Matrix of Leadership
Apr 24, 2008
Im a little behind on this series, but seriously it is pretty neat, and hyper mode was a good power up for Daxium.


Episode 9

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

This one had to be the guy, nobody else he had been around had even set off the tiniest reaction in Dax. Of course the only real question was what was he going to do after that? He couldn’t go to Hawk without spilling his secret. And somehow he doubted Richardson would be all that subtle in his handling of the matter, and his secret would still be exposed. He’ll worry about that later. Taking a deep breath he opened the door in front of him and entered the office on the other side. The secretary got an attitude real quick, “Can I help you?â€

“Captain Hawk sent me,†Ken told her, “with a file for Mr. Brooks.â€

The secretary looked at him for a few moments before buzzing Brooks. The other door opened and Brooks greeted him warmly, “Ah yeas I was expecting this, thank you.†He took the file but he didn’t look at it. Instead he seemed to study him. “So, you are our civilian operative. We might as well make this official, Peter Brooks,†he extended a hand.

“Ken Scott,†he said as he took it. Then he stared at their hands. Nothing.

“Is there anything wrong Mr. Scott?â€, Brooks asked noticing his reaction. “Or may I call you Ken?â€

“Sure,†he said snapping out of it. Trying to cover up the surprise reaction on his face he said, “I’m still
amazed at how young you look. I thought I’d see a wrinkle or two up close.â€

Brooks chuckled as he let go, “I get that a lot. Good genes I suppose.â€

“Well I better get back,†Ken said heading for the door.

“Oh Ken,†he called out, “if nobody had said it before, I apologize about your first visit here. A very unfortunate incident.â€

“Yeah,†Ken said still looking confused, “thanks.â€

“Interesting guy,†the secretary said after he left, but not really meaning it.

“My dear you have no idea,†Brooks said with a bit of a smirk.

Ken walked the halls until he found an empty hallway and leaned against the wall. Looking in he was soon in the protected area in his mind and was face to face with Daxium, “Anything?â€

Daxium didn’t look pleased with his answer, “Nothing.â€

“What the hell, it had to be him,†Ken insisted. “I went up to everybody I remember seeing in the group. I even went up to a couple of people who looked vaguely familiar. I pretty sure one of them wasn’t even in the group at all.â€

“Perhaps the person I felt was not in that particular group,†Daxium suggested. “Pershaps he or she was in an adjoining room.â€

“No, whatever you sensed I felt it going behind us,†he said. “And I’ve been all over that floor since we’ve been back and nothing. It had to be from somebody in that group of people.â€

“Then whomever I felt is now masking his energy signature from me now,†Daxium told him. “Unfortunately we now have a new problem as a result.â€

That didn’t sound good, “What problem?â€

“As I detected this individual it is more than likely he or she detected me as well.â€

“So whoever this is knows we’re Ultraman?â€

Daxium nodded, “I am afraid so.â€

“Great, just fucking great,†Ken spat as he paced around in front of Daxium. “Not only are back at square one now we have to watch our back even more.â€

“Do not worry Ken I will be more diligent in discovering the source of this dark energy.â€

“Just don’t broadcast yourself while you’re doing it. We got enough problems as it is.†Ken looked back out in the hallway and blinked his eyes a few times as he got off the wall. Seeing nobody else around he continued on his way.

“All right people,†Hawk said as they gathered around the holo table. “You know Dr. Williams has been hounding the board to get this super jet of his built. Before I go any further we all do know about this right?â€, he asked looking at Ken in particular.

“I mentioned it to him once,†Jess spoke up.

“That’s all you said,†Ken told her.

Because that’s all I know,†she informed him.

“That’s all anybody knew,†Hawk said. “He designed most of this in his personal time but nobody knew what it even looked like. Until now that is.†Pressing some controls on the table a rough diagram of this particular ship hovered over it. Hawk figured they were wearing the same expression he was when he first saw it. “Okay Ken, you’re the newly discovered genius, what do you think?†Normally he wouldn’t put a new member on the spot like that but he was going to get that boy to his full potential, kicking and screaming if necessary.

Ken leaned in to get a better look at it. He picked up pretty quick that he could manipulate the holo image, using the light pen to turn it around he studied it for a few moments. “I think it looks like a giant mess.â€

“I have to agree with the civilian,†Bill said.

“If this is the cockpit,†Ryo pointed out the front section of the jet, “why are there three seats up front by what I’m assuming the controls?â€

“And what are these seats back here?â€, Jess pointed to a couple of sections in the back.

“Time out chairs,†Bill joked.

“So we’ll be calling them the Waters’ seats,†Jess joked back.

“I’m surprised nobody mentioned this apparent empty space here,†Hawk showed them. “Granted this is a work in progress and Dr. Williams has said he’d be willing to let us work on it with him to make it a little more presentable. Bill. Ryo start with the cockpit and try to simplify it a little. Everybody is getting a copy of these plans so I want you all brainstorming ideas. Are there any questions?â€

Jess spoke up, “Assuming this will actually work, how soon before Commander Jamira wants a super vehicle of his own?†Bill and Ryo both laughed a bit as Ken looked at all three of them.

Hawk chuckled as well, “Probably as soon as he finds out we have exclusive rights to this one. Anything else?â€

“Am I going to be working on this?†Ken asked.

“Once a mechanic,†Jess smirked.

“If I can get it pass the chief,†Hawk told him. “I know Williams wants you involved. But I don’t want you waist deep in something and miss a meeting or we get called on a mission. Is that understood?â€

“Captain I can handle it,†Ken insisted.

Hawk repeated what he just said, “Is that understood?â€

“Yes sir,†Ken said.

“If there’s nothing else then you’re dismissed.â€

“Getting waist deep in an engine,†Jess told Ken in a low teasing voice as they left the room. “I bet you got all excited.â€

“Really?â€, Ken replied. “Is that the best shot you got?â€

“You got excited. You’re the only guy I know who actually bought those automobile magazines for the cars and not the half naked women.â€

If Ken had a response it was cut off by the closing door. Hawk looked at the plans for the super jet one more time. If Williams was right about this thing then it was going to be a huge help. If he was wrong it was going to be a huge waste of time and money. If it failed in the field, well he had no plans on being buried in that oversized coffin.

Hours later Ken sat in one of the break rooms studying the plans for that super jet, among other things. True to his word Hawk was trying to get Ken caught up on everything. There were several data pads and books sprawled over the table. His vision started to get a little blurry so he put the pad down and rubbed his eyes. “Now this brings back some memories,†Jess said as she came over holding two cups of coffee. “A day or two before a big test your kitchen table used to look a lot like this.â€

“Thanks,†he said as he took the offered cup. Looking at the mess he cleared a spot so she could set her cup down as well. “I guess old habits die hard. Mom used to yell at me for being so disorganized.â€

“I remember,†Jess said with a smile. “She begged me more than once to help you organize things better. Even offered to pay me once.†Picking up one of the pads she asked, “Is your head ready to explode yet?â€

“Just about,†he said. “The Captain thinks I have a lot of space to fill up here. Somebody should tell him it’s a lost cause.â€

“Don’t let him hear you say that. Otherwise he’ll let you have it with his ‘living to your full potential’ speech.â€

“I’ve heard that speech a couple of time so far,†Ken grimaced.

“I’d bet,†Jess could help but get a chuckle out of that. Taking a sip of her coffee she remembered something, “Before I forget again how’s your shoulder?â€

“My shoulder?â€

“I saw you grab your left shoulder after your first mission with us,†she told him. Ken remembered that, he also remembered thinking nobody caught him either. “You looked like you were in pain.â€

“I think I strained it when I ejected from the Razor Wing. I really didn’t feel it until after the mission was over. I took a couple of aspirin when we got back, I was fine later.â€

“How come you didn’t say anything?â€

“It wasn’t anything major,†he insisted. “Besides I didn’t want to look like a wuss my first time out.â€

“Wow,†Jess said with mock amazement, “you can change. You used to whimper like a little baby when you stubbed your big toe.â€

“I was looking for some sympathy back then,†Ken quickly said. “It obviously worked more than once.â€

“Try it now, I’ll tell you to walk it off,†Jess informed him and took another sip.

“Anything else about the way I do things you want to ask me about?â€

“Well there was one thing that caught my attention.†Him and his big mouth. “What is with you going up to all the random people around the base?â€

“Just trying to be friendly,†he said. “I’m trying to be seen as more than just the ‘civilian’.â€

“I can understand that,†she said. “But the people I’ve seen you go up to were people in that group we passed during your first time here.â€

“Really? I didn’t notice. It must be why I thought they looked approachable, I’ve seen them before.â€

“I guess,†she said. Ken tried not to look nervous. He had heard that tone of voice from her before, especially in the month leading up to their break up. She didn’t quite believe what he was saying. If anybody in this outfit could figure out his secret it would be her. And he didn’t want to know what Richardson would so if anybody else discovered the connection between him and Daxium. And it was bad enough the one person who probably did know could take him out before he noticed.

Damn it, why did he get caught on video?

“As you can see Tom,†the field reporter said as she looked into the camera, “the devastation is incredible no matter how you look at it.†The image changed to an aerial view of what used to be a power plant that something had literally tore through. “Scientists and meteorologists are still baffled by this phenomenon. Tornados just appearing out of nowhere and apparently striking at various buildings for the third time this week.â€

The footage went to a scientist in front of a weather map, “This is a very interesting phenomenon. Tornados are being formed in conditions not suitable for their birth. If this is natural it throws everything we know about this right out the window.â€

After a brief return to the field reporter she sent it back to the newscaster, “Thank you Stacey. Authorities are still trying to locate survivors of this latest incident. Random polling indicates the citizens think that these sudden tornados are a big a threat to the populace as the giant monsters that have shown up recently and the giant the fights them.â€

Inside a break room someone used the remote to lower the volume, “I wish Richardson would take that stupid order off. I want my shot at the giant.â€

“He seems to be helping us so far Phil,†the guy next to him said.

“The freak is probably behind this monster mess,†Phil stated.

In the back of the room, with another pad in his hand, Ken listened to the two of them argue. In the back of his head he put it down as another reason not to piss off Richardson. Forget about the media hunting him down, most of the people around here wanted a chance to take down Dax. And a few probably wouldn’t think twice about taking that potshot against him. Grabbing the pad he got out of the room feeling a weight come down hard on his shoulders. “Ken,†Hawk called out when he saw him come out of the room. When he didn’t answer right away he called out a little louder, “Ken.â€

“Sorry Captain,†he said when he finally heard him. “My head was elsewhere.â€

“Are you all right son?â€, Hawk said taking a closer look at him. “It looks like something is bothering you.â€

Taking a quick glance at the pad in his hand, and thanks to that conversation with Jess a couple of days ago, he said, “Head started to hurt trying to cram all of this in there.â€

“Ah,†he said in understanding, “didn’t your parents ever tell you don’t cram the night before the test, you don’t remember as much. This is the same thing.â€

“I’ve heard that once or twice,†he said. Hawk took the pad from his hand, “Hey.â€

“You’re taking a break,†he told him. “I can make that an order if I have too.â€

“I thought you just did,†Ken frowned.

“I put a little more authority in my voce,†as he studied what was on the pad. “Ask the others, you don’t want to hear me put it in. Walk with me. What do you think about these tornados?â€, he asked out of the blue.

“Kinda freaky,†Ken answered, “but I don’t think it’s something we can handle.â€

“Try telling that to the people calling in. Times like this I feel that hotline was a bad idea.â€

“We’re getting that flooded with calls huh?’

“We were getting flooded before the giant creatures showed up. Now it’s like a log jam. Bridge is still trying to get another server set up to help handle the load. But I’ll be honest with you Ken, part of me thinks they might be right.â€

“Whoa, wait a second,†Ken stopped him. “You think something might be behind these tornados?â€

“Ken,†he began, “I have seen creatures of all shapes and sizes. I have seen monsters made out of rock. I have seen ones that breathes fire, shoot electricity and fire lasers out of it’s eyes. There was even one that turned itself invisible.â€

“Well when you put it that way,†Ken joked.

“And not to mention our giant friend,†Hawk continued. “I don’t think I’d be surprised by anything anymore.†Looking at the pad one more time he handed it back to Ken. “Make sure you update that after the super jet gets built. I’m sure regulations are either going to change or get added to. I’m pretty sure the Chief will throw in something about maintenance so I want you to keep up.â€

“Speaking of the jet I have one question,†Ken told him. “Where are we going to launch the thing from? The damn thing is huge.â€

Hawk told him, “One issue at a time Ken.â€

“Is Degola acting in a satisfactory manner?â€, his masters asked. The Avatar looked over to a lower section of the cavern. Down there a creature stood in the shadows looking up at him. A low growl echoed throughout the cavern as it stepped forward. The Avatar blasted another horse carcass down there that the creature quickly picked up and devoured.

“So far yes,†he said returning his attention to the vortex. “So far neither the UNDF nor the giant has been able to detect him. As far as most people know a tornado is just coming out of nowhere.â€

“Excellent,†he said. “Our scientist worked hard to develop that particular ability. Heads would have rolled if it did not.†Something made the Avatar think that wasn’t just a colorful metaphor. “Is the plan still in place?â€

“It’s proceeding on schedule. I’m almost ready to start the final attack.â€

“Excellent,†he said again. “But there is one more thing. We are well aware that you are still experimenting with the abilities we have given you. Despite our warnings otherwise.â€

“And I’m not sure you appreciate the danger I would be in if I am discovered,†he shot back. “An entire army would be sent after me.†Not to mention Scott and Ultraman. “I have to be able to defend myself. No matter how much we disrupt their forces, the will reorganize. Especially if they find out it was me all along.â€

“Then we suggest that you do not let that happen. Cripple them so they cannot.†The vortex looked like it slowly collapsed on itself as it closed. The Avatar’s hand glowed with energy after the fact.

“Don’t let that happen,†he sneered. “They’ll know it was me as soon as I make my final assault.†Dispersing the energy from his hand by blasting a wall beside him he walked over to the ledge overlooking the creature. “Perhaps one more target before we make your final push.†Using the dark energy at his command an image of what he had in mind. Degola seemed transfixed by the image. The Avatar smiled to himself, apparently his masters were not aware he could do this. “Now go have some fun before the real party starts.â€

Everyone walked into the war room to find Hawk and Bridge waiting for them. As they took their positions around the table Hawk looked at all of them, “A couple of you know that I have my misgivings about this tornado business. As a personal favor I had Bridge track the sightings. Bridge show them what you showed me.â€

“When I did so I found something weird,†he said as he pulled up a map over the holo table. “As you know these tornados have been appearing out of the blue. And so far they have struck a hospital,†a little blue tornado marked the spot on the map, “an old steel factory, a power plant and this one just came in, an armory.†They all looked at the spots on the map.

“It’s pretty much a straight line,†Jess said.

“Pretty much,†Hawk agreed.

“And the weird thing these are the only buildings these tornados have touched when they hit the ground,†Bridge informed them.

“But tornados leave a path of destruction,†Ryo said.

“And attack trailer parks,†Bill commented.

Jess told him, “Bill shut up.â€

“Any thoughts?â€, Hawk asked.

“Well the hospital and power plant are important,†Ryo said.

“The armory is important to us in a way,†Bill continued. “The steel mill is throwing me.â€

“What do you think those Razor Wings and Scan Tracks are made out of?â€, Ken asked him.

“They’re made out of a special metal alloy,†Jess told him.

“A majority of which is manufactured at that mill,†Hawk informed them. “And that hospital takes some of wounded we don’t have room or can’t get them here in time. That power plant helps power most of the sensor net in that sector. And that armory is used by both us and the military.â€

“That’s a pretty particular tornado,†Ryo commented.

“So they only hit things that have some importance to our operation,†Jess said out loud. “Is there anything else in this line that is important to us?â€

“Well if the tornados keep heading in this direction,†Bridge extended the line. The map went 3D as it stopped at a mountain range, and a particular building embedded in the mountain. “It should hit right about here.â€

“I don’t suppose it’s too much to think that’s a backup base?â€, Ken asked.

“Ken now you can shut up,†Jess told him.

“I’m just asking.â€

“I already took this information to the board,†Hawk told them. “Richardson and Brooks seem to take the information to heart and helped me convince the rest of the board. We’re on alert but we’re still trying to figure out how to defend ourselves against something like this. We’re built to hold up against natural phenomenon. Since this might be unnatural I’m not sure how well we’re going to do.â€

“Are there any clouds at all?â€, Ryo asked. “Maybe there’s something hiding in those that we can take out.â€

“Possible,†Hawk mused. “Bridge did you get any meteorological data?â€

Ken zoned out as Dax started sensing something, something big and getting closer. Without thinking he turned his head toward the source. Jess eyes him wondering what was going on in that head of his. Then the alerts went off.

“A tornado is starting to form,†Bridge said. “Detection system are going off as well, there’s a giant creature inside.â€

“I want Razor Wings in the air now!â€, Hawk said. “Ken head topside to make sure everybody headed inside.â€

“Captain?†Ken asked stunned.

“No questions Ken,†he said. “You want to be part of this unit this is some of things you have to do. Come on people we got a job to do!â€

As they ran for the hanger Bridge headed for the control room. Ken was left there by himself, “Okay then, where’s the door to the roof?â€

Razor Wings launched as soon as the alert sounded. People inside the hanger scrambled to get the jets in position to launch while the pilots and wingmen tried not to get in each other’s way as they ran for their vehicles. Elsewhere what limited defenses Castle had were brought online. Board members and non essential personal were secured in safety bunkers deeper in the mountain. Finally Razor Wings one and two launched and they got their first real look at the tornado, wondering how it was just standing there. “Do we have any idea on how we’re supposed to handle this?â€, Bill asked.

Behind him Hawk said, “We’ll try Ryo suggestion first. Ryo take a couple of Razor Wings and head in there.â€

“Acknowledged,†he replied. “Razor Wings twelve and fourteen, form up me.â€

“Have I mentioned this is the most dumbass thing we’ve done?â€, Jess commented.

“I’m trying not to think about it,†he told her. Flying in a triangle formation Jess and the other wingmen armed their weapons as they approached the cloud over the tornado.

Entering the cloud there were a few tense silent moments that passed before all three exited. “The cloud is empty!â€, Jess called out. “Repeat the cloud is empty!â€

“Then what’s keeping the tornado in place?â€, Bill asked.

“I think we’re about to find out,†Hawk said.

Ken finally hit the roof of Castle as the tornado stopped spinning as fast to reveal a giant shape inside of it. Looking around as the winds whipped around him he spotted a couple of people huddled in the corner. “Lousy spot for some personal nookie time!â€, he shouted over the howl of the winds. “Get inside!â€, he pushed them toward the door he just came out of. He looked around to if there was anybody else dumb enough to be up there, beside him that was, even checking his wrist scanner to pick up any life signs. That tornado started to come toward the base as a set of laser like lightning came from the inside and struck Castle head on. Ken dropped to a knee as the entire base shook.

“Target the shape in the funnel,†Hawk ordered. The armaments on Castle struck first as the Razor Wings joined in soon after. The funnel slowly faded away revealing the creature inside. Wild brown fur covered most of it’s body, with claw finger and toes on it’s exposed leathery skin. A low growl came from it’s large dog like nose and mouth. Pointing it’s hand at Castle that yellow laser like lightning erupted from this fingers. Various section of the base exploded. “Get that creature’s attention!â€

Ken got to his feet after the second assault and pulled out the Spark Magnifier. “This better work or I’m going to have some explaining to do.†He looked up at the jets in the sky, if any of them looked down here he was going to have some explaining to do any way. Instead of holding it over his head he pointed at the monster. Engulfed in a ball of light as always the column of light instead appeared in front of Castle. Before long Daxium stood before the creature and took a defensive stance.

“Shiah!†Daxium didn’t waste any time in trying to push Degola away from the base. The furry monster protested as it tried to dig his clawed feet into the ground, throwing in a knee strike when he thought he could. After a brief struggle he was able to toss the giant to the ground with an angry grunt and continued toward the base. Daxium grabbed him from behind when it looked like he was going to fire those beams from his fingers. The soldiers manning the remaining guns of Castle’s defensive line to the opportunity to get in a few free shots the giant was giving them. Again Degola threw Daxium off and turned to face him, hitting him with those beams.

“Try to aid Ultraman in getting that thing away from base,†Hawk said over the line.

“Acknowledged,†Jess, Ryo and the other Razor Wings answered. Flying up behind Degola Jess got a target lock, “Firing missiles.†Several missiles from the formation of Razor Wings impacted the back of the monster’s head. It stumbled forward as Daxium got under it and flipped him over his shoulder. Jumping on top of the fallen monster he started pounding him on the head. Degola swiped his clawed fingers into his side. Daxium grunted in pain as he did it again and again. Forcing Daxium off of him Degola got to his feet fast and slashed those claws against the giant’s head several times, spark like energy flying off from the impact. Then point blank he fired those lasers from his fingers and sent Daxium straight back into the mountain side. Both the mountain and Castle shook from the impact. The creature pinned him there with those laser until another round of missile fire from the Razor Wings distracted him. Daxium fell to a knee as the jewel started flashing red. Getting to his feet he crossed his arms in front of his chest and flung them down going into Hyper Mode.

Now Daxium was fast enough to avoid those lasers as he jumped and rolled out of the way as he slowly got closer. Jumping up one more time he spun around with a backhand that nailed Degola flush in that oversized jaw of his. Daxium jumped up again for a spin kick. Degola made a desperate grab for him. Dxium saw it coming and jumped back, flipping in the sky before landing on top of the mountain. He jumped off to nail him with another flying kick. Holding out his right hand he extended the Laser Flash and started whipping the monster with it.

Trying to set the monster up for the Light Stream the air started to form a tornado around Degola again. The wind spun around him fast enough to deflect the light whip each time he tried. Again Daxium was rocked by those lasers. Setting his feet he got ready for the run as he drew in energy form the surroundings. His vision accelerated to the point where he could see where to strike between the wing gusts of the funnel. With almost a slight flinch Daxium was behind the monster as the jewel started to blink faster. Inside the tornado an explosion shot skyward in the funnel before it disappeared completely. Retracting the Laser Flash Daxium shot off into the sky. “Shiah!â€

A couple of hours later various crews were still cleaning up the internal damage near the front of Castle. Richardson and Peter walked the halls surveying the damage. “I never really expected that we would get hit,†Peter confessed. “Not like this at any point.â€

“We were just lucky I was able to talk them into putting in the gun emplacements into the place when we first built it,†Richardson told him. “Otherwise I don’t know how much damage would have been done to the place if that thing got any closer.â€

“Well maybe you can talk the board into upgrading our defenses.â€

“I’m planning on it. I trust I’ll have your heter Peter?â€

“Of course Harold. You know you can count on me.â€

In another part of the base Alpha team was helping clean up the debris in a hanger that took a lot of the initial damage as Hawk walked in. “We got lucky this time. Casualties were kept to a minimum, a few unlucky bastards were caught outside but they’ll pull through. How are things in here?â€

Ryo spoke up, “A good chunk of the place isn’t that badly damaged actually. The only real damage was to the hanger opening over there. Some of the techs said they might have to rebuild the door completely.â€

“We might as well redo the entire hanger while we’re at it,†Hawk said as he took a good look around.

“A possible hanger for that super jet?â€, Ken said out loud.

“My thoughts exactly,†Hawk confirmed with a nod. “We can still fit a few razor Wings in here. It’s going to take a little bit of juggling, but I think we can pull it off. Oh Ken the two found on the roof said you didn’t follow them down to the bunker?â€

“I was making sure nobody else was on the roof,†he answered.

“Trying to play the hero?â€, Jess teased.

“What hero, I was following orders,†Ken shot back.

Hawk spoke up, “Just remember there’s a fine line between a good soldier and a dead one. We just got you in this team Ken. I’m in no hurry to bury you.â€

“I’m not exactly in a hurry for that either,†he said. Then Ken noticed the look Hawk gave him before he turned around to say something to Bill. While he wondered what that meant he looked over to see Jess give him the same look before going back to her task. Neither Ryo nor Bill gave him that look, but he was not liking something about it just the same. That couldn’t mean what he thought it did, did it?

ED – Shinedown – Fly From the Inside


Episode 10

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in My Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re one of them,†he shot back.

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

“Nice one asshole.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ken smirked in amusement, “Oops.â€

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

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

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

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

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

“What? It’s the truth.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Traitor,†Ken shot at him.

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

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

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

Ken quickly said, “Ex-girlfriend.â€

“Former girlfriend,†Jess said at more or less the same time.â€

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

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

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

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

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

“Some friend you are,†Ken said.

“We’re not that close,†he shot back.

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

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

“Anytime you’re ready.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Castle here,†Hawk answered. “What’s the situation?â€

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

“How would you describe their condition?â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What does that mean?â€, Ryo ask.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ken this is not real,†Daxium insisted.

“I don’t care.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally he admitted the one thought that ran through his head the entire time, and most of his adult life, “Damn it, it’s n
“I know,†she said softly. She stayed with him until he was ready to go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You too Charles.â€

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

ED – Shinedown – Fly From the Inside


Episode 11

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

Peter Brooks stared out one of the windows of his Family’s estate. For generations a Brooks has lived within these walls and he had no intention of stopping that tradition anytime soon. For a long time if he had anything thing to say about it and he planned on having that say, especially with his master’s gifts. Pushing the boundaries of their limits, despite their warnings, he grew stronger. And he was almost off the ground that last time too, he as sure of it. Then one of the help walked into the room disrupting his concentration. He dissipated the energy aura around him fast enough to keep his secret intact. Still he almost gave into the desire to blast her to atoms. He held back only because he would still have the skeleton to deal with. “Note to self,†he said out loud, “find out how much power it is going to take to disintegrate skeletal structure.â€

Walking away from the window his thoughts turned toward Scott and Ultraman as his phone went off. He looked at it with some confusion when he realized the number calling him was his own. Mainly out of curiosity he answered it, “Hello?†At the same time a dark energy vortex started right in front of him and the shape of one of his masters appeared inside. “I told you not to contact me here,†he hissed as he looked around to see if any of the servants were around.

“You do not tell us what we can and can not do Avatar,†he told him. “And your insubordination will not be tolerated in front of our new ally.â€

“What new ally?â€, he asked warily.

“One from beyond this pitiful planet. Check the primitive communication device in your hand.â€

Looking at his phone one more time he cautiously put it back up to his ear and repeated , “Hello?†This time he was greeted with a strange otherworldly laughter.

In a special military museum two guards wandered the darkened halls on their nightly patrol. “I still don’t see why they need two of us,†the younger of the pair complained like always. “Nothing ever happens around here.â€

“Company policy,†the older one said as he swung his light around the exhibit. “Just because nothing has happened doesn’t mean nothing won’t.â€

“Do you have any idea how tired I am of hearing that?â€

He shot back, “Probably as tired as I am of hearing you complain about it.†They walked the rest of the way in silence, just like the old man preferred. He spent several hours a night trying to figure out what he did to the manager to get stuck training his punk. At least they were near the end of their rounds then he could pass him off to Dan for monitor duty, then he could get some quiet time for an hour.

“Chuck come in,†his walkie talkie squawked as it came to life.

“What is it Dan?â€

“They seriously need to upgrade the equipment around here,†the youth complained, again.

“I got some movement in the exhibit in front of you,†he answered. “I can’t make it out.â€

“No way,†the youth said, squinting his eyes and trying to see through the darkness. Chuck frowned, they weren’t supposed to trick the young buck here with the report scare for another couple of weeks yet. Nice for Dan to let him know the time table had changed.

“Alright Dan, me and junior will check it out.â€

“Aren’t we supposed to get guns for this?â€, the youth asked.

“Not in the budget.†Carefully checking from the opening of the room Chuck slowly walked in. They were in the Desert Storm exhibit, and Dan usually hid by the old Hummer in the middle of the room. Making sure the young gun was still behind him he made his way towards it. Not seeing his reflection in the case on the left he figured he was hiding somewhere on the right. As they got closer Chuck figured Dan must have found a good spot hiding spot this time around because he couldn’t see him anywhere. Walking past it he was a little disappointed nothing happened,

“I just saw it again,†Dan unexpectedly called in. “It’s behind you.â€

Dan had better not be trying to get him too, otherwise he’d stick this flashlight up his ass. He motioned for the kid to head back toward the door while he checked the back. He didn’t get far before he saw a flash of light in front of the Hummer. Heading over he saw the kid was just standing there. He wasn’t moving and had a freaked out look on his face, and a slight glow around his body. Seeing movement out of the corner of his eye he turned to his left. There was nothing there at all. Turning toward the door he went for his walkie talkie as he saw a pair of round glowing eyes. Hearing an echoing “Hohohoho,†a huge claw like appendage pointed at him and there was a bright flash of light.

Dan ran out of there the moment he saw the thing blast Chuck and the kid and flagged down the first police car he came across. After checking it out for themselves they immediately took him to the station and contacted the UNDF. Captain Hawk and Commander Jamira responded to the call on their behalf, more of a PR move on Richardson’s part than anything else. Currently Jamira was staring Dan down in one of the interrogation rooms. “I think you’re wasting our time,†Jamira sneered. “You and whatever buddy you have working here are trying to get famous by pulling one over on us.â€

“The police saw the same thing I did,†Dan insisted.

“I have the police reports right here,†Hawk, who was sitting next to the table with a data pad in hand, tapped a folder hat was on it. “We both read it.â€

“And I don’t have to believe it,†the Commander stated while Hawk kept his attention on the pad.

“And I’m not a big believer in wasting time and money on the job,†Hawk stood to show both of them the image on the pad. Dan looked surprised as he recognized the Desert Storm exhibit and his two frozen co-workers. “Bridge just hacked into the security feed, this is live footage.†Jamira grumbled something and walked away. “Did you see what did this?â€

“Not clearly,†Dan answered. “I saw a shape sticking to the shadows. That’s why I sent in Chuck and the kid. Then that thing did … that to them and I went looking for help.â€

“Left them there,†Jamira muttered a little too loudly.

“You did the right thing,†Hawk assured him. “Is there anything else that you can remember? Anything that seemed out of place.â€

“Well,†he said slowly, “Chuck looked one way for some reason, then when he turned around he got blasted.â€

“All right,†Hawk nodded, “is there anything else?â€

“Somebody was laughing,†as it occurred to him.

“Laughing?â€, Hawk repeated as Jamira grumbled something else as he left the room. “Don’t mind him.â€

“I know it sounds crazy,†Dan admitted, “But over the walkie I heard somebody laughing before Chuck got shot.â€

“Did you recognize the voice?â€

“It wasn’t anybody I knew, if it was they were disguising their voice.â€

“Thank you for the information sir,†Hawk said. “We’ll check it out immediately.†Shaking Dan’s hand he exited the room and found Jamira pacing the halls. “You were voted Mr. Personality back in school weren’t you?â€

“I don’t like having my time wasted,†he stated. “And I don’t like how everybody expects us to act like the police.â€

“I think this one is a little over the police’s head,†Hawk said looking at the video feed on the pad again. “No this looks like something that’s right up our alley.â€

“Then I’ll take my team in and blast the thing back to wherever it came from.â€

“We still have civilians in there,†he reminded him.

“And they’re probably already dead,†Jamira snapped.

“We don’t know that for sure,†Hawk argued. “And I’m not going to operate under that assumption. I’m sending in Alpha Team.â€

“Looking for more glory for Monster Squad,†he sneered.

“The glory hunter tag belongs to beta Team the last I heard,†Hawk said leaving Jamira standing there steaming.

Within the hour Alpha Team was mobilized and at the museum. Ken tried not think about this to much, shooting things in the sky was one thing but up close that was another thing entirely, while Ryo and Jess checked the door in the front of the building. “Clear,†Ryo said as he waved them in. Procedure and protocol swirled in his head as he tried to remember everything they drilled into him these past couple of months. “Just like we practiced,†Ryo said as he past him on the way into the building. Ken tried not to think about the times he screwed up in practice. Heading toward the door that lead to the room the disturbance was in Ken and Bill checked the entry way.

“Clear,†Bill said after he looked at Ken who nodded. Heading toward the door to the exhibit they kept an eye out for anything strange an ear open for that laughter the Captain told them about. Getting there they could see one of the guards still standing there like a glowing statue. Ryo and Bill took point at the door. Looking at the gun in his hand he hit the button that that activated reticule in his visor.

Jess saw him do it and smirked, “Cheater.â€

Ken smirked back, “Some of us didn’t have a mobile with six shooters over their bed.â€

“Neither did I,†Jess told him. Then that smirk got a little bigger, “They were forty fives.†Ryo waved them in and they made their way to the closest of the guards while the other two covered them. Ken kept an eye on the area while Jess ran her wrist scanner over the guy. “I’m getting life signs but they’re faint. Ken check the other one.â€

“Right,†he hurried over as Bill ran in to cover him. “I’m getting the same thing,†he said after a moment.

“I wonder if we can move them,†Bill wondered out loud.

“We’ll find out later,†Jess said. “Wade to Bridge, do you see anything?â€

“Just you four,†he answered. “Can you get to the security room? Maybe we can see what they saw from there.â€

“Watanabe to Miller,†Ryo said into her communicator,†meet us in the main lobby. Bridge can you give us direction to the security…?â€


The sound echoed throughout the room as they tried to cover every cover they could see. Standing back tot back with the rest of them Ken tried to hid his confusion. Why didn’t Dax tell him anything was there? “Nine o’clock!â€, Bill shouted. All of them turned to face what he saw. They saw glowing eyes and humongous claws that were connected to a creature with dull gray skin and a segmented looking armor, almost insect like body. Then it split into four identical ones in the next second.

“Open fire,†Ryo ordered. None of them hesitated in pulling the trigger. All of them were stunned as their shots went through all four of them. Then they disappeared without a trace.

“What the ****?’, Bill muttered. That thought ran through Ken’s mind as well as Dax still wasn’t telling him the creature was there.

“Did anybody get that thing’s life signs?â€, Jess asked.

“I couldn’t zero in on it,†Ryo told her. Then they saw those glowing eyes at the far end of the room. “Watch out,†he was able to get out before it fired it fired a beam from it’s claw. They got behind cover fast to avoid ending up like the other two. “Where in the hell did that one come from?â€

“Think I got something,†Bill said as he messed with his scanner. “Goes without saying that it’s not human.â€

“Send the information to the rest of us,†Ryo told him. In moments they saw what he picked up. “Keep an eye on your scanners and an eye on your surroundings.â€

“I just lost it,†Jess announced, as did the rest of them.

“What the hell is that thing,†Ryo said out loud. As the three of them went forward a little bit Ken stayed where he was. They were going to need a little extra help on this one. Making sure he wasn’t in their line of sight he reached for the Spark Magnifier.

“No Ken,†Daxium said suddenly.

He couldn’t keep the shock out of his face, “What do you mean no?â€

“This being is not my target.â€

Before he could ask what that meant he saw the thing again. “Behind you!â€, hearing his warning Jess quickly turned around and shot it in the shoulder. It disappeared again in an instant.

“Good thing civilian held back,†Bill commented. Too bad that wasn’t his actual plan.

“We better stick to pairs,†Jess offered. “Ken stick with me.†They took half the room while Ryo and Bill took the other. Everyone glanced at their scanners every so often to see if they got another hit. Ken saw movement out of the corner of his eye and pointed his gun at it. Then he remembered what happened to the guard as it faded from sight. “Ken look out!â€, Jess shouted as he started to turn around. She pushed him out of the way as she took the blast. She stopped moving and emitted the same glow as the guards.

“Jess!â€, Ryo shouted.

“No,†Ken whispered. Without thinking he leaned to the side and started firing at the creature. Again laughter filled the air as images of the creature shot toward the door and out of the room.

“All units outside look out for the creature,†Ryo said. Ken stood up and stared at Jess feeling totally helpless.

“What do you mean no?†Without Scott knowing Richardson had all of his conversations recorded when he went out on a mission. As such he knew he could talk to the alien. Of course he knew that before he made that offer to join the UNDF. “What do you mean no?†Right now he, Patricia and Williams listened to a particular line over and over. “What do you mean no?â€

“The alien refused to help?â€, Richardson said through his teeth as he sat there fuming. “We had a deal! Scott was supposed to be able to control him!â€

“I don’t think Scott could control him to begin with,†Williams said. Richardson gave him a look that made him fall backwards into his chair.

“I believe,†Patricia spoke up, “what the good doctor is trying to say is while he is in Scott’s body Daxium is the one in control when he is called upon.â€

“Exactly,†Williams said as he freed himself from the chair. “Scott and Daxium are two separate entities. He can’t control Daxium any more than he can control Scott.â€

“We had a deal!,†Richardson exploded, Williams nearly fell back intot eh chair. “He fights those monsters for us. Why didn’t he do that? Did Scott say why?â€

“Scott isn’t exactly talkative at the moment,†his bodyguard informed him. “He’s too busy staying with Wade and the other victims. I pushed him on it, he eventually pushed back. From the ramblings Scott implied Daxium wouldn’t confront the creature because it was from this universe and not the dark one.â€

“Why does that matter?â€, Richardson demanded.

“Scott wouldn’t say,†she told him, “in fact I don’t think he knows either.†Richardson pounded the desk.

“This is all speculation on my part of course,†Williams spoke up, “but the alien’s mission is to fight and defeat creatures from this dark universe. Since the creature is from this universe he doesn’t see it as the enemy.â€

“He had better start,†Richardson said, “or he and Scott are going to star in the next alien autopsy.â€

“That would be doing Scott a favor in his current state of mind,†Patricia said. Richardson humphed at that statement.

In one of the lab several scientist and technicians ran scanners of the affect people. Since the glow didn’t affect anybody else who touched it they were transported back to Castle. Ken silently watched them from one of the observation rooms. Several times Daxium tried to tell him that he was sorry this turn of events. Each time he ignored the attempt. Right know he focused on the techs as they continued their work and went over the readings they collected. Hawk walked into the room and stood beside him as he watched with him. After a bit he said, “They say they’re in a state of suspended animation. They’re perfectly fine we just need to figure out how to get them out of it. One of them said something about hacking into Jess’s wrist scanner to see if they can get some sort of reading.â€

Ken lowered his head a little bit. The Captain put a hand on the younger man’s shoulder, “She’s going to be fine Ken.â€

“It shouldn’t have happened,†he muttered.

“Nobody is blaming you son,†he assured him. “My first instinct would have been to go for the first image too. And she would have done that the same for any one of us.†He watched as Ken squeezed his eyes shut. “We’ll get that thing if it’s the last thing we do. Hell Ultraman won’t even know there was a problem.†Hawk didn’t expect him to snarl a little more.

“Like he even cares,†Ken said as he turned and left the room, almost running over Ryo in the process.

“Easy Ken,†he said quickly getting out of the way. “Ken?â€

“Let him go,†Hawk told him as he walked into the room and joined him

“I didn’t think he’d take it that hard,†Ryo commented. “I mean I know they picked up the friendship again once he joined but still.â€

“Just give him some time to get his head on straight. Any updates on the scanner?â€

“Bridge is writing a program to get through the field interference as we speak.†Hawk nodded. Ryo looked at his wingman and the others and said, “Is it wrong that I was expecting Ultraman to show up at some point during it all?â€

“I think we all were son,†he commented. Hawk thought about Ken’s reaction just now and some other things he’d overheard and seen since he joined up. “Ryo, do you know where Ken stands on the whole Ultraman business?â€

After thinking it over he had to admit, “I don’t really know. I’ve seen him look a little irritated or annoyed when some of the other units say they want a shot at taking Ultraman down. But outside of that whenever somebody asks him about it he gives as vague of an answer as possible and he changes the subject. Why?â€

“No real reason,†Hawk told him. “He seemed pissed at Ultraman at the moment and wanted to know if there was a history of it before now or because of what happened. I’m going to see how Bridge is coming along.†Once alone in the corridor he looked thoughtful for a moment, “I couldn’t have been that off the mark, could I?â€

The whole compound was abuzz from the events of the previous night. One of their own was out of commission and the lack of an appearance by Ultraman to stop the monster. Brooks just happened to walk by to overhear Jamira boast that he had been right to not trust the “giant freak†all along. The man was going to be unbearable after this. More so than usual at this rate. But he had to admit his masters were right this time around, the giant wouldn’t attack something from this universe. As it was they were looking for more hostile races on the off chance the UNDF was able to take this Baltan, as they were called, out. It was so simple he was surprised he hadn’t thought of it before. But right now the continued success rate was going to depend on Scott’s influence on the giant.

“Speak of the devil,†he mumbled to himself as he entered one of the observation halls. Scott was looking out the hall’s large windows at the world outside, not even paying attention to anything else. Peter’s hand twitched ever so slightly, nobody would know and he wouldn’t have time to react. Then common sense returned to him as he realized there were several security cameras on the deck and more than a few of them catalogue his path. It might be a bit risky but perhaps he could underscore his faith in the giant a little more, if what he heard was right. Putting on a concerned look he walked up to him, “Is everything alright Ken?†Scott jumped a little. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you, and you did say I could cal you Ken, correct?â€

“Yeah,†he said as he regained his composure. “Did you need something Mr. Brooks?â€

“Not really, you looked upset. And please call me Peter.â€

“I had a lot on my mind recently.â€

“Yes we all have,†he said. “Especially since last night. We put our faith in a so called superior being and just like that he doesn’t appear when we need him the most.†Scott lowered his head and Peter silently enjoyed seeing the anger grow inside of him. “My father was never a religious man, I guess some of it rubbed off on me, I’m sorry if I upset you in some way.â€

“No I just…,†he paused, “but this time I think I see his point.â€

“Well he always said that the only one you can really put any faith in those around you, even then you should expect to be disappointed. He was a rather cynical manâ€

“Doesn’t mean he wasn’t right,†Scott suddenly got this strange look on his face and left him alone in a hurry. Peter wondered if he just realized he was speaking to one of his “prime suspectsâ€.

Another thought ran through his head as well, “Perhaps I might have pushed a little too much this time.â€

The lab where Jess and the others were was empty by the time Ken came back, on lunch or something right now he really didn’t care. Walking over to her he leaned back against a table and just stared at her. “Looks like I screwed up again huh?â€, he told her. “I don’t know if I should apologize for falling into that trap like an idiot or for trusting Dax like an idiot.†His only answer to that was the sensation of Dax was trying to tell him something again. Fed up he looked inside and was face to face with Daxium. “What do you want?â€

“I realize you are upset with me Ken…â€

“Upset!â€, he exploded. “It’s your fault this happened!â€

“My mission only pertains to the beings from the dark universe. I cannot in good conscious knowingly harm a being not involved in the war.â€

“But you have no problem commandeering the body of somebody from this universe when it suits your needs do you?â€

“Ken that is not how our situation works…â€

“Do you even care that could have been us if she didn’t push me out of the way?â€, Ken demanded getting angrier and angrier with each passing second. “I would have been the one frozen in time and what would you have done then?â€

“We’re fortunate that didn’t happen.â€

He got right in his silver face and spat, “Tell that to Jess.†Looking back out he was face to face with the frozen Jessica. “Sorry you had to see that,†he told here knowing she didn’t see or hear any of it. “God Jess this is where I need you to tell me to snap the hell out of it.â€

At his masters request he set this Baltan up in a safe area, so he decided to place him, her the hell if he knew, in one of his contact areas. Not one of his regular spot but one he had used before once or twice in the past. In fact he almost forgot about it. He remembered why as soon as he passed those small towns that were nearby. He was fairly well known now thanks to all the media attention so it would be hard to explain why he headed out here on a semi regular basis. As it was Brooks had to study maps of the area to find an alternate route to the mountains that held the hidden area. It added an hour to his travel time but it did the deed.

Right now he and the Baltan stood in front of a swirling vortex as his masters spoke to them, “And there is no sign of the light being?â€

“None so far,†Brooks answered.

“Excellent,†he said, “things are finally going our way Avatar.â€

“It appears so,†he agreed. “So what are we going to do with… our friend here?â€

“He has been compensated already,†the figure in the vortex replied. “Once he has completed his task he will be set free. Then begins the next step in taking over this bastard planet and use it population to invade the light universe.â€

The Baltan suddenly spoke up, “No.â€

The shape in the vortex turned to look at him as Peter took a few moments to process what he just heard, “I beg your pardon?â€

“This planet is now ours,†the Baltan said in response. “We will subject the population and add it to our empire.â€

“I do believe we had dibs on this planet first, and might I add for much longer,†Brooks informed him.

“That is not our concern. You have seen what I can do. From what I have witnessed you prove to be no threat to us. This planet will be ours.†The Baltan turned away and headed out of the cave.

Peter looked back at the portal, putting a hand to his chin. The form in the portal seemed to nod his head before fading away. He grinned ever so slightly, “I do believe I have a word to say about that.â€

“And what would that be?â€, the Baltan said without turning around.

Hand crackling with dark energy Peter caught hit with a beam that knocked the alien to the ground, “Gotcha.†Watching him struggle to get up Peter blasted him again. “Arrogant creature, do you really think I’m going to prefer that insufferable trait in you when I don’t tolerate it in others?†Keeping the beam on him the alien writhed and screamed in pain. A thought occurred to him that made him smile, “I’m not going to kill you, not just yet. But I am going to try something I’ve done before, just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.†The beam continuing to hold him down he got close enough to put that hand on his chest. It’s round eyes and various parts of it’s armor started leaking dark energy as it was ravaged from the inside and forcible changed. “Let’s see if we can draw Ultraman out of hiding, hmm?â€

“It has a hyper mode too?â€, Bill asked while Hawk and the others looked one. Bridge had just presented them with a theory about the creature moving trick.

“Not exactly,†Bridge said trying to find a way to clarify his findings. “It’s more like it’s teleporting, but at such a speed it’s leaving an after image of itself in it’s place.â€

“How did you figure that out?â€, Ryo asked him. “I saw some eggheads arguing about it about five minutes before the Captain called this meeting.â€

“They are working on theory,†Bridge explained. “Me and a few others were trying to get the facts. Facts we got we got when we finally got into your wrist scanners readout and found something you didn’t notice before,†he imputed the results from the combined readout into the holo table between them. “I’m sure you three remember this particular moment,†he commented as the creature apparently split into four. “We were able to get a life sign reading at this range surprisingly enough. I’m going to slow it down so you can see it’s heartbeat.†After a moment they could see the heart start beating on one image and finish on another. The pattern was random but they could see the heartbeat clear as day.

“You don’t have to tell me that Williams is salivating trying to figure out how that works,†Hawk said.

“I needed a boat to get across the hallway to get here,†Bridge joked.

“How does that help us defeat that thing?â€, Ken demanded.

“Easy son,†Hawk told him, “one step at a time.â€

â€We want to get the bastard too,†Ryo assured him.

“But Civilian does have a point,†Bill added.

“We’re working on it,†Bridge told him. Before he could go one the alarms sounded. Hooking it the table into the alert system he pulled it up on the table. “The creature is back, I’ve found a news feed. I’m patching into it now.†Soon the computers pulled up several screen that Bridge was able to condense into a single 3D image. Hawk looked past it at Ken and his reaction. The others watched as a now giant sized alien trashed around some town.

“And he can grow to Ultraman size too,†Bill said. “Great.â€

“Maybe he’ll show up this time,†Ryo commented. Ken’s features darkened a bit.

“I want all Razor Wings in the air and Scan Tracks on the ground,†Hawk ordered.

“Yes sir,†they answered and headed for the door. Hawk held Ken back so he could have a moment alone with him.â€

“Ken I want you civilian evacuation duty for this one.â€

“Captain I can do my job,†he protested.

“And I don’t your head is in the right place at the moment,†he said firmly. “And I don’t want others to get hurt because of it.†Ken didn’t have an immediate response as he looked away, but Hawk could see the young man seething. “We’ll talk after this over, but can I trust you to follow orders?â€

He hesitated to answer at first but eventually he said, “Yes sir.â€

“Good, but don’t worry son we’re planning on showing that giant bastard that you don’t **** with Monster Squad.†He didn’t look convinced but he didn’t argue the point either.

The UNDF forces mobilized quickly and were engaging the giant creature within minutes. Those giants claws of his seemed to be able to fire some sort of destructive ray as well. Razor Wings danced around it while Scan Tracks tried to get it’s attention to give the evacuation teams more time to do their jobs. However any paying attention to the conflict would have noticed a familiar energy signature in it’s beam if you knew what to look for. One person did and he was on the street making sure it was clear. “Scott to Castle, sector K8 is clear heading toward K7.â€

“Understood,†Bridge answered.

Trying very hard to ignore the creature he kept his focus on his wrist scanner. Not seeing any life signs so far he looked down at his communicator as Richardson bellowed, “What are you waiting for Scott?! Set that bastard after it?†Ken switched his communicator off with a little more force than was necessary. Of course Daxium was practically screaming at him trying to get his attention. Since that was the one voice he couldn’t readily turn off he finally got fed up enough to look inwards.

“What?!â€, he demanded once they were face to face. “Now that it’s your size you’re suddenly interested. Well forget it, you said this was our problem and we’ll take care of it.â€

“Ken can you not sense the dark energy coming from the creature now?â€

He had to look away as he answered, “Yes.â€

“Then let me out to battle him.â€

“No,†he said shaking his head. “Because that thing is working with whomever working with those guys you’re fighting and is probably waiting to see if you’re going to show up.â€

Daxium tried to reason with him, “We do not know if that creature has been working with them this entire time.â€

“If they weren’t working together before they are now!â€, he snapped. “I let you out and we just handed them the perfect weapon because you won’t go after anything from this universe as long as they don’t mess with it. And you can’t tell me they won’t search the universe looking for somebody else.â€

“There is some truth to your words,†Daxium was forced to admit. “This goes against my original mission statement but I feel I need to modify it given the circumstances.â€

“So you’ll get off your ass and help us?â€

“In certain situations,†he amended. “If the threat, as you put it, is my size then I will fight it.â€

“I guess it will have to do for now,†Ken said bitterly.

“I’m sorry that this has put a strain on our friendship Ken.â€

“So am I Dax,†he agreed. “We’ll talk after this is over.â€

“Agreed.†Coming back to his senses Ken checked his scanner one more time to make sure the area was still clear. Grateful he didn’t give into the urge to throw the Spark Magnifier into his dresser he held it in his hand. Taking one more look he held it over his head and squeezed the handle.

The column of light faded away revealing Daxium facing the Alien Baltan and took a fighting stance, “Shiah!â€

“Finally the bastard doing what he’s told,†Richardson muttered as he watched the feed from his office.

“About time,†Hawk said. “All units keep out of their way.†Over the line he heard Jamira grumble something.

The Baltan stopped it’s rampage and stared at Daxium before uttering a deep, “Hohohoho.†Raising it’s claws it fired another blast, Daxium did a cartwheel to get out of the way and prepared to fire a Flashbolt when he noticed the alien was gone. Remembering what he learned through Ken he quickly spun around with a kick that caught the Baltan in the gut. He dodged when it fired another blast. He looked up in surprise as the building behind him started emitting that same glow as the others. It was enough of a distraction to blast him with that destructive beam. Grunting in pain he fell back against a building and then a knee.

The Baltan was on top of him in no time pounding him with those massive claw like appendages. The giant fought back hard eventually forcing the alien back. Stunning it with several punches a hard kick sent it flying back. As it struggled to it’s feet Daxium saw his chance and prepared to fire the Dimensional Storm Ray. Crossing his hands at the wrist a multi-colored stream of energy fired out of his upright right hand. The baltan quickly used it’s teleportation trick to avoid it. As the ground behind it’s previous position exploded upon impact of the ray. It set up position as he turned around to find him and fired the destructive beam again. Rolling out of the way at the last second he crossed his arms across his chest and flung them down going into Hyper Mode. Catching the alien off with his new speed he quickly got closer avoiding the beams. Jumping up he delivered a flying kick that knocked it to the ground.

A few more quick blows and he was able to force the Baltan into the open area between the town and the nearby mountain range. With more room to maneuver he held out his right arm as the Light Flash whip extended from his hand. Striking the alien a few time it tried to fire it’s destructive beam again. Daxium jumped up and flipped back to avoid it. Then he ran in and black flipped again catching him under the chin with the tip of his foot. Back flipping away from him a few times he drew a circle in the air and threw the Hyper Saw. Daxium watched the image ready for it to stop. He didn’t know it could fire that beam while teleporting. Knocked back he was suddenly hit from behind knocked him forward.

Forced to his knee as the images circled around him and fired at will. The humans watching this wanted to help but felt helpless as the couldn’t get a clear lock on their sensors. Those like Jamira enjoyed seeing the giant being taken down a peg or two. In the middle of the barrage Daxium started to draw in energy as the jewel started to flash, vision speeding up enough to catch a glimpse of the alien’s solid form during it all. Trying to time this just right he made the faintest of flinches and in less than a second he caught the Baltan and slammed both of them into the mountain causing it to shake and crumble a bit. Arms almost a blur he pounded away at the alien’s body as the jewel started to flash faster. Stepping back he extended the Light Flash one more time and spun around slicing through the Baltan and the mountainside. The Baltan exploded a moment later and Daxium fell to a knee. Forcing himself back up he flew off into the sky, “Shiah!â€

Bill watched him fly off saying, “Did that look pissed to anybody else? Because that looked pissed to me.â€

“We’ll discuss it later,†Hawk told him. “Castle what is the condition of the others?â€

“Wade to Hawk, what the hell just happened?â€, Jess asked sounding confused. Back at Castle she and the guards looked around trying to figure out what happened.

Hawk and everybody in Alpha Team who heard that felt very relieved at hearing her voice, a relief that they didn’t think was possible. “I’ll explain later. All units return to Castle.â€

Despite her protest that she was perfectly fine the doctors in Castle medical wing insisted that she and the guards stay overnight for observation. Although the Captain jokingly threatened to make it an order she put her foot down at being put in a bed. She’ll stay in the room if she had to but a bed was for sleeping … and other things. And she wasn’t in the mode for either at the moment. As it was she had to endure the Captain and the others hovering around her sat she sat it the table in the room to make sure she was alright. “I’m fine,†she said getting aggravated. “How many times do I have to say it?â€

“We were just worried about you Jess, that’s all,†Ryo said for the group/

“Oh yeah, you were really worried,†she said with a slight smirk. “Four of you and I don’t see a gift among you.â€

“The gift shop wasn’t open,†Ken said without missing a beat. Just like old times, well almost.

“That was my line,†Bill told him.

“Then say it faster next time,†Ken shot back.

“Youâing to be a next time,†Jess piped in.

“Excuse me,†a male nurse said from the door. “Dr. Jones wanted the patient to get her rest.â€

“I’m fine,†she insisted. Tilting her head as she watched him leave she muttered, “And so are you.â€

Bill caught the look on her face, “Maybe one of us should stay around to protect him from her.â€

She gave him a look that Ken had seen more than once in his short life, “I’m glad I didn’t say that one.â€

“She’s going to let him have it?â€, Ryo asked. When he said yeas he patted Bill on the shoulder, “Nice knowing you man.â€

Hawk decided then to speak up, “Unfortunately the doctors can overrule me so we better go. I know you’re an independent woman and all, but I’m having Bridge going over the security footage while you were in the lab. He see’s anybody taking the opportunity to get all grabby hands his ass is going to be dust.â€

“Then the Captain is going to let the rest of us have a turn,†Bill joke.

With a look from Hawk Ryo started to shepard him toward the door. He told Jess, “Get your rest now, because I’m going to work you double time tomorrow.â€

“Yes sir,†she said with a salute. As they started to leave she got Ken’s wrist before he could get out of reach. “Can you stay for a moment longer?â€, she said as he looked at her. Once they were alone she said, “So I hear you went all Mister Grumpy Face once I got frozen.†He didn’t answer her right away. “You’re not reading anything into that are you? I would have done that for anybody on the team.â€

“I know, it’s…,†he hesitated before continuing, “I just got you back as a friend. I’d hate to think I screwed that up again.â€

“You are going to have to act like your brother to screw it up again, and we both know that’s not happening anytime soon,†she told him. He slowly started to smile. “But move faster next time, because I’m going to let you get blasted.â€

“Fair enough,†he said. “I’d better get going before Bill starts getting thoughts in his head.â€

“Yeah that will be a dangerous thing,†she said. “Because I will be forced to hurt him.â€

He went to the door before turning back around, “Do you want me to get that nurse back in here? Give you two a little alone time?â€

“You’re lucky I don’t have my gun.â€

ED – Shinedown – Fly From the Inside


Episode 12

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn In My Light

Head for the garage, hanger, he still didn’t know what they called it around here but that was what he was told. Ken couldn’t help but wonder why the Captain called him down there. Granted he didn’t spend as much time down there as he thought he would, especially since Doctor Williams kept calling him to help with the “super jet”, and that was in between the missions and his studies, when he was down there he got along with pretty much everybody. Hell it was the only place on the entire base were nobody called him the civilian. They pretty much accepted him as one of their own as soon as he got elbow deep in one of the Scan Track’s engine blocks they had put aside for maintenance. He was sure if anybody had a problem with him they would have gone to him first and not to Captain Hawk.

Once there he looked around until he heard Hawk call out, “Ken over here.” Finally seeing him he walked over there saying hi to a couple of people as he based them.

“Dude, what did you do?”, one of them asked.

He could only answer with, “Hell if I know.” The Captain apparently overheard and didn’t look amused. Trying to appease him he tried to think of the most appropriate way to respond. “You wanted to see me sir?”

“Don’t force it you look like you’re about to break something,” Hawk told him. “I called you down here because I wanted your opinion on something.” Curious he followed to a area of the hanger that had something covered by a tarp tucked away in the corner. Hawk removed the cover to reveal an old GTO in pristine condition. Ken put his hand to his mouth to keep his jaw from dropping. “Since you were a mechanic in your previous life I thought you might be able to figure out the problem I’m having with her.”

“You knew I was a mechanic before I joined up, so why show me this now?”

“This is my baby,” he replied. “I’m not going to show her to anybody just off the street. Besides I’ve asked around and the guys around here say you’re pretty good.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Ken smirked. “What kind of problem are you having with her?”

“I’m getting this sputtering sound after she’s been running for awhile.”

“Let me hear it.” Hawk got behind the wheel and brought the engine to life. Ken lowered his head and closed his eyes and listened. After a bit he heard what the Captain was talking about. Singling for him to cut it off he waited until he was out of the car before saying, “Two questions, how long has it been doing that? And why haven’t you had the guys around here look at it first?”

“For a few months and the Chef won’t allow it,” he answered. “He says it’s misappropriation of labor and material. I’d figured since you not officially part of his staff I’d be able to get around it. Do you think you know what’s wrong with her?”

“I got an idea or two,” he said thinking it over. Thinking some more he started smiling to himself, “But if you can fix it so they won’t miss either of us for a couple of hours I know a place where you won’t have to worry about the Chief bitching about materials and labor.”

Hawk just looked at him, trying to figure out if this was a big heaping pile of BS or not. “Just out of morbid curiosity I’m going to arrange that just to see what you’re talking about.”

“Great you get thing ready and I’ll arrange things on my end.” Hawk shook his head and reached for his communicator. Meanwhile Ken reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. Dialing a familiar number he waited until he heard a greeting he used to hear in his sleep. “Hey Boss it’s Ken. Please tell me Rose is there and Jeff isn’t.” Smiling when he got the answer he said, “Perfect, tell her I got a customer for her.”

Within the hour Hawk was following Ken off of base and to the garage he used to work at. They would have been out of there sooner but Hawk wanted them to go in civilian gear, a simple task for Ken since all he had to do was take off his jacket. A half hour later he pulled up and told the Captain to let him go in first. A huge smile on his face as he opened the door he went, “My God, this place is still open?”

“Get in here you jackass,” Rose told him before giving him a hug. “Why did you stay away do long?”

“You guys are the one who pushed me to join,” he reminded her. Pulling away he looked at her stomach, “I’d asked if you’ve been busy but I think I already have me answer.”

She slapped his arm, “Who told you? I just found out a couple of weeks ago.”

“Janet sent me an e-mail. Congratulations,” he hugged her again. “You planning on turning this one into a grease jockey too?”

“Maybe, if it’s a boy I’ll probably do something a little more frilly,” she joked. “Now where’s this machine you wanted me to look at?”

“Oh right,” Ken said heading for the door. “Bring her in Captain.” John ran over and raised the garage door to let Hawk coast his baby through the opening. Rose stared at it for a long time after it came to a stop. Ken looked at her, “Ah Rose, you starting to drool a little. Rose? Somebody get me a bucket.”

“That’s a nineteen sixties GTO,” she said as she walked in front of it. When she finally heard the sputtering in the engine she shot the dirtiest look at Hawk that Ken had ever seen on her, “What did you do to it?”

“That’s my commanding officer,” Ken said in her ear.

“So? He’s not mine,” she shot back.

“Not to sound insensitive or anything Miss,” Hawk began, “but have you worked on a GTO before? This is my pride and joy and I don’t want to hand her off to just anybody.”

“I cut my teeth on my Grandfather’s,” she informed him. “How long has it been doing that?”

“A few months,” Hawk answered.

She winced, “Why did you wait so long to get her up here?”

“I didn’t know this place existed,” he told her.

“That’s because our boss,” she looked right at him through his office window and spoke a little louder, “doesn’t advertise.” He looked back at her and shook his head.

John looked at Ken then to Hawk as he joked, “Most of us figured some money would have opened up once we unloaded him on you guys.”

“Don’t you just feel the love,” Ken deadpanned.

Rose shoved him, “How come you didn’t tell him about this place sooner then?”

“I just found out he had it today,” he said. “What do you think? Fuel valves?”

“One of the first things that popped into my head,” Rose answered. “Hopefully it’ll be an easy fix. So what are you doing here? You could have just given him directions.”

“I wanted to make sure my old boss gave my new boss a good deal. At least try to weasel a finder’s fee out of him.”

Peter walked by a series of monitors in the control room trying to look mildly interested in what was going on. But in actually he was trying to see what was going on one screen in particular as he passed by it. His masters had him plant a new monster in the sector it was covering, Magnatron. It was in the middle of open country and it should have gone unnoticed until it was too late. Then he discovered one of the idiots on the board approved a sensor station to placate the scientists in the operation. Fortunately he was in the control room enough that his presence wasn’t immediately questioned and that brought him a little extra time in case Magmatron was discovered before it was ready. That came close to happening with Melba but he was able to break free then.

So far it had been days and nothing was amiss with the sensors yet. But he couldn’t relax just yet, worst case the sensor went off and the entire base would mobilize. But perhaps he placed it deep enough underground they wouldn’t detect it. Continuing on he noticed the person stationed at the screen lean forward a bit. Obviously he started to relax a bit too soon.

“I’m getting a reading,” she said. “Two point eight on the Richter scale.”

“I’m pulling it up on the man screen,” Bridge announced. In moments the entire room was looking at what she was. “I’m not getting any sort of life sign reading. What’s the usual seismic activity for the area?”

“It’s pretty stable,” she answered. “It’s never been above a one once since the installation went active.”

Peter faked looking concerned as he asked, “Is this something we should be worried about?”

“I’m not sure yet,” Bridge answered. “I’m going to dig through the archives for any other sensor readings done in the area. For all we know it could be a regular spike we weren’t previously aware of. Jill, keep an eye on it in the meantime. Will notify Captain Hawk in case it gets worse.”

“You got it,” she said going back to her screen. Peter took that opportunity to leave saying he didn’t want to get in their way. But he put that accidental tip about seismic activity and put it away in his mind the next time his masters wanted to place a monster underground. It would definitely hid the fact something was there for a little longer.

“It’s true, you do learn something new every day.”

Walking up to Hawk’s office she saw the door was open so she knocked to announce her presence. The Captain looked up from a report he was reading so she asked, “I hear you saw Ken in his natural habitat the other day.”

“And you are officially the last person on the team to ask me that,” he told her while putting the report down. “Please tell me you’re not going to ask what he was like while he was there.”

“It’s Ken in a garage,” she said walking up to the desk. “I knew what he was like when we were dating. I don’t imagine it changed all that much.” Turning her head to get a look at the file Hawk turned it so she wouldn’t have to stretch her neck. “Unusual seismic activity huh? Is that something we should be worried about?”

“Bridge just gave me this particular report,” he told her. “Apparently it’s been steadily growing for the past couple of days. He figures it something we should keep an eye on.”

“Could it be another monster?”

“Wade I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to think everything is caused by a monster.”

“The world mysteries are solved then,” she smirked. “We just have to figure out what kind of monster it is this time.”

“That’s why we have Bridge and the others, we just have to stop them when they show up.”

“That makes it sound so easy,” she said.

“It’s a breeze to make something sound easy,” he said. “Those who are really good at it go into command.” She smiled at his joke. “Do me a favor and get the others up to speed if you see them. We’re sending a survey team to the area to check things out so I want the prepared for it just in case.”

“Yes sir,” she saluted. :If it is a monster it’s a good thing it’s in a remote area.”

“You’re speaking to the choir Jess. Oh if you can see if Williams had heard about this yet. When this outfit started he pushed hard for a vehicle that could dig underground. He was shot down pretty quick but something like this might spark it back up again.”

“I’ll have Bill do that part. Last time I did that Williams talked my ear off.”

“And I thought you liked Bill.”

“Eh, he owes me one. He made me go with him when he wanted to talk to Jamira’s Beta Team.”

“I heard about that,” he grimaced. “Carry on as planned then.”

With the sun beating down overhead a lone Scan Track rolled to a stop in the middle of an area with only knee high dry grass and a few boulders of various sizes. Most of the occupants exited and looked around the area. “Why would they want a sensor station all the way out here?”, one of them asked.

“Who know,” The one still in the Track answered. “I want to know why they wanted it to look like a rock.”

The third one answered, “They figured it would attract less attention than if they put up the standard shack.”

“Wasn’t really looking for an answer Larry, just thinking out loud.”

“Stacy stop arguing with Larry,” the first spoke up. “The map says it’s that one over there. Pull the track up closer.”

“On it,” Stacy said. He and Larry moved out of the way as she stopped the Scan track right next to the fake boulder. “It’s all you now Jase.”

He nodded as he used his wrist scanner to send a signal to open up the façade. Larry hopped in the back to keep an eye on the radar for any outsiders coming into range. Stacy got out and kneeled next to Jase as he studied the readings. “I’m not picking up anything out of the ordinary. Hold on, we got a spike coming.” They had time to brace themselves as the ground started to shake around them. “That was a five point three. “Larry see if you can get an ultrasound look at what’s under us.”

“I’m already doing it,” he answered. After several moments he announced, “I think I got something. Something big. Stacy send the feed back to Castle.”

“Right,” she jumped into the seat next to him and established a link. “Scan Track seventeen to Castle we are sending you an image now.”

“Image received,” Bridge responded.

“Here comes a big one!,” Jase shouted.

“Something’s coming up!”, Larry yelled at the same time. A huge rock like spire shot out of the ground obliterating the Scan Track, the fake boulder and the poor souls sent out there to investigate.

After Castle lost contact with the Scan track alerts rang throughout the complex. Ryo and Ken ran into the Alpha Team war room as the others waited for them. “We got a hot one,” Hawk told all of them. “Bridge do you have that new images yet?”

“I just got them Captain,” he answered. “I’m hooking the satellite feed into the war room now.” The holo table came to life to show them the brand new terrain that literally popped up moments ago.”

Eyes on what he was seeing Ken thought, “Dax, are you picking up anything?”

“Not from this distance,” was the response.

“Just remember our deal in case it’s like last time.”

In the real world Jess, “Does this have to do with that seismic report you let me look at?”

“I’m afraid so,” Hawk said. “We lost contact with the team we sent out there.”

“Bridge spoke up,” They sent us an ultrasound image right before we lost contact.”

“Show us,” Hawk ordered. The satellite image rose up to show the area underneath it. Right under the spire was an organic mass that was pretty sizeable.

Bill commented, “I’m guessing that’s not part of the local scenery.”

Ryo looked at it and wondered out loud, “Where are these things coming from?” Ken silently wondered how the person behind this was getting them past Dax. According to him the energy needed to pen a portal for something this size should have alerted him the moment it happened.

“You know the drill people,” Hawk said, “Wings in the air and Tracks on the ground. I want that thing surrounded eight ways to Sunday. Ken I want you and the other Scan Tracks to keep an extra eye open. I do not want to lose anybody else to this thing.”

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Ken told him.

“Monster Squad move out.”

It was a long quiet trip in the Scan Tracks as the Razor Wings went on ahead of them. Ken’s Track and the others kept an open ear to the comm. chatter as they got closer. Adding that to keeping an eye on their surrounding and waiting for Dax to pick up something was Getting Ken one sizable headache. “I’m not seeing anything so far,” the guy sitting behind them at the sensor control said. Ken jumped a little forgetting he was there.

Hearing hawk in his head saying he had to rely on those with him instead of trying to do it all himself he said, “Let me know the moment you see anything out of the ordinary.”

“Does that count?”, the driver said pointing at the horizon ahead of them as the peak of the spire was starting to come into view.

“We already knew about that,” Ken said. “Anything new pops up let me know.”

“Hopefully not literally,” the scanner guy grinned.

“I’m obviously too soft on you guys,” Ken told them.

“All Scan Tracks slow down and circle the spire,” Hawk order from Razor Wing one. “For now do a continuous scan. Razor Wings two, four and twelve fly around the spire to see if the mass underneath it reacts.”

“Understood,” Ken said in a hail of acknowledgments. “Of this is going to be fun.”

“This is what we signed on for,” the driver said as he pulled them into position. “Well most of sighed up anyway,” he smirked shooting a look toward Ken. He didn’t respond, mainly because was sending him a hard buzz in the back of his head.

Over the comm. channel he heard Jamira say, “Beta Team begin ultrasonic scanning of the mass.” They acknowledged him seconds later.

“Hey I think I’m getting something,” scanner guy said. “The spire is starting to vibrate a bit.” That went with the spike in the buzz he was getting.

“Keep that engine running,” Ken said.

“You really didn’t have to tell me that,” the driver told him.

“Oh ****,” Ken blurted as another spire shot up near Beta Team’s location.

“Razor Wings open fire,” Hawk ordered. The missiles payload barely did anything to the spire as it continued to grow. From his position he saw the ground start to shake in the area around the Scan Tracks. He saw them start to move before he could even utter a word.

“Captain!”, Bridge yelled over the link. “It’s the ultrasonic. We lost the previous team right after the initiated it. There were too many this time around for it to get an accurate lock from the look of things.”

“Understood. All units performing an ultrasonic scan are to cease immediately.” He watched as the ground slowly stopped shaking. “Any damage ground team?”

“We’re just a little shaken up,” Ken said over the line. Then he realized what he said, “No pun intended. Beta Team looked like they took the worst of it.”

“Keep your nose out of our business civilian,” Jamira barked. “We should have had that bit of information before we set out. I’m going to…”

“Take it up with me Commander,” Hawk cut him off. “After this is over. Bridge keep a eye on those readings. I want to know the second that thing starts making some noise.”

“Understood Captain,” he replied.

Jess clicked into the line, “Captain maybe we should make some noise first. If it’s incubating underground maybe we can force it out before it’s ready.”

“That might what the spires are for,” Ryo added. “To protect it from attack before it’s ready.

“I don’t suppose you guys have a giant drill back at base I don’t know about yet,” Ken asked.

“Don’t say that over an open line,” Hawk told him hoping Williams wasn’t listening back at base.

“What did I say now?”, Ken asked. Before he could get an answer the ground started to shake, particularly around the Track he was in. “What the Hell?” Looking around he saw the ground wasn’t shaking as bad around the other Scan Tracks. And that sensation he was getting from Dax spike so high he was practically yelling that his head felt like he was going to split open. He got the message clear as day, that monster was detecting Dax and was going to attack. “Back us up now!”, he yelled at the driver. He didn’t argue as he put the machine into reverse and drove as fast as the machine could go. Others were doinght he same as more spires of various sizes started to shot up from the ground. Hawk ordered the Razor Wings to target the new uprising rocks and again it was no good. A sudden spire caught their Scan Track by the side and flipped Ken and the others over several times.

The mass of spires finally started to crack as a brown Tyrannosaurs type of head was visible and roared revealing ragged grey looking teeth. More of it broke free revealing similar leathery skin and small spire like protrusions on it’s back. Shaking the loose debris off it’s body and looked around. Still functioning Scan Tracks opened fire on the creature. The missiles impacted it’s hide but it didn’t act like it was affected. The spires on it’s back started to glow as more spires rose from the ground around in the direction it was looking “Captain are you seeing that?”, Bill asked.

“I see it,” he replied. “Razor Wing two we are going to fly behind it and attack those things on it’s back.”

“Roger,” Ryo and Jess answered. Waiting for Razor Wing two to form up both jets flew around and coming up on the rear of the monster as a tail with four spikes, two on each side, was freed revealing the whole monster. Targeting the same spike on it’s back Jess and hawk each fired a missile. The monster roared in pain for a bit and quickly turned around to face it’s attackers. Bill and Ryo both moved to avoid a row of spires coming at them.

“Good thing that thing doesn’t shoot anything,” Ryo commented.

“Don’t jinx it,” jess said as she looked back to make sure they were going to get caught from behind.

In the flipped over Scan Track Ken slowly came to holding his head, feeling blood under his hand, as he tried to figure out where the hell he was. The driver and scanner guy was both still out but he got a pulse on both. Dam it hurt to move. Carefully unhooking himself from his seat he lowered himself down, using the leg that didn’t hurt that much to break out the window and crawled out. Trying to stand he stumbled to a knee as blood started to drip down his face now. Eyes slowly focused on the monster. IN the next instant the Spark Magnifier was in his hand and over his head as he disappeared in a ball of light that formed as giant column of light revealing he being inside, “Shiah!”

Jumping over the rock spires in the way he landed a flying kick to the monster’s head. Magnatron stumbled to the side to fight falling down. It looked at Daxium and roared again before spinning round trying to catch the giant with it’s spiked tail. Daxium easily ducked it and ran in trying to knock it down. The creature stood it’s ground and pounded Daxium on the back sending him to the ground. Stomping him on the back as the Razor Wings tried to get him to stop with their missiles. It backed away as the spires on it’s back started to glow again as a spire rose up and caught him in the gut sending him into the air and crashing back to the ground. Getting to a knee he fired off a Flashbolt despite the pain that caught the creature off guard. Getting to his feet he ran at Magnatron only to stop when he saw the spires on it’s back start to glow again. Backing up to avoid another one coming up from the ground he and the humans around the battle were stunned to see to see rocks rise up from the ground and hover in the air. Daxium continued to back away in order to make sure he wasn’t surrounded.

Without warning on of the rock fragments shot forward that he easily sidestepped. Then another came at him the he barely dodged. Then more came at him so fast he had to put up the force shield to protect himself from the barrage. “I told you not to jinx it,” Jess told Ryo. Seeing a small opening in the barrage he dropped the field and banged his forearms together to go into Power Mode. Magnatron sent more rocks in his direction that he smashed and kicked in the air as he ran forward.

“He’s going old School,” Bill quipped.

Finally past the floating rocks he punched Magnatron with all he had, it’s head whipped at the side from the impact. Keeping up the barrage he had the giant monster backing up. Grabbing it by the head and with a huge grunt he picked it up in a suplex like move slamming back to the ground. Getting to his feet he straddled the creature and started punching it. A rock flew up and nailed him in the back of the head. More came at him forcing him off Magnatron. Getting to it’s feet it swung around smashing it’s tail into his side. He wasn’t fast enough in this form to avoid that spike tail as it came at him again and again. Scan tracks and Razor Wings fired away but more spires formed to protect it from them. Buta few were able to get through as the creature practically pinned itself in and hinder it’s movements. The Jewel starting to flash Daxium grabbed it’s tail and wouldn’t let go.

The monster cried out in surprise as it tried to get away. Daxium started swinging side to side by the tail by the tail, slamming it into the spires to break them free of the enclosure then spun the creature around in a circle before letting go. As it got up he put his fist by the blinking jewel and drew in energy as the spires on it’s back started to glow. Punching the ground unleashing the Giga Wave huge spires formed between him and the monster. The wave crashed through them all leaving a huge cloud of dust that hung in the air. Daxium stood there waiting for it to clear when another barrage of rocks flew at him through the dust smacking him to the ground. “Holy ****,” Bill said as everyone looked on stunned as the dust cleared revealing Magntron with more rocks floating around him.

Jewel starting to blink faster as more rocks came at him and not seeing any other choice he jumped up and flew into the air. The rocks tried to follow him put he flew just fast enough to outpace them Stopping in the air and hovering above the creature he put his hands to his chest and drew in energy one more time then threw his arms out. Moving his right arm up and the left one down he circled them back to his chest, seemingly condensing the energy trapped between the in to a ball of swirling energy between his hands. More spires formed around Magnatron. Twisting his arms and bringing the heel of his hands together as he forced his hands forward the globe shot toward the monster before it could form it’s rocky shield all the way. The globe of energy hit denting it’s skin into a similar shape as it continued to spin. Then it went in and Magnatron exploded a moment later. Daxium stayed just long enough to make sure it was really gone before flying off, “Shaih!”

When one of the surviving Scan Tracks found them Ken was trying to free the driver. They hurried out and quickly signaled the other units and took over. “Hang back civilian we got this.” Ken was about to argue when the man cut him off, “Look man you’re not in that great of shape yourself. Tony, check him out while Mike and me get the other two out. This one time Ken decided to listen to him.

When he was finally cleared of the medical wing he walked to the halls to the Alpha Team war room. A few people stopped and asked how he was, a far cry from when he first walked these hall. Although something told him that civilian nickname was going to stay around for the long haul. Could be worse he guessed. “Oh Mr. Scott,” Dr. Williams said as he saw him come in the other direction, “if I could ask you a…”

Figure what it was going to be and seeing nobody else around and since he asked Dax ahead of time he said, “He called it the Storm Globe,” and kept on walking.

“Ah,” Williams uttered as he took a corner too soon and almost ran into a wall.

When he got to the war room the team was already looking at the new geography that Dax and the monster created. “I’m guessing that’s not going away anytime soon,” he said as he joined them at the table.

“Not according to the experts,” Hawk answered. “Apparently this is as permanent s you can get. The higher ups are trying to figure what to do with it.”

“I’ve been saying we should name it,” Bill spoke up.

“I like that idea,” Ken said. “Mt. Scott has a nice little ring to it.”

“Oh yeah he’s back to normal,” Ryo commented.

“If you call that normal,” Jess smirked. Ken acted hurt by their comments.

“Let’s not forget we lost people today,” Hawk reminded them. “Seeing all that carnage all I can say is that you are damn lucky Ken. I guess your GLC is still working.”

“I still don’t understand why Ultraman waited until now to use that new move he used today,” Ryo asked.

“He probably didn’t see a need to use it before now,” Bill speculated. “That wave punch thing he does was pretty effective before now.”

Jess looked right at Ken as she asked, “I wonder if he has any other weapons he hasn’t used yet?”

Ken looked right back as he said, “You’re going to have to ask him.” He didn’t see Hawk raise an eyebrow but he remained silent.

“If he does,” Ryo spoke up, “I hope they’re not as destructive as that wave thing of his.”

“Amen,” Bill agreed.

“I think we all want that,” Hawk added.”No matter how helpful Ultraman has been we’re still talking about an alien at the end of the day.” Ken tried not to wince at his choice of words. “His definition of hazardous might not be the same as ours. But that’s something we’ve been dealing with since he showed up. Right now I think we all need to stop thinking about this and get ourselves some dinner.”

“Great I’m starving,” Bill said as he headed for the door.

“It’s barely real food down there,” Ryo said as he followed him.

“It’s better than nothing,” he announced.

“I can’t agree I’m agreeing with Bill,” Ken said.

“You can’t believe,” Jess told him. Hawk watched them, proud of the fact they were his team. And while he choose those words to gauge Ken’s reaction, he was proud to have him aboard too. This might just work out after all.”

ED –Shinedown –Fly From the Inside


Episode 13

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

He could not believe he was able to get this day off, not that he was going to miss it for the world. He was always there for his niece’s birthday and he wasn’t going to stop now. Before he could get out of there though the Chief made him double check the gear in the trunk of his car. For some reason regulations demanded that personnel’s private vehicles should be filled with the same standard equipment, flares, barricade markers things like that. Ken questioned it the moment it was brought to his attention but Hawk wouldn’t budge on that one. “If you’re going to be part of this organization then you’re going to have to follow the rules like everyone else,†he said. It was a pain in the ass but nobody was going to say he wasn’t a team player. Besides they let him fill up his tank for free in the garage he’ll carry around some unwanted equipment.

“Everything checks out Scott,†the Chief said as he put the last marker back in it’s holder in the trunk. And he checked every single one too, he was doing this on purpose. “You are good to go.â€

“Thank you sir,†Ken ripped off his uniform jacket and threw it in the trunk. Slamming the hood down he added, “Don’t let me stop you if you have anything important to do.â€

“Humph,†he grunted as he walked away and was soon barking at somebody else for doing something wrong.

“So glad I wasn’t assigned down here now,†Ken muttered.

“I thought you would have been out of here by now,†he looked up to see Jess and Captain Hawk walk up to him. For some reason the Captain had his hands behind his back.

“No need o see me off,†he said as he opened the trunk back up to toss the wrist scanner in there. “I promise I’ll be back, maybe.â€

“I can’t let you go just yet son,†Hawk said. “You forgot something important.â€

“Oh no you don’t,†Ken quickly told him. “I didn’t forget anything. I filled out all the paperwork in triplicate. I crossed all the ‘Ts’ and dotted every ‘I’. I just spent the last twenty minutes…â€

Pulling a wrapped present from behind his back he asked, “Are you sure about that?â€

Ken looked at it for a few moments before saying, “I knew that.†Taking the gift he placed in the passenger seat with a little more care than he did his jacket and scanner.

“Don’t feel bad Ken,†Jess spoke up. “Bill was in such a hurry to get out of here once he forgot his suitcase when he went on vacation.â€

“That sounds like something Dr. Williams would do,†he commented.

“You don’t want to know what he left behind,†Hawk smirked. “Now what are you standing around here for? You got a party to go to. Get out of here and enjoy it and that’s an order.â€

“Sir yes sir,†he saluted as he got in the car. Jess waved goodbye as he pulled out of his spot and was soon out of there.

In the control room the section that was connected to the various orbital satellites was busy as usual. An early theory that popped up when the creatures first started to appear was that they were alien in origin. Nothing was ever recorded to prove that theory but there were still people who insisted that communication with these things be made to see what they wanted, particularly with Ultraman. One person in particular was at trying hard to stay awake at his station, unfortunately busy as usual meant boring as hell. His eyelids starting to droop so he almost missed the blip on the screen in front of him. Waking up fully he saw it again and a third time said it was getting closer. “Bridge,†he called out, “I think I have something.â€

“I’m putting it up on the big screen now,†he announced. In moments the satellite readings were up for everyone to see. “Too far away to be one of ours,†Bridge commented. “Check the star charts and see if it’s a comet or something. I’ll check the records to see if this was launched before the UNDF became active.â€

“On it,†he said as he brought up the database. Bridge worked diligently until he found the old launch records while the other tried to match up the object’s trajectory with the ones they already had on file. Several minutes went by before he spoke up again, “It’s not an orbit we have on file.â€

Bridge looked back saying, “And I have nothing on file that’s supposed to be coming back on this path.â€

Another person asked, “Did you guys discover something new?â€

“It’s possible,†Bridge conceded.

The first one grinned, “It’d be sweet if we did.â€

“Not if it’s a planet killer,†a fourth voice pointed out.

“Killjoy,†the first one told her.

“We’ll keep an eye on it for now,†Bridge said. I’ll send it to the astronomy guys to work on it in a little more detail, and to make sure it’s not coming this way.†He looked back at the guy who first picked it up, “With a note saying you get naming rights if it is something new.†The guy started grinning as he went back to his station. Although had to admit to a little bit of jealousy, having your name on an asteroid, or whatever it was, would be kind of cool.

Even if Ken didn’t know where he was going all he had to do was look for the balloons. Janet went all out when it came to birthdays. Hopefully that wouldn’t change anytime soon. Already some kids were running around the yard and a few of the adults waved as he pulled up. He waved back seeing Rose and some of the others from the garage as he got out of the car. One little brown haired girl in particular stopped what she was doing as soon as she saw him and ran toward him, “Uncle Ken!â€

“Hey birthday girl,†he said scooping her up. “How’s my favorite niece?â€

Rose was close enough to hear him and of course had to say something, “And what if your brother and sister-in-law have another girl?â€

Not missing a beat he replied, “Then I’ll have two favorite nieces.â€

“You can’t have two favorite nieces,†Nicole informed him.

Ken countered with, “You can have two favorite anything. You can have two favorite book, two favorite songs, two favorite flavors of ice cream. Speaking of which mine happens to be strawberry and butter pecan. And if you have either one I’m going to be diving in spoon first.†Putting Nicole down he took her hand and headed for the party. The brown haired little girl stood fast and looked back at the car.

She looked up at him and asked, “Where is it?â€

Playing dumb he asked, “Where’s what?â€

“You know.â€

“Am I not good enough for you?â€

“Uncle Ken,†she whined.

Smiling a bit he told her, “Check the front seat.†With a smile on her face she quickly retrieved the gift. Now she headed to the party with him.

“Nicole,†a woman with the same brown hair called out. “Put that with the others. And your friends are waiting for you so you guys can finish that game.â€

“Okay mom,†she said and hurried off. The woman came up to him and hugged him.

“I’m happy you came.â€

“Do you think I’m going to miss the big oh eight?â€, he joked. “How are you guys doing Janet?â€

“We’re doing,†she answered. “My hours have finally picked up so that helps out a lot.â€

“That’s good to hear, you know I worry about you guys.â€

“Look who bothered to show up.†Ken resisted rolling his eyes as his brother came out of the house. With a beer in his hand Ken couldn’t help but wonder how many of those he had so far. “Come to show me up with some outlandish gift from the money from your government job?â€

“Don’t worry Jeff,†he said trying to keep his tone even, “I made sure you don’t look bad when the gifts are opened.â€

Rose commented, “He did enough of that back at the garage.â€

“Now you listen here…,†he began starting to get a little loud.

An older woman with streaks of gray just showing in her hair quickly got involved before he could say anything else, “Jeff why don’t you go check on those burgers.†He walked off mumbling something about it being his house. She turned toward Rose, “And you know better than to get him started like that. You’re not my daughter but that won’t stop me from knocking some sense into you.â€

“Yes ma’am,†she said going over to help Janet with the kids and their game.

Then the woman looked at Ken, “Now let me get a look at you and make sure everything on you is in one piece.â€

“I’m fine mom,†he said hugging here. “Everything is where it’s supposed to be.â€

“You will not believe how many years I lost when I found out you were on one of those units that takes on those monsters.â€

“It was a surprised to me too mom, it’s not like I asked to be put on it.â€

“How… close do you get to those things?â€

“Well this is a no win,†he said. “I tell you and you’ll hit me, I don’t and you’ll hit me.â€

“Don’t get smart with wise guy,†she playfully slapped him on the side of the head as they joined the rest of the party.

Peter was surprised by the sudden summons by his masters, a sudden urge to get up and leave what he was doing. He hated it when they did that, especially when he was in a UNDF board meeting or something else of importance. He was starting to run out of excuses to get away when the sensation came. Obviously his masters still didn’t appreciate the position he was in, or they didn’t particularly care despite the many times he brought it up. Still he came when they called since he wouldn’t put it past them to just show up where he was if he ever decided to ignore the summons. And wouldn’t that be fun to try and get out of. “You are late Avatar,†the voice in the vortex said.

“Try giving me a little more warning in the future,†he said adjusting the cuff of his shirt. Like always they ignored his complaint. “So what sort of creature are you sending through this time?â€

“We are sending nothing,†the voice said. Now this was a surprise his masters weren’t usually prone to social calls. “Thanks to the contacts we have made in your universe we have learned that something of interest has just come into range of your planet.†Inside the vortex the image changed to show him an asteroid floating in space.

“A giant floating rock,†he said and not impressed. “Like the last hunk of rock you gave me worked so well.â€

“Not just any ‘floating rock’ Avatar,†one of his master said while coming back into view. “This one contains something special, the monster Makeena.â€

“And a long as we don’t infect it with dark energy it shouldn’t alert our giant friend,†Peter said fully appreciating this hunk of rock now.

“Exactly, however there is a problem. Right now it will pass your planet. You need to change it’s path so that it will be caught in your planet’s gravitational pull.â€

“And how do you expect me to do that?â€, Peter demanded. “Fly out there and give it a push?â€

The energy around the vortex pulsated briefly, “Belligerence will not be tolerated Avatar!â€

“My sincerest apologies my masters,†he said with a slight bow, but not really meaning it. “But it is a rather daunting task.â€

“We will create a portal near the creature. You will use the power we gave you to move it closer through said portal. We will close the portal once it is on the correct path.â€

“Oh is that all?â€, Peter said dryly. The view in the portal once again changed to that of the creature harmlessly floating in space. Building up his power from within he held out his hands and shot the portal with the dark energy given to him. In space it enveloped the creature through a larger portal. Preparing himself for a moment he put all his dark energy into changing it’s path toward the planet. He sweated from the strain before the view went away. Stopping the beam he dropped to his knees in exhaustion.

“It is done,†his masters said. “Before long it will collide with your planet.â€

“Lovely,†Peter said stretching his neck, feeling the strain of that task on every inch of his body. “Hopefully I won’t fall asleep through it.

At that time Ken was talking to Janet and some of the guys from the garage when the sensation Dax was suddenly feeling hit him like a ton of bricks. Looking around he eventually looked up at the sky. Janet looked concerned, “Are you alright Ken?â€

“I’m fine,†he said covering it up. “I just thought I heard something.â€

“With all the freaks you come across I’d be a little jumpy too,†John joked.

“I’m going to head to the little boy’s room,†he told them. “I’ll be right back. Don’t start eating that cake without me.†Inside he made sure he was alone before saying, “What the hell was that?â€

Inside him Dax answered, “I do not know.â€

“It moved,†Bridge said as he and the other in the room looked at the new reading astronomy sent them. The object had definitely changed it’s trajectory, there was no way that could had happen.

Out of all that was going on Bridge had one main concern, “How close is it going to come to the planet?â€

After a couple of quick calculations he got his answer, “It’s going to hit us.â€

“Oh ****,†somebody muttered.

“Now what?â€, Bridge demanded.

“It’s speeding up. Impact in less than two minutes!â€

Bridge hit his communicator immediately, “Captain Hawk to the control room now!â€

Ken tried to play off the sudden sensation Dax had sent him, God he was lucky Jeff wasn’t around at that particular moment. He hadn’t gotten anything since but it didn’t make either him or Dax any less nervous. Still he tried to not let it affect the party, always deflecting things back to the kids or the party when anybody asked him. And he definitely avoided any UNDF questions. Yeah he was supposed to be a representative all the time, but he was off the clock and at his nieces’ party so he didn’t particularly care at the moment. Besides as long as Jeff stayed about twenty feet away he was enjoying himself. “Uncle Ken!â€, Nicole called out. “Your car is beeping!â€

“Nicole stay away from there!â€, Janet shouted at her. “I’m sorry Ken I don’t know what she set off but…â€

He frowned, “I think I know what it is. And if I’m right she didn’t set it off.â€

“Base checking in on you?â€, Rose asked.

“Something like that.†This had better be good he thought to himself. Putting the key in the trunk lock somebody said something that caught his attention.

“What the hell is that?â€

Looking up he say something in the sky too, something big and looked like it was on fire and looked like it was fire. It took him a moment to realize it was coming down, and right at them. “Oh ****,†he muttered. He looked at the rest of them just standing around looking at it. “Down!â€, he shouted. “Everybody get down now!†Parents were covering their kids as they did what he ordered. “Come on mom,†he said running toward her, “I’ll help you down.â€

“Is it going to…?â€

“I’ll let you know in a moment,†he cut her off. Getting her to the ground he kept an eye on the object. Of all the times to leave the Spark Magnifier in the trunk. Dax silently agreed with him. When it looked like it was going to hit he covered his mom and ducked his head. Then nothing, there was a strong warm breeze that wasn’t there before momentarily but not what he was expecting. He and a couple of others looked up and saw a dull grey, rocky meteor standing upright in a field across the street. “The ****?â€, he whispered.

“Get down,†Jeff mocked.

“Not now,†he snapped.

“What does that mean?â€, his mom asked.

“That I’m back on the clock.†Running over to his car he opened the trunk and quickly put on his uniform jacket. He was in such a rush that with his eyes on the meteor he failed to see the Spark Magnifier fall out of the pocket as he put it on. Jeff, however, saw it fall out. “Scott to Castle.â€

“Scott!â€, Hawk practically yelled over the line. “Where the hell were you?! We had an unknown object on an impact trajectory with the planet. It just crash landed a few moments ago.â€

“I’m aware of that Captain I’m looking right at it.â€

“Bridge?â€, Hawk asked.

“His communicator indicates he’s in the vicinity of the object,†he quickly answered.

“Okay Ken you’re the point man for this until we get mobilized. Do you remember the proper procedure for this?â€

“Vaguely,†he admitted as he strapped on the wrist scanner. “I’m supposed to cordon off the area with those markers you make me carry right.â€

“Right,†Hawk responded, “and there’s a basic scanner package in them. We’ll pick up the readings as soon as you activate them. Call back once you do.â€

“Right, Scott out.†He looked at the others, “Sorry guys but the party has to be rescheduled.â€

“You can’t do that!â€, Jeff protested. Nicole quickly agreed with him.

“Jeff it’s the smart thing to do,†Janet told him “we can always get things going again later.â€

Pulling his ponytail out from the jacket collar he pulled the markers out and slung them over his shoulder. “If you can’t get out of here make sure the kids don’t get anywhere near that thing.†As he headed off Jeff went back to the thing that fell out of his coat, wondering exactly how important it exactly was.

Ken was wondering what he was going to do about the traffic that had stopped between him and the object once he saw the situation. Well on the upside he didn’t have to worry about being run over. Fortunately a couple of police cars were in the group as the officers tried to get the people moving. Getting the attention of one of them he waved him over as he crossed through the jam. “I don’t have time to argue. I’m part of the UNDF,†he showed him the identification card they gave him for situations such as this, not that he ever thought he’d actually get to use it. “I need you guys to keep these guys away from that thing, totally away from here if possible. There some ground vehicles coming in and they’re going to have to get into position to surround that thingâ€

“We’ll do what we can sir.â€

“Wow, you just called me sir. That’s never happened before. Call in back up if you have too.â€

“My partner’s doing that now.â€

“Great, see if you can get some volunteers from the crowd while you’re at it.†Okay was that the right thing to say? There had to be some civically minded ex-military guys in this mess somewhere right? Ken made his way through the crowd with some assist from the police. Checking his wrist scanner for any radiation spikes he got a few yards away for it to be in maximum scanner range before planting the first one into the ground. Looking at the size of this things and the rest of the marker, “Yeah this is going to take awhile.â€

“And so far this hasn’t been all that impressive,†Peter remarked as he watched the Makeena through a vortex.

“Patience Avatar,†his master said. “The creature is just acclimating itself to the atmosphere. The process takes time.â€

“And if I speeded up the process it’ll draw out our giant friend,†Peter added. “You obviously don’t need me here at the moment so I’ll take my leave and head back to Castle.†The vortex closed without another word. Exiting the cave he looked around as he called his secretary, “This is Brooks, I understand there’s a situation going on. I want to be kept up to date on what’s happening.â€

Finally getting the last one set he used his wrist scanner to make sure everything was set before turning them on. A small blue laser line emitted from the top and connected each marker before fading out of sight. He was about to contact Castle when he noticed somebody coming right at him. More specifically Jeff and the cop from earlier right on is tail, “Get him out of here!â€

“I have every right to be here as you do,†he shot back.

The officer got between them, “Sir I’m going to have to insist that you head back.â€

“He lives across the street,†Ken told the officer. “Carry him back if you have to.â€

“Don’t listen to him,†Jeff interjected, “this moron is just a mechanic.â€

“That may be sir but this mechanic has enough authority to have you arrested if he wanted to.â€

“Now listen to the nice police officer and head back home,†Ken told Jeff. He snorted before turning around before turning around and storming off as the officer made sure he did head back home. Ken turned around, mainly to hide the smile on his face, “That felt way too good to be healthy. Scott to Castle.â€

“Took you a bit longer than necessary to call in son,†Hawk answered.

“Had a slight crowd control problem,†he said. “You guys getting this?â€

“Loud and clear Ken,†Bridge answered.†As they spoke Jeff hurried over to Ken’s car. Not realizing Nicole was watching him he picked up the thing Ken dropped and pocketed it with a satisfied smirk.

“Let’s see how Mister High and Mighty starts acting when he doesn’t have this.â€

“Can you describe what you’re seeing Ken?â€, Hawk asked.

“What’s to describe?â€, he asked back. “It’s big, it’s rocky, it landed….†He knelt down to get a better look at the ground underneath it.

After a couple of moments Hawk spoke up, “Don’t go quiet on me now son. What are you seeing?â€

“I might be wrong about this but everything I learned in high school and saw in disaster movies said this thing should have left a huge ass crater, it least it should have dug a trench in the ground. It barely made a dent from what I can see.â€

Looking at Bridge Hawk covered his communicator just long enough to say, “I’m going to turn him into one of us yet.†Removing his hand he went on, “That’s usually the case Ken, any ideas on what’s going on?â€

“I’m not sure. This thing was coming in pretty fast from what I saw. It’s almost like… no that’s too crazy to say out loud.â€

“After everything we’ve seen so far?â€, Hawk countered. “Come on son what’s going on in that head of yours?â€

“I was about to say it’s almost like it slowed down and landed.â€

“Yeah that’s pretty out there,†Bridge commented.

“No comments from the peanut gallery,†Ken shot back.

“It’s a working theory at the moment,†hawk cut in. “I’m scrambling the Scan Tracks and keeping the Razor Wings on standby at the moment.â€

“I hope the Tracks can get through the traffic jam we have at the moment.â€

“How bad are we talking?â€, Hawk asked.

“It’s mainly some idiots taking picture with their phones and cameras instead getting back in their cars and getting out of here.â€

“Well it’s going to Jamira’s problem when he arrives.â€

“Yeah remind me to stay out of his way when he gets here.â€

“Ken,†Bridge spoke up, “are you standing in the scanning field?â€

“No,†he answered, “I’m standing a couple of feet away. Do you need me to back up a bit?â€

“Is there a group of people in the field on the other side? Because I’m getting a huge heartbeat reading here.â€

“Not that I can see,†Ken said jogging around the object.

Hawk looked over Bridge’s shoulder to see what he was seeing as he readjusted things on their end. They looked at each other, that wasn’t a group reading. “Ken get out of there now!â€

“What are you…?â€, then he looked at the meteor. “Figures,†he muttered and ran out of there. Out of habit he reached for the Spark Magnifier. He stopped when he realized it wasn’t there. Looking around where he was he tried not to panic, and was failing, “I had it when I left the base. The trunk.†He ran for his car only to stop when he saw the cop from earlier. Pulling him aside he made sure nobody else could overhear him, “I need you to get these people out of here now. There’s something inside that thing and I don’t know when it’s going to come out.â€

“Understood,†he looked back at the meteor himself before relaying the information to the other units. “I need you people to keep moving this is an emergency situation.â€

Making his way through the mess he made it back to his brother’s house and headed for his car. His mom asked, “Ken what’s going on?â€

“It just became an emergency situation and all of you need to get out of here now.â€

“What about you?â€

“It’s all part of the job mom. Now get everybody packed up this party is going to get violent before too long.†She wanted to argue but didn’t knowing the situation was worse than he was letting based on the look on his face. But he was going to hear an earful later. He searched the trunk of his car but didn’t find it. As he started to look under the car he missed the superior look his older brother was giving him. Nicole saw him place the cylinder in his coat pocket. Ken stood back up and looked around where he was standing, panic hitting red alert levels, “Dax, we have a problem.â€

Going the long way around Jamira and a squadron of Scan Tracks covered the meteor. If the readings were right then there was another monster in there and they had to contain that thing now, “Jackson, the rock covering it, how thick is it?â€

“Scanning,†he replied. “I can’t get a clear reading from this distance, even with the markers the civilian put in place. It survived entry into the atmosphere so I’m assuming it’s pretty thick.â€

“I say we find out how thick. All units target the object and…â€

“Do not fire!â€, Hawk said over the line. “The area hasn’t been cleared of civilians. Repeat, do not fire.â€

Jamira was seething at him for cutting in, they had the perfect opportunity to stop that thing before it started and that idiot was wasting it. Looking at his driver he said, “Did that sound garbled to you?â€

He started grinning, “Only understood a couple of words sir.â€

“Any civilians still in the area should have moved faster,†another in his unit said.

Another added, “He probably means the wanna be in his unit.â€

Jamira smirked to himself, now these were soldiers. “All units open fire.†Hawk yelled over the line again until Jamira shut the radio off. He’ll show him how this should be taken care of. The Scan Tracks in his unit and a few others fired on the creature. Through the explosion Jamira could see the exterior start to crumble. Then it started to fall away, or so he thought. It seemed to get taller then open up and unfold. Inside a huge pair of limbs and a head appeared and roared.

Back at Castle Hawk looked on, “It wasn’t inside the meteor it was the meteor.â€

“Should we scramble the Razor Wings?â€, Bridge asked

“As soon as possible,†he said heading for the door. “I’m on my way and Jamira better hope something happens to him before I get there.â€

The monster didn’t move around much as the Scan Tracks kept pounding him. Before long it was getting the rock like plating up to block the assault. Before anybody knew it the Razor Wings flew overhead and unleashed their payload as well. At least it was staying where it was for the most part. Something Ken was grateful for since he was still trying to evacuate Jeff’s neighborhood. “Come on let’s move!â€, he shouted as he waved people on. “Don’t trample anybody but get the hell out of here!â€

Damn it this was killing him, he needed the Spark Magnifier but he needed to find out who took it first. And with the monster right there he couldn’t exactly stop anybody he saw at the party and ask. When it looked like everybody left he headed back towards Jeff’s house. Maybe somebody kicked it under a bush or something. And that was how you grasp at straws. “Nicole!â€, he heard Janet shout out. Ken turned around to see his niece come running at him with her mother right behind her. He did not need this now.

“Nicole it’s not safe to be here!â€, he told her.

“Daddy took this,†she said.

“Nicole come on,†Janet ran to grab her but she struggled to get away. “Don’t fight me Nicole.â€

“Daddy took this from Uncle Ken!â€, she insisted.

“Daddy took what?â€, he asked. His jaw nearly hit the ground when she showed him the Spark Magnifier. He took it from her, “Your daddy had this?â€

“I saw him,†she said. “I took it from him. I know stealing’s wrong but…â€

Kneeling down to her level he said, “You’re right. Ninety nine point nine percent of the time stealing is very, very wrong. But this one time you did good kid.†Kissing her on the top of the head he picked her up and handed her to Janet, “Now get out of here before I kick both your butts.â€

Janet nodded and ran away from the monster. Nicole looked over her shoulder and watched her uncle run toward it. He stopped and held his hand over his head. She watched as he disappeared in a flash of light and a multicolored giant appeared from another and faced the monster, “Shiah!â€

Not wasting anytime Daxium charged Makeena trying to force him further away from the dwellings. The creature seemed surprised to see something his size come at him, but it still fought from being forced back just the same. Throwing a punch Daxium recoiled in pain as it turned around and he hit it’s armored shell. He tried a kick and the monster did it again and Daxium stumbled back. Bringing his hands to his side he quickly fired a Flash Bolt. Makeena wrapped part of his outer shell around himself again and it deflected back at the unprepared giant. Crying out in pain as he fell to the ground he quickly rolled to his feet. The creature came in quickly and backhanded him sending him further back.

Realizing he wasn’t going to last long at this rate he banged his forearms together and switched over to Power mode. This time when he went o kick he still felt the pain as Makeena protected himself but it went stumbling back in surprise this time. Daxium poured on the attack, each strike forcing the monster from space further and further back. Makeena suddenly folded his armor and Daxium jumped back ready from what was next, or so he thought. Instead of attacking Makeena knelt down and put it’s hands to his face while making a peculiar noise. In the safe zone Daxium had created Ken felt his confusion and did something he never did and concentrated to see what he was seeing. He was just as confused, “Is that thing crying?â€

“I… I am not sure,†Daxium said inside their connection.

“Maybe he didn’t mean to land here,†Ken speculated. “Maybe it was a mistake and he’s just scared.â€

“A possibility, one with a simple solution. With my assistance he may be able to go back into space.â€

“Sounds like a plan to me. Oh I’m going to love hearing the theories that going to be coming out of this one at the next meeting.â€

Elsewhere the beings from the dark dimension watched. The only thing that surprised them more than the fact that the giant from the light dimension showed up was the reaction of the creature they were told about. Well they would soon fix that As Daxium slowly came closer toward Makeena he held his hands open to show he wasn’t going to attack him again he stopped and looked up at the sky. He felt the wave of dark energy before he saw it. An vortex formed above Makeena and started assaulting him with bolts of dark energy. Daxium tried to help the creature but couldn’t get close until the bolts stopped and Makeena stood there. Eyes glowing purple he charged the giant and unmercifully assaulted him. Daxium took the brunt of it before ducking and flipping him over his shoulder. Makeena got up as Daxium tried to calm him down to no avail as he attacked again.

Knocking him down again Makeena squatted down and surrounded himself with the rock again and lifted off. Flying up so fast the hovering Razor almost couldn’t avoid him he altered his course to crash into Daxium as he stood up again. Then he did it again from behind. On the third try the giant was ready for it and caught him, feet digging trenches into the ground until they stopped. The jewel started to flash as he drew on all his strength as and repeatedly slammed the meteor into the ground then threw him overhead. Makeena slowly came out of his shell as he brought his fist up to his chest, preparing to unleash the Giga Wave. The he saw the dwelling of Ken’s brother and others would be in it’s path. Going over the options he had in his head so he wouldn’t endanger it in case the creature would move he suddenly he crossed his arms over his chest and brought them down and mode shifted into Hyper Mode. Extending the Light Stream whip he swirled it around his head before wrapping it around the creature. Rearing the other hand back and drawing in energy from the surroundings he slammed it down on the wrist and the Light Pulse shot through the whip and into Makeena, a second later he exploded. Daxium stood there, clenching his fists and feeling no satisfaction over this. He flew off with a sharp, “Shiah!â€

Ken reappeared, falling to a knee and holding his chest. “Those multiple mode shifts still suck,†he grunted. Looking back at where the battle was all he could say was, “We’re facing a bunch of bastards.â€

With the board’s approval Hawk quickly organized a party to help the civilians hurt during the evacuation and help ease some of the chaos that was happening in the aftermath. He argued since they fired the first shot to antagonize the creature it was the least they could do to help out. Surprisingly enough Richardson agreed with him, especially since it would make for some good PR. In no time Hawk and the rest of Alpha Team were there joining Ken and trying to build up some good will. Jess in particular was having a bit of a time trying to find the parents of a little boy that was with her. Though she had to smile when they did find them. “Jessica Wade?â€, hearing her name she was greeted by a familiar face.

“Mrs. Scott,†she said as the older woman hugged her out of the blue, “how are you?â€

“I’m fine. And ‘Mrs. Scott’? Are you trying to make me sound like an old woman?â€

“Sorry, force of habit drilled into me by my family.†It looked like she was trying to say something but stopping short from actually saying it. “What is it?â€

“I always told myself I’d tell you something in gratitude the next time I saw you. But I can’t think of a way to say it without sounding like a total *****.â€

“Well you said it was in gratitude so I’ll try not to be offended.â€

“Alright dear, you asked for it,†she said with what had to be a family smirk. “I always thought you breaking up with Ken was the best thing that ever happened to him. Only because he started growing a backbone where Jeff was concerned.â€

“Good thing you told me you were grateful for it first.†Although she still wasn’t sure how she should take it.

“Uh-oh,†Ken said walking up to them, “my mom and my ex. No good can come of this.â€

“Only if you say anything stupid,†his mom warned him.

“Which is pretty regular,†Jess added. “More so now a days.â€

“I knew I was going to get ganged up on,†Ken whined.

“Uncle Ken!â€, Nicole shouted as she ran up to him with a piece of paper in her hand. “I drew you a picture.â€

“And I can’t wait to see it.†Ken took it and opened it fully prepared to be the proud uncle. Actually looking at it his eyes bugged out a little. There was a drawing of a man with a ponytail flying to the side in a UNDF jacket with his hand over his head. Instead of a hand though there was a drawing of a flash of light. And behind him was something that looked suspiciously like Dax. “This is great Nicole. Just great.†Nicole beamed as she left them alone. This could be a problem.

Jess, who was looking over his shoulder at the drawing, said, “You’re niece thinks you’re Ultraman?â€

“Why wouldn’t I be?â€, he as face he could manage. Then he broke out in a grin, “I’m the coolest guy she knows.â€

“Then she needs to meet more people.â€

“Hey civilian,†Bill said walking up to him, “you dropped you GLC.â€

Catching it after it was tossed to him Ken pocketed it, “Thanks I was looking for that.†And he was so grateful one of the team found it were he put it and Jeff was right there to witness it. The look on his face alone was worth the risk.

Of course Jeff being Jeff he tried to save some face. “Ha, you’re in trouble now. How dare you lose you Global… Locating… Comp… What does GLC stand for?â€

Bill just gave him the strangest look, “Good luck charm.†And again the look on his older brother’s face was worth it.

Just to rub it in Ken added, “My life been great since I found it.†Jeff walked off grumbling something colorful.

“So you’re the smart one then?â€, Bill asked.

“I think things are going great,†Hawk said as he and Ryo joined them. “at this rate we should be back at base in no time. Then I get the ‘joy’ of dealing with Jamira over what happened,†he added looking a little dismayed.

“What did you steal from me?!â€, Jeff shouted. They looked over to see him and a very frightened Nicole. “I swear to God I out to..,†he raised his hand as to strike her. Nicole flinched expecting the blow but Ken was already there grabbing his wrist.

“You do and I swear to God I’ll put you in the hospital.â€

“And I’ll press charges,†Jeff threatened him.

“Does it look like I give a damn?â€

Taken by surprise by the look in his little brother’s eyes he said, “You and what army tough guy?â€

Before either of them knew it Jess was standing beside him, then Ryo, then Bill and Hawk. Looking back at them then to his brother Ken couldn’t keep the smirk off of his face, “This one.â€

Looking at them Jeff walked off saying, “Losers.â€

As Ken made sure Nicole was alright Bill asked, “How are you two related again?â€

“You have no idea how many times I’ve asked that?â€, Jess commented.

“Captain I’m going to take my niece home,†Ken said. “I’ll be back at Castle later.â€

“Take your time,†he told him, glancing where his brother went. “Report back when you do.â€

“Yes sir. Come on sweetie let’s find Mommy and Grandma,†and he took her hand asking himself that same question for the millionth time this year. “Oh,†he looked back to make sure the others couldn’t hear him, “And we have to talk about something you saw today.â€

ED – Shinedown- Fly From the Inside
Professionally Insane
Mar 27, 2005
So we do have monsters in our universe too it seems, nice ones in fact... till they get attacked and are turned evil by dark forces from another dimension. Too bad Dax didn't have a power to free it from their hold, but it was either that or let it run amuck.

The bits with Ken and his brother were priceless, especially when Jeff really looked stupid and when Ken was about to lay the smackdown on him for trying to swat Nicole.

Now her... this could go in a few different directions and hopefully Jess doesn't put 2 and 2 together.

Good episode, Jim! :thumbs:


Episode 14

OP -Mercy Drive - Burn In My Light

He had heard rumors of a regular poker game when he first arrived at Castle. Considering how the people around here treated him back then Ken wasn't all that surprised that he wasn't invited to join in right away. He didn't think it would take as long as it did but eventually Jess and Ryo invited him in. Even Bill seemed happy to see him the first time around, or as he put it happy to see his money. Things were a little awkward the first couple of hands, but after a couple of jokes things loosened up a bit. Now that it was a couple of months later they acted like they played together for years.

As it was Ken felt free enough to throw his uniform jacket on the couch as soon as he came in. Actually he kinda like hanging out with his teammates in this situation, everybody was much more relaxed. Jess had her jacket unzipped while Bill had his hanging on the back of his chair. Ryo, while the only in the full, official looking uniform, seemed a lot more like he remembered him from thier acedemy days. Everybody was so relaxed and chilled he almost hated to do this. Almost. "Full House, jacks over eights."

"Damnit," Bill grunted as he threw his cards on the table. Jess pushed hers back toward the deck while Ryo looked at his hand.

"That's five wins in a row."

"Not my fault I hit a lucky streak," he told him while collecting the chips he just won.

Jess eyed him, "If I didn't know any better I'd swear you were cheating."

Ken eyed her right back, "You two are the only ones with long sleeves at the moment to hide any cards. And if I hid them under the scanner they'd be all sweaty and smelly."

"Looks like civillian covered all the bases," Bill chuckled as he took the cards and shuffled them.

"Yeah," Ken agreed, "next thing you'll be accusing me of dealing from the bottom of the deck like Bill does."

"I do not...", he started to protest before he realized Ken just got the reaction he was looking for. "Screw you civilian."

"Buy me dinner first," Ken shot back. "And I am not a cheap or easy date."

"You are not worth that much work," Jess told him. "I should know."

"You weren't complaining all that much back when he were dating," Ken told her.

She didn't miss a beat, "I didnt know any better."

"You're just mad I'm beating you at cards."

"You think so?", and there was no mistaking the challenge her voice.

He wasn't backing down, "Oh I know so."

"Sounds like we're being dealt out fo this hand," Bill told Ryo.

"Looks like," he agreed.

Bill looked at both of them and started smiling, "Maybe the two of you should make this a little more interesting. You know instead of money maybe something a little more personal as it were."

Both Ken and Jess eyed him suspisiously. Ryo spoke for them, "Define personal."

"Nothing too extreme," he explained. "Maybe a small token of victory for the winner."

And Ken was suddenly not liking that grin Jess was giving him. "Alright, if I win I get to cut that thing off the back of your head." His hand immediately went for his ponytail. "What's the matter Ken?", she dared to ask innocently. "Not feeling as confident now."

"I'm still in," he said a little too quickly. Seeing how he was used to having it he wasn't looking to lose it anytime soon. "If I win...," he said slowly. He tried to think of somethng that would: a) get her to call off the bet and b) not cause her to knock his block off in the process. "If I win... I get to see the twins."

And if looks could kill he would be so dead right about now.

Oblivious to all of that Bill pumped his fist under the table and gave out a small, "Yes."

"Alone," he quickly ammended.

"You suck."

"Wait," Ryo spoke up, "you two used to date. You mean you guys never..." he trailed off but they all got his meaning.

"With Miss 'I'm not doing anything untill I'm married' here?," he replied. "Please." Jess raised an eyebrow at his answer but said nothing. "Let's get this over with."

"Ryo deals," Jess said suddenly. "You pissed off Bill and beating I'm you fair and square."

"Fair enough," Ryo said as he took the deck from Bill. Ken and Jess never took their eyes off each other as he shuffled and dealt the cards between them. Slowly both of them reached for their cards.

The sirens went off with Hawk commanding, "Alpha Team prepare to launch ASAP!"

"Duty calls," Ryo said spriging out of his chair while Bill grabbed his jacket.

Zipping up her's Jess told Ken, "We are finishing this hand as soon as we get back."

"You bet we are," he told her. Reaching for his ponytail one more time he grabbed his jacket and followed them out.

Several Scan Tracks pulled up around a forest park and Alpha team, a.k.a Monster Squad, Piled out and stood in formation as Hawk adressed them. "Alright people you know the deal, look for and clear out any civilians you find." Back at Castle Hawk had told them that Bridge up a steady reading, but it was too generalized to pin point an exact positision. And to avoid a PR disaster like last time they were sent in to discover what it was and get people to saftey. And seeing how this was a govenmnet funded park try to take the object out before they were forced to call in the heavy attialry. They were still hearing about the damage caused the first time a monster showed up in a forest park. Hawk continued, "Because of the sheer size of the area to cover more ground I want you to to do this search seperately. Because you will be alone I want all of you to be extra careful and to stay in constant contact. Any of you discover anything hit you communicator and the rest of us will home in on your location. Is that Understood?"

"Yes sir!", they responded.

"Search teams move out. Scan track try to scan the park as best as you can and link your sensors to Castle. Let's see if we can get a little more specific about what and where this thing is."

"Hey Ken," Jess called out. "Don't for get, snip snip," she made a scissor motion with her fingers.

"You better hope I don't find the coldest room in the building," he shot back. The he touched his ponytail before puttng his helmet on and heading out in another direction.

Hawk glanced over at Ryo who only said, "Best if you didn't know."

"Part of me was afraid you were going to say that," he said as they each picked a path and started their own search.

"This is Scott, I finally convinced a couple to head back to their car. They should be heading your way soon enough"

"Understood Scott, we'll keep an eye out for them. Scan track Forty Three out." It had been an hour so far and that was the third group that he had located and sent to safety so far. And those two were the only ones to argue the point so far.

"I'm guess the acedemy had the class about dealing with morons after I was DQed," he said mainly to himself before he kept looking. But from the communications he and the others have been overhearing the park was surprisenly crowded for a non holiday weekday. Well as far as he knew, it seemed that way to him. Then again it's been awhile since he's been to the park during a holiday.

Checking his wrist scanner again he tried to detect anybody else or anythng that looked out of place. Not seeing anything right away he kept going along the path then he stopped. Standing a few yards away, and with his back to him stood a man with salt and pepper hair wearing and wearing an army jacket and some jeans, not to mention some very worn sneakers. He checked his wrist scanner again, tapping the screen after a bit. The guy was well within range of the scanner, so why wasn't he picking him up. Now would probably be a good time to hit his commnicator.

"Ken!", Daxium spoke up suddenly. At the same time this guy turned around and and closed the distance between them faster than he thought was possible and grabbed his wrist, stopping him from hitting the communicator. Staring into a pair of mirrored sunglasses for a bit the man twisted a bit and sent Ken flying over his shoulder.

"Oof," he grunted as he hit the ground. Going for his gun the stranger put a foot on his wrist and put enough weight on it to keepo him from drawing it.

They started at each other for a few moments. Eventually the stranger said, "You're not exactly human are you?" Ken tried to betray nothing but wondered how in the hell this guy knew that. "But the energy I'm getting off of you isn't eactly like the the one I'm after either. Which begs the question what exactly are you?"

"Ken," Dax spoke up again, "I'm sensing an energy similar to mine but it feels different, fainter." That's when Ken noticed the triangular pendant with the circular green jewel in the center of it hanging around his neck.

"That sounds like something I should be asking you," Ken told him. Before long the stranger took his foot off his wrist and Ken shook his wrist to get some some feeling back into it. Refusing the offered hand he stood up and studied the man. "So what are you then?"

"Well if i'm right I'm someone in a simialr situation as you," he answered. "I'm just a lot further from home."

"Okay let's say I know what you're talking about, " Ken said trying hard not to verify anything. "What exactly are you looking for?"

"Something I've been looking for for way to long," he answered. "Somethng that changed my life in a way I never expected."

Okay that last part was sounding way to familar to be comfortable, "So does this thing have a name?"

Looking further into the woods he said, "Gudis."

"After what happened with the Baltan I sincerly doubt we should be trusting this Gudis," Brooks told the being in the swirling vortex before him "A mass of practically goo you found floating around the dimensional void."

"A sentinant mass willing to help anyone willing to assist it," he was corrected. Brooks hid his hand as it started crackling with dark energy. He was so annoyed with them right now. "It is a situation we have under control."

"No," he argued, "the Baltan was a situation we could control, especially if there was some checking of what they actually wanted before hand. Makeena was a situation we culd control, especially after you found out it was exactly as viscious as you were led to believe. This is something from another reality entirely. We have no idea of knowing exactly what it is oher than what it already told us."

The edge of the vortex started to grow in intensity, "Do you question our decision Avatar?"

Brooks stood his ground, "In this situation I am." Although their previous dispaly of displeasure were as impressive as the one he was seeing now he fully expected them to actually lash out at him this time. He prepared himslef accordenly seeing how close those "stray" energy bolts were coming toward him.

Slowly the vortex returned to normal, "Fortunate for you other among us share your concerns."

He simply said, "Oh?" He had a more interesting retort in mind but he was to avoid any violence being done to his body at the moment.

"Yes, as a compromise we provided enough dark energy to Gudis to make sure it arrived in your dimension. And it will be just enough that we can monitor it's actions whenever we want."

"Well, that does change things a bit," Brooks admitted. "Not to mention a waste of a perfectly good moment of defiance."

"A moment that will not happen again Avatar."

"Of course my masters," he said with a slight bow. The vortex faded soon after. Hand still crackling with energy he blasted the wall in front of him.

"Let me get this straight," Ken said as he followed the stranger down the path, "this Gudis only wants to make everything part of it?"

"Yes and no," he answered. "Everything would still look the same, more or less, but everything would be connected to it. There would be no individuality, no free will. Just Gudis until it uses the planet up and it moves on to the next one. Although it hit a snag when it reached Mars in my universe. It got there and found a dead world already and got stuck some how."

"Wait, how do you know it was on Mars?"

He looked back at him and smirked, "I was there."

Ken didn't know how to respond other than with a slightly sarcastic, "Of course you were."

"I was an astronught before I ended there and joined up with him," he explained. "How did you met your guy?" Again Ken wasn't verifing anything. "Have it your way then."

Instead he said, "Since you're tracking this thing can you tell me how you can find it."

"I used to be able to," he said looking around. "I'm still sensing something but it's been altered somehow. I can't pinpoint it like I used to."

Ken had a sick feeling he knew how and why it was altered. Hanging back a bit he lowered his head and whispered, "You getting anything?"

"Not so far," Dax answered. Ken looked back up to see the stranger look back at him, smiling again.

"I see you can talk to yours too."

"I still don't know what you're talking about," he said trying to save face and knowing he was failing miserably. If this guy suspected before he pretty much knew now. "So... is the weather nice where you come from?"

"Castle to Hawk," Bridge caaled

"Hawk here," he answered the hail while continuing down the trail looking for anything out of place.

"I think I have better fix thanks to the additonal data from the Scan Track's sensors."

"I don't want to hear 'you think you do' in this situation Bridge," he told him. "Either you do or you don't."

"It's more like we've shrunk the general search area," he ammended.

"That's still not very helpful," he sighed, "but it's better than nothing. Who's closest to this new area?"

"Checking now." After a moment he got his answer, "Ryo, Jefferson, Mike and Ken are the closest." Checking the readings one more time he added, "Actually it looks like Ken's well inside the new search area."

"What the... Hawk to Scott. Wy are you further along than anybody else?"

Where he was he glanced at the stranger before saying, "I was chasing a crackpot who refused who refused to cooperate and I lost track of him. I've been trying to find him before he hurt himself."

Of all the rookie...."Call for assistance in that situation in the future Ken. But right now I have a new assignment for you. Bridge has reset the search area and you're the closest to it. Try and discover what it is, back up is heading your way in the mean time."

"Understood, Scott out."

"Chasing a crackpot?", the stranger asked.

"I'm following you," he told him, "it's like I'm chasing you."

In the meantime Hawk told Bridge, "Send the new coordinates to everybody else and have tem cordon off the area as best they can. I'll send Ryo and the others to back up Ken."

"Yes sir, Castle out."

Hawk looked at Ken's general reaction wondering if that was the real reason why he was out that far. "Hawk to Watanabe..."

"Hold up," the stranger said after a bit. Ken looked past him to see he didn't need to say he found it. In a middle of a field was a partictularly brown liquid. In the middle of that was something roughly the size of a man. It had a single solid like body, it had a bulbish like head and large red eyes and a mandible like vertical mouth. A pair of tenticles hung limp in front of it and didn't move, they didn't even twitch. Either it didn't know they where there or it didn't care. The stranger looked a little perplexed, "I didn't expect it to revert back to this shape."

"Okay is this where you," without really thinking Ken crossed his wrists together, "do whatever you do?"

The stranger held the pendant in his hand and looked at it. "This would have been the place but not now. I have to use a lot of energy to cross dimensions. Usually it builds back up after awhile. But I'm not sensing it now, I may have made one jump to many."

"Alright then," Ken said as he stepped forward. Holding up his wrist scanner he tried to get a clear shot of the creature. "Unless you want to say cheese you might want to step out of frame."

"And why don't you do what you do?", he shot back.

"Not his size. Scott to Hawk."

"Hawk here, what do you have?"

"I found the creature and sending you an image of it now."

"Good job son. I'll relay the image back to Castle to see if they can determin anything from it. Hawk out."

"The name's Jack by the way," the Stranger said out of the blue. He looked at Ken wth a little chagrin, "I over heard yours during the previous transmission. It only seemed far."

Ken nodded and looked back at the Gudis, "You have beaten this thing before right?"

"I thought I did," he said while taking off his sunglasses. "I never thought it would slip through a dimensional crack." Remembering why Dax and the other monsters were here Ken had an idea what caused that crack but didn't say anything about it. "I think the only way to really destroy Gudis is to obliterate every atom in it's body."

"Yeah... we're going to work on that."

"Ken." He looked around to see Ryo and the others hurry toward him. Wondering how he was going to explain "Jack" he looked at his other side and saw he had already disappeared.

"How in the hell...?"

"That's the thing huh?", Ryo asked as he saw Gudis in the somewhat flesh.

"Ugly sucker," Jefferson commented.

"It's probably a beauty queen where it comes from," Ryo commented. "Watanabe to Hawk we've arrived at it's location."

"Acknowledge, Bridge says scientists are curious about that slime that's around it. Try to get a more detailed scan of the substance while we try to figure out how to deal with it."

"Understood, Watanabe out. You heard him Ken," and he turned back toward the creature.

He on the other hand, "Me? You're the one with senority."

"And Hawk put you on point.," Ryo countered.

"Paper-Rock-Sissiors." Jefferson adn Mike laughed but Ryo obliged. Ken put out sissiors. Ryo had out rock. "****. Two out of three."

"I have senority so no," He said with a smirk.

"We technically have senority too," Jefferson said as Ken looked at them.

Grunting Ken carfully walked toward the creature. Mike called out, "Careful, that stuff looks hazerdus to your health."

"You think," Ken shot back. Getting onto scanning ranger he paused momentarily At this range Dax was getting a faint sense of dark energy. He watched the Gudis for any sign it detected him. Nothing so far. Doing the scan he hurried back to the others. "That stuff stinks up close."

"What did it smell like?", Ryo asked "You know they're going to want to know."

"Kind of like rotting vegtables." Remembering what this Jack guy told him he hoped it wasn't too late already.

"Bill," Jess waved him over as she spotted him.

"It's a little wierd not being in the air for this one huh?", he said when he was close enough.

"A bit," she admitted. A lot was more like it. She was too used to veiwing the situation from the confines of a cockpit. And the fact she was used to situations involving giant creatured was a little unnerving once she thought about it. More than likely the others felt the same way but it made her feel a little silly. But right now Bill's look was concerning her a bit. "Hey are you okay? You look a little distracted."

"I grew up around here," he said. "This is hitting a little close to home."

"You did? I never knew that.

"What's to know?", he said. "I grew up in an orphanage. I was never adopted until I was in my teens. Some of the nuns hated me because instead of helping keep the younger kids in like I riled them up instead."

She smiled, "Yeah that sounds like you all right." Thinking abit she asked, "How close is it?"

"Over that ridge over there," he turned and pointed toward part of the mountain. "I already told the Captain about it and he assured me they already evacuated it."

She studied him a bit, "You don't believe him or something?"

"Oh I believe him," he quickly said.

"But...," she nudged.

"But," he continued, "but when I was there the head nun had a bit of a captain of he ship mentality. I'm talking the going down with the ship type of thing. If she's still there I can imagine she's still putting up a fight about leaving."

"I'm sure our guys can perseuade her to leave," Jess assured him.

"Only if they're prepared to shot her with this baby," he joked while patting his gun. "Speaking of do you think Ken's still about mad about it."

"If he's anything like I remember," she said thinking it over, "he's calmed down enough from wanting to beat the crap out of you to landing one solid kick to the nuts and calling it even."

BIll winced, "I hope he's changed more than that because out of the two I'd prefer getting beat up."

Actually if Ken wanted to beat him up that would actually be a step up from what she remembered of him when they were dating in high school. He looked around and squinted, "What the..."

"What is it?", Jess asked as he went to investigate. He knelt down next to a rose bush that was literally wilting before their eyes. "I look around to see if can find anything else."

"Water to Hawk."

"Hawk here, what do you have Bill?"

"I have a plant going to brown real fast right in front of me," he said.

"Bill!", Jess called back, "I found a tree dying more and more by the second."

"I heard," Hawk said before Bill could say anything. "Hawk to all units look around for any signs of rapidly dying floral or vegetion."

Where they were Ken and the others looked around, "This whole area's dying." Ryo reported as much.

Every unit reported signs of dying vegation near their location. Given what was in the middle of it all there could only be one reason. Hawk gave the order, "Ryo take it out."

"That's probably be easier if we were in the Razor Wings," Bill commented, while making sure his communicator was off.

"You heard him," Ryo said. "Mike scan for a potential weak spot we can exploit."

Keeping an eye on the GUdis for any sort of reaction Ken commented, "That order would be a little easier to follow if we had some grenades or something."

"You don't hear me arguing," Ryo said. "But we have what we have."

"I think I have something," Mike told them. "Just under it's chin, I think you call that a chin, and a little to the right."

"Our right or it's right?", Ken asked. Ryo shot him a look. "I'm just making sure."

"Ours," Mike clarified.

"All right guys," Ryo said, "set the guns for full power and take aim." All of them drew their weapons and adjusted their settings. Ken and Jefferson hit the switch on the side that activated the targeting reticle in their helmet visor and took aim like the others. Still the creature didn't react. To make sure of that Ryo spoke just loud enough for them to hear, "Fire."

They did so in unison. What they didn't expect was for the slime to react. It raised up blocking the blast then fell back to the ground. "****," Ken muttered even as he tried to line up another shot. Now the Gudis looked alive as red glowing eyes focused on them and opened it's mouth surprising them again with an energy blast of it's own. It was powerful enough that it knocked them to the ground.

Mike was the first one up but still groggy enough that he didn't see the Gudis come up behind him and wrap a tenticle around his neck. He struggled to breath as he fought to get it off of him. The others soon came to their senses and opened fired again trying to get the creature to release him. It swung the tentacle in such a way and at such a speed that Mike stopped struggling and he went limp. Gudis flung his body away where he landed in a heap. It looked at them again and fired another energy blast.

Expecting it this time they jumped out of the way. "Fall back!", Ryo ordered. Another blast forced them to go in different direction. Ryo relayed in the situation as he got in contact with Hawk and called for back up.

Ken stopped where he was when he didn't see Ryo and Jefferson in sight. Looking back to see where Gudis was, and realizing it was looking right back at him, he said, "Dax, just this one time."

Inside his head he heard, "I agree Ken."

"Good." With the Gudis coming toward him he reached into his jacket pulled out the Spark Magnifier. Pointing it at the creature he was envolped in it's light and was replaced with a human sized Daxium. The creature screeched and backed up into the slime and started pulling it in, leaving behind brown dead Earth in it's wake. Gudis started to grow into gigantic size.

Daxium looked up at him as he brought his wrist together, almost crossed at his waist. His eyes flashing a bit he threw the right one up into the air and grew in size to amtch the creature. "Shiah!"

Elsewhere the stranger from another univere looked up as well, more in amusment than in awe. "It's been awhile since I've seen it from this angle." Looking at his pendant in his hand he could feel the spirit was willing, however the energy was nowhere close to being able. "I guess we better let a new generation handle it. Let's see if we can find out where he changed."

At the Castle command center Richardson, Peter and Jamira were watching things unfold as Ultraman started fighting the creature as the rest of the crew around them focused on their jobs. "One does wonder how he gets there so fast," Peter said out loud. While he couldn't specifically point out that Scott was Ultraman without rasinging any unnessary questions, hopefully he could raise enough curosity about it that he would he would become a little more choosey about unleashing the giant at some point. More than likely not but one could always hope.

"He's there," Richardson barked, "that's all that matters."

"Since he's there we should send out the Razor Wings and target both of them now," Jamira demanded.

"We've gone over this Commander," Richardson told him. "Ultraman is not to be touched until my say so."

"Then say so already!", Jamira practically screamed, drawing more than a few looks from Peter and those around them. To his credit Richardson didn't look fazed by the Commander's outburst. Unless you knew what to look for like Peter did. And underneath that calm exterior Richardson was fumming.

"And there is a reason why Captain Hawk is the one in over all command of the military forces around here," he said evenly. "I suggest you learn why and remember it. You are dismissed." Jamira looked like he was about to say something but thought better of it. He stormed out hitting the door as it opened.

"You may want to be careful Harold," Peter said allowing him a few moments to calm down. "More than a few board members agree with him. Not to mention that more than a few people around here consider Ultraman just as big of a threat as the monsters he fights."

"As I have been told that on several occasions," Richardson reposonded, only letting a hint of the annoyance he was feeling out. "As have a few public polls those board members have been fit to show me."

"So why let the order stay in place?"

"Because he is still an ally. And I will not condone any action on a ally wthout concrete proof he's not." Or, Peter thought, make him an enemy since he had a feeling Richardson knew Scott and Ultraman's little secret as well. After all it only made sense given the facts.

Now the question was how many people around here have put those facts together?"

Daxium dodged to the left as the tenticle came at him. So far Gudis had been able to keep him at bay and kept him from using any of his energy based attacks. He couldn't even switch forms without being attack. On occasion he had been able to close enough to keep the creature from using it's own energy blast so in that respect it was basically a stand off.

The humans were far enough away that they couldn't actively particiapate in the battle. So Daxium, for the first time since coming to this dimension, was truely fighting alone. And in a way he preferred it. While he was grateful for the assistance they occasionally provided he was still more concerned about their safety when they were involved. From his connection to Ken he knew that this Hawk was hurrying to get his units into position, and he silently admired his dedication to the fight.

Seeing one of the tenticles come at him Daxium was able to block and make his way inside their reach. Unloading several punches on it's body he forced it back a bit. A spin kick knocked it further back. Then a tententicle wrapped around his wrist. Daxium was momentarily surprised at a dip in his power levels right before Gudis flung him into the mountain. Daxium broke free and held his wrist as he forced his way to some open space. He looked at his wrist then at the creature, it could drain his energy much ike it could drain the life out of the area around it.

Embolden by this fact Gudis lashed out again again trying to get ahold of a limb. Daxium blocked each attempt and continued to back up trying to locate an opening he could exploit. Then the Gudis fired off a series of energy blast that rocked the giant and forced him to cover up from the onslaught. Thinking quick he put his shield up against the barrage, a couple of shot reflected back at Gudis causing him to stop and scream in pain. Seeing the open Daxium rushed in but he failed to realize it was a trap until it was too late. A tenticle came in low and slammed him at the knee. He went down and the other one quickly wrapped around his neck. Gudis seemed to cackle as he drained the light energy from the giant, even more so once the jewel on his chest started to blink.

Realizing he couldn't remove the tenticles Daxium dropped both hands to one side and aimed a flashbolt at the point Ken's fallen comrade had pointed out. It worked as Gudis screamed in pain. and he felt the grip around his neck loosen. Another flashbolt freed him and backed the Gudis up. Not taking the moment to cherish his newly won freedom he backflipped a couple of times, set up and fired the Dimensional Storm Ray. It caught Gudis flush and it exploded. Daxium stood and watched the area for a moment. Yes he defeated the creature... yet something was nagging his in the back of his mind. Not seeing a immediate threat and knowing his time was short he flew off into the air, "Shiah!"

Ken materailzed from the orb of light close to where he first changed. Behind him this Jack person leaned on a tree branch that was over his head. "I almost thought you had him." When Ken looked back he wasn't there. Looking around he found the pendant he was wearing hanging from that same branch. He took it and studied it, some lighting was flashing inside the jewel but it was weak, barely visable. And right then Ken knew, Jack was sent home but not all of him could make the trip.

The mood back at Castle was a somber one as the team returned. But that was always the case when they lost one of their own on an assignment. Ken and Jess made their way back to the rec room they were in earlier after the Captain finshed with the post mission briefing. Throwing her jacket on the couch Jess put her hands over her head and streched, "God I need to get out of here for awhile."

"I guess it's a little late to get a pass from the Captain," Ken said as he headed for the table.

"Unfortunately," she conceded as she joined him. Both of them looked att he cards still face down on the table. "Seems a bit stupid now doesn't it."

"A bit," he agreed.

"You want to call the bet off?"

"If you want to." Inside his head he did a little happy dance.

"It was a childish bet anyway. I don't know why we listened to Bill in the first place." She looked at him then at the cards then back at him. "Maybe it's because you're a year older and you memory is starting to fade first, but I seem to recall that we slept together more than once back in high school."

"Well it was your birthday," he said with a shrug. "Then it was my birthday." With a smirk he added, "And I don't know about you but I haven't looked at Arbor day the same way since."

The corner of her lip crinkled in the smallest hint of a smile. "So what was with the whole 'not before I'm married' BS?"

"From what I've overheard you have a pretty good reputation around here," he explained. "I didn't want to accidentally ruin it and get you angry with me all over again. And if Bill thought he had a chance with you I'm pretty sure you'd put me in the medical wing."

"You're damn right," she said with a finger poke to his chest. Again they looked at the cards. Both of them thinking the same thing. "Somebody probably messed with them."

"I wouldn't doubt it. I don't even remember what I had."

"I don't think I even looked at mine." One more time the cards called to them. She looke at him, "Since the bets off it couldn't hurt to look."

"I thought you'd ever say it." He stood by the cards he had. "Just the cards we have now."

"Turn them over all at once," she agreed. Jess had a pair of kings. Ken had three of a kind with fours. "You lucky S.O.B."

"Well you know what they say, lucky at cards total moron at love," he told her as he headed for the exit.

"Just because you were once doesn't mean you always will be," she told. Stopping at he door he didn't look convinced. "Ken you are a great guy that any woman would love to have in their life. Trust me, I should know. Show a little of that backbone like you did against your brother and the girl around here will be swooning all around you."

"Swooning?", he said cracking a smile. "That's a bit much don't you think?"

"I'm just trying to rebuild your confidence," she told him. "Epsecially since you're obvioulsy still so devastated I broke up with you."

"You keep telling yourself that." Pausing a bit at the door he looked back, "Thanks Jess."

She waved it off, "Just be happy you're ex if still friendly with you."

"Every day." Walking back to his quarters his mind went a million places at once. What happened to Mike popped up first but he did not need to dweal on that at the moment. After that conversation he started thinking about how he screwed up things with Jess but he didn't want to stay there either. So that left him with one safe, more or less, subject that was floating around in his head. Making sure he was alone he pulled the pendant out of his pocket. The chain dangled from his hand as he looked at it. Part of him feltDax trying to feed some of his energy to it but so far he was being rejected.

"I almost thought you had him."

As those words rang in his head his fingers closed around it, "What the hell did we miss?"

ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside


Episode 15

OP - Mercy Drive - Burn in my Light

Sitting on the edge of a computer console Jess waited for the enevidiable to happen. Then again this could have been the day the unimaginable actually happened. Glancing back at the screen she watched the ongoing battle of red and green lights for a few minutes. Then like all the other times the red lights won out in the end. She wasn't even surprised by the very angry sounding, "Damnit!", that came from the chamber underneath the console. She'd witness this particular even a couple of times but she knew enough to do nothing as Ken slid out of the chamber frustrated beyind belief.

Although he let it get the best of him this time as he slapped the bottom of the console on the way out. Looking back at the screen she tried a joke to ease the tension, "That didn't work either." The look on his face said the attempt failed, big time. It would probably be a good idea not to mention that was the fastest the machine had beaten him so far.

"I almost had it," he grumbled.

Kneeling down she went, "Ken as somebody who's known you for a long time now this is, what, the tenth time you 'almost had it' since you've been here?"

While he wouldn't look at her he mumbled, "Twelfth."

"Twelve times," she told him. "Look I'm not trying to be mean or negative or anything, but maybe it's time to admit this can't be beat."

"I can beat it," he insisted as he got to his feet. "I can almost see the solution in my head. I'm almost there I can get it."

"God I wish you showed this much determination back when we were dating when you brother was pushing your buttons to get what he wanted."

He gave he a look then left the room, "Whatever."

"All right that was a low blow," she said following him out. "I'm sorry. But damnit Ken...," she stopped herself. "No, I'm not going to start this conversation out in the open like this."

"Why not?", he demanded, turning to face her. "We both know I'm the one who screwed it up."

"And I could have been a little more patiant with the situation," she told him, remember something similar she told the Captain when he first asked her about it, after they lost Joe. "I could have told Jeff off at least once."

"I think Mom would have paid you if you did," he told her.

"Great, now you tell me," she smiled. It took a couple of moments but he started smiling too. "Okay we narrowly avoid the post break-up argument ten years after the fact. But serioulsy Ken, twelve times..."

"I know," he said as they started walking again. "It's just I just found out I'm supposed to be a genius at this crap. One way or another I should be able to see a solution somewhere."

"And a bunch of other geniuses created that thing, the odds aren't exactly in your favor. Everybody from Captain Hawk on down have been telling you this. Besides if a miricle did happen and you do beat it they're just going to make it harder. It's how those guys work."

"I'm technically one of 'those guys' you know."

"Like you said you just found out. they known for years. Actually I'm glad you didn't hind out until recently. If you would have found out years ago you'd be just as stuffy as the rest of them. Then I would be forced to hurt you."

"I'll keep that in mind in case MENSA ever opens a mechanics wing," he told her.

Jess gave a playful jab to the ribs, "You better."

In another part of the Castle complex Captain Hawk, Commander Jamira, Richardson, his assistant slash bodyguard Patricia, Brooks and a cople of the other board members listened to a few of the scientists as they discussed the ecological damage resulting from the last monster attack. There was a bit of information Richardson and a few others were having a hard time trying to digest. "What do you mean there's nothing alive?"

"The subsatance the creature secreated killed everything in an on the ground it stood on," he explained. "Animal life, plant life, bacteria... When I say it's dead Earth I mean dead Earth."

"What about the plants life we discovered that looked like it was starting to be affected?", Hawk asked.

"We studied those as well," said another. "Some of them might be salvagable. Most I personally doubt can be saved at all."

Brooks spoke up, "What about this dead Earth itself? Is there any way to correct the damage done?"

"We're looking into it," replied the first one. "We think it's possible to salvage the area but we would have to know invasive the substance was..."

"Can we replicate the slime to use on another monster?", Jamira asked. The scientist looked among themselves somewhat bewildered by the questions.

Hawk decided to speak for them, "I don't think using a substance that is almost as leathal as some of the creatures we've been in combat against, if not more so, is a good idea."

"It's a potential weapon we can use," he argued. "It would be stupid not to take advantage of it."

"I have to agree with the good Captain," Brooks piped in, "Some of the beasts have proven to be rather mobile in the past. What if you miss in a populated area."

"Then we don't miss." Everybody knew he wasn't joking.

"Commander," Brooks began, "There must be limits..."

Jamira cut him off, "I'm trying to save lives here! Thise things don't hold back and neither should we."

"And I heard that same bunch of bull back before you were born," Richardson told him. "One side got a gun so the other got a bigger one than the other got a bigger gun than that and so on and so on. I didn't believe in it then and I don't believe in it now."

"So says the man who's betting on the giant freak," he muttered just loud enough for those close to him could here, which included Richardson.

"That will be enough Commander," Hawk quickly barked.

Richardson responded any way, "A valid opinion, While destructive in his own right Ultraman has helped more than he hindered. Then we have the situations where he decided to either not use or modify his most powerful weapon. Will this slime do the same?" Jamira didn't have an immediate answer. "Sometimes the potential cure can be worse than the desease. I suggest you remember that."

"Yes sir," Jamira said before leaving the room. Hawk looked at the board and excused himself before following him out.

"Well that's going to be a unpleasant conversation," Brooks quipped after they were gone.

Richardson added, "And the man wonders way he's not in charge of the attack forces."

One of the other board members said, "Getting back to this dead Earth, wasn't there an orphange near by?"

"Yes there was," Brooks answered. "I believe Captain Hawk's report indicated one of Alpha team grew up there."

"Yes," Richardson said recalling the report. Behind him Patricia pulled the report up on her tablet and showed it to him. "Waters. I believe Hawk sent him along with the research team. Partly to help ease things over from the incident and partily to help keep an eye on things. We still don't know if the danger is over after all, especially of this slime did as much damage as we think. Besides it will be good PR in the long run." Just about everybody quickly agreed with him on the last point.

Silently Brooks wished that Gudis creature had made it's way over here.

"I'm open!," Bill shouted as he played a game of soccer with some of the kids from the orphange. Once he did he got the ball toward the opposing goal. Although instead of taking the shot he quickly passed to one of the smaller players on his team let him get the goal. "Alright," he gave him a high five and quickly got both teams ready for the next play.

"I'm not sure that's what the Captain had in mind by keeping an eye on things," one of the UNDF members commented as they studied the vegetation nearby.

Ryo looked back before scanning another group of plants, "At least he's keeping most of he kids occupied and out from under foot."

"Too bad the nuns won't let some of the older kids help out," he commented. "I'm sure they know the area pretty well. They could point out any potential spots quicker than we can find them."

"I tried," Ryo told him. "I even suggested that maybe some of the nuns could go instead. The head nun shut that down almost as fast as she did with the kids. She seriously said she didn't want the woman under her charge to go out alone in the woods with male hooligans."

"We have females with us on this particular team."

"I tried pointing that out too but she didn't want them to do anything ungodly with her girls either."

"Well we know where her mind is at," he laughed.

"Joshua!", they heqard one of the nun called. The looked over to see a boy doing a hand in the air pose similar to the one Ultraman usually took when he appeared. "Sister Victoria doesn't like you to play as that thing remember."

"And she's one of those," he added while going back to his readings.

"I didn't think you were part of the pro-Ultraman group," Ryo commented.

"I'm not," he told him. "Nor am I in the anti-group either. I guess you could say I'm in the wait and see group."

"Fair enough."

"Johnson to Watanabe," his communicator chirped.

"Watanabe here, what do you have Johnson?"

"This sector seems clear so far. We're going to double check things then head to the next search sector."

"Understood. Everything on this side of the mountain looks clear too. But check your area for any streams of rivers that may connect the other side of the mountain with this one."

"I think some of the others are doing that now and Bridge is going over evey geological survey they can find but we'll keep an eye out. Johnson out."

Ryo looked at the mountain briefly, "I wish Bridge would hurry up with those findings."

"So you know Ultraman?", a small boy asked Bill between plays.

"Well not personally," he answered, "but I'm usually around when he shows up."

"Is he really tall?", asked another.

"Oh he's huge, almost as tall as that mountain over there." After that the floodgates officailly opened.

"Where does he come from?"

"Where does he go?"

"Is he scared to fight the monsters?"

"How does he the lights from his hands?"

"Whoa, you guys are asking me things even the eggheads back at base don't know," he said quickly in an attempt to close this particular gate. "Now if you want to ask me about the jets I fly..." He realized that was a mistake as soon as it left his mouth as that floodgate opened wide one more time. "Where's Ryo when I need him?"

"Children!", a stern looking older woman start over not looking happy. Bill felt an old fear creep up in the back of his mind. "It's time for your study period, so get back inside." The children quickly went back inside the building leaving the two of them alone. She looked him over with a bit of disdain. She had that look for as long as he could remember so he didn't really think anything of it. "Hello William," she said evenly.

"Sister Vicoria," he greeted her with a genuine grin. "It's good to see you still up and kicking."

"Yes," she said with little enthusiasum. "Are you and your... organization almost done here?"

"Probably," he said looking back to see where the others were. "We're not sure how far what ever that stuff the monster was putting out went. We're just trying to be thourogh, making sure nothing was left over that could harm the kids or anybody else in the area."

"I beleive just by showing up you potenially put the children in danger," she told him.

"Sister believe me if we show up the danger is already here. Like I said we're just being extra cautious right now."

"And yet you don't do anything about that giant false idol."

"That's a new one," Bill couldn't help but smirk, "I never heard Ultraman called that before."

"That is what that thing is," she insisted. "The children talk more about that giant heathan than they do the lord."

"I don't recall there being all that much talking about the lord when I was here," Bill told her.

"There is when I am around," she counted.

"Because we knew had to," he informed her. "As soon as you left the room we went back to talking about what we were before you came in."

"And I see you quickly learned to lie after you left this place."

"Oh I learned to lie long before I left this place."

"You become somewhat delusional too," she told him. "I suggest you and your organazation finish whatever it is you're doing and leave before you corrupt the children even more. Good day William." She turned around sharply and walked before he could say anything.

"And I was actually happy to see her too," he said to himself. "Waters to Watanabe, do we have an ETA on the finish of this job? The head cheese is starting to act like I remember her." As he walked away from the building he failed to notice a group of daisies nearby that started to droop.

Not being able to beat the unbeatable situation one more time non withstanding this had been a pretty decent day so far. The text he had to study had been getting smaller and smaller the more he caught up with the study program Hawk set up for him. Picking up one of the data pads he put it back down and reached into his pocket. Pulling out the triangular pendant that had been left behind by the stranger he only knew as Jack he couldn't get his last words out of his head, "I almost thought you had him."

"Dax, you getting anything yet?"

Somewhere deep inside his mind he got a responce, "Still nothing I'm afraid. The energy signature inside is still weak. I have continued trying to try and share mine but so far it has been rejected."

Ken was confused, "Rejected? If you two are similar why would he do that?"

"Perhaps we are not similar enough," Daxium offered. "Perhaps..."

And he never really trails off when talking. "Perhaps what?"

"Perhaps he feel his job is done."

"What in the hell does that mean?"

"Hawk to Scott," came from his communicator.

"Crap," he quickly shoved the pendant back into his picket, despite the fact the Captain coldn't see him, before responding, "Scott here."

"Relax Ken," he chuckled. "Jessica and myself were heading to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee and wondered if you wanted to join us. I'm sure you could use a break from all the studing you have been doing."

He looked at those barely touched datapads. "Sure, I'll be right there."

"And you can tell me your side about the lastest attempt she was just telling me about."

"Thanks Jess," he muttered. "Permission to kill her when I get there."

"Denied," Hak quickly told, although he did chuckle a bit. "Beside, she's standing right here and heard everything."

"Permission to plan my own funeral before I get there."

"I'll consider it," he chuckled again. "But it better be a cheap one, we have a budget around here."

"Yes sir, I'll meet you there." Ending the conversation he reached into his pocket one more time and fingered the pendant.

"Perhaps if you took it to Dr. William," Daxium offered, "maybe he would have a different insight that we currently do not."

There was a thought. Williams was one of the few people around here who knew his secret. And out of the three he was the one he liked the most. Still, "I'm still halfway expecting him the jack the Spark Magnifier behind my back on those check ups. I'm not sure I want to trust this guy in his hands unless I absolutely have to."

"Bridge," said one of the techs, "I just got a hit on that substance were told to look out for." He was afraid he was going to say that.

"How strong is it?", he asked pulling up the screen. If they didn'y find a way to contain this now that patch of dead Earth was going to get bigger.

"Not that strong, but if I'm reading this right it's growing stronger by the moment."

"You're not reading it wrong," he was forced to admit. Linking into the Scan track's sensor package he tried to get a clearer picture of what was happening. "Now this is strange," he muttered, "It looks like it's pooling into one spot. Castle to Watanabe."

"I'm here Bridge what is it?", he quickly responded.

"We're getting a reading off that substance and you're the closest one to the source. Is there any dying vegetation near you?"

"Not that I can see at the moment," he said. "Give a moment to do a search. Damn it how did it get on this side of the range. Bill, you and the others spread out check the area over."

"You got it," he said. "You two look over in that direction."

"Ryo," Bridge spoke up, "science section theorized the reason why you and the others didn't notice

anything right a way when you found the creature was the substance affects the smaller organisms first."

"I read the report Bridge, but thanks any way."

"Ryo!", Bill shouted. "There a patch of brown grass that's getting larger by the second." Ryo ran over and saw that he wasn't kidding. He could literailly see the grass die right in front of him. "This seemed faster than it was last time."

"Bridge you said we were the closest, where's the substance coming from this time?"

"That's ther the thing it's not coming it's growing," he said, "Almost like it mashing together."

"How is it doing that?"

"If I knew that I wouldn't be trying not to panic right now."

"Alright where is it mashing then?" This wasn't making any sense. Unless there was an underground stream somewhere it shouldn't have gotten on this side of the mountains, much less pool up in a single spot.

"About a mile and a half west of your current location," he answered.

Bill looked in that direction and blanched a little. "The orphanage," and he ran back there as fast as he could.

"Bill wait," Ryo said in vain. "Damn it. Watanabe to all field units, meet back up at the orphanage. We have a situation."

In one of the Castle cafeterias Ken, Jess and Hawk were making the usual small talk, after the initial teasing about Ken's latest test go around. Then Hawk started to ask about their acedemy days. He was already a military man before being assigned this duty so he never had the particulr "pleasure" of going through the academy process. Right now Ken was retelling his short time there , "But there was this one instructor who got on my nerves fast. I know he probably still knows more than I do but damn if he didn't get annoying fast. He was teaching, and I kid you not, proper field safety procedure in a combat situation."

"Wait," Jess interrupted him, "did he talk in this long slow monotone voice?", going so far as to mimic the tone of voice to highlight the point.

"And he walked like he had five sticks up his ass?"

"Yes," she confirmed.

"Oh God it has to be the same guy. There's no way there can be two like that."

"Would you believe he tried to instruct me on how to clean a gun?"

"Didn't you tell him you were practically brought up on the shooting range? At least since starting school?"

"He wouldn't listen," she said. "I think he's head of admissions now or something."

Remembering the guy when he was there, and forgetting where he was for the moment, Ken went, "Who in the hell did he blow?" Jess wincing slightly made him remember where he was, and more importantly who he was with. Then he looked at Hawk as a mild case of panic set in.

Taking a sip of his coffee he waited a moment before saying, "Saying some disparinging things about a higher up if frowned upon. Considering I know exactly who the two of you are talking about," and Ken figured he was about to be royally chewed out," I would say that question passed though my head more than once."

Being struck speechless for the moment Jess spoke for him, "Ah... Captain?"

"I'm on a break," he explained, "and currently in the company of people I know fairly well." He glanced at Ken, "well one not quite as long as the other. I feel I can be a little lax in this situation. But if you said that in my preseance after this was over the lecture would have been on in full force." Seeing the younger man visiably relax made him smle behind his cup.

"Bridge to Hawk," he called out over the line.

"Hawk here."

"We're getting readings for that substance and Ryo is reportig that plants in the area are already starting to die, faster this time around.

"Understood. Get all avaialble Razor Wings in the air," Hawk ordered. "And have a Scan Track ready for me, Jess and Ken."

"Understood, Bridge out."

"This is what get for sending both pilots on an assignment," Hawk mumbled as they hurried toward the door.

"That boy is as insufferable now as he was when he was here," Sister Victoria ranted in her office. Her listener was another nun who had been there almost as long as she had. "The nerve of that scoundrel, daring to tell me the children only talk about the Lord when I am around."

The other one finally spoke up, "I don't know why you're so suprised. I've been trying to tel you that for the past thirty years now."

"You don't kow what you're talking about," she said dimissing it.

"No, of course not," she sighed. "I just have my own eyes and ears."

"Is it wrong for me to want the children to respect the Lord?"

"Respect is one thing," she countered, "teaching them they have to, especially when you're around. That seems a biger disserves than not talking about him at all."

"Thay's enough Cheryl," she ordered. Before the discussion could continue the room started to shake.

"What in the world?"

Bill ran in, slamming the door open, "We got to evacuate the orphange!"

"Now wait a miniute," Sister Victoria protested, "we just went trough this nonsense."

"And this nonsense is a lot closer this time around," he told them. "We already got some of the kids out thanks to the other nuns."

"I better go help," Sister Cheryal said. "Lord only knows where some of the hiding places the children like to use are."

"Make sure you check the cubby hole under the stairs in the west end," Bill told her. as she proceeded him out of the room. He looked toward Sister Victoria who stubbornly held her ground. "Ah Sister, out is this way.

"I have been the head of this orphange for almost thirty years," she informed him. "My place is here, no where else."

"I don't have time for this," said. Because he knew she wasn't going to budge on this no matter how hard she pleaded. Which, in his mind, left him only one option. "I hope this doesn't send me to hell."

Walking toward her he grabbed her by the arm, "What do you think you are doing?" Without another word he hauled her over his shoulder and took her out of the room. "Put me down! This is Blasphamy! I said put me down at once!"

"Once we're outside," he snapped. Silently he hoped around a lot of people who could protect him from her.

Hawk ordered them out of the Scan Track as he surveyed the area. According to Bridge the substance was pooling under the ground about a mile away from the orphanage. Thank heavan for small favors. As it was they could see the growing patch of dying vegation. Before putting his helmet on Ken said, "It can't be happening this fast."

"Yet it is," Jess told him.

Hawk hit his communicator and contacted Castle, "Hawk to Bridge, do you have any idea how it got on this side of the mountains?"

"I haven't found anything yet," he answered. "There's nothing on record say that anything is connecting your side with the other."

"Bridge," Jess spoke up, "are you getting any kind of reading from underground?"

"Early sensor sweeps indicates something might be moving underground," he said. "Something big." Jess glanced in Ken's direction but he didn't notice.

"No suprise there," Hawk said. "Jess, Ken scout the area for any civilians. I'm going to head to the orphanage to see if Bill and Ryo need a hand setting up a defense perimitter."

"Right," Jess answered for the both of them. "Ken I'll take the area to the left, you take the right."

"Got it." They went off in seperate directions. But Ken held something back, not that he could explain to the others how he knew to begin with. The closer they got the more the pendant reacted to Dax. And the feeling he was getting was if it was the Gudis it was reforming way too soon. Then again Dax was sensing dark energy a bit more easily now than he did the first time.

"What's keeping that last truck from going?!", Ryo demanded as he looked at something that should have been gone hours ago.

"Who do you think?", Bill shot back, sporting a newly earned black eye.

"You have got to be kidding me," he groaned as he jogged over to see the head nun still refusing to get on the truck. "Sister we are trying to get the area clear and keep the kids safe. Empathis on keeping the kids safe. Now would you please get on the truck so we can do just that."

"And I have told al of you my place and purpose is here and I will not run from it," she insisted.

"Victoria," one of the other nun spoke up.

"My place is here," she said firmly as a Scan Track pulled up.

"I ordered that this area was to be evacuated already," Hawk barked as he got out. "What's going on?"

"She's going on," Bill said frustrated beyond belief. Hawk stared at his new facial feature before he turned his attention to the sister.

Before he could say anything she went on, "I told William, I told them over there," she pointed toward his troops, "I told all of them my place is here. I don't care what kind of authority you think you have or can act on but I will not leave the orphange on any condition."

Hawk did not have the time for this, "Lady my main concern right now if for the children's safety. You don't want to leave, fine." Banging the side of the truck a couple of times he shouted, "Get them out of here now!" The other nuns protested but the truck pulled out any way. Turning back toward the Sister he told her plainly, "You stay out of the way. you do anything to impede my men in any way I will have you arrested on the spot."

"You do not have the authority to...", she started to protest but he cut it off quick.

"Yes I do and I have no qualms about arresting a nun in this situation." She walked off in a huff, naturally toward the orphange. Taking a moment he gestured toward Bill's eye.

"Popped me one as soon as I set her on the ground," he explained. Then added, "She's a tad old school."

"Obviously." Before Hawk could go on the ground started to shake hard. Bill rushed over to keep the Sister from falling as Hawk held on to the Scan Track. The ground shook so much Ken and Jess felt it where they were just as a giant tendril looking thing smashed itself free from the ground. Hawk took a quick look to see where the tendril was, realizing it was too close to the orphange to call in a Razor Wing strike. He looked round to see it fall down in the direction of Bill and the Sister.

"No you don't," Bill turned to protect the nun by pushing her behind him puled his gun and fired. The tendril stopped just long enough for Ryo to run over and pull them out of the way before it fell all the way.

"Come on," he said as he directed them toward Hawk's Scan Track. A little further away another one came up from the ground. Over her protest they pushed the nun into the vehicle with Ryo hopping into the back to man the cannons on top as Hawk drove them out of there. Ryo got a bead on the tendril closest to them and fired as more of the creature revealed itself. It looked like the first one but with some changes, the bulbus haed wasn't quite as large and it also had a more humaniod appearece with it's face with a very flat nose and mouth.

Ken saw it from where he was and didn't hesitate to raise the Spark Magnifier over his head.

This new version of Gudis ignored the colum of light as Daxium appeared. In turn he realized the foreign creature was heading for the orphange. Quickly getting between it and the building he took a defensive stance, "Shiah!" The Gudis didn't seem all that worried he was there.

"What is that giant heathan doing?". Sister Victoria asked as she watched out the window.

Bill answered her, "If you're talking about Ultraman it looks like he's trying to defend the orphange."

"Why would that false idol protect something that's under the Lord's care?"

"How do you know he didn't send him?", Hawk told her as he continued driving.

While they sped away Daxium got past thse tendrils, close enough to land a few blows before backing up. The first Gudis cold drain his energy with prolong contact. Part of him was afraid that the indifference in this one was because it could do the same. Right then it started flailing away with those tendrils a bit causing him to cover up and make sure they didn't wrap arpund something on him. Then it opened it's mouth and fired a bubble like energy blast that exploded on impact and sent him flying toward the orphange. The walls shook as he landed hard on the ground. Seeing the tendrils come at him he quickly rolled out of the way. He got a quick glance behind it to see a trail of dead Earth seemingly following it.

When it fired another round of the energy bubbles Daxium quickly threw his arms open to create the protective shield in front of him. When the blasting stop he quickly dropped the shield and fired off a flash bolt that exploded in a shower of sparks on Gudis' body causing it to cry out. He was setting up for another one when it did something he wasn't expecting. "You will die today giant," it said in a deep raspy voice.

Everyone was caught off guard at this. Bill forgot the sister was there as he uttered, "Holy **** it spoke."

Daxium was stunned long enough for it to lash both tendrils into the side of his head. Grunting in pain as he fell to a knee then they came at him from the other direction forcing to him all fours. One of them wrapped around his arm and started draining his energy as it pulled him up only to knock him back down with the other one. It came at him one more time and he grabbed it out of instinct then quickly let go as he felt the drain increase momentarily. But he missed as the first one wrapped itself around his ankle while it pulled and sent him to his back. Gudis started whipping him with those tendrils before stopping as the jewel started to flash. Slowlying getting to his feet he got into another stance but was powerless to stop it from firing another bubble at him.

But this one was different as it quickly surrounded him. Even worse he felt the drain on his energy increase every second as he tried to escape. The Gudis laughed as he struggled, "Soon you and the rest of this planet will be one with me." The drain was so great Ken was starting to feel it in the safety zone Daxium had created, falling to a knee himself. Inside his pocket the pendent flashed with a brilliant light and something seemed to explode. In the outisde world there was a brief glimps of a red and silver giant that took Gudis by surprise, enough to cause it to back up. It fired some sort of energy blast from his hand that shattered the bubble around Daxium before disappearing completely.

The jewel falashing faster than it was before Daxium was still in a knelling position as he realized the giant did something else. There were memories of fight with this creature that was forgien to him. In all of them the creature was defeated, in all of them it came back. And he quickly realized they all had one thing in common, the ground. The Gudis was connected to the ground it was on. Looking at the creature he stood and banged his forearms together shifting into Power mode. Launching an attack that caught Gudis off guard he pounded the creature before grabbing it's tendril, it was goind to drain more of his energy but it was necessary risk in order to pull this off. Feeling it full force he fought it as he started to fly and ripped it off the ground. GOing as high as he could with the drain he started spinning making the creature go around and around until he let it go launching it into the air.

As it came down Daxium already had his hand by the jewel and drew in what energy he could as he flew at the creature. With everything he had left he punched the creature with the full unfiltered force of the Giga Wave. Gudis was obliterated on contact. The jewel flashing faster and faster he tried to sense something of the creature but couldn't. From Ken he recalled what the stranger said about thinking the only way to destroy it was destroying every atom of it's being and hoped he was able to accomplish just that, and hoped the humans could confirm it, as he flew off, "Shiah!"

Ken immediately dropped to a knee as he appeared from the ball of light. Without even thinking he reached into his pocket for the pendant. The green jewel in the center was now cracked and blackened. He was almost afraid of what that meant. "Was he able to get home?"

It took a moment but Daxium finally answered, "I'm afraid not. He used what little energy he had left to help us."

Wrapping his fingers around it he felt a bit of sadness to well up inside him, "He was a long way from home just to die."

"Indeed," Daxium sounded sad as well.

"Do you think that's ever going to happen to us?"

"I am not sure," he answered after a moment. "But I truely hope that is not our fate."

"You and me both pal," he pocketed the pendant one last time, "you and me both."

"Double check everything," Hawk told the crew heading into the orphange. "It wasn't hit directly but it was rattled pretty bad. I want to know that building is strucuturely sound before I let the kids and nuns set a foot back in there."

"Thank you Captain," Sister Victoria said, although it pained her to do so.

"No problem at all Sister," he told her. Looking back he saw some of his men, including Ryo, Jess and Ken, playing soccer with the kids. "And I hate to disrupt your routine like this again."

"It'll help the children work out some nervous energy from the past couple of hours," she said. She noticed Bill hovering close by, "William I though you would be joining the other with keeping the children occupied."

"I wanted to apologize for beng so rough with you earlier," he said.

"I realize you were doing your job," she said. "As I hope you knewe I was doing mine."

"Of course Sister, of course."

"While I still don't believe in the hea... this Ultraman," she corrected herself, "I realize he may be part of God's plan."

"Well you and the other nuns always said he works in mysterious ways," Bill said. "And I've seen some mysterious ways in this outfit let me tell you."

"Yes," she said a bit stiffly. "If you will excuse me... and if you're Captain will let me I will check on the condition of the orphange myself."

"With supervision," Hawk told her. "I don't want anything falling on you and nobody to be there to help."

"I'm surprised it took you this long to get inside," Bill joked. Sister Victoria said nothing before giving a small nod and walking away. Seeing the moment Bill ran toward the group behind them shouting, "Pass me the ball! I'm In!"

ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside


Episode 16

OP - Mercy Drive - Burn in my Light

"Oh good you're here," Dr. Williams told Hawk and the others that made up most of the main squad that made up Alpha Team. He guided them toward the entrance to one of the hangers, one that had been recently reassigned to house something else. He seemed almost giddy as he let them enter first. There they got their first real look at the partially covered metal frame of the "super jet" William had finally convinced the board to get built a few months prior. "It's not much now in this state but the inside is almost complete. I can't wait to show you."

"We can't wait to see it," Hawk spoke for the group.

Williams started to enter the jet then stopped and quickly turned around almost causing the group to walk into him. "Wait, one of you is missing. Mr. Scott!"

From one of the maintenance bays by the engine Ken poked his head out and looked around to find him, "Yeah Doc?"

"It's time for Alpha Team tour of the ship," he told him while waving him forward. "You're part of Alpha Team so you're in too."

Looking back at something in the hull he looked back at them, "I'm helping build this thing I already know what the inside looks like."

Hawk spoke up before Williams could say anything, "Ken get in the line."

Realizing this battle was over before it even began he looked at one of the other technicians, "Keep an eye on that gauge I set up. I thought I heard something start to shake as the system stated to pressurize."

"You got it," she said.

"Alright," Williams clapped his hands, "now we can go inside." He lead them inside the jet, almost skipping as he did so. Jess held back for Ken to catch up.

"Did you ever finds out what those two chairs in the back were supposed to be?"

"They're two mini one man jet fighters," he told her.

That bit of news attracted the attention of the two pilots in the group. Ryo looked at him, "Really?"

"Yeah," he answered. "They're supposed to disengage and reattach in midair."

Bill didn't look sure at that bit of news, "How is that suppose to work?"

He hesitated a bit before answering, "He's... still working that part out."

"You had to ask," Ryo told Bill as they entered the body of the ship. Going toward the front they entered what they all assumed was the cockpit. Most of the control panels were completed, and few yet looked like they had any power yet but they got a good idea of the layout.

"The pilot and co-pilot sit up here," William said with out any preamble as he went to the front of the room. Then he turned toward the center chair, "Captain you'll sit here. You can actually control the ship from that station in front of the chair. In case both jets have been have been launched."

"I better log some time in the simulator," Hawk muttered.

"Oh Wade," he said as he walked toward the chairs situated in the back, "This is weapon control. Since you are the teams 'crack shot', I think that's the right term, you'll be right at home right here. And over here," he said going to the last chair, "is the engineering display so this will be your chair Mr. Scott."

Ken blanched a little as his eyes widened a bit with a bit of a squeak in his voice, "My chair?"

"Mr. Scott in engineering?", Bill smirked.

"Shut up," Ken told him before returning his attention to Williams. "Why do I have a chair?"

"This is Alpha Team's jet and you are part of Alpha team and a mechanic as well, therefore it's your chair," he said like it was the most natural thing in the world. Based on the facts it was. In Ken's mind however...

Ken stepped a little closer, "Ah Doc, I don't think you got the memo but I'm strictly ground and pound. Me and planes do not mix."

"I have no idea what you are talking about," Williams told him as he walked away with Ken looking on in disbelief. "Since Mr. Scott already let the cat out of the bag how would the two of you like to take a look at those jets?"

"I'll check them out," Bill offered. "You get familiar with those controls. I want my co-pilot to be well versed in their operations."

"I'm not the co-pilot in this situation," Ryo called out as he left the room. He turned a pleading eye toward Hawk.

"We'll figure that part out later," he assured him.

"You better hope he doesn't play the 'Razor Wing one pilot' card," Jess teased her usual wingman.

"We'll figure it out later," Hawk repeated.

Meanwhile Ken kept looking at his chair in total silence. Then he bolted out of the room, "Oh Doc."

"I'll head him off," Jess volunteered as she gave chase.

"Ground and pound," Ryo said with a bit of disbelief once they were alone. "When did Ken start talking like one of the Trackers?" Hawk gave him an amused look, that was what the pilots called the Scan Track crews. Of course they called the pilots "Winger" but that was a whole other story.

"He's finally starting to fit in," Hawk told him. "Do you know how long I've been waiting for this day?"

"But he's one of us," Ryo protested.

Hawk's grin got a little bigger, "And I've been waiting for somebody else on the team to say that for almost as long."

"The continued favoritism shown to Alpha Team is completely unacceptable!", Jamira shouted. He had barged into Brook's office a few moments prior and those were the first words out of his mouth. Not even an angry hello, how rude. "It's bad enough the men are commanded by a man with no taste for battle. Now they're getting an over powered jet!"

"Dr. Williams created the over powered jet in question Commander," Brooks told him, trying to be a

calming influence in this conversation. "Since Alpha Team is primarily a squadron of flyers it was only natural that they would get first tibs." If it was possible it seemed like the man was seething even more. "I'm sure if your nice to Dr. Williams I'm sure he'll be more than willing to create some sort of super tank for Beta Team."

Jamira slammed his hands on top of the desk, knocking over a picture he had on it. "I do not find this funny."

"And I suggest you remember who you are talking to Commander," Brooks said sharply as he stood. Jamira backed up a bit but he didn't look repentant. Brooks picked up the picture and looked at it, "My Grandfather used to say anger can be a man's undoing. You can be angry but don't let it color your actions." He placed the picture back on the desk. "Perhaps they are words you should learn to live by." Jamira said nothing. "So why come to me with this particular complaint? There would be several other board members who would be more sympathetic." Although a little more nervous that he went over Hawk's head therefore less likely to do anything.

"You seem more level headed," Jamira told him. "You also have Richardson's ear in most matters."

"I wouldn't say I have his ear exactly," Brooks commented. "It's more like I'm a sounding board who talks back on occasion."

"But he trusts you more than anybody else on the board," he argued. "Everybody here knows that."

"You flatter me Commander but..."

"You can make them see I'm right about this," he continued. "Beta Team is just as important as the Alphas." This was a plea that stunk of desperation in some ways. Brooks almost started to pity the man.

"I'm not going to make any promises," Brooks conceded. "But if you truly want to prove Beta Team's worth you should show them the next time a creature shows up. Make a little noise as it were."

"Prove our worth," he repeated. Jamira looked back down at the picture on the desk, then realized it was the only picture on the desk. He looked back at Brooks with a quizzical eye. "No pictures of your Father?"

"He spent too many hours looking over my shoulder while I was working when I was younger," Brooks explained, "and I didn't that feeling while I am here. Grandfather was a little more relaxed while he worked, something I try to imitate. The pictures of my Father and myself are back at my home office. But do remember what I said Commander." He left the room without saying anything, an increasingly common occurrence. But how he detested to pretend to be nice to that man.

But he did leave at the right time as Brooks started feeling a familiar sensation. Using a new trick he just learned he sent a quick pulse of dark energy that shorted out the monitoring devices in the room. A second later the vortex formed right in front of him. Hopefully Scott wasn't anywhere close by or this could get rather messy. "What can I do for you my masters?", although he wanted to tell them this was not the best spot or time.

"The creature you sent over has proven to be worthless Avatar!", the shape inside said.

"A pity," Brooks said. "Unfortunately it was the only creature I could get a hold of in such a short amount of time. And if you weren't so insistent on a flying creature..."

"That is not relevant," he was told. Ah yes, this was exactly the conversation he needed right after the one with Jamira.

"It's also the first attempt at turning a creature from this universe into something you can use against the light beings," Brooks said trying a different train of thought. Sooner or later security was going to notice those devices were down and call in to check on him. "There is bond to be some sort of trial and error involved." A hard thought to swallow since he thought that bat he captured could have worked. But he guessed that depended on if his masters had a vampire myth on their side of things.

"True," the voice conceded. "The experiment is considered to be a failure. The creature you dubbed Pestar is worthless."

"Maybe not," Brooks said thinking about his conversation with Jamira. "It may have an unintended side effect if I play things over here correctly."

"In what way Avatar?"

"There is a seed of descent in the forces over here," he explained. "If played right it could cause those cracks to grow. And if that fails then they will waste ammunition on a creature you were already planning on destroying any way."

"Your words make sense Avatar. Very well, we will prepare to send Pestar over the dimensional rift."

"I'll pick a proper location shortly," and the vortex disappeared. And just like clockwork security paged him. "Yes, is there a problem?"

"All clear Captain." The Captain, a man who had spent more than few year on the water, nodded but kept his eyes on the seas before him, and an ear for those he had positioned around the ship to keep an eye on the sea around them. Three ships in the past two weeks had mysteriously blown up. He figured it was some sort of equipment failure but reports of lights in the sea itself made the men under him jumpy. That and those blasted monsters that had been showing up lately. A combination that made him put in the current set up around the ship to help put their minds at ease.

"I can't wait to get to shore," The ship's X-O said, a woman who had served under him for a couple of those years. There was a more modern term for her position but the Captain liked the term Executive Officer, or X-O, and was allowed a few eccentricities.

"You worried about those lights too?" he asked.

"No, I have a hot date after we dock."

"I didn't know you had a boyfriend."

"I haven't picked him out of the crowd yet," she said with a sly grin.

"Comments like that make me glad I instituted that no sex among the crew rule years ago."

"And I hope you don't wonder why most of them disappear for hours on end after we dock and unload."

"This old sea dog's not that old little missy," he grunted before breaking out into a smile. "And if you

weren't so busy picking your next man out of the crowd you'd realized I'm usually one of the missing."

"So the old seas dog still has some life in him," she smiled back. She turned around to look at the charts behind them. He took a quick, and admittedly unprofessional, glance at her rather lovely backside. If only he was a few years younger, and that rule wasn't in place.

And thoughts like that made him remember why he put the rule in place to begin with.

"We got lights starboard!", his man on that side shouted into his radio. His X-O went to the bridge windows on that side and looked out. She looked back and shock her head. That would have been all except he was still looking in that direction and saw the flash she didn't. And if this was the sea playing trick then this was a pretty good one because the trick was moving.

"All hands brace for a potential impact!", he yelled over the comm. The X-O turned around to see the light flash again and getting closer.

She ran for the radio, "This is the oil tanker Hayata, we have light flashing on our stabord side. Our position is..." Some kind of roar cut her off. Then the sun seemingly blacked out despite the fact the could see it reflected on the sea.

The Captain looked out the window with widening eyes, "Mother of God."

"Monster," the X-O got out. Another roar and explosion later that ended up being the last word ever heard from the ship.

"Is that Scan Track ready?", Jamira barked as he marched his way through the garage. Those around him quickly got out of his way but Chief Albright stood his ground. This was his area and nobody was going it intimidate him.

"An hour ago," he told him while going over his work schedule. "I sent you a message then."

"I expect to be told personally Chief."

"The moment I can get a budget for some message runner I'll get right on that," he said walking away.

"I'm still talking to you Chief," Jamira grabbed him by the arm. "You do not walk way from a superior officer."

"And despite the fact people call me 'Chief' I do have the same rank as you Commander," he said freeing his arm. "A rank I received before you if you want to get technical."

"And I outrank the both of you," Hawk told them as he quickly got involved. "So I highly suggest both of you dial it back."

"Captain Hawk," Jamira, with a large amount of sarcasm, started to say.

Hawk wouldn't have none of it, "Commander Jamira, may I suggest before you start up anything with a fellow officer make sure you're not in enemy territory first." He glanced around the garage to prove his point. "Chief I'll let you get back to business."

"Thank you Captain." Then he turned toward his staff, "Alright get back to work, show's over."

"To you he's cordial," Jamira grumbled.

"I don't tell him how to use a wrench he doesn't tell me how to use a gun," Hawk told him. "But that's not why I'm here. We got a call an hour ago. Another ship was destroyed."

"More of those flashing lights?", he asked.

"We got that this time plus something else," he informed him. "Monster."

Jamira demeanor changed into something a little more serious, "Do we know what kind?"

Shaking his head he went on, "That was the last thing said before the transmission was lost. We had some research teams flying over the area the lights were seen in since they were first reported, so hopefully we'll find out pretty soon."

"You wouldn't be telling me this unless it was coming to ground."

"Bridge detected a sharp turn toward land with this latest sighting. We have a couple of potential landing zones targeted already. Our forces are going to be stretched a little thin trying to cover them all. You better get Beta Team prepped and ready to go."

"Don't tell me how to run my unit," Jamira grunted. "You just keep your flyers out of our targeting sights."

As he walked off Hawk called out, "We're on the same side you know."

"And Alpha and Beta teams are supposed to be equal too," Jamira said although Hawk didn't hear it.

In the war room Alpha Team stood around the holotable as a map displayed the location of the lost ships, complete with dotted lines to highlight the pattern. There was a gently curve with the first three but definitely a sharp turn with the last one. The map also showed how close to land it actually was and those potential landing areas. Hawk filled them in on the plan so far, "We're going to break up the Scan Track among these four possible landing zones. Razor Wings will be stationed at this airport right here," he pointed at a section of the map that was highlighted a different color than the landing zones. "Once we have a confirmed sighting the Wings will launch and work in concert with the Tracks in that area."

"Is there any reason why those spots were picked as potential landing zones?", Ryo asked.

"Yes there is," he answered. "As you know all four ships were oil tankers. The ships have been found with no survivors and no trace of the oil they were carrying in the ocean at all. So here in this area we have a refinery, a couple of storage facilities and a dockyard were the oil is supposed to be unloaded."

"I can't believe we're still using oil," Ryo commented.

"It may not be the best solution," Ken said, "but it keeps those fancy Razor Wings and Scan Tracks going."

Jess smirked, "Spoken like a true mechanic."

"Save the debate for later," Hawk told them.

"So where do you think this oil guzzler is going to pop up first?", BIll asked. Hawk knew he was trying to ease the tension a bit with the joke in his question, but he knew Bill enough to know it was a serious question. He said nothing as he watched them work it out on their own.

"I think it's going to be the docks," Jess said after awhile. "Everything points to the creature being aquatic and we don't know if it can go on land."

"This one storage facility is pretty close to the shore," Ken spoke up. "And there'd be less ships getting in it's way."

"Not that it had problems with ships before," Bill pointed out. "It's going to be the docks, it's directly on the main path it's taking."

I'm just saying."

"It's sensing the oil somehow right?", Ryo said. "It's only attacked ship carrying oil despite the fact there were several ships in this general location. I'm with Ken on this one, it'll go after that storage facility. It is the largest food source, if it's using the oil as food."

"Finally somebody agrees with me on something," Ken said.

Jess told him, "Don't get used to it." He shot her a look.

"I have to admit those are all pretty good theories," Hawk said taking control of the discussion. "I personally would have picked the refinery but all four of you made some good arguments and points. And I'm proud to have all of you under me. Ken get to the Scan Track Hanger and join your group. That drive to the coast is going to take a couple of hours at least. Ryo, Bill and Jess we'll launch in a hour and a half. We'll refuel once we hit the airport. If Bridge's calculations are correct we should be set up in plenty of time before it makes land fall. Monster Squad move out!"


"How many passengers do you think we're pissing off with this little venture?", Bill asked as he and Ryo walked between the rows of Razor Wings occupying the airfield.

"Well we gave the Tower and airlines plenty of warning to divert and reschedule flights to other airports for today," Ryo answered. "But I'm guessing quite a few."

"I got to tell you buddy, there are times I tink the waiting is actually worse than the giant monster fight itself."

"Well I'm not going to disagree with you." They reached their respective Jets as the Captain and Jess where finishing up the weapon checks on Razor Wing one and two. "How's she looking Jess?"

"We're ready to fly," she told him.

"How are we Captain?", Bill asked.

"We are the same sir," he said with a big grin. Bill got real embarrassed and looked around to make sure nobody else heard that. "After five checks we had better be." Getting out of the cockpit he patted the side as he walked around her. "I should tell you there's been a slight change of plans, we're holding some of the Wings back."

"Why are we doing that?", Ryo asked.

"The board is worried about a stray shot hitting a storage tank or a ship full of oil. We're to hold back a couple of squads and load them up with a set of missiles fixed up with a special fire retardant to combat the flames."

Ryo nodded, "Makes sense."

"Wait," Bill spoke up, "we're not part part of the fire duty are we?" Ryo and Jess exchanged looks suddenly wondering that themselves.

Hawk looked at Bill with a critical eye, "Is there anything wrong with being on fire duty Waters?"

Bill suddenly stood a little straighter, "No. It's just... ugh... Ryo?"

"You're on your own on this one," he told him.

"You're supposed to back up your teammate," Hawk told him, "no matter how deep he's in it. Do you have an opinion Wade?"

"We're trained to fight strange creature not fires," she said.

"See, she backed him up. But you are also trained to follow orders and if you were placed on fire duty I know you would do it no questions asked. However being in command I do have the choice, and I never wanted to be firefighter when I was growing up."

"Castle to Captain Hawk."

"Hawk here, do we have a sighting yet Bridge?"

"No sir, just a relay transmission from the garage." The four of them looked at each other as Bridge continued. "Commander Jamira is complaining that something is wrong with his Scan Track and demanding the best mechanic we have in the field. The Chief asked if it would be okay to borrow your man for the assignment."

"Captain no," Jess said as she figured out who he was asking for. "Jamira hates him."

"Captain you wouldn't," Ryo joined in.

"Yeah civilian's a pain but even I wouldn't do that to him," Bill added.

Hawk looked at them hiding the small sense of pride he was feeling. "Well he is the best we have in the field right now and he came in with a set of skills that I don't want to go to waste. I'll contact him Bridge, he'll complain less if it comes from me. Well at least not out loud. Hawk to Scott."

"Scott here."

"I have a little side assignment for you that you may not like."

Jamira was chomping at the bit as the other Scan Tracks raced to their assigned locations. With the few that stayed with him, those who were loyal to him that is, they were in firing range if the beast showed it's head. And the dock below them still wasn't evacuated yet. As a new Scan Track reached their position he anger grew even more as he saw who got out of it. "What are you doing here?!"

Ken fought real hard to ignore the sudden urge to get back into the Scan Track. "Captain Hawk sent me. He said you were having trouble."

"Jamira to Hawk."

"If this is about Ken yes I sent him," he responded before the question could be bellowed. "You said you wanted the best currently in the field and that's him."

"I meant a mechanic from the garage in the field."

"Mechanics from the hanger don't usually go out into the field. Besides one from the hanger wouldn't get here in time. Deal with it and let him do his job. Hawk out."

Jamira didn't look at him as he waved toward the Scan Track. Ken made sure to give him a wide berth as he passed him. "The Chief wasn't much on details when I contacted him, so what happened?"

"It stopped," one of Jamira's men commented as they stood by the open hood. The ones in the other Scan Tracks tried to stare a hole into him. He hadn't had a reception this warm since his first official day back at Castle.

"A little more detail would help get this done faster," he told them.

"It sputtered than stopped."

"Sputtered huh?" Ken pulled a small flashlight out of his pocket and immediately inspected underneath the vehicle.

"What are you doing civilian?" Jamira demanded.

"We had a similar problem in our group," he explained as he checked out the fuel lines. Pulling his head out from underneath he looked at the group, "Did you hit a really hard pump on the way here?"

"What if we did?", the driver asked.

"A simple yes or...," all of them, including Jamira, glared at him. So he decided to cut out the sarcasm for the moment and continued his search, "Because if you did... yeah right there. A hole in the fuel line about the size of a pencil. You guys are lucky the other one had a huge gap in it. Had to replace an entire section."

"Just fix it civilian," Jamira told him.

"Yes sir," he said. "Phil get me the repair kit."

"You got it Ken." Both of them knew it was standard procedure to use the kit of the Track that needed fixing. But seeing how these weren't the most agreeable of guys this was the next best thing. "I'll see if we have any spare fuel."

"Good idea," he said as he started to patch the hole. "I should be done in no time Commander.""Make it faster than that," Jamira barked.

"We got fuel," Phil announced as he came back. Ken finished putting the patch seal around the line making sure there wasn't any gaps. Hopefully this will last them long enough to get them back to Castle.

"Fuel her up," Ken told him as he got out from underneath the Scan Track. They ended up putting two

fuel cans into the tank. Ken had them start the engine after a few moments and stayed on the ground long enough to make sure the patch held. "You're good to go Commander."

"We could have done that," he sneered. Then he started barking orders at his team.

"It's great to be appreciated ain't it?", Ken told Phil as they got back to their Scan Track. "Come on guys let get back to where we're supposed to be.

"We got lights!", somebody shouted. They all looked at the light previously reported among some bubbly, churning water Ken looked down at the still full docks.

"I hate it when she's right," he muttered.

"Target that thing as soon as it comes out of the water," Jamira ordered. Ken looked at him then back at the people just now starting to run.

He turned toward Jamira, "They're still evacuating."

"Not my problem. It should have been emptied hours ago."

"We're supposed to saves lives."

"Fine," Jamira turned around, "go down there and help." Ken started to wave his guys down there but the Commander stopped him. "Just you civilian, and not as a UNDF representative."


"Shut up civilian," Jamira snapped at him. "You want to be a hero fine but your not doing it play acting as one of us. You want to be a soldier than get back in that Scan Track and follow the orders I give you such when to fire. You go down there with that jacket on and I will have you arrested for insubordination and desertion of duty." Jamira's men looked like they were waiting for him to do just that. "I'll be happy to accept your resignation if you so choose." Ken stared at him while hearing the churning water in the background. He started to unstrap the wrist scanner as he headed for his Scan track.

Phil tried to plead with him, "Ken contact Hawk."

"We don't have time," he said as he handed him the scanner and his weapon. Making sure Jamira didn't see him pocket his "good luck charm" he handed Phil the Jacket. "Besides I'm just the civilian, so no big loss right?", he felt a small form lump in his throat. "I know he outranks you but try to stall him for as long as you can. It's been great working with you guys." He ran toward the dock as fast as he could trying not to think about what he just threw away.

Jamira stood there triumphant watching him go. "Good riddence. You're part of my group now so get ready." He didn't wait for any kind of conformation as he headed back toward his vehicle.

Phil turned his back to make sure Jamira didn't see him hit his communicator. "Coleman to Hawk, we have a situation."

Hawk listened to the short version of what happened knowing he didn't have time to be stunned. "Commander Jamira what are you thinking?! That wasn't your man!"

"I took care of your trash for you," he said. "You can thank me for it later." And he ended the communication before Hawk could say a word.

"Jamira! Jamira! Damn it!" Hawk pounded the side of the Razor Wing in frustration. The others looked at him with some worry. Despite all of this they had a job to do. "Ryo, Jess in the air. Ryo you're in command of the air assault. If that things pops it head out of the water make sure it stays at sea long enough so we can finish evacuation. Bill, contact a couple of Scan Tracks from Area A to pick us up. We're going after Jamira."

"What about Ken?", Jess asked. Hawk could tell Ryo and Bill were wondering about him too.

He gave the only answer he could at the moment, "I'll deal with Ken later. Right now I need to get control of the situation before it gets even more out of hand."

Ken had a hard time convincing the dock security to let him help get people out of there. Then he remembered he still had his UNDF ID with him and as far as the guard knew it was still good. And he bought his story about him being off duty and in the areas to explain the way he was dressed. Thank God he didn't ask about the hair. "Come on let's go!" he shouted while waving people toward one of the exits.

"Ugh," somebody tripped and fell to the ground. A couple of people had ran over him and on him by the time Ken and another guard got to him to help him up.

"Come on ,this is no place for a nap."

"Thanks," the guard said s he helped the guy out. Ken looked where the Scan Tracks were, how long did he actually have? A roar made him look at the sea and found a bat like head sticking out of he water.

"****," he started pushing people toward the gates. The he heard the first barrage of missiles. "Down!", he shouted right before they hit the creature. It seemed unfazed as more of it came out of the water, which included two enormous, extremely thick star shaped wings that head was perched between. Those wings were so big it seemed to walk on them instead of flying with them. Then he heard the familiar engines of the Razor Wings that came up and shot it from behind. Then the Scan Tracks fired again. From his vantage point it looked like the monster was trying to go in the direction of whatever was attacking it. He turned toward the Scan Tracks and shouted, "Stop firing!". "Of course he knew they couldn't hear him from this distance, not that Jamira would have listened to him any way.

The something exploded as a missile missed it target and hit a storage tank. The creature seemed to be attracted to that as it moved toward it. Some more Razor Wings came in from behind. "Missiles away!", Jess said as she hit the trigger. Those exploded on the back of it's head. Then the creature looked at them and opened it's mouth and sit out a stream of fire, causing even more tanks to explode.

"****," Ryo grunted as he got the out of the stream's path.

"Do you think it's using the oil to do that?", Jess pondered.

"I'll worry about it later."

"Let's do this Dax," he said quickly looking for a place he could go unseen for a moment and finding it. Once there he raised the Spark Magnifier over his head and activated it.

Jamira watched the column of light appear, the other thing he was waiting for. Make a little noise Brooks had said. He watched as the giant made his usual, "Shiah!" sound and took the creature on. His back was turned to his position. Now was his chance.

"All units target Ultraman!"

"This is Captain Hawk," he cut in. "Belay that order!"

"Fire!", Jamira shouted as he turned his communicator off. HIs unit and those closest to him followed that order without hesitation. He would find a way to court martial those who didn't.

The missiles hit Daxium square in the back. He grunted in a mixture of pain and shock as he looked back in the direction it came from. That's when he saw another round come at him and he quickly put his shield up to protect himself. "Ken why are they doing this?"

"It's not all of them," he answered from the protected area, "just one idiot and his followers." He tried not to think about all the ones he heard at Castle saying they want a shot at the giant. "At least I hope so."

Pestar shot his fire at Daxium while he was distracted, causing him to drop his shield as another round of missiles was fired. Then a couple of Razor Wings led by Ryo and Jess tried to intercept them with their own fire.

"What are those Razor Wings doing?" Jamira demanded.

"Following orders," Hawk told him as he pointed his weapon at them. Jamira turned and raised his weapon only to see Bill and the UNDF soldiers with them had him covered. "Which is more than I can say for you."

"I'm doing what need to be done," he insisted. "There are two dangerous beings right there and I'm taking them both down."

"Richardson's order..."

"I don't give a damn about that old fool's orders! He sits safely behind a desk and I'm a soldier in the middle of this mess. I know what needs to be done better than he does."

"You can argue with him back at Castle." Hawk looked at Jamira's men, ready to fight their own at a moments notice. "I'm placing Commander Jamira under arrest for insubordination among other charges. Now the question is how many of you are going to join him?"

Jamira's men held their position, one even had Hawk dead in his sights. Slowly Jamira raised his hand and motion for them to lower their weapons. "This will be settled before you know it." Bill and Phil came forward to place him in custody. He wouldn't let them touch him but he left with them.

Hawk turned away from him and paid attention to the battle of the giants. "All units in the air aid Ultraman however you can. Razor Wings in reserve start that bombing run on the fires. The sooner we get this under control the better."

Ryo and the other pilots complied with the order and turned their missiles on Pestar. It fought not to go down as a wing gave out. Daxium unleashed the Dimensional Storm Ray to finish him off once and for all. He watched as a new set of Razor Wings came in and attacked the fire with their special payloads. Knowing he couldn't help fight the blaze he flew off into the sky, "Shiah!"

"So am I under arrest or what?", Ken asked as he sat on the bumper of one of the cars in the parking lot with a UNDF soldier silently guarding him. Something told him this was a situation he should be getting used to once Richardson was done with him. "Should I take that as a yes?"

A couple of Scan Tracks pulled up and Hawk and the rest of the team got out of the, He suddenly found the ground in the other direction real interesting. Hawk motioned for the others to stay where they were as he walked toward him holding his former jacket. "Take a walk," he told the guard who nodded and walked away. He waited for Ken to look at him. Hawk felt the weight of the jacket in his hands before speaking, "I had Coleman tell me the specific of what exactly happened with Jamira before I came for you. So I won't be charging you with desertion. It's also why I'm currently keeping my fist from connecting with your jaw. I just want to know why you thought this was the right idea."

"Jamira was going..."

"Stand up when you're talking to me," Hawk ordered sharply. Ken did so, looking him in the eyes.

"Jamra was going to fire on that thing despite the fact the docks weren't fully evacuated."

"So far that's confirming what Coleman and the others told me."

"Coleman told me to call you and I thought I didn't have the time. I made a choice that I thought could save some more lives. A long time ago my dad told me there were times what a man choose told what kind of a man he was. I choose to save lives, even if it was only a couple more than what it would have been."

Hawk slowly nodded as he understood what he was saying. "Did you think Richardson would get you back in after this?"

"No," Ken told him truefully, "I figured once I was out I was out." And if Richardson had his way he'd be back, being dissected or something just to get to Dax.

"If I was in your shoes I might have made the same call," Hawk told him. "But you still should have contacted me, I would have ordered you down there and we wouldn't have to go through this. Listen to me Ken, regulations state that any resignation has to go through your commanding officer and be of your own free will. You were forced to quit and I didn't get it so consider your resignation officially denied." Ken started to speak but Hawk poked a finger into his chest.

"But let's get one thing straight right now. Everybody else may see you as the civilian operative, even you. But you are a full fledged member of this team who has more than proven himself. We have put too much work into you for to just throw it away. You are part of Monster Squad and you never, never, quit on us again. Is that understood Scott?" There was no mistaking the disappointment Ken was seeing in his face.

He couldn't hide the shame he was feeling at the moment, "Yes sir." Hawk's expression softened a bit and he patted the younger man on the shoulder before handing back the jacket.

"Come on son, our team is waiting for us." Putting the jacket back on as they walked the team greeted him and welcomed him back.

Hours later Jamira stood in Brook's home office. He was currently suspended from duty while they were decided on what to do with him. "You have to do something. This was your idea."

"No," Brooks said as he sat behind his desk, "I believe I told you to make a little noise to get yourself noticed. Not to fully ignore an order put in place by Richardson. That is fully on you. Even I couldn't smooth talk my way out of this one with even the silverest of tongues."

"You have to do something. This is my life we're talking about!", Jamira slammed his hands on top of the desk. Brooks moved to catch a glass that looked like it was about to fall but didn't. "This is my career on the line and I need help."

"What did I tell you that my Father said about anger Commander. And I suggest you should be thankful you still have that rank."

"Your Grandfather," Jamira said suddenly.

"I beg you pardon?"

"You said your Grandfather told you that."

"Oh yes, I did didn't I?" Remembering something else Jamira looked at the desk in this home office then at the walls. He looked at Brooks with some confusion. "I also told you there pictures of my father and myself in this very office." He gave him an innocent shrug, "Apparently I made a slight mistake." A battle honed instinct made Jamira reach for a weapon that wasn't there any more. Brooks cocked an eyebrow as he watched him. Then he raised a hand and unleashed a beam of dark energy that sent Jamira crashing across the room. Laying against the wall in a heap his chest was smoking but he was still alive.

Each breath making him wince in pain he got out, "What... what are... you?"

"I am what I always have been," he answered as he stood and walked around the desk, "a Brooks through and through." Tiny arcs of dark energy dancing between his fingers he smirked, "Although a couple of decades ago I made some acquaintances that made me more than that. Now Commander what should I do with you, hmm? I could blast you like I did Richardson's son and a few others but I keep leaving the skeleton for some reason. Probably some mental block I currently can't figure out. And it would leave me with some remains to dispose of and I want to avoid that if possible."

Jamira knew this was his time, he was going to die, which is why the sudden noise coming out of his mouth surprised him, "Hahaha!" Laughing so hard he started crying.

Brooks watched him, somewhat perplexed, "Is something particularly funny Commander?"

"This is why Hawk has his job," he told him. "You put him there to weaken the forces. I knew there was a reason why it wasn't me."

He almost felt pity for the man as he let him in on the truth, "Captain Hawk is in command because he was the right man for the job. He had all the qualities the board was looking for in leading the troops. I agreed and voted him in as well. Quite honestly you're lucky you even in command of Beta Team."

"Jamira wasn't fully comprehending, "But why would you...?"

"Why would I?", frustration about the actual situation instead of the question started to build. "I have to appease my masters by hindering and weakening the forces over here and at the same time not look like I'm doing it. Backing you instead of Hawk would put up a microscope I don't need hanging over me." He started pacing around the room, "Nobody understands this delicate balancing act I have to preform on a daily basis!" Calming down a bit a thought occurred to him that made him smile as he turned his back on Jamira. "Scott might understand better than most, but I don't think he'd appreciate the nuances."

"Scott?", Jamira asked in confusion. "The civilian? What does he have to do with this?"

Almost dumbfounded Brooks looked back around to stare at him. "Really? After a couple of misspoken words by myself you're able to figure out something not quite right. But after said revelation I drop a huge hint and you... How did you ever make it to commander? Fine I'll spell it out for you." Squatting down in front of him he spoke slowly.

"Ken Scott is Ultraman."

"What?", Jamira couldn't process the information and Brooks couldn't stop himself from enjoying the stunned look on his face.

"I've known ever since Richardson had him brought in the first time," he said almost casually. "In fact I'm pretty sure Richardson knows too, hence the order and the whole civilian operative nonsense. And if he knows then so does his bodyguard. I am a little surprised Hawk hasn't put two and two together yet. It is rather obvious once you think about it. Oh," he said as another thought came to him, "Scott apparently sensed me too, he didn't know who it was at the time but I made sure he couldn't since then.

"Ah," Brooks went as yet another thought came to him, "I know what to do with you now." Holding up a hand and with some concentration he made a vortex form right next to Jamira. He could only watch as a shape appeared. It looked at him then back at Brooks.

"What is the meaning of this Avatar?"

"Things with Pestar didn't work out like I hoped they would," Brooks told him. "However I have discovered an excellent consolation prize. Would you say you are ready for a human test subject?"

It looked down at Jamira, "I would say we are."

"What is that?", Jamira demanded.

"That is one of the acquiescence I was talking about earlier. They call themselves the Zettons. They are quite war like and aggressive. You would probably enjoy their company if you weren't being experimented on."

"What?" Another portal opened up beneath Jamira and he slid in slightly. Two more shapes appeared and grabbed him by the arms as they started to pull him in. The further he went the more he could see the misshapen heads and single eye staring at him. "Nooo...." his cried were cut off as the vortex closed.

"This one had better be more successful Avatar," the shape told him.

"I promise nothing with this one my masters. Even though he somehow rose to the rank of Commander in the forced he was rather useless. If he doesn't survive it would be a huge loss since you could use the data you collected on the next one."

"We will see Avatar," and the vortex disappeared. Brook went over to the spot the Commander had been and readjusted a painting on the wall that had knocked loose when he hit. His sudden disappearance would cause questions. But that also means the majority of the attention back at Castle would be focused on locating him. Which means he could be a little more subversive in weakening the forces.

Or perhaps he could push forward a project that might be useful to himself and his masters. "Where was that project file? King something I believe it was called."

ED -Shinedown -Fly from the inside