Pulling up every schematic he could find in the computer database Ken tried to understand what he was seeing. He wasn't exactly joking earlier when he said he wished he discovered the whole genius thing sooner than when he did, maybe he could make sense of what he was seeing faster than what he was. If he had more time he could probably figure this out but he didn't think he had that luxur\ry. So he pushed his brain harder than he ever had before, “Okat looks like there's a unstable element in the reactor core itself,” he said to himself as he went back and forth between the reactor read out and the schematics, “now what's causing it? What am I not seeing?”

“Ken,” he heard Williams' voice come from his communicator. “The Icarus' vertical lift is starting to fail and they're just at bare minimum now. A few more go and it's going to crash.”

“One problem at a time Doc!”, he snapped. “So unless you have any suggestions about stopping the explosion please shut the hell up so I can think.” Ken knew this wasn't the simulator, he was feeling a pressure that it could never imitate. There was something about having actual lives on the line that made you think faster and in ways the simulator couldn't do. He also had something he never had with that test either, the actual plans to work from. There was nothing that he could see that was causing the instability, all the readings before that point were coming out normal. “Come on Kyrie figured this out already.” Then he realized something, and hit his communicator, “Doc! Can anybody down there tell me for sure if this reactor was based on Kyrie's original plans?”

There were some mumblings over the line before he heard, “All they're saying is it was based on the plans they discovered in the database. Kyrie was still working on his original device since then?”

“Their original machine blew up, only leaving Kyrie alive. He already solved the cause of the explosion. Now how did he do it?” Ken shut his eyes and tried to remember what he saw in that lab. “He needed the Spark Magnifier to stabliize the unification process he was trying to achieve. That's not going to happen now. The instability,” he said as it hit him like a ton of bricks, “it's the three universe trying to converge on a single point.” Ken quickly looked through everything he could find on the reactors internal workings. “There,” he said finding what he was looking for. The reactor used the same containment system the machine in Kyrie's lab used. “”If you can hear me don't stop praying just yet.”

“Ken how much longer until the explosion?”, Hawk asked over the line.

“No offence Captain but I don't need the distraction right now,” Ken said as he pulled up the containment readings. Okay genius brain, time to start working in a way you never worked before. “Come on the problem's mostly mechanical. that's completely in your wheelhouse, you got this,” he told himself. Now if he could just get himself to believe it. Before realizing he needed an outside source Kyrie would have tried modifying the containment field. He fully realized he was betting a lot on the modifications done to Kyrie's original design would be enough to make this work, but he didn't have a lot of choices at the moment. Locating the field controls he started to adjust it by moving the emitters and adjusting the field. Doing this for a few minutes he thought he went deaf when the alarms stopped. He looked at the readout seeing the wave go back to normal. “Please tell me all of you are seeing this.”

“The reactor's stabliizing,” Williams said in disbelief, “Ken you did it!” Ken wanted to celebrate along with him but he thought he beat the simulator a few times as well before the program started to create more problems. Holding his breath he watched waiting to see if the same was going to happen now. He waited, and he waited and waited. It wasn't going unstable again.

“I did it?”, he said still not believing what he was seeing. A grin started to form on his face. “I did it! Fucking yes!” He couldn't celebrate just yet, “Okay one thing done, next thing is thing is the ship is going to crash. We need to keep it in the air. Where are the air vent controls on this thing?”

“Air vents?” he heard someone say, probably one of the engineers.

“If the lifters are going down then I'll get some extra air into the fuel mix, spark that son of a ***** into working and keep it afloat.”

“That isn't a normal engine,” the engineer said. “It's a new anti gravity system they developed separately from the reactor. There's no fuel mixture to mess with. The instability in the reactor must have caused enough feedback to damage the sytem, you'll almost come straight down once you lose enough of the rest .”

“No,” Ken said as he pulled up the data. The Icarus wasn't going straight down yet but it was going to be close enough. According to this the crash was going to be a couple of miles away from his current location, but he was still going down. Then he saw something about the reactor and ran a quick simulation. “****!,” he said as he pounded the console, “****! ****! ****!”

“Ken what is it?”, he heard Hawk ask.

Leaning on the station with his head hung low he said, “The reactor. It's going to explode on impact. The blast radius is going to be miles wide. You all going to be caught up in the blast.” Damn it he had it, he fucking had it fixed. And they were going to die anyway. He punched the console again.

Looking over at the pilot who controlled the drop ship they were in. reading the unasked question in Hawk's face he started shaking his head. Well in the couple of trips he took on them he didn't expect them to be built with speed in mind, still there was a small hope that was quickly dashed. “Ken,” Hawk said. “we all knew death was a possibility when we signed up. You did your best son, I'm proud of you.”

“It wasn't enough,” he said as he choked back a sob. He had the problem fixed. And he didn't even know how those anti grave lifters even worked and he did not have the time to try and figure them out.

“Ken,” he heard Jess say. “We're all hearing you over the line. Williams patched us all in just so we wouldn't be left in the dark. It's okay.”

“No,” he said as a sob escaped, “it's not okay.”

“Ken Hawk's right. you did all you could. And we had a little more time together. I wouldn't trade that time in for anything.”

“I was going to try and keep my promise,” he told her suddenly. “The one I made you back in high school. I was going to try and take you all over the country. Even if I had to do it base by base, I was going to try.”

“I was looking forward to sleeping under the stars back when you made it. So maybe not base by base.”, she told him. “Maybe some outdoor camping spots.”

He let out a small laugh. Then his eyes snapped open as he looked at the engine as a thought came to him. “Honey, hold that thought. Doc what if we destroyed the engine?”

“Hawk already asked me about that,” he said. “The reactor would still explode and cause the same issue. The self destruct was designed...”

“No I don't mean just blow it up,” he cut him off. “I mean really destroy it from the outside. Obliterate the damn the damn thing.”

There was some more muttering over the line before Williams said, “We don't have the ordnance available. It would take something just short of a nuclear warhead to get the effect you're talking about. And there's none on board, even if they were you couldn't get it set up in time.”

“Than I'll improvise something. See you all on the other side if this doesn't work like I think,” Ken hit his communicator to end the link and stared at the engine. That explosion wouldn't just affect and kill things in this universe. “Dax, feel up to saving people in three different universes at once?”

“I'm willing to try if you are,” he said as Ken ran out of the room. The ship started to list to the side making everything tilt at an angle, he willed those lifters to not fail now. He didn't stop, trying to keep his balance by holding his hand against the wall as he ran.

Coming to the section where the lifeboats were he hit the first control panel, the hatch didn't open, “Damn it don't mess with me now.” He started clawing at the panel until he pulled it off the wall. He started messing with wires until the hatch opened. He stood and braced himself as the wind buffeted him. Reaching into his jacket he pulled out the Spark Magnifier and pointed it at the open space in front of him and activated it.

“What's that light coming out of the side of the ship?” Jess and Reid looked up with the rest of them as that light got bigger and Daxium appeared in it's place. “Where in the hell did Ultraman come from?' Behind her Reid put a hand on her shoulder and gave it a quick squeeze. Not that far away Hawk, Ryo and Bill all silently rooted him on.

This one time Ken broke his general rule and watched things through Dax's eyes. “Okay Dax let's try to raise thing thing up and further away from the others.” In the outside world Daxium nodded and quickly pounded his forearms together to mode shift into Power Mode. Flying until he was under the ship Ken pointed out a strong point and told him to push up from there. Placing his hands were Ken indicated Daxium increased his flight power upwards. With a grunt he slowly started to guide the ship's nose into an upwards direction but it was still going down.

“I don't think this will work for long,” Daxium said through their link. “It has too much momentum for me to affect it fully.”

“Look down at the others,” Ken said. When he did so he estimated where they were compared to the ground. They were still too close, but maybe the wave from the blast would have lost some of it's energy by the time it reached them if this didn't work. “We don't have a choice Dax we gotta do it. You obliterated some monsters by just punching them with the Giga Wave, think you can do it with this ship?”

“We won't know until I try,” Daxium released the ship and flew ahead of it. Then he turned and faced the Icarus as it came toward him.

“Dax if I'm wrong about this it's been fun buddy,” Ken said as he and Dax tried to figure out the best angle for Daxium to land the punch for the maximum effect that he was hoping they would get.

“Yes it has,” Daxium replied as he brought his fist to his chest and started drawing in energy.

“Don't you do it! Don't destroy the Icarus!” Richardson yelled at the screen as he, Williams, Stanberry and the others all watched. Those who weren't part of that particular trio looked at him like he lost his mind.

Pooling the energy into his right hand Daxium flew toward the falling ship at the angle both of them agreed on. Once he was close enough he threw his fist forward with all he had. The Icarus was torn up immediately as the unfocused energy of the Giga Wave tore through it. Then the wave hit the reactor and it exploded The Icarus was engulfed in a massive explosion that made everyone on the ground duck and shield their eyes. But that was all there was, just a fireball in the sky as debris and the remains of the ship fell to the ground. It took a second for most of those watching to realize that they weren't dead, they survived.

“Where's Ultraman?” and other variations of that question flowed through the crowd as they looked up at the disapating fireball. Did he just sacrifice himself to save them?

“There!” somebody pointed out as they sky cleared enough that he could be spotted hanging in the sky. Jess lowered her head in relief that Ken was still alive. Reid came up beside her and smiled in support. Bill was busy high fiving everyone within reach as everybody celebrated.

Ryo looked around at those around them, most were still celebrating being alive but a few were looking slightly horrified at the apparent sacrifice they just bore witness to before leaning in and saying to Hawk, “If nobody has already once Ken appears out of nowhere people are going to figure out his secret.”

Hawk looked around and said, “We'll worry about it when it happens.”

Above it all Daxium returned to his starting form and studied where the Icarus was. He wasn't feeling anything now. They had done it, they closed the rift that machine was creating and saved beings in all three universes. One of those universes might have belonged to his enemy but he didn't care about that now. They saved them and he felt fairly good about it. Then Daxium got a quick sensation behind him right before a beam blasted him in the back “Argh!” he cried out in pain as that blast sent him to the ground with a crash that caused a small dent in the ground. Several UNDF members pulled their side arms as they spotted the source of the attack.

Floating down to the ground with a dark energy outline surrounding him Brooks had his back to them as he hovered around Daxium's eye level as he started to get up. “You really are a hero, aren't you? Do you think your masters will approve of saving your enemy? More importantly do you think my masters would be appreciative that you did so. I can't speak for the former but on the latter I highly doubt it. But you have my appreciation though, you saved me the trouble of destroying that ship myself. But that was then and the war goes on does it not?” Daxium stood at his full height and stared at Brooks. “Because I might have had to spoil this surprise before I wanted you to see it,” he said as he lowered himself to the ground. Then he raised his right hand to the sky, palm open. Dark energy surrounded and engulfed him. Daxium took a step back as the dark energy mass grew in size. It solidified and took shape into a dark copy of himself, Daxium grunted in surprise as those in the UNDF all talked and pointed at the new sight. Brook's voice boomed with an echo as he waved the giant on with a couple of fingers, “Shall we finish this?”

“Shiah!” Daxium said as he took on a defensive stance. Brooks stood there and cocked his head slightly as he started to chuckle. Then he shot forward with a series of strikes that made Daxium back up as he tried to block everything that was coming at him. Then the light giant grabbed his wrist and flipped his dark copy over his shoulder and slammed him to the ground. Jumping on top of him Daxium started pounding away at Brooks. Brooks got both hands up and blasted him off. Daxium landed hard on the ground. Brooks was already on top of him and dragged him up by the throat, then knocked him down again. A kick knocked the giant back even further.

As he got to his feet he fired off a Flash Bolt that exploded against Brooks who stumbled backwards but kept his footing. Charging forward he tried to tackle Brooks down by the waist but the dark copy refused to fall. Clutching his hands together Brooks raised them up and slammed them down onto Daxium's back. Grunting in pain he fell to a knee Brooks reached down, wrapped his arms around Daxium, picked him up and slamming him to the ground. Instead of continuing his attack Brooks kicked him away and let him get back up. Then he made a motion with his forearms, like he was going to mode shift into a power mode of his own then waved a hand toward Daxium, indicating for him to do it. Against his better judgement Daxium mode shifted back into Power Mode and went at Brooks. To everybody's surprise Brooks easily blocked everything Daxium was throwing at him. Then he grabbed his wrist and applied enough pressure that he grunted in pain and almost went to a knee because of it. Then without any effort at all he threw Daxium to the side and walked away looking completely unconcerned.

“You got to be kidding me,” Hawk muttered as Brooks stared right at them and held out his arms, like he was sayin 'this is it?'. “Castle scramble the Razor Wings and the Alpha One to this location now!”

“Come on,” Jess said, “get up and fight.” Brooks kept looking at them right until a flash of light behind him crashed against his back. Surprised by the sudden assault Brook took a step forward and looked behind him. Daxium had shifted into Hyper mode and extended the light whip from his fingers. Before his copy could react he started thrashing the whip around Brook's body causing him to cover up then he wrapped it around his neck, pulling in energy as he drew his other hand back and slammed it it against his wrist, unleashing the Light Pulse right at Brook. He quickly slashed a hand through the whip breaking it. Holding out his other hand he fired a blast that Daxium cartwheeled to avoid. Jumping up Daxium aimed a kick at Brooks that he easily swatted away. Daxium jumped out of the way as Brooks pounded the ground with a fist. Getting into a runner's stance he drew in energy again the made then barest of flinches. Everyone who had seen this move before expected it to be over.

“What?!” Bill exclaimed as in the next instant Brooks had Daxium by the neck again with one hand and the arm with the whip by the other. He just stopped Daxium's fastest attack with ease. The jewel on his chest was flashing.

“That was close,” Brooks said as he threw him to the ground again “You might want to end this fast,” he said as he gestured to the “jewel” on his chest.”

“You smug son of a *****,” Reid said beside Jess who felt just as helpless as everyone else watching this.

Quickly forming the hypersaw he threw it at Brooks to make him avoid it, at least that was the plan. Instead Brooks caught it mid flight and crushed it with one hand making it shatter into shards of light. But it still gave Daxium enough time to shift back into Power mode and set up the Giga Wave. Brooks just stood there and let him, even taking a few steps back to give him more room to do so. Daxium punched the ground with a yell and unleashed the move. Brooks blasted the move with a massive energy wave of his own that combined with the energy of the Giga Wave as it was sent toward Daxium. He tried to jump out of the way but was still hit with the backlash and was thrown to the ground. The jewel started blinking faster than anyone had ever seen it as he struggled to get to his feet.

“Heh,” Brooks chuckled as he turned away slightly as he brought a hand to his chin. He was enjoying this. Once on his feet Daxium shifted back into his normal form and set up the Dimensional Storm Ray, he was running out of options and energy at this point and was getting desperate. Swinging his arms out Brooks finally reacted by pointing that hand right at the giant. “Gotcha,” he said as he unleashed a blast from his fingers. The beam pierced through Daxium's chest and out his back as he recoiled from the impact.

“KEN!” Jess, Ryo and Bill all shouted at the sight causing looks of surprise from all those around them.

Instead of falling right away like all of them expected Daxium's body started to crack around the hole the beam caused as the jewel stopped flashing and went dark. It looked like he started to break apart as he finally began to fall leaving only a glowing orb as the shards of light he left behind faded away completely as they drifted to the ground. Jess ran toward the orb before Reid could stop her. Ryo and Bill ran toward it as well as Hawk looked for the air strike he called in.

The orb started erratically toward the ground. When it was about ten feet above the ground it started to break apart as well, Ken falling out of the bottom and landing hard in a heap. “No,no,no,” Jess said as she ran toward him. She got to him first and cradled him in her lap, he was unconscious but it looked like he was still breathing. Ryo and Bill was soon by their side. Ryo ran a scan over him with his wrist scanner as soon as he got there.

“I'm getting life signs,” he announced. “Thet're faint but they're there. He's still alive. We need some help over here!”. he yelled at the ones just staring at the scene. A few looked like they were going to hurry over and assist them but stopped as they looked up and behind them.

“Ken, wake up!”, Jess said shaking him slightly. “Wake up you idiot!”

“Jess he'll be okay,” Bill told her. “He'll be out for a little while then he'll be on his feet like nothing happened just like before.” Oh how she hoped that was going to happen like he claimed but something made her afraid that it wasn't going to be the case this time. The ground started to shake slightly and felt like it was getting closer with each tremor. Ryo and Bill both looked up with some trepidation. Still hanging on to Ken, trying to protect him, Jess drew her sidearm and pointed it right at Brook as he came closer. Her aim never wavered as he stopped then started to shrink in size.

Before long he was back to normal. He looked at the gun pointed at him then at Ken who was still lying limp in Jess' arms. He broke out into a grin before saying, “Looks like I win.” Then he started glowing again and flew off into the sky as Jess and others started firing at him. She stopped and turned her attention to the still unconscious Ken. Now what were they going to do?

ED – Shinedown – Fly From the Inside


Episode 30

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn In my Light

Pulling into the driveway the soon to be ex Janet Scott stepped out of her car with her phone to her ear and a bag of take out in the other. Closing the car door she leaned against it as she listened. Soon she went, “Thanks for the update Jessica I'll let her know.” Looking at the house she tried to brace herself to deliver this bit of news. Her current mother in law wasn't exactly overjoyed when she found out Ken was currently in a coma and nobody was sure when he would come out of it. And the news reporting on that dark Ultraman that had appeared in the past couple of days wasn't exactly helping matters. Right now she wasn't sure if Jessica keeping them updated was a good thing or not. She guessed it was better than being kept in the dark.

Getting her nerves set she walked up to the door and opened it. And was greeted by the sight of her daughter Nicole and mother in law Susan working on a jigsaw puzzle on the coffee table. “Hi mom,” Nicole said looking up. “Can I see Uncle Ken yet?”

“No Honey not yet,” she told her. It broke her heart a bit to see her look so disappointed, but it couldn't be helped. “But as soon as I'm allowed back on base I'll make sure that you can. Now go get ready for dinner.”

“Okay,” she said and quickly headed for the hallway bathroom.

Susan looked at the bag still in her hand, “You didn't have to buy dinner.”

“I know,” she said as she sat next to her,”but I'm trying to pull my weight around her. Besides I promised you something from this restaurant the other day.”

“But they told all the non miitltary personnel to stay away from the base for the time being because they don't know if that dark giant is going to come back and attack it. If you're not working...,” she trailed off as Nicole came back in and went into the kitchen. But her unfinished message was loud and clear. “I mean I told you you can stay here as long as you needed to and I meant it. But don't go broke trying to make me happy.”

“Well that's something I don't have to worry about for right now,” Janet told her. Reaching into a pocket she pulled out the letter she received earlier in the day and handed it to her. “It came while you were out taking your walk, Captain Hawk arranged it so I'd get a small regular check while the emergency is still going on. It's not as much as I was making but it's better than not having one.”

Reading it over Susan handed it back to her, “Now I see why you and Ken always talk so highly of the man. Not a whole lot of people would go that far after this sort of time for someone working for them.” Looking concerned she hesitantly asked, “Ken, is there....?” Janet slowly shook her head. “Damn it,” Susan suddenly said and clenched her fist. “Why was he out there in that mess? Why was he even put in a field unit to begin with? He was just a mechanic before that.”

Putting a arm around her she said, “I wish I could tell you.Susan. But Captain Hawk and Jessica both told me they're giving him the best of care right now. He's in te very best of hands right now. I'll get dinner on the table.” As she stood Susan started putting the loose pieces of the puzzle back into the box. In the kitchen she saw Nicole look at a picture of Ultraman that she drew that Susan had put on the refrigerator door.

“Come on Uncle Ken,” she thought she heard Nicole say, “You need to wake up. We need you to stop the bad guy.” Janet went a little cold. Before her and the others were told to temporarily leave Castle the rumor mill was ablaze saying Ken was Ultraman. She never told Susan or Nicole about that part. So how did her daughter find out? Jessica would know, she just had to. Grabbing her phone she started to walk to the backdoor, there was no point at this time for either Nicole or Susan to overhear this conversation. Then she heard a very loud gasp come from the living room. “Grandma?”, Nicole said as she started that way.

“Stay in here Nicole,” Janet told her. She wasn't expecting the worst but wanted to shield Nicole just in case. Going into the living room she found Susan still on the couch with a horrified look on her face. Looking at the television a news report was showing footage of Ultraman fighting that dark copy of himself. Then she watched as the image froze as the dark on shot a beam through Ultraman's chest. And the word racing around base was that Ken was Ultraman. Gripping her phone tightly she slowly backed into the kitchen then turned straight for the backdoor. Jessica just had to know one way or another.

At Castle everyone was on high alert. Everyone, to the guards on patrol to those just walking the halls to any scientist who knew how to handle a weapon was armed. Roughly an hour after he defeated Ultraman they got word that Brooks returned to that secret base that built that giant ship and destroyed it. Groups that launched to confront him found it in flames and Brooks nowhere to be found, in either form. Then a couple of hours later he was spotted in Mexico right before he took out the UNDF base there. Then they got word that he might have been seen in the UK a couple of hours after that. But they soon lost contact there too. So until they heard otherwise Hawk thought it was safe to assume that base was destroyed as well, but was it by him?

As he walked into the control room he spotted Bridge at his station as everyone else worked frantically. Making his was over, while trying to avoid anyone trying to gurry across the room, he asked, “Was it him Bridge?”

“Someone at the UK base was able to send off a CCTV image right before we lost contact. I've already ran the facial recognition program, twice.” Hawk stood behind him as Bridge brought that shot on the main screen. A close up of the image in question was joined by a photo Hawk recognized as the standard UNDF ID photo. It was the same individual in both pictures, Peter Brooks. “It was him Captain.”

Hawk stared at the images, again wondering how this particular snake was able to hide in the garden for as long as he did. “This was two hours after he attacked the base in Mexico.. Even at the Alpha One's top speed that's still an eight hour flight at least. How was he able to do it in two?”

“Unknown at this moment Captain,” was the one answer he didn't want to hear. It wasn't that long ago that he stood in this very room and said he wanted to make sure the information Brooks knew about the organization was as outdated as possible just so they could have any type of advantage. And right now where Brook's abilities were concerned they were so behind the curve it wasn't even funny. “But,” Bridge continued, “there's been some speculation in the past couple of day that he can move as fast as Ultraman's,” he paused for a moment. Hawk looked down at him and understood. They were all feeling the sting of Ken being out, Bridge would be no different. Soon he looked back up and finished his thought, “As fast as Ultraman when he finishes off a creature in Hyper Mode. Or get close to it at least.”

“And sustain it a lot longer than he could apparently. It's a working theory and the only one we have at the moment. Brooks is attacking the organization directly now. Almost like he's trying to dismantle us piece by piece. Given the fact Ken told us that the beings he's working with want to use our dimension as some sort of staging ground to attack the dimension Ultraman is from we're obviously the biggest threat to that goal.” Bridge looked back at him momentarily when he talked about what Ken had told them out loud for everyone to hear. And if Hawk was being honest it felt weird to say it out loud. But Ken's secret was out in the open now thanks to that last battle so there was no point in hiding anything now.

“Bridge!” some called out frantically. “Footage from Ulktraman's fight with Brooks has been leaked to the media.” Without any prompting the person sent the feed to Bridge who immediately put it on the main screen. Hawk felt his gut twist all over again as he watched Ultraman's final moments before the image froze with Brook's shot piercing his chest.

A rage Hawk had never felt before quickly overtook him, “Who leaked that footage!”

“The news anchor said it came to them anonymously Captain,” the man said. That rage grew louder in his ears by the second. Apparently it showed because the person flinched a bit expecting to get the brunt of it. Hawk forced himself to get it under control, he was just the messenger he reminded himself over and over, it wasn't his fault that footage got released. And he wouldn't be stupid enough to point it out if he was.

It took Hawk a while to get to the point where he felt he could speak without yelling. Still he sounded very strained as he got out “Bridge?”

“I'm comparing the footage to the position of the Icarus' drop ships and lifeboats now,” he said as his fingers danced over the keys in front of him. Narrowing down which ship the footage casme from wasn't going to help if they didn't know who was on that particular ship.

Mainly thinking out loud he said, “I didn't do it and I know for sure Ryo and the others wouldn't either. And neither would Reid. So that just leaves everyone else who was there. I need to figure out who we can trust right now because I'm putting a guard on Ken's room. If somebody leaked that then I wouldn't doubt it if they tried to sneak in and get some footage of him saying he was Ultraman.”

Bridge understood where he was coming from. “The footage stopped right when Ultraman got blasted. You and the others said an orb was all that remained of him and Ken fell out of it.” Quickly he did a search for this news story. After a few minutes he announced, “All the footage out there stops at the same point.”

“I don't know if the person or persons responsible was paid for what was leaked,” Hawk added. “But you have to imagine that having any sort of proof that Ultraman was human would have to be a fairly big pay day.” Hawk didn't want to take any one off of duty for this, but now it was about one of thier own. He would not tolerate anybody, no matter who they were, violating their privacy like that. And right now the number of people who wouldn't take advantage of this situation was extremely small.

“Bridge!” Both of them shared a look, now what? “Tower just sent out a distress signal.” And Hawk felt he knew Bridge well enough at this point that he didn't need to see the look on his face. His thoughts were on Emiko right now and Hawk couldn't blame him. The follow up confirmed their worst fears, “They're being attacked by Brooks.”

“Have somebody else work on the leaked footage Bridge,” Hawk told him. “I want you to try and get sattlite footage of the attack if you can.” Bridge just stared at his console. Putting a hand on his shoulder he added, “I'm sure she's fine, try and contact her if you can.” Bridge looked up at him still stunned. Then he started to look determined and gave him a nod before getting on the task given. Hawk left him to do what he had to do. Right now Hawk was trying to figure what strategy, if any, Brooks was using to pick his next target. Tower and Dungeon he understood, those were the bases things were created, things that could possibly hurt him if given time. But the Mexico and UK bases, outside of being military installations they didn't have any value outside of that. In fact he knew that outside of patrols and test flights the UK base rarely deployed. Tower in Japan had seen one giant creature attack in that King Joe robot they developed. And that was still more action than the other two bases had seen.

So his theory could be right and Brooks was trying to weaken them so his allies could fully invade. But how was he picking them? Dungeon was first and that was eighty miles west of Castle but they hadn't been touched so far. So why go to Mexico, then the UK and now Japan? If there was a pattern to all of this he wasn't currently seeing it. And if there was one he didn't want to think about how many more installations they would have to lose before one became apparent.

Just when you thought that things couldn't get any more tense around here, footage of Ultraman's last battle was starting to make the media rounds. In the rough hour since the news hit fingers had already been flying. Alpha was blaming those in Beta, Beta was blaming the science staff, they were accusing the people from Dungeon that were temporarily stationed at Castle since they didn't really have a home at the moment. Jess, Ryo and Bill all decided to stay out of the blame game. Although she was casting an eye Richardson's way, but that was all she was doing. All the current confusion was doing was giving Brooks a bigger edge than he already had, if they were too busy going at each other than he had a greater chance of attacking them when they weren't looking.

And right now she needed to keep her focus as narrow as possible. Hawk had the Brooks front covered so she and the others could concentrate on watching over Ken. Not that any of them had any clue of what to do. Ken was still in a coma with no sign of coming out of it any time soon. Bill remembered hearing that a person in a coma could hear those around them and that's what the three of them have been doing for the past two days, just talk to him when it was their turn to watch over him. Nobody told them to they just decided on their own to stand guard over Ken. Mainly because his secret was officially out now. And while doubtful there were a few that might have taken a shot at Ultraman by going after Ken. Ryo had even seen Hawk do it earlier in the day.

It might have been a foolish fear but one shared by more than them from the things she'd seen since Ultraman had lost to Brooks.. There were a couple of times since then she would have sworn she saw some she knew wanted to take Ultraman down get herded away from Ken's room by someone else. That still didn't stop the near constant bombardment of questions for that first day. When did he become Ultraman, how long have you known that sort of thing. Answers were hard to give since none of them knew how much to actually share with people but eventually Captain Hawk and Commander Reid put out a joint statement on the situations. It didn't calm anything down but the near constant questioning had slowed down.

As she walked the halls of the medical wing she had an idea she wanted to run by Hawk that should help with the guard situation he was worried about. None of them had an issue standing guard over Ken, especially after the footage was leaked. But again Brooks was still out there and who knew when they would have to scramble to face him when he decided to show back up. She knew Hawk was taking a turn watching over Ken while they finalized the watch rotation. As she turned the corner that led to his room she paused in her step when she saw a small crowd situated in front of Ken's room. Her hand went for her weapon as she ran over to see what was going on.

“Let us through,” someone demanded. Now she was close to see that it seemed to be two groups facing off with each other wiith a couple of the medical personnel along with her fellow UNDF soldiers trying to hold the others back . And Jess spotted a couple who wanted to take a shot at Ultraman in the group that was trying to get through, she hurried her pace.

“Not going to happen,” she heard Ryo say calmly but firmly. Getting a glance at Bill's head she knew this was potentially bad.

The apparent leader of this mob stepped forward, even from here he looked like he was trying to intimidate Ryo and Bill. Jess wasn't sure who to feel sorry for in this situation. “Now you are going to let us through that door...”

“And do what?”, she demanded, finally making her presence known as she approached the rear of the aggressive group. A couple saw her hand firmly resting on the grip of her weapon, ready to draw it at any second. Those few wisely decided to to separate themselves from this particular group, if not leave all together, The leader looked at her, glanced down at her weapon then glanced back up at her. Based on the look of disdain he was giving her it was obvious this and a couple of the others were what was left of the Jamira leftovers. And when you thought you were done with these assholes.

“Walk away,” he told her. Jess felt a twitch in a finger of her gun hand, just for that tone alone if nothing else.

“Not going to happen,” she informed him. Her only movement was to move through the remnants of the group and join Ryo and Bill in front of Ken's door. A couple of the smarter ones seemed to get the message and quickly followed the others who left the group. But this one and a few others weren't that smart apparently. “Now why don't you all go somewhere and do whatever it is you apes do when you're alone.

The head goon got incensed and started forward. Jess held her ground as he took a step forward. Bill took a step forward to get in his path. “Just to get one thing straight,” he told the man, “I'm protecting you from her, not the other way around.”

“So get the hint,” Ryo added. The two sides looked like they were getting ready to get pyshical and start fighting right there.

“Is there a problem?”, Reid demanded as he quickly got involved by stepping in between the two groups. He stared at both sides. Jess kept her eyes on the head goon who quickly backed down from the Commander's gaze. “And you better not be thinking about doing what I suspect you're thinking.” Not getting the hint the head goon pointed at the door to Ken's room and started saying something. Reid quickly cut him off, “Because I would hate to think anyone under my command would be cowardly enough to attack a man when he's unable to defend himself at the moment.” He continued staring the man down until he finally started taking a step backwards then finally leaving and taking the group with him.

Bill visibly relaxed as the defending group started to breakaway as well. “Well that was almost our worst nightmare,” Ryo commented when he felt it was safe to do so.

“Wonder how gung ho most of them would have been once they found out Captain Hawk was in there,” Bill said with a slight smirk.

“All because they still think Ultraman just up and killed Jamira,” Reid said while shaking his head slightly. “No matter how many times I show them the footage and explain what was obviously happening. They just won't get it through their thick skulls.” He stopped and looked at her, “You want to stand down there Wade?”

“Jess,” Ryo went. She looked down as Bill removed her hand from the gun at her side. “They're gone now, you can relax.”

“Nobody saying they wouldn't deserve it if they did anything,” Bill added as he quickly backed away. “Like Ryo said they're gone now. Me and him got this.”

“And I'll make sure it doesn't get that far again,” Reid told them. Although he was still keeping an eye on her. Jess didn't really respond, she just kept glancing down the corridor that goon and his apparent friends went down. She did look at him when he said, “I wouldn't look the other way if it came down to that.”

“Understood,” she finally said. Taking her eyes off that one corridor she looked at Ryo, “So Captain Hawk is still in there?”

“He's still in there,” he answered. “He told Bill and me to let you in if you dropped by.” Let her in? That didn't make any sense. When did that start? Her wingman knew her well enough to see the confusion. “Ken has another visitor in there with him. He said you'd know who he was since he's not technically supposed to be in there.”

“Thank for the heads up Ryo,” she said as she walked past them. She knocked on the door before entering the room. Ken had been laid up ever since Ultraman was defeated, maybe even killed by Brooks. At least she wasn't alone in the strange feeling she always felt when she looked at Ken just lying in that bed doing nothing but breath in and out.Bill even commented that he never really got how long his hair actually was since it was hanging loose now. ”Captain,” she said in greeting as he looked at her with a nod. Being the only stranger in the room the “visitor” pretty much stuck out. He was some teenager so why did he seem familiar?

“Hello,” he said looking a bit unsure. “I don't suppose you saw Mr. Lunden stalking the halls out there? He wasn't all that happy that I arranged this behind his back

Lunden? Now she remembered this kid and why he was here. “Timothy, why are you here?”

Looking slightly embarrassed he answered, “I just wanted to see Ken after I heard what happened. See it for myself. Maybe try and,” he started to reach out a hand to touch his head. Then stopped and started to pull it away. “You know what happened to me right?”

With a nod she said, “You're a telepath. At least you were before Brooks kidnapped you and burned out your ability doing whatever it was he did. And you guided me to Ken's location while he was doing it.”

“Turns out burned out may have been more tempoaray than anyone thought.”

“You got your telepathy back?”, Jess said a little stunned at this particular bit of news.

“He asked to see if he could try and contact Ken while he was still under,” Hawk added. Timothy ended up putting that hand on Ken's forehead anyway.and looked like he was concentrating a little.

After a second he stopped whatever it was he was doing and told her, “It's not back, at least not fully. It comes and goes. I didn't even realize I could tune into people again until one of Lunden's lab boys put a hand on my shoulder and I got a look into his mind. I used to get a stronger signal with physical touch than just trying to, well just hear the other person's thoughts.”

“Have you,” Jess swallowed hard, not sure if she should even believe what Timothy was saying, “have you been able to contact him?”

“He's still in there,” Timothy told the two of them. Next to her Hawk visibly relaxed at that statement, she probably looked the same, she definitely felt a weight lift from her shoulders. “He's, I'm not sure how to explain this, he's in there but he's not fully connecting to everything in his head. Not just yet.”

“What do you mean 'not connecting'?”, Hawk asked, giving him time to figure out the best way to articulate his thoughts.

“It's like there's a door right in front of him in this room his mind put itself in,” he eventually said. “If he walks through that door then he should wake up. Ken hasn't figured out he should open it and walk through, not yet.”

“Can you wake...?”, Jess started to say then stopped herself. “I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked that. I don't even know why I thought it.”

Hawk put a hand on her shoulder. “I asked him the same thing when he made the request. And I felt just as bad as you do when I did.”

Still Timothy gave her a sad smile. “Like I told him, even before Brooks violated my head I don't think I could have. Even if I could I'm not sure if I should. This feels like something he has to do himself.”

“So what do we do in the meantime?”, Hawk asked him.

“Captain, you said you all have been talking to him?” both of them nodded as he kept going, “Keep doing that. Maybe he doesn't understand that he's doing it, but he's hearing and responding to your voices, especially yours,” he said to Jess. “Just keep talking to him, your voice is guiding him to that door.”

Against her better judgement Jess started feeling a bit of hope that she could cling on to. If somehow her, their voices can help Ken through that door then they will keep talking. Then something occurred to her, noticing what he wasn't saying. More specifically who he wasn't mentioning. “What about Daxium?” Timothy looked up at her and started shaking his head. Hawk looked like Timothy just punched him in the gut. Jess felt the same.

“I'm sorry,” he started to say.

“Don't be,” Jess told him. “It was Brooks who did this, not you.”

“She's right,” Hawk was able to say after a bit. “You're doing what you can. We're going to have to do the same. As much as I hate to admit it we were depending on Ultraman to deal with those giant creatures. Now we have to do it on our own. It's going to be tough but we'll figure out a way, we're going to have to.”

“What about that comotion we heard a few minutes ago?”, Timothy asked. Jess looked over at Hawk who confirmed that they heard something was going on in the hallway.

“I'll worry about that,” Hawk told him.

“Actually Captain that's why I was looking for you,” Jess spoke up. “If it was all right with you I think I can get Windam to guard Ken's door.”

He thought it over for a few moments, “Do you think it possible?”

“Well he listens to me,” she told him. “It shouldn't be that hard to tell him to stand guard. We just got to make sure we tell him who's allowed in here and who's not.”

“The only problem with that is the medical staff,” Hawk told her, fortunately keeping the whole “mama” thing out of the conversation. “With that footage getting leaked we don't know who wouldn't try to cash in on revealing the state of Ultraman after that bombshell got out.”

“”If only my power was at full strength,” Timothy said. “I could help weed the bastards out.”

“I wouldn't ask you to do that Timothy,” Hawk said. “Luden said you always had an issue reading the mind of somebody without their permission.”

“Ken wouldn't want you to do anything you'd feel bad about later,” she assured him. “We got this, so don't you worry.” Some things were so much easier to say than believe. But she knew she had to.

In a slightly quieter spot in Castle medical wing Bill walked into what would be called a waiting room in any other hospital carrying two cups of coffee. They were ordered to take a five minute break by Hawk after he exited Ken's room. Still their friend was still just down the hall in case they had to cut that five minutes short if they had to. He held back a bit as he saw Ryo on his phone, “Yeah I'm still okay.”, he was quiet for a moment obviously listening to the person on the other end. “No there's hasn't been a sighting yet. I'll call you again when I can. Love you too.” Putting the phone down Bill finally stepped forward and offered him one of the cups. “Thanks.”

“No problem,” Bill told him as he took a seat next to him,”but you're doing the next coffee run.” Ryo nodded in response a he silently drank his, then made a bit of a face as he looked at his cup but kept on drinking it. “Letting Tabitha know you're alright?”, he said gesturing to the phone still in his hand. He took a sip and made a similar face, “I think I grabbed the pot they use to sterilize their equipment with by mistake.”

“I told her I would, and my parents were calling me nearly non stop after news of Brooks attacks on some other UNDF bases was reported. I think just about everyone around here has gotten calls.”

“You're not kidding,” Bill added. “I had a couple of nuns from the orphanage call me. I'm not even sure how they got my number.” Ryo was looking at him funny at that comment. “No joke. I mean nobody else is going to call me. Everyone else who gives a damn about my well being is around here.”

“Most of the people who care about me is around here too,” Ryo reminded him.

Bill asked, “So you're saying we're a couple of sad sacks then? Because I agree with you.”

“No,” Ryo told him,” I'm saying you're a sad sack, I got a girl.”

“Hey,” Bill said right before he gave him a elbow to the ribs. Then both of them shared a laugh. It felt good to do so after everything that happened the past couple of days. That laughter stopped as they heard some metallic sounding foot steps come toward them. “What the hell?”, Bills asked as the both of them got up

“That's it Windam,” they heard Jess right before she and the robot passed the door, “right down this hall.”

Both of them raced to the door and looked out as the extremely odd couple continued down the hall. Bill was the one who spoke up, “I think we've been replaced by a machine my man.”

“Looks like,” Ryo said as he backed away.

Smirking a bit as he went back to his chair, “Wonder how that moron and his cronies, would have been so tough if Windam was guarding that door earlier.”

“I would have brought the popcorn,” Ryo told him.

“Guess that leaves me with bringing the beer,” Bill said with another smirk. He let out a sigh as he sat back down and leaned back in his chair. “Is it wrong I was thinking Ultraman was pretty much invincible? I mean yeah he took damage and lost energy when that thing on his chest started blinking but he always pulled through in the end. It didn't even occur to me that Brooks could have defeated him.”

“I'm guilty of the same thing,' Ryo informed him. “Hell I don't think anybody there outside of the Dungeon guys even considered it. Reality hit us hard, and left a bad taste in our mouth.”

“I was really hoping that was just this coffee,” Bill said. “Gotta be honest about something else, I really expected that Ken was going to be up and about by now, maybe be super pissed that everybody else found out he was Ultraman this whole time.” Ryo gave his shoulder a quick squeeze and looked as sad as Bill currently felt.

“Come on man,” Ryo said getting up, “I'm pretty sure those five minutes are up. Even with Windam there it wouldn't surprise me if those morons came back. And Reid's probably not going to show up again and stop it if it goes south.”

“Yo're right,” Bill said as he poured the remainder of his coffee into a nearby planter, halfway expecting it to start wilting any second. Following him out he added, “You were going to jump right in if it got physical weren't you?”

He called back, “Why should Jess have all the fun?


“We need to find a way to determine where Brooks is now and where he's going to show up next!” With only Patricia there as the only other person physically in the room Richardson sat there in the boardroom staring at all the video screens adorning the walls of the board's usual meeting room. A rarely used function of this particular room was that every screen was connected to a particular UNDF base all over the planet, a virtual board meeting as it were. The dark screens being the ones that were recently destroyed. The last time this particular function was used was right after Ultraman first showed up and the heads of those bases were demanding to know why he refused to do anything about him at the time. Much like then he sincerely wished those screens were equipped with a mute function. The person who was speaking kept going, “Any one of us could be next.”

“I'm aware of that,” Richardson said tearsly. “As I'm positive you're aware that sentence includes this location as well. We're doing what we can to keep an eye on the situation. All of you have the same information that we have. As of yet Brooks hasn't shown a pattern anyone or thing can predict. So unless one of you is withholding data that shows what any pattern he has is. If not then we're all in the same boat.”

“Unless you have another secret base,” another one butted in. Zeroing on that particular screen he wished his usual glare worked as well when the person was here in the flesh. Even more so since a few faces were nodding in agreement. His gut was telling him convincing the board about the value of secrecy around Dungeon was going to be easier than getting these people to agree with him. So he wasn't even going to try.

“I'm starting to see why Brooks was able to fool us for so long,” he said, getting the surprised reaction he was looking for.. “Funding for Dungeon had to come from where. The information was all out there in the open, nothing was hidden from anybody. Every financial meeting I keep expecting someone in this organization to point out this block of the overall budget that apparently wasn't going any where. You want to know if there's another secret base somewhere look for a money trail and find it. Now we have to figure out how to defeat Brooks.” Without any warning or preamble he ended the meeting before any of them could responde.

“Perhaps now wasn't the best time to go on the attack,” Patricia stated the moment after the screens went dark. “The entire organization is under attack now we need to be...”

“Not now!”, he snapped. “People need to remember who is in charge around here.”

“The one in charge needs to learn to listen to someone other than himself,” she shot back,

“Get out!” he demanded. She held her ground. Why was everybody so defiant lately?. “Remember who you work for.”

“I work for the UNDF,” she said calmly. “And the UNDF is more than just one person, Before I go I feel it's my place to inform you that I overheard some grumbling from some of the board about a meeting to discuss your place in the organization. If it survives Brooks that is.”

“They wouldn't dare,” he said, not looking at her. They would dare and he knew it. They were in the middle of a crisis, now was not the time for a change of leadership. And those idiots would do it any way because they're focusing on the wrong problem.

Finally heading toward the door she added, “And according to the unofficial grapevine once Hawk is sure Scott is out of the woods he will be seeking you out to discuss Scott's situation and treatment since he joined up. From what I gather it will not be pleasant.” She exited and closed the door behind her. Richardson sat there stewing in his own juices before finally picking up his fist and slamming it down on top of the table.

The garage were Ken used to work was quieter than usual. All were very aware that the dark version of Ultraman was attacking the UNDF seemingly at will. And the main base was just outside of town. Just about everyone stopped what they were doing every time there was any unusual sound. Everyone was so on edge that they looked for anything that would destract them from what was going on. And from the waiting. “Anybody hear anything about Ken yet?”, one of the mechanics who had been there almost since their former comrade had started working there.

Knowing all eyes were on looking at her Rose informed them, “There hasn't been anything new.” All the one there who worked with him stopped what they wewre doing for a moment. In fact it looked like a couple of them were praying. “Jess told me they have their very best looking after him, I'm sure he'll be fine.” The lunk head better be fine or there was going to be hell to pay.

“Anybody let Jeff know Ken was laid up?”, somebody asked. The answer here wasn't exactly forth coming from anyone. After they heard what he did to Janet most of them just cut him off completely. One of the couple of them who still kept in contact with him finally said something.

“I tried to tell him. He only said the ingrate had it coming then started talking about something else, He didn't even look concerned at all.”

“Yeah that's Jeff all right,” another spoke up. “And he wonders why hardly anybody ever visits him. How did Ken describe him that one time, if it didn't affect him personally he just didn't care?”

Rose hated to admit it but they were right. She had never seen any pair of siblings that were such polar opposites than those two. But as much as Jeff annoyed and bullied him Ken would have been concerned about Jeff if the situations were reversed. But this situation had to be weighing on their mother something fierce. Maybe she'd drop by after work for a few just to see how her and Janet were doing. And maybe find out if Janet had some different news about Ken that Jess was keeping her in the dark about.

Taking in a deep breath of the cold air as he walked the streets of Moscow Peter Brooks had a new bounce in his step. His father had always admired this city. He wasn't a “red” as some of his compatriots back then might have called him. No as the saying went he was American as mom and apple pie. No, what he admired about this city was it's buildings. He marveled at the design work that went into those domes that topped certain older buildings around the city. While Charles Brooks never held the same level of admiration his father had his enthusiasm over them was slightly infectious. So much so Peter Brooks had a small pang of regret over the idea of possible having to destroy them. Oh well, all fair in love and war as the saying goes.

Heading straight toward the Moscow UNDF base Brooks stopped at an intersection and waited for the light to change back. And he looked straight at the lens of the street camera. And he stood there for two full light changes, occasionally looking around for any sign of authority to show up.When the light signaled that it was his turn to walk again Brooks looked up with a sigh and gave a small wave at the camera before finally continuing his journey. That was the fifth survilance camera he'd come across and the fifth time there was no response whatsoever. “With this sort of response time,” he said to himself and looked arounf again, “maybe we should have started our invasion here. My so called masters would have had a foothold on this planet already.”

Brooks continued on foot toward the bases. Yes he could have flown the rest of the way but he felt like stretching his legs a bit. That and that part of his father that still inhabited his head wanted to see those buildings at street level. And while he eyed those buildings almost remembering the seer joy his father would get in his eyes just looking at pictures of them he was still very much aware of the fence blocking his path to the base. Brooks could have easily gotten around this obstacle, Flown over it, he definitely could have gone through it. Brooks even toyed with the idea of blasting his way underneath it. It would have been novel at least. But the one thing really got his attention was the lack of guards anywhere in sight. Holding his arms out at the side he looked in both directions and went “Really? If I was still part of the board I would be deeply distuirbed at the lack of security around here.”

“So this is the 'Wall',” he said as he looked at the building, trying to see if there was any sign of life, on the other side of the fence. “Well at least it's not in China like some of those idiots wanted to call that base. It's no Castle but it's still rather impressive. Now I wish the board did fly over and take that tour. Well I'll be seeing the inside soon enough after I crack it open.”

He felt a tug on his sleeve and somebody with some heavily accented English saying to him, “Excuse me.” Brooks turned around and say a couple, the male of the two holding a camera. Both of them jumped back a little while he stared at them. “Excuse me,” he repeated while holding out the camera. “Take picture please.” It took a second but Brooks started to realize this was a couple of tourists. And they wanted him to take their picture. Both of them relaxed a bit as he smirked and took the camera.

“Of course,” he told them. Both of them took a step back and embraced each other with wide grins. Getting them both in focus he said, “Now say 'we're going to die'.” He pressed the button that would have taken the picture. Brooks was assaulted by a huge jolt of electricity that dropped him to the ground. The couple started shouting in Russian as they drew a pair of sidearms and pointed it at him. In seconds the street was swarming with soldiers from the base and covered him. A couple of heavy assault vehicles rolled in and took position behind them.

Through a megaphone the person in charge said, “Peter Brooks, we have you surrounded consider yourself under aresst!” He ordered a few of them to go to him. With handcuffs in their hands they approached him.

A sound made them pause and look at each other. A sound that none of them were expecting. One that made them nervous. That sound was Peter Brooks laughing. They all pointed their weapons at him, a few screaming at him in Russian as he stood. “Oh that was clever,” he said as he tried to get the laughing to stop, “That was really rather clever. I did not see that coming. I mean I was wondering how those two knew I spoke English. But still I did not see it coming at all. Bravo on the acting job,” he said giving them a small ovation, “you had me fooled.”

“Peter Brooks,” again the one in charge bellowed, “put your hands behind your head and get on the ground or we will open fire.”

“You put a lot of thought and effort into this operation,” he said instead as he took a good look at the force confronting him, This would explain the lack of security or any sort of response he was looking at earlier. “I am truly honored at this effort. It's going to fail spectacularly but I am honored none the less.”

“This your last warning,” he was told. “Put your hands behind your head and get on the ground!”

“How about I do this instead?”he said right before he turned back toward the “couple” with his hands raised, crackling with the dark energy within him. He blasted both of them before any of them could react, leaving a pair of charred, smoking skeletons.

“Fire!” came the order. And those surrounding him did so without hesitation. They stopped when they realized the barrier that was now surrounding him stopped their assault. With a sneer he held his right hand over his head and he was engulfed with dark energy that quickly grew in size as once again he became the dark copy of the giant, the self titled Ultraman Avatar.

“Do you want me to get on the ground now?”, he asked as his voice echoed slightly The respoce was getting fired upon by the soldiers on the ground and the heavy assault vehicles. Even the Wall's defensive cannons open fired at him. He stood there and absorbed all of it. In fact he found it rather amusing in a sad sort of way. They had to have read the reports on what he could do and accomplish and yet here they were trying their hardest to attack. And they have to know on some level that it was useless.. Time to prove it to them. With a brief gesture he pointed at one of the assault vehicles and fired a beam at it. The vehicle and it occupants went up in a massive explosion. While the troopers ducked from it Brooks took a step forward, reaching down to pick up the other one. With little effort he hurled it into the Wall.

As he expected the cannons increased their rate of fire, Well those that were still functional, the impact from the assault vehicle obviously knocked out something. Walking toward the base he quickly turned around to the remaining soldiers still there firing at him and incinerated the lot with a quick massive beam. He turned his attention back toward the Wall. Taking out one of the remaining connons with another beam and continued forward. A hanger started to open, so nice of them to give him his next target. Anything that was about to launch out of there was quickly decimated along with whatever else was in there in another massive explosion.

“Now let's see,” Brooks said as he appeared to be studying the building, “their equivilent to Castle's control room should be right about,” picking a spot he punched into the face of the building, “here.” Extracting his fist he looked inside the hole he made. “Yes that was it,” then he lashed into the building again, he briefly wondered if he could take this facility down faster than he did Tower.

There was footage of Brooks destroying the Wall over in Moscow. Hawk wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not as he watched it via the holo table in the Monster Squad war room. Those poor bastards never stood a chance. Leaning against the table with his head hung low he made a promise to himself to make sure Brooks paid for every life he'd hurt or taken since this whole ordeal started.. If it was the last thing he did Hawk was going to find a way to make it happen.

Just standing there wasn't going to make it happen. At least he wasn't the only trying to accomplish this, at the moment, seemingly impossible feat. Dr. Williams and the other scientists around here were trying to quickly devise any sort of weapon that could stop Brooks, preferably before he turned into that perverted version of Ultraman he some how created. Although both he and Williams were surprised when the Chief informed them that Ken had been apparently working on something since that invasion. Unfortunately whatever it was he was working on involved alien technology. And the only one on base who could begin to understand any of it was currently in a coma. And no one, not Jess, not the chief knew where he was keeping his notes on this project.

“Why didn't you tell me you were working on something,” Hawk muttered as he pulled up the Ultraman file he had created ever since Daxium first showed up. Yes the idea was originally Brooks' to begin with, but as he told the others it was still a good idea to be prepared, just in case.

He looked up from his endeavor when the door opened up and Ryo came rushing in. Without any proding he said, “Bridge just got word of survivors from Tower.”

That was the first bit of good news he'd heard in the last two days, “Who?”

“Geenberg and a few others,” he said as he stepped forward. “I was in the control room when he finally got in contact with Emiko. I ran right over once he got the details of their escape.”

“How did they escape?”, Hawk asked. “Everything through official channels said there were no survivors.”

Going to the table Hawk watched as Ryo pulled up the plans for Tower. Pointing out something below ground level he went on, “There's an underground hanger that they store their non-military vehicles. Once facial recognition picked out Brooks Tower's security quickly got Greenberg and the others to that hanger almost immediatly. They launched the transport right before Brooks attacked. They're currently over the ocean and headed this way.”

“Good. I'll get someone on arranging quartes for them when they arrive,” Hawk said. Hopefully some of those survivors were scientists and technicians, we could use the help getting ready for when Brooks finally decided to show back up at their door step.

“Bridge is already taking care of that part,” Ryo informed him. When Hawk looked at him he added, “He said it'll free you up to concentrate on taking down the big problem.” He gestured toward the image of Brooks destroying the Wall.

“Good, So how much did Bridge actually relax?, he asked.

“I wouldn't have been surprised if he turned into a puddle right then and there,” he said with a slight smirk. Hawk started smiling as well, he was geniunely happy for Bridge for getting into contact with Emiko. Hopefully that wouldn't be the only reunion for the immediate future. Ryo looked a little closer to see what he was doing and nodded, “Trying to see if any strategies you came up with will work on Brooks?”

“In theory,” he replied. “There's been strategies to take down Ultraman all over the organization. I've been in conference calls with other commanders across the globe, pulling together what we know. And we have the same problem I had with Daxium, we don't know the limits of his capabilities. With Daxium there were a couple of things, that light blinking on his chest when he got low on power. Having to draw in extra energy to do his more powerful attacks. With the latter we at least had an opening to attack and with the crystal at least a indication that we could hold out a little longer. With Brooks we have none of that.”

“So he's apparently as invincible as we thought Ultraman was,” Ryo commented. “I know I thought Ken and Daxium were unbeatable.”

“Nothing unbeatable,” he told him, “Ultraman wasn't and I'm betting everything that Brooks isn't either. We just have to figure it out, one way or another.”

“I wish I was that confident,” Ryo said.

“Nobody in charge ever starts out that confident, trust me you'll grow into it, before you know it,” Hawk assured him. “I should know, I did.”

“This is a horrorble idea.” Two individules walked down the halls of the medical wing trying hard to not draw any attention to themselves. Not an easy task considering how the one who spoke was obviously the most nervous of the two. In hushed tones he went on, “I heard they got that robot guarding the room now.”

“So?”, demanded the other one who was also keeping his voice as quiet as possible. Both of them stopped and acted like they were looking at something on a chart they carried as a couple of medics, who were deep in conversation, walked by.. Once they went around the corner the one in charge pulled on the other's uniform jacket to get him moving. “It's just one robot, we just gotta disrupt it's sensors long enough to get inside and snap a picture. Then we're out of there before anyone knows what happened.”

“You got no problem violating the privacy of one of our own?”, the other demanded. “I'm no fan of Ultraman either but Scott is technically one of us.”

“There isn't going to be an “us' at the rate Brooks is going,” the other told him. “Scott the only one around her who could have stopped him. And looked what happened when they fought. Scott's down for the count and Brooks is going through the UNDF like a we're nothing. And we're pretty much are compared to him.”

“But this feels wrong,” the other argued.

“You were the one who released the footage to the press to begin with,” came the counter.

“Yeah but I left out the part that showed Ultraman was human,” he shot back. “I thought he deserved that much at least. Besides how are you going to prove Scott was Ultraman anyway?”

“You think you're the only one who got a copy of the fight footage?” The other man looked horrified at the thought. “You shouldn't have bragged about how much the network was paying you for it.”

“I wasn't bragging,” he started to protest.

“Not the point, if you didn't want Ulktraman identity revealed you should have kept quiet about the pay day. You're just lucky nobody overheard you, not everyone would be smart enough to profit off the idea. No they would have gone straight to Hawk and Reid,” he let him think about that for a moment. “Look we both agreed that we're going to split before Brooks shows up. Might as well have a little extra cushion to live in while the ****'s going down.”

“It still feels wrong.” But he was still following the other one despite his moral objection. They approached the intersection that lead to Scott's room. The one had them slow to a halt as he checked the camera he was hiding in his jacket. “Oh god we're actually doing this,” he said trying not to panic as he fumbled with some sort of device the other swore would interrupt the robot's sensors and not affect anything else in the medical wing.

“Quiet,” the other one snapped through his teeth before he took a peek around the corner. “Looks like it's our lucky day.” The other one looked around the corner as well, the hallway was empty. “Mr. Roboto deserted his post.”

“But that doesn't make any sense.”

“Who cares this is our chance, come on.” Before either could take a step there was the sound of a door opening and mechanical whirring that made them look behind them. In a second Windam reached out and grabbed both of them by the collar and drew them closer. They struggled in vain to get away. They stopped when Ryo, Bill and Jess walked around into view.

“Good boy Windam,” Jess told the robot. Behind the two the robot seemed to stand a little straighter at the praise.

“You guys did know,” Bill said as he crossed his arms, “that the medical staff all have headsets? “

“And they told us,” Ryo added in, “as soon as they spotted the two of you. We guess your path just based on where they saw you.” Ryo did a quick search and found the camera and the device.

Bill took the device and looked it over. “What are the odds, ”he started to ask while handing it over to Ryo, “that they weren't going to use this do dad on Windam? Hey Jess how angry do you think Ken would be after he found out?”

“I say royally pissed would just about cover it,” she answered. “That sound about right to you Ryo?

“Yeah that would cover it,” he said as a couple of guards came out of another room after Bill knocked on the door and took control of the two from Windam. “So who do you think we should deliver them to Hawk or Reid?”

“Don't think it matters,” Bill answered. “Both want to ream the party responsible for the leak pretty bad the last I heard.” The one with the misgiving swallowed pretty hard.

“I'd say Reid,” Jess said suddenly. “According to Bridge Hawk looked like he wanted to murder somebody once he found out about the leak.”

“So Reid it is,” Bill said. Taking the camera and device from Ryo he told them, “I'll escort these two and hand over the evidence. Come on guys.” With little effort the guards made the two follow Bill down the hall.

“I better let Hawk know we've caught a couple of suspects trying to get into Ken's room,” Ryo said.

“”Giving him a chance to join in?”, Jess asked.

“Making sure we don't get any backlash for not sending them to him after he finds out,” he replied.

“Smart,” Jess admitted. “Come on Windam, let's get you back in front of Ken's room. I don't think those two are the only ones.” Windam nodded and followed her towards Ken's room.


Standing next to Ken's bed Jess looked down at him. Everything about him looked normal, his appearance, his breathing, it just looked like he was sleeping. He just wouldn't wake up. Getting some of the stray hairs out of his face Jess tried not to think about all the times Ultraman took a major hit or damage during any of his battles. How often he tried to hide the hurt and pain he suffered because of it. She stroked his cheek with the back of her hand, feeling the slight stubble that had grown over the past couple of days. “I'm not sure how you'd look with a beard. Well I got used to the hair I can get used to that if you decided to grow it out,” she told him. Timothy said that all of them talking to him was leading him to that door. “Still might see if I can get a razor in here and give you a shave before you notice it though,” she said with a slight chuckle.

“Janet called me yesterday,” pulling up a chair she sat next to him. Taking his hand in hers she went on, “I don't know if any of the others told you or not but word about you being Ultraman got around pretty fast. Even she heard it before Hawk ordered all the civilian workers around here off base before Brooks decided to attack.” Oh how she wanted him to show any sort of reaction at that news. But there was nothing as the more rational part of her mind knew this would be the result. “No surprise there right? Everybody around here just loves to gossip. But she wanted to know how Nicole found out.”

She sighed a bit before going on, “I didn't know what to do so I told her what you told me, that Nicole saw you change at her birthday party. Just to warn you she did not seem that happy about it.” She started smiling as something came to her, “Nicole drew you that picture showing you becoming Ultraman. You played it off as being the coolest guy she knew. I don't think Janet would have bought it. She said she hasn't told your mom about it. That's probably a good thing because I can just see her barging right in demanding answers.” He still kept slowly breathing in and out and all she could do was just imagine his reaction to that.

“Well I did tell myself I was going to try something new instead of just telling you what was going on.” Pulling out her phone she pulled up a popular video streaming app. “Timothy said you were reacting to our voices, maybe some music will help too.” Smirking a bit as she typed a name into the search bar she told him, “I still don't understand what you see in Metalcore with the whole growler thing. And how you found a Swedish band I'll never know,” she shook her head. “But you enjoy it so I guess I can't complain too much,” she found the song she was looking for, “And this song isn't too bad, and it fit us in a way.” She put her phone on the nightstand beside his bed

“Hawk to Wade,” came out of her communicator.

She hit it more out of habit than anything, “Wade here, what is it Captain?”

“Can you meet me in the others on this floor's break room?”, he asked. “We just got word about another attack by Brooks.

“Damn it,” she muttered. “I'll be right there. Wade out.” She hit it again to close the link. “I wish he would just go away.” And that wish wasn't going to just happen and she knew it. Getting up she put the chair back where it was then leaned over Ken. “I'll be back as soon as this is over.” Kissing him on the forehead she stated there long enough to whisper, “Ken walk through that door already.” Finally turning away she pressed the play button on the screen and exited the room with the song playing in the background.

After the door closed she missed Ken's eyes popping open.

The past couple of hours had them going over the details of the latest attack by Brooks, Austraila this time. Hawk watched all of them as they looked over the information on the tablets before them and discussed the events, adding this new information to the overall strategy they were trying to come up with. And there were a few good ideas that they had come up with, ones worth pursuing with Reid and the other commanders, those who were left that is. And even though this room was technically the medical staff lounge they were letting them use it as temporary war room and both sides tried to stay out of the other's way as much as possible.

Of course every so often one of them would look away from the tablet screen and look in a general direction, Ken's room. Hawk couldn't really say anything since he'd been doing it himself, even looking at the door when one of the medics rushed by just seeing which direction they were going. He wanted some sort of update as much as the rest of them but right now he had to priortitize. And right now Brooks took top priority. “I know it's rough,” he told them, “but we need to concentrate. Brooks has been keeping a couple of hours between his attacks. We can't expect that to keep being the case, and with the speed he's apparently traveling I'm surprised he's taking this long.”

“It might mean he has to rest,” Ryo offered. “Even Daxium took at least a day to fully recharge his energy.”

“So he's blinking without actually blinking,” Bill spoke up taping a spot on his chest. Ryo nodded that they were thinking along the same lines.

“So he does have a limit,” Jess muttered as she studied the screen in front of her. “But that's flying half way across the world in a couple of hours. If we're going to out last him in a battle how hard are we going to have to push him?”

Ryo looked like he was thinking it over, and not exactly liking the conclusion he was coming to, “If we get him to that point there might not be much of us left to go on the offensive.”

“I was afraid somebody was going to say that,” Bill said while making a face. “Not like I planned on living forever.”

“Speak for yourself,” Ryo shot back. A slightly nervous laughter filled the room for all too brief a moment. Hawk joined in, they all needed something to relieve the tension that was filling the room. No matter how brief it was.

Then the pad in his hand started to beep and that tension ramped right back up again. Without any hesitation he pressed the message indicator and read it, Brooks had struck again, “It's what you think it is.”

“He struck again in Antarctica,” Jess said reading it out loud. Then she went back to the previous screen and added the location to the map. So did the rest of them, and there still wasn't a pattern, at least one that he was picking up.

Bill looked up, confused, “We had a base in Antarctica?”

“It's mainly a scientific station,” Hawk told him, he wasn't surprised none of them seemed to know about. Hawk tended to forget it existed most of the time. “The first of a few we created to appease certain parties that was worried that we would just be a military force. This one houses a maximum of twenty personnel at any given time. It literally has little to no value what so ever.”

“No offence Captain,” Bill said, “but are you sure about that?”

Ryo added, “It could be another Dungeon for all we know, just hiding in plain sight.”

“Admittedly it's a small possibility,” Hawk agreed with them. It would be the perfect location for another weapons facility. It was so remote some one would have to go actively looking for it in order to find it. “But now is not the time to start looking for more places like Dungeon.”

“Hawk is right,” Jess said. .”we need to figure out where he's going to strike next.”

“Exactly,” Hawk told them. “The moment we can figure that out is the moment we can start working on better strategies to deal with him.”

Still studying the locations he attacked and when Jess ended up saying, “That might be harder than expected. If anything it looks like he's going to any base that crosses his mind at the time.”

“Don't make it sound impossible or anything,” Bill told her.

“I didn't think it was going to be easy,” Hawk told them.

“Captain Hawk,” one of the medics said as he stormed into the room. All of them looked at him, wondering what was going on. Then he remembered this was the one taking care of Ken and wasn't sure what to think.

“What is it?”

“It's that blasted machine you left in front of my patient's door. It won't let anybody into the room.”

Ryo looked at her, “Jess?”

“I didn't tell him to do that,” she told him as they all got up from the table and nearly knocked the medic down as they headed for Ken's room. It wasn't long before they saw a team of medical personnel trying to get Windam away from the door with little success. “Windam,” she called out, “step aside.”

Windam started to, then Hawk watched as it looked at the door and stayed where it was. It almost looked like it was undecided on what to do. Pushing past the medics Jess repeated, “Step aside.” With one more look at the door it moved. “Windam what's going on with you?”, she asked as the medic who brought this to their attention moved past her into the room.

“He's gone!” the medic said as he came back out a second later.

Pushing him to get his attention Ryo demanded, “What do you mean he's gone?” Hawk, Bill and Jess didn't wait for a response as they barged into the room only to find it empty. Ryo quickly joined them and took in the sight for himself, “How in the hell? Where did he go?”

“Windan,” Jess called out to the robot. When he appeared in the doorway she went up to him. “Windam tell me the truth, did Ken tell you to keep people out of the room.?” To everyone's surprise but hers Windam nodded once. Lowering her head a bit she muttered, “Okay he's apparently fine so that means I can kill him now for this stunt.”

“Why would he do that?”, Bill asked.

“Get security,” one of the medics called out. “Scott has to be somewhere on base.”

“Bridge to Hawk,” okay now was not the time for another Brooks update, “we just got a report of somebody stealing one of the spare Alpha Three motorcycles from the garage a few moments ago. The culprit's already left base. I'm looking for security footage but the electrical system went down for about ten minutes around the same time.”

“Ken?”, Ryo asked. Hawk didn't say anything, but it seemed to point toward him. Now what was he thinking? “This doesn't make any sense. Why break out of Castle and steal a motorcycle?”

“I think we got something here,” Bill announced as he pointed at something on the floor by the closet. There was some sort of crumbled stone mess. Kneeling down Jess took a better look at it. Taking a pen from the medic she carefully looked through it. A few more bits broke apart any way but she looked like she found what she was looking for. Joining her Hawk soon saw what she was seeing, part of it looked like the Spark Magnifier, the device he used to release Daxium.

Looking at him she said, “I think I know where he's going.”

It felt wrong sneaking out of Castle like that but they wouldn't take him there to see for himself, not yet. He was vaguely aware that people were talking about Brooks and they were more worried about him. On some level Ken knew he should be too. While he drove the motorcycle to that location his mind was only half on the road in front of him. The other half was on the pain in his chest. His mind wandered back to when he first woke up.

The first thing he realized when his eyes opened was that he was getting sick of seeing the medical wing. After the invasion when he woke up then it took a couple of seconds to remember why he was there. This time that pain he was feeling was a harsh reminder of what happened, Brooks had beaten them. And badly. How long was he out this time? Last time it was only a couple of hours, but as stiff as he was currently feeling he was thinking it was longer than that. Carefully sitting up he grunted and grabbed his chest, “Dax, you okay buddy?” To his surprise there wasn't an answer. “Dax?” he went and again there wasn't an answer. “Don't do this to me man,” closing his eyes he looked inside his mind for that alien spot that indicated that he was there. Clenching the sheet he realized that the spot wasn't there any more. “No,” he whispered as his eyes started to get watery.

No, this couldn't be what he was thinking, it just couldn't. Spotting the closet he made his way over on unsteady legs. Swinging the door open he started searching his uniform jacket. The Spark Magnifier, if it was still there then Dax was fine. He told himself that over and over until he found the interior pocket he kept it in. It made no sense what so ever but it was a hope he was clinging to. Reaching in he felt a wave of relief fall over him as he felt it in his hand. Then he pulled it out, it looked more like stone now then the usual metallic sheen it had before. What did that mean? He gripped it in his hand and felt it start to crumble in his grasp. Before he knew it the remains fell to the floor. He started breathing hard as he used the wall in front of him to keep from falling.

The spot where they battled Brooks, he had to get there. He didn't know why but he knew he just had to get there. Grabbing his clothes he started getting dressed.

Not sure how long he was riding he came to the spot, now pretty much barren outside of what remained of the Icarus. Letting the motorcycle fall as he got off he started walking forward. “Dax!”, he called out, listening for any type of reaction and still getting nothing. Feeling a little more panicked than a few moments ago he called out, “Dax!” Wandering around the area with his hair whipping around his face from the wind he kept calling out, “Daxium! Come on Dax where are you?! Answer me! This isn't funny.” Without realizing it he stopped in the same spot Daxium had his last moments. An overwhelming sadness over took him, a truth he couldn't ignore anymore. One more time he yelled out, “Dax!” Finally he dropped to his knees, “You can't be gone.” His voice cracked as he lowered his head and the tears started coming, “You can't be dead.”

On the wind he thought he heard a slight whisper, almost inaudible, “Ken.”

He looked up trying to see through the tears, “Dax?” It was almost too good to be true.

It was. “Ken!” this time he recognized the voice as Bill's and looked over to see him, Ryo, Jess and Hawk run toward him. Jess reached him first and immediately wrapped her arms around his neck as she got on her knees next to him and just held.

Ryo asked as they caught up and stood around them, “Are you all right?” He slowly shook his head. “Ken I'm sorry...”

“He's gone,” was all he managed to say as he stared out into space again.

“We know,” she said in his ear. “We're here for you.” He heard those same exact words from several people when his father died. Like then he wasn't sure how any one could help with how hollow he was feeling.

“Come on son,” Hawk said as he and Jess helped him to his feet. “Let's get you back to Castle. There's nothing you can do for him now.”

“Civilian,” Bill started talking as he finally let himself be pulled away and toward the Scan Track they took to follow him, “You gave the docs in medical a fit disappearing like that..”

“Bill,” Hawk said, “take the Alpha Three back to Castle, we got him.”

“Yes sir,” he replied. Then he reached and put a hand on Ken's shoulder. “We'll help you through this man, we got your back.”

“He's not lying there,” Ryo added. When they reached the Scan Track he stopped and looked back at the area. Then the rest of them did as well, taking a moment of silence to say farewell to their fallen ally. With another sob Ken entered the Scan Track.

Back in the medical wing Ken sat in the same staff lounge the others were using earlier, Jess and Ryo were in the seats next to him trying to get him to open up. Hawk stood close by keeping an eye on them and another on the tablerts still on the table. Out in the hallway they all heard Reid giving it to those who were on security at the time, “Could one of you please tell me how a man who'd been in a coma for the past two days snuck out of this complex with a God damned motorcycle!” There was no immediate answer but just about all of them could imagine the looks on the faces of those on the recieving end. All but Ken who was stuck in his own world at the moment as he leaned foreward with his head hung low.

Carrying a try with plastic cups of coffee Bill came in. Taking a quick look back out the door he hurried into the room. “Glad I'm not them,” he said as he put the tray down on the table and started passing the cups out. “Made sure I poured from the right pot this time around.”

“Much better,” Ryo commented as he took a sip. Bill offered Ken a cup, he just kept looking at the floor. His hair hung over his face, they knew Daxium's death was hitting him hard and they all wished they could do anything to help. “Ken we're right here if you need anything,” Ryo told him.

“Yeah Civilian,” Bill told him as he pulled up a chair and joined them, “even if you just want to unload and get it all off your chest.”

Jess was as surprised as any of them as he spoke, his voice barely above a whisper, “It just hurts so much.”

“I know Ken,” Jess said as she started to rub his shoulder. “It hit us all pretty hard, not as much as it's hitting you but you'll get through this.”

“She's right son,” Hawk joined them. “I'm still not sure how you and Daxium actually worked, but it's obvious to anyone that the two of you had a link nobody could imagine.” Putting a hand on his other shoulder he went, “Take some time to process this, but I'm afraid I can't let you have as much time as you're probably going to need. Brooks is still out there and we're going to need any idea we can get if we have any chance at survival.”

“Ken!”, the four of them looked at the door. Timothy was standing in the doorway with an annoyed looking Lunden right behind him. Not being familiar with the history the kid had with Ken Ryo and Bill just looked at each other. In contrast Jess gave him a small nod in greeting.

“I'm apologize for barging in like this but Timothy insisted,” Lunden explained as the youth came into the room without being invited.

“It's all right,” Hawk assured him as he got out of Timothy's way. “With both of you still in the building I was expecting him sooner actually.”

“Ken?”, he asked as he got close enough, “How are you?”

“Been better,” was the short reply as he kept his head down. Jess was down right stunned that Timothy was getting any type of response out of him. Especially since they've been here the whole time and barely gotten anything out of him.

“I can see that,” Timothy said as he took a step closer. “I know about Daxium, I'm sorry.” He put a hand on Ken's shoulder then got a shocked look on his face as he quickly pulled it away. Jess and Hawk shared a quick glance, they both knew he had some version of his telepathy back, so what did he get off of him to cause that reaction? “I... I better go. I'll see you later Ken.” He waited for a reply. But Ken just sat there. Looking up at Hawk said, “Good-bye sir.” Giving Jess a quick nod he turned around and headed out of the room.

“So that's the man who told not to get that upset over losing you abilities,” Lunden commented once they were a ways down the hallway, and well out of earshot of Hawk's group . “I don't want to sound cailous but look at him now. If the rumors are true then he was Ultraman and he can't do that anymore and now look at the state he's in.”

“That's not why he's acting like that,” Timothy told him as he started to hang back a little. “He's mourning his friend,” stopping he looked back down the hall, “and that's making him relive his father's death all over again.” Lunden stiffened a little knowing he really stuck his foot in his mouth there but kept walking with Timothy right behind him.

Hawk ran the halls heading for the hanger level of Castle,the Tower survivors were almost here. It wasn't as if he didn't believe Bridge and Ryo but he had to see this for himself. When he entered the hanger the door was already open and the runway extended to receive the incoming craft. A quick glance around let him spot Bridge among those waiting for the craft. Before anyone noticed him another called out, “Here it comes!” All of them watched as the craft came in for a landing. It did so without a hitch and support crews were already rushing toward it before it came to a stop.

The side hatch opened and a short staircase lowered as Hawk walked up to the opening. The first person he saw come out was one of the troopers stationed there, He looked around real quick, paying particularly close attention to the closing hanger door. Once it did he finally step out and holstered his side arm. After what they've been through Hawk couldn't blame the man for being overly cautious. He was fairly certain his name was Boris. “Do you have any wounded?”

“Some,” he said right after he saluted him.

Looking back he waved men forward, “We got wounded, get them off the plane first.” None of them needed to be told as they were already heading for the craft. Boris got out of there way and let them pass. “How bad was it?

“Bad,” was the answer he was expecting but really didn't want to hear. “We lost contact with Tower before we even hit the ocean. I ordered the pilot to maintain radio silence until I was sure we weren't being followed.”

“Smart idea,” Hawk said. “We still have no idea of what Brooks can do at the moment. And his mind set seems to be our complete and total destruction.” He looked as the last of the wounded was helped or carried off the plane. Then the non wounded personel started to walk off, Greenberg in the lead.

“Captain,” he said in tired greeting. “Thank you for being a friendly port in a storm.

“Emiko!”, Bridge suddenly called out. Both of them looked around to see him run toward the craft.

“Nathan!” she ran toward him and they quickly embraced each other. Another happy reunion in these dark times. He would never presume to speak for any one else, but he would take as many of those moments as he could get.

“Ufortunately I'm not sure how long we'll be a friendly port,” Hawk said as he looked around at the people who came off the plane and the condition they were in, “Sam, Jake, see if we can arrange some kind of refreshments in the quarters for our guest. They look like they could use a place to get some rest after the medics check them out.”

After they acknowledged the command they hurried off. “That is very much appreciated Captain,” Greenberg told him. “That craft is not as comfortable as it looks.” He caught Hawk looking over his shoulder at the craft. “I'm afraid what you see is what's left of the staff at Tower as far as I'm aware.”

Hawk felt for him, “I'm sorry.” Both of them headed for the door. “I hate to ask under such circumstances, but who were you able to get out with?”

“Unfortuneatly not as many as I would have liked, the bigger transports were above ground and Brooks targeted them first” he answered with a sigh. “Boris, and a couple of guards and what scientists they could get in their grasp. Naturally we'll be willing to help out against Brooks. We've been brainstorming ideas the entire way. Well it was either that or just breakdown and cry over the situation.”

“Any help would be greatly appreciated,” Hawk said. “We've been brainstorming as well, and nobody around here is going to say no to any fresh ideas.”

“Well we did come up with something, using the device Ken created to detect Brooks. We were studying his plans you supplied us after my last visit before he attacked.”

“Do you think it's possible?”, Hawk asked, another bit to potentially hold on too, maybe. If, no, it had to work and have a decent range first.

“I think so,” he said. “I know Ken created it to detect the device the invaders were using. But if we had a read out of Brooks' energy signature than it should be possible.”

“We have that signature,” Hawk informed him. “Our sensors recorded it when he revealed himself.”

“Good, good,” Greenberg said. “I know we need the rest but I would really like to get started on that as soon as possible. The faster we can get that done the faster we can transmit the plans to any surviving UNDF base. Hopefully they can get a few more survivors out than we did if anything.” He looked hesitant to ask the question Hawk could see forming in his face. “Ken, has there been any change?”

Hawk smiled despite himself, “He woke up a couple of hours ago,”

“Oh thank God,” Greenberg said, obviously extremely relieved at the news. “When I heard he was in a coma, I didn't know what to think. I realize the ground troops need to be on the front lines but against something like Brooks.”

Apparently word hadn't reached him that Ken was Ultraman just yet. That was going to change the longer he stayed here. “It was just a situation of him being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Well it was close to the truth. And that made him think of all the excuses he heard from Ken about some of the injuries he received since he joined up, and they all boiled down to wrong place, wrong time. “I'm giving him an oppertunity to recover, but I'm not sure for how long.” Nobody was sure how long they had was a sad fact that neither of them w anted to say out loud.

When they were dating the first time in High school Ken's mother told her how he reacted after he found out his father had died. How he was know reminded her of that conversation, so much that she wouldn't hve been surprised this was how he looked right afterwards. He and Daxium were as close as she had ever seen two individuals, having him inside his head like that had that effect. So when that internal damn finally broke and he let it out and she was right there at his side. Gently she rubbed his back as the tears just fell, the last time she'd seen him like this was back when he was affected by that “happy flower” shortly after he first joined. “Hey buddy it's going to be okay,” Ryo said, helping to comfort him. “Just let it out.”

“Listen,” Bill said, “we are going to kick Brooks' ass for this, no matter what size he is. Just you wait.”

When it finally looked like the crying was under control Jess stood up, “Come on Ken, the doctor said you can go back to your quarters. I'll take you there.” He stood and let her walk him out the door. “I'll keep an eye on him after we get there,” she told the two of them. Outside of the occasional sob Ken was fairly quiet as they made their way to his room. A few people spotted the two of them, All it took was getting a good look at him or a stare from her to get them to leave him alone for the moment. Even one of the idiots from that mob outside his door seemed to understand that now was not the time to start anything.

Finally they got to his door. They stood in front of it for a moment. “Do you want me to go in with you?”, she asked him. He nodded in response. “All right,” she pressed the button to open the door and let him walk in first. Closing and locking the door behind her she just looked at him as he just stood there in the middle of the room. Eventually he started to shrug off his uniform jacket and let it drop on the floor.

“I'm only doing this because you're distraught,” Jess told him while she reached down to pick it up, “so don't even think I'm going to keep doing this.” She was trying to get some sort of reaction out of him, anything. But he just shuffled toward his bed and sat down and just sat there as she hung his jacket up. “I'll be here as long as you need me to,” she assured him as she sat next to him.

“I never knew were he was in here,” he said suddenly while he gestured toward his head, “not exactly. I just knew he was there, I could sense him if I just looked, Now there's nothing and … I just feel so empty.” Ken's eyes start watering up again. “I don't know what to do.”

“Right now you don't have to do anything,” she told him.

“I have to... we had to stop Brooks. It wasn't even supposed to be me to begin with. He saw me try and help some kids during that first giant monster attack. That's why he choose me. Not because I was the bravest or the best, just because I was trying to help some kids. He didn't even know if I'd agree to bond with him in the first place. He told me what was going on and took a chance that I'd agree. There were so many battles, so many times we were hurt, so many times I doubted if dealing with all the bullshit around here was worth it. We had to stop Brooks. When we had the opportunity....Dax is gone.” Burying his face into his hands he sobbed a little more. “He's gone. We had to stop Brooks and we couldn't do it.”

“Ken it's okay,”

“It's not okay.”

“Not right now, but believe one day it'll be okay.” She really didn't want to say this next part but felt that he needed to hear it. “You know this better than anybody, you went through something like this when you lost your dad.” He stiffened slightly, all right that was probably the wrong time to bring that point up, so maybe he didn't need to hera that right now. “I know you just woke up and all, but why don't you try and get some sleep, things will be clearer then. I'll see you in the morning.” She started to get up but Ken lashed out and grabbed her wrist.

“Don't go, please,” he said without looking up, “I can't be alone tonight. I can't.”

“You want me to stay? All night?”, she asked.. When he nodded again she wasn't sure what to do for a moment. Yes she told the others that she'd watch him but that wasn't exactly what she had in mind. After a bit she finally told him, “All right, just for tonight though.” She dropped back down next to him and glanced at the bed. They were the same standard size in every room in the base. Before their drunken one night stand months ago she often wondered how two people could sleep in one of them. well they figured it out once, along with some of the more physically active couples, to be diplomatic, they just had to do it sober.Then she looked down at her uniform, she was proud as hell to wear it but not exactly what you would call ideal sleep wear. “Since I'm sleeping here tonight can I borrow one of your shirts?”

Once again he nodded but added a, “Yeah.”

“Okay then,” she said and walked back over to the closet, she spotted a few button down shirts in there when she hung up his jacket. Turned out that were mostly dress shirts but she did find a couple of more casual one that looked comfortable and long enough to cover her up, actually she was fairly sure she'd seen him sportting at least a couple of them under his uniform jacket. Picking out a light blu one she turned back to Ken, “Why don't you get dressed for bed too.”

“All right.” She waited until he finally got off the bed before heading into the bathroom to change. Getting out of her uniform she put the shirt on over her under garments and quickly washed her face before buttoning the shirt up.

Catching herself in the mirror she started smirking, sleeping in the same bed as Ken while wearing one of his shirts, guess this particular relationship was pretty much official then. Calling out she said, “You've really have gotten smoother since high school. You only been awake for a couple of hours and you already talked me into sharing a bed with you.” Mainly saying it to lighten his mood she walked back into the main room. If it wasn't for the fact that she'd seen him get up and, and he changed his clothes, it didn't look like he moved at all. “Come on Ken, let's get some sleep.” He laid down, she quickly got between him and the wall so she wouldn't have to climb over him.Although Jess did reach over him to hit the control to turn off the light. With his back to her Jess waited, just listening to his breath. It wasn't long until it slowed down enough to signal that he fell asleep. Wrapping a arm around him in a protective way she whispered into his ear, “You're not alone in this Ken, don't you start thinking that you are. I love you,” Giving him a quick kiss on the cheek she laid her head down and drifted off herself.


Standing in front of a particular door that had a re-enforced lock applied to it that had a “Athorized Personnel Only” label on it Hawk looked around and didn't see any one else in this particular hallway. Hitting his communicator he said, “Hawk to Control Room.”

Bridge answered with his prompt as usual reply was, “What do you need Captain?”

“Outside of wondering why you're still up, I'm at the door leading to what's left of the roof, has Richardson already gone through?”

“From my understanding Captain, a lot of people has been losing sleep the past couple of days.” With everything going on, such as waiting for Brooks to finally decide to show up, he wasn't all that surprised by that particular statement. “As for Richardson, looks like he used his override on the door lock a few minutes ago.”

Nodding he went, “I see, do me a favor and unlock the door for me will you?”

“Consider it done,” the lock attached to the door went green and Hawk quickly opened it. “If, for whatever reason, things go south, do you want me to lose the evidence?”

Smiling he walked through he told him, “I appreciate the offer Bridge but I don't think that it'll be necessary. I'll let you know when I'm ready to leave. Hawk out.” Closing the door behind him he looked around. Surrounded by what was left of the upper level. It was still under reconstruction since it was obliterated by that monster that showed at the tail end of that invasion. Seeing nothing but barricades and bare steel beams he walked deeper in. Keeping one eye on the floor, not all of it had been fully repaired yet, he kept the other looking out for Richardson.

Spotting him looking out a hole that used to be a wall Richardson said, “Good of you to come Captain.”

“Not a problem sir,” he said as he glanced around the area, something some would call a sixth sense, one honed over many battles, was telling him something was wrong. That danger was near. Bridge would have warned him if anyone else was up here. So what wasn't he seeing? Or was the paranoia about Brooks finally getting to him? “Although I am surprised you wanted to have a talk up here.”

“There's less of a chance that we would be overheard by unwanted ears,” he said while turning toward him. “As to why were both here, word has it, that after Scott came out of his coma that you wanted to have words with me.”

Rubbing his chin slightly as he watched Richardson closely he said, “That's one way of putting it.”

“Then I suppose Scott has told you certain details of why he's part of the UNDF.”

“He told me everything,' Hawk practically snarled, catching Richardson by surprise by the sudden tone shift from him. He couldn't help it, Brooks was still in the forefront of his mind but ever since Ken told him the truth it had just been festering, just underneath the calm demeanor he put up everytime he was around this man. “Have him declared a biohazard?”

“I did what needed to be done,” Richardfson said calmly, so calmy Hawk almost snapped that they had the video, but now was not the time to reveal that particullar fact. That ace was going to be needed eventually, and now was not the time to reveal it. “Ultraman was to be an intrigal part of our overall strategy in pushing back those giant creatures. Scott refused, or was too ignorant, to understand that. He fell in line nicely after that.”

“While making him miserable in the process,” Hawk snapped at him. “You have no idea about who he is do you? Ken hasn't worked as hard as he has the entire time because of that threat. He has worked as hard as any one I've ever seen to become part of this. He literally put the weight of the world on his shoulders, and did everything he could to defend this world and didn't come out unscathed. And he didn't complain once while he hid it.”

“He was taken care of,” Richardson said as he turned away. “his wounds were tended to.”

“Having Williams poke at those wounds does not equal 'tended to'. The man isn't even a medical doctor!”, Hawk yelled.

“Dr. Williams was part of a necssarily small circle that knew what was really going on. Adding more people to that circle would have complicated things more than they needed to be. I realize you're upset about being kept in the dark about these things Captain but as I said it was necessary. Scott got the same treatment I would have given anyone who joined with the giant.”

“Any one?”, Hawk said in disbelief. “I sincerely doubt you would have let Joe go through what you let Ken go through.”

Richardson looked like he was close to exploding, “Keep Joseph out of this Captain.”

“Why?', he asked. “Ken already told me Joe was the one weho was supposed to bond with Daxium. More importantly,” he took a step closer, knowing he was already on the line. But if he was festering about what Ken had been through, he was way past the boiling point where his late teammatter was involved, “he told me what really happened to Joe.” They practically stood nose to nose. Hawk was fully aware that he was one step away from becoming the ex-captain of the UNDF. But right now he really didn't care.

That sixth sense kicked into overdrive and he drew his weapon and whipped around right before someone started clapping. An older man, from the look of thigs was approaching eighty at least, who wasn't there a second ago stood there with an amused look on his face. “That was highly entertaining, bravo you two.”

“Charles?”, Richardson asked, losing any signs of anger he had a moment ago to total bewilderment. “Where have you been? Are you alright?”, he started to walk toward him. Hawk quickly put up a arm to hold him back.

“If that's Charles Brooks,” he said not taking his eyes off the man, “then how did he get up here. How did he get inside Castle without being seen?” Looking like he got over his shock Richardson stared at the intruder as well.

“Very perceptive Captain,” he said with mock approval, “a perfect example of why you were chosen to lead the troops.

“Quit with the false compliments,” Hawk ordered.. Who are you?”

“I am truly and deeply hurt Captain,” this man said. “Those compliments were very real and heart felt. Not to mention well deserved. As for who I am, as I told you many, many months ago,” his hands started glowing a deep purple as they crackled with energy. Hawk took a step in front of Richardson as he picked those hands up. Both of them watched as he ran those hands over his head. Both of them watched as decades literialy melted away and Peter Brooks stood before them, “I am a Brooks through and through.”

“You bastard!” Richardson exploded. “You killed my son!” Grabbing the weapon from his hand he started firing at Brooks before Hawk could stop him. Those harmlessly hit the barrier Brooks had put around himself. Hawk took the gun back and held it at Brooks despite witnessing how useless it was against this man. “What did you do with Charles you bastard?!”

“I'm right here Harold,” he answered. “I thought that would be obvious by now.”

“Bull ****. You are not Charles Brooks.”, Richardson spat.

“Oh yes I am,” Brooks insisted. “Remember when you were fighting to get Joseph...”

“Don't say my son's name!”

“Richardson calm down!”, Hawk ordered. The last thing he needed was for him to make whomever this was angrier than necessary, because they were not going to last long as it was if he decided to destroy Castle like he did the other bases.

“Before I was so rudely interrupted,” Brooks said with a smirk which made Richardson seeth even more than he was, “You were trying to get Joseph into this high end school. You remember it, you kept calling them a bunch of pretentious pricks, and he didn't even want to go there. But you wanted him in there because that school was the best chance he had to get into that military academy you were set to get him into. 'Nothing but the best for my son.'. Those were your exact words. But you didn't have enough clout to get Joseph in. So you came to me, and together we got him in. I never told anyone that tale and I know you haven't either. So I'd imagine that would be enough proof that I am who I say I am.”

Behind him Richardson nearly fell where he was, “Charles?”

Brooks offered a small smile, “Hello old friend.”

Nearly at a loss for words Richardson finally got out, “How? Why?”

“I like to hear that answer myself,” Hawk said.

“Well the answer to both is the same,” Brooks answered. “”My quote unquote masters, well former masters I suppose, sought me out and offered me a deal. No I wasn't sick and dying or whatever theories you're trying to come up with to explain my apparent betrayal to humankind. I simply saw the truth, the Zettons, that's what they call themselves by the way, would get a foot hold on this world and then the universe, and we couldn't even hope to stop them. So I pledged my allegiance to them simply as a matter of survival. The only hitch in the plan was the giant, or Ultraman if you prefer, that you arranged to come over. Don't look so surprised Harold, did you or they really think the Zettons wouldn't notice the communication between our universe and the light being's?

“What did these Zettons offer you?”, Hawk demanded.

With a shrug he answered, “To not be a slave. At my age I wouldn't last long if not culled out right once they were in control. As a sane man what other choice did I have.”

“Sane is debatable,” Hawk wondered why they were having this conversation. This was not Brooks' pattern for the last couple of days.

“To each their own captain,” Brooks told him. “Tell me Harold, do you remember all the times you complained about my 'father' to me? You have no idea how hard it was not to laugh in your face during those moments.”

“He's provoking you,” he whispered to Richardson. “Why are you here Brooks.”

“Honestly I'm not sure.” He started looking around almost wistfully, “I supposed I missed this place on some level. I am truly going to hate to make it disappear.” Glancing at them he smirked, a sinister glint in his eye, “But not right now. No, I think I'll save Castle for last.”

“You're warning us?” Richardson asked.

“Not exactly,” he said while starting to walk around them. Hawk made sure he stayed between him and Richardson. .”You see my little jaunt in Moscow made me realize something. The other bases didn't really do anything. I mean they tried to put up a defence, they failed but they tried. At least The bunch in Moscow made things interesting, they had a plan. They put up a challenge, an extremely small one but a challenge all the same and that's why I'm here.”

“You want a challenge?”, Hawk asked him.

“Yes,” Brooks said getting excited. “That's exactly what I want. Out of all the bases remaining this one will give me that challenge. So I'm going to save you for last, let you have time to get more prepared than I'm sure you already are. Don't disappoint me Captain, I am expecting a worthy one from you and the troops. Harold I'll see you then.” He started walking toward a gaping hole in one of the walls.

“Don't just stand there,” Richardson barked at him, “stop him!”

“With what?”, Hawk demanded.

“Another example of why you were the perfect man to lead the troops, until next time.” He started to glow and jumped out the hole. Flying off into the night sky. Hawk ran toward the hole and made sure he did leave completely before lowering his weapon. But relaxing was not in the cards, not any time soon.

His communicator beeped and he opened the link. “Captain this is Greenberg. Good news and bad news. My idea for that detector worked. We just picked up Brooks and he's close.”

“I'm aware,” he said with a sigh, “I just talked with him. Bridge, get Reid and any squad commander and department head up and tell them to get to the conference room. We got work to do and in a hurry. Dr. Greenberg, I want you there too.”

“Of course Captain. I'm assuming the news is going to be bad.”

“”I'll explain at the meeting, Bridge unlock that door I'm heading there now, Hawk out.” He locked eyes with Richardson as he turned back around. Right then neither of them was thinking about Brooks and what he just said, both of them were realizing they weren't exactly done with that conversation before Brooks showed up. That talk was going to be finished one way or another. But not right now. He made his way past Richardson and toward the exit. Brooks was more important than their little war and he needed to concentrate on that.

Coming out of her slumber Jess was quickly aware that she was alone in the bed. In fact she heard Ken talking. Her eyes focused to see him shirtless, a towel hanging around his neck and a pad in hand, seemingly working away on something. He was concentrating so hard on what he was doing he didn't notice that she propped herself up on an elbow. “They got the right idea,” she heard him say, “but the beam needs to be the the exact opposite of the reading of Brooks' energy signature.”

She heard the Chief's voice come from the communicator on the table, so that's who he was talking to, “Well I guess you would know Ken.” Jess looked at Ken intently, if she was right then he found out that the others found out he was Ultraman while she was asleep. Briefly she wondered how he reacted to that news. Right now it looked like he accepted it and moved on. “But raising the power levels on the Alpha One's main cannon?”

“It needs to pack a bigger punch,” he quickly said. “As close to the level of Ultraman's main beam as we can get. We just have to adapt the Alpha One's weapon systems where we can.” What a difference a night apparently made. So much of a difference that she almost started thinking that she got played last night. But they didn't even have sex so what would've been the point? He finally noticed she was up and walked over in the time the Chief was apparently thinking it over. Leaning in he kissed her on the cheek and whispered, “Morning.”

The Chief came back, “It looks like it's possible Ken. But you know Williams is going to put up a stink about it.”

Ken made a face as he went back to the pad in his hand, “If he starts making some noise about it then tell him he can go duck a sick. And you can quote me on that.”

Duck a sick? Jess tried to figure out what that meant. Then she remembered Dr. Wiliams particular habit when it came to swearing by switching the first letter in a couple words in a colorful expression. Muttering, “Suck a...” Her eyes went wide as she looked at him.

The Chief caught it too, “”You really know how to keep friends don't you.”

“It's a gift,” he said. “Have you had a chance to look at those plans I sent you yet?”

“I took a look at them. Nearly spit out my coffee after I realized what you were working on.”

“Do you think it's doable?”

The chief paused again before going, “Maybe, I don't know. You've been working on this since the Zettons attacked?”

“In my free time to see if I could do it.” She and Ken looked at each other, both realizing the Chief said something they didn't recognize. And both of them was just as confused. She let Ken know that she had no idea either. As she stood up he asked, “What the hell is a Zetton? Wait a minute, that's what that last creature that attacked the base kept saying.”

“Ken, a lot has changed over night,” the Chief told him. “I'll see you in the Alpha One hanger in about an hour, hour and a half or so when we start working on those upgrades and your idea.”

“An hour and a half?,” Ken went as he checked the clock on the wall. “Why so long? We need to get started on these projects as soon as possible.”

“Ken, ever since Brooks beat you half my staff has been canoodling each. Coming in on time hasn't been a priority even with me yelling at them.”

He stood there blinking a few times. “Canoodling each other?”, Ken said in disbelief.

“You know what I mean,” he snapped.

“Oh I know what you mean,” he told him. “I'm just working on that's how you said it.”

“I'll see you in the hanger later,” the Chief snapped before he ended the link. Ken just stood there mouthing canoodling.

“”Ken,” she said feeling free to speak up now that the call had ended. Mostly because that rumor mill would have a field day once it found out they spent the night together, “maybe now isn't the best time to start antagonizing certain people. We do have a bigger problem at the moment.”

“I know, I know,” he said putting the pad down on the dresser and slid it to her, “I also know that anger is one of the stages of grief, and while I'm not sure where it falls on that scale I'm right in the middle of it. Williams just the first target I had a chance at.”

“I'm not going to be a target am I?”, she asked. Jess highly doubted that Ken would go that far, but if that anger was a deep as that sadness he was showing the night before then it would be better to tell him the boundaries now.

“No, you're not a target,” he said. Holding his head down a bit he looked up at her, “But you were right last night, I did go through this before with my dad. The cancer that killed him went with him so as much as I wanted to I couldn't do anything. But Brooks, I can punch him right in the dick.”

“I'm guessing that's why you were so insistent about upping the power on the main cannon,” she said. Taking the offered pad off she looked it over. Whistling as she saw the power levels he was talking about she went. “Are you sure it can handle this?”

“We might have to reinforce a few things,” he admitted. “But I'm sure we can do it. You're coming to the hanger too, right?”

“You want me involved in this?”

“Well yeah, that gun pretty much your baby in this whole thing. Oh that project I was talking about,” he pointed at another file tab on the screen. “If you want to check it out.”

Normally she wouldn't since this wasn't her field of expertise. But he was working on something and didn't even tell her what it was, so she just had to know. Pulling up the file she looked for anything that would say what she was supposed to be looking at. She did and her jaw dropped. “Are you serious? This can be done?”

“Hopefully,” he said as he took the pad back. “If we weren't in a rush that is. But if we could get it to work it would be a step in the right direction.”

“I'm guessing the Chief told you about what Brooks has been doing since you and Dax fought him?” He nodded and started pressing some things on the pad. “Did he tell you Greenberg's here?” Apparently not because Ken stopped what he was doing and stiffened up slightly, when he went back to work she offered, “I can have Ryo and Bill keep him away from the hanger while you're working.”

It look liked he was thinking that offer over then told her, “No, we're going to need all the help we can get, on the Alpha One and this. Hell if this works I'm fucking bragging.”

“You're definitely not the same guy I dated in high school,” she said giving him a kiss on the cheek. Then she started rubbing his face, “You did shave.”

“It was getting itchy,” he told her as he went back to the pad in his hand. She could see that he went back to the Alpha One tab, looking at the schematics of the weapon systems. “I could really use your advice on this while we're working on it.”

Again he was asking for help and it still shocked the hell out of her. This time she was able to keep it to herself. “I'll be there. Unless you have another weapon expert I don't know about.”

“You got nothing to worry about there,” he said with a smirk then went back to the pad. Knowing there was nothing else for her to do, and realizing she had to get back to her room in order to get ready for the day she walked into his bathroom. Turning on the faucet she rubbed some water on her face. Then she jumped slightly as she felt Ken wrap his arms around her waist. “Thank you,” he said in her ear.

Turning the water off she asked, “For what? I didn't do anything.”

“For listening to me last night.” he offered her another towel so she quickly dried off her face. “I don't know how straight I'd be thinking right now if you didn't.”

Turning around to face him she told him, “I've always been willing to listen if you needed someone to Ken, even back in high school.”

“I know, it's just.” He looked for the right way to say what was on his mind, “You heard me say I figured out too late that you were the girl of my dreams. And you still are. But even back then you never really knew exactly how afraid I was of losing you. And I ended up driving you away any way.” He held her a little tighter, “Truth be told that fear that I'm going to do it again is there in the back of my head.”

“Hey,” she wrapped her arms around his neck, “I thought we had this talk already. As far as I'm concerned, what we have right now it's long term. The only way you're going to drive me away is if you start acting like Jeff. And we both know that's not happening any time soon.” He leaned in and kissed her, she didn't resist. She only pulled away when she ran her hand through his hair. It was bone dry. “You haven't showered yet?”

“When I woke up I had all these ideas running through my head,” he said kind of sheepishly. “I had to start working on them, Hell I'm surprised I was able to shave without cutting myself” He looked over at the shower unit, “But if there's a rush I'm pretty sure we could both fit in there.”

She looked at him in pure shock, “You haven't just gotten smoother since high school, you've gotten bolder too.”

“I'm a red blooded male,” he explained as he held her a little closer, “anything to see my girl naked.” She slapped his shoulder.

Still a particular thought popped back in her head. Given the timing of everything now was not the time to be thinking of this type of thing, especially considering he was still grieving over Daxium at this point. But this was something she'd been wanting to do since that first date. And if it wasn't for that hang up it would have happened, well that and Hawk showing up. And no one knew when Brooks was going to show up. Looking over at the shower she said, “You got to be at the hangar in a hour or so?”

Looking confused he went, “Yeah?”

“Then we got time.” Keeping her arms around his neck she started walking forward.

“Time?”, he asked walking backwards as she walked forward while keeping his arms around her waist. “Time for what?”

She flashed him a wicked grin, “You're going to have to get back in that bed and find out.”

“Wait,” he said looking back as he realized they were heading toward the door. He looked at her, “Are we going to get in on the canoodling?”

“If you're lucky,” she said slyly. “But if I hear one yahoo we're not doing anything.”

“Of course,” he readily agreed, “Not one yahoo will come out of mouth. But can I get away with a yowie wowie?”, he asked as they passed through the door and into the other room. “How about a woo hoo?”

“Shut up and get those pants off.”

The hanger was busy with just about every technician, scientist and mechanic not currently working on shoring up Castle's defenses was involved with doing the same with the Alpha One. A couple moved out of the way as another lead Windam, who was carrying a rather large power regulator, through the crowd. Even with the newcomers from Dungeon and Tower thrown into the mix things were running relatively smoothly, despite Williams loudly complaining that they were ruining the vehicle. Although he was well within ear shot, Ken did his best to ignore him. Instead he tried to focus on what Hawk was telling him, such as some of the things the Chief hinted about earler. “So Charles Brooks and Peter Brooks are the same guy?”, he asked after listening quietly.

“Saw him change with my own eyes,” Hawk told him. “And he knew something only Richardson knew so that was pretty much all the confirmation I needed.”

“Huh,” Ken went.

“No offence sir,” one of the Tower survivors said as he butted in, “but you two are taking that news way too calmly. It's one guy going around as two people, father and son for crying out loud”

“Dude, we've seen a lot of **** you can't even imagine,” Bill said as he and Ryo came over carrying some components. “Like that one monster who turned invisible.”

“Or that first one who attacked Castle,” Ryo added, “the furry that one that could form it's own tornadoes and shoot lasers out of it's fingers.”

“Let's not forget the one who could control rocks like it was nothing,” Hawk told the man.

“Not to mention I was bonded with a light being the size of a office building, one guy pretending to be two different people ain't nothing,” Ken finished. The man just looked at all of them, started shaking his head then walked away. “He wouldn't last five minutes around here.”

“Need I remind you that more than a few people around here who thought the same about you,” Hawk admonished. Ken, realizing he was right, just nodded his head. Then the three of them all started looking at Bill.

“Hey I thought civilian would last more than five minutes,” he argued, quickly realizing they put him in with that group. “I was thinking a week and a half top, but more than five minutes.”

“Oh that was so much better,” Ryo deadpanned.

“With friends like you,” Ken told him with a smirk. A Dungeon technician pushing a cart caught his attention as he passed by. “Hold up a moment,” he said as he went over to the cart. Examining each one of the components he looked at the guy. “We have higher rated capasitors than this.”

“Yes we do,” he replied. “But these are the highest rated one that will fit in the slots on the Alpha One.”

“Oh geez,” he muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Okay, okay, I'll try to figure a work around. Just hold off on installing them just yet.” The man nodded, but Ken was already pulling up the plans for the Alpha One on his work tablet and started working on that work around. “When I said we needed to up the power I mean we need to up the power. Why is that so hard to understand?”

“The curse of command son, no matter how well you think you explained something there's still going to be one or two who won't exactly understand. And no, it never stops being annoying” Hawk told him. Ken was confused and showed it. Why would he tell him that? “You may not think it Ken but right now you're pretty much in charge. All these people are answering to you.”

“No pressure then,” Ken went as he went back to the diagram on his tablet after looking around the hanger.

“You're handling it just fine,” he assured him, “for the first time any way.” Which means there were going to be more times like this, he felt the ulcer forming already. “Just don't push yourself too hard trying to get this done. I'm going to need you just as much as everyone else. So don't burn yourself out.”

“Brooks told you that he was saving Castle for last?”, Ken asked him. When Hawk didn't respond in any way he went, “Do you believe him?

“Not in the slightest,” he answered. “I never said we had time, I said I didn't need you to burn yourself out.”

“Would you put that down!” they heard Williams yell at someone. Both of them look around the corner to see him bothering some of the workers. “Don't touch that! The Alpha One is fine as it is, it doesn't need upgrading! Leave that alone.”

When he looked at Hawk all his Captain said was, “Like I said you're the one in charge at the moment.” Then he backed up a few steps, obviously a sign he was on his own on for this one.

“Doc you want to calm down for a bit,” he called out. But Williams ignored him. “I don't suppose I can go to him and shake him until he comes to his senses?”, he asked Hawk. His answer was a noncomital shrug. Then he remembered Ryo was still there and he had command experience. But he and Bill had already started walking away. ”Doc, can you be a little less possessive about this thing.” Again he was just being ignored and more than likely they didn't have the time for the Doctor's little temper tantrum. “I am so failing this test,” he muttered to himself. “Windam!”, he called out and pointed at Williams, throw him out”

Here he finally started paying attention to what he was saying as Windam stopped what he was doing and headed toward Williams. “Not wait a minute,” William protested as he started backing away. “The Alpha One is my creation, you have no right to mess with it.” He started to run but Windam already grabbed him by the collar of the shirt and lab coat then proceeded to drag him toward the door. “Let me go! You can't do this to me! I'll have all of your jobs.” Nobody was in an immediate rush to help him, most of them just got out of the way.

“Windam let him go,” Jess ordered as she walked out of the Alpha One. Windam did as he was told but Williams still ran out of there almost as fast as he could go. Then she looked right at him. “You seriously just did that?”

Well he did, and he wasn't exactly feeling that guilty about it. But Ken knew her well enough to know that answer wasn't going to fly. Instead he went with the first thing that came to mind, which probably wasn't the best thing to say, “Could you not contradict me in front of the kid?” And immediately he realized he should have listened to that voice that was saying that was not a good idea. “So , before I stick my foot in my mouth any deeper, how did the simulations turn out?”

“It can't get any deeper,” she said dryly as she walked over to show him the tablet in her hand. “The main cannon should be able to handle the increased energy output. But I'm not sure how many shots we would be able to get off before something gives away.” She showed him a couple of results, one where the cannon overheated and exploded and in another sensors had picked up parts starting to burn up and melt. Neither were exactly a good options. “Without completely rebuilding the main cannon from scratch we have at most five shots, maybe, before either of these options happen.”

“So we have to pick our shots then,” Ken said as he started looking at various energy relays in the design.

She grabbed his arm and took him somewhere relatively quiet, well as quiet as you could get in a crowded hanger. “Ken be honest with me here, how much of this desire to increase the energy output of the main cannon is you actually wanting to stop Brooks? And how much is it wanting to avenge Daxium?” He started to protest that last part but she cut it off. “Everyone has been wanting to know the answer but they don't want to confront you over it.”

He wanted to say he didn't have time for this, but he answered her any way, “Right now it's about fifty fifty. But I felt the fight through Dax. I'm literally the only one here who understands what we're up against. That negative of Dax it's a energy construct Brooks made and controlling some how. We want to get at Brooks we need to get through that construct first.”

“You should have led with that,” she told him.

“She's right son,” Hawk said as he came uip behind them. “I've found that the more the people under you know what's going on the faster they'll get behind the idea.”

“I'm kinda new at this being in charge thing,” Ken told him.

“I know,” Jess said, “It's why I haven't hurt you yet.”

Before he could say anything his communicator went off, “Greenberg to Scott. We're ready to test out this project of yours.” Suddenly he was very, very nervous. He asked Greenberg and his people to handle this while the rest of them worked on the Alpha One, he was the only one here who could understand the plans Ken had roughed out and finish them, if not improve them. Ken's ego wasn't so big that he didn't realize that he really didn't know what he was doing here. Looking over at Jess and Hawk they both indicated that they were coming with him.

Good, he was going to need the extra support. “Understood Doctor, I'm on my way to see if I came up with something that works. Scott out.” Looking around the area he spotted someone, “Jennifer! Keep things down here running until I get back.”

Giving him a thumbs up she told him, “You got it boss.”

“I did not just hear that,” Ken said as Jess started pushing to get him moving.

“You're future is waiting 'boss',” she teased him.

“You'll get use it,” Hawk told him. “Bill, you're coming with us.” He acknowledged the command and quickly caught up with them. Exiting the hanger they headed toward another large room. Before it was a storage room for some larger engine components and a space to work on them. Right now those parts were pushed aside although one crate had a small piece of metal with a target painted on it, About half way between them was Greenberg, the Chief, and a few others as they stood by a set of control that was connected to a few poles with these blocky looking devices attached to them surrounding the crate and behind a clear picture window sized screen. Ken inspected everything about the layout before looking at the others.

“Everything checking out so far?” he asked Greenberg

“Yes sir,” Greenberg said eagerly. He was so not going to get used to that. “All lights are green. I must say it's invigorating to be working on a special project instead of just telling people what to do. I mean I never got this oppertunityall that often back at Tower.”

“So what did he make?”, they heard Bill ask Jess.

“Ken maybe you should show them now,” she offered.

“Right,” he said trying to get the nerves under control. “Jess would you be so kind to help me out here by shooting that target when I tell you to.”

“Done,” she said as she drew her weapon. “Just tell me when.”

To Hawk he asked, “I'm guessing it be too much to ask her for a quick kiss for luck in this situation.” Jess just gave him a look before returning her attention to the target

“Slightly,” was his answer.

“Right,” Greenberg stepped aside from the control. Clearly meaning that the floor was officially his. Ken went to the control, fourtunately Greenberg thought to label everything otherwise he would be looking really dumb right now. Working the control every body watched as the devices on those poles started lighting up. Checking the controls to make sure everything was in working order then motioned for everybody else to step behind the screen then he finally said, “Now.”

Taking a quick aim she fired off a shot. Everybody but her, Ken and the ones working on the project jumped when the shot hit something unseen in front of the target, Pumping his fist slightly Ken motioned for her to do it again. She complied only to get the same result. Then he motioned for Bill and Hawk to join her. All three of them shot at the target several times only to have that unseen force stop every shot.

Dropping his weapon slightly Bill looked dumbstruck as he stared at the target before looking at Ken. “Civilian, did you...did you just invent a force field?”

“Technically I reversed engineered a force field,” he said trying to act all humble, and failing miserably at the moment. “But yes.” He pounded the screen in front of him “**** yeah!” Then he pressed a control and the poles' light went off.” In case there's any doubt, Jess.” She took a quick aim and fired a shot that hit the bullseye.

Looking thorouly impressed Hawk holsted his weapon. “How did you come up with that?”

“From that device the invaders had,” he told them. “I noticed that they were taking hits but it didn't look like they had any effects. I figured that the field keeping them stable was also protecting them. And since we still had one of there devices,” the device in question being the one he used to cobble together a way to detect those invaders, “I messed around with it until I found out I was right then started working on this.”

“Can I say there's genius,' Bill said as he hung a arm over his shoulders,”then there's this guy. Dude that's incredible.”

Feeling his face frow warmer by the second Ken said, “I'm just lucky that work.”

“Stop saying that was lucky,” Jess told him. “That was all you. Like I told you before it's sink or swim time. Right now you are doing laps.”

“Yes dear,” Ken said still feeling the glow of the moment as he did some things to the controls.

“Ken,” Hawk said getting his attention, “are there any drawbacks that you notice?”

Ken figured he would have brought that up .It was Hawk's job to look at all the angles. “Right now power usage.”

The chief joined in, “What you saw just now,” he gestured to one of the cables on the floor. One of them came directly from an opened section of the wall, “We had to hook directly into Castle's power supply in order to pull this off. I don't know what those Zettons were using but it takes an incredible amount of power.”

“So,” Jess looked at him, “we can't use this on the Razor Wings or Scan Tracks?” Ken slowly shook his head.

“Maybe we can use it on the Alpha One,” he told the group. “But that's about the smallest vehicle we have that can possibly put out enough power.”

“We're going to have to modify things a bit,” Greenberg added, “But that should be easy enough to do. But word has it Dr. Williams is throwing a bit of a fit on the modifications being done to the Alpha one as it is.”

“I'll run interference on Williams,” Hawk told them. “How soon do you think this will be ready to install in Castle?”

“We should probably do a few more tests,” Ken said, thinking it over, “Just to make sure we can eliminate any bugs in the system.” He glanced over at Hawk who looked proud as he nodded approvingly. “But after that we should be good to go.”

“Then we can send the plans to the surviving bases,” Jess added. “we might have a shot to actually survive this.”

“It looks like it,” Hawk added. “I'll let you get on this. Ken good job, looks like you're hitting your stride. Don't let it go to your head.”

“We won't let that happen,” Bill said. “Don't worry civilian we'll keep you grounded.”

“I have that job handled,” Jess said as she took Ken's arm. “You think Dr. williams went back to the hanger yet?”

“Man being in charge is a *****,” Ken muttered. Hawk, the Chief and Greenberg all silently nodded in agreement. “Chief, Dr, Greenberg, You guys got this. I'm going to go make sure nobody strung up Doc by his shorts.”


Looking at the display in front of him Hawk lookd through several files on the holo table while he waited. Glancing up as the door opened the other members of Monster Squad walked in and greeted him. Like he figured it didn't take long for them to notice the tray with the five shot glasses and a bottle of scotch that was next to him. “You wanted to see us Captain,” Ryo said for the group but he still kept looking down at the tray.

“Yes I did,” he said while pulling up another file, “thank you for being so prompt as usual. ”Finding the file he skimmed through it as the others took their usual places around the table. “Ken, I was looking through the report the Chief submitted about your side project. He said you discovered a slight draw back. Do you want to elborate?”

Ken knew the problem was in the report, they all knew it. But he complied any way, Hawk smirked to himself remembering when he first showed up as part of the unit. “Well The good news is the field is permeable, so even if it fully encloses the ship or Castle we'll be able to breathe. I'm not sure how we pulled that one off but I'll take it. The bad news, my shield apparently worked a little too well. It deflects things from both sides. So while we won't take damage while it's up we can't fire any weapons either.”

“So,” Bill went,”if we fire any of our weapons, like the missles, we'll be damaging ourselves from the backlash and doing Brooks' job for him.”

“That's one hell of a draw back,” Ryo commented.

“Have you found a way to fix it?”, Hawk asked.

“If we had more time,” he began, “we could probably fix that glitch with no problem. But we don't have that time. The only options the Chief, Dr. Greenberg and me have come up with so far are either not put the field around the Alpha One's main cannon and weapon ports.”

“Which leaves our underside unprotected,” Jess spoke up.

Ken went on, “Or we turn off the field momentarily to fire the cannon,”

“Which leaves the Alpha One completely exposed,” Ryo said.

“Don't suppose you have a third option?”, Bill inquired.

“Not really,” Ken admitted. “But I decided to run with a variation of that second option.” Hawk nodded slightly then motioned for him to go on. “I talked it over with Bridge, he and Emiko are working on a program to tie in the field with the firing controls. I already have the crew working on placing the field emitters so that field will go down around the cannon long enough for it to fire then the field will go back up.”

“Not the best option,” Hawk said as he finished skimming the report, “but it's better than nothing. We're going to have to keep moving to keep Brooks from getting a clear shot at the cannon. I already have them being installed in front of Castle as we speak. So right now we're focusing mainly on defense”

“Is somebody going to ask?”, Bill suddenly asked ass he gestured at the tray.

“I think you just did,” Jess told him. “No disrespect captain but that's not exactly regulation to have that in here.”

“No it is not,” he readily agreed. “But, given the circumstances I bent the rules slightly.” Taking the bottle he opened it and started pouring some into each glass. “I'm not going to lie to you, even with Ken's invention, our odds of survival are not that great. They're better than they were but not that great. And before that final battle comes I wanted to share a drink with the ones I'm probably going down with.” Pushing the tray forward a bit he waited until each of them took a glass before he picked up the last one.

“This is usually where,” he began, “one is supposed to say they have been proud to serve with you. And that's true but it doesn't really cover how I feel. I remember all of your first days under my command. And I watched as you all grew from that moment, some by leaps and bounds,” he added while gesturing toward Ken who started looking slightly embarrassed., “into the people you are now. No, proud doesn't even come close to covering how I feel. So lady, getlemen, Bill here's to you.” They all silently toasted each other before each of them downed their drinks.

“The Captain took a little shot at me there,” Bill said. “We're going to die aren't we?”

“Not without a fight,” Ryo told him.

“Damn straight,” Jess added.

“Before we meet our final reward,” Ken said, “I just have to know one thing. Bill, how exactly did you convince Stanberry to move away from her post back on the Icarus?”

“I just used my natural animal magnetism,” he said easily, “she couldn't resist my charm.” Jess snorted out a snicker that she failed to stop.

Ken stared at him. “No, really, how did you do it?”

“I'm telling you she couldn;t resist me dude.”

“I asked,” Hawk cut in, “her that very question. Her version was she saw the two of you try and sneak closer. Surmising that Ken was there to argue about the engine she decided to help you out and told Bill to follow her to let you sneak past.”

“Okay that makes way more sense,” Ken said as Hawk poured another round.

Ryo agreed with him, “Much more sense.”

“Why is her version more believable than mine?”, Bill whined.

“Because we know you Bill,” Jess told him.

“I almost believed you,” Ryo told him. “If I had seven or eight more shots in me.” The rest of them laughed. Bill didn't find it all that amusing.

“Would you ever imagine that we would get this close as a unit?”, Jess asked as she downed her second shot. “Especially after Ken joined us. I mean we weren't exactly welcoming him with open arms back then. Now look at us.”

“Well to be fair we were still grieving Joe,” Ryo put in.

“Then we were told some civilian nobody,” Bill started. Then he seemed to remember said nobody was still in the room, “No offence, but that who was taking his place.”

“None taken,” Ken told him. “Hell I'm in the same boat. Before all of this I was just a grease jockey, and that's all I thought I'd ever would be even with other people saying I was destined for better things. Then that first giant monster showed up and everything changed. I bonded with Daxium, then I was placed here in a field unit and made the best bunch of friends I ever had.” Looking over at Jess they both started smiling, “Not to mention I got back something I thought was long over.”

“You and me both,” Jess said as she snuggled a little closer to him. Ken wrapped an arm around her and pulled her even closer.

Pouring another round Hawk joined in, “I didn't think it was going to be an easy road but I knew deep down that we would get here eventually.” He checked his watch briefly. “With everything going on I actually have a couple of people asking me to marry them a little later.”

Sudden Ken and Jess glanced at each other before taking a small step away from each other. He got the hint right away. While they were back together, such talk was a little too soon. Bill on the other hand, “Why wait for later. We got the couple, we got me and Ryo as witnesses, we got you. Let's do this thing right now”

“Sounds like the perfect opportunity to me,' Ryo said. To Hawk's surprise, they did look like they were considering it now. “And I call best man,” he added, beating Bill to the punch based on his expression.

Ken looked at her, instead of popping the question the three of them were expecting he would Ken asked, “Does your mom still want to throw you that exagvent wedding she was talking about since we were dating in high school?”

“Unfortunately,” Jess sighed. “I haven't been able to talk her out of it yet. But if she found out I was already married...”

“I'd rather face Brooks with a empty squirt gun, I'm not facing the wraith,” he told her.

“I don't blame you,” Jess told him. Both of them started to get closer. Then they stopped and looked at them. “Do you mind.” Hawk and Ryo immediately turned around. Bill did as well, after Ryo made him. Hawk silently laughed to himself. No sir, proud didn't even come close to how he felt about his team.

Bridge sat at his station in the control room, not that far off was Emiko who joined in as they upgraded various things as they kept a look out for Brooks. Given that they had similar positions at Castle and Tower respectively, that position being the lead computer person, she fit into Bridge's little group rather well. Even if he did try to sneak the occasional look her way, just amazed, and very grateful, she made it out of that situation alive.

“I've just heard from the Alpha One hanger,” she said suddenly. “Ken reports that he is extremely satisfied with our program.”

“Good,” he said as he tried to make it look like he wasn't staring at her. “I told him you did good work.”

“We do good work,” she corrected him. Bridge found that he could get used to that we part very easily. “You developed the main part of the program that made the temporary open work. I just followed your lead.”

“Only because you found a way to get the programs to talk to each other easily,” Bridge quickly said. “That program could be used in a lot of fields.” She started blushing at his praise.

“Bridge, tell me something,” she said, suddenly changing the subject. “after we arrived a couple of days ago we heard Ken was this Ultraman. Is that true?”

He knew Ken wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of others finding out that particular fact. So he considered denying it or changing the topic altogether. But after the battle with Brooks everybody seemed to know so there was no real point. “It is or at least it was, he kept quiet about it for a long time though.”

“But how?, she asked. “Ken is so,” she held her hands out and sort of close together, “and Ultraman was so,” she pulled those hands apart, indicating the size difference between the two of them. “The others were trying to work out the mass difference between the two of them.”

“I'm sure that discussion took place here as well,” Bridge said. Honestly, once it was revealed to him Bridge had the same question. He even went as far to try to make a simulation of it to figure it out, he had about as much luck understanding the mechanics of the situation as the others did. “But maybe we could discuss it later, maybe over,” he gulped a little, “lunch.”

He actually just said that, out loud for somebody to hear. Bridge stopped breathing slightly as she looked shocked that he made that invitation. Slowly she started smiling and went, “I'd love to.”

She said yes? She said yes! Bridge's elation was short lived as they got a hit on the sensors. A, as Ken had been calling it, dark energy reading. Brooks was close. Emiko froze up slightly having gone through this before.. Bridge quickly locked down the reading and put it up on the main screen. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked up at it. The hit was coming from the same location when he defeated Ultraman. “All teams,” he said hitting the intercom, “prepare to scramble. We have a sighting on Peter Brooks.”

Yes he said he was going to save them for last. But he got bored, and outside of Moscow there really wasn't a challenge. Castle could provide that challenge. Given enough time they could probably come up with something that could hurt him. That was only if he was stupid. Charles Brooks may have been that stupid in his younger days but he worked hard to make sure Peter Brooks wasn't. So he waited two days, he was planning on more, but he was bored.

But before he arrived he stopped off here, the sight of the giant's last battle, and he wasn't exactly sure why. It wasn't like he felt the need to pay his final respects to his fallen foe. However if he knew Hawk like he thought he did then he would have made sure Castle's sensors were upgraded just to pick him up. And this place was as good a place as any to eliminate the main “threat” before continuing on to Castle. So he stood there and waited, because they would come to him first.

“So much for being last,” Ryo said as he and Bill headed for the Alpha One. The hanger was just this side of organized chaos as crew and technicians were scrambling to make sure the super jet was ready to launch. And Ken and the Chief were right in the middle of it trying to direct it all. Putting on his helmet he added,” Not that anybody expected that to be the case. Somebody make sure that any battle data we collect gets sent to the other bases if we fail. Maybe they can see something we didn't.”

“You know the plan,” Hawk told Reid and a few others who were trying to stay out of the way of the others. “We'll head out first in the Alpha One to confront him. Then I want two squadrons of Razor Wings to fly out after that, and I want the pilots with the best reflexes in those two groups. Your job is to try and distract him while we try to line up a shot with the main cannon. If for whatever reason the Alpha One goes down head back to Castle immediately. Do not try and engage Brooks.”

Reid took over, using a digital board to diagram this part of the plan, “We're going to need two lines of Scan Tracks in front of Castle. Your job is to try and slow him down long enough so we can get that new force field up to full power. Once you get the word abandon those vehicles and haul ass back into base. The defensive turrets will take over from there. Hopefully that program the computer boys and girls came up with will work as planned.”

“Brooks said he wanted a challenge,” Hawk took back over. “we're going to do whatever we can to give him one. Even if we just frustrate the hell out of him by not going down easily. Dismissed.” They hurried off as Hawk and Reid shared a look, both aware those could be the last orders they ever gave.

Looking around Bill spotted somebody in the chaos and called out, “Boris! You're heading out too?”

“Da,” he said. “This bastard cost us Tower, it very much felt like home. Me and the other will do what we can to protect your home from him.

Bill thought over what he said, yeah this place was pretty much home to him. More so than the orphanage he grew up in. “Just don't die out there man. We're sharing drinks after this is over.”

“In this life or the next,” Boris agreed. They quickly bumped fist and headed in different directions.

Taking a moment from the Alpha One final checks Ken checked on the progress of something else on his wrist scanner and nodded approvingly at what he was seeing. To the Chief he said, “Looks like Greenberg and the others finished the installation of the field emitters on the outside of Castle. So the base should be safe at least. As long as the power or emitters last.”

“It's better than nothing,” The chief agreed. “This is really It, isn't it?”

“From the look of things,” Ken said as he got ready to board the Alpha One. “We all knew this day was coming, particularly after Brooks revealed himself.” Picking up a case off a diagnostic machine he opened it up and took out the hypodermic gun, that was already loaded with his anti airsick medicine so he pressed it to his neck and pulled the trigger. “God Damnit!,” he yelled as he jerked the gun away from his throat. “I swear they're giving me the defective model.”

“Yes, I'm sure that's it,” the Chief deadpanned. Then he held out a hand that Ken reluctantly took. “You all give him hell now.”

“You know it,” He said. Grabbing his helmet he turned toward the Alpha One's ramp then saw Windam standing there. “Windam, watch this place while I'm gone.” The robot nodded. Ken put a hand on Windam's shoulder and gave it a couple of pats. “And listen to the Chief while I'm gone too.” Then he walked around him and went up the ramp.

On the bridge Jess was at her station when Ken walked in. Putting his helmet on the chair he checked something on his station. “Evreryuthing green on your end?” he asked.

“So far,” she answered. “How about you?”

“Green right now,” he replied, “but I don't know once we activate the field. We may not get as many shots at Brooks as we originally thought. God I wished we tested it more.”

“We have to work with what we got.” She looked over at him, he was still looking at his station but he moved over slightly and extended his hand toward her. Once she took he pulled her out of her chair and grabbed her in a tight embrace. She held on just as tight, neither wanting this to be the last time. When he did pull back he stroked her cheek slightly, “Don't you dare die on me.”

Giving him a small smile she said, “I was going to tell you the same thing.” He kissed her right then and there and she returned it. They only stopped When Hawk made a slight coughing sound. Ryo and Bill came in right behind him and they all took their stations.

Without any preamble or speech Hawk simply went, “Status report.”

Bill checked a few things on the pilots console before saying, “”Alpha One controls are responsive and operational.”

“Weapons are ready to go hot on your order,” Jess announced.

“Engines are at full power,” Ken said as he tightened the strap on his helmet.

“Alpha One to control,” Ryo spoke out loud. “we are ready to launch.”

“Alpha One this is Castle,” Bridge replied back. “You are a go to launch. Good luck and Godspeed.”

Hawk took a moment to look around the bridge before giving the order. “Take off.” The Alpha One shot forward out of it's hanger. Everyone was feeling the nerves in the pits of their stomachs. “Activate the field.” Ryo activated them at his station and the lights dimmed slightly before going back to full strength.

“Field is active,” Ken called out, “and stable. It's holding at full power.”

“Set course for Brooks' current location,” Hawk ordered. “And keep an eye out for any tricks that he has up his sleeves, giant or otherwise. Boys and girls, this is it. If you're so inclined start praying.”

Everyone was quiet, just focusing on what they were doing for the entire flight. Hawk kept a screen showing their location and Brooks' at his station. Hitting his communicator he called up Castle, specifically Reid “Commander, have you been able to evacuate the board and VIPs yet?”

“I got the majority of them to get out of Dodge,” he reported. Hawk frowned, a majority wasn't going to fly here. “Greenberg said he isn't running this time and helping with the defenses. Richardson decided to stay, he said that if this was it he was going down with his creation. Stanberry is staying with him.”

“That idiotic son of a *****,” Hawk muttered. “Make sure you secure him as deep inside the complex as you can. Get Greenberg in there too. The UNDF needs to survive in some form if we fail.”

“Captain,” Bill called out, “ we're approaching Brooks.”

“Do what you can Reid,” Hawk told him, “Hawk out. What is he doing?”

Bill studied his sensor readings, He looked over at Ryo who indicated that he was getting the same thing. “It looks like he just standing there.”

“And he's looking right at us,” Ryo added. Ken and Jess looked at each other for a moment.”

“Show us,” Hawk ordered. After a few button presses a screen popped up on each of their stations. And it did look like he was staring right at them, smirking. The image caused various emotions in the five of them, from annoyance to anger. Hawk knew he had to focus them fast if they were going to last longer than five minutes. “Weapons range?

“”Brooks is in missile range,” Jess answered.

“Fire a couple off to let him know we see him, but not directly at him.” Hawk told her. “I'm sure we have his attention, let's make sure we keep it as long as possible.

“Good as time as any to see if Bridge and Emiko's program works,” Ken said as he pushed the image to the side. Still he kept an eye on the readout.

“Firing missiles,” Jess announced. Two missles shot out and at Brooks. Ken watched as the field around the missile ports went down just long enough for those missle to fire before going back up. The missles hit the ground by Brooks and exploded on impact. They all held their breath, knowing that wasn't going to be enough to finish this.

To prove this point when the smoke cleared Brooks still stood, surrounded by the dark glow of the energy he weilded. Then he acted like he dusted something off his shoulder. Then he raised that hand over his head as that energy quickly expanded and formed the dark copy of Daxium.

“Think we made him mad?”,Bill asked.

“Don't really care,” Ken called out as he worked his station, just making sure the field remained at full power.

“Evasive maneuvers!”, Hawk called oud. “Let's make sure we keep that field a surprise for as long as possible.” Almost on cue Brooks held out a hand and fired off an energy blast at them. The Alpha quickly got out of the way and launched another round of missiles at him. This time they were directed right at him. He ignored the explosions and fired off another blast.

This time they didn't evade in time as the beam hit the ship. It was rocked by the impact. On the inside various things overloaded and exploded out. “There was an unexpected power surge when the beam hit but the field is holding,” Ken yelled over his shoulder. “But I wouldn't recommend taking too many direct hits.”

“Figured that one out on my own!”, Ryo yelled back.

“We got Razor Wings on radar,” Bill called out.

Brooks stared at the Alpha Onme as it flew away from him but not that far. Glancing at his hand and back at the ship he was stunned, that was a full power blast. “How did you do that?”, he asked them and not getting a response, not that he was expecting one. Although he was expecting that ship to be a massive fireball right about now. “You been hiding something from me,” he wagged a finger at them, “Naughty, naughty.” Then more explosions hit him from behind. He looked back to see the Razor Wings only for the Alpha One to fire off another round itself.

“Keep moving!”, Hawk barked, “Don't give him a clear target. Razor Wings increase attack. Jess!”

“I'm preparing the main cannon now,” she said knowing where he was going.

“Diverting power to the main cannon,” Ken announced.. The lights started dimming again. “Field is returning to full power.”

“Make sure those two have top priority,” Hawk said. “Razor Wings start distracting.”

Brooks stood there as the Razor Wings started swarming around him like a bunch of mosquitos, firing whenever they had a clear shot.. He fired off a shot at them where he could but they evaded the blast, but he did get at least one that was too slow. This went on for just long enough that he lost track of the Alpha One. Ignoring the gnats he turned around and spotted the super jet, it's main cannon deployed.

“Firing main cannon!”, Jess announced. And pulled the trigger. Brooks stared at them as cannon quickly powered up. A massive beam hit Brooks and knocked him to the ground. “Direct hit.” Brooks laid there and grabbed at the smoking part oif his chest. They hurt him, they actually hurt them.

“Keep up the pressure!”, Hawk barked out. “Keep him dowm! How long before we can fire another shot?”

“It's going to be a couple of minutes,” Ken called out. The ship was rocked again as Brooks lashed out with several beams. Amid the explosions Ken kept working on keeping the field up and the cannon powered, “As long as we don't many more hits like that.”

“Working on it!”, Ryo told him.

“Civilian we'll keep us in the air,” Bill spoke up, “you just do what you do.”

“Working on evassives!”, Ryo shouted. “Everybody hold tight!” The Alpha One barely avoided another blast from Brooks. Unfortunately a few more Razor Wings went down trying to do the same.. But all of them kept firing whatever missiles they had left trying to keep Brooks down. He fell forward as another blast from the main cannon hit him from behind.”

“We might have three snhots left,” Ken told them, “Maybe, I'm not garanteeing anything.”

“Field status?”, Hawk demanded.

“It's still uip,” Ken said looking at the readings. “It's gaining strength again but slower than last time. I'm not sure how much longer it's going to last.”

“I'm out of missiles,” Jess told them. “Only thing we have left is the main cannon.”

“Divert power to the main cannon,” Hawk ordered. “Let's try and hurt him permanently.”

“Diverting power to the main cannon,” Ken replied. “Jess, make it count!”

“Firing main cannon!” Jess said one more time. Brooks fired a beam of his own the same time. The two beams hit each other, there was a brief back and forth between them before Brooks' beam finally won out and decimated the beam from the main cannon and hit it. As the cannon exploded things on board the Alpha One started exploding as well.

“Feed back in the engines!” Ken called out. “I'm trying to stabilize it!”

“Weapons are useless!,” Jess said. “I'm cutting off what I can to help with the stabilization.”

“We're going down!” Bill shouted.

“Level her out!”, Ryo told him. “Try for a crash landing!”

“Everyone brace for impact!” Hawk ordered. The Alpha one leveled out but still hit the ground hard. Ken and Jess were knocked out of their chairs, Ryo flew over the console as Bill nailed it chest first. Hawk was thrown to the floor as well. Brooks cracked his neck as he watched the ship dig up the ground as it skidded to a stop. He slowly started chuckling that quickly turned into full blown laughter at the sight. Bleeding from the forehead Hawk slowly got up coughing, “Status treport, I want to hear from everybody now!”

“Think I busted a rib,” Bill grunted as he slowly stood up holding his side. “But I'm still here.”

“Think I'd rather be in that coma,” Ken said as he got up, wiping some blood from his mouth with the back of his hand and headed for Jess, who was struggling to get up as well. “It hurts way less.”

“I'm good,” she told him. Ken still tried to keep the blood from the cit above her left eye from getting into it. “Ryo are you still there?”

“I can't get up,” he said weakly, “My leg.” Ken and Hawk hobbled over to him and saw him on the ground grabbing at his leg. Ken went to do a quick scan on it his wrist scanner but it was busted.

Jess went to Bill as they helped Ryo up and steadied him. “Can we get out of here,” she asked. “We crashed pretty hard and if ramp not knocked out of place I'll be surprised.”

Helping to walk Ryo off the bridge Ken told her, “There's a manual release built in on the chance we had to crash.” They hurried as fast as they could to get to the ramp. Like Jess feared it looked like it was knocked out of place slightly with shafts of dying light coming through. Letting Hawk take Ryo fully Ken hurried to the door and pried off a panel. Throwing it to the ground Ken went to the other side and removed a similar panel. “Somebody get that other one,” he said. Bill went over and grasped the lever on the inside. Ken did the same, “Pull it on three. Three.” They both pulled the levers at the same time, bringing them all the way down. The ramp budged about an inch. “Damn it, don't jam on me now.” Ken and Bill both started to push on it with all they had, Jess joined in and they barely got it to budge another inch.

“What about the Alpha Three bay?”, Jess asked.

“There's a release there too,” Ken said as he realized whay she was thinking. She hurried off as the rest of them kept working on the ramp. “Hydrolics must be busted, bent or something.”

“Worry about it later,” Ken told him. “Bill grab a couple of those metal scrapes, we can use them to make a splint for Ryo.” Bill went to grab them but started holding his side as he started bending over. Ken helped him up and grabbed the pieces Hawk pointed out.

“I got it,” Jess said coming back, “The way looks clear.” Hawk directed them in that direction and soon they were out in the open.

“Ken,” he heard that whisper like voice again. He looked around trying to find the source. That wasn't one of the others, he must have hit his head harder than he thought.

“Over there,” Ryo pointed out. Brooks, still in that dark construct copy, stood there looking at them. All of them reached for their weapons. He started chuckling at the sight of them. Ken heard that voice again, it seemed louder this time around. Brooks started turning and walking in a certain direction.

“He's headed for Castle,” Bill said in disbelief. He wasn't finishing them off, he was just heading toward the base. That raised all their ire at some level or another. Ken ripped off his helmet and threw it to the ground in frustration, it couldn't end like this it just couldn't.

“Hawk to Castle, he's coming, repeat he's coming! Get all defenses ready!”

“Ken,” came the voice again. He started hitting the side of his head with the heel of his hand drawing the others attention. “Ken.”

“Seriously am I the only one hearing this?”, he snapped. Jess came closer looking concerned for him. They probably thought he was about to lose it. Hell he could be as far as he knew.

“Ken,” she began. Hawk helped Ryo to the ground, but he looked concerned as well.

“Ken,” the voice said again, stronger this time, and it sounded very familiar, But it couldn't be him, it wasn't possible. Dax was gone. “Ken,” it said again, “lets do it.” Ken started feeling some sort of sensation, a familiar one, all around him. Ken looked around and then he understood. Brooks seemed to sense something as well as he paused and looked back momentarily before he kept on walking.

“No you don't”, Ken grunted and ran after him before the other could stop him. “Hey!”

“Ken!,” Jess called out after him.

“Hey!” Ken shouted again. “Hey, you overgrown negative!” Brooks stopped and looked back at him. “Yeah that's right I'm talking to you. You didn't think I heard about last time?” Brooks turned around fully as Ken kept walking toward him. “Looking all smug, saying that you won. What in the hell did you win? I'm still here. In fact that's your problem, You killed Joe but you left Dax alone. You stopped Daxium but left me alive. You know that's probably why you never had any actual kids of your own, because you can't finish ****!” The others looked at him like he lost his mind, and he might have at this point but he couldn't stop now. “Yeah that's right, I said that. Because you can't. The protective field around the Alpha One, that was me. The power from the cannon that knocked you on your ass that was me. All of that happened because of me, “ he started pounding his chest with each word, “Because I'm still here!”

“What is he doing?”, Ryo asked. Not one of them had a answer for him.

Brooks rubbed his chin slightly as he seemed to ponder what he just said, “Interesting, and quite possible. Let me rectify that mistake,” He pointed a couple of fingers at him and fired a beam at him. Ken kept walking forward despite the danger as they others shouted at him. Suddenly a section of the ground started to glow and that light shot out and intercepted the blast shattering into a bunch of light shards that hovered in the air. “What?”, Brook said as he took a step back in surprise. He fired off another beam as another glowing spot flew out to the same result.

Brooks kept trying to inceinderate him with an energy beam and the same thing kept happening as Ken kept walking forward. To Jess and the others it looked like those shards seemed to be following him now, almost surrounding him. “What's happening?” Bill asked. Then he got a look of realization on his face, “You don't think?”

“I honestly have no idea,” Hawk said dumbstruck at the sight.

“I think it is,” Jess said as she removed her helmet. “I don't think it's over just yet.”

Ryo looked up at her then back at the sight before them, “No way

Brooks got angrier and angrier with each blast that was intercepted by those damn glowing spots. “How are you doing this? How?!”

“How?”, Ken said as he finally stopped. The shards started to gather and circle in front of him as a shape started to form, “I'll tell you how.” Holding his arms wide he kept looking up at Brooks as the shards kept spinning until they formed a basketball size glowing orb that floated right in front of him. “Because we're Ultraman *****!” Finally looking at the orb Ken swung his hand through it. The orb disappeared but in his hand was the Spark Magnifier. Quickly he held it over his head and activated it. Three crystal prongs flipped out of their slots and connected making a single spark that quickly grew in size until it engulfed him completely. Brooks took another step back as it formed a gigantic column of light. Hawk and the others looked on in awe as it faded away revealing Daxium .



Back at Castle Reid was in the control room, trying to get their defensives finalized. Hawk's last report was that Brooks was one the way. The mood changed from tense to feeling like full blown panic was about to happen. They had a plan, hopefully it would work. It may be easier to solve the world hunger problem. “Do we have a visual on Brooks yet?”, he demanded.

“Not yet,” Bridge told him. “But we have his last location on orbital satellite camera now. According to these readings he's still there. He hasn't moved”

“Show me,” he said as he turned toward the main screen. The monitor changed from it's previous read out to an orbital view of the scene. Reid could barely breathe at what he was seeing. Not the image of the downed Alpha One, not the sight of Brooks, but at the column of light Brooks was facing. “Don't let this be a screen glitch,” he muttered..

“That's no glitch,” Bridge said softly. On the screen the light faded revealing the form they knew as Ultraman standing there. “I thought Ken couldn't do that any more.”

Coming out of his state of shock Reid went, “Who cares he's doing it now. Change of plans, I want a small squad of Scan Tracks ready to head out there. I think we got some friends in need of a pick up while he keeps that bastard busy.”

Brooks was too stunned by the sight of Daxium being alive to react when he ran right at him. The giant tackled his copy around the waist and knocked him to the ground. Scrambling to get on top of him Daxium started pounding down at his head. Brooks tried to cover up from the assault. Finally he got a hand up and blasted the giant and sent him flying back and he hit the ground with a Earth shaking thud. Both giants scrambled to their feet and got into ready position.

Inside the newly reformed safe area Ken watched things through Daxium's eyes, ignoring his general rule about these moments. He felt the need to witness this no matter how it turned out. Because he knew, and felt that Dazium believed as well, that one way or another this was going to be the final battle. Inside the dark like void that was the copy Brooks floated there staring at the giant. The initial shock slowly turned to annoyance and quickly to anger as he continued to gaze upon the being he killed a few days ago. Fine if he won't stay dead then he'll find an another way to get rid of him and take Scott with him.

Brooks moved first, just trying to bum rush the giant. Daxium grabbed him and tried to hold his ground. Brooks was more powerful and slowly started to move forward, Daxium's feet dug grooves in the ground as he was pushed back.. Eventually Brooks rearranged his grip slightly and was able to throw him over his head and to the ground. Brooks jumped up and aimed a fist at Daxoum's head. Ignoring the pain he was feeling Daxium rolled out of the way, and fired off a flashbolt pretty much point blank. The bolt exploded against Brooks' body and he grunted in pain as he tried to stay on his feet.

Daxium rushed at him again but Brooks jumped up and started flying straight up into the air. Looking up the giant flew after him. His pursuit was quickly cut off as his copy quickly turned around and went right at him. They collided and began fighting in the air, throwing whatever punch or kick they could get in. Being more used to actually flying Daxium was able to use that experience to buze around Brooks and get in whatever shot he could. Then he stayed in one place for a moment too long and Brooks was able to grab him by the ankle. Brooks started pinning around and around as fast as he could. Then without warning he let go and slammed the giant to the ground. As Daxium struggled to get to his feet Brooks' hand crackled with dark energy, pointed at it and unleashed a massive beam at his opponent.

Seeing this Daxium tried to jump backwards out of the way as it hit the ground where he was. The Earth exploded in a massive cloud of dust. On the ground Hawk and the others tried to cover up as best as they could. Brooks landed on the outside of the cloud and waited sensing some sort of trap from the giant. Through the cloud a spinning ball of energy shot out and at Brooks. He reacted the only way he could and held up his hands to try and catch it. Brooks skidded backwards as he tried to stop it from going forward any more. After a brief struggle he was able to throw it to the ground where it exploded on impact, Hands smoking from the attempt he looked where the attack came from. The cloud had cleared away enough that he could see the giant more clearly, mode shifted into the red form known to the others as Power Mode.

Inside the safe area Ken hands balled into fists, “Are you kidding me. That's the only thing you didn't hit him with last time.”

“This battle is not over yet,” Daxium told him quickly before returning his full attention back toward Brooks. Both giants ran at each other. Brooks grabbed at him again, Daxium rolled under the attempt the hurried to grab him from behind and started squeezing with all he had. His dark copy grabbed his wrist and slowly started to pull his arms away from each other. Daxium struggled to keep the grip, but after a quick suggestion from Ken he dropped back then kicked out with both feet to knock Brooks forward to the ground. Rolling backwards Daxium crossed his arms and swung them out to go into Hyper Mode. Extending the light whip from his hand and started thrashing away at Brooks while he was still off balance.

Grabbing the light whip Brooks pulled him forward with a mighty tug. Daxium kept his feet long enough to jump up and flip over a haymaker of a right from Brooks. Before he landed he lashed back with a kick that landed right between Brooks' shoulder blades that knocked him further away from him. When he went in to get closer Brooks spun around and grabbed him by the neck. With a roar he lifted the giant off his feet and slammed him repeatedly to the ground. “Why don't you just die!”, he angrily bellowed at him before holding him over his head and slamming him to the ground one final time. Looking down at Daxium as he reverted back to his starting form and the jewel on his chest started blinking red. Seeing this Brooks started to chuckle again.

Kneeling down he grabbed the giant by the back of the head and pulled him up slightly. “I hope you're prepared to face the abyss one more time,” he told him. “And stay there this time. And Ken Scott, if you're hearing this I will take your advice, and I'll personally make sure you go with him. Your skeleton I won't mind leaving behind. I'll let the others moun over you right before I erase them from this mortal plane.”

Ken heard all of that and did everything he could to channel his anger to Daxium. Brooks felt it as Daxium punched him right in the face. As his head snapped back Daxium punched him again fighting to get away and to his feet. By the Alpha One the others watched on helplessly, all afraid there were going to witness it all over again. “Come Ken, Dax you have to do this,” Jess said. Finally getting away Daxium stood and tried to fight back with all he had.Brooks defended this new onslaught easily and swatted him away. Grabbing Daxium he raised him over his head one more time and threw him. Daxium used the momentum to fly away a bit and land on his feet.

Turning around Brooks held up a hand and fired another beam at him again. Crossing his arms he flung them wide to form the barrier to block it. The beam impacted the barrier and Daxium took a step back from the mpact. The dark giant poured on the power to the beam as the light giant poured more energy into keeping the field up, trying to ignore the cracks he was starting to form in it. “Come on Ken. Who am I kidding, Come on Ultraman!”, Bill shouted.

“You have to do it!” Ryo joined in.

“Don't give up!” Hawk yelled out.

“Stomp his ass!” Jess shouted at the top of her lungs.

Ken heard it all but tried to ignore it. He was focusing on the problem at hand and it wasn't that beam threatening to blast them again. No he was working on another problem, “Why is he so strong? His energy is the direct opposite of Dax's, but even in this form he shouldn't be a pushover. So why?” Closing his eyes he pushed his brain in ways he never had before trying to figure it out. His eyes snapped open as it occurred to him, “He's not bonded to it like we are, he is one with the energy, on a level we're not.” He looked around at the barrier that separated him from the light energy that was Daxium, licking his lips he said, “Dax drop the field.”

“We will not survive a direct hit from his beam,” Daxium told him in a strained voice.

“No,” he said looking up. “Not that one, the one around me, drop it!”

Daxium quickly protested this idea,“But I don't know what will happen to you, Ken, who you are now may be engulfed by my energy and disappear completely. You could be no more.”

“And this could be our only shot at stopping him,” he shot back. “Dax we have to do everything we can to do that. Drop the field.”

“Ken if this is it I must tell you, I'm not sure the original person I was supposed to bond with would have made as good a partner as you ended up bering”. Partner, Ken never thought of their relationship like that before. He was just the guy who was housing Daxium until he was needed. But Partners? Well that sounded pretty damn good right then and there.

“It was a blast for me too buddy,” Ken watched without any sense of fear or trepidation as the barrier around him faded away and Daxium's energy came rushing at him from all sides like a tidal wave. Like the night they first bonded he felt the alien energy enter him and start to mix with who he was. But more intense this time around. He welcomed it with every second.

The barrier Daxium threw up finally broke away and there was a massive explosion. Jess and the others covered up out of instinct only to look on horrified at the sight. They didn't just lose Ken again, they couldn't have. Brooks had stopped firing and started laughing. Then he stopped and the others looked on in shock as the smoke cleared, revealing Daxium just standing there completely unharmed and his head lowered. Slowly the jewel stopped flashing red, going back to a light blue then going to a brilliant white, Where the protected area used to be Ken stood in the energy field with his head down. Slowly an image of Daxium seem to impose itself over him. Then they seemed to split apart and stood side by side. As one they lifted their head. On the outside Daxium lifted his head as well and took a defensive stance, in what sounded like Daxium and Ken's voice combined he shouted, “Shiah!”

Grunting Brooks tilted his head slightly trying to understand what he just witnessed. The giant was done now he wasn't. What sort of trick was this? No matter he quickly fired off an energy blast. Daxium moved faster than the beam as it shot past him. He did it again over and over and the giant moved so fast he was evading each one with ease.. Then suddenly Daxium was right in front of him. Before he could even flinch in surprise a punch to the chest sent him flying back. Letting his sudden rage fuel his actions Brooks sent out something similar to Daxium's Giga Wave attack. Still his default form Daxium reared back and punched the ground in front of him unleashing the Giga Wave that intercepted Brooks' wave and ran through it. Brooks jumped out of the way and hovered in the air. He lost sight of the giant but found him floating right behind him. Inside the copy Brooks felt the breath leave his actual body as the giant flew in fast and tackled him around the waist with such force he was stunned before he was even slammed to the ground.

Inside the former safe space Ken and Daxium stood in similar stances as they looked down at Brooks. Daxium was stunned slightly himself, in wonder as he went over what they had just done in his head. “I did not know this level of power was attainable.”

Ken smirked slightly. “This could have been us all along pal.”

Daxium landed on the ground, Brooks tried to blast him again. He held up a hand to deflect the beam. “You can't stop me!”, Brooks bellowed. Then Daxium was right behind him again in the next instant, grabbed him around the waist and threw him backwards to the ground. “You.. can't stop...me!” a still defiant Brooks said as he struggled to his feet.

“What is he doing?”, Hawk asked as they all had their draw drop to various degrees the sight they were witnessing.

“Whatever it is he's doing it without mode shifting,” Jess said, silently wondering what this meant for Ken.

Brooks threw a punch that Daxium easily catched with his hand then gripped his fingers around it tightly. With little effort he picked up Brooks by that very hand then slammed him down to the ground. On the inside Ken, feeling the unimaginable level of energy flow through them, had a slightly worried look on his face now. “But maybe it was a good thing we didn't start out like this. This level of power, it's almost...”

“Almost intoxicating,” Daxium finished for him. That moment was enough to allow Brooks to get Daxium over his head and throw him. The giant twisted and flipped in the air and landed on his feet. The he ran at Brooks who was still staggering, jumping up high enough to wrap his legs around Brooks' neck and flip him to the ground. Daxium took a quick step back as Brooks fired one last beam of dark energy at him. He charged the giant with a roar, almost animal like in its nature. Daxium just went low, going to a knee as he lashed out with his right hand in a slicing motion, the edge glowing. On the inside both Ken and Daxium looked at their hand, at the same time they said, “Okay that's new.”

There was a gash on the dark copy's side that seemed to gush dark smoke as he grabbed at it. Trying to fly away he didn't go far before crashing and slowly getting to his feet. “I think he's finally blinking,” Bill said in hushed tones before shouting, “This is your chance! Do it!”

“For Joe!,” Hawk and Ryo both joined in.

“For everyone he's hurt,” Jess said as she watched Daxium draw in energy and set up for the Dimensional Storm Ray.

Howling one more time Brooks pointed his hand at the giant and fired off one more beam. Then the giant wasn't there anymore. He looked down to see his enemy knealling there looking up at him with his arms crossed at the wrists.

In that duel voice the giant shouted, “Gotcha!”, as he fired his destructive beam It impacted Brooks and blasted him off his feet. Standing he kept the beam concentrated on Brooks who struggled against it with everything he had. Ken and Daxium yelled as they increased the power. Finally the dark copy fell backwards and exploded in a massive fireball.

“Yes!,” Jess exclaimed. Hawk pumped his fist as Ryo and Bill exchanged high fives. It was over, it was finally over. Catching something out of the corner of her eye Jess looked over and saw a welcomed sight. “Over there,” she pointed and all looked to see some Scan Tracks come toward them.

When they stopped Reid and others jumped out of them and ran toward the three of them. “You're late,” Hawk told him once he was close enough. “What are you doing out here? This wasn't part of the plan.”

“I tweaked it a little,” he looked around then up at Daxium who started glowing and looked like he was getting smaller. Jess and Bill started running in that direction as people helped Ryo to his feet and toward one of the Scan Tracks. Daxium kept shrinking, getting brighter the smaller he became. Soon he was human shape and the glow faded revealing Ken standing there. Then he started running in the direction where the copy was seemingly destroyed.

“Follow him,” Hawk quickly said as they jumped into the Scan Tracks and took off after him. Now what was happening?

He didn't understand why but Ken ran toward were the construct was. Maybe he had to see for himself before he, no they, would actually believe it. At least this nagging feeling took his mind off the question going through his mind once he came back. What exactly was he now? Outside of Dax feeling weaker for some reason he felt perfectly normal. But what was normal to him now? He just united with Dax on a level neither had even dared to imagine before. There was no way he was just the same as before A honk got his attention as a Scan Track drove up next to him and slowed down. On the inside he heard Hawk tell him, “Get on!” Jumping on the side rail he held on as they driver picked up speed to get him to that location.

They found a newly formed crater in the center of it all. Ken jumped off before the Track came to a full stop and he ran toward it. Once it stopped fully, Hawk, Reid, Jess and Bill along with others got out of their respective vehicles and followed him. Ken only stopped long enough at the top of the crater wall to look for anything that indicated Brooks was still around. Seeing a form lying in the middle of it he took off again. Once they were close enough Hawk, Jess, Reid and a couple of others drew their weapons. Taking the lead Ken approached the figure to find a Peter Brooks who looked like he was aging forty years right before their eyes. He moved slightly and opened his eyes to see Ken standing there and the others covering him. “That won't be necessary,” Ken told them, but not taking his eyes off of Brooks, “he's powerless now.”

Hearing this Brooks looked at his own hand and concentrated. Letting out a breath he let the hand drop. ”He's right. The energy given to me is gone now.”

“What is wrong with him?”, Bill asked.

Brooks heard him and smirked a little, “Just the one thing modern medicine has yet to find a cure for, old age. The Grim Reaper is undefeated after all.” He half laughed, half coughed at his own joke. Eyes focusing on Hawk that smirked returned, “Tell me Captain, would you have believed me if I told you Scott here was Ultraman, when I offered to back, when you confronted me in my office?” There was silence until he muttered, “No, I don't suppose you would have.”

“Peter Brooks, or Charles Brooks I should say” Hawk began, “You're under arrest.”

“Normally I would comply my dear Captain,” he said as he started coughing again. “But I don't think I'll be here long enough for you to even slap the cuffs on me. Or whatever it was you were planning on doing. My just rewards I suppose, nobody lives forever after all.”

“Brooks,” Ken said as he knelt down next to him.

“Pleae don't go and get all mushy on me now,” Brooks told him. “You know, I did want to sit down and talk with you about our respective dual identities. Discuss the problems that comes with it and how to handle them. It's a true pity, you were the only person who would truly understood the headache that situation caused.”

“Yes I would have,” Ken agreed. “But we were on opposite sides of this thing. I choose to bond with Daxium, you choose to work with them. And we were both changed because of it.”

“For better or worse,” Brooks agreed while nodding his head. He suddenly got this far away look in his eyes. “If I knew what I know now when I was your age.” He rattled out a breath and his head dropped to the side slightly. Ken checked for a pulse, then reached out and closed Peter Brook's eyes before he stood up. Now it was over.

“Ken?”, Jess asked behind him. When he turned to face her he was surprised to see the worry in her eyes. “You are Ken right?” Out of all of them she would be the one to notice if anything about him seemed different.

“Who else would he be?”, he heard Bill ask somebody. He didn't answer right away. He was looking on the inside for that answer himself. Finally he was pretty sure he found the answer he was looking for.

“I'm me,” he assured her with a small grin. Jess immediately ran in and wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Stop doing that to me,” she said in his ear.

Holding her tightly he said, “That's something you're not going to have to worry about any more.”

“Gabe,” Reid spoke up, “No offense but you all look like hell.”

“I'm sure we do,” Hawk agreed. “Let's go back home.” As a group they headed toward the Scan Tracks while a smaller group went toward the fallen Peter Brooks.

Elsewhere, in a dark universe, several of the Zettons stood around a pulsating orange globe, One looked at the others before speaking, “You all felt it. The Avatar is no more.

“We have,” another spoke with no emotion in it's voice.

“Then our objective is over,” said another one. “At least until we can locate a replacement human.”

The second one turned it's head at the third. “No, a new human Avatar should not be necessary. Our dealing with the one we had should have proven to you that in the end they will not bow to us. At least not completely.”

“Then our objective is completely over then,” the third said. “As much as a problem Charles Brooks ended up being we do need an agent in that universe to stabilize our attack forces that we send over the rift.”

“Not necessarily,” the second spoke again. Waving a hand in front of the globe an image of the device they recently created hovered in the air. “While the initial outing was a failure, we still believe that this can be useful.”

the first one finally spoke back up, “The humans were able to use it as a weakness in our attack on their base.”

“We are aware,” the second one said. “But the idea is still sound. We believe that making improvements to the original design will be quicker and more effective than finding a new human Avatar.”

“Very true,” the first said. ”Start working on those improvements. Find a way to add it to the creatures we create for the invasion. But in the meantime, we should search for a new Avatar, but not a human one. There are other species in that universe. We will still use this Earth as the staging ground since the dimensional barriers there are still weaker than anywhere else we have located. But there has to be a species somewhere who are liked minded enough to join us willingly. Comeanse the search and the improvements.” The group split without another word. In the background several monster like roars echoed in the air.

Several weeks after Brooks had been defeated Richardson sat in his office on the monitor on the wall were several video feeds showing the celebration when Hawk and his unit returned to Castle after that confrontation. He drummed his fingers against his desk in annoyance as he concentrated his focus on the videos of several people practically slapping Scott on the back for a job well done. That should have been Joseph, if it wasn't for that bastard it would have been his son and not this nobody mechanic that lucked into the situation.

He looked at the computer on his desk. The screen was doing nothing out of the ordinary, nothing to indicate that those he originally made the deal with to send the giant over were trying to make contact. “Why won't you say anything?”, he demanded. Not for the first time, these so called allies had been maddenly quiet ever since the giant crossed the rift to this universe.

He was still dividing his attention between the video feeds and his computer when Stanberry walked in and stood in front of his desk. She glanced at the feeds and commented, “It's no use to view weeks old video. We won, you should be there with the others.”

Smiling ruely he told here, “Some how I doubt that I would be that welcome. No I wouldn't be that welcomed at all, not after everything I did to get the giant here.”

“Speaking of the giant, what are we going to do with Scott now? With the threat over he does seem to be a rather unnecessary part of the organization.”

“He was never a necessary part of the UNDF,” he corrected her. “Just a means to an end. I'm sure most people around here realize that.”

“Not everybody,” Stanberry informed him. “Captain Hawk's personal quest to get Scott full member status has picked up some steam in recent weeks. Even before the Battle of Brooks, as it's being called, he has made some compelling reasons to get Scott that status.”

“Only the future knows for sure,” he said as he went to the computer and pulled up a file. Stanberry gave him a curt nod then left the room. If she stayed she would have seen that the file he pulled up was on the vote for the Civilian Operative program that got Scott here to begin with. Then he highlighted the ones who voted against the idea.

In the park where all of this started, on the very hill where this started Hawk, Ken, Jess, Bill who was helping Ryo who was still using crutches, got into position. Behind them Reid and others walked with them. Once they got near the top the sky started to swirl in a certain spot. Ken looked back at the rest of them then took a step forward. Once he was at the edge of the swirl Ken put his hands together over his head, he started to glow slightly as the rest watched him with baited breath. Holding his arms out Daxium seemed to come from his body, as Ken dropped to a knee Daxium floated so he was directly underneath the swirling portal.

Jess quickly ran over to Ken and helped him back to his feet as Daxium turned to look at him and the rest. “Goodbye my friends,” he said. At Hawk's command they all saluted him, even Ken despite Jess holding him up. Daxium nodded as a red sphere formed around him and it went up into the swirling sky and disappeared with it.

“Goodbye Dax,” Ken softly said as he felt his strength returning.

“So why did he have to leave again?”, Ryo asked as he hobbled over to them. Hawk and the others were close behind him.

“He was too badly hurt during that first encounter with Brook,” Ken said as he kept looking at the section of the sky that portal was. “He couldn't heal properly here, he had to go home if he was going to survive.”

“That's why you said he felt weaker,” Jess said as he tried to stop leaning against her. Although she was staying close in case he needed help again.

“I wish we could have helped him in some way,” Hawk spoke up. “He did so much for us while he was here.”

“Ah Captain,” Bill cut in. “Speaking of 'us', what's going to be our future exactly. The threat is over right?”

“If it's over,” Reid told him, “then there may not be a future for the UNDF. We were created to deal with those things. If those things are gone then we may get disbanded.”

“It seems more than likely,” Hawk agreed. More than a few in the crowd were talking among themselves after he said that.

“That would be a mistake,” Ken spoke up. “Brooks may be gone but those Zettons are still out there. From what Dax told me about this war between his people and them the Zettons don't seem like the type to give up easily.”

“So you think they'll be back?”, Reid asked.

Jess went, “He is the closest thing we have to an expert on the matter, if he thinks they'll be back I'll take his word on it”

“They do have that device,” Ryo added. “Would anybody just let that go to waste? All they have to do is figure out how to get to work with those monsters they've been sending over and not be that easy of a target.”

“You know,” Bill spoke up, “I'm sorry I asked.”

Hawk stepped in, “Say they do send more of those creatures over? How do we handle them without Daxium?”

“Then we'll figure it out,” was Ken's answer. “We did when we were trying to stop Brooks, we can do it again.”

Hawk started smirking, “I seriously doubt you would have given that answer when you first joined up. Speaking of joining up, I think this would be the perfect opportunity to do that thing you were talking about.”

“You bring them?”, he asked Jess with a slight sigh. She nodded and pulled a pair of scissors out of her pocket and handed it to him. Looking at them he glanced at her then at Hawk, “Either of you want to do the honors?” Hawk quickly backed off.

“No, this one is all yours,” Jess told him while she pulled a plastic bag out of that same pocket.

“Of course you'd say that,” Ken muttered as he reached back and grabbed his ponytail with one hand. Then with the other he proceeded to cut it off with the scissors.

“Civilian, what the hell?”, Bill asked as they watched him put the ponytail in that plastic bag.

“This was the surprise you were talking back?”, Ryo asked Jess who nodded.

Getting some of the now loose hair out of his face Ken told them, “Well a couple of days ago Captain Hawk informed me that I was about ninety-seven percent official and should be a hundred percent offcial in a matter of weeks. I figured if I was going to officially part of the UNDF I should start looking the part.” He zipped up his uniform jacket to highlight that point.

“It's about time,” Ryo said as he hobbled closer and slapped him on the back. “We need to start working on an official welcome aboard party.”

“Damn straight,” Bill quickly agreed. “But nothing from the scientist's still right? Not after last time. Wait does this mean I can't call him Civilian any more?”

Ryo informed him, “I'm pretty sure that's exactly what it means.”

“Wait a minute, who got beakered last time?”, Reid asked. They all started looking at Ken. He got the hint, “Ah. Then I'll help keep the scientist away then.”

“We can work on it on the way back to Castle,” Hawk informed them. “Let's head home.”

They all started back to the Scan Tracks. All except Ken and Jess. She watched him look back at where the portal was, a sad look on his face . Putting an arm around him she asked, “Feeling empty again?”

“A little,” he admitted. Then he looked at her with a smile, “But it's not as bad this time. I know he's going to be fine.”

“And you'll be fine too,” she assured him. “So, a new stage in your life. How do you feel about it?”

“Honestly, scared,” he admitted, although he felt foolish about doing so. But there was no one else he would admit that to.

“And that's perfectly normal,” she said, “Just remember you're not alone so don't try dealing with this alone. Do you hear me?”

“Wouldn't even dream of it,” he said.

“Finally,” she said right before she kissed him. When they stopped they headed off after the others, although both Bill and Ryo were having some fun teasing the two of them over the act. Yes this part was over. And yes there was a chance they would be thrown into it again sometime in the future. But that was the future, right now all of them could finally let out that breath and relax. For now everything was going to be okay.

ED – Shinedown – Fly from the Inside

Professionally Insane
Mar 27, 2005
Hell of a finale there my friend, lots of great moments, and didn't expect Dax and Ken to do what they did to beat Brooks. So that was real cool, and looks like a bright future ahead of the Monster Squad with their new member (of sorts). Hopefully they'll be ready for the Zetton Invasion whenever they decide to try again.