. Especially when their child started to act up and get out of control and they spotted him. Most time he would do nothing and stand there, other times he wag a finger and give them a stern look before turning away smiling. He actually told her once, "You know, it's kinda fun being the boogieman."

Not that they haven't made a couple of friends down here already. Arron pretty much accepted them from the start and she was getting to know Melissa faster than she thought it would take. Then word started going around that Emily apparently had no problem with him and that warmed up some of the others. Arron and a group of the others invited them to talk in the main room after all the work was done for the day. Everything was going fine until she noticed the other Drakan becoming very quiet.

She looked around and saw the monkey, Jason, came up to them. "Steady Jack," she whispered as she put a hand on his shoulder. Jason sat on the same bench he was, making sure there was plenty of room between them. Neither of them looked at each other but she could feel the tension. Better cut off a potential brawl now, "Let's get out of here."

"Who was Richie?", he asked suddenly. Rachel didn't think it was possible but Jack tensed up even more. "The first time we fought you mentioned a Richie, who was he?"

Without any emotion in his voice he answered, "My best friend since I was three." There was a moment of silence the Jack asked, "Who was the guy you mentioned?"

"His name was Kendell, he was the spider you faced. He was my partner for a long time."

Rachel and the others looked at them, were they actually going to be civil with each other? Letting him live was one thing, but if they could actually get along it could help his acceptance with the others. That hope was dashed when Jack finally looked at Jason, disdain in his eyes. The only expression on his face was that sly half smile of his as he said, "So that's were spider monkeys come from."

"What?! Not that kind of partner...," he growled and stormed off. Jack smile grew bigger.

"Did you have to do that?", Rachel asked him wearily.

"Yes I did," he answered before heading off in the opposite direction.

Rachel sat on the bench feeling very tired. Arron put a hand on her shoulder, "I don't think those two will ever get along."

"I guess I should at least be grateful they didn't start exchanging blows on the spot."

Melissa looked around her makeshift conference room. A few maps of the city and surrounding area, a few chairs, mainly some empty crates. It wasn't much but it suited her needs. She tried to convince Chris they needed something like this for awhile to help plan their operations. He always resisted saying it would make them too military like. Melissa just wished he didn't have to die in order for her to get this done. Almost as soon as she thought that Davidson and Haily walked in. Davidson slowed down as he came in with a strange look on his face as he looked around. Haily had a similar expression and said, "Déjà vu." Davidson nodded.

"Ah Jack," Melissa said, "I wanted to talk to you about something." She might as well get this over with.

Davidson got defensive rather quick, "If this is about the monkey just because I have to live with him doesn't mean I have to get along with him."

Melissa just stared at him, "What are you talking about?"

"Nothing," he answered while trying to act innocent. No need in asking any more, no doubt she would hear about it later.

"No I wanted to talk to you about what happened to Christopher." His expression went blank but she could feel the turmoil inside him.

"I killed him as simple as that," was all he said.

"I realize that," she told him," But I also know there has to be more to it than that or you wouldn't have left World Inc."

"Look I realize he was your leader..."

"He was my brother," she cut him off, anger edging her voice, "and I have the right to know what happened!" Davidson and Haily looked at each other in surprise. Oh great, "And you didn't know that until now did you?"

"I’d be lying if I said we did," Haily answered.

"I'm surprised the others haven't thrown that in your face by now. But it still doesn't change the fact that I deserve to know what happened." Davidson looked hesitant to answer until he eventually sat down in one of the chairs and told her.

"Like I said I killed him," he rand his hands through his hair before continuing. "I was fighting him and his guards. After a bit ten more, I guess that's how many there were, came in to help him. They forced him to go. I jumped over them using the staff and ran after him. I hit him with the kick and he went..., "he corrected himself, "he exploded. Actually his guard tried to take the hit but he pushed him out of the way. I ran through the rest of them to grab the staff. But they didn't come after me, they surrounded what was left of him and ho...," he choked up for a moment, "howled. I had to get out of there... then...," he trailed off.

"The what?", she asked. Haily started rubbing his shoulder.

He closed his eyes and said, "Then there was a massacre. Anderson's men covered the upper area and started firing away at the remaining Drakan, they killed them all right then and there." Haily looked sick as she heard this for the first time. Melissa didn't need her gift to see how reliving this memory was affecting Davidson. He continued, "I went up there and grabbed the first one I could and demanded an answer. He said Anderson orders were to take out the ones I didn't get. After that I went after him." Oh God he was telling the truth, it was just like in Emily's vision. She sent those men to their death, just because she wanted to help her brother. "I'm sorry," he said softly but suddenly

Melissa needed to breath, he was being sincere. "Don't, don’t be. Chris knew there was a strong possibility that he was going to die when he faced you. Th..., "she stuttered, "thank you for being honest with me." After a painful moment of silence Arron ran into the room, a panic look on his face. "What is it?"

"La...," he was breathing hard, "Lance. We just got a distress call from Lance." Davidson got to his feet looking all business. "His convoy was ambushed by Anderson's troops."

"Where is he?", Davidson asked.

"He said he was past mile marker twenty eight before we lost contact."

"I know where it is," he told them before rushing past Arron. He fixed that foil lined hood over his head. She realized he was heading for the garage. "I’ll go ahead and try to help who I can. Get a party together and meet me there."

"Melissa?", Arron asked her.

She watched him, saw how determined he was. There wasn't much else she could do, "You heard the man, get a party together. And contact Dusty and tell him to expect some serious wounded, just in case."

Jack pushed the bike as hard as he could handle it. Finding out that leader he took out was Melissa's brother drove home just how much he wronged this group of people. And it was going to be a long road up hill to try to make it up to them, if he ever did. And he had to start some where. He reached mile marker twenty six and had a good long straight stretch of road in front of him. Jack raised his left arm in front of his chest to make the belt appear. Quickly he swung his arm to the side and raised his right arm, shouting, "Henshin!", he slammed his right hand on top of the belt and grabbed the handlebars of the bike. He accelerated the bike as the black body suit and blue armor formed around him. Please don't let him be too late.

He passed marker twenty seven and was coming up on twenty eight in no time. Before he knew it he came up to another apparent massacre. In the brief time he had he saw Drakan and men in World Inc. uniforms lying on the ground. The he saw a red wolverine fighting a red cat of some sort. Jack quickly realized that this plan of his had a slight problem. The cat knocked the wolverine down and Jack made his choice. He came in fast riding on his back tire and slammed the front tire into the cat. It flew back from the impact as he brought the tire down and skidded the bike to a stop. Jack got off and took the staff from its holder. He pointed it at the wolverine, who was taken aback. "Please tell me you're Lance."

The wolverine changed back into a blond long haired human. The same one he saw with Melissa, "This answer your question?"

"Right," he said as he turned toward the cat and snapped the staff to it's full length. The cat got back to its’ feet as Jack charged it. The Drakan ducked the first swing easily but didn't see the back swing aimed at it's knees that tripped it in time. Jack brought the end of the staff around as he stood over it and brought the end close to its’ face. "Be a good kitty or I'll spay and/or neuter you." The cat kicked him in the back and he stumbled foreword. The red Drakan kicked itself to its’ feet and Jack swung the staff again. It ducked and extended the claws on its’ right hand as it swiped at his chest. He went flying from the blow. Before he could regain his footing the cat pounced on him and started throwing clawing swipes at his head, knocking him senseless. On instinct he twisted the staff in the center to collapse it. The he jammed it hard into its ribs.

The cat howled in pain and knocked the staff out of his hands. He had just enough of an opening to hit the bottom of its jaw with the heel of his hand. Dazed, Jack had no problem pushing it off and rolling to a kneeling position. He noticed Lance just sitting there watching them. Not like he was expecting any help or anything, but at least look like you were making an effort or something dude. The cat snarled as it came at him. He dodged and grabbed the cat around the waist from behind. Grunting, Jack picked up the Drakan and threw it over his head, falling back in the process. The cat landed on the back of its neck and was slowly getting up. When it did Jack was right there to knock it back down. He pounded away until the meter started flashing. Jack spun around and planted kick to its’ gut to force it back. He twisted the pod up and the charge went up his side and down his right arm. Jack raced in and landed a straight punch to its chest. The cat flew back and exploded. Jack stood there trying to get his breath back, another one added to the nightmare.

Deactivating the armor he removed his motorcycle helmet and walked over to Lance. They stared at each other for a few moments, Jack started smirking as he said "Not bad for a guy who you said couldn't be trusted around you guy huh?"

Lance didn't reply right away, "You didn't know which one was me did you?"

Jack shrugged his shoulders, "I was always good a fifty-fifty. According to Dusty it's the height of rudeness, but if I ever do this again somebody better tell me who turns into what before I make a huge mistake." He held out a hand for Lance. He looked at it for a moment then took it and Jack helped him up. "You all right?"

"Yeah,” he nodded.”Luckily Anderson troops were only armed with stun grenades and had no idea how bad we outnumbered them. You're not bad with that staff, a little crude maybe, but not bad."

"Eh, Anderson had one of his top goons give me a few lesson. I never really paid that much attention to be honest with you." A couple of pairs of headlights could be seen coming the direction he came from. Before long a couple of old vans came to a stop and Rachel and the other piled out. "You guys missed the party."

The Drakan ignored him as the checked on the others. The relief was visible as they realized the other were alive. Rachel stood next to him, mainly to make sure he stayed out of the way. She smiled at bit at him, "You did good, you know that?"

"Was there ever any doubt?"

"With you? Always," she playfully elbowed him the ribs. He sold it before smiling back.

Lance was talking to one of the medics a little bit away from them. "Looks like her cousin tried to go for one of the big fish."

He snorted, "I don't think he considers me that big of a target." He tried to make sure they didn't over hear the conversation, they did any way. Jack and Rachel both started at him.

"Cousin?", Rachel asked. "What cousin?"

*Ending theme - Papa Roach - Sometimes*
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Old June 2nd, 2019, 10:16 AM #31
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Joined: Dec 2012
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<Episode 28>

*Opening theme - Ana - We Are*

Rachel and Jack arrived back at the Habitat with the others. Almost immediately they went looking for Melissa. Both of them had a determined look on their faces. They finally found her in the main area. "Ok, remember what we discussed," she told him. "We're not gong to over react. I'm sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why we weren't told."

"Calm, right," he said not taking his eyes off of Melissa. Rachel was starting to get worried, his guard was up again. Personally she couldn't blame him, neither of them expected to find this out.

"Jack," she grabbed his arm, "do it my way. There's no need to make a scene."

"I'm not going to make a scene. I just want some answers." She took the lead and both of them walked toward Melissa. She saw them and hurried over to them.

"Jack, Rachel," she greeted them with a huge smile. "I just got the word. Thank you Jack," she surprised him and a few of the other by hugging him, "Lance has been my friend for a long time. I don't think I could do this without him."

"Jack was glad to help," Rachel said for him. "But we kind of overheard a piece of information, and we were hopping you clarify it for us."

"Anderson's you freakin' cousin!", Jack outburst caught everybody off guard.

Melissa didn't even try to hide it, "I see you found out."

Rachel grabbed his arm and turned him toward her, "I thought we agreed that we weren't going to make a scene."

"Screw that," he told her. "I want to know why I wasn't told I was in the middle of a family feud."

"If only it was actually that simple," Melissa sighed and walked away. They followed her as she continued. "Maybe this whole mess would make some kind of sense. Then again what war does? To be honest I'm surprised you two didn't find out before now. I know how the people down her loves to gossip. Maybe they were like me and were afraid of how you would react."

"Why, because you and Anderson both have people fighting your personal war?", Jack demanded.

"Again, it's not that simple." She stopped and looked like she was trying to figure the best way to begin. Melissa faced them, "You have to understand, this," she gestured toward the others, “isn't a new thing. To my knowledge there has been Drakan calling for equality between the classes for decades. If not longer. And there are those ready to beat those Drakans back down whenever they raise their heads up."

"Anderson is obviously in the latter category," Rachel said. "And you're in the former."

"Not as much as my Brother was." She looked past them, "You could see could see the way he felt at a young age."

A young boy of eight years of age was running through the halls of a mansion like house. Several people told the dark haired, blue eyed boy to watch out but he was having too much fun to listen or even care. Besides it was his house, he could run in it if he wanted too. Then he took a corner too sharply and ran into a stand holding a very old vase. He was able to catch the stand no problem. The vase, however, wobbled and fell to the ground, shattering on impact. "Crud," he said as he looked around.

He saw a broom closest and took out a broom and dustpan then started cleaning the mess. A butler in his fifties who was searching out the source of the noise found him sweeping it up. "Master Richards," he said, "let me clean that up."

"No," he said, "it's my mess Phillip. I'll clean it up."

"Listen to you servant Christopher," said another boy who was ten year old, also with dark hair. He leaned against a wall, "It is the only time somebody of his status should be listened to at any point."

"He's still a person Matthew," Christopher argued. "Even he deserves some respect."

"He's a blue," Matthew said. "He doesn't deserve anything but what we give him."

"Take that back," Christopher said walking toward him. Phillip quickly put a hand on his shoulder.

"Master Anderson is quite right young sir," he said. "I'm just a lonely blue, not much good for anything. I'm fortunate your family saw fit to give me place of employment."

"You see cousin," Matthew sneered, "even he knows how the world works. Like my Father said, why make changes to a system that still works. Even you own Father feels the same way."

Not able to contain his anger anymore he failed away with his fist and he let out a low growl. Luckily his fist connected and his cousin went down. "Master Richards!", the butler cried out as he pulled him back.

"You blue lover!", Matthew cried out as he held his cheek. He got to his feet and ran off saying, "I'm going to tell your Father blue lover!" Christopher knew he was trying to insult him. He really didn't care, he wanted to pop Matthew one for like forever.

"Oh Master Matthew," Phillip said sounding very concerned. "What is your Father going to say when he finds out about this?"

"I don't care," he said stubbornly. Actually he did, but dang it he was in the right here. It was just that everybody else was too pigheaded to realize it. He took the broom from the butler and started sweeping up the mess again.

"Master Richards that's my job."

"And I made the mess," he said a little too defiantly. "I'm sorry Phillip, but he makes me so mad sometimes."

"I can see that young sir," Phillip said with an amused twinkle in his eye. "But if you don't mind this old blue saying so, you can't let other get under your skin like that.

"Don't call yourself a blue," Christopher told him.

"But that’s what I am young sir, and you are a green. Mark my words Master Richards, Drakans will be following you. And not because they think they have too. No sir, they'll follow you because they'll want to, much like your father."

"I don't want to be like him," he mumbled.

"Maybe not, but you have the same charisma he has. Emily herself saw it in you. Master Anderson may have the power and money behind him, but you have that extra little something he hasn't. If you don't mind me saying so. Now give those here," he took the broom from him, "this is my place in the world and I am happy with it."

"Can I hold the dustpan for you?"

Phillip sighed, "If you wish. But we better hurry, I know your little sister has been dying to tell you about her latest visit to Emily's."

Melissa came back to her senses and saw Haily and Davidson staring at her. "No my brother and Anderson been on opposite side of this particular fence for as long as I can remember. Our parents tried to keep me out of their, and I'm quoting here, petty squabble. But I found myself seeing things as my brother did."

"So mom and pop didn't exactly go along with Christopher view on things?", Davidson commented.

"That's one way of putting it," Melissa told him. "Mom and Dad were old school all the way when it came to this."

"That had to make things interesting growing up," Haily said with a wry grin.

"Rachel you had no idea," she grinned back. "Chris wasn't the first green to think that as a child. Most parents beat it out of them. Other, like ours, waited until they grew out of it and came to their senses. Sadly most of them did grow out of it, I guess it’s a part of that whole teenage rebellion thing. My parents fully expected Chris to grow of it too." She smiled again, "To bad for them he never did. He was one of those rare greens that actually believed that the classes should be equal."

"Bet mom and pop wondered where they went wrong."

"Jack," Haily warned him.

"Believe it or not I heard them ask that same question more than once. Especially Dad, he didn't even bother to hide his disappointment at times. I remember being in my room and hearing the two of them argue through the walls."

"So why did you join up with your Brother if you knew what kind of commotion it was going to cause?", Haily asked.

She had to think about that one for a moment. "I guess because there were two opposing viewpoints." She tried not to laugh at the confused look on their faces. "As Emily has been found of telling me lately you need to consider all the facts before making a decision." She started walking again, "I think that's why he started searching out other Drakan that thought like him. Despite how hard my family tried to persuade him other wise."

Christopher sat in the park going over things in his mind. A couple of days out of high school and his Father was already pressing him to go to the school he wanted in order to take over the business. Too bad Christopher had other ideas about what to do with the company. He doubted his Father would be pushing him this hard if he knew what he had planned. His mood started to darken as a familiar scent reached his nose. "What do you want Matt," he asked.

Matthew sat on the bench next to him, "Must you be so familiar Christopher?"

"I can't be familiar with my own cousin?", he shot back.

"There is such a thing as being too familiar cousin. You should remember that." They sat in relative silence for a long time. "I saw you coming out of that meeting last night," he said suddenly. He grinned at his cousins' discomfort. "Really Christopher, most men have out grown the idiotic notion of equality between the classes by now."

"The only people who think it's idiotic are those too close minded to open their eyes."

"A clever comeback cousin," he joked. "Did you come up with that all by yourself? Or did these... rebels put those words in your head last night."

"Why do they automatically have to be called rebels if they don't agree with your view of things?"

"The very definition of a rebel is one who goes against society norm Christopher. Even you can't be blinded to that fact." He sat back and stretched out. "Which is what these fools exactly are, rebels to our society. No rebellion has ever won against society cousin."

Christopher looked at him, "Tell that to those who fought in the American Revolution."

Matthew laughed out loud, "Are you actually trying to compare this hiccup you're apart of to a piece of human history? You do them a disservice comparing them to that filth Christopher."

"Drakan fought in that war too Matt," Christopher corrected him.

"I realize that," he informed him. "I also realize they did so to maintain their cover." He slowly shook his head, "It still pains me that we have to hide what we really are by appearing as an obviously inferior life form."

"Sounds like you want to start a rebellion of your own," he said slyly.

"And you would say that wouldn’t you cousin, and no doubt would enjoy the bit of irony involved," he answered as he stood up. Looking around, his lip curled in disgust at all the human in this particular park. “As much as something like that appeals to me in the end I am a realist. The humans outnumber us, even a school child knows that. Any superior physical or mental advantage we might have would be negated by their sheer number. Then were would we be in the end, an exhibit in a zoo or worse." He walked away and left Christopher to himself. To himself he started saying, "But it might be time to start thinking about doing the same to these rebels."

They stopped talking as a group of kids passed. They gave him a scared look, but a few waved at him. Jack waved back with a bit of a smile. Melissa caught it and had to smile at them, "You're going to ruin your image Jack."

"The boogieman only goes after the bad kids," he informed her

"You're loving that role a little too much," Rachel told him.

"They turned me into that, well their parents did," he shrugged. "But there is one naughty 'kid' I would love to get my hands on."

"You might," Emily said coming up behind them. "When the time is right. But there is no guarantee that you'll ever battle Anderson face to face. Assuming of course child that Anderson was the kid you were talking about."

"What's the matter, can't see that coming?" Emily cane shot out and whacked him in the shin, "Ow!". Rachel put a hand to her mouth but she was still chuckling.

"Should have warned you," Melissa said. "If you're going to make comments like that you might want to invest in a good pair of shin guards."

"Anything else you forgotten to tell me that I should know about?", Jack asked while rubbing his leg.

"Melissa," Emily said, "I was asked to find you. They you need in the war room. It sounded rather important."

Melissa threw up her hands and muttered, "What did they lose now?", and walked off in a hurry.

"She is so gonna go nuts," Jack said, mostly to himself.

"If anybody knows anything about going nuts...", Rachel muttered. Before he could ask her what that meant Emily spoke up.

"The child is stronger than she think at times. Christopher would have been proud." She looked at them, "Word has it you discovered her ties to Anderson. I must say child you look rather upset," she said mainly to him.

"Yeah, well I've been kept in the dark about a lot of things since I've woke up in the middle of this crap," Jack told her. "And personally I'm getting sick of it."

"And seeing how I was the one keeping him in the dark about a few of those things I kind of understand how he feels," Rachel added

"Well let me ask you something," Emily said. "Would the two of you have done anything different if you knew Melissa and Anderson were related?" Jack and Rachel looked at each other, not sure what to say. "I thought so," Emily said after a few moments.

"Ok, maybe we wouldn't have," he admitted, "but it still doesn't explain why we weren't told."

"Perhaps she was afraid you would do something differently, maybe not agreed to this at all," she offered. "Or worse, judge her for what her family has done. I say chances are good that those thoughts crossed your minds at least once on the way back."

"Well...," Rachel started scratching the back of her head. He said nothing, it actually crossed his mind more than once.

"Trust me child," Emily leaned heavily on her cane. "I knew all three of them growing up. Anderson is nothing like his cousins, much to my relief. No, he revels in his in his status. A condition that was made worse when he started working for Allen at World Inc."

"But Allen was Anderson's vice president," Rachel said. "I might have been just in tracking but I don't think even a hostile take over would let Allen be VP of the entire company he used to run."

"Excuse me child, I meant the elder Allen, his father Harold. Anderson connected with him almost immediately, seeing how they had somewhat similar views about the growing rebel problem."

Anderson was next to Allen as they walked behind the senior Allen through the halls of his company. Harold Allen was a man with gray hair, but he kept himself in relatively good shape. He was also an alpha with some power among the other pacts. Not much but enough that the others respected him. "Bradley," he said to his son, "do you have those financial projections for the next quarter?"

"Right here sir," he said pulling a folder out of his briefcase. "If things stay the course I'm sure you'll be very happy with the projections."

"Good, good," he quickly read it over. Bradley gave him a very smug look. Anderson may have risen quickly in the World Inc. ranks and gained the senior Allen's favor, but the younger Allen was still the heir to this corporation. "Very nice Bradley, up to your usual standards." The smug look disappeared quickly as his father turned around and handed back the folder. "Mr. Anderson," Harold addressed him, "what kind of results did you get when I asked you to go over those same projections." Bradley looked betrayed, his Father didn't seem to care.

"I have them right here sir," he handed him another folder, this one was a little thicker than Allen's. "I hope you don't mind but I added a few suggestions that might keep those projections on course."

Harold Allen looked then over than looked at him with a raised eyebrow, "Trying to control the future Mr. Anderson?"

"No sir, I just recognized some potential trouble areas that somebody should keep an eye on. Perhaps cut them off entirely if necessary."

He tossed glance toward his son. "You might want to pay attention to this one Bradley, he has a good head on his shoulders. You might learn a thing or two from him."

"I...," he stammered, "I have something that needs my attention." Allen looked down and walked away in a huff.

Harold looked disappointed, "I wish he had a backbone. I gave him the perfect opportunity to defend himself too. I would have been satisfied with a 'your wrong'. Anything that suggested he had some initiative." Sighing loudly he added, "Don't be surprised if something happens to sabotage your projections."

"I'm fully prepared just in case sir."

"That's why I like you Mr. Anderson, you remind me so much of myself. Walk with me." They went down the hallway passing a few people. "I hear your cousin is hanging around some unsavory elements as of late."

"Christopher has always been a bit of a black sheep in the family. His parents and myself have tried to make him see reason, but some people are just too hard headed to see things correctly."

"Hmm," he took that in. "I also believe his sister has been seen with them lately as well. What was her name again?"

"Melissa," he answered while trying to hide how shocked he was. "She... always was heavily influenced by him. I'm surprised my Aunt and Uncle let things get that far."

"Don't blame your family Mr. Anderson," he told him. "More and more of our kind have been falling for this foolish notion. The only way we can survive as a species is for tradition to be followed."

"I agree with you sir," he told him. "But I also see that some of these people won't listen to reason."

Harold sighed again, "Not this again. Mr. Anderson we can not force these people back into the right way of thinking."

"And you said yourself that there are more joining this particular cause. It must be stop before it becomes too big, at all cost if necessary. We are already secretly monitoring them, why not take that next step."

"Perhaps, but you will be hard pressed to find another alpha that would go to such length. The outrage from the other pacts would ruin whoever was involved. No, as long as I am in charge of this company that will not happen."

"If I was running this company I would take that chance."

"Then, Mr. Anderson, it is a good thing you are not in charge."

Anderson stopped walking, "Maybe it's time to change that."

Harold stopped, turned around and looked at the young man, "Are you challenging me Mr. Anderson?"

He stood a little straighter, "Yes sir I am."

The older Allen studied him for a bit. "You do realize my son, who is a few years older than you, has challenged me several times so far. Each time I turned him down."

"Yes sir I do. You said yourself a little bit ago that he had no backbone. And I think you would agree that if you did he would not give you an honorable fight." Anderson waited patiently, hoping he read this man right.

Suddenly he chuckled and muttered, "So much like myself." A little louder he said, "I accept your challenge Mr. Anderson. The arena, say two month from today. Just to give us the proper time to prepare of course."

"Agreed," he said and walked off. He tried to keep his emotions under control. He got what he wanted, a chance to be an alpha. The words of that seer came back to him, his decisions would change their world. She also said no human could stop him but his fellow Drakan could. And that included Harold Allen, so he would have to train very carefully for this.

"Whoa, wait a minute," Jack said loudly. Emily expected this type of reaction from him. "You're telling us that Anderson took over World Inc. because he beat up daddy Allen in a fight." He looked over to Rachel, "Am I the only one finding this a little hard to believe?"

Rachel crossed her arms, "This from a man who agreed to a round of Honor Combat."

"It is our way child," Emily explained. "Anything important between two Drakan, especially the two vying for the alpha position, is usually settled in this manner. Fortunately some of us have better ways to settle these things. Christopher, for example, was only considered our leader because of his conviction and belief in the cause. But some hold on to the old ways with such an iron grasp, it saddening at times."

Rachel studied her for a moment before asking, "You were there weren't you?"

"Yes child I was," she said softly. "Tradition demanded that a seer be present over such an event. To give her blessing and for honorable combat. And for a clean death."

Anderson blocked out everything except Harold Allen. Even the seers' disapproving glare did not distract him. Along with the seer Bradley Allen and Maxwell Banner were there. As were two acquaintances of his, Walter Taylor and a man from the fledgling R&D department Barry Armstrong. Witnesses to what was about to happen. Allen reverted to his green shark form, with a sizable chunk missing from the fin on the top of his head, while he changed into the green cheetah. They circled each other, growling and swiping at each other. The shark fist struck him before he could react. Anderson was forcibly turned around and went to a knee, in moments he was tasting a coppery substance in his mouth. First blood to the senior Allen. The shark smiled, almost like he smelled the blood. The cheetah jumped to his feet but held back from rushing in. Harold would expect him to rush in.

The shark nodded in approval at his restraint and they circled each other again. Anderson knew Allen had enough experience to counter his youth. He would have to bid his time. The shark kicked out a foot that the cheetah blocked. He swung a fist in retaliation that the shark took. He was taking a measure of his strength, a smart tactic. The cheetah started testing is defenses, trying to find a hint of an opening or a weakness to exploit. The shark was good at covering himself, but he saw a hint of something there. Biding his time he launched a few direct attacks with punches and kicks in various combinations and blocked when he had too. Harold Allen wasn't the alpha for nothing as he was quickly finding out. Suddenly he saw his opening and feinted to his right before launching a kick at his left side. The cheetah was shocked when the shark caught his leg and threw him to the ground. The shark jumped on top of him with his mouth wide open. The cheetah quickly got his hands up to keep from chomping down on his neck.

The shark started punching him in the side to get him to loose his grip. The cheetah was able to get his legs under the shark and pushed him off. He jumped out of the way as the shark lunged at him again. They went at each other trying to wear the other one down. The cheetah snapped off a kick that caught the shark unaware and made him stumble backwards. Seeing his chance the cheetah roared and jumped on top of him, knocking the shark to the ground. Not letting him take a breath he swiped his claws into his face repeatedly, tearing into his flesh. "I yield!," the shark said suddenly. The cheetah paused in his attack not sure what to make of this. "I yield Mr. Anderson," he repeated. The cheetah got off of him and backed away. The shark got to his knees, "The company is now yours, run it as you see fit. Hopefully you'll find time to ask me for advice from time to time."

Anderson looked him in the eyes while he said, "If we are to survive tradition must be followed." The shark eyes went wide right before his claws sliced through neck deeply, severing an artery. Anderson walked away and returned to his human form as Harold Allen lay there dying. He grabbed a towel and calmly wiped the blood from his hand.

"You killed him!", Bradley Allen shouted at him.

"Of course I did,” he stated flatly, "it was a fight to the death after all, just like tradition demanded." He noticed the seer was already leaving, he would worry about her later. "It was a proper fight so control of World Inc. will be turned over to me. I will of course allow a proper period of morning so we can finalize this in a week." He looked at the witnesses that remained. Taylor and Armstrong would follow him no question about it. Allen, he would keep around. The man was no serious threat, but he respected his father. It was the least he could do. Maxwell was a different story, he was very close to the late Allen. But he was a good worker and kept to himself. As long as he followed the line he set he would keep him around. If he didn't then he would fine away to take care of him. Anderson allowed himself a small moment to reflect on things. He was in control of World Inc., now he had a way to take care of these rebels incase they got too ambitious. And he already had plans in his head in order to do so. First he was going to need an army, then take things from there.

Jack walked around trying to take in all he heard. It was late at night so he had plenty of time to reflect without being disturbed. He turned a corner and was surprised to find Melissa sitting by herself, a few empty beer cans lying on the ground by her feet. "Are you drunk?"

"Not yet," she answered, "I usually don't get tipsy until after about three beers.” She did a quick recount of the empty hands. "Alright, maybe I'm a little tipsy. Don't get the wrong idea, I'm not a heavy drinker. Hell this is the first time I've touched the stuff since Chris died. I've seen him a little wobbly at times when things got a little too rough. Rumor had it he had a bottle of Jack Daniels hidden around here somewhere. I think Sparky found it awhile back though. Now I'm understanding why I found him like that sometimes. Here," she tossed him a can, "sit down and share a couple of drinks with me."

"How do I know you're not trying to get me drunk and so you can have your way with me?"

Melissa tilted her head back and barked out a laugh, "Don't flatter yourself Davidson."

He turned a chair around and straddled it. "It's the blood thing right," he acted hurt.

"No, I don't do the inter species thing." She took another drink, "If the smell of blood bothered me I don't think we would have gotten as far as we did in the beginning. God, if Chris knew about some of the things I did to get us some information he would have beat my ass." She shivered in disgust for a bit before she started staring at him. "You know, before I meet you I didn't think it was possible to be grateful for somebody and hate them with everything you had at the same time. I mean I'm grateful you saved my life and all."

"But you hate me for killing your brother," he finished for her and opened his can. He took a drink before continuing, "Look, I know I'm never going to be forgiven for that. No matter how hard I try, and I don't blame you one bit. And I think I know why you kept being related to Anderson from us. I pretty sure I over reacted when I heard it. I'm just tired of feeling used."

"I don't want you to feel used Jack," she told him. "You and Rachel are free to leave any time you want. In fact you have my word that nobody from this cell will hunt you down. And anytime you need help will do what we can."

He nodded, "I said I'd help you guys and take Anderson down. I'm not backing out of that now."

She gave him a small grateful smile, "I'm glad to hear that. But I have to warn you, if we're going to take the fight to Anderson I might have to send you on jobs similar to the ones he sent you on. I don't want to, but if I want to better to the life of the ones down here I'm going to have too."

"I don't like it either," he told her, "but this is a war after all. Everybody have to do things they don't want to do."

"Then here to a quick end to this mess," she held up her beer can and Jack hit his against in a toast. Then they both took a drink at the same time. There was a better understanding between them now, he hoped. He wished Rachel was here to see it, she would be pleased when she found out. Now all they have to worry about was what Anderson was going to throw at them next.

*Ending Theme - Papa Roach - Sometimes*
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Old June 6th, 2019, 07:13 PM #32
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Joined: Dec 2012
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<Episode 29>

*Opening theme – Ana – We Are*

Their was some laughter in the air as Jack, Arron, Sparky and a couple of the others walked down the hallways of the underground habitat. Arron kept looking back at Sparky nervously but the others kept him too busy to notice. Jack raised his hand slightly to tell the young Drakan to calm down. This was going to work, they just had to keep Sparky preoccupied for a few more moments. Of course Sparky choose then to look at around. “I don’t think I ever been down this way before.”

“Well it’s a big place,” Jack said casually, “It’d be hard to know everything about it.”

“Yeah,” Arron agreed quickly, “I’m still finding out new things about this place.”

“But I went over this place with a fine tooth comb,” Sparky told them.

Jack chuckled and joked, “What, are you head of security around here or something?”

“Then we’re doomed,” one of the others said. Even Sparky got a good laugh out of that one.

“Nah, I was just picking out the prime make out spots down here.” He shot this wry look over to Jack, “Let me know if you ever want to see that list. I’m sure the two of you are doing ok in your room and all, but sometimes you gotta sneak away in the middle of the day.”

“Get your mind out of the gutter Sparky,” Jack told him flatly. “Me and Rachel are just friends.”

“Hopefully friends with privileges,” he grinned wickedly. Jack just ignored him. “Come on man, you got needs, she got needs. Something gonna blow if something doesn’t get done. Hell, I may decide I got needs.”

“Careful Sparky,” Arron warned him when he saw the look that momentarily crossed Jack’s face.

Sparky quickly backtracked, “Just joking man. I would never do that to a good friend of mine, especially one who could blow me up. I’m just saying you guys are the only humans down here. Something is gonna happen. Unless she’s into older guys and waiting for Freidman to show up.

The other shook their heads. He, on the other hand, was no longer regretting tricking Sparky like this. Jack put an arm around his shoulder and said, “It’s cool, I always appreciate a good joke. Especially when I’m looking at one.”

“Oh ha-ha.” Things were fine until something that sounded like sounded like a waterfall could be heard. Sparky started to back up when realized where they were. “I just remembered something I gotta do.”

Jack moved his arm so it was around his neck and squeezed to keep him in place, “Can’t be that important if you forgot about it.”

“I… I got to see what my mom wanted.”

“All the way down I Florida?”

Realizing he was caught Sparky started to get desperate, “Dude don’t make me shock you.”

“Did you or did you not say,” Jack countered, “anything I wanted no questions asked?”

Sparky quickly said, “That doesn’t sound like anything I’d say.”

“I got witnesses that say you did,” Jack grinned at Arron and the others. Sparky remembered that these were the same guys on that job where Jack saved him.

Sparky shoulders slumped as he was dragged foreword, “I hate you.”

“Oh you love me.” They entered the garden center and saw that it was already busy. A couple of people there saw Sparky as he entered. Then they got attention of the person next to them and pointed. The blue haired Drakan started to slink back but Jack kept him in place. He looked around and called out, “Hey Frank, look who I brought with me.”

“How did you get that goldbrick down here?”, the old Drakan asked as he inspected Sparky. Without warning he grabbed his arm and checked out his hand. He let go in disgust as Sparky pulled away. “Just like I thought, not even a hint of an honest days work.”

He tried to defend himself, “I like to think my talents lay elsewhere.”

“Your ‘talents’ don’t mean anything down here,” Frank told him plainly. “You’re going to work hard, just like everybody else. And every time I hear you whine I’m going to cut off one of those things call hair.”

“You can’t do that!”, Sparky objected.

“Was that a whine?”, Frank asked as he started playing with his pocket knife.

“I’m working, I’m working,” Sparky grabbed a shovel and ran off.

“And I better not catch you slacking off or screwing up what we got done down here either.”

Jack looked over to Arron, “Gonna be an interesting day.”

“Mr. Anderson,” his secretary said through the intercom, “you have a call on line four.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “It’s Dr. Parker sir.”

Anderson sighed, “Thank you Terry.” Now what was the problem? He was starting to think Allen had more of his Fathers’ patience then he let on. Taking a cleansing breath he hit the flashing button on the phone. “Dr. Parker,” he said formally, “what can I do for you today?”

An angry voice came over the speaker, “You can fix whatever the hell is wrong in Armstrong bloody head for one.”

He knew this was the reason for the call but still he hoped otherwise. “What did Armstrong apparently do now?”

“He’s keeping parts from me again that’s what,” Parker nearly shouted. “I’m at a very critical junction. With the help of this staff you assigned to me I’m close to activating the system in this one. And I can’t do that if things are missing from inventory every time there’s a delivery.”

“How do you know Dr. Armstrong was behind these missing items?”

“Your delivery boy said Armstrong took a couple of things, saying they were needed.”

“I’ll look into it Dr. Parker,” Anderson said trying to sound calm

“You better do more than look into it. If you want this git done you had better do something about it.”

“I said I look into it Dr. Parker,” he said, “good day.” Anderson ended the call before Parker could say anything else. The rebels could not have this much infighting in their ranks. He picked up the phone and dialed Taylor’s office.

“Yes Mr. Anderson,” he answered.

“I just got off the phone with Dr. Parker. He says Armstrong is taking things he needs from the supply trucks again. I want you to verify this before I talk to Armstrong.”

“I’ll get right on it. Is there anything else you need me to do?”

“Actually there is something I’ve been meaning to inquire about. Does Rhodes know anything about the second mark one?”

Taylor thought it over for a moment, “To my knowledge he doesn’t know about it, and neither does Senator Henning. Are you thinking about bringing them in on it sir?”

“No,” he said while leaning back in his chair, “I feel it would be for the best if we kept them in the dark for now. Particularly the good Senator. I had enough of his saber rattling when Davidson went rouge.” He smiled despite nobody could see it, “And I don’t think anybody wants to hear the noise he would undoubtedly make when he finds out about this.”

There was a slight chuckle on the other end, “I heard about his little outburst with Davidson. It probably would be for the best to keep him dark for as long as possible.” In moments he was back to business, “I’ll head to shipping and let you know what I find out as soon as possible.”

“Excellent, I expect word one way or the other within the hour.” Anderson had a feeling Parker accusations was right. Armstrong was less than pleased about the existence of the second mark one, and the notion that Parker was kept as head of that particular project. And he knew Armstrong well enough to not put it past him. However the big question was what was he going to do after this one was activated. He had to do something with Parker after all. And Armstrong was not going to want him coming in on his territory, so to speak. And he did not want to worry about it when they got there.

Jack finally gave in and let Sparky tell him about one of those money making ideas he had about his bike. He kinda had to, he didn’t think Frank would actually cut off one of Sparky’s dreads. Jack almost wished he hadn’t when he heard what the Drakan had in mind. Underground street racing of all things. Jack almost immediately shot it down saying all the things that was wrong with the idea, mainly the fact he was still wanted by the police.

Sparky, surprisingly enough, had a counter to that argument. One of the rebels down here, a nineteen year old with dyed red and purple hair named Angie, was a apparently a very good make up artist. Sparky had her make this heavily scarred prosthetic that would fit over his right eye, seeing how his helmet covered most of his face. Jack was amazed at how real it looked and felt. She even came up with a blond wig that had foil lined on the inside to block the bug’s signal. Sparky even found a pair of contacts that would turn his eyes blue. Still Jack was saying no to the idea. Then Sparky told him, “The money you win could help us out a lot man.”

Angie and a couple of others he asked confirmed what Sparky said. Finally he agreed adding, “That’s hitting below the belt.” Rachel was going to kill him when she found out.

Later that night Sparky lead him and two other others out of the city. Eventually they ended up at an old run down racing strip. Sparky spoke to a dirty, muscular guy at the gate who let them in. Jack kept his helmet on after they parked. The make up Angie came up with may have been good, but he wasn’t taking any chances. Sparky got a big grin on his face as he looked around, “Now this is the life.”

Jack tried to not let the nervousness he was feeling take over as he looked around on his own, “You sure you know these guys Sparky?”

“Never said I did,” he told him. “Nobody knows anybody name. You either address them by their handle or a nickname. It’s to make sure you can’t point out anybody else if you’re dumb enough to get caught.”

“That’s not helping Sparky.” He looked around again, “Especially with the way some of these guys are eyeballing me.”

“Don’t worry about that, they’re always a little wary of a new face. Never know when he going to turn out to be a cop.” He scanned the crowd until he found the guy he was looking for. “Stay here, I got to get you set up for a race.”

“Oh joy,” he deadpanned. Jack hung back with the others and studied the other rider motorcycles. He could only imagine what some of these guys did to their rides. He was actually sitting there hoping World Inc. tech could keep up.

“Yo!”, Sparky said as he ran back. “You’re set up but you have to run the first race, which is like now.”

“Thanks for the warning Sparky.”

“Don’t blame me, it was the only slot they had open.”

After Sparky pointed the way Jack pulled up to what he assumed was the starting line, a faded painted strip in the road. Another guy pulled up beside him. A girl in a micro mini skirt and a very tight black shirt stood in front of them. A guy with a megaphone stood on the hood of a car and shouted, “Alright guys and girls here’s our first race of the night. In lane number one, we have Turbo Lightning!” The guy revved the engines a few times to the crowd approval. “And in lane number two, we have a newbie on the field, the Masked Rider!”

Jack looked back and shot Sparky a look. He just shrugged and tried to look innocent. Jack turned his attention back to the race. Lowering the visor he muttered, “You’re a dead man Sparky.”

Rachel walked around the garage waiting for Jack and the others to get return. If the police or World Inc. didn’t catch him she was going to wring his neck. As much as she didn’t approve of the idea she didn’t make that much of a fuss about it. Rachel was positive Jack would come to his senses and get out of it. Then she heard the idiot left with Sparky. What the hell was he thinking?

“I guess they’re not back yet?”, Melissa asked as she walked in with lance right behind her.

“No,” Rachel resisted the urge to pace the floor. “I can’t believe he fell for that whole ‘bring in money for the group crap,” she said to nobody in particular.

“I’m afraid that’s not crap,” Melissa told her.

Rachel watched the doors, “Don’t try to back that up.”

“I’m not,” she said calmly. “Rebellions don’t come cheap Rachel. With all the people down here the money has to come from somewhere. If I had a choice I look at a more legal route. But as it is I can’t be that choosy.”

“So where do you get the income from?”

Melissa sat on a near by crate, “Before all this was dumped into my lap I learned not to ask too many questions. I found my conscious let me sleep a little better at night.” They were quiet for a moment before she said, “You’re worried about him more than anything else.”

Rachel stiffened a bit and turned away, “I would appreciate it if you didn’t try to read me.”

“I wasn’t,” she turned around to see Melissa smiling, “in fact I didn’t have too.”

Rachel felt her face grow warm, “He’s a friend, why wouldn’t I be concerned?”

Before Melissa could answer the guard by the door called out, “One coming in!” Some of the Drakan, including Melissa and Lance, got ready for a fight just in case. The door opened and an old, beat up rusted truck pulled into the garage. Rachel’s mood changed as soon as she saw it.

“Dusty,” she called out as the old Drakan got out of the truck. She ran over and hugged him around the neck.

“Hey there darlin’”, he said as he returned the hug. “Just thought I drop by and see how you two were doing. Wasn’t expecting a welcoming committee.”

“Four coming in!”, the guard shouted. Jack, Sparky and the other rode in.

Jack took off the helmet revealing the grin he had, “What are you doing here Dusty?”

The old Drakan took one look at the scar make up, wig and racing gear he was wearing and said, “What fool thing are you doing now?”

“Fool is the right word,” Sparky frowned. “This idiot lost three races on purpose.”

“I won four and you still came out ahead,” Jack shot back.

“You should have won all of them. I’ve seen you work on that thing, you should have smoked everybody there.”

“It’s the art of the con,” Jack argued. “You can’t let the other guy know you have an edge. You got to build up to the big score. Even my Uncle knew that.”

“Ain’t your Uncle in jail son?”, Dusty asked him.

“For something else entirely different,” Jack quickly corrected him.

“Like I said,” Melissa said to Rachel, “I learned not to ask too many questions.”

“So I’m guessing you missed it then?”, Dusty asked.

“Missed what?”, Jack asked back.

“You guys were profiled on America’s Most Wanted tonight,” Dusty answered with a grin.

“I was on AMW?” Jack backhanded Sparky on the shoulder, “You made me miss it you idiot.”

“I didn’t know you were going to be on,” Sparky told him.

Rachel snorted, “Like we needed a reminder that every law enforcement agency in the country is looking for us.”

“Only the worst of the worst get on that show,” Dusty explained. “It’s kind of a sick badge of honor in a way. That’s why I taped it,” he grinned.

“Please tell me you brought the tape,” Jack said. Dusty reached into Bessie and took out the tape. Jack jumped of the motorcycle and took it from him. “There better be a working VCR around here.”

“There’s one in the television room down the hall,” Melissa told him. “But before you go Lance has something for you too.”

“Did he tape it too?”, Rachel joked.

“No,” he said. “Here,” he pulled out a small metal cylinder. Except for the black ring near the end it looked like his battle staff. “A small thank you for saving my butt the other day.”

“Better than having somebody following you all day,” Jack said. Sparky acted hurt and walked away. “So what does it do?”

“Squeeze it in the middle,” Lance instructed him. Jack did so, by the black ring a small electrode popped out. “My cell lifted the idea from the shock sticks Anderson’s troops carry. We had the plans for the staff for awhile now. It seemed like a natural fit.”

Jack gave it a quick snap, like his with his staff the end extended a couple of feet. He turned the ring slightly and a small humming sound could be heard, “What’s this for?”

“An idea we came up with,” Lance explained. “That dial controls the intensity of the charge. You can either stun a person for a few minutes or do something similar to that punch or kick of yours.”

“They go boom?” Lance answered with a nod. “Oy,” Rachel heard him mutter as he twisted the dial back. A quick twist in the middle retracted to it’s original size, just like his other one. Jack took his old one out of the holder between the handle bars and studied them. He looked at her and handed her his original staff, “Here.”

“Why are you giving it to me?”

“In case we’re surrounded by Anderson shock troops again.”

Rachel took it then smirked, “Or I could use it to keep you in line.” Much to her surprise Jack smirked too. “Go on, I know you want to see yourself on TV.” What she wasn’t expecting was Jack grabbing her by the hand and dragging her to watch it too.

Melissa waited until everybody entered the war room. She heard Jack and Arron talk about something. Judging from Rachel’s expression it was probably about his appearance on that program. “If I can have your attention please,” she addressed the room but she was looking at them. After a moment they quieted down. “Alright then, we were able to get word about a supply truck making a late night delivery. Chances are good they might be carrying things we might need.”

“Did we get this from Friedman?”, Arron asked.

“Not this time. Word came from one of the truck drivers, who just happens to be one of us.”

“So the doc not your only mole?”, Jack commented.

“Not any more,” she told him. “We’ve been looking to get somebody else into World Inc. for a while now. Anderson has his people do some extensive background checks, so we got lucky with this one.”

“Does Friedman know who he is?”, Sparky asked her.

“He doesn’t want to know who it is. Friedman doesn’t want that info to slip incase something happens to him. And before anybody asks this person doesn’t know Friedman’s working for us.”

“So the same thing doesn’t happen,” Rachel said. “Any chance this guy might try to get in a little action while he he’s in there?”

“He better not,” Melissa said. “I told him that his mission was to just listen. If anything goes wrong he was to cut and run and not take a hostage. Nobody wants Friedman to get caught up in the crossfire. Now,” she pulled down a map of a mountain range a couple of miles outside of the city with an x marked on it, “we’ll be ambushing the truck here in this wooded area. For those of you who don’t know World Inc. has a testing lab in the area. A small one but it deals with some advanced equipment. This spot should be far enough away that if they called for back up we should be on gone by then. But just in case I’m putting Dusty on stand by.” While she was talking she got a sense of something, but she wasn’t sure what it was.

When she turned around Jack was looking at the ground and rubbing his hands together. Rachel studied him for a couple of moments then looked then glanced at the map. It looked like she put two and two together. “Jack,” she whispered, “is that where it happened?” He nodded, “Do you think you can do this one?”

“I can do this,” he answered.

“If there are no other questions, start getting ready and reach that point before they do.” Rachel and Jack left the room quickly. When she was alone she looked at the map and tried to figure out what happened. She looked at the map of the mountain for a long time. Then it clicked, she asked Rachel about how Jack got rebuilt into what he was now. “Oh Jack,” she said out loud, “I am so sorry.”

Luckily the ambush spot wasn’t the exact location of where it happened, but it was close enough that it made him a little uncomfortable. He kept flashing back to the explosion and the landslide that swallowed Richie. As morbid as it was at least it was taking his mind off the ghost he had been seeing, even if it was only for a moment. Rachel rubbed his shoulder lightly, trying to comfort him in a small way. “Remember,” he told her, “stay back here in case the bullets start flying.”

“I know,” she said. “I’ll even move your motorcycle behind a tree, because I don’t want anything to happen to your baby,” she teased. Jack gave that half grin of his.

“Hey Jack,” Arron came up, “Sparky spotted the truck. Quit making out with her and come on.”

Rachel stuck her tongue at him. “Can it Fido,” Jack said sounding irritated. He might as well get ready too. He raised his arm across his to make the belt appear. Swinging his arm to the side and raising his right he said, “Henshin,” and slammed his hand on top of the belt. The armor formed in moments and he joined the other by the roadside. He saw the headlight as soon as he got there. After double checking that it was the target they went according to the plan. Waiting for the signal Jack ran in the middle of the road in front of the truck and jumped on top of the hood. While the driver was still surprised he punched through the window, grabbed the steering and quickly turned it. Jack braced himself as they crashed into a tree.

Arron, Sparky and the other ran in quickly. “You alright buddy?”

“I’ve been in worse,” he said as he jumped off the truck and looked at the mountain. Arron went to open the back of the truck and it exploded.

“Arron!”, Sparky shouted out. Jack went to check on him but something caught his shoulder. He turned to see the driver turn into a red dolphin, two black beady eyes glaring at him.

“It’s a trap,” somebody shouted as World Inc. Shock troops piled out of the back. The dolphin punched him quickly before he could attack first. It spit out a wad of blood, it was hurt too. Good, Jack thought as he kicked it in the gut.

He got to his feet and gave a quick glance back to Arron and the others. The young Drakan was coming to his senses as Sparky and the rest held off the shock troops, good thing it wasn’t that many. The dolphin grabbed him from behind and hurled him in to the truck. Ok, so it wasn’t hurt that bad so he wouldn’t have to worry about the kid gloves. Jack went in quick with a right cross. He grabbed it by the fin on the back of it’s head and started to throw a knee. The Drakan caught the knee and tripped him down to his back. He started to get his arms up to block but the dolphin backed away. Then it ripped a huge limb from a tree, “Ah hell.”

Rachel got as close as she dared to see what was happening. The moment she heard the explosion she knew something went wrong. She saw the commotion and quickly located Jack. He was busy with a red dolphin with a club of some sort. Rachel watched as he dodged the blows that he could, but he was nailed with the limb a couple of times. And the others couldn’t help him at the moment. Thinking quickly she ran back to the KR-1000 and grabbed the battle staff. She raced back and was relived when she saw Jack put some distance between the two of them. “Jack!”, she yelled and threw the staff at him, “Catch!”

He jumped and caught it in the air and quickly snapped it to its full length. “Thanks, now get the hell out of here!”

She could see the others had the troops taken car of, but she did as she was told. Then she backed into something and froze. Whatever this was it was breathing, and everybody on her side was in view. She started sweating as she slowly reached into her jacket for the staff Jack gave her. She snapped it and swung at the same time. A guy in a World Inc. troop uniform caught it. She didn’t have time to react or call for help as he clamped a hand around her throat and turned into something red.

The new staff was stronger than the limb the dolphin was using. He was hurting from the blows he got so far but he could still fight. Jack sidestepped a downward swing aimed at his head, then jabbed the end of the staff in it’s gut. Then he turned around quickly and smashed the other end into it’s face. Jack gripped the middle and squeezed and the electrode popped out. Twisting the dial all the way a loud buzz filled the air. Not wasting any time he jammed it into the Drakan’s chest. It took a couple steps back before exploding. The meter wasn’t even flashing, something seemed wrong about that. “Jack!”, Arron cried out. He turned and felt his heart stop.

A red jellyfish was standing near the side of the road. It had Rachel in the air by her neck. She was hanging there limp. For a brief moment he couldn’t move, he couldn’t even breath, everything refused to move. Then it half dropped, half tossed her to the ground. Something in his head snapped, “RACHEL!”, he yelled as he ran as fast as the system would let him. Jack slammed into jellyfish, his main concern was to get this bastard as far away from her as possible. He didn’t even realized he dropped the staff as it pounded away at it’s membrane like skin. The Drakan threw him off and kicked him in the head as he tried to get to his feet. Jack tried to fight him off from his back as it got on top of him. Jack reached threw the punches and grabbed it by the neck. His face was twisted in rage behind the helmet. He screamed as he threw it off of him.

The jellyfish never got another opening a Jack unleashed his fury on it. The meter flashed and he didn’t even hesitate, he didn’t even think as he twisted the pod down. The charge ran down his leg, “DIE!”, he yelled as he back up just enough to slam a kick into it’s chest. It crashed into a tree right before it exploded. He ran back to where she was and saw Rachel as still on the ground with Arron at her neck. “What are you doing to her!?”

Sparky needed help in keeping him back. “He’s sucking the toxin out her. He injected her with something.” Arron raised his head, spit out what was in his mouth and went back. Jack fell to his knees and put his hands on his head. How could this have happen? “Dusty on his way,” Sparky said as he knelt beside him. “She’s going to be alright, do you hear me? She’s going to be fine.”

Arron pulled away and he saw the puncture wound on her neck. “I got what I could, I think I got it all,” he put a hand on the wound to stop the bleeding. “Somebody grab me the first aid kit! It’s in the van.”

Jack never felt so helpless before in his life, “Rachel.”

“Don’t worry man,” Arron told him, “she’s going to make it. Dusty parked about ten minutes away and he’s going to fly to get here.”

“You see buddy,” Sparky added patting him on the shoulder, “I told you she’s going to be fine.”

Jack barely herd any of that, again he whispered, “Rachel.”

*Ending theme – Papa Roach – Sometimes*
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Old June 10th, 2019, 03:48 PM #33
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

<Episode 30>

*opening theme - Ana – We Are*

She went in and out of consciousness, catching bit and pieces of people talking. But not enough to figure out what they were saying. She was so out of it she barely knew where she was. Then there was something, a person, by her at all times. The same one, that she was positive of. For some reason she didn’t feel as scared knowing that he was there. When she finally came too she felt somebody holding her hand say, “Come on Rachel, I can’t do this without you.”

“J… Jack?”, she said hoarsely. God her throat hurt.

“Rachel,” he said quickly while he used his hand to get her hair out of her eyes. Her vision cleared enough that she could see him. Were those tears in his eyes? “Thank God you’re alright.”

“What’s going on? What happened?”, she started to sit up but he gently held her down. Good thing because her head was killing her.

“Careful, you’re still going to be a little woozy.”

“But what happened? I remember being in the forest.”

Jack wouldn’t look at her, “I didn’t see him until it was too late.” She remembered what happened and reached out to him.

“Jack that wasn’t…,” she started when he got up and headed for the door and opened it.

“Dusty!”, he yelled, “Friedman! She’s awake.”

In moments Dusty and Friedman rushed into the room. Jack stood as Dusty took the seat he just occupied. “Hey there darlin’,” he grinned, eyes filled with emotion, “you gave everybody quite a scare.”

“A girl got to get some attention some how,” she joked weakly.

“Ease up on the talking darlin’, your neck still gonna be a little tender for a bit. Excuse me a second,” he tilted her head up and removed a bandage she didn’t even know was there. “I’d say that’s healing rather nicely. Wouldn’t you say so Dr. Friedman?”
“Oh I agree, some of your best stitch work if I do say so myself,” he added with a bit of humor.

Dusty replaced the bandage and explained what was going on, “You were injected with a toxin from that jellyfish. They got most of it out of ya but there was still some in you. I called Friedman to bring a anti-toxin. You’ve been out about a day or so.”

“Feels like it was longer,” she told him.

“Well that bastard had a pretty good grip in your neck from the look of things. That and the puncture wound gonna leave a pretty nasty bruise on your neck. Good news is it’ll probably cover up that hickey Arron gave you sucking the poison out,” he grinned.

“Funny,” she deadpanned.

“I thought so,” Friedman added, “didn’t you Jack?” That’s when they realized he wasn’t in the room any more. “At least he would if he was here.”

“Leave the boy alone,” Dusty said while checking her pulse. “I think this the first time he’s even left the room since we brought you back here. Give him a chance to get his head straight. From what I hear he went mid evil on the guy.”

“I guess your right,” Friedman conceded.

“He did what?”, she asked.

“He took the bastard down darlin’.” He flashed a light in her eye, “And between you and me, I don’t think he’s gonna feel all that bad about it either.”

She sat up after Dusty gave her the ok. A familiar smell came into the room before someone walked in carrying a tray with a bowl on it. “Is that jambalaya?”

“I’m afraid it’s only a box mix,” the woman said as she sat the tray in front of her. Rachel looked over to Dusty wonder if it was ok for her to eat. He read her mind.

“Do you think I’m going to risk Jack kicking my tail all over this place if I say no?”

Rachel inhaled the aroma before picking up a spoon, “Guess I woke up on the right day.”

“We weren’t planning this today,” the woman informed her. “Jack more or less begged that we have this ready for you when you woke up. He even gave me the money to buy what I needed.”

“He’s feeling guilty,” she said. That idiot thought this was his fault, she just knew it.

“Little Lady,” Dusty said, “I don’t think guilt played that large part in this particular request. Now eat what you think you can. I’ll be back in a couple of hours to check on you.”

“Ok Dusty,” she said and they left the room. She took a bite of the jambalaya, it wasn’t the best she ever had, but it was still pretty good. Rachel just couldn’t believe Jack went to all that trouble to get this “slop” for her. She felt herself smiling because of it.

Melissa was on her way to Jack and Rachel’s room when she heard she was up. A slight noise that sounded like sobbing caught her attention. Following it she found Jack sitting against a wall with his hand covering his eyes. He saw her and turned his face away. She found herself torn again. Part of her wanted to go over there and comfort him, but another part was reminding her that he was still her brother’s killer. Melissa sat on the floor cross legged across from him and waited for him to start talking.

It took him a few minutes but he finally did, “I never came that close to losing her before. I mean there were a couple of close calls but I always…”, he start to choke up. “How did I not see him behind her?”

“You can’t see everything Jack,” she tried to comfort him. “The other said it was pretty crazy, they didn’t see him either.” She knew she was failing miserably. “Rachel’s going to make a full recovery.”

“I know I…,” for the first time he looked lost. He closed his eyes, “Rachel helped me get through so much.” He looked her right in the eyes, “She was the reason why I just didn’t give up and turn myself in while we were on the run. I knew there’d be no guarantee they wouldn’t do anything to her.” She got up just long enough just to sit beside him. He seemed grateful for the gesture. “There were times I just watched her sleep, just looking so peaceful despite the crap we were in. There was this one time when she fell asleep on my shoulder and I just stared at her for a long time. I remember thinking that she looked so…” he trailed off and closed his eyes again.

“Jack,” she looked at him even though he wouldn’t look at her, she took his hand, “you can say it. You thought she was beautiful.”

“I knew she was beautiful,” he said softly, “on the inside and out. I found myself thinking about her. I was actually worried she wouldn’t talk to me again after I did that race Sparky dragged me to.” A little quieter he said, “I panic when I thought I wasn’t going to see her again.”

“Are you trying to tell me something Jack?”. Melissa had an idea, but she wanted him to look her in the eyes and say it.

“I… I think I’m in…” He shook his head, “No, I’m in… I lo…,” then he stopped talking and got to his feet. Melissa didn’t think it was possible to clamp down on an emotion as fast as he just did. “I gotta tell Arron I’m sorry for freaking out on him.”

“Does she know how you feel?”, she asked as she stood up. Jack stopped and clenched his fist. She put a hand on his shoulder, “Have you told her how you felt?”

He lowered his head slightly, “I can’t.”

“Why can’t you.”

He turned around and shoved a heavily scarred right forearm in her face. With fresh tears in his eyes he snapped, “You tell me why I can’t!”

Melissa put a hand on the forearm, “Do you really think she cares about this? I’ve seen the two of you together, she knows you more than just this.”

He lowered his arm, “You don’t understand.”

“Help me understand then.”

Jack looked at his hands, “Part of me is rebuilt and part of me has been augmented. I don’t even know if I’m half human anymore. The other night when I took her by the hand to watch that tape, I realized I might be squeezing her hand too hard and not know it. Ever since the upgrade I had to think about stuff like that now.”

“I think she would have said something if you were hurting her.”

“I know, and the idea that she might scares the hell out of me.” He gazed at the ground before looking at her, “Does this stay between you and me?”

“The only person better at keeping secrets than me is Emily,” she assured him. Jack slowly nodded and went to find Arron. She continued on to check on Rachel. She found her staring at the ceiling. Knocking lightly she asked, “What some company?”

“Sure,” she sat up bit. “So what’s up?”

“Not much just thought I check in and see how you were doing.” Melissa took the empty chair by her and looked down at the plate on the floor. “Should you be having that?”

“Jack’s idea,” she informed her. “Have you seen him?”

“A few minutes ago actually…”

“He’s blaming himself isn’t he? That idiot this wasn’t his fault.”

“Rachel calm down.”

“Sorry, but he’s got so much on his mind. I don’t want him to add this too it.”

“You’re the one laid up in bed and you’re worried about him,” she chuckled. “You are a better friend than I would be.”

“He’s one of my closest friends right now,” she blushed slightly.

Melissa raised an eyebrow, “But you want to be closer don’t you?”. Her face got redder, “So why don’t you?”

“He probably thinks I’d be too high maintenance for it to work,” she said a bit too fast. Did she realize how lame that sounded?

“Rachel you’re living in what basically a sewer. High maintenance you are not.”

She smiled slightly, “Maybe, but if something was going to happen it would have happen before now.” Rachel lay back down, “If you don’t mind I’m feeling a little tired.”

“Sure Rachel, you get some rest.” Rachel turned over and faced the wall as she closed the door behind her. Smiling to herself Melissa wondered how long it was going to be before one of them actually admitted how they felt to the other.

“Tell me Dr. Armstrong,” Anderson said as he wiped a finger on a lab table, “What was so important that you had to take equipment off a supply shipment?” Much to his surprise Armstrong didn’t try to hide his actions, not totally anyway.

“They were delicate instruments and I wasn’t sure if they would survive the trip,” he said.

“Allen had no apparent problem when he was alive.” He enjoyed watching him squirm.

“We advanced a bit since Allen started this particular project,’ he said quickly. Anderson always admired the quick thinking of this one.

“I was not aware of that,” he said faking surprise. “It must be rather new equipment then.”

“Yes it is, very expensive too. The bean counters complained to no end.”

“Funny,” Anderson slowly turned toward him, “I usually hear those complaints before the day is over. I haven’t heard a peep from them concerning this equipment.” Armstrong looked like he was suppressing any visible reaction, but Anderson could smell the fear coming off of him. “I realize you and Dr. Parker have some personal issues. But I will not tolerate any issue that starts involving my company.”

“That second mark one should be here,” Armstrong said. “Not in some storage warehouse in the middle of a pier being watched over by some drunk.”

“For what it’s worth Dr. Armstrong I agree with you. Unfortunately Allen set this one in motion. The second mark one wasn’t in shape to be transported. And before you interrupt, may I remind you that you were reluctant to move Davidson from one floor to another while you were working on him.”

“I realize that but…”

“But nothing,” Anderson said with authority. “Dr. Parker will get the equipment he needs to finish the second mark one. And if I hear anything about part of the shipment being missing again,” he paused and looked around the room, “I’ll need to rethink who needs to be in charge of R&D.”

The next day Dusty said it was alright for Rachel to walk around a bit. Jack barely left her side. From the cafeteria to the main area he was there making sure she was alright. Part of him actually felt a little better when she gave him that annoyed look of hers. “I’m not an invalid you know. I can do this on my own.”

“I know, but Dusty said you were still going to be a little weak for a couple of days. I don’t want you falling on your butt in front of everybody.” She gave him that annoyed look again.

“Well if you insist on being here I might as well use you,” she hooked her arm around his. “For support that is.” Rachel looked around at the crowd and saw some of the looks they were giving him. “What did you do now?”

Should he be honest or should he lie? “Word got around quick that I went postal on that jellyfish. Some of them started looking at me as the Drakan Killer again.”

“Well there went some of the work we did right out the window.”

“It’s a trade off I’d do again and again if I had too,” he told her. She looked him with a bit of suspicion, “No joke.”

“It’s hard to tell with you at times.”

“I’m always dead serious when it comes to my friends.” Rachel said nothing but she did squeeze his arm a little. He heard a grunt behind him. Jack knew he shouldn’t look but he did anyway. He felt his lip start to curl in disgust when he saw the human form of the monkey standing behind him.

“How decent of you bug,” he sneered.

“Jack,” Rachel spoke before he could open his mouth, “I’m feeling a little tired.”

He never took his eyes off the monkey, “Ok Rachel.” He knew she was probably lying but the faster he got away from him the better.

“You do everything she says huh? How many of us did she you after?,” he taunted. “Did she make you report back after each kill, huh? How long before she starts telling you to kill the rest of us?” Rachel started to turn and argue back but Jack stopped her.

“You’re suppose to be the smart one remember?”, he said without humor.

“Or maybe,” he said slowly, “you’re clinging to her because you know you couldn’t save her.” Jack stopped in his tracks, Rachel pulled him foreword. “Just like you couldn’t save your other friend. Maybe you could replace her like you replaced him.”

Jack turned around sharply and headed for the monkey, “You want to go you over grown chimp? Then let’s go!”

“What happened to take Anderson down first then?”, he sneered.

Jack’s hand was already balled up and reared back ready to fly when Sparky and Arron got between them. “Calm down you too,” Arron told them.

“You can’t order me around you stupid green,” the monkey exploded.

“He’s just giving you some advice,” Sparky told him. “Now you might want to follow it or I’ll give you some advice of my own.” He snapped his fingers, causing a little spark, “You dig?”

“Traitor,” he spat and stormed off.

After he calmed down for a bit Jack went, “Sparky, that took some guts.”

“I only jumped in because Arron did,” he said.

“I know, just trying to make you feel better about yourself.”

“Jack behave yourself,” Rachel slapped him lightly on the arm.

“Hey, it’s cool,” Sparky grinned. “What’s a little ribbing between buds.” Sparky held out a fist and Jack hit it with his. “Good seeing you on your feet Rachel.”

“I hear I have Arron to thank for that.”

“Are you kidding?”, the kid rubbed the back of his head. “If Jack didn’t get that jellyfish away from you I couldn’t have done anything.

“Let’s just call it a team effort and leave it at that,” Sparky said. “Come on kid I got to show how to pull off a basic scam. Trust me it’ll fit right in with the business world.”

“Still feeling tired?”, Jack asked Rachel.

“A bit,” she admitted. He held out his arm and she took it. “I know you wanted to tear into him. It’s a good thing you didn’t.”

“I know,” he said, “but I think I’ll avoid the wait and start kicking myself now for not doing it.”

Melissa called an emergency meeting in the war room. Lance had even made the trip to be there. She was not sure how they were going to take this bit of news. “Freidman,” she started, “and our driver both sent something in. The driver said several delivers have been to a warehouse at the pier,” she pointed it out on the map. “He even heard one of the scientist talk about it. Normally I wouldn’t worry about it. But we got a copy of the inventory list to Freidman. He recognized several of the items.” She paused to glance over to Jack, “He said the equipment that was being sent could be used to stabilize somebody hooked up to the Fusion system.”

Jack stared at Rachel. “I didn’t know anything about this,” she told him. Melissa could tell she was telling the truth.

“Freidman told us this before,” Lance said.

“We never had a definitive location before either,” she told him. “If anything we can find out one way or another if Anderson creating another one.”

“So we go in and blow the place to hell,” Jason said.

Nathan disagreed, “No, we should make sure first. We already fell into one trap.”

“A small scout party then,” Lance agreed, “to make sure.”

“And stop him from doing this to somebody else,” Jack added darkly while staring at the back of his hand.

“Which is why I think we should just send you Jack,” she told him. He started emitting a wave of uneasiness. “The way I see it you’d be the best one here to do this. You can sneak in and if you have to engage whoever inside.”

“And I can determine if they are bonding Fusion system to somebody,” Rachel said.

“Not his time Rachel,” Jack spoke suddenly while not looking at her. She looked stunned. “Dusty said you’re still going to be feeling it for a few days.”

“Jack I can handle this no problem,” she told him. “You need somebody out there with you who going to knows for sure.”

“I’m going to have to go with Jack on this one Rachel,” Melissa said. Rachel hid it well but she could sense the hurt. “Until Dusty gives me the ok you stay here.”

“Then how is he going to know if it’s the Fusion system?”, she argued.

“Well we do have these,” Nathan pulled out a small earpiece with a microphone. “He can stay in contact and tell us what he’s seeing.” Jack took the device and gave Rachel a half grin.

“And this was the original idea when you were first assigned to me.” Rachel smiled a little bit. “Ok, here’s the ground rules. If I have to throw down with something no backseat fighting, you got me?”

Rachel crossed her arms and tried to look annoyed but that smile wouldn’t disappear. “I’ll agree to that if you watch yourself out there.”

“Hey, I got me, I got the bike, and I got the boomstick what could go wrong?”

They were all confused until Rachel clued them in, “You’re calling the staff Lance gave you the ‘Boomstick’?”

“What am I suppose to call it, the charge staff?” Jack headed out the door with the device in his hands. He could be heard saying, “Will this go through foil?”

“Rachel can I speak to you for a minute?”, Melissa said as the other exited the room. When they were alone she asked, “Are you all right with my decision?”

“No, I’m not,” she admitted, “but I understand why you made it. I’m not a hundred percent and Jack doesn’t need the distraction. But Jack freaked a little at the idea of another person bonded to the Fusion system. I’m not sure how he’s going to react.”

“Then you can talk him down through the earpiece,” she told her. Melissa walked up so she was closer and said a little quieter, “I know you have feelings for him…”

“I’ll do my job like a professional Melissa.”

“Good,” she nodded. “Not that I had any doubt I just wanted to hear it. I know we’re not the closest of friends, but I hate to think I just damaged what friendship we did have.”

“No harm done,” Rachel assured her, “you’re just doing your job.”

“God, I glad to find somebody around here who actually understands that.”

Jack drove off alone through the pier. He rode alone before, but this time it felt weird not to have her there with him. He made a mental note to make it up to her some how. Part of him realized that he just passed the area where he saw Max’s ghost. No, where his imagination played a trick on him he told himself. Quickly getting that thought out of his head he slowed down so he could read the numbers on the warehouse. The one he was looking for was on the far end of the pier. He parked the bike behind some crates, removed his helmet and reached into his hood to turn the earpiece on, “Can you hear me?”

Rachel’s voice came though with no problem, “Clear as a bell. What’s the situation so far?”

“Not a guard that I can see. I’m heading for the front door.” Jack peeked around the corner and quickly crossed the distance. “The door got a lock.” Jack reached into a pocket and pulled something out.

“Alright, if I’m right it should be a palm reader or something. You’re going to have to find another way in.”

“I unlocked it.”

“What,” she was flustered, “how did…”

“It was a padlock,” he told her, “my uncle taught how to pick those when I was in first grade.”

“Then it might be the wrong building,” he heard Lance say.

“I think it’s the right place,” Jack said looking around before opening the door. ”Uncle Petey’s first rule of locks: the more elaborate the lock the better the prize inside. Sometimes you want something simple to guard your most valuable possession.”

“That and it would look out of place down there,” Melissa said.

“That too,” Jack quickly closed the door. The inside smelt hospital clean, so it was definitely the right place. Reaching into another pocket he pulled out a small flashlight. The first thing he found was an empty glass tube that looked like it could hold somebody his size. A chill ran down his spine as a vision of him floating in blue liquid hit him. He shook his head to get rid of that one.

“Jack,” Rachel heard him grunt, “you alright.”

“Yeah, I just had a flashback to something.” He swung the light around the room and some paper attached to a board. Looking them over he said, “I found a blueprint from the look of it.”

“Can you tell what it is?”, Rachel asked.

“I’m not sure but it looks like some kind of arm.” Feeling something in his gut he searched the rest of the plan. He found something in the corner that said, “Fusion System, mark one, arm, left.” And he stared at his own left arm. He gulped and asked quietly, “Rachel where was I rebuilt?”

“I know what you’re thinking Jack, but you’re wrong. You were rebuilt in the labs at World Inc. not there. I’ve seen the documentation, you never left the building until after your system was activated.”

“Then what the hell is this crap?”

She sighed over the line, “It sounds like they are making another one.”

“Does it look like they’re getting started or finishing up?”, he heard Melissa ask.

He pulled away from the plans and looked around. Some of the stuff looked used but others looked brand new. “I’m not sure.” Then the lights came on surprising him, “Ah hell.” He turned around and saw an older man in a lab coat holding a metal flask.

“Who in the bloody hell are you?”, he demanded. Then he saw the empty tube and ran over. “That green son of a bitch took ‘im!”. He looked over to Jack and accused, “You helped him didn’t you?”

He held his arms up and backed away, “I don’t know what you’re talking about man.”

Then the lab coat started sniffing the air, “Drakan blood. You’re him ain’t you? Armstrong’s inferior version of the mark one. Time to show that pompous ass how inferior his model really is.” Tentacles grew out of his face as he changed into a red octopus. Faster than Jack could react the Drakan grabbed him and threw him into the wall and he landed behind some lab equipment. “Come on you git, turn on that system and I can show him what a piece of crap he created.”

Jack held the back of his head as he stood up, “I’ll try not to take that personally.” He brought his left arm up and brought out the belt. He swung it to the left and brought up his right arm, “Henshin!”, and slammed his hand down on the belt. The armor formed around him and Jack picked up a readout machine in front of him and tossed it at the Drakan. The octopus dodged giving him the chance to jump over and get ready to fight. They circled around the tube, then Jack charged in the other direction. He caught a backhand from the Drakan and nailed it in the ribs with his fist. The he jammed his knee into its gut, following up with a punch to the back of it’s enormous head. It ducked a spin kick and stood there. Two of its tentacle reached out and grabbed him by the wrist. “What the…?”, was all he got out before it threw him into the tube.

The glass shattered on impact as he went through it. The octopus grabbed him again and hauled him up, punching away with his fist. Jack kicked his foot up and caught him in the gut again, but it didn’t let go. So he grabbed back and started swinging it around into what ever was closest, lab equipment, the wall it didn’t matter. It finally let go, but it head butted him. The helmet protected him from most of the blow and he backhanded the Drakan. Its tentacles flailed distracting him from the foot coming at him. Jack spun from the impact, when he turned back around a tentacle grabbed him around the neck and started squeezing. “Not bad for somebody who used to be human, but I was trained to be a warrior before they realized how smart I actually was.” The Drakan threw him through the remains of the tube. He slid across the floor and hit the wall. It picked up an IV pole and turned it upside down. The octopus raised it over its head. Jack say the intent in its eyes, it was planning on planting that thing in his head. He slid between its legs and the pole got implanted in the wall. “Oh bloody hell,” the Drakan muttered.

Jack punched it the gut to get it to back up. Then he brought up his feet and planted them in its chest. He heard the air leave its body. He got to his knees and waited for it to straighten up. When it did he ran in, put his left foot on its knee, swung his right leg up so his shin smashed into its head. The Darkan recovered fast and slammed both its fists into his head. He kicked back, jumped up and hit it with his fist on the way down. The meter started flashing as the Drakan started to run. He twisted the pod down and chased after it. The octopus grabbed a gurney and hurled it at him. Jack Jumped up and leaped off the gurney. He extended his right leg and his foot hit its head. The octopus flew into a chalkboard before exploding. He deactivated the system and put his hand on his knees breathing hard. Then Rachel shouted in his ear, “…are you?! Jack come in!”

He grabbed his ear, “I’m here, stop yelling already.”

“What happened, we lost the signal for a few minutes.”

“I had a Drakan walk in on me and had to power up the system.”

“We heard that part. Did you deactivate the system?”

“Yeah, just now,” he told her.

“The suit blocking the signal for some reason. Looks like I’ll be wearing that thing in the future.”

“Sure, why not.” He looked around the room at the mess. “Well if they were making another one I might have set them back a bit. But from the way that guy was talking it might be too late.”

Anderson walked into R&D, and like he suspected the second mark one was there in the back of the room. Armstrong just stood there waiting for any reaction, no matter what it was. Anderson stared at the tube. “We have a rather unusual report that just came in,” he said after a moment. “The rebels discovered the location of Dr. Parker’s lab last night. It was found destroyed and the good doctor dead. Seeing how we discovered the existence of this lab a couple of months ago, how do you suppose they found out about it?”

“I’m sure I don’t know sir,” he said not betraying anything.

“I would imagine the most likely possibility,” he looked right at him and watched him squirm, “was that word was leaked to them some how.” Armstrong stammered trying to find the right excuse. He calmly walked foreword and took a file that was next to the tube. “As much as I despise the results, it did take care of a particular problem. Dr. Parker was getting a little too big for his status. The rebels, and whoever supplied them the information, actually did us a favor in that aspect.” Armstrong visibly relaxed. “So how soon before this mark one is ready?”

“A few days, a week tops Mr. Anderson,” Armstrong informed him.

“Excellent Dr. Armstrong. I’ll let you and your,” he empathized that last word, “staff get to work.” Armstrong grinned and started ordering people around. Anderson studied the file in his hand then looked at the man in the tube. “Well Mr. Kingstone, R. I hope you are a more loyal operative than your predecessor was.”

*Ending theme – Papa Roach – Sometimes*
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Old June 17th, 2019, 11:37 AM #34
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A/N Takes place after the movie


<Episode 31>

*Opening Theme – Ana – We Are*

“Noooo!”, somebody yelled out.

Rachel woke up startled, looking around for the source of the scream. Then she realized who it was and looked over at Jack. He was sitting up in his cot breathing hard as usual. Again with that nightmare. She laid her head back down on her pillow knowing he wasn’t going to talk about it. Rachel looked back at him. He swung his legs over the edge of the cot, his head down and his hands holding the back of his head. As usual he looked terrified at what he dreamt. She knew he wasn’t going to talk about it, he never did. She started to ask anyway, “Jack…?”

“I’m fine,” he said cutting her off. “I’m… I’m fine.”

“You don’t look fine,” she told him bluntly. Rachel cared for Jack but this was getting out of hand.

“It’s nothing alright, just let it go and go back to sleep.”

“Why don’t you take your own advice,” she shot back. He didn’t exactly argue. “And it’s definitely not nothing if you keep waking up screaming every night.”

“I said it’s nothing,” he snapped at her. “I told you that I’d tell you when I couldn’t handle it.”

“Oh yeah,” she said sarcastically, “you’re handling whatever it is great. I can’t wait to see what you can’t handle.” He didn’t reply so she lay her head back down and turned her back toward him. Rachel listened for a few moments. She heard him start moving and turned around to see him getting dressed. “Where are you going?”

“Business,” was all he said as he put his shoes on.

“Business?”, she asked not getting it.

“As in none of yours,” he said sharply and headed for the door.

Rachel just turned back over while he left the room. If that idiot didn’t want to tell her what’s going on, so be it. If he wanted to suffer through this alone, then it was no skin off her nose. So what if his nightmares were slowly getting worse? So what if it got amped up since he had to…? She quickly got out of bed and pulled on her jeans and shoes and went to look for him. Seeing hardly anybody in the hallway she asked the first person she saw, “Did you see where Jack went?”

“Yeah, he stormed past me going that way,” he pointed behind him. “He looked pretty pissed, you two have a fight or something?”

“Something,” she said as she hurried past him. Rachel found him in no time. He didn’t even look like he knew where he was going, just walking around. “Jack, wait up.” He ignored her. “Would you talk to me,” she said in frustration.

Suddenly he turned around and shouted, “Leave me alone!” She took a step back in surprise from his outburst. People in the rooms around them came out to see what was happening. Then she noticed he wasn’t looking at her. Jack was looking at something to his right, but there wasn’t anything there but the wall. After a moment he finally looked at her. She wasn’t sure but it looked like he didn’t know she was there until just now. He walked off again silently as everybody watched them. She had no idea what to make of that.

Melissa had wanted to put this off for as long as possible. She was willing to ignore him screaming in the middle of the night. Hell, she had a few nightmares recently herself. But from what the others were telling her about last night she knew she couldn’t put this off any longer. Dusty told her he was going through some things, she should have pushed him a little harder for info back then. Finding him in an empty cafeteria she slowly approached him. He looked up with an annoyed look on his face, “Great, now the emotion reader wants to psycho analyze me.”

“I just want to talk Jack,” she said ignoring that comment. “You want to tell me what happened last night?”

“Nothing happened last night,” he answered sounding even more annoyed.

“You yelled at Rachel last night. Something had to have happened.”

Jack turned away looking embarrassed, “I didn’t yell at Rachel.”

She sat across from him, “People are telling me you did.”

“Then they saw wrong,” he snapped. A little more subdued he asked, “Did… did Rachel say I yelled at her?”

“No,” a wave of relief washed over him, briefly covering the turmoil inside him. “She said you were yelling at something, but she was pretty sure it wasn’t her. But you had to be yelling at something, so what was it.”

“Nothing,” repeated.

“Jack, you don’t yell ‘Leave me alone’ at nothing.”

“There was a fly buzzing my head and I got pissed,” he said really sounding annoyed now. “You got an answer, are you happy now?”

“All that for a fly?”, she asked not believing a word.

“I couldn’t swat at it, it could have been somebody’s cousin for all I knew.” Now he was trying to hide behind humor. This was going no where fast. “Do you want me to apologize to Rachel in front of everybody now?”

“If you think you need to go right ahead.” Jack turned his attention back to the floor. “I know we’re not the best of friends, but I like to think you would trust me enough to tell me what’s going on.”

“There’s nothing going on,” he said getting up from the table and walked away from her.

Not leaving her seat she said, “You’re apparently the only one who thinks so. Everybody can see something is bothering you.”

He turned around and faced her, “The only thing bothering me is that nobody around here can mind their own damn business and leave me alone.”

She watched him leave, the emotions coming from him were such a jumble she couldn’t make sense of them. Whatever was going on was not going to be good when it finally hit the ceiling. Melissa thought back to when he first arrived. She could definitely see a difference in him as time went on. If she had to be honest she saw a difference from the first time she saw him and then. Back then she put it down to the stress of being on the run. Except he never really seemed to recover. Occasionally she saw a spark of the man who saved her, but they were getting few and far between. At the moment she was doubting if they could get him out of whatever hole he was digging for himself.

Jack sat by himself in the common area trying to fight off the tiredness he was feeling. What a joke he became over the last few months. Here he was a grown man and he was getting his ass kicked by a nightmare. He’d have no problem getting a handle on it of the damn thing stopped getting worse. Just about every Drakan he fought and killed was showing up.

And he would kill at this point if they stopped showing up when he awake. He just happened to look up and saw a blue mantis looking at him from across the way. As usual nobody else was acting like they saw him. Jack closed his eyes and willed it away. When he opened them again not only was it still there it was closer too. He squeezed his eyes shut and pressed his hands to his face, why wouldn’t they go away? This was the fifth one in the past hour and they won’t go away.

“Mister Davidson?”, a small voice spoke to him.

Jack opened his eye and looked up. The mantis was gone but a little girl was in it’s place. Her human form shifted a bit as he startled her. “Sorry kid,” he said trying to calm down. Jack recognized her and her bear from the first day he was here, “Is your brother threatening to throw Polly in the rafter again?”

“No,” she answered while shaking her head.

“Was there something else you wanted then?”, he asked trying to keep the annoyance out of his voice.

“No,” she repeated and retreated back a couple of steps. Ok, he failed that one.

“Then what are you doing here sweetie?”. He finally got himself under control enough to sound normal. She took a couple of steps foreword.

“You looked sad,” she answered.

“I looked sad?”, that took him by surprise. “So you decided to come over and cheer me up?”

“Polly wanted to cheer you up.”

“Oh she did?”, Jack replied acting surprised. “Then you and Polly already brightened my day,” he smiled at her but she didn’t return it. Slowly she came foreword and put the bear in his hands, “You’re giving me Polly?”

“Polly wanted to stay with you until you stopped being scared.” Now she started looking upset. Yeah, this was going to work out well.

“So Polly,” he said to the bear, “why did you want to stay with me?” Jack put the bear to his ear and used his finger to bob it’s head up and down like it was talking. “Why yes, I am a good looking man but… what was that?” The little girl watched him intently. “Oh I see, we got to tell her.” He put the bear in front of him and looked at the kid. “Polly didn’t want to tell you but she’s sad too.”

“Why is Polly sad?”.

“She doesn’t want to leave you,” he answered. “I don’t want Polly to be sad, do you?”. Jack handed the bear back to her. She looked confused but slowly took the bear back. “If Polly’s happy I’ll be happy.”

“Ok,” she said.

“Jennifer,” somebody called out. A woman Jack guessed was the girl mother walked toward them. “I’m sorry she’s bothering you.”

“She wasn’t bothering me,” Jack told her. To the kid he said, “No you keep Polly safe now, you hear?”.

“Ok,” she said. Before she left he gave her a quick hug around the neck. When she reached her mother Jennifer put the bear to her ear. Jack had to smile as she made it’s head bob. “Polly says she hopes you feel better.”

“Thank you Polly,” he gave her a small wave. The girl waved back and went off with her mother. “Thank you too kid,” he whispered.

“Some children do have a way of brightening one’s day don’t they?”, Emily said behind him.

Jack didn’t bother turning around, “She’s a sweet kid.”

“She has a bright future ahead of her,” she commented. “As long as nobody puts any additional roadblocks in her path.”

“Is that your way of telling me to get my head back in the game?”, he said sounding a little bitter.

“No child, I just know fate has a way of throwing something at you when you least expect it.” He could feel her staring at him. “You should know that better than anyone.”

Before he could say anything something caught his attention. An owl Drakan was sitting on one of the rafters staring at him. They were always staring. “I got to go,” he said hastily as he got up and walked away. He made it to a hallway when it hit him. He felt so dizzy he had to stumble to a wall for support as images of Drakan he fought rushed through his head, a bull, the crab, the vulture and the dolphin all came at him before they went away. Jack stayed there for a long time shaking and breathing hard. When it felt like he could move again he made sure nobody saw him spazzing out and continued on his way. “What the hell is going on?”

“Are you quite certain about this?”, Anderson asked as he put down the report Perez gave him. If it was true then it was quite disturbing.

“I’m positive sir,” he answered. “A mole inside the organization has been supplying information to the rebels for the past month.”

“How did this supposed mole get past out background checks,” he demanded. That thing was designed to keep the rebels out of his company, not let them waltz right in.

“The rebels are getting better at forging information and creating histories,” Taylor answered as he put another file on his desk. While Anderson opened it and scanned the contents Taylor explained what it was. “This was a line of references given to us. When the initial calls were made the information was verified. With all of the Davidson sighting lately I had Mr. Perez do a little investigating on his own. All the numbers were traced to the same building.”

“An abandoned building,” Perez added.

“But why in just the past month?”, Anderson asked. “Davidson appeared unannounced at our operations before. It seems to me that if we did have a mole he or she would have been here longer than a mere month.”

“We did a check on everybody in the system,” Perez said. “Only one person profile proved to be false. And he hired in as a trucker a little over a month ago. Now it’s possible that there’s another mole here, it’s also possible Davidson had a pipeline to the rebels in those other cases. But this man is the only sure lead we have now,” he tapped his finger on the file before him. Anderson raised an eyebrow slightly and Perez quickly removed his hand from the desk.

“And record show he was one of the drivers who hauled supplies to Parker’s lab,” Taylor added. “And I saw him on the docks when Armstrong went on his little tirade about the second mark one.”

“So we have to take this one down now before he does us anymore harm,” Perez insisted.

“I agree Mr. Perez,” Anderson said thoughtfully, “but he might be able to supply us information as well.”

“I’ll send some men down to take him into custody now,” Perez said.

“Just a moment Mr. Perez,” he said. “This might also be a chance to capture a couple of rebels as well. A bit of a risk I realize, but we have an opportunity we can not pass up. Not to mention keeping any more potential conflicts from happening inside my building. We’re still repairing the damage from last time.”

“We could,” Taylor offered, “get word to the docks of another lab we’re trying to start up. And we do have some property in the industrial sector we’re not currently using.”

“I think I know the area he’s talking about,” Perez said. “If the rebels are looking for an ambush spot that would be the spot they’d be wary of.”

“Unfortunately we already used the Trojan Horse with one of our trucks so they would be looking for that as well,” Anderson told him. “I feel this is our best option. Have both R&D and medical involved as well. The more convincing this looks the better.”

Emily wasn’t surprised to hear the knock on her door. Despite her saying her door was always open they always knocked out of respect. Who the person was on the other side, however, took her a bit by surprise. “Rachel, please come in.”

“Thanks Emily,” she said. She looked a bit unsure of herself as she entered.

“What can I do for you child?”, Emily asked and offered her a seat. Rachel politely declined.

“I wanted to talk to you.” Quickly she added, “Not about me. God, how often do you hear that,” she was flustered about something. Emily had an idea why though.

“You want to talk about Jack,” Emily said sitting down. Rachel nodded, “He seems to be the topic of many conversations lately.”

“I know, I was wondering if you could help.”

“Do you think I can read minds child?”, she asked amused.

“No,” she replied quickly. “I mean… I know something wrong with Jack. There has been for a long time now. I was hoping you had some ideas on how to get him to open up and talk about it

“That is easier said than done child,” she told her. “Jack is a very open person, but he keeps his pain to himself. He has gotten so used to it he can hide it at a moments notice in most cases. Earlier today he was having one of his ‘episodes’. A little girl walked up to him and I could see him push his pain down so he wouldn’t affect the girl.”

“He can’t keep doing that,” Rachel said finally sitting down.

“I know child, but we can’t force him either.” She could tell from Rachel expression she didn’t want to believe that but knew it was true. “If Jack wants you or anybody to know his pain he’ll say what it is when he is ready. We have to stand by and wait until it becomes too much for him to bear on his own.”

“I can’t…,” she corrected herself, “I don’t think we should do that.”

“I realize that is not the advice you were looking for child. Unfortunately that is the only answer I have for you at the moment.” She looked unhappy but said nothing. Emily thought back to her vision, he was getting close to that state. Last night she had a dream of him falling, his darkest days were coming. The only real question was how far and how much of him could they save?

Jack was holding his head when Rachel found him in the garage. He was looking much worse than when she saw him this morning. Reluctantly deciding to follow Emily advice for now she tried to look normal as she walked up to him. “So this is where you been hiding,” she said keeping her tone light.

He looked up and quickly glanced at his motorcycle, “I was going to work on my bike when a headache hit me.”

“You want some aspirin or something?”

“I already took a couple,” he said, “I’m just waiting for them to kick in”

She nodded and sat next to him, “So, do want a hand with the bike?” He looked at her like she grew a second head. “What? I’m good with my hands. You’ve seen me work when we were helping Dusty.”

“Yeah but you never offered to help with the bike before.” They looked over to the door when it flew open. Melissa and the others came through looking around, “And that can’t be good.”

“Jack, I know…,” Melissa started before pausing. She looked at him strangely, almost like she was caught off guard. It took a moment for her to find her footing again, “I know I’ve been asking a lot of you lately but I think I need you for something.”

“World Inc. related right?”, he asked not looking at her but the ground.

“Unfortunately,” she admitted, “we got word they’re setting up a new lab. We don’t know what it’s for yet but Friedman able to get us a partial list of what being delivered.”

“It’s mainly medical supplies,” Arron added. “We’re not low on anything but it doesn’t hurt to stock up. And we can spread out a lot of it among the cells.” As they continued talking Rachel watched Jack out of the corner of her eye. He put a hand to his mouth and yawned.

Sparky caught it and smirked, “We keeping you up man?”

“Yes you are,” he snapped angrily. Everybody looked at him, nobody expected that reaction from him, not even her.

“Sorry man,” Sparky said a bit unsure.

“We can,” Melissa cautiously started, “ask somebody else if you’re feeling a little under the weather.”

“I can do it,” he said emotionlessly.

“You don’t have to do anything Jack,” Rachel told him. “Nobody is going to say anything if you don’t want to do one of these things.” Melissa and the others agreed. Jack looked unmoved, she rubbed his shoulder. “Come on, we’ll go get a late lunch or an early dinner.”

Jack brushed her hand away, got up and walked away saying, “How hard can it be. Show up, find out what they’re doing. Blow up whatever Drakan working for Anderson that’s obviously going to be there. You work for one side they tell you to blow up Drakan. You join the other said and what do you do? Blow up Drakan. Drakan Killer R’ Us, open twenty four seven.” He continued his rant as he left the garage. Everybody looked at her.

“What the hell was that?”, Sparky asked for them.

Rachel only had one answer for them, “I wish I knew.”

They gave him a wider space than usual when he got back. Good, he wanted the extra room anyway. Rachel even decided to ride in the van for this one. He really didn’t want to alienate her but he was not in the mood right now. But he did see her peek out of the van back window every so often to see if he was still there every so often. Where was he going to go if he did decide to split? Even if he did Drakan would still come after him from the whole smelling like death crap. Yeah, like he had a whole lot of options right now.

He didn’t know how long it took when he got there, all he knew was that he wanted to get this over with as fast as possible. Jack took off his helmet and froze. There were Drakan all over the place. All of them staring at him. Rachel poped out of the van and the other followed, none of them noticed. Sweat started to form on his forehead as he tried to make them go away, why wouldn’t they go away? “Jack,” Rachel said, now they decided to disappear, “we got to get into hiding. The truck going to be here soon. And we have no idea what building he’s going to go to. Arron and a couple of others went ahead to scout things out just in case.

“Right,” he replied. When she turned around he looked around quickly, not one dead Drakan was popping up. Maybe they decided to give him a break for the moment. They quickly hid the vehicles as best they could and waited. Not long afterwards a World Inc. supply truck came rolling in and stop. About then Jack realized there were an awful lot of places to hide in this place. A fact confirmed as Arron came running around the corner like a bat out of hell. “Fido get down!”

“It’s a trap!”, he yelled. He hit the ground as soon as some gunfire sounded. Jack, Rachel and the others looked up. There were shooters in the windows above them. The guy in the truck got out of the cab and started to run. He was in mid transformation as a bullet pierced his leg. Jack looked on horrified as he rolled on the ground clutching his leg. Then somebody dressed in World Inc. assault team gear calmly walked toward him. Jack saw Arron sniff the air in that direction., already knowing what he was going to say. “That’s a Drakan! Jack you got to stop him.”

He wanted to protest, but he knew he was the only one there who was technically bulletproof. “What’s one more?”, he muttered. Jack stood up and raised his left arm across his chest and the belt appeared. Another wave of dizziness rocked him as he struggled to stay on his feet. Images of the bat, octopus, mantis, hippo and goat raced at him so fast he couldn’t react. When the dizziness faded he looked over at Rachel. He knew she was saying something but he wasn’t hearing any sound come out of her mouth. Shaking his head to try to come back to his senses he got his left arm back up, swung it to the side and raised his right arm up. Before he could activate the system another wave hit him. The images wouldn’t stop. A dark green tiger, a rabbit, an elephant, a frog, Max…


Jack slowly lowered his hand his right arm and looked at the back of his right hand as something inside of him gave away.

Rachel knew something was wrong, just by the look on his face. Before she could go to him he fell to his knees looking at the back of his hand. “Jack!”, she yelled as she found her voice. Sparky looked over and saw Jack in his state and quickly helped her get him under cover. “Jack talk to me,” she said as she checked him over. It didn’t look like it he was hit, so what the hell was wrong with him? “Jack talk to me please,” she pleaded. He just stared at the back of his hand. “We need to get out of here now,” she told Sparky who didn’t argue.

“We got to cut and run!”, Sparky yelled. Arron put his head down for a moment before transforming into his wolf form and leaped in their direction. Sparky tossed him Jack’s helmet as she and him tried to get Jack into the van. Arron jumpstarted the bike and rode out of there first with them following soon after when they got Jack aboard. As they hung on for dear life, Jack was curled up into a ball next to the van’s side. Sparky crawled over and put a hand on his shoulder, “Hang in there buddy. We’ll get you fixed up as soon as we can.”

Rachel wished she could believe that but she tried to make sure Jack didn’t have any doubts. “We’ll call Dusty and Dr. Friedman. They’ll help you out.”

“Blood,” he finally said.

The first thing she did was check him over again, “Where you hit? I don’t …”

“Blood on my hands,” he said trembling. “Their blood, I killed them. I killed them and they won’t go away.” He squeezed his eyes shut and covered his head. “Make them go away.”

“Jack,” she said softly as tears started to form in her eyes. What was happening to him?

*Ending theme – Papa Roach – Sometimes*
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Old June 21st, 2019, 05:36 PM #35
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<Episode 32>

*Opening Theme – Ana – We Are*

He stared at the report in his hands for a long time, trying to comprehend what he was reading. It was a standard ambush, everything went according to plan. They were even able to capture the mole Perez had detected. The rest of the rebels were able to get away, but the mole was the primary objective. Still there was one thing that was not making any sense. He looked at Perez, who was standing in front of his desk, from over the folder. Raising an eyebrow slightly he asked, “He dropped to the ground?”

“I saw it myself Mr. Anderson,” he answered. “Davidson was midway through activating the system, then he just dropped to his knees.”

“Was he hit by one of our shooters?”

“That was my initial thought too. I even had even had the men search for any trace of blood. But I knew they wouldn’t find any.”

“And why were you so sure of this Mr. Perez?”

“It was the way he fell sir. He didn’t drop like he was shot from a bullet. He just dropped to his knees. In fact from what I saw he stared staring at the back of his hand.”

“His hand,” Anderson asked slowly. His head of the assault team just nodded in response. Anderson closed the report and leaned back into his chair, concentrating. What happened to Davidson? Perez coughed to get his attention. “Yes Mr. Perez?”

“I was wondering how soon until we can start interrogating the mole sir.”

“Ah yes, him,” he leaned foreword a bit. “I’m having medical fix up his leg a bit first. No point in giving the rebels a chance to paint us as barbaric after all. Torturing a helpless, injured captive and all that. We have a very tenuous relationship with the Drakan community as it is Mr. Perez. So don’t put any undo stress on it.”

“In other words,” Perez stated, “don’t target the wounded leg when we finally get the ok for the interrogation.” For a human he caught on pretty quick.

Anderson nodded, “Exactly Mr. Perez.”

“It’d be easier to get something out of him if we did.”

Locking his fingers together he told him, “Think of it as an opportunity to be creative Mr. Perez. Mr. Taylor will let you know when it’s your turn with the captive, so you may want to start thinking of ways of making him talk.” Perez said he would and left the office and him alone with his thoughts.

Anderson stood up and faced the window behind his desk. Clasping his hands behind his back he looked at the people below. Slowly his head turned and his gaze came upon the file on his desk. Once again he was left with the question, what happened to Davidson?

“They’re treating him pretty well,” she heard Friedman say beside her. “Anderson ordered he be given full medical care. He actually looked really surprised he was being treated so well. Well surprised but a little cautious,” he amended. Then he was quiet for a few moments. “If you want I can try to get a message to him. Security is pretty tight around him but I think I can do it without being caught.”

“I appreciate the offer Dr. Friedman,” Melissa said absentmindedly, not looking at him.

He nodded, “That being said, security has been amped up all over the place. You can’t even walk two feet without a security guard eyeing you. Anderson sent down an order that you had to stay in your sector unless needed elsewhere. If you’re caught somewhere you’re not supposed to be you will be taken in for questioning. I’m not sure when I’ll able to get you any information again. They found one mole, now they’re shaking the place down trying to see if there is another one.”

“Thank you for letting me know Dr. Friedman,” she said softly, still not looking at him. “But I hope you understand if we have more than one concern at the moment.” He nodded sadly and looked at the other behind them. Dusty, Lance and Sparky were looking at the same thing she was. Friedman started looking too. In front of them was a pane of glass. On the other side was a brightly lit room. Usually the room wasn’t used, more times than not those who were really sick were kept in here to keep them from contaminating the others. She wished that was the case this time around, it would explain everything.

No, right now they were looking at Rachel kneeling down trying to look calm and doing everything not to freak out. She was trying to talk to Jack who was sitting as far as he could in the corner. Sweating and shaking slightly, a blank and wide eyed stare currently replacing his usual expression. Melissa had talked to just about everybody involved in the fiasco and nobody could tell her what happened. Now she had to deal with the effects of what whatever happened. Not that there weren’t plenty of signs that something was wrong. But she never dreamed that something like this could happen. After a few more moments Freidman spoke up again, “Are we sure it’s a good idea to let her stay in there?”

“I know where you’re coming from Harry,” Dusty answered him. “But right now I’m convinced Rachel’s the one person he won’t hurt,” he paused before adding, “at the moment.” She could tell how much trouble he had saying that. “Besides, it’s gonna take a team of wild horses to drag her out of there.”

“I’ve seen something like this before,” Lance spoke up. “In the middle of a fight, every so often a guy just stops. There’s no rhyme or reason, they just get tired of fighting. Sometimes there was a sign sometimes there wasn’t.”

“I think that’s only part of it,” Friedman said.

“I gotta agree,” Dusty added. “Jack might have gotten tired of fighting, but there was something else messing around in his head long before now.”

“Why did we ignore it for so long?”, Melissa asked, mainly to herself.

Dusty answered anyway, “Probably because it was easier to believe it wasn’t something worse than he was letting on.”

As they talked Jack expression finally changed. Looking frightened for a brief moment he snapped his eyes shut and put his hands on top of his head. Slowly rocking back and forth he was muttering, “Go away. Why won’t you go away?”

“Easy Jack,” Rachel said in a soothing voice trying to keep him calm. “Who won’t go away?” He just kept rocking. “I’m trying to help you, please tell me who won’t go away.”

He started hugging his knees as he opened his eyes and concentrated on a spot in the room. Finally he said, “Drakan. The Drakan I killed, they won’t leave me alone. I go to asleep they’re there. I stay awake they’re there. I can’t get away from them. There’s one here now. That spider I killed in the alley, standing right there. Staring at me. That’s all they do, stand there and stare. Staring right at me.” The frightened look on his face slowly turned to anger as he stood and stormed across the room. To nothing but the air he screamed, “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!”. Tears falling down his face and dropping to his knees he sobbed, “What do you want from me?”

Glancing over at Rachel Melissa didn’t need her gift to know she was about to lose it, “Sparky…”

Nodding he entered the room in a flash. “Rachel,” he said softly, “the boss needs to see you about something.” She quickly left the room as Sparky sat next to Jack. “Hey there buddy, Arron wanted me to tell you that he’s not letting anybody near your bike.”

Rachel closed the door behind her and stood there shaking a bit. Nobody knew what to say to her. But as soon as Dusty took one step toward her she ran into his arms and started crying. “It’s alright darlin’,” he told here, “this is tough on everybody.”

“I saw something was wrong,” she said, “I should have made him talk about it.”

“Now, you may have known Jack longer than I have little lady, but even I know that if you would’ve pushed the matter eventually he would’ve started pushing back.”

Melissa walked over and put an arm around her and said, “We’re all guilty of letting this happen. So don’t go shouldering all the blame for this. Only thing we can do now is help him get out of this,” silently she added, if that was possible.

“Come on little lady,” Dusty said while moving her toward the other door, “Let’s get you some air.”

She backed away, “No I can’t leave him.”

“Nobody asking you too darlin’. It’ll just be for a couple of minutes so you can compose yourself a bit, alright?” Reluctantly she agreed and left the room.

Melissa looked back at Jack who sat there saying, “I tried to feel guilty I really did.”

Chewing on a knuckle as she heard that she mumbled, “Emily I pray this was part of that vision you had.”

News of Jack’s state of mind spread quickly. Sometimes she doubted she would ever stop being surprised at how fast that type of news would spread. Emily just assumed it was part of the natural behavior, Drakan or human. As she walked down the hallways she could hear them talking about him as she passed. Some came up and asked her if Jack was going to be alright. Answering them honestly she replied, “I haven’t been able to see his immediate future as of yet.” Some of her fellow Drakan looked depressed as she said that. A small testament to Jack’s character, he was able to establish a few small friendships here and there since he’s been living here. Not many, but a few. Some of the children seemed hurt by the news, especially young Jennifer who was holding her bear Polly tightly.

Of course there were those who were overjoyed at the new. Some celebrated privately, most openly, the fact the Drakan Killer, for lack of a better term, broke. Jason seemed particularly pleased at the news. They had to stop Arron from jumping him at one point. That didn’t stop them from exchanging some heated words. She shook her head sadly at those who were happy with the turn of events and continued walking.

“Drink this darlin’,” she heard Dusty say. Emily turned a corner and saw him try to give a cup of something to Rachel.

“I’m not thirsty,” she told him softly. Emily’s heart went out to her, she was taking this harder than anybody.

“Drink, you’re not going to do Jack any good if you’re depriving yourself.” He put the paper cup into her hands when she wouldn’t take it. Cupping her face between his hands he told her, “Now I don’t know what going through that head of yours, but I’m telling you now we’re going to do everything we can to get Jack back to the way he was. You got my word that’s my main priority right now.”

“As we all will child,” Emily said as she came into view. “Jack is too strong a sprit to do otherwise.”

Usually when she said something like that people looked grateful for the encouragement. Rachel just stared at her saying nothing. Emily was expecting this so she was already braced for it. “You knew this was going to happen,” she accused. “Didn’t you!”, Rachel crushed the cup in her hand as Emily simply lowered her head. “Why didn’t you tell us?!”, she demanded as she got in her face. “We could have been prepared for this! We could have stopped this from happening!”

“Rachel,” Dusty tried to calm her down. He even put a hand on her shoulder that she pulled away from.

“Why didn’t you tell us?! Did you want him to go through this crap?! Is this how you get your kicks?!”

“Rachel that’s enough,” Dusty told her sternly. She walked away cursing in French. Dusty rubbed his eyes, “I’m sorry Emily.”

“It is alright Dusty,” she told him. “The child just needed somebody to lash out at. Much like Jack did awhile back.”

“Still doesn’t make it right.”

“At least she’s directing her anger at somebody other than herself.” Dusty couldn’t argue with that point. “Jack needs her to be strong right now.”

“You did see this coming, didn’t ya?”, Dusty asked while looking at her funny. “I have to agree with the little lady, you should have warned them.”

Sighing Emily told him, “It wouldn’t have made a difference Dusty.”

“You don’t know that Emily.” Then he closed his eyes and looked very sad. “Look at who I’m arguing with.”

“I know it is hard to hear but Jack was meant to go through this,” she explained. “It was just a matter of when, not if. No amount of preparation was going to stop it.”

“Might have made the blow a little easier to take if we did know.” He looked very tired as he sat down. “I know I told her I’d do everything I could to help him, but I don’t think I can get him back to the way he was.”

“I have faith that you will Dusty. You are the only person stubborn enough to believe he could do so.”

“Maybe, but I’m pretty sure his fighting days are pretty much done.” He expected her to agree, but she remained quiet. “You don’t honestly think I’m going to agree to let him do that again? That’s what got him in this mess to begin with. I’d be a damn fool to let that happen.”

“I want to agree with you Dusty,” she told him honestly, “but I know his part in this particular drama isn’t over yet.” She continued on her way adding, “And ultimately the final say on the matter doesn’t belong to you I’m afraid.” Emily felt Dusty stare at her but he said nothing in return. When she exited the room she sighed to herself, “Even I don’t know what choice he will make at this point.” As she remembered the vision that was responsible for him being here she added, “I don’t think I ever did.”

Standing outside the door leading to the room Jack was in Rachel just stared at it for a long time. She went to the cafeteria to grab him something to eat, but she couldn’t open the door. What was stopping her? She promised herself that she was going to everything in her power to get him through this, yet she was staring at the door. Rachel had to be honest with herself, it was hard to see him in that condition. He was so full of life, to see him like this…. Taking a deep breath she opened the door and relieved Arron, who looked sympathetic as he patted her on the shoulder and left the room. Alone with Jack huddled into the corner, part of her prayed that stupid little sly half grin of his would cross his lips and he say “Gotcha.” That part of her was disappointed real quick.

“I brought you a sandwich,” she said as she sat down on the floor and placed the tray in front of him. “They only had diet pop left, I hope that’s alright.”

Glancing at the tray he mumbled, “I’m not hungry.” At least she was able to get him to say something.

“Come on Jack, I know you have to be a little hungry.” She pushed the tray toward him a little. He was staring at it but he wasn’t pushing it away either. “Just half a sandwich… please.” Looking at her briefly he slowly reached out and took one of the halves. Rachel watched him as he ate. Every so often his eyes would flicker around the room. Seeing those Drakan he killed or looking for them she couldn’t guess.

After he finished the sandwich half she felt a little better that she got something on his stomach. Now for the hard part. Reaching into a pocket she pulled out a small plastic bag that contained a couple of pills. Like she thought his eyes locked on the bag. She might as well get this out of the way. “Dusty told me to give you these.”

“What are they for?” he asked looking a little more nervous, if that was even possible.

“He said they would help you relax,” Rachel told him. She didn’t see a point in lying to him. “Maybe you can finally get some sleep….”

“No,” he cut her off and tried to get further into the corner. “No sleep. They’re there when I sleep.”

“Jack calm down,” she said in a soothing voice as she could muster at the moment. Rachel knew this was going to be hard. “Dusty wouldn’t give you anything that would hurt you. Just take the pills and swallow them… please.” He didn’t look like he was going to do it. “I’ll stay with you the entire night. Please, for me.” Jack looked her right in the eyes then held out a hand that was shaking. Dropping the pill into his hand he popped them into his mouth and swallowed. “Jack I need to see if you actually took them.” Her heart jumped a bit as he got that annoyed look that crossed his face every so often. But he opened his mouth, he even lifted his tongue and showed her his hands, “Thank you.”

Rachel sat next to him and gently pulled him down until his head rested on her lap. Without thinking she started stroking his hair to calm him down. She didn’t know why she started doing it, it just felt like the right thing to do. After a few moments of silence Jack spoke up, “Rachel.”

“Yeah Jack?”

“Why… why are you doing this?”

“Because I…,” I love you. “Because you’re my friend and I care about you. Like you told me I take my friendships very seriously.” He nodded in response and was quiet for a couple more minutes before speaking again.

“Rachel, do you remember me asking why World Inc. needed something like me?”

She had to think for a bit but she remembered. He asked her that right before they left World Inc. and went on the run. “Yeah, I told you they needed someone like you.”

“Mitchell said they needed a thing like me.”

That made her a little angry. Rachel had a similar conversation with him bout Jack. The way Mitchell thought still made her blood boil. “Mitchell is an idiot,” she told Jack. “You are the most human person I know. Don’t you ever forget that, do you hear me?”

“I wish I was still human,” he mumbled. Rachel heart broke but she said nothing. After awhile the pills took affect and Jack was asleep soon after. Rachel patted his head gently and tried to get comfortable. She also tried to find a position to get some sleep herself that wouldn’t wake him up. This could be a long night, but it would be worth it.

After a couple of hours Melissa came into the room. Rachel put a finger to her lips to tell her to keep quiet. She nodded and closed the door behind her as quietly as she could. Kneeling down a few feet away from her she softly asked, “Do you want me to watch him for awhile?”

Rachel shook her head a bit, “I told him I’d stay with him the entire night. I don’t want him to think I broke my word.”

“I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want you to run yourself ragged.”

“I know, but I owe it to him.”

“You and everybody else Rachel. I told you all of us let this happened. If anybody is guilty of anything it’s me. I had him do things that added to his problem.”

Both of them went quiet when Jack stirred slightly. When it looked like he wasn’t going to wake up Rachel said, “I’m going to have to apologize to Emily later.”

“She already told me about,” Melissa informed her. “She totally understands why you blew up at her.”

“It doesn’t make me feel any better about it.”

“Trust me Rachel if she felt insulted her cane would’ve let you know,” Melissa said with a smile. Too bad Rachel didn’t feel like returning it. Melissa started staring at Jack, but it wasn’t a look of concern. It was one of confusion. Before Rachel could ask what was wrong Jack started twitching slightly, almost like he was dreaming. She remembered seeing him doing this a couple of times when they were on the run. His twitches started to get a little more violent.

“Jack,” she said softly. A little louder she repeated, “Jack,” and nudged him slightly.

His eyes opened suddenly. A second later he got up yelling, “NOOOO!”. Scrambling away from them he turned toward them with another look she never seen on his face before. The look of somebody ready to fight for their very life if they had too. Melissa got between them and changed into a light green tiger with dark green stripes. Rachel tried to get in front of her when he lost the look and became more aware of his surroundings. “Please,” he said in between breaths, “please don’t do that.”

“That was my fault,” Rachel told him she approached, “I shouldn’t have startled you like that.” She shot a look at Melissa behind her as she reverted to her human form looking ashamed of herself.

“I over reacted,” she told her. “Friedman put something in my head… sorry.”

“It’s alright,” Rachel said as she put an arm around Jack. It took a few minutes but she finally convinced him to lie back down. “Could you hand me his coat over there?”

“Sure,” Melissa grabbed it from the corner and handed it to Rachel, who placed on top of Jack to cover him up. “I’d better go… something going to pop up that needs my attention before I know it.”

“Ok,” Rachel told her. She guessed Melissa was thinking the less people in here the better it would be for Jack. Rachel found herself agreeing with it. “We’ll see you in the morning.”

When Melissa left them alone Jack said, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” she told him. “Just try to get some sleep.” Jack said nothing as he stared at the wall.

The next morning Anderson walked into the World Inc. lobby and found Taylor waiting for him. After saying good morning to the receptionist he motioned for Taylor to follow him. The elevator already had several people inside who held the door for them. For what seemed like an eternity listening to the humans and their small talk they were finally alone when the last one slowly exited. Making sure they wouldn’t be disturbed Anderson hit a secret switch the senior Allen had installed that would turn off the call buttons for this elevator on the other floors. “How did the interrogation go?”

“Not well sir,” Taylor said,” Perez and his… *ahem* ‘specialist’ worked on him the entire night. But so far he hasn’t been talking. He won’t even admit the name he gave us is his real one.”

Anderson smirked, “I would be highly surprised if that was his real name.”

“True,” Taylor agreed. “But Perez is asking permission to use some more, shall we say, persuasive tactics to get the information out of our guest.”

“He is rather impatient, isn’t he?”, Anderson commented. Taylor didn’t respond. “Mitchell would have come up with some more creative means before asking permission. Tell him to wait a couple of days before getting a little more aggressive, we still have to keep up appearances.” Taylor said he would pass it on. One more thing was still bothering him. “I’m assuming no one still has no idea what happened to Mr. Davidson.”

“No sir, we’ve been listen to the feeler we have to the rebels and so far nobody is talking.”

Anderson thought it over as the elevator doors opened. “I have often found money can loosen a tongue or two in some cases. Put an offer out there for Davidson condition, and only his condition. I have a feeling somebody will bite sooner or later.”

Rachel fell asleep before he did, again. He tried to fall asleep, he really did. But the nightmares kept coming back to him no matter what he did. Jack sat against the wall still shaking against the heat of the room. His eyes darted around the room as various dead Drakan came and went as they pleased and he couldn’t do anything to stop it. One of them did something different that caught his attention. The dolphin Drakan stood in the middle of the room and stared at Rachel who was still sleeping. Feeling an anger grow inside of him Jack stood up to confront the ghost. “Leave her alone,” he demanded. It looked at him and disappeared as Jack fell back to his knees.

*end theme – Papa Roach – Sometimes*
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Old June 25th, 2019, 09:06 AM #36
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Joined: Dec 2012
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<Episode 33>

*opening theme – Ana – We Are*

She could hear the usual noise and commotion coming from the common area as they walked through the hallways. Looking over at Jack she watched for a reaction. Much like she feared he started to shrink back a bit. Good thing they weren’t headed that way, it would have been too much too soon. Gently she took his hand and guided him foreword, he still tried to hesitate. Especially when a couple of Drakan passed them. She gave his hand a quick squeeze when it looked like he was going to take off. “Easy Jack,” she said, “we’re almost there.”

“I shouldn’t… I shouldn’t be here,” was all he said while he scratched his beard he’d grown. He started looking around like he was searching for something, or someone. Rachel quickly grabbed his face and made him look at her.

“We’re all alone,” she assured him. Subconsciously she started stroking his cheek until he calmed down. It’s been little over a month since it happened, and right now all she wanted to see some of that progress Dusty said he was making in public. “Like I said we’re almost there and I know you have to be hungry.”

“I shouldn’t be out,” was all he told her. “I shouldn’t be here.”

“Dusty said it’d be alright for you to get out and walk around for a little bit,” she explained to him again. “Just as long as we didn’t overwhelm you on your first time out. And Melissa said the cafeteria is pretty quiet this time of day.”

“I don’t know,” he said quickly. “They’re going to be there.”

Do not go backtracking on us now. “Our friends are going to be there. Sparky and Arron are waiting for us. Even Emily said she might join us.” She was trying very hard to not sound like she was talking to a child, but was worried it was coming out that way any way. “We can do this some other time if don’t feel like it right now. Just let me know alright.”

Jack looked unsure of himself then he replied, “I... I want to do this. I need to do this.” Rachel wasn’t sure but if it was her imagination or not, but she would swear on a stack of bibles some of his old determination returned to his eye briefly.

Rachel smiled slightly, “That’s the spirit.” Taking his hand again they walked the rest of the way. She stopped by the door before entering, just to give him a couple of moments to prepare himself. When he was ready Rachel led him in. Arron and Sparky were at the table both with a big smile on there faces. She glanced at Jack who suddenly found the floor very interesting. One step at a time she reminded herself. The cafeteria wasn’t as empty as she would have liked, but you couldn’t have everything. At least most of them weren’t staring at him.

“Hi there buddy,” Sparky greeted him.

“Hey man,” Arron said.

Jack returned it with a slightly weak, “Hey.”

“How’s the food?”, she asked as they sat down.

“About the same,” Sparky told her. “I don’t know what it is but the quality has been dipping for the past couple of weeks.”

“Dude, we’re living underground,” Arron said. “What kind of quality are you expecting?”

“Man you’re the rich kid,” he shot back.

“Here we go again,” Arron sighed.

“I’m just saying you should be with me on this one. You’ve gone from the finer things in life to this. I say you demand some better food. For morale if nothing else.”

“Leave Fido alone will ya.”

All three of them looked right at Jack. For a brief moment he looked liked his old self, although to Rachel it looked a bit forced. But Hell, right now she’ll take it. “I have to agree with these two,” she told Sparky.

“You just asked me hear so you can gang up on me didn’t you?”, he joked. “Usually I’d be a tad tee’d off, but I’m just glad my best bud is out of that stuffy ass room. This hole hasn’t been the same without you around.”

“I’ll go grab us some food,” Arron said as he got up.

“Thanks Arron,” Rachel told him.

“The kid’s been taking real good care of you bike,” Sparky told Jack. “Just like it was his own baby,” Jack just nodded. “Hell I think you might have a hard time getting it back.” She was certain he was trying to get a rise out of him, but apparently he wasn’t biting. Then he added, “Of course it’s a shame to just let it sit there. I mean a machine like that needs, no, wants to be out on the streets.”

“You’re not racing my bike,” Jack told him plainly. Sparky looked s little hurt, then he gave her a quick grin. There was a little of his old self in there. And she would wait as long as it took until they were able to pull it out of him. Now if they can get him back fully or not was a question she wasn’t ready to think about yet.

Suddenly he put his hands in front of his eyes to try to hide the fact he was squeezing them shut. He was seeing “them” again. Sparky recognized that motion and looked a little uncomfortable. Over the past months these episodes were of various lengths, right now Rachel was hoping this was one of the shorter versions. Rubbing his shoulder lightly she said, “Just let it pass.” Slowly he removed his hands from his eyes and tried to get his breathing back to normal. “We’re going to beat this,” she assured him.

“I don’t think we can,” he told her while holding his forehead.

“Hey man,” Sparky cut in, “that defeatist talk. You are going to whip this like nobody business.” Rachel was glad he was there trying to raise his confidence. Arron came back soon after with a couple of trays. Jack picked at his food but occasionally he took a bite here and there. Like they planned they started up a conversation, and while they weren’t forcing him to talk every so often they leave him an opening to say something. More times than not he wouldn’t, but when he did he at least appeared normal. Again it looked forced to her but at least he was trying. How did Dusty put it, he didn’t lose his fight he was just hiding it somewhere.

“I don’t believe it,” a new voice said. Rachel didn’t need to see Sparky and Arron’s face to know it was Jason. This was the last thing they needed right now. “I mean I heard, but I didn’t believe it. The all mighty Drakan Killer decided to come out of his hiding hole. It must be a miracle,” he said sarcastically.

“Lay off of him if you know what’s good for you,” Arron said, with a bit of a growl edging his voice.

“So the green whelp,” Jason spat, “think he has teeth. I’ll prove you wrong some other time.” He pushed Arron to the side as he sat right in front of Jack. Rachel motioned for Arron to stay where he was while Sparky put a hand around his arm to hold him back. Then she gave her entire attention to Jack, who was staring at a spot on the table. But she did notice that the hand he had on the table started to ball up only to stop a few times. “So this is what became of you,’ Jason taunted. “You came barging in here all high and mighty, now look at you.”

“We were invited to stay here,” Rachel reminded him.

“Shut up you worthless human,” he snapped at her not taking his eyes off Jack. The corner of his eyes start to crinkle as something flashed in them briefly. “What are you going to do Bug?”, Jason challenged him seeing it too. He shot his head foreword, like he was going to come at him. Jack flinched away and Rachel gave the Drakan a look that could kill. He ignored her as he slowly got up and leaned over Jack. Getting right in Jack’s ear he said, “And to think we were afraid of you.”

Sparky surprised all of them by nearly jumping over Arron and punching him in the mouth. “I think it’s time for you to leave,” he said in a warning tone. Jason smirked as he held his jaw. Then he stood up, shot a last look at Jack and left.

After a minute Sparky sat back down as Arron stared at him. “You actually punched him.”

“Eh, you’re a bad influence,” he said looking mildly embarrassed. “I think I hurt my hand.”

“Somebody had to have told him Jack was here,” Arron looked around before getting up. “If you guys will excuse me.”

“Arron don’t do anything stupid,” Rachel warned him.

“Just making sure the hallways are clear.”

“I’ll make sure he stays out of trouble,” Sparky told them while he got up. He looked confused for a second then added, “Did that just come out of me?”

Rachel shrugged her shoulders and watched them leave. Jack looked like he didn’t know what he was going to do. Rubbing his shoulder again she asked, “You have enough for one day?” She noticed he was looking at his hand, it was still trying to make a fist. “Come on Jack let’s call it a day.”

“I,” he started to say, “I should have… I should have said something. I should have done something.”

“There’ll be plenty of time for that later,” she told him. Of course one of these day she was going to make sure Melissa wasn’t around at the wrong time.

Anderson walked through the hallways of the World Inc. Building. Barely acknowledging anybody who crossed his path he was deeply entrenched in his own thoughts. He had walked these corridors many times, with the late senior Allen and by himself, so he had these paths committed to memory. So he could walk any hallway on autopilot and still arrive at his destination. Of course there were times such as now where he was trying to clear his mind, and it was rather busy with one particular subject. After awhile he noticed a person that was now walking with him. Very few people would be this bold, “Mr. Taylor.”

“Mr. Anderson,” his VP answered in return.

“Still no word I assume.”

“I’m afraid not sir. The offer has been out there for a month and no one taken it yet. Maybe they’re afraid.

“Of what Mr. Taylor

“That this might be a trap to find out where they’re hiding.” A possibility he had considered himself more than once. “Or…,”Taylor trailed off.

“I hate when people leave an unfinished thought hanging in the air Mr. Taylor.”

He started slowly, “Or the reason why haven’t heard anything is that Davidson might be dead.”

“He’s alive,” Anderson stated firmly. “I know word of the Drakan Killer death would have spread like an uncontrolled wildfire. Up the reward for information on his current condition. And keep raising it until we have some sort of concrete information on his condition one way or another.”

Taylor stopped in his tracks looking dumbfounded, “Why?”, he ended up asking. Anderson slowly turned around to face him and said nothing. “Why are we going to so much trouble to find out? Davidson is a traitor. If he’s out of the way, even temporarily, shouldn’t we be finding out a way to use this to our advantage?”

Waiting a few moments before answering he said, “Honestly Mr. Taylor, I do not know. I suppose part of me feels responsible for Davidson. I was the one who green lighted him for the Fusion project, because something in my gut told me too. He was the guinea pig that proved that the effort we put into the project was worth it. But mainly I want to know why, because the man I saw here does not sound like the man Mr. Perez saw.” Turning back around he added, “Raise the reward once a week. The information is out there, it’s just a matter of finding the right price.”

Emily watched through the window as he sat against the wall. Rachel was still in there with him just talking away. Occasionally he’d say something in return. She stopped when an episode hit, judging from his reaction this one was particularly bad. Rachel held him until it passed then made sure he was alright. Emily saw Melissa’s reflection in the window and nodded. “I can’t believe she’s still in there,” Melissa said out loud.

“The child determination is fueling her at this point,” Emily pointed out.

“It’s getting to the point that we have to force her to take a break. I think Dusty would make more of a fuss about it if Jack didn’t respond to her more than anybody else.”

“The experiences they shared created a bond between them child. I would’ve been surprised if it wasn’t her he was reacting too.” There were a few moments of silence, “But it still troubles you to see him like this, doesn’t it.”

“How can I not be troubled? I know I’m partially responsible for this happening.” After another moment of silence Melissa added, “Usually this would be the place people would say I’m wrong.”

“And I would truly like to tell you that child. But circumstances beyond our control forced us into this situation.”

“Close enough,” she said with a small smile. Emily returned it and went back to watching Jack. “Emily,” she said, “I know your visions are never wrong but from what you told me I think that boat’s been missed for this one.”

“I don’t think it has,” she said after thinking it over.

“I don’t want to argue with you but,” Melissa glanced at Jack and Melissa before continuing, “but he suffered a mental breakdown. If he was going to talk to you he would’ve done it before it happened.”

“And nobody said he was going to talk to me before it happened,” she corrected her. “I just know he will talk to me when he’s ready.”

“I don’t think he’s going to be talking to anybody soon while he’s in this state.”

“I this state no,” she agreed. “But it is a sign he’s going to get better, if even just a little. It all depends on how you look at it,” Emily gave her a light tap on the leg with her cane, “you should know that by now child.”

Why wouldn’t they go away and leave him alone. Fading in and out like they didn’t have a care in the world. Wasn’t there anybody else these ghosts could bother for once? All he wanted was for them to leave them alone, how much more of a price did have to pay? Yeah, he’s killed a lot of Drakan since they altered him and he probably deserved this. But when was it finally going to be enough?

Actually what he really wanted was to hit one of these things right in the nose. Just to see if he got any satisfaction from it if anything else. He felt his hand start to close but something inside stopped it… again. Well at any rate it gave him something to think about when the ghost weren’t around. Of course if he did start swinging away at them he’d be freaking the others out even more. He might be out of his mind but he could see how uncomfortable the other were, even Rachel. She might be hiding it better than the others but he could see it.

“Seriously man,” Sparky said as he walked around the empty room, “what do you do in here all day. If it was me I think I’d be planning my escape on day two.”

Leaning his head back against the wall he said, “See ghost, go nuts, plan to take over the world. You know the usual.”

Sparky gave him a nervous grin, “I swear that was almost a joke.”

“OK maybe the take over the world part was a bit much.” He closed his eyes for a bit. When he opened them Sparky looked like he was bracing himself. “No spooks this time, just a little bored.”

“How can you be bored with Mr. Personality around?”

“So I’m not the only one out of his mind then.”

“You’re lucky you’re sick or I’d kick you butt.”

“You’re really far gone ain’t ya?”, he said with a grin.

“Alright Mr. Ha-ha,” Sparky said sounding annoyed, “why are you so funny in here when out there…”, he stopped. From embarrassment or not sure what to say, he wasn’t sure.

Jack answered any way, “Because in here I know who’s real and who’s not.”

“Make sense,” Sparky said absentmindedly, you never know when a Joker going to pop out in his Drakan form. Then I’d have to stop Arron from kicking his ass and that would cause a whole different mess entirely.”

Rachel walked in a moment later carrying a box of some sort. She waved Sparky over to the door. She whispered something to him, but Jack could hear it anyway. “I heard you two talking.” Sparky stated to say something then Rachel added, “Thank you.”

He smiled and looked embarrassed, “Just glad to help out where I can.” Rachel patted him on the shoulder as he left.

She looked over at him and plastered that smile on her face that she had for the past month. He didn’t have the heart to tell her how fake that looked. Then again he was half out of his mind so what did he know. “So what’s with giving Sparky a hard time?”

“It’s Sparky,” he answered.

Rachel sat across from him and he got a good look at the box she was carrying, a game of checkers. “You would not believe how hard it was to find a complete set down here, “she told him. “I mean I found a piece being used to straighten out a table. Then again you really can’t be that choosey about the quick fixes around here I suppose.” She opened the box and started setting up the game, “In case you were wondering why I brought this I thought you could use something to do. You know get your mind off things for awhile. If you’re up to it that is.”

Jack started smiling as a memory came to him, “I’m guessing you’re afraid I’d kick you butt in that wrestling game again.”

This time a genuine smile crossed her lips, “I seem to recall I had you on the ropes when time ran out.”

“And people think I’m crazy.”

She leaned in a little, “The moment I can convince Dusty to find away to hook that system up down here I’ll show you who was kicking who’s butt.” There was a small glint in her eyes for a moment, he wasn’t sure what it was. “So,” she said as she returned to setting up the game, “do you want to be red or black?”

Almost on cue all the red Drakan he’d killed came at him, quickly he told her, “Black.”

Despite all his wondering about Davidson he did have a company to run, and a group of rebel he had to lead back into the fold so to speak. Why couldn’t they see what they think they wanted was wrong? One would think they would eventually realize all of this would stop the moment they came to their senses. But every society had its trouble makers he supposed. That’s what made programs like the Fusion system a necessity. Speaking of, he was long overdue for an update.

Walking into R&D he scanned the room for Armstrong. His head researcher was busy going over a set of plans with his assistants, not even noticing he was in the room. Several of the developers got out of his way as he made his way toward the group. Armstrong finally saw him there and said, “Tim, why don’t you take the others and test it out some more.” Breaking away from the pack and met him half way, “What can I do for you Mr. Anderson?”

Getting straight to the point he said, “I wanted to ask about Mitchell. I haven’t received an update in quite a while.”

“Well the bonding process takes time. With Davidson…”

Anderson cut him off, “You originally gave me the impression the Mark two would make the process easier, therefore faster.”

“I do realize that Mr. Anderson, but something unexpected came up. Come with me if you’ll please.” Armstrong lead him to his desk, surprisingly there were some MRI images of a spinal cord on it. “The damage to Mitchell spine was more severe than the medical wing originally thought. While the Mark two would help correct the problem, we’re not sure how much additional work is going to be needed at this point if the legs aren’t getting the signal properly. It’s entirely possible he may have to learn to walk again.”

“Considering who paralyzed him to begin with I’m sure Mitchell would be properly motivated to accomplish that task. If the need arise that is.”

“I’m sure he would,” Armstrong agreed. “Also we came up with an upgrade for the system I was going to run by you.” He unrolled another set of blue prints and gave the non technical explanations to him. Anderson raised an eyebrow in interest in what he was hearing. “Granted, putting it in now would lengthen the bonding period, but we feel it would be helpful in case Davidson got in a lucky shot.”

“I agree with your assessment Dr. Armstrong. Add the upgrade to Mitchell’s system. “I’m sure he would hate to be defeated by a ‘lucky’ shot as you put it.”

In what almost become a habit she waited in the common area for the team she set out to come back. Christopher would wait for them in the garage, and she tried to do that a couple of times. It never felt right to her. Then again he could inspire confidence just by standing there. Her, she was lucky she’s been able to hold this thing together for this long. Even now, when nobody thought she was around, she’d hear whispers on how Chris would do such and such this way. Melissa said she wasn’t her brother and had no plans to be like him, but every so often she wished she had a bit of whatever he had.

A growing sensation of satisfaction brought her back to the here and now. A successful raid if she had to guess, but it was edge with something else. She wasn’t sure what it was at this point. It was bad enough when they told her the resistance they’ve been encountering lately had been human, no Drakans. Like Anderson decided to hold off on using those under for now or something. Melissa wasn’t sure if she could handle something else right now.

“The job is complete,” Jason boasted as he entered the common area. A look at the face of some of the others, including Sparky, said something else happened. “We got the supplies you wanted and hurt Anderson at the same time.” That statement could not be good for them in the long or short run.

“You were just suppose to grab what we needed and leave,” she reminded them. Sparky and the others looked right at Jason.

“What did you do?” Nathan asked as he made his way through the crowd.

“I got what we needed,” he said looking smug, “and then I did what we needed to do.”

“And how is blowing up the warehouse something we needed to do?”, Sparky shot him. Melissa and the other around her looked at him. She turned around and rubbed her hands down her face.

“Are you out of your mind!”, Nathan exploded. “Are you trying to attract undo attention to us?”

“Why not?”, Jason challenged. “Let us show the world what we’re willing to do for our cause.”

“And Anderson can and will use that to paint us in an even bigger negative light,” Melissa informed him. “We do not need to give a alpha who secretly agrees with him an opening to come out publically. We are barely holding our own as it is, the last thing we need is for Anderson to get a fresh supply of troops.”

“Then we show them why it was a mistake to join with Anderson to begin with,” he shot back. “What would you have us do, stay hidden in the shadows? Along with being afraid of being discovered by accident?” He looked at the crowd around them and continued his argument, “It’s time we showed them we are not afraid, that we are willing to fight back and take what we want.”

“And give Anderson a bigger target,” Nathan counter angrily. “How many times have I told you, taking him on directly is a sure way to get us wiped out.”

“And what do you suggest old man?”, Jason challenged him. “That we place all our hope and prayers on the metal bug? We know how reliable he is don’t we? Right now you apparent savior is cowering in a hole afraid of his own shadow.” Sparky had to be held back but Jason didn’t see it.

The emotion from the room was so overwhelming she didn’t know something was going to happen until it did. The only clue Melissa had was Sparky seeing something behind Jason and a brief flash of blond hair. All of the sudden a metal pole whipped up between Jason legs and nailed him in the crotch. He went down holding himself and Sparky and a few of the other had a big grin on their face. Rachel was behind him holding one of Jack’s battle staffs with a hateful look on her face. After a moment she said, “You’re lucky I couldn’t find the boomstick,” and walked off.

“Do something,” Jason said in pain as he looked at her.

“You so had that coming,” Sparky said as he stepped over him as Nathan and a few other nodded in agreement.

“Is there something more to this that I need to know about,” Melissa stopped and asked him.

Sparky thought it over for about a second, “Nah, not really,” and continued on his way. “But somebody might want to tell her to disinfect that staff before too long.”

She looked over to Jason who was still on the ground, “Yeah, I guess you’re right,” and walked away in another direction. Despite Sparky’s claim there was something more to that than what she saw. She told herself she would check on it… eventually.

*ending theme – Linkin Park – What I’ve Done*
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Old July 3rd, 2019, 07:24 PM #37
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<Episode 34>

*opening theme – Ana - We Are*

Once again he was in the mountains facing the one person he hated more than anybody else in the world. As always they fought and he killed him with his bare hands. Walking away the monkey came back to life and kicked the crap out of him. As before the monkey waved around his waist and the belt appeared around it’s waist as the armor faded disappeared. On more time it waved an ever growing number of dead Drakan from the surrounding fog as the system activated on each of them. Again he started to run but was held in place by Richie and Max. All he could do was watch in fear as the Drakan turned the right pod while other hit the button that used to be there under the belt. They jumped as one and he woke up screaming, “NOOOO!!”

Jack quickly looked around the barren room trying to figure out where he was. Then he focused on Rachel hovering nearby and remembered. A few seconds later she wrapped her arms around him and tried to calm him down. She never did anything as soon as he woke up, always waiting a moment or two. Jack knew why, he overheard them talking about it, as Sparky put it he was in attack mode as soon as he came out of the nightmare. And Jack wasn’t sure if he would hurt anybody or not at the moment.

“It’s ok Jack,” Rachel said as he breathing went back to normal. Slowly she pulled away and sat next to him. After all this time in this room she was finally able to get him a mattress to sleep on a month or so back. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her staring at him. “Talk to me Jack,” she said after a few moments of silence.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” he said as his heart finally stopped beating in his ears.

“And don’t tell me that,” she told him plainly. ”This is the only area where you’re not making any kind progress. Was there anything different about the nightmare this time around? Anything, something small, something you usually wouldn’t have noticed.”

“The only thing different is the number stopped getting bigger,” he told her, talking about the amount of dead Drakan coming at him. A tear fell down his check, he wasn’t sure how much more of this he could take, “Why won’t this go away?”

“I wish I could tell you,” she said honestly, “but you’re the only one who can do that. Or at least that what Dusty says.” Rachel brushed some of the hair out of his eyes, “One of these days we’re going to have to get you a haircut, maybe a shave. You’re looking like Grizzly Adams.”

Jack smiled weakly, “So you don’t go for the rugged looking type?”

Rachel smiled back, “You couldn’t even begin to guess my type.”

“Don’t tell me you and Sparky are spending a little quality time in one of his hiding spots.”

Rachel looked annoyed for a brief second before smiling again, “And to think I was missing those lame jokes of yours.”

“I can go lamer, I’m just out of practice.”

“And that’s a really scary thought,” she told him. Patting him on the knee she said, “Try to go back to sleep, we got a long day ahead of us.”

“And more people watching to see if I’m going to crack again,” he said out loud without thinking.

“Now don’t talk like that,” she scolded him. “Nobody wants to see you have a relapse.”

“Tell that to the chimp,” he said darkly.

“Yeah well,” she hesitated, “Jason a jackass to begin with.”

“According to Sparky a higher pitched one after you were done,” he teased her.

Rachel looked embarrassed, “Like you said Sparky says a lot of things.”

“And Arron and Angie and I think I overheard Melissa say something…”

“Alright wise guy, save some of that for later.” She kissed on top of the head, “Now try to get some sleep.” Jack nodded and laid back down. He closed his eyes and tried to relax before finally drifting back off again. But it didn’t seem like no time before he was back in the mountains fighting Jason again before everything went to hell.

When he wasn’t waking up screaming in the middle of the night everybody was amazed at the progress Jack had made. A few commented that he was almost like his old self. Of course people like her and Dusty knew him a little better. Every so often Rachel would catch him with his eyes closed for an extended period of times. He was still seeing his ghost, but at least they didn’t seem to appear as often as they did. Either that or he’s gotten better at hiding the spells. If it was the latter they were going to have a talk.

Later though, right now they had to get to the garden center. Rachel didn’t believe how long it took her to convince Dusty that this would be a good idea. She saw his point when Jack was seeing ghost every other minute, he might have tried to run or something. But now seemed like good a time as any to see how he would react in a larger group setting. She watched him hesitate for a second before they entered the underground garden the rebels had set up. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw as he looked around the area with a worried look that he tried to cover up. Apparently she was the only one who saw it as Sparky and a red and purple haired girl she learned was named Angie ran up to them smiling like nothing was wrong.

“Buddy I’m glad to see you down here,” Sparky told him.

Rachel and Jack looked at each other totally confused. Then Jack asked, “What in the blue hell are you doing down here?”.

“Without a gun pointed to your head?”, she added.

“What are you two talking about,” he said laughing. “I love coming down here.”

“Since when?”, they asked in unison. Sparky gestured toward Angie without her seeing. Jack sighed and walked toward the tool rack as Sparky followed him.

Angie smiled at him and turned toward Rachel, “I know he’s full of it but I love watching him act. Oh Jack,” she called out, “anytime you want to lop that hair off let me know. I do more than just makeup and wigs.”

“I told you needed one,” Rachel said. Jack waved her off.

“You really ought to think about it,” Sparky told him. “How do you think I stay looking so pretty?”

“I’m a stylist not a miracle worker,” Angie said then walked off.

Sparky quickly went after her, “Now was that necessary?”

Jack leaned on the rake he picked out and watched them, “Either he’s trying to hook up with her or I’m crazier than I thought.”

“Nobody that’s crazy,” Rachel told him. He nodded after thinking about it a bit and she picked out a hoe and they started working. It wasn’t long before she became aware of somebody hiding in the corner. From the look of things Jack hadn’t noticed yet so she made her way over. Sounding a little irritable she said, “I had him convince nobody was going to be watching him.”

“Just here as a doctor and a friend little lady,” Dusty told her. “Still say this is a bit much too soon.”

“And you know how much he hates being babied,” she countered. “Especially now since he’s acting more or less like normal.”

“I hope you don’t mind if I point out the word ‘act’ there.”

“Look I know he’s faked a couple of reactions since this happened to look normal. I’ve known him long enough to realize that. But this is him, I know it.”

“I know you want to think that darlin’…”

She cut him off, “What, you think I so desperate that I’m seeing things?” That came out a little angrier than she intended.

Dusty didn’t look fazed but sounded apologetic, “I didn’t mean it like that little lady, but I caught myself doing it a few times too.” Putting a hand on her shoulder he added, “We all want him back Rachel, so bad we can taste it. But sometimes we have to step back and take a more critical eye about things.”

Before she could answer they heard Jack say, “Would you quit it.”

“Come on man,” Sparky said while playfully jabbing the handle end of a shovel at Jack. “Let’s see if you still have the moves.”

“I don’t do that anymore Sparky,” Jack told him while trying to grab the handle or trying to knock it away.

“That part still gotta be in you somewhere.” He kept jabbing away, “You just have to find it again.”

“Quit it Sparky,” Jack started to look annoyed and a little angry.

“Sparky that’s enough,” Angie told him.

“Just having some fun,” was all he said as he continued doing it.

Before Rachel and Dusty could run over and stop him Jack finally had enough. “Would,” he used his rake to knock it away, “you,” he blocked a return swing, “quit,” Jack tripped him and stood over him, “it!”He raised the rake over his head and she ran faster. Everybody stopped what they were doing and watched. She saw his eyes change before the rest of him did. He started looking lost and confused a second before his hands opened up and the rake dropped to the ground. Looking at his hands he backed away sputtering, “I’m… I’m sorry I… I don’t…”

“Dude seriously, my bad,” Sparky said as he stood up. “I should have stopped when you said so.”

“You better believed you should have stopped,” Rachel snapped at him. Jack just slowly backed away from them staring at his hands.

“Rachel I’m…”, Sparky started.

“Not know Sparky,” she said sharply, by now Jack was already leaning against a wall with that confused look on his face. If she wasn’t so mad at Sparky she might be sharing that look. She had no idea where that came from either.

Jack had a vague idea what was going on around him. Most of the others went back to what they were doing ignoring what happened. A few were pretending to do that while glancing his way. Rachel and Angie were both giving Sparky a piece of their mind. Frank stormed over demanding to know what the hell was going on while Dusty tried to calm him down. At the moment he was bothered by something else. It wasn’t even the fact he started to fight back against Sparky, violently at that. No, something in his head screamed stop and his hands opened on their own.

Now he couldn’t even get his hands to close again, like something was stopping them. If it was a glitch in the system he could understand, but only his left arm was reconstructed. His right still had some of his original “parts”, so why was it doing it too? Why has it been doing it for that matter? Jack tried to force his right hand to make a fist but it was resisting him. He was trying so hard to make it close beads of sweat starting to appear on his forehead, “Come on, close damn it.”

“Careful son,” Dusty said catching by surprise, “you’re gonna break something.”

Glancing at Dusty briefly he said, “I guess I wasn’t ready for this.”

“Actually I’m thinking Rachel might be right and you’re almost back to being yourself.”

“I almost attacked Sparky,” he said sounding a little bewildered.

“But you stopped yourself, showed a little self restraint. Hell, I would have just kicked his ass.”

Jack looked at his hands again, “But how much of it was actually me?’

“I’m not gonna lie to ya, I’ve seen your hand… well I don’t want to call it a problem, But it might be a symptom that you just don’t realize you have yet.”

“And what part of that is supposed to make sense?”

“It’s medical side talk son, it’s not suppose to make sense,” Dusty said with a chuckle. “But the answer to that,” he pointed at Jack’s hand, “is in that open space you call a head. The moment you figure that out is the moment you clear that last hurdle, then you’re in the home stretch.”

“What if I can’t figure it out?”

“I’m sure you will. And I’m pretty sure it has to deal with that guilt you been feeling, or lack of according to you.” He was quiet for a few moments. “You’re the only one who can make that last jump son. A lot of people want you back the way you were before. Hell I’m one of them. But it’s up to you if you want to go that way.”

“Never knew I had a choice in the matter,” he said idly as he looked at the Drakan around them.

“You always have a choice son,” Dusty patted him on the shoulder, “No matter what some people might tell ya.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time somebody told me that.”

“Then it’s gotta be true then doesn’t son,” Dusty smiled. “Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a couple of runny noses and a cracked oil pan that’s come to my attention.”

Dusty patted him on the shoulder again and walked off to whatever was closest. After a few moments Frank came storming past him saying something like, “I have half a mind to take them up on that offer.” Jack started at him for a few moments wondering what that meant, then he looked down. There were a few weeds at his feet, but between them there was a plant of something, it looked like some kind of flower. Without really thinking he knelt down and started pulling the weeds away from the plant.

“Well that didn’t quite go according to plan did it?”, Rachel said as she walked up to him. Jack just grunted as he continued pulling the weeds. He could feel her staring at him. “So you ready to go?”

“Not yet,” he said not looking at her.

“Well there’s not much left to do around here. The next shift already here.”

“Good for them.”

Rachel got down to a knee and watched him, “What are you doing?”

“Rachel,” he wasn’t sure how to explain it, he really didn’t know himself, “I’ve killed a lot of these people. I just,” he finally looked at her, “I just want to help something live for a change.”

She looked at the plant and smiled softly, “Alright, do you want some help? I sent you after a few of them after all.”

“I don’t suppose you know anything about growing plants? Because I have no clue.”

“What can I do for you today General?”, Anderson asked as Rhodes walked in unannounced. Usually he would ask to see him first so something must be bothering the man to more or less barge in like this.

“The good Senator,” he replied, “is starting to make some noise again.”

“Persistent for a human, isn’t he?”, Anderson sighed.” Very tricky as well, he waits just long enough that the turmoil he cause if almost back down to normal before rattling the metaphorical saber again. If he was a Drakan I’d almost respect him.”

“Well he starting to talk to people around me now,” Rhodes informed him. “People with as much pull as I do. At least one with a somewhat negative view of this company.” Looking a little nervous he leaned on the desk, “He’s bringing up rumors that a mark two system is being bonded to somebody right now.”

“Humans do love to gossip, don’t they General,” Anderson mused. “I suppose that’s how they get some of their information, a human who can not keep quiet.”

Rhodes straighten up, “You’re being awfully nonchalant about this. This could be trouble.”

He opened a drawer on his right side and started rummaging through the files inside. “I did not get this far by worrying about thing before they happen.” Finding the right file he pulled it out and handed it to the General. “Give this to him, just a reminder of a previous conversation he has obviously forgotten.”

The general flipped through the file then looked at him, “Is this true?”

“Enough of it is to be plausible,” he told him. “The best lies always have a hint of the truth to them. Something I remembered after Davidson’s defection. Perhaps he would still be working for us if I remembered that back then, or perhaps not.”

Tapping the folder against his hand Rhodes commented, “It might be easier to replace the Senator on that committee rather than drag stuff like this up and spin it.”

“Perhaps,” he conceded. “It’s something I already looked into. Unfortunately anybody else on that committee does not have the same political stroke Henning does, so we must put up with him for the time being. We just have to remind him of his place in the order of things. Speaking of which, inform the Senator that there is more where that came from.” He let a small smile slip through, “For a man so upstanding in his community he does have a rather shaky past.”

“If you don’t mind me saying so,” Rhodes said,” you do seem unusually happy today.”

Anderson leaned back in his chair, “There is a reason for that General, for the first time in months we may finally have word on Davidson’s condition. To find out one way or another does take a load off of one’s mind.”

The old man put that green bitch up to this, Jason just knew it. Why else would he be put in a “grab and dash” operation with a group that had the green whelp and his blue haired lackey? This had to be some sort of punishment for speaking his mind. Yet months ago that worthless human assaulted him and they did nothing. The injustice of it all. They even had the nerve to search him for explosives before they left. It was almost as bad as being under Anderson’s rule.

“The shipping yard looks clean,” the group leader said while looking through his binoculars. “Looks like their info was right on the money.”

“So why ain’t they doing this one?”, Sparky asked.

“For once me and the blue haired freak agree on something,” Jason said smugly.

“Blame the guy who took over for Drake,” the green whelp said. “He wanted a show of, and I’m quoting here, ‘good faith’ from Melissa.”

“Is that why that particular cell been keeping their distance from us after Drake died?”

“And the others too according to Lance,” the whelp told them. “The way he tells it the other cell leaders are starting to miss Drake, at least he understood they wouldn’t be able to survive on their own.”

“Somebody who thinks they can do it all by themselves,” he could feel Sparky stare at the back of his head. “Sound like anybody you know?”

“Keep the metal bug out of this,” Jason shot back. He smirked when a couple had to remind the whelp they were on the same side. The group leader waved them on and the silently crossed the street to an area of the surrounding fence that was darkened due to the lack of lights. The whelp wisely picked up a few pieces of stray gravel and tossed them at the fence to see if it was electrified. It wasn’t so Jason and Sparky started in with the bolt cutters. Jason was actually amazed that they were ahead of schedule for once.

“According to their information the target on the first floor.”

“Guess it’s too much to hope that it’s near a window,” Sparky said before everybody hushed him. They found a door Sparky quickly unlocked. Two of the group stayed outside to guard their exit while the rest of them went inside the building. All of them felt uneasy about this assignment, the show of good faith was a file on a computer in a particular office. The best they could they could get out of this cell was that the file contained the troop placement for Anderson personal army. Even Melissa said this was foolish to attempt, but it could be useful information if they could get their hands on it. Arron found the office and the door was unlocked, that raised a few alarms in his head and the others were apparently smart enough to be alerted by it as well. The whelp quickly put a disk in the drive and looked for the file. Like that new cell leader said it was encrypted but he also supplied the password. Surprisingly it worked and the file started downloading.

“Remind me later to wonder how they got the passcode,” the whelp said after the download was complete and took the disk.

“If these guys are that good I can see why Melissa wants to keep them happy,” Sparky commented.

“If they’re that good maybe they already know Jack’s with us,” the whelp said. “It would explain why they been keeping their distance lately.”

“I’ve been saying that bug been more trouble than what he’s worth,” Jason said, partially to get under their skin. He and a few of the other realized something was wrong the moment they saw the door they entered from was ajar. Jason knew he closed it after the entered. Suddenly it swung open and a black clad World Inc. shock trooper barged in. Jason, who quickly dropped his human disguise, grabbed the human by the head and slammed him to the ground. The other changed forms while the whelp sniffed the air.

“He’s the only one by the door,” he said after a moment, “but there definitely more out there.” Carefully they peaked round the door and saw shock troopers manning the fence. The two that were guarding he door was lying on the ground by them. The lack of smell of Drakan blood told them they were still alive. “Oh God we were set up.”

“This is why we should be armed,” Jason spat.

“Right know I settle for an armored dragonfly,” the group leader said. “Scatter as best you can. Try to meet up at the old arcade. We’ll regroup from there. And hang on to that disk, something good better come form it after all of this.”

A couple of them went out the door. A few ran down the hall and crashed through the window at the end. Jason and the rest broke through the closest office and exited through the window within. Their reflexes were the only thing keeping them ahead of the gunshots. Although one or two went down because they were too slow. Jason saw a dart stick out of one that was hit. Apparently Anderson wanted them all taken alive, at least it gave them a chance.

He saw an idiot charge right at the shock troopers, apparently trying to give them an opening. That idiot only gave them an easier target. Right now it was every man for himself as far as he was concerned. Jason quickly saw where the gunmen weren’t located and headed in that direction. So far none of them had noticed or he was out of their firing range. Then a shock stick came out of no where and struck him in the stomach. He bent over from the pain but refused to go down. He wouldn’t give the human the satisfaction. Another one came out of hiding and jammed another shock stick into his side. He was vaguely aware that they were taunting him as they continued to jab at him. Jason tried to fight back, even came close to grabbing one of their disgusting faces, but the other one stopped him short.

“Gangway!”, a eel said as he ran a shoulder into one of the troopers. Turning his attention to the other one he shocked him when the human tried to attack. Finally Sparky stopped playing around and took the shock stick from the human and used it against him, shocking him unconscious. “Guess that what happens when they have this set to Drakan all the time,” he joked. Behind him the other human tried to sneak up on him. Then the wolf whelp flew in with a kick that knocked the trooper into the wall. Sparky watched him slide to the ground with an ear to ear grin and said “Boom.” The wolf gave him a look, “You got that from Jack and you know it.”

“That was a flying side kick,” the wolf said as he hauled Jason to his feet. “Standard martial arts.”

They started running as Sparky said, “Then how come I never seen you do it before now?”.

“Why did you help me?”, Jason asked in total confusion.

“And deny Jack the chance to kick your blue hairy ass?”, Sparky answered. “He’d never forgive us.” Jason silently fumed as they ran into the night.

Rachel was already up watching Jack lay there sleeping. As sad as it sounded she had his nightmares more or less timed out. Occasionally he’d miss one or have an extra one but for the most part they were like clockwork. Almost on cue he started twitching. Slowly she sat up and got ready. It wasn’t long before he stopped twitching and his eyes snapped open and he shot up, “NOOOO!!”

It was getting harder and harder not to go to him immediately, but he still needed those first couple of moments to realize where he was. Then she went to him and tried to calm him down, “It’s ok, I’m here. It was only a nightmare, remember.”

Jack clutched her arm that was different. There must have been something new to the nightmare. “A couple of them went after somebody else,” he started without any prodding from her. “I don’t know who… I couldn’t stop them.”

“It was only a nightmare,” she told him. “They can’t get anybody.” He just sat there shaking in her arms. But the nightmare, after all these months, finally changed. So what did that mean?

*Ending theme – Linkin Park – What I’ve done*
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Old July 8th, 2019, 04:19 PM #38
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<Episode 35>

*Opening Theme – Ana – We Are*

“I can shave myself you know,” Jack protested as he sat in the chair. Rachel and Sparky stood by as Angie used an old barber razor across his cheek. “I should know, I’ve done it before. I’m kinda good at it.” He tapped his foot impatiently the entire time.

“I know you can,” Rachel said,” but I don’t want you to have a razor in your hands in case you have another episode.”

“I’m haunted and she sounding like it’s a TV show,” he mumbled. A little louder he said, “A couple of extra scars aren’t gonna make that much of a difference. What, you think I’m gonna cut an artery or something?”

“Of course not,” she told him. Even if it was a major lie. “But you’re always doing things for yourself. Sometimes it’s nice to sit back and let somebody do it for you. So enjoy it or I’ll tell Angie to get rough with you.”

“Relax would you Jack,” Angie said joining in. “You should feel lucky. I don’t do this for just anybody you know. Otherwise I never get anything done around here.”

“Good to have connections,” Sparky said beaming.

“Yeah,” Angie agreed, “and it it’s a good thing Rachel asked so nicely.” Sparky stopped smiling while Rachel put a hand over her mouth to cover hers. “Trust me you’re face will be smooth as a baby’s butt by the time I’m finished.”

Sparky started smiling again, “Probably not the only things she…”

Angie pointed the razor at him, “You even think about finishing that sentence and I’ll cut something off.”

He quickly backtracked, “I was talking about your legs, Damn.”

Jack got that familiar twinkle in his eyes, “If I give you twenty bucks will you do it anyway?”

She thought it over for a second, “Make it thirty and I’ll let you name the part.”

“Alright, alright,” Rachel cut in, “stop threatening poor Sparky.”

“Yeah,” he quickly agreed.

“No matter how much he deserves it.”

“Yea… hey!”

“So where’s Arron?”, Jack asked changing the subject. “I’d figured he want to be here. Somebody has to defend Sparky after all.”

“He’s with Melissa and Lance,” Sparky told him. “That cell leader coming in today. Melissa wants to have a few choice words with him about that job he sent us on.”

“Was that the same job Arron was saying ‘We were set up’ over and over?”, Jack asked. Sparky nodded, “Should be a fun meeting.”

“It took forever to calm him down,” Rachel said thinking about the commotion after they came back. “I’m surprised they want him there.”

“I’m sure they have Fido on a short leash,” Jack said absentmindedly.

“Jack go like this,” Angie said making a motion with her lip. He did and she started in on his upper lip. “You sure you just want the shave? It won’t take me that long to grab my scissors and stuff.”

“I’m just tired of my food getting stuck in there,” he said plainly.

“I’m surprised you’re not doing this,” Sparky leaned on and whispered to Rachel. She really didn’t comment. “What you don’t think you can do it, it’s not that hard you know.”

“Well a couple of people have commented I’m becoming a little overprotective,” she admitted. “After I thought about I can kind of see why they would think like that. I guess I’m trying to prove to myself that I can trust Jack in other people’s hands. Especially now that he’s not being as ‘visited’ as often as he was.” Now if only that nightmare of his would show some signs of slowing down.

“I wasn’t talking about that, I just figured something like this would bring you guys a little closer.” Then Sparky grinned a bit as he slyly said, “Unless you guys have other ways to get closer at night.”

Her face not betraying any of the annoyance she was feeling she leaned in a little closer and said, “I know where he keeps his money.” Sparky backed away and crossed his legs. She looked over at Jack who was looking right at them with an amused look on his face. Rachel didn’t want to but she ended up smiling too.

She was finding it hard to remain calm with Arron standing so close with his emotions streaming off him. Lance was fortunately a calming source to concentrate on, despite the small edge she was getting from him. Not that Melissa could blame them if this turned out to be true. She really didn’t want to believe they were led into a trap by one of their own, but everything was looking that way. Oh she really wanted Chris there beside her, for support more than anything else.

The door to the “war” room opened and she got her first look at Trent, Drake’s replacement. The first thing she noticed was how well dressed he was for somebody supposedly to be in hiding and on the down low. Then she noticed his eyes, blue but very suspicious, looking everywhere as fast as they could. Then he spotted her and looked her over like he was sizing her up. He gave her a warm looking smile, the only thing that was betraying it was the contempt she was getting from him. “Melissa,” she said like he spotted a long lost friend, “it’s nice you can finally see me. I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for a long time.”

“Really,” she said neutrally, “this is the first time I’m hearing of it.”

“Well,” he said as he sat down, “I’d imagine the message gotten lost along the way. You know how subordinates are.”

“No I don’t,” she told him.

Lance agreed, “Neither do I.”

“Yes,” he looked unaffected, “I guess it’s all in how you look at it.” Chuckling he said, “I suppose this is about that snafu from the other night. Bad business that.” The fact he wasn’t even trying to act sympathetic was getting on her nerves. Not only her as she held up a hand at Arron behind her so he’d keep quiet.

“Snafu wouldn’t be the word I’d use,” she told him.

“Oh,” he looked surprised, “and what word would you use?”

“How about ambush,” Lance cut in, “trap, set up.”

“I do believe that last one was two words,” he chuckled. Was he enjoying this?

“I’m glad you’re finding this funny,” Lance snapped.

“Easy Lance,” she whispered.

“I swear I didn’t know Anderson’s little army was going to show up,” Trent said holding a hand over his heart. Melissa eyes narrowed a bit. For as long as she had her gift she knew there were several emotions connected to lying. She was reading several of them right now. “If I even suspected there was a chance they would have showed up I never would have sent you after the disc.”

“That was five months out of date,” she informed him. “As of last year to be exact.”

He gave her a smile she’d only seen on con men and shady used car dealers, “I only said the disc was there. I had no way of knowing how accurate it was going to be.”

“You knew the password to the file easily enough,” Arron told him. “And you knew where the file was and in which office. So how could you not know how up to date it was?”

“No piece of information is perfect.”

“Your piece of imperfect information cost us five people,” Melissa said doing everything to stay under control. She would not give him the satisfaction of seeing that.

As he slowly stood he finally lost the smug look, replaced by something that looked like borderline rage, “And we lost Drake! And from what we have been able to gather your men are still alive. Drake is dead because your people were too late to act.”

“We did everything we could to save Drake,” Melissa told him realizing were this rage was coming from.

“You didn’t do enough,” he said coldly. “Christopher’s supposed successor just stays here and does nothing.”

“And what did you expect me to do if I was there?”, she asked flat out. He wasn’t expecting her to fight back from the look of things. “Just stand there and be a target as Anderson’s men realized who I was? Even Drake wouldn’t have stood for that after what happened to Chris.”

“You’re right,” he begrudgingly admitted, “he wouldn’t have.” He straightened what he was wearing as he calmed down. “Sorry this is a bit of a sore spot with me. Especially with all the conflicting reports from that night. Our people, well my people now I suppose, the ones who got away were saying something like there were two Drakan Killers there that night.”

She felt the sudden nervousness emitting from Arron. But Trent was looking right at her and she was betraying nothing. “I heard the same thing. It was rather hectic that night from what I understand.”

“Yes, especially after Drake died. In fact,” his eyes just burrowed into her, “some of mine, after Drake died, were swearing a couple of yours was dragging one of them off.”

“Really now?” She looked at Arron, “You never told me you brought in the Drakan Killer.”

“Slipped my mind,” he said.

“That’s a pretty big slip.”

“Yes,” Trent cut in. “It is rather strange that neither one hardly been seen since then.”

“Maybe they took each other out,” she offered. “It’s long been rumored the Drakan Killer left Anderson.”

“Always a possibility,” he admitted. “There is a rather strong scent of death around here, isn’t there?”, he asked almost casually.

“I stopped noticing al long time ago,” she said flatly. “We’ve been jumped on a lot of raid or took on the Drakan Killer. Not all of them come back, especially when Anderson men are shooting to kill.”

“I’m sure if I walked into your cell I’d smell a bit of a death scent,” Lance added.

“I’m sure you would,” he agreed. “But it does seem a little heavier around here for some reason. Almost like there somebody particularly good at killing Drakan as it were.”

“It’s a larger community,” Melissa aid. “We just take people in. We don’t know what they did before, all we ask is they don’t cause any trouble while they’re here.”

“Right,” he didn’t look or feel like he was convinced. “Well thanks again for meeting with me.” They shook hands and he left. Melissa revisited the urge to wipe her hand on her jeans.

“Does he know Jack’s here?”, Arron asked after a moment.

“He suspects it,” she said. “But he can’t prove it and it’s eating at him.”

“Good going keeping your cool kid,” Lance told her. “I think Chris would have went off on him the moment he saw him. Trent is just the type of guy he loved putting in their place.” She said nothing as she listened to him. Most of her attention was at the door. “Do you think he did it?”

Looking back at all the emotions she read off him she had her answer. “I just can’t prove it.”

Emily sat alone in her room trying to meditate. She had a very bad feeling after Trent came by and paid his respects. Nothing concrete nor a vision of anything. Just a feeling that overcame her for whatever reason. Best leave the feelings to the like of Melissa or some other child who knew them better than she did. Breathing in slowly she held it for a second before letting it out and felt her old bones relax considerably. Then she felt that familiar moving sensation she grew accustomed to.

When she opened her eyes she was greeted to a familiar sight. She was in her room and yet not in her room at the same time. Emily knew this because it happened before. And it was some what surprising she was there again. She looked at herself and Jack sometime in the future sitting on the floor of her room. He still had that look in his face and eyes that he had the first she had this vision, so nothing changed there. This time she looked around the room trying to find something to give her some kind of time frame. Anything that would give her an idea of when this was happening. She saw nothing as she felt the moving sensation again.

Opening her eyes one more time she was in her real room, sitting in the chair she was in when it started. Emily looked around her room. She had seen the past, she had seen the future. She had talked to the dead that were willing to speak and helped others do the same. But not once in her life has she ever had the same vision twice. It unnerved her more than anything she had experienced before. Mainly because she wasn’t sure what it meant. Was it going to happen soon? Was it something she had time to prepare him and the other for? What did it mean?

Although she didn’t want to admit it out loud, it was good to see Jack looking like his old self. Now if he would only cut his hair. Not that she minded the long hair, she just kind of missed how he used to look. Rachel caught herself staring when she noticed Jack was looking at her. “What is there something in my teeth?”, he asked.

“No,” she said quickly. Thinking fast she added, “It just a little weird seeing your entire face again.” That wasn’t a total lie.

Jack kind of grinned, “Is it weird my face feels a little colder?”

“I think it’s in your head. Come on, our shift is about to start.” Ever since they started letting him go to the garden center it was almost impossible to get him to skip a day. She felt part of the reason was it got his mind off of things, even if it was only for awhile. And she had a feeling he didn’t trust anybody with his own personal project down there. Granted it was a couple of stray flowers, but he looked at peace while he was tending to them. Even if he barely had any idea about what he was doing.

When they arrived the place was busier than usual. Arron waved from the other side when he saw them. Then she noticed something about the tool rack. Picking up one of the shovels she studied it before looking for Frank. “When did we get new tools?”

“Today,” he answered. “I… uh… ran into a guy who owed me some money who finally decided to pay up. I figured it was about time we got some new equipment.” Then he went to another part of the center yelling at somebody for not doing something right. Jack was staring at Frank scratching his chin slightly. She grinned, “That would look a little better if you still had the beard.”

“What?”, he was startled until he realized what he was doing. He eyes caught something and he sighed, “Alright who’s idea of a joke?” Rachel turned around to see what he was looking at. Somebody had cordoned off his flowers with some stakes and rope.

“That was my idea,” Arron said as he came up to them. “Well, mine and Sparky’s. Neither of us wanted them to get stepped on or something by accident. Actually I’m amazed Frank agreed to let us do it. I guess coming into money put him in a good mood.”

“Getting money suddenly does that to you,” Jack said glancing back at Frank.

“That was very thoughtful of the two of you,” she said. “Wasn’t it Jack?”

“Yeah, thanks Fido,” he said picking out a spade. “How did the meeting with what’s his name go?”

“Don’t worry about it man,” Arron told him. “Nothing big happened.”

“That bad huh?”, Jack said.

“Worry about it after your done here,” she told him. “This stuff isn’t going to pick itself you know.” Rachel grinned to herself, “And somebody has to do Sparky’s workload.”

“Thought that’s why we had Fido here?”, Jack actually reached up and patted Arron on the head.

“Would you stop it,” Arron knocked his hand away. “I have half a mind to bury my foot in your ass.”

Jack had the nerve to look hurt, “But I’m sick.”

“In the head,” Rachel said. “The rest of you is perfectly fine.”

Arron grinned like a mad man, “So you’ve done a few personal inspections to verify this?”

Rachel face went warm almost immediately. Jack walked by with his head lowered muttering, “You so walked into that one.”

The common area was busier than usual as several of the adults looked over the place. Emily looked over what she could as well. This was one of the few times she wished her particular gift could be turned on when she wanted without any delay or preparation. But if she hasn’t figured it out by now she never would. She was so obsessed on her search she nearly ran into Jack who was coming around a corner, “Excuse me child.”

“It’s ok,” he said. “But I’m starting to think I did something because that the third time I’ve almost been knocked down in the past ten minutes.”

“It’s nothing you’ve done child,” she assured him. “One of the children is missing.”

Concern immediately etched his face, “Which one?”

“Jennifer,” she answered and continued her search.

“The one with the bear?”, he asked following her. “How come nobody told me? I’d help look for her.”

“I assume they didn’t want to add to your burden.”

“Screw my burden, a kid’s missing,” he told her. “When was the last time anybody saw her?”

“That was the first place everybody looked and we found nothing. Nobody could pick out her scent among those present.”

“Isn’t there a bloodhound around here?”, he muttered. He joined her as they looked around the complex calling out her name. After awhile he asked, “Is there any chance she went outside?”

“Possible, but we have people looking by the exits.”

“All the ones you know about,” he said. “Trust me, as a former sneaky little kid, there gotta be a couple around here that you don’t know about. Come on.”

“Where are we going?”

“To find a kid who’ll talk.”

She was amazed at how tight lipped the children when it came down to finding any other way out of the habitat. Jack called it the code of the playground. You don’t screw up a good thing you’re not supposed to know about by telling an adult about it. After a few more children said nothing Jack stood there with his hands on his head and his eyes closed. Emily thought he was having another one of his episodes until she heard him whisper, “Think like a kid, think like a kid, think like a kid.”

“I think I know where Jennifer went,” said a boy who looked like he was barely a teenager.

“Where?”, Jack asked immediately.

“There this pipe by the garden center,” he began. “A lot of the smaller kids use it to play outside. Jennifer keeps starting out but stops because she’s scared. The other kids make fun of her because of it. I told them to stop… I didn’t think she actually go.”

“It’s alright child,” Emily said, “you’re doing the right thing. Now where does this pipe lead?”

“A construction site that’s close by,” he said. “I think it’s abandoned, nobody been seen working there.”

When Emily turned toward Jack he was already gone. She smiled to herself, “You’re close to figuring out child. The moment you do I’ll be there waiting for you.”

“Jennifer!”, Jack called out. He looked around trying not to get nervous. The kid was right, this place hasn’t been used in awhile. Plenty of places for somebody to get hurt or… Just concentrate on finding the girl, “Jennifer!” Why did he go alone? He didn’t even think about grabbing some of the others to help look. No, he went straight to his room, made sure there was still some foil in the hood and left. What was going through his head? “Jennifer! This ain’t funny anymore,” he looked around and saw something on the ground. He hurried over and picked up a white teddy bear, “Polly,” she had to be around here somewhere. He saw something out of the corner of his eye and hurry after it, “Hey!”

He caught up quickly enough and his heart nearly stopped. Jennifer was being held by a guy in some ragged clothes with his hand over her mouth. Finding his voice he demanded, “Let her go.” The guy looked nervous, then he started sniffing the air. Jack went cold as his stomach tightened. Oh God, not here not now.

“Drakan Killer,” he was getting all excited. “You can help me. This is a rebel brat, I know it. She won’t tell where they are. But you, you can find them. Make her talk. Then I can show them I am worth something.”

“Anything, just let her go.” Why, did he go out alone? Some how Jennifer was able to get her mouth free and bit him. The guy let her go and she ran toward him. Jack pushed her behind him and started backing away. The guy started to look derange as he turned into a matted haired blue panther and charged at them. Jack grabbed Jennifer as the Drakan flew over them. Then it bared its claws and started swing away at him. Jack barely dodged each swing. He sidestepped one attack and spun around and without thinking he put his left arm up across his chest and the belt appeared.

The panther backed away but he was breathing hard and his heart was pounding away a mile a second. He couldn’t do this, not any more. Then he saw Jennifer and finished the movements and weakly said, “Henshin.” He took a step back as the armor formed around him. He was praying the Panther would turn tail and run. No such luck as he had to block when it started attacking again. Ducking one swing he reared his right arm back on instinct as he popped back up, fully intending to plant his fist into the cat’s face. Again something stopped him from making a fist. He hesitated just long enough for the panther to kick him away. Then it pounced on him.

He covered up as the Drakan wailed away at him. Then it picked him up and threw him into one of the steel girders. Jack had no where to go as it jumped up and kicked him in the chest. He fell to his knees as the wind left him. The panther picked him back up and punched him again turning him around. Jack came back around with what should have been a vicious back hand, then he stopped a inch from the panther’s head. What was wrong with him?! The panther had a disgusted look in it’s eyes as it punched him in the gut. Being picked up and tossed he landed hard. Looking up he saw Jennifer huddled against a pillar watching them looking frightened. Staggering to his feet he never took his eyes off of her as he weakly pleaded, “Run.” But she was frozen by fear.

“Weak!”, the panther shouted. “Soft! You’re soft. Just like the other, just like Anderson.” He started ranting, “He has the right idea but he doesn’t go far enough. He says kill those who don’t come to their senses, but only the adults. No he says the children can be saved, brought back to the right path. But he’s wrong, oh yes he’s wrong. They’re already contaminated with false ideas. If they want this stopped they have to eradicate all of it. Kill every last man, woman and child. Start with her to prove my point.” Jack never took his eyes off of Jennifer as he listened to that mad man. Slowly, ever so slowly, his fingers started to curl and make a fist that started shaking.

A primal scream escaped his throat as he whipped around and charged the Panther. He wasn’t even aware his fist flew until it made contact with the Drakan’s nose. He didn’t let up after that, letting this new burst of anger drive his actions. No, it wasn’t anger, it was something else but it was damn close. The Drakan tried to fight back but he reached around and grabbed it by the neck and repeatedly drove his knee into its head. Then he started hurling it into the pillars, it begged for him to stop and for mercy. Jack didn’t find any. He threw it to the ground as the meter started flashing. He stalked the panther as he grabbed the pod and twisted it up, only thinking about what the Panther was saying only minutes before. The charge from the belt went up his side and down his arm as he waited for the bastard to get to its feet. When it did he ran in screaming and tried to drive his fist through the Drakan’s chest. The panther flew back and exploded.

Jack was breathing hard as he took a couple of steps back and looked at his armored hands. Breathing even harder he clenched both hands into fists as he dropped to his knees. Tilting his head back he let loose another scream at the sky above him. It was not a cry of sorrow. It was not a cry of desperation. It wasn’t because he killed another Drakan. It was one born of frustration and confusion. Because something in his head clicked together and for one brief shining moment everything in his world made perfect sense. Then he lost it just as fast as he got it. Jack knew if he was ever going to be able to function again he had to get that moment back. And he thought he knew where to start. Or who to start with.

*Ending Theme – Linkin Park – What I’ve Done*
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Old July 15th, 2019, 11:27 AM #39
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> scikaiju
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Joined: Dec 2012
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*Opening Theme – Ana – We Are*

He was still on his knees when Rachel, Sparky and the others came running through the construction site. As the other quickly got Jennifer back to the underground Rachel and Sparky went immediately to him and tried to get him to talk. Finally he powered down the system and left without saying a word. Jack didn't head back to his room, or the room they put him in after he broke. He headed for the garden center and sat right by the flower he'd had been trying to help grow. He studied it for a long time, the buds just starting to open. Then he looked at his hand, he wasn't sure if he wanted to try to close it again or not. He thought about going postal on the panther, he needed, no he wanted answers.

And right now there was only one person he could think of that could have those answers. Getting up he ignored the thank yous for saving the kid and the concerns for his own well being. He even passed by Rachel and Melissa when they wanted to talk to him. The person he wanted was in her room. He got to her door and started to knock, then stopped. What was he thinking? He didn't believe in this stuff. Jack started to walk away but again he stopped. How else was he going to get any answers nobody else seemed able to give him? Jack started to knock, stopped, started to walk away, stopped and went to knock again.

"It's alright child," Emily called out from the other side of the door, "you may come in."

"How did…?", he wondered out loud. Looking at himself he went, "Oh yeah, Drakan blood." That had to be it. Entering he saw Emily sitting in a chair smiling at him. "Uh… hey."

"Hello," she greeted him. "I do believe this is the first time you've visited my humble dwelling." Jack didn't know what to say, he was trying not to look around. But he couldn't help looking at the plant on her table. She noticed him looking, "I hear we now have one similar interest. Although," it was like she was looking through him, which unnerved him a bit, "I doubt you've come to me for gardening tips."

"I guess not," he admitted. "Honestly I don't know why I'm here… I just knew I had… or I'd… do you mind if I take this jacket off?" She said she didn't so he quickly took it off and sat at the table. "Something happened when I was looking for the kid."

"That bit of news, as always, travels fast child."

"But I couldn't fight him, something kept stopping me when I tried. Then… then he started talking and…"

She finished for him, "You felt something. Something you didn't think you would be capable of feeling again." Not sure what to say he nodded. "Anger perhaps?"

"I don't know," he ran his fingers through his hair. "Then something else happened. I…," he paused. "I don't know why I'm even telling you this."

"Don't stop now child," she urged him. "Tell me what happened."

"I don't know how to describe it, things made sense then they didn't," he got up and walked around the room. "I just knew things had to make sense again or I'm never getting out of this."

She smiled softly, "I do believe I can help you child, or at least help you in the right direction."

"I knew the mumbo jumbo as going to start somewhere."

"Say what you want but I will do my best to help you. Help me to the floor child." Jack gave her a weird look but he did as she asked. Emily motioned for him to sit on the floor as well. She smiled again, "Sorry child, just remembering something." She reached under the bed and pulled out a square metal box, then she reached behind her and started putting pieces of wood into the box. "Tell me Jack, have you ever heard of a spirit quest?"

He thought about it for a few seconds, "I thought that was an Indian thing."

"Occasionally you humans have a good idea," she said with another smile. "This may sound strange child but I do believe this is the first step on your new journey." Emily lit a match and threw it into the box. Slowly smoke started to come from the burning wood, it almost had a sweet scent to it. "This is a journey you must take alone, but not alone." Her skin went all leathery and scaly as she changed into a red crocodile before his eyes. "I will be here, but you will be guided by somebody else. Now relax, clear your mind of all thought and close your eyes," she said soothingly and he followed her order. "Now slowly inhale the smoke, let it fill you body, mind and soul."

Inhaling deeply he felt the tension quickly melt away. He was actually starting to fell sleepy. Outside of a slight moving sensation he was totally at piece, but he wasn't getting any answers. "When am I going to know this is working?" Emily didn't answer so he opened his eyes. "Whoa!", he exclaimed as he shot to his feet.

He wasn't in Emily room anymore. He wasn't sure where he was as he looked around. A heavy fog surrounded but he could make out some various shapes of rocks and boulders around him. Jack touched one, it felt real enough. "Emily I don't know if you can hear me or not but whatever that wood is you could probably get a good street price for it. Great I'm starting to think like my Uncle's friends."

Then he noticed something else in the fog. Shapes where roaming round beyond the boulders. Looking closer he noticed the shapes were a mixture of human and animals, Drakans. Then he got a better look and realized he knew these Drakans. He killed them. "So know what?" he asked the ghosts. "I'm here so what do you want?" They ignored him as they moved around. "Do you want me to say I'm sorry, is that it?", he asked. "I'm sorry alright. I'm sorry, I'm sorry I killed you," he said pointing at red octopus, "I'm sorry I killed you," he looked at a red kangaroo, "I'm sorry I killed you," he turned to a blue scorpion, "I'm…," and he trailed off.

Standing right in front of him was a green shark, with four scars running across it's chest. He was looking at Allen. Slowly he shook his finger at the ghost and thought it over. "Actually I think I'm glad I killed you, because this is the first time I've seen you since then. Is that why it happened? I'm actually glad I killed one of them."

"The answer is not that simple," a voice said startling him. Jack looked around trying to locate the sound. He tried to remember what he had heard about this, there was usually an animal there as a spirit guide. Find the animal and you find the voice. He looked around the area several times and found nothing. Then out of the corner of his eye a small hint of movement on one of the boulders caught his attention. Jack looked closer and saw a dragonfly sitting on top of the boulder.

"You," he said after a moment, "are my spirit guide?"

"Yes I am," the fact the thing that little was talking with that deep of a voice wasn't blowing his mind still amazed him.

But he did start laughing, "Oh it is official." He turned around and looked at the foggy sky above him as he yelled, "Whoever running this thing has a sick sense of humor!"

"This is no joke Jack Davidson, I am here to help to help you through this."

Jack held his head, "How helpful are you going to be when I know you're gonna say something to tick me off and I get the urge to squish you?"

"I am aware of this possibility. Which is why I've brought along someone you'll be more likely to listen to."

Jack could hear footsteps in the silence around them, and they were getting closer. He turned his head to see a new image come through the fog. The closer the shape got the more he recognized it. Curly hair and glasses came into views the shape stopped a few feet away and Jack was lost for words. The newcomer spoke, "No offence bud, but you look like hell."

He stared for a long time before going, "Richie?"

Rachel was dumfounded when Jack just walked right past her and Melissa. Not to mention a little hurt when she realized he was heading straight for Emily's room. By the time she caught up he had already entered. She was going to check on him when Melissa dragged her off in the other direction over her protest. Right now they were in a quieter area and Melissa just sat by as she ranted, "Why couldn't he come to me? That's all I'm asking. This entire time I've been with him through everything. All the high, all the lows, all the normal points who was there? Me. And he has to be in a weird spot in his head right now, so who does he go too? Emily. The person who hid this from him!"

Melissa wasn't helping anything as she sat there smiling the whole time, "My God, you're actually jealous of Emily."

"I am…," she started before subduing herself, "I am not."

"Try hiding that from somebody else," she told her. Melissa looked like she was thinking something over. "Look, I have to be honest about something here."

"Now what, your Grandfather supplying the Drakan fighters for your cousin?", Rachel snapped.

"You do realize that something Jack would say right? But he's not here right now so I guess somebody had to say it. You might not believe this but Emily is the reason why the two of you are here."

Rachel finally sat down, "So she 'saw' us here?"

"She saw Jack," Melissa explained. "Nobody even knew you were in the picture."

"I remember Sparky saying nobody was expecting two of us," Rachel told her.

Melissa nodded and continued, "But Emily didn't know what was going to happen to him. All she knew was that at some point Jack was going to come to her for help. With that she started to convince me that having him here was a good idea."

"I always thought that invitation was a little out of the blue," Rachel commented.

"Oh I didn't agree right away," she said. "Honestly I was dead set against it when she brought it up. Not just the idea of the nightmare it would cause if the other cells ever found out I was harboring the Drakan Killer. Just the idea she was asking to invite the man who killed my brother to live here with open arms. I though she lost her mind."

"Then why did you make the offer?"

"Because in her own way Emily is very persistent," she said with a smile. "She won't badger you out right, but she has her ways. Like the note she left me detailing her vision. I figured she wasn't going to let it go so I started thinking of the possibility of a small alliance. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, that sort of thing. Then I gave the note to Lance to get his opinion." She laughed a bit, "Actually I was hoping he'd tell me I was crazy for even considering it." Rachel laughed along despite herself. "No the idiot said the idea might be a good idea, if we where careful. So the three of us got together and planned this out.

"Then I threw in the monkey wrench," Rachel added.

"Don't get me wrong, Friedman told us you left with him. Nobody informed us you were that close. Well at least not until Dusty fought for you to stay here with him. And trust me I'm glad I did agree because you have been a God send."

"I didn't do that much. Actually there were a few times I thought I was more of a hindrance than anything else."

"There I am disagreeing with you. People were watching the two of you those first couple of week. And from what I've heard you have definitely been a calming influence."

"Everybody was a little on edge. I knew Jack was just waiting for somebody to start something."

"But you calmed things down. Well except for that time with Jason, which took just about everybody by surprise," she laughed again. "But you're right, people were on edge, and I think some people were just itching for a fight. Your first night here I went to check on the two of you to see if you were settling in alright and I saw Jack standing outside your door. Then I heard a couple of mine coming around the corner planning on getting some revenge on him or you. I got the feeling if I didn't make my presence known there would have been a fight right then and there."

"I wondered why he wanted me to head back with Dusty the next day," Rachel said remembering. "He never told me there was a problem.

"He didn't want to tell me either, he tried to make it sound like something else entirely." Melissa looked her in the eyes for a long time. "Look, I know how you feel about him. And I've kept that trust you placed in me. And these past few months I've watch you run yourself ragged trying to shoulder the entire situation." She reached out and placed a hand on hers, "I'm saying this as a friend, it's time to let somebody else helped him. Believe me, I doubt Jack would have gotten as far as he did as fast as he did without you there every step of the way. But if something is telling him he needs to talk to Emily right now you should let him. I know it's hard but I think it's for the best."

Rachel conceded, "I know you're right. Another point of view would be a good thing right now. Maybe I care about him too much, I don't even think he feels the same way."

Melissa just gave her a knowing smirked, "Some how I doubt he'd be standing there outside you guy's door that night if he was just worried about himself."

Jack circled Richie totally stunned at what he was seeing. Richie stood there patiently waiting for the shock to go away. Without thinking Jack started poking at him as he walked around him. Until Richie reached out and finger flicked him between the eyes. "Hey!", Jack cried out in protest

"Do you have any idea how annoying that is?", Richie asked him. Jack punched him in the shoulder, "Ow." Richie started rubbing his shoulder, "You're not suppose to hit the dead you jerk."

"The dead's not suppose to be able to hit you at all," Jack shot back. Rubbing between his eyes a little he said, "Alright, I believe it, it's you." Jack took a moment to flex the fingers a few times. "I guess that answers that question."

"And it's about time you got over that block of your man. You just needed the right trigger to get over it."

"I need to sit down," Jack said and sat on the nearest boulder. "Ok, you're suppose to help me out here right?" Richie nodded as he sat on the next boulder. "Can you at least tell me why me? Why am I the one going through this crap?"

Richie leaned in, "Because you're a cynical son of a bitch."

"Did a dead man just… where did you go?", he asked looking for the dragonfly. It was nowhere to be found. "Some spirit guide you are!"

"He probably thinks there's going to be a fight," Richie chuckled. "Too bad nobody gave me a two by four to knock some sense into you. But it was you all along, the moment we were caught in that avalanche this is what you were suppose to do."

"I'm not cut out for this," Jack argued, "that should be pretty obvious. It should have been you, all this stuff is right up your alley."

Richie started shaking his head, "Sorry man, but I am not the right guy for this particular job."

"What are you talking about? You ate this stuff up growing up."

"And what happened when I was living it? As you put it I had my head up my ass. And somebody had to be able to see through Anderson's lies and that wasn't me. You grew up seeing people who weren't who they said they were. You never took anything at face value. You're always looking for that little something that'll prove your assumption right. That's why you automatically suspected that girl you're with twice when you found out Anderson had something like us up his sleeves. And on a side note, what taking you so long? She's hot, for what ever reason likes you and you're into her. Before this happened you wouldn't have thought twice about asking her out."

Jack got real defensive real quick, "Keep Rachel out of this." He walked around, "Alright then if this was suppose to me all along why did I have that breakdown? If I was suppose to be this great warrior this never should have happened."

His best friend looked sympathetic, "Because you're still human, and part of you was refusing to feel the guilt."

"I was feeling guilty," Jack said suddenly. "I was just feeling less guilt as things went on."

"Part of you head was forcing yourself to feel less guilt each time. Part of you was convinced you wouldn't be able to live with the guilt that you were shoving it down, getting a little more each time. But it was coming out in other ways after awhile. Remember how tired you were getting some times? Then the nightmares started to happen. Seeing the ones you killed while you were awake. That was the guilt making itself known. And as much as I hate to tell you this you should have gone through this a lot earlier."

He wanted to demand when but deep down he already knew. "When I fought Christopher." Richie nodded again. "After I killed him the other surrounded him and howled. I remember being overwhelmed with all these emotions. I remember thinking I had to get out of there or… If I was suppose to go through this then what happened?"

"You know what happened," Richie said sadly. The fog around them changed into a version of the arena. He was seeing himself and the other Drakans looking at the upper level. Anderson men had them surrounded and were about to fire. "This stopped it. This one event filled you with so much rage it basically patched that break inside you. And I'll give you credit for being so stubborn because you held it together for so long through sheer force of will. But you kept pushing down the guilt and the pressure kept building. It was like having a damn with a two foot crack in it and patching it with Band-Aids. No matter how many you put on eventually the crack is going to win."

"So now what? And how is this suppose to help me? I realized something when I was rescuing Jennifer and I can't remember it now. That's why I'm here. I can't keep feeling rage every time I fight a Drakan if this is what I'm supposed to be doing."

"You weren't feeling rage that last time," Richie informed him. "And deep down you know that."

"Then what was it?", Jack demanded.

"Would you believe righteous fury?" Jack walked away feeling disgusted. Richie followed him, "Do you want to know why you had that moment? For a brief moment you found your reason to fight. You couldn't keep fighting for revenge. You couldn't keep fighting for survival. Those reasons got you here. Because when that bastard was talking you found out a way you could live with the guilt, even if it was just for a moment. It's the same exact thing when you discovered that other bastard sent you after those kids. You realized she needed a protector, you realized they needed a defender."

Jack interrupted him figuring out where he was going, "You start in on that champion of justice crap and I'm kicking your dead ass right now."

"You know I'm right," Richie told him. "You had flashes of it a few time now. When you didn't even think twice about going after the girl. When you were willing to let the wolf and the kids go. When you saved a person who turned out to rebel's future leader. When you went to save her friend no questions asked. Letting the monkey live the second time you fought him. Protecting Rachel when you thought the wolf was going to go after her. Deciding to save Rachel over killing the monkey when you had the chance. Forcing yourself to move to stop that elephant from hurting her. Are we seeing a pattern yet?" He started smiling, "Especially with those last three."

Jack turned away muttering, "Now the dead poking into my love life." Turning back around he demanded, "And how do you know this stuff? You were floating in goop for most of it."

"Do you really think I'm going to brought in to help my best friend and not be given the ammo to back me up? And I think 'Lack of a love life' were the words you were looking for. Look man everybody has a path they take in life. That path get's altered by the decision we make and the decision other people make. The avalanche that happened to us set you on a certain path. Unfortunately the path was harder on you than anybody wanted."

"Does this path have a destination?"

"Anderson," Richie answered. "This path ends the moment you face him."

"Then I'll head to World Inc. tomorrow and knock on the front door."

"It doesn't work like that Jack. Look fate won't be denied but it hates being rushed too. You are not ready for that fight, even before you broke you weren't even close. You have to go through a few more battles before you are."

"If I choose to go through those battles," Jack said suddenly. "You and a couple of other have told me I have a choice. I can walk away and leave right now."

"Yes you can," Richie agreed. "But you'd be always looking over your shoulder. Always worried if you're going to get caught or of you're going to slip up. Not to mention any Drakan you likely to come across. Like you told me not all of them are willing to over look the smell of Drakan Blood. And that would put you back on Anderson's radar." Part of the fog parted revealing the Fusion armor. "No matter what you do now this is your life now. This is you."

"No. This is not me," Jack said, the word tipped with the anger he was suddenly feeling. He rushed in to push the armor down. The armor fought back. Giving into his rage he tackled the armor, both of them going through the Drakan ghosts walking around. Jack unleashed fist after fist on the armor trying to drive it away. The armor ducked his last swing and stated punching back. He was vaguely aware of Richie just sitting back with his arm crossed watching the whole thing. The armor surprised him with a kick to the head but he didn't go down. Jack caught a punch and flipped it over his shoulder.

The armor got up and went for another kick as Jack went for the same move, essentially blocking each other. Jack spun around for a backhand and hit the fore arm of the armor as it did the same. They continued to fight as their moves mirrored each other. Jack didn't really notice until he reared back his right hand and held it there as the armor did the same. Slowly both of them lowered their arms as Richie looked at him, "Yes, I do believe it's finally sinking through that thick skull of his."

Staring at the armor he said, "I don't want this to be me."

Richie looked sympathetic as he walked up, "I don't want it to be you either, but it is. The final decision is your, it always has been. But listen to me for once, the people around you need a defender, a champion, be it. Think it over." Richie had a far away look on his face for a few seconds, When he came back he looked a little sad, "I think my time almost up. Before I have to go I have to tell you one thing. This path may take you to Anderson but there's no guarantee you'll make it. Nothing is written in stone. You could make a misstep during a fight, you could react a little late to an ambush." He shrugged, "Somebody could push Anderson in front of an oncoming bus. But either way they need a champion. I'm feeling a bit of a tug here so I guess this is goodbye again."

Jack was almost overwhelmed by the sadness he was feeling, "Richie, I'm sorry I…"

"Don't be, you did what you thought you had to do. No grudges on my part."

Tears filled his eyes, "I miss you man."

"I miss you too bud," Richie pulled Jack into a hug. Pulling away he added, "But it better be a long ass time before I see your ugly mug again."

"I'll do what I can." After a moment he said, "I'm still killing the monkey."

"Do you see me talking you out of it? Go, blow him to hell. If it wasn't for him neither one of us would be in this mess." Richie started to fad away as the fog got thicker. He was almost gone when Jack heard, "And you better take good care of her. You don't and screw this up I will haunt you for the rest of your life." The fog got so thick Jack couldn't see him or his hand in front of his face. Then he felt like he was moving while he was standing still.

Emily watched him as he slowly open his eyes and came out of it. He looked around not sure if he actually experienced what he did. A common look for first timers. She returned to her human form and waited. After a few moments he said, "I was not expecting anything like that."

"Nobody sees what they expect child," she told him. "Nor in the same way they experienced others." Jack sat there, from the look of things he was still trying to wrap his head around it. "Hardly anybody can fully process what they saw right away. More time that not they need time to process it all completely. Take that time child, as always I am here for you if you need somebody to help you through it." He still looked unsure of it all. "I am sure you have your answer. It is up to you if you want to accept it or not."

"I'm sorry," he said getting up. "I… I need some air."

"Of course child," she said. "Melissa needs to do the same herself after some of her more intense visions." Jack grabbed his jacket and left. She watched him closely the entire time, particularly his eyes. For a long time now they were almost lifeless. Now she was sure there was a small spark in them that wasn't there before. Time would tell if that spark would die out or grow into a roaring flame. The choice was his one way or the other.

*Ending Theme – Linkin Park – What I’ve Done*
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Old July 21st, 2019, 03:37 PM #40
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 402

<Episode 37>

*Opening theme – Smile Empty Soul – Who I am*

Jack sat there trying to get his breathing under control. It had been a week since he had that… experience with Emily. His ghosts were slowly disappearing for awhile now, especially since he told Rachel and Dusty where they apparently came from. It was almost like talking about why he was doing it was what they wanted. They even let him start sleeping in his own room and cot again. The nightmares on the other hand… no they were still there in full force. He still didn’t even know who they were going for after it changed.

“You’re up?”, Rachel asked from her bed while propping herself up on a elbow.

“I’m fine and no change,” he said anticipating the next two questions. “I’m going for a walk.”

“Want some company?”, she asked. “Or is this one of those ‘need to think’ walks?”

“Guess I’ve been going on those a lot huh?”

“Whatever it takes to get your head on straight. Just let me know if you have a breakthrough,” she told him as she lay back down.

“Unless I have one so exciting I tell the first person I see you’re next in line.”

“That’s nice,” she said. Jack stood there by the door for a second and just watched her lay there before leaving.

He walked the halls not really paying attention to where he was going. He absentmindedly greeted anybody he came across but he never stayed longer than that. Before long he was standing in the common area, which was still kind of busy despite the time of night. Jack watched them for awhile. They looked and acted happy despite the fact they were living underground. One particular group was laughing loudly. Nobody was paying him any attention, even with him reeking of Drakan Blood. Would they still be acting like this if he wasn’t around? Would any of them still even be around if he never showed up at all? Would they be dead or captured by now if he never took Melissa’s offer?

“It’s almost like you’re seeing things for the first time isn’t it?”, Emily said walking up behind him. “You’re up kind of late,” she commented when he didn’t answer.

“Had a nightmare,” was all he said. “I just wish I knew why they were still coming.”

“Did you think your problems would go away after your journey?”

Not sure what to say for a second Jack just went, “Kinda.”

“They always do,” she said tiredly. “Injuries to the body, those will heal, although some will leave lasting reminders.” She gesture to the scars visible on his arms. “But injuries to the mind and spirit, those take longer to heal. And rarely heal fully.”

“So your saying I’m stuck with these sleepless nights for God knows how long?” Emily didn’t respond but she did lower her head slightly. “I better get used to taking naps during the day again.”

“It’s good to see you in high spirits child,” she told him. “Walk me back to my room?” He said he would let her take his arm. After awhile she said, “You never answered my original question.”

“I don’t know what to think any more. I don’t even know where I’m should be going.”

“That’s funny,” she said thoughtfully, “I was under the impression your friend gave you a very definite direction to go in.”

Jack stopped looking confused as Emily kept on walking, “Wait, you over… how did…?”

She stopped and turned to face him, “While you went on your journey on your own, I was the anchor point to make sure you didn’t go so far that you become lost. And while I never intend to intentionally eavesdrop occasionally something slips through, depending on the strength of the connection. Child, I have rarely seen a connection as strong as what you two had. The only question is, why aren’t you listening to him?”

He didn’t even try to cover up the annoyance he was feeling,” You’ll forgive me if I have a hard time swallowing the idea that my only way out of this mess is to add to it.”

“No one said this would be easy child,” Emily said calmly. “But your friend was right, they need you to be there as their champion.”

He pointed behind him at the common area, “They won’t accept me as their champion.”

She walked up and put a hand on his shoulder, “A champion doesn’t do what he does because he wants to be accepted. He does it because he knows it is the right thing to do and he’s the only one who can.”

“I don’t deserve to be their champion,” he said walking away. “I’ve killed these people. I’ve killed their friends. I’ve killed their family. I killed Melissa’s brother for Christ sakes!” Hanging his head a bit he said a little calmer, “He should have been their champion, not me.”

“He was their champion child,” she told him softly. “Much like yourself he was reluctant to take the role, but they would have not gotten this far without his voice guiding them. But as with all thing as time passes, needs change. He was who they needed then. You are who they need now. Christopher helped them to their feet to start the fight. You need to help them fight.”

“Melissa…,” he started to say.

“She has her role in this and she is fulfilling it now,” Emily cut him off. “In fact Christopher would be proud at how fast she took to the role despite her fear and reluctance.” She looked him in the eyes, “There is a spark within you child, and only you can decide if it dies out completely or grows into something larger. If you want to fulfill your destiny you must be forged in the fires of your upcoming battles to become something stronger. Nobody can force you to choose, but all I ask is that you think it over before that spark dies out completely.”

“That’s a lot to put on one guys shoulders,” he informed her.

“Christopher told me something similar,” she said as she took his arm again. As they headed back to her room she added, “There are times I’m surprised at how many similarities you two have.”

“So, what, you’re saying we would have been fast friends?”

“Oh child no,” she chuckled and patted his arm. “There is no doubt in my mind that the two of you would have been at each other throats after a week.”

Rachel wasn’t sure why Melissa wanted to talk to her alone. It couldn’t be for an update on Jack. She talked to her, Arron, Dusty and Sparky almost daily and Jack usually comes up at least once. And it had been months since she whacked Jason in the nuts with the staff. It would be kind of strange to reprimand her now. Well she’d find out when she got there. Like she said she would be Melissa was in the cafeteria. “Rachel,” she greeted her friendly enough. “Can I get you something to drink?”

“No, I’m fine,” she replied as she sat across from her. “So what did you want to see me about?”

She actually looked embarrassed, “I know the timing of this is going to seem strange but after our last conversation I couldn’t remember the last time I asked to see how you were holding up with all the things Jack was going through.”

“It’s a little late to be asking me now isn’t it?”

“I know and I feel horrible. I was so worried about the spot I put Jack in I forgot about you. Even while you were trying to shoulder the entire thing.”

“As you can see I held up pretty well,” Rachel said. “My sanity is intact, probably a bad choice of words considering the situation.”

“And trust me there were a few times I worried about that,” Melissa admitted. “They way we had to fight to get you to take a break, even if it was for five minutes. Dusty was even worried about you.”

“I never really noticed to be honest.”

“I’m surprised you noticed anything else. Not that I’m trying to undermine your determination or anything. Like I told you last time, I doubt he would have gotten as far as he did as fast as he did without you.”

“I’m sure if somebody else was his mission operator for this long they would have gotten the same results.”

“You’re cutting yourself short. There’s a reason why Dusty didn’t argue all that much when you basically became his primary provider.”

“Dusty has a habit of seeing things that’s not there,” Rachel countered. “Trust me, Jack and me compared notes about this. We’re pretty sure he was trying to get us to get together.”

Melissa just looked at her, “But you do want to…”

“I know what I told you,” she said suddenly. “And I also told you if anything was going to happen it would have before now.”

“And as long as you sit in idle nothing going to happen. How do you know what’s going to happen if you don’t try. Why don’t you make the first move?”

Rachel started getting irritated, “Why are you pushing this?”

“I’m just curious,” Melissa admitted. “What is the reason why you’re not doing anything? And don’t give me that excuse you gave me last time about him thinking you’re too high maintenance. We both know better.”

Rachel debated to herself for a few moments before answering. “You seen those looks he gave me every time Anderson threw a new twist at us. I just get the feeling part of him still sees me as part of World Inc.”

“Rachel…,” Melissa said, looking unsure on how to continue.

“We worked things out after Richie. I’m just afraid that if we did get together and Anderson threw something new at us it would start all over again.”

“After everything that’s happened do you really think he’s going to do that again?”

“I don’t know… I,” she trailed off. “Is that all you wanted from me?”

“There was one more thing,” Melissa said as Rachel started to get up. “It also occurred to me I barely know anything about you. With deal with each other just about every day and outside of the occasional snippet here and there you’re pretty much a blank slate.”

“And I can say the same about you,” Rachel told her.

“Maybe it’s time we changed that, she said. “Like how did you get involved in all of this to begin with?” Rachel started to laugh slightly. “What’s so funny?”

“It might only be funny to me, but after we moved in with Dusty Jack finally got around to asking me that same question. As to how, let’s just say I walked into the middle of a skirmish.”

Anderson looked at the map on the Command Center wall with interest. Williams was marking out a spot she and Perez discussed after they went after the information they were given. Perez looked apprehensive, “You sure we can trust this information?”

“Not particularly Mr. Perez,” He admitted. “But it was given as a show of good faith. An attempt to prove their trustworthiness.”

“By selling out their own?”, Williams asked.

“That thought did cross my mind Mrs. Williams. Normally I would turn down there offer, but the supposed target is a little too good to pass up.”

“So this would hurt the rebels if we get her?”, Perez asked.

“More morally than physically,” Anderson informed him. “Sometimes the gain is worth the risk. Although that doesn’t mean we have to be stupid. Do you have a plan in place Mr. Perez?”

“Well that’s going to depend on what kind of security she’s going to have around her.”

Ah, the daily juggling act he had to perform when he was around humans. Exactly how much information should he give away and in what manner and not appear suspicious. “I already spoken to some of our Drakan contacts,” he started. “She likes to travel with as a small an entourage as possible. At most she’ll have a guard and a driver. So resistance should be light.”

“How were you able to get all of that?” , Perez asked, obviously impressed.

“As tactfully as possible. There no need in angering our allies unnecessarily after all. And as long as we are careful with the target.”

“Right,” Perez looked a little disappointed. “So a small task force then. Maybe about three or four. And, if you will agree, a larger force that will be held back, just in case it is a trap.”

Anderson thought it over, “I would say that would be agreeable. You paid my attention to my words Mr. Perez, I am impressed. Prep the right people for the job and have them waiting at the target area in advance. And I must point out as little violence as possible. As I said there’s no point in angering our allies.” Not to mention a more powerful alpha. That was the last thing needed at this point.” And might I add, any unnecessary violence that harms the target and the consequences will be harsh and dealt out by me. Is that clear Mr. Perez?”

“Yes sir it is.”

“Good, “I’ll let you do your job then.”

Melissa got into the habit of walking around the habitat, just make sure everything was alright with those under her. She could never just hang back and give orders, she just had to see how everybody was. Melissa was too connected to these people to do otherwise. Although she was a little surprised to find Jack sitting by himself and looking at the ceiling. He gave her a friendly wave and said hello. But right before she overheard him mutter, “Champion? I don’t even know what the hell that’s supposed to mean.” Melissa really wanted to ask what that was about. But she figured it had something to do with his thing with Emily, so it was best to leave it alone. Just for his privacy if nothing else.

“Hi Melissa,” Rachel said as she joined her. “Doing your nightly rounds I see.”

“I never told you about these,” she informed her.

“’I’ve seen you do it before a couple of times,” Rachel said. “I have very good observational skills. It’s why I insisted on going out in the field. I figured I could help out if I was able to spot something out of the ordinary.” She sighed, “Too bad I didn’t see the obvious right before my eyes a couple of times.”

Here were at least two things that could have been about. So Melissa went with the one that surprisingly bothered her as much as it did. “Despite at how proud my cousin is of who and what he is he is very good at hiding what he is from the, and I’m quoting, ‘lower species’.”

“No offence but the more I learn about your cousin the more I learning to despise him.”

“Hey at least you quit, I’m still related to him. So why are you joining me on this particular ‘round’ as you put it.”

“Honestly I enjoyed our talk earlier, and I noticed you looked a little anxious. Thought I could come over and see what was wrong.”

“Emily been requested to do what she does at another cell. I always get a little nervous when she leaves the habitat.”

“Then why doesn’t the person come here?”,” Rachel asked. “She does have one of those tracking chips in her head.”

“Normally they do, but every so often she takes a trip to their cell. She calls it an itch to stretch her legs. She does so much around here it’s hard to tell her no when she makes the request. Well that and she a wicked shot with that cane of hers,” they shared a laugh. “It does her good to get out every so often I guess. Nobody wants to stay cooped up down her all the time.”

“You don’t have to tell that to the kids down her,” Rachel commented.

“Well to be honest I knew there were a few ways out of here that the children were using. Not the one leading to that construction site though. I would have had that sealed off the moment I found out about it.”

“I guess that would explain the wielding team in that pipe. The kids looked really disappointed. I was afraid they would take it out on Jennifer. I think they were before Jack gave them that look.”

“If you think his look is something you should have seen the one Chris used to give them. I wanted to shut up and behave.”

“Then you should see my Mother’s look. My Dad swore the kids down the street started acting right. But that’s nothing compared to my Aunt’s. She actually made a gator stop coming at her.”

Melissa shook a finger at her, “Now you’re pulling my leg.”

“Heart to God it happened,” Rachel said. Melissa was still shaking her head in disbelief. “I was there I saw it happen. Nobody believes me when I tell this story.” Rachel stopped and held her arms out, “Look, I’m giving you permission, read me and tell me I’m not telling the truth.”

“I’m sure you believe you seen what you think you saw at whatever young age you were.”

“I was seventeen.”

“Did you tell this story to Jack?”

“And Dusty and they both laughed in my face.”

“Well it a ridicules story if you think about it.” A strong sense of anxiety made her stop and look back. Arron came running toward her. Even Jack got up to see what was so important. She tried not to think of the worst scenario possible. “What is it?”

“We just got a call from Emily’s driver,” he said between breaths. “They were ambushed by Anderson’s men. There last location was one of the back roads outside of town.” Melissa tried not to panic, that was one of the scenarios racing her head. She knew they needed to get a rescue party together now. Then she saw Jack running for the garage. Please do not let him be late for this one.

Her captors took her age into account as they sat her in the van, although still tied and gagged. Her escorts were on the ground tied together as Anderson’s men guarded them. “How long to we have to stay here?”, the one by her asked. “We could have had this old bat back at HQ by now.”

“Anderson’s orders,” a second one spoke. “Perez said he wanted to escort her back personally.”

“She’s just a Drakan, and an old one at that. Why even waste his time or risk his safety?”

“I don’t know, something about keeping our Drakan contacts happy or some crap.”

“I still say we should just shoot them all, bunch of freaks.”

“Don’t let the boss hear you say that. He gets a… bit testy.”

“Whatever,” he waved him off. This had been going on for a while now. It was starting to test her patience. Emily closed her eyes to find her center and calm herself. A sound of an incoming engine broke her concentration. She didn’t know much about cars but that sounded a little fast for it to be Anderson. Opening her eyes and looking around she saw a single headlight coming toward them. Her guards took a defensive position as the bike turned sharply and skidded to a stop. The rider took his helmet off, “Holy crap it’s Davidson.” Emily held her head up, not in relief but to show she was proud. She looked in his eyes and saw a fire within them. He made his choice.

Jack looked around quickly as he got off the bike. He was damn lucky they didn’t open fire yet. Sadly he recognized one of them from that party at that bar from awhile back. Might as well get this over with while they were still in a state of shock. “You have until I activate the system to let them go,” he told them. Without any hesitation he got his left arm up, the belt appeared and he finished the movements, “Henshin!” He stood there as the armor formed around him. The next move was theirs.

The moron from the party decided to lower his weapon and walk toward him. “We got nothing to worry about. Didn’t you hear? He’s not right in the head. Lost the will to fight and all that crap. What are you going to do Davidson? Send your ghosts after us?” Jack waited second before punching him in the nose. He felt it give and it started gushing blood as the moron backed away. Jack was hoping he do something that stupid.

Looking at the other two he went, “Next.” God, he hadn’t felt like this in a long time. Another one came at him with a shock stick in hand. Jack kicked him in the gut and he went down immediately. The third one went into a fighting stance as a pair of fin like wings grew out of his back as he transformed into a red stingray. “Of course one would show up when I’m around,” he muttered as he got ready and waved him on.

The stingray wasted no time in rushing at him. Jack followed suit, jumping up at the last second and jamming his knee into its chest. The Drakan backed up a step and came back at him. Jack quickly found himself on the defense as the Drakan started swinging away. The armor on his forearms absorbed the blows and waited for an opening. He saw it and kicked the Drakan in the stomach. But the stingray saw it coming and backed away so the blow only grazed it. Then it spun around and Jack had to jump out of the way to avoid its tail coming at him. When it turned back around Jack rushed in and smashed his forearm into the Drakan’s face. The Drakan tried to swing widely and Jack quickly blocked the blow. But it left him open as a knee smashed into his back. Another club like blow smashed into his neck stunning him. Before Jack knew it he was air born and slamming into the side of the van.

Pulling himself up he gave a quick glance to Emily to make sure she was alright. To nobody in particular he mumbled, “Think I’m a little rusty.” Clearing his head he looked up and dropped back down, “Whoa!” and a fist flew over his head and smashed the window behind him. Jack popped back up catching the stingray around the waist and ran foreword before driving him to the ground. Jack started punching away until its tail smacked him in the back. It didn’t hurt, just distracted him long enough for the stingray to get a shot in. Then another and another until he was forced off. Jack sat there just long enough to get the cobwebs out of his head and kick the Drakan’s legs out from under it as it tried to get up. Both of them scrambled to their feet and continued to pound at each other.

The meter started flashing and he wasn’t seeing a chance to do anything. Time to make one. Jack ducked a right cross and doubled it over with a fist to the gut. Grabbing one of its fins he tossed it away from Emily and the van and ran in with a shoulder block to knock it further away. Quickly backing up he twisted the right pod down. The turbines in his belt started spinning and the energy was redirected as it ran down his leg. As the Drakan got to its feet Jack ran foreword, jumped up and extended his right leg. His foot connected with the Stingray’s chest and it flew back and exploded. Going down to a knee and breathing hard he said, “Ok, maybe I’m a lot rusty.” A pair of familiar vans pulled up shortly afterwards and Rachel, Melissa and the others piled out. “Oh, now you show up.”

“Jack!”, Rachel and Melissa both cried out.

He pointed toward the other van, “Emily over there, don’t worry about me.” Melissa and the others did that but Rachel still checked on him. Standing up he tapped Sparky on the arm and motioned to the moron from the bar, whose nose was still bleeding, “That guy a human or a Drakan?” He had an idea but he just wanted to be sure.

“Does it matter?”, Sparky asked.

“No, not really.” Jack walked over and hauled him up by the front of his shirt. Staring into two very frightened eyes he said, “Tell Anderson that if he has a problem with this to grow a set and deal with it himself. Because they are defended.” God that sounded corny as hell, but strangely enough it felt good. He still didn’t know what being a champion meant but saying that still felt good. Dropping him he turned around and deactivated the systems.

“Thank you,” Melissa said as she ran to him and hugged him around the neck.

“Just doing what I thought I had to do,” he told her.

“I wasn’t sure what was going on,” Sparky said. “You came in the garage demanding to know what route she took and shot out of there like a bat out of hell.”

“Don’t you mean a dragonfly out of hell,” somebody joked.

“Cute,” Jack said. Emily came up to him, “Are you all right?”

“I am fine child,” she said, “but you may have a problem.” She looked at the World Inc. trooper.

“Now what he’s going to go through?”, Rachel asked looking at both of them.

“That goober,” he said pointing to the one from the bar, “mentioned my ghosts. We were the only one who knew about that so somebody had to tell Anderson about it.”

“Who would have told him?”, Melissa wondered out loud.

“I think I got an idea who.” He looked at Rachel who looked away with a hurt expression on her face. Melissa was about to say something but he spoke first. “We go those new tools about a week or so ago right?”

“What…,” Rachel was shocked for a second, “yeah we did. Wait, you don’t think…?”

“Just keeping our options open.”

Anderson sat at his desk as the phone rang. Picking it up he didn’t have a chance to speak as he heard, “So was my information accurate?”

“Yes it was,” he said. “But unfortunately Davidson made a surprise appearance.” Not that he would say it out loud but part of him was actually glad Davidson apparently got out of his troubles.

“I had a feeling he might,” he sounded triumphant for some odd reason. “So do we have an agreement?”

“I see no reason why not. What is this deal you propose Mr.….”

“Just call me Trent. And all I want is all the information you have on the Drakan Killers you created and the condition of the last one you sent out.”

Anderson did not see that one coming. He was suspecting some sort of immunity when the rebels eventually lost. Or at least asking for the job with his company. “And if… if I give you this information what do I receive?”

“I can tell you where your lost Killer is.”

*Ending theme – Linkin Park – What I’ve Done*
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