No Fear, No Pain.
Dec 22, 2010
Finally read part one and I really like it. I have a long way to go before I am caught up, but I am looking forward to seeing how things go for Ken and the others.


Glad you enjoyed it, hopefully you'll enjoy the rest of the ride.


Episode 17

OP - Mercy Drive - Burn In My Light

Rushing into one of the training areas Ken was glad to see there was still a crowd around the shooting range. looking for a familiar face he spotted Bill he made his way through the crowd and stood next to him. The one or two protest he heard quickly gave way to cheering the participants. He had found out a couple of weeks that there was a friendly shooting competition held for the four years. Jess being one of the participants he wasn't going to miss this for the world. Although Richardson' assistant slash bodyguard Patricia Stanson standing right next to her surprised him a little. He had to raise his voice so Bill could hear him over the crowd, "Where we at?"

He looked at him out of the corner of his eye, "Where in the hell have you been civilian?"

"Williams just now let me go," he answered.

"Any way it's the final round so you just made it," Bill told him. "Part three for today, they keep tieing."

"And Jess was never a big fan of ties."

"Neither is the boss's guard," Bill informed him. "Last year they went a half hour before there finally a winner."

The crowd quieted down as two more targets appeared at the end of the range. By luck of the draw Patricia went first. You could hear a pin drop as she took aim and fired five times. All five landed by the heart of the target. Bill whistled, "That's going to be a hard one."

"She can do it," Ken told him not taking his eyes off either of them.

Making sure she had five rounds in her weapon Patricia checked hers to make sure. "It might be prudent to remember who works with who is in charge," Patricia said without looking at her, although low enough that nobody in the crowd could hear her.

She looked at her out of the corner of her eye as she took aim. "It might be prudent to remember who my captain is." She fired five times all landed near the heart, tie score again. "Then you'd know I don't care," she finished as the crowd cheered.

They went two more rounds, still tieing. Both of them were trying to ignore the crowd growing anticipation and the couple of bets they overheard. A new target came up and Patricia aimed and fired but on her last shot the bullet went wide. Two inches left of the heart. She cursed as she stared at the wayward bullet hole.

Jess forced down the growing excitement suddenly growing inside her. She took aim and pulled the trigger as she breathed out. Five shots all near the heart. She won.

"Yeah!," Bill exclaimed as he pumped his fist into the air.

"Woo!", Ken shouted and clapped his hands over his head. "That's my...", he lowered his hands, still trying to clap but not connecting, and gave out a slightly awkward and more subdued, "teammate." Bill gave him a look as the crowd broke up.

"So you did show up," Ryo said as he came up behind them.

"Williams didn't want to stop working on that damn super jet," Ken told him. "He didn't understand why everybody thought this was important. I even tried that BS spiel he used on me on the ship about that damn seat."

"I heard that a lot from other people on the project," Ryo commented.

"At least you showed up," Jess said as she joined the group. "I do appreciate it."

"You think I'd miss this?", he asked her. "I already knew you were a top shot, I wanted to watch as everybody else saw it."

"Like we needed you to tell us that," Bill told him.

"Yeah Ken," Ryo quickly agreed.

"Well I just won it for the second time," Jess informed him. She won it the other two, last she she won it the saw way I did today with a shot going wild." She looked toward her left at the door as Patricia left the training are and lost a bit of her smile. "Would you believe she tried to intimidate me by mentioning her position."

Bill was in disbelief, "She tried to get you to throw it?"

Ken snorted and mumbled, "Like boss like employee."

"What was that?", Ryo asked him.

He quickly said, "Talking to myself." Before they could say anything else he was bumped from behind, rather roughly, from a group of Beta Team members as they passed.

"Dude what the hell?", Bill demanded.

Ryo told both of them, "Just ignore them."

"You're not the one getting bumped every time you turn around," Ken protested.

"They're just upset none of them got promoted to take Jamira's position after he got busted and disappeared," Ryo explained. "They're just looking for an east target. Somebody to blame basically." Ken looked at him and the rest of the team and started to feel guilty all over again because he gave in to Jamira's demand that he quit in order to help with the evacuation at the docks. "I hear they're giving the new guy in charge some attitude too, so you're not the only target."

"Enough of those posers," Bill spoke up. He put an arm around Jess, "We got a winner here, we need to celebrate."

"Here, here," Ryo agreed.

"If you guys are buying the beer I'm in," Jess told the. "Oh Ken," she said as Bill and Ryo headed for the door. "The 'That's my girl' I'm pretty sure you almost uttered."

He was going to say he wasn't but she knew him better than that. So instead he said, "It was a slip I caught it. I know you hate that phrase because it sounds possessive."

"Actually," she gave him a look he couldn't quite interpret, "I think at that moment it would have been okay." Whatever that look was she lost it as she pointed a finger at him, "But only at that moment, is that clear?"

He snapped at attention and gave her a quick salute, "Ma'am yes ma'am."

"Alright smart ass for that you're buying the first round."

The vortex formed in front of him as scheduled. Then several bolts of dark energy erupted from it and struck him full on. Brooks stood there momentarily frozen for the moment before being sent flying back toward the rear of the cavern. Arcs of dark energy still raged at the edge of the vortex as he slowly got to a knee. "You knew Avatar! You knew who the light being bonded with!"

"And what," he said hoarsely as he stayed kneeling, mainly not to tempt another bolt in appearing defiant, "would you have had me do if I told you?"

"To kill him at once!", came the reply with no hesitation, Actually it would have surprised him if there was.

"Exactly," he told them. "Unfortunately the only access I have to him is at the base. Where security, not to mention cameras, are everywhere."

"That is not our concern!"

"It would have been once you sent a creature a creature over," he said trying to keep the defiance out of his voice. "Knowing what I could do they would hunt me down like a dog. You want me to place it where it could do the most damage I wouldn't be able to. And that's if they don't kill me while I try to escape. Now I know you could replace me if that happened. But how long would it take you? And while that was happening they would be shoring up their forces even more without any hindrance."

The edges of the vortex still lashed out the occasional bolt of energy that hit the surroundings as he waited for their response. "You are on what you humans refer to as probation," the darken image of the Zetton inside finally said. "This will be the only respite of our wrath. With hold any more information or make a mistake of this magnitude again and it will result in your termination."

And they didn't mean fired, that he was most certain of. "Your mercy is most appreciated my masters.'

"We are sending a creature through the breach, Eleking."

"I understand my master," he bowed as best as he could in this position. "Is there anywhere specific you wanted me to place this one?"

"We will send it over the dimensional divide once it is ready," he was told. But somewhere in one of your cities will be sufficient."

Where there would be even more cameras, wonderful. "As you wish my masters."

"Be prepared."

The vortex swirled itself out of existence and all was quiet. He snarled before unleashing a yell out of anger and raised both hands to blast the walls on either side of him in a rage. That moment past he stood, straightened out his sleeves and composed himself. "A parting shot from the former commander no doubt. I truly hope whatever process they are putting him through is slow and painful until his demise."

She found Ken in the cafeteria, face in a datapad. And there were three more on the table next to him. Picking up a second coffee she headed over there. "Want some company?"

"Have I ever turned that offer down?" he said looking up.

"Well there was those times in high school before we hooked up and I broke you out of your shell." He conceded as he took the offered cup. Although his attention went back to pad as soon as she sat down. Speaking of high school. "I see Captain Hawk has you hitting the books again."

He sighed, "I'm lucky he didn't triple my workload after what I did."

"That officially didn't happen," she reminded him. "Still makes you a dumbass though."

"Yeah I deserved that shot alright," he sighed again. She stared at him a bit, almost like she was studying him. "What?"

"I'm trying to remember the last time you were in this mood."

"Do you want before or after our break-up?"

"Do I really want to know about the after?"

"No you don't. At least not those first couple of weeks." He put the pad down and looked at her when something occurred to him. "Why did you just call me a dumbass when I saw you give Bill hell when he said it?"

"Because I'm the only one allowed to call you that," she said matter of factly. She pushed one of the other pads toward him. "I'm pretty sure it's in that one."

"I'll be sure to skip that page."

"If only I had something to throw at you."

"Ken Scott?" Both of them looked up to see a man in a UNDF uniform he didn't recognize. An older guy, maybe in his forties. Gray eyes seemed to study both of them. Jess stood up immediately as she recognized him.

"Commander Reid."

"Commander?", he looked at her as he stood up as well.

"Commander Justin Reid," he introduced himself, although not offering a hand. "In charge of Beta Team." Those last two words made Ken stiffen up a bit. The commander noticed, "Is there a problem I should be aware of Scott?"

"God I hope not," he blurted without thinking. Which caused the commander to raise an eyebrow.

Thinking this was a good time to step in Jess said, "Commander Jamira had some small issues with Ken's status," and what was the best way to saw this, "and the uniform jacket he is currently wearing."

Commander Reid nodded and inspected Ken a little closer, including the ponytail. "Hmm, he's definitely not regulation, that's for sure." He looked at her and she looked at him, both looking a little worried. "I suppose that's why Captain Hawk kept finding ways to put this off every time I asked to see this civilian operative of his."

"You wanted to meet him?", Jess asked when Ken's mouth refused to work.

"Yes," he answered, "I wanted to size him up with my own eyes. Personally think this civilian business is a bunch of bureaucratic nonsense. But Hawk thinks there's something to you and I respect his opinion. Tell me Scott, do you do your job?"

"Best I can... sir."

"Then as of right now I don't have a problem with you," he gave him a friendly smile. "Make sure it stays that way."

"Yes sir," he answered, with more than a little relief.

After he left Jess leaned in and said, "That's going to take some getting used to after Jamira."

"Do you think I should still avoid him, just in case?"

"Talk that over with Captain Hawk," she told him. "I don't want you to call me a dumbass in case I'm wrong."

"The way you shoot?", he was looking and acting more like his old self now that he relaxed even more. "No way in hell am I that crazy."

"And you learned that pretty fast too as I recall," she smirked.

"God I hate the smell down here." Two men in utility workers uniforms walk through one of the tunnels underneath the city. Hours earlier there were several calls from the same block about strange power fluctuations. Not finding a problem above ground the foreman sent them underground to se if one of the connectors was faulty or if the cables were corroded or looked chewed through.

"It's all in your head," the one in front said as he ducked under a pipe. "This service tunnel isn't even connected to a sewer line."

"I know that Sherlock," the other one snapped. "It's the old, musty smell, like a tomb."

"I don't want to know how you know that," he quipped.

"And I'm not a fan of the dust falling on top of us either."

"It's just dust knocked loose from the rumble from the traffic above us."

He looked up at that thought, "And how old is the concrete above us? And what is the dust made of any way?" He covered his mouth at the same time he tried to blow out his nose the get whatever he thought was in there out.

"Stop thinking about it before you have a breakdown," his partner told him. He kept on complaining so when they hit an intersection he said, "Let's split up, we'll cover more territory faster that way. Then you can get out of here."

He looked up at the ceiling one more time, "If you say so."

"Just call me if you find a problem." They went in separate directions and he enjoyed the silence. But after a bit it occurred to him that it was a little too quiet. "His nonsense is getting is getting to you," he told himself. But he still felt the need to talk out loud to break the silence. "Hopefully whatever the problem is it's easy to spot."

Going about ten more yards he found the problem. Something that looked like a cross between a slug and a tadpole, maybe three feet long with pale skin. Then again those crescent shaped horns made it look like nothing he had ever seen. And it was currently affixed to a transformer by it's tail. Some how it seemed to be drawing energy from the machine itself. "Eddie you have to get to my location now.You have to see this." The only response he got was static, "Eddie? Eddie."

"I don't think your friend will be responding any time soon."

He jumped and looked behind him at the sound, seeing a man dressed in black standing in the shadows. "Who are you? What happened to Eddie?"

"He's currently a smoldering pile of bones at the moment. I do really need to work on that."

"You did...", he grabbed a wrench from his tool belt. The other person's hand started to glow with a dark purplish light, highlighting his features.

"I was hoping you would do something like that," Brooks as he blasted the poor soul, again leaving the bones. "I would have done it any way, but it seemed more sporting if I was defending myself after all."

Brooks stepped over the remains and gazed at the over sized tadpole. "I do hope you become a little more impressive than you are now. Although watching the giant trying to take on what is basically an electrified slug might be amusing for a moment or two." As he walked away he missed as the baby Eleking started growing arms and legs.

"And these were found underground in those tunnels?", Hawk asked the crew foreman as they stood inside a tent. The burnt skeletal remains of somebody found a few hours ago when a couple of his men went missing.. Two more members of his crew had found this set ran out of there and he called the police. They in turn contacted the UNDF when they saw their charred condition. As it was Hawk was having a hard time not thinking about his lost teammate.

Th chief nodded, "And the police wouldn't let us go back down there to search for my other man. And they made us wait for you to show up before bringing these above ground."

"Now we don't have proof this is one of your men," Hawk told him. His gut said it was a lie. But his gut had been wrong before.

He hoped this was one of those times.

"The police said their covering all the exits," he said. "They should have been spotted by now."

"They could have come across this poor bastard and got scared,' Hawk said. "They might have ran and got twisted around. It can happen to even the most experienced of men."

"Watanabe to Hawk."

"Excuse me a moment." He walked out of the tent, mainly to keep the crowd that had showed up from seeing the skeleton. "Hawk here, what did you find Ryo?"

"Captain we found another skeleton," he answered.

"Damnit," he looked back to make sure the man in the tent didn't hear. "What condition is it in?"

"Same as the first one."

"Bring it above ground," Hawk ordered.

"Understood, Watanabe out."

Hawk ran an hand over his mouth. He hated writing those letters to the family members of the men and women he'd lost over the years. Despite the fact this wasn't one of his own he wasn't looking forward to doing this face to face. "Mr. Fisher..."

"I overheard you Captain," He said. "Get the thing that did this to them."

All he could say was, "Yes sir," as he escorted him out of the tent. Handing him off to another officer he hit his communicator, "Hawk to all units underground, another set of remains have been found. Report anything suspicious and do not engage unless you're forced. Given what this thing can apparently do we are going to need a battle plan once we know exactly what we're dealing with. Hawk out." He scanned the crowd that was being held back by the barricades and security until he found the back and ponytail he was looking for, "Ken!", and waved him over.

"Yes sir," he said after running over.

"Find Price, I want the two of you to to take the remains in the tent and load it into a Scan Track while Ryo brings up the other one."

"Yes sir," he said without hesitation, but he did take eyes off of him and looked at the tent. Hawk watched him turn a little green around the gills.

He put a hand on his shoulder to get his attention off the tent, "Not everything about the job is pretty son. This is one of the things you have to deal with when you wear the uniform." He looked at the tent himself, "And this one is rough because I've seen this before. We all have, before you joined up. Our old teammate Joe."

Ken knew that name, it was Richardson's son but that's about it. "Do you know what did it?"

"According to his father he was hit by a stray blast from that creature the night Ultraman first showed up." Looking at the ground, and a little said, he muttered, "I still don't know why Richardson wanted to be up there. To be honest with you son most day I'm not sure I want to know the reason. Let's hurry up and get this over with. I'm going to contact Bridge and see if he's picking up any life signs underground. If we are dealing with the same thing I want to be prepared."

"On it," he told him. Finding Price they quickly entered the tent. Both of them stopped short once they saw the skeleton.

"Geez," Price uttered.

"Tell me about it," Ken told him. Price found a sheet to cover the skeleton, at least they wouldn't have to look as they carried it out. One or two in the crowd protested that they covered it up. Ken pretended those who were protesting where Jeff and put the mental blinders up. A third man opened the back of the Scan Track and they slid it in.

"Glad I don't have to ride with this thing," Price commented as the Scan Track was closed. Then Ken realized this was his Track.

"The second one is going in yours," he joked. The other two walked off and he went back to crowd control duty.

"Ken," Daxium spoke up inside his head. He felt him come to the forefront a little bit as the moved the skeleton and as he talked to the Captain so he half way expected him to make contact. Ken glanced around to make sure nobody was close enough to overhear him talking to himself.

"What is it Dax?"

"Ken the body..."

"I felt it too," he didn't want to saw the words dark energy out loud, but there was a feint trace of it on those bones.

"Not that, I have seen a body in that condition as well, when I first crossed the dimensional breach. I saw Joseph Richardson die." Ken started to slow his pace. "It was not a blast from the creature I fought."

Ken came to a stop and looked around before softly saying, "How?"

"Before I could bond with him a concentrated beam of dark energy came out of the shadows and rendered him to his skeletal structure. Unfortunately I did have the time to search for the culprit as my energy was fading fast. But I fear I know who was the one responsible."

He had a feeling he knew too, "The one helping the guys you're at war with. The one I felt back at base." He felt Daxium's silent acknowledgment inside him. Ken looked as Ryo's group, and he had a similar expression that Hawk did a few minutes ago, carry out the one they found then back at the Scan Track that held the first one. "Richardson lied."

The sun had and the city streets were still filled with Scan Tracks and various other support vehicles as well as the local military and police. The search area had grown to include blocks in several directions and was evacuated as quickly as possible during the night. Several Razor Wing units in the sky above with several squadrons back at Castle ready to launch at a moments notice. But most of the troops in know realized Monster Squad was on edge having lost a teammate the same way and tried not get in their way.

"Nothing on the sensors so far," Ken said as he and Jess checked some the alleys on foot.

She replied with a grunt and kept on going. Ryo and Bill were acting the same way the last time he saw them so he got used to it fast. "If it's the same... thing that got Joe we'll find it." He stopped himself from saying "the same guy" since he had no way to explain how he knew that.

"He wasn't your teammate," she said in a tone that made it sound like he was an outsider. Which he was to a lot of people on the force, especially at the beginning, and he usually didn't care. But from her, right now, that one actually hurt. Ken stopped and looked away. Jess looked back and knew him well enough to read him. "You didn't deserve that, I'm sorry."

He tried to act like it was nothing, "It's fine." And there might have been a time where both of them actually believed that.

"No it's not fine. It's not your fault you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Seeing that skeleton ripped off a scab on a wound that not exactly healed yet."

"I'm sure I've made more than a few mistakes over the years," he said. Both of them remained silent for awhile as they continued on. "So what was Joe like."

"Why do you want to know?"

"Mainly because you guys rarely talk about him when I'm around. And if it's affecting you guys like this maybe it's time to talk about him."

She looked at him slowly broke out in a smile, "I'm glad this part of you didn't change. Well Joe was nothing like his father for one, he didn't even try to use his name to get ahead. He insisted on earning anything he got while he was one of us. And he could joke with the best of them. I think you would have liked him."

There was something in here voice that made him ask, "So were you two...?", he trailed off because he didn't want to say it out loud for some reason.

"I didn't see Joe in that way," she answered. It was none of his business if they were or not, but he was hoping he was keeping the relief off his face. Not that he should be feeling any sort of relief, it was over a long time ago. "No Joe was a good friend," she went on, "and nothing more than that. Actually he was trying to find you so we could get into contact again."

"How did he find out about me?"

She started to answer but looked embarrassed about something. Eventually she said, "I was talking about you one night. He thought that maybe I wanted to get back in touch, to catch up. I told him you'd probably wouldn't be interested but he was still trying to do it."

"I wouldn't have minded." She looked at him. "Catching up I mean." Before the conversation could be get even more awkward Daxium started sensing dark energy. Their wrist scanners went off at the same time so she missed him looking in that direction.

"Where in the hell did something that large come from?", she said as they ran toward the source. "Tell Captain Hawk where we are."

"On it. Scott to Hawk. We have a massive hit on our wrists scanners roughly thirty yards from our position, ah what the hell's over there?"

"We got it to Ken as well as it's location. Try to get a visual confirmation but do not engage until we get there."

"Understood, Scott out. Why did we get the fun job?"

"You better hope your communicator's off," Jess said. He looked down at it with a worried look. So he missed her smirk, "Got you."

It didn't take long to find the source. They didn't have to look all that hard.It suddenly stood up, towering over the buildings in the area. Whatever it was, a pale yellow that was almost white and black markings all over it's body and instead of eyes were two rotating crescent like horns, turned around. where it's mouth was supposed to be was a solid glowing mass.

"That's not looking like the first giant monster," Ken commented.

"God I hope that doesn't mean there's two of them," Jess said. Behind her Ken shuddered a bit at that thought. They heard the familiar whine of missiles as they were fired, first from the Razor Wings then by the Scan Tracks in position. "Wade to Hawk we're heading back tot he main line. I don;t think our guns are going to do much against that."

"Understood and acknowledged," Hawk answered as he checked the weapons systems of the Razor Wing while Bill got them into position to launch. "Bridge, which unit is closest to their position right now?"

"Commander Reid's unit," he answered. The took a moment to look at each other right before they ducked as the missiles hit the creature.

"Both of you get out of there now," Hawk ordered. "I'll let him know the two of you are heading his way. Bill hit the after burners as soon as we launch."

"Well be there in a few minutes Captain," he replied.

"This is going to be interesting," Ken muttered as communications were cut off and they got going again.

"He's not Jamira," she reminded him.It didn't help, "Yeah but he still has Jamira's men with him."

"I wasn't going to mention that part."

The creature cried out and recoiled in pain as more of the missiles struck it. As the Razor Wings came in close and it tried to smash it out of the sky with it's tail. The pilot were able to avoid it easily as the Scan Tracks took another shot at it. The creature turned toward them and arc shape blasts of energy shot out of it's mouth. The first couple of Scan Tracks took a direct hit and exploded on impact. Others were able to back away to safety.

Razor Wing One flew over the scene as Bill cut back on the after burners. Hawk took a moment to observe the devastation and loss of life. "Damn it to hell." He'd had to give them a well deserved moment of silence later, like always. "We have to take out that thing's weapon. I hope you got some flying tricks up your sleeves Bill."

"Then you better hold to your ass Captain," Bill told him as he took them in. Hawk got off a shot and Bill flew them out of the way right before this thing shot of of it's own at them. Several Razor Wings followed suit but a couple of the pilots weren't fast enough to avoid the creature's return fire.

"Let's take her in again," Hawk ordered.

On the ground Jess and Ken ran as fast as they could until they found Reid's Scan Track. "Get over here now!" he ordered as he spotted them. In the Track one of Jamira's men, who had been chaffing under Reid's order not to do anything until they got to them, so he decided to do as his former leader would have done, took aim and fired at the creature. "Wait until they're clear!" he chastised him. Right then the creature looked in their direction and fired. The blast hit the asphalt right behind them and sent Ken and Jess flying. She landed hard on the ground. He rolled as he hit. Both weren't moving right away. "You with me,' he ordered one of his men as they ran toward them. Her uniform and his jacket and jeans were torn but there wasn't any major bleeding that he could see so far.

Jess moved first as she tried to get to her feet. Then Ken tried to as they reached them. "I'm okay," she insisted as Reid went to help her, "just got the wind knocked out of me."

Ken on the other hand started feeling a pain in his left wrist the grew stronger and tighter every second, "****."

Reid looked at him, "Scott how are you?"

He wiggled his fingers and gingerly moved his wrist, wincing the entire time but there was some movement. "I think I sprained it," he grunted. the other guy got on his right and helped him up. Jess ended up moving under her own power. They all got to the Scan Track and hid behind it.

"Do not fire until I tell to," Reid told his gunner as the other man ran his wrist scanners over the two just in case.

"She's fine," he said. Then he went to Ken's arm, "This is broke, couple of inches from the wrist, not sprained. I think you did it when you hit before you rolled."

"But I can move my hand," he grunted. "You're not supposed to move it if something's broke."

He started securing Ken's arm as Reid told him, "Don't argue with the tech Scott. You need

to get to the perimeter line and to the med station. You're no good to me like this."

"I still got a good arm," he protested.

"And I can't take the chance your arm is going to distract you at the wrong moment. Get in, we'll take you there and rush back."

"Commander I can walk," Ken argued. "We can't lose a set of guns because of me."

"Scott," he started to argue back.

"Commander," Jess spoke up, "Ken's right. We need to keep all of our guns in place."

"And you got the best shot here," he said pointing at Jess. Reid looked at both of them not believing he was hearing any of this.

"Wade, get behind the gun," he said at last.

Jamira's man protested, "I'm manning the gun!"

"And now she is," he told him. "You can escort Scott..."

"I am doing nothing with the civilian! He's the reason why Commander Jamira is gone!"

"Former Commander Jamira was removed because he couldn't follow orders. Now I'm giving you an order."

"I'll go alone," Ken said as he started off. "I'll be safer that way at least."

Reid looked at his gunner and he refused to budge. "Get him out of there," he told the others. Jamira's man had to be dragged out of the chair. He put up quite a fight until they got him out. Reid didn't see a sign of Ken any where, the kid could move apparently. "Wade take his spot. "Manuel keep you gun pointed at him," he gestured at his former gunner, "we can't just leave him here." As they took their positions in the Scan Track Reid look back at Jess, "I hope you're as good a shot as everybody says you are."

"Right now so am I," she told him. She looked out the window as the column of light appeared and faded away to reveal Ultraman and he took his usual fighting pose.


Eleking cried out, startled, as Daxium appeared. He surveyed the area around them closely and quickly. It had been awhile since he faced one of these creatures in a city environment. He could adjust. Jumping over the buildings between them in front of him he landed he landed on the other side of the creature and tried to throw it down. It was as caught off guard as much as he thought it would be as it fought back until it freed himself from his grip. Eleking didn't wait as it attacked him with it's tail. Daxium covered up and blocked as he backed up, very aware how little room he he had to maneuver with.

Kicking Eleking he backed flipped a few times to create some space between them and fired off as flashbolt as it turned around. Eleking recoiled in pain as it backed up then fired off it's own energy shot. Daxium quickly raised his energy field to block the blast then banged his forearms together to modeshift into Power Mode. Eleking fired again. Daxium took the chance and batted each blast out of the sky. Not worrying about what damage to the surrounding area, or his own hands and arms, that action caused he charged the creature. It surprised by twisting in such away that it caught him and threw him into a building using his own momentum. The side smashed in as he tried to stop himself from hitting it to no avail. Eleking didn't give him a chance to recover as it started bashing him with it's tail, knocking him further into the destroyed building. Trying to block the barrage Daxium grabbed the tail startling Eleking enough that he was able to get to his feet as he held on and tried to get a better grip on the tail.

Eleking tried to run but his grip was too strong. Suddenly it stopped, clenched it's fist and started concentrating as arcs of electricity flowed between his crescent horns. Daxium was stuck in place until the creature stopped and pull it's tail free. Then lashed it around wildly hitting him and the buildings surrounding them. Then it turned around and shot him with his arc shaped blast point blank. As Daxium crashed to the ground it fired again and again. When it stopped Daxium was slow to get up but when he did it wrapped it's tail around him, trapping his arms to his sides and concentrated one more time. He yelled out in extreme pain as he was electrocuted on the spot.

The Jewel flashed red as fell to his knees during a brief respite before it began again. Hawk ordered all units to attack in an attempt to help the giant. Jess tried to aim the Scan Track's cannon eyeing those horns, "Commander."

He saw what she was trying to target and asked, "Do you think you can do it from here?"

"Just give me distance, wind speed and direction."

"Murphy!", he said to the man manning the sensors.

"Already sending it Commander."

Seeing the information she quickly adjusted her her targeting and fired before getting a clear lock in fear in the case the monster moved. Two missiles launched, one just missed. The other one hit and exploded on impact destroying the horn. Eleking cried out and released Daxium as it trashed around. Reid told her, "I'm stealing you from Alpha Team."

"You're not ready for the fight Captain Hawk's going to put up," she said with a grin.

Daxium slowly got one knee up to brace himself after he was free. Eleking stumbled forward trying to clutch at his ruined horn as the tail whipped wildly around hitting the buildings and the street. Standing up held his hand to his chest and drew it back as he drew in energy. Punching the ground he unleashed a Giga Wave. It ripped up the street as the wave rushed up and bisected Eleking before disappearing as it exploded. Making sure it was gone he flew off into the sky, "Shiah!"

When Ken materialized from the ball of light he saw he was close to that med station Reid had ordered him to, "Nice landing zone Dax."

"You were hurt because of my war," he answered. "It was the least I could do."

"Our war bud," Ken corrected him. Making sure his arm was still secured he headed toward the station.

"We may have a problem within Alpha Team," Patricia said as she put a file on Richardson's desk. He had already read the medical report, Wade was going to be sore and stiff for a while but otherwise fit for duty despite the minor scrapes. Outside of his own scrapes Scott's broken arm was going to keep him out of the action for a bit but Richardson was positive he could find a way to get him out there to unleash the giant when needed. So he really wasn't seeing a problem right away.

"I don't suppose this has anything to do with the fact Wade beat you in that silly contest this year," he said as he picked the folder up and look at the contents.

"Something worse," she said and stood a little straighter, almost insulted by the comment. "As you know we found two more burnt skeletons similar to what happened to Joseph. Captain Hawk told Scott the version you told him of what happened. But if you will read the highlighted transcript we recorded off Scott's communicator."

"How?", he read out loud. "The guy you're helping the ones your at war with." He cocked an eyebrow, "The one I felt back at base. Richardson lied." Closing it and putting the file down and looked at his assistant, "You think the giant told him?"

She replied, "That is one way to interpret the information at hand."

"Do you think he will tell Hawk and the others?"

"He had several opportunities," she answered, "But he didn't say anything to Captain Hawk. Not even to Wade, the one person in the unit he seems closest to, after he came up. However he may be planning to use it against you."

Leaning back in his chair he didn't seem impressed or threatened, "Let him try. Once he does I'll throw back the fact he kept the fact there was an enemy agent in our midst from us."

"And how are you going to do that without revealing the fact we've been listening in on him this entire time?"

"I'll worry about that when it happens. I don't think we're lucky enough for that agent to be Jamira. Try to find out who it might possibly be."

"He or she had hid this fact from us for a long time, it may take awhile."

"I don;t care how, just get it done."

Ken looked at his first ever cast in twenty eight years of life. At least they let him walk out of the med wing under his own power. Fortunately the pain he was feeling when he hit the ground helped cover up the pain he felt from Daxium's fight with that creature, so that was a good thing there. With nothing else to do since Hawk relieved him of most of his duties for the time being he headed for one of the break-rooms. He looked at it wondering how he was going to explain this to his friends and family once they eventually found out, and his mom was going to freak. Or kill him. And his money was on the kill part. "This is were you been hiding." He looked up to see Ryo and the others come towards him, still looking a bit apprehensive since nobody found the thing that did that to those poor bastards. Too bad he couldn't tell them they should be looking for a man and not a creature like they thought. "I heard of people trying to get out of work but this one a little extreme," Ryo said with a smile.

He lightly tapped the red wrapping that was part of the cast, "I least I made sure it matched the uniform."

"How long are they letting you sit on the sidelines civilian?", Bill asked.

"They want me to come in every couple of weeks to see how things are healing but at least a couple of months." Something behind them caught his eye, three of Jamira men, including the gunner in the Scan track, in civilian clothing and duffels over their shoulders walked past the room looking angry, more than usual. "What's going on there?"

Jess looked back and saw them, "Reid's cleaning house."

"Word around base," Ryo said, "is Reid got all the Jamira loyalist together and told them he was the one in charge now and he wasn't going to stand for another incident of defiance like what happened on the last mission. Basically he told them if they couldn't deal with that he'll gladly transfer them to another division off base and get people who could. Those three are the ones that took the offer."

"Yeah I'm not going to miss them," Bill commented.

"I don't think any of us are," Jess agreed. "And their not going to realize how good they had it under Jamira when they try their crap elsewhere. But enough about them," she took a marker out of her pocket, "time to get to business."

"Aren't I supposed to be drunk and passed out before you start drawing on me?", Ken asked.

"Or if you have a cast," she said as she carefully too his broken arm, "Your friends can sign it." She signed her name and gave the marker to Ryo who did the same.

Bill was handed the marker and looked at him, "She threatened to shot me if I didn't do this."

"I'd believe it," Ken said before they both grinned as he signed his name.

"I wondered where that marker went," Hawk said as he came into the room. He said nothing else as he came closer. It was worrying them a bit that none of them could read his expression. He held out a hand asking for the marker that Bill quickly gave him. Then still without a word he leaned in and sighed his name as well. Then he looked at them with a slight smile of his own, "We are a team after all." Capping the marker he pointed it at Ken, "You in particular should remember that."

He saluted him with his good hand, "Yes sir."

"I'm pretty sure that sunk in by now," Jess said.

"He had better by now," Bill joined in.

Ryo added, "If not than he's denser than I remember from the academy."

"Hey," Ken spoke up, "I resemble that remark."

"Come on," Hawk told all of them, "this rounds on me. As soon as we find something that's not going to react with that pain killer I know they put you on."

In his home Brooks sat on the floor of his office and concentrated. The door was locked, his phone was turned off and the staff was told to disturb him for anything. The only way he could be bothered now was if his masters decided to communicate with him.

Feeling the silence he concentrated, feeling the dark energy inside him. He let it well up, grow, let it expand as he pushed it top do what he wanted. Then he felt it, he rose off the floor. High enough that he could lower his leg and stand comfortably. After months of trying he finally did it. Now to figure out a way to transfer that to actual flying. And his master were none the wiser to this new discover having found a way to blocked his experimentation of his powers from the long ago.

Although he should thank them. If it wasn't for their "punishment" he would have had the extra determination to push his powers like this, harder than he was before. Now the only questions were how far could he push his power, and what exactly could he do with it that they never suspected.

ED - Shinedown - Fly on the Inside
Last edited by a moderator:


Episodes 18

OP -Mercy Drive - Shine In My Light

Jess pulled into an old diner's parking lot and looked at the building. To be completely honest she was a little surprised when Ken invited her and the others out to this place. he claimed it was one of his favorite places to eat back when he was working at that garage. As it was only her and Ryo were able to get away and take him up on the invitation. Sitting beside her Ryo stared at the building, "He really eats here? Of his own free will?"

"You sound surprised," she told her usual wingman as she started to get out. "This looks like the type of place he would take me on a more casual date." And usually some of the better times they had, well before his brother stuck his nose in things. Getting out of that memory she looked over at Ryo in his dress shirt and slacks then at her jeans and blouse. "I told you that you were over dressing for this place before we left Castle."

"A man should always dress his best," he told her as he adjusted a sleeve. She scanned the windows until she saw Ken. And the brunette girl sitting with him. Both of them noted how happy each of them looked. Ryo looked over at her, "Do you think he had a girlfriend this entire time?"

"He would have said something," she said. Of course he would have. In fact he specifically said he wasn't currently seeing anyone when Richardson had them bring him in. Besides things were long over between the two of them. If he was seeing anybody that was his business and not hers. Still who was this woman?

Then this mystery woman stood up revealing a very noticeable baby bump. Jess repeated, "He would have said something."

"Which one of us are you trying to convince?", Ryo asked her.

"Shut up," she told her wingman as she headed for the diner. Entering to some very familiar smells they made their way to Ken's table. "Are we early?", she asked him. Her eyes immediately went to the black brace currently on his left arm, a reminder of the broken bone he received on the last mission he was on.

He looked up at them and grinned, "Glad you guys could make it. I just showed up myself and ran into a old co-worker of mine. Rose...," and he waved her back over.

"Co-worker," Jess repeated. Of course it was one of his friends from the garage. He even told her about her once. To Ryo she said, "I told you he would have said something." He just gave her a disbelieving look.

"What?", Ken asked catching it. "You two didn't think that me and her..."

"Well with the baby bump we saw," Ryo admitted.

"Granted I could probably take her husband but give me some credit now."

"And I could do a hell of a lot better than this jerk," Rose told them.

"Keep telling yourself that," Ken told her. “Guys this is Rose. Rose this is Ryo Watanabe, we went to the academy together. The short time I was actually there."

"Hi," Rose said shaking his hand.

"Hello," he greeted her.

"And this is Jessica Wade..."

With a surprised look she asked Ken, "The same Jessica Wade you used to date in high school?"

Jess glanced over at Ken, who was giving her a look that she translated in her head as please don't hurt me, before saying, "That would be me."

"Well now," she broke into a grin as she eyed the two of them, "working with your ex are we?"

In response Ken pointed at her, "Stop it."

Oblivious to her and Ryo's confusion Rose asked him, "What? I can't ask a question?"

"As many times I've seen that look on your face right before you tried to set me up on a blind date? I'm cutting this off at the pass now."

"Fine," she sighed. "If you want to be alone and miserable for the rest of your life see if I try and help you again."

"I'll believe it when I see it."

"Let's not get into an argument here," Jess cut in.

"Trust me this isn't an argument," Rose told her. "This is just round God only knows at this point. Besides this big lug here knows I'd wipe the floor with him in a real fight."

"Only because Mom told me never to hit a girl."

"See he admits it," Rose said with a smirk. "I better get back to the garage. Remind your Captain to bring his car in for a tune up next week." She gave Ken a quick kiss on the cheek. "Don't be a stranger. Nice meeting the two of you."

"Likewise," Ryo said as she walked past them.

"Same here," Jess agreed.

"See you around Rose," Ken told her. She stopped by him and gave Jess the once over one more time.

She leaned in and asked Ken, "You seriously just let her go? You are a moron."

"Drop it," he said through his teeth. Rose just shrugged her shoulders and continued on her way.

"So," Ryo said, mainly to spare Jess and Ken from the sudden awkward silence, "you ready to come back to Castle yet?"

"I never should have been given this leave to begin with," Ken said as they sat down in the booth.

"You wouldn't follow the doctor's orders," Jess reminded him. "They told you no heavy lifting while you were healing up."

"And like I told them I still have a good arm," he told her.

"We heard you tell the Captain that when he put you on leave," Ryo told him. "He's just looking out for your wellbeing."

Jess added, "Besides, as much as you seemed to hate being there those first couple of weeks I'm surprised you didn't want to leave."

"What can I say," he said with a small shrug, "I just decided to go with it. The place grows on you... like a fungus."

"And there's a lovely thought right before we eat," Ryo commented as he took a menu from the holder on the table. "You eat here all the time, what would you recommend?"

Jess took one as well and spoke for him, "If he's anything like I remember it'll be the Philly cheesesteak."

Ken looked at her with a slight smile, "It's why it's my favorite place to eat."

"Here's the reports you asked for Captain," Reid said as he walked into the office and gave him a vanilla folder. Two months in and Hawk still wasn't used to the lead of Beta Team being so cordial. Jamira would have one of his men to the report outside his door without a word. Then again why did he put up with that behavior for so long?

"Thank you Commander," he said as he offered him the seat on the other side of the desk. Reid took it as he flipped through the file. "The Jamira regulars are still giving you some problems I see."

"It's not as bad as it was," Reid replied. "Once the worst three were removed the others started to calm down. Slowly," he amended, "but I haven't reprimanded then as often as I did. Right now they're just testing the boundaries." Hawk nodded as he continued reading. "I didn't put it in but they still don't care for your civilian."

"Them and a few others on base," Hawk sighed. "I'm sure I'm on more than few dislikes lists as well." Closing the file and putting it down he looked at the Commander. "Any word at all?"

"I think you would have heard something before I would have Gabe," Reid told him. "Where ever Jamira went he is hiding himself pretty good. It's almost like he fell off the face of the planet. I've even had people keeping tabs on those who were loyal to him. Unfortunately they don't seem to know where he is either.

"I don't like this Justin, I don't like it one bit," Hawk told him. "I've known Jamira for a long time and I could use several words to describe him. A stubborn, pig-headed ass being on the top of the list. But a hider, no. He wouldn't be hiding like this, especially if he thought he was in the right. And he thought he was in the right even after they stripped him of command."

Reid shook his head, "Then the only other explanation is something happened to him. We both know Jamira rubbed a lot of people the wrong way."

"And we haven't found a body yet either," Hawk reminded him.

"Do you think somebody would take it that far?"

Hawk frowned before answering, "I honestly don't know any more.

A few days later Brook's masters sent over sent over an gillman like aquatic humanoid they called Ragon. By design it attacked from the sea. The UNDF quickly set up a defensive line at a coastal city and attacked when it came to shore. Still in his possession of his UNDF ID Ken was able to get close enough to the conflict to unleash Daxium to take on the creature. He did his best to keep the monster from entering the heart of the city. Ragon fought with a wild enough style that he was forced to block the attacks as beast as he could with both arms.

Getting close he grappled with the beast. With a grunt he herded Ragon toward the water. Throwing the creature down it opened it's mouth as it laid there and spit a blue flame like beam at the giant. Daxium acted fast in getting his shield up. As soon as the creature stopped he dropped the field and quickly set up the Dimensional Storm Ray and destroyed the creature with the beam out of his hand. Glancing down at his left arm for a moment he shot off into the air, "Shiah!"

Near the alley he released Daxium Ken reappeared from a ball of light. Leaning back against the brick wall he grimaced a bit as he held the brace around his left arm. "Dax I know you have to attack and defend yourself but could try and watch the arm a bit more?"

Not getting an immediate answer he looked around and stepped out onto the sidewalk and headed for his car. He was stopped by a Scan Track, something he was hoping to avoid. The driver just looked at him, "Ken?"

"Yo Chuck," he greeted him in return, then to the others in the Track he added, "Larry, Paul, new guy I don't know."

They didn't respond but Chuck spoke up, "What are you doing all the way out here?" Which was one of the reasons why he was looking to avoid any and all members of the UNDF.

"I heard stuff was going down and I'd figure I'd see if there was anything I could do to help," he told them. It was pretty lose to the truth. "I'd helped evacuate enough cities when I was on duty that I got an idea on what I'm doing."

Larry shook his head then leaned over a bit to get a better look at him, "The Captain is going to flip when he hears about this."

"What to flip about?", Ken asked. "I made sure to stay out of harm’s way."

"I'm sure he'll love that explanation when you get back to Castle," Chuck told him. "See you when you get back to Castle."

"I'll see you then," he gave them a waved as they drove off. But he knew that this was going to get back to Hawk. Like the other encounters he's happen to be seen at. "Yeah, that's going to be a fun conversation."

A couple of weeks later Ken did return to Castle. Despite what he told Jess and Ryo he was surprised exactly how much he actually missed this place. Taking his usual parking place he got out and looked around, loving that he didn't have to go far to get the familiar smells and sounds of a garage even in this high tech place. Reaching into the backseat he retrieved and put on his uniform jacket. The only thing missing was the wrist scanner, but that didn't exactly fit around the brace. Just a few more weeks he told himself. Before long he was able to spot the person in charge of the hanger as he put his bag over his shoulder, "Hey Chief."

"Scott," he replied, not taking his eyes off the pad in his hand. "Captain Hawk said he wanted to see you as soon as you got your belongings back in your quarters."

Despite knowing that was coming he tried not to wince, "What kind of mood is he in?"

"You'll find out when you get there," was all he said. "You'll find your adjusted workload when you officially check in."

And that didn't sound good. "Adjusted how?"

"Expect to push a lot of paper. Hey Jones, I said track 37 not 43!", he walked off leaving Ken standing there.

Wondering exactly how long he could put this off he readjusted his bag and headed for the elevator. More than few greeted him when he reached his floor, a far cry from his first trip down these halls. Well his second trip technically, he wasn't sure he was conscious for most of the first one.

"Mr. Scott," he looked around to see Peter Brooks come toward him, at least it wasn't Richardson. There were several messages on his phone from his secretary, more or less demanding his presence on base. Considering the situation he didn't get on Hawk's bad side. "Welcome back from your little vacation."

He had several comments about that quote unquote vacation swirling around in his head. He wisely kept them to himself, maybe Hawk and the others were rubbing off on him. Instead he said, "Thank you sir."

For some reason Brooks started walking with him, "So how is your arm exactly? If you don't mind me asking that is."

"As well as can be expected," he answered while wiggling the fingers on his left hand. "They gave me some exercises to work on to get some strength back."

"Good, good," Brooks said. "I see everyone wants you back at full strength as soon as possible." There was something in the way he said that that made Ken glance at him. Whatever it was it was gone almost as fast as he noticed it. "I would love to stay and chat some more but I do have some meetings to attend and you need to get settled back in. Have a good day."

"You too...", he got out before Brooks hurried off. All this time he still hadn't figured that guy out. Outside of being one of the suspects for the dark energy blip the first time he was here.

"The upgrades should be ready in a week," Bridge said as he sat in Hawk's office. "They would be finished faster but I'm having trouble getting Williams and his team involved."

"He's almost done with that super jet of his," Hawk said as he looked over the estimates had supplied him. "And seeing how the board in getting more onboard with this thing by the day it's going to be hard to get him away from the thing."

"I understand that Captain," Bridge replied. "I'm just saying it's frustrating."

"Duly noted," he said with a small smirk. "Is there anything else I should be aware of?"

"No, that should be it," Bridge told him.

"That will be all then." Bridge nodded and rose out of his seat. As he exited Hawk started to take another look at those estimates.

At least he was until another voice from the other room caught his attention, "Bridge my man."

"Ken," he heard Bridge call out. "How are you doing?"

"About as well as can be expected." Ken went quiet for a moment, "What kind of mood is he in?"

And Hawk briefly wondered when people were going to figure out he could hear them through the vent grates. Not that he was going to say anything any time soon, he secretly enjoyed the little edge it gave him.

Bridge answered, "He was in a pretty good mood when I was in there. Then again he hasn't seen you yet."

"Funny," Ken uttered, "attack the guy trying to help you open up. I better get in there before that mood changes. See you around."

"See you Ken."

Ken walked in and stared at the three folders Hawk just finished putting on his desk. He started looking a bit apprehensive as he said, "Ken Scott reporting for duty sir."

"Ken," he replied pleasantly, he was happy to see the young man again, "please have a seat." he did so glancing at those folders. Clasping his hands in front of him Hawk looked at him for a few moments before opening a random folder, "I see you've been busy while you were on leave."

"Trying not to be bored sir," he said while trying to read the file. Hawk quickly closed it. "Idle hands and all that jazz."

"Normally I would appreciate that," Hawk told him. "But not when I told you to take the time off to heal up properly I meant it. And you have been doing something because the doctors have been saying you're arm's not healing like it should. And seeing how you have been spotted at the three giant monster attacks I think I know why." The fingers on Ken's left hand twitched, Hawk assumed involuntarily. "I put you on leave to keep you out of these situations and to keep the stress off that arm. What if you got blasted again or rebroke it while helping somebody?"

"I was just trying to help," he said just loud enough to be heard. "I am trained for this sort of thing."

"Yes, one of the reports mentioned you said something similar to that." Hawk leaned forward, "Look Ken, I'm proud at how you jumped into the role, I will never deny that. But that leave was for your own good. You're damn lucky that injury didn't require any surgery. And I don't appreciate you putting yourself in situations that may keep you out longer than necessary. Now the doctors are saying you're healed enough for light duty. And I'm going to make sure you stick to the 'light' part of that sentence."

Ken sighed, "The Chief mentioned there would be paper to be pushed."

"Oh you better believe it," Hawk told him. "For the next two week we're going to put your secretarial skills to the test. And you will be stationed in the outer room of this office so I can keep an eye on you." Ken started to protest but Hawk ut him off, "I can make that three weeks just as easily Scott."

"Yes sir," he said giving in.

"Seeing how eager you are to keep busy you can start today. You can start by familiarizing yourself with the desk in the other room. I'll call you if I need you."

"Yes sir," he repeated as he got up and headed for the door.

"Ken," Hawk said to stop him, "it's good to have you back son."

"Never thought I'd say this after my first few weeks here but it's good to be back."

He nodded, "If it's not out there I have a scheduled appointment at one. Sooner if you can figure out the intercom or later if we get an alert that interrupts our day."

"Yes sir. Ah," he paused at the door, "if we get an alert?"

"You're still part of the team so you'll be going out with the rest of us. We'll figure out what kind of role, if any, you'll have then." Picking up the folders to put back into the file he told him, "Now get to work, and you better be able to make a decent pot of coffee."

Brooks waved the smoke from his face as he stabilized another monster that came through the breach. Red in color with the wings and bat shape head, he quickly realized the smoke was coming from the creature. "Another spewer, wonderful."

The form of one of his masters appeared in the vortex, "Going over your reports of our creatures defeat we realized that the deadly smoke Bogun emitted damage the giant." Brooks remembered that battle as well, he also recalled that the light giant was hesitant to use his hyper speed finisher as well. Instead revealing the pulse like effect through his whip.

"Seeing how effective the smoke was I'm surprised you waited so long in trying it again."

"Barrangas had to be specially created," the Zetton in the Vortex told him. "It will emit the toxic gas continuously, leaving a cloud constantly around it."

"Then it's fortunate the dark energy you provided me makes me immune to it's affect," Brooks commented as he glanced around the quickly filling chamber. The Zetton inside said nothing. "I'll find an appropriate place to put him then.

"Yes you will," the figure said and the vortex dissipated out of existence.

The smoke swirled around him as he uttered out loud, "Would it be that hard to say good-bye at least once? I suspect it would actually." He looked over at the creature who had already increased in size. "Now how do I conceal you long enough to get you into the city? The smoke is going to be a bit of a problem."

"Hey Chad!" the foreman bellowed. "Hurry with that hole! We're behind schedule as it is!"

"I'm going as fast as the drill will go!", Chad called back. "Any faster and the machine will over heat and seize up."

"Just hurry it up!", he yelled.

"Will do," he muttered knowing the foreman had already turned around and started yelling at somebody else. "God help me if I work under another micro manager."

"He just wants to get things done on schedule," his buddy said.

"According to him we were behind schedule the second we started." The other guy shook his head and left before the foreman zeroed in on him.

Chad looked around the construction site. Or should he have said new high rise. The old one was damaged during a battle between a monster and that giant guy. It was so bad they had to tear it down and start anew. So there was at least one good thing coming out of those giant freaks battles, the construction business was booming.

A dark smoke started coming to come from the hole. "Oh ****," he said as he stopped the drill. The smoke continued to pour out as he checked the drill bit readout.

"What the **** did you do?!", the foreman shouted as he and some other came toward him.

"I don't know!", Chad said as he started to pull the drill itself out of the ground. "Everything is still green on the controls. Maybe it's a pocket of something."

"You better not have fucked up that drill head," he went on ignoring everything Chad just said.

"I'm checking it now," he told him. Using the top of his shirt to try and protect himself from the smoke. It was still rank as hell though. "Drill heads still... looks... g.." he started getting woozy, fast. So much so he was unconscious before he even hit the ground. The foreman and a couple of others tried to drag him out of there but they were overcome by the smoke as well.

Given the situation the military and UNDF was scrambled rather quickly. Out of the unit nicknamed Monster Squad by the others Hawk, Ryo and Ken set up a temporary command center while Jess and Bill were back at Castle ready to launch at a moment’s notice. All of them looking at an ariel view of the construction site that was now covered in that smoke that was now a couple of yards high. "Those closest to the opening died first," Bridge said over the comm line. "Medical's treating the others who inhaled it now. Right now their chance of survival is depending on how much they breathed in."

"Did we get an analysis of the smoke yet?", Hawk asked.

"We were able to get a man in a containment suit in there to get a sample," Bridge informed him. "But we're still going over the data he collected. But we did get some blood samples from the deceased and those who inhaled the stuff processed and got a hit from the database. It's the same as the smoke that two headed slug was spewing out a while back."

Ken remembered that night clear enough, outside of the "wonderful" blind date Rose set him up on it was also the night he was rudely introduced to his current teammates. Hawk must have been thinking the same thing because he looked back at him when Bridge said that. Although he didn't need Bridge to tell him there was something there, he could sense the creature through Daxium from where he was.

"Is that why the smoke staying in place like that?", Ken asked since he couldn't exactly explain how he knew in to begin with. "Because that's starting to weird me out a little." The majority of the smoke did stop at the edge of the construction site, although there was some spill over in the surrounding area truth be told it was more than a bit freaky.

"You're not the only one civilian," Bill said over the line.

"We'll need to get over it," Hawk told them. "Bridge, are we getting anything underground?"

"Nothing so far," he answered. "I think the smoke is interfering with our sensors somehow."

"We have a couple of Scan Tracks close to the affected area," Hawk said as he went over unit placements. "Have you patched into their sensors yet?"

"I already did and got the same results."

"I wonder why we could detect the first monster and not this one?", Ryo asked.

Jess answered, "The first one didn't start spewing until after it was above ground. Maybe that has something to do with it."

"Bridge," Hawk spoke up, "check the readings around that time and see if there was any type of interference then."

"I'll pull it up," he responded.

"Let me know if you find anything, Hawk out."

"Understood, Castle out."

"How's the evacuation going?", Hawk asked as he faced Ryo and Ken. "That smoke is stationary now but we can't count on it to stay that way. Not to mention that we have no idea when that creature is going to break out above ground."

And Ken was wondering how he was going to get away when that happened.

"We're still evacuating people in a mile radius of the construction site," Ryo answered. "Needless to say there are some very unhappy people feeling they were forced to move."

"I'd rather they be unhappy then dead," Hawk informed him. "Unfortunately people who don't want to move can be stubborn too. Ryo, Ken," he glanced at his arm, "and I hope I don't regret this decision later, take a couple of squads and see that nobody's trying to sneak in or if we missed anybody."

"And if we run into any reporters?", Ryo asked. More than a few have tried as they ran across some photographers or reporters trying to get a close up of the creature whenever they get an alert, particularly in the city.

"You know the drill." Hawk told him. "If there's no immediate danger give a brief statement and send them on their way. Ken..." he looked over at him.

"Keep quiet and let somebody else from the unit handle it," he answered.

"I was going to say watch your arm," he smirked, "but that works too. Now move out."

"Come on Ken," Ryo as he handed him one of the helmets with a full faceplate to protect them from the smoke.

Ryo was on the way out while Ken stood there staring at the helmet with a bit of a grimace on his face. "I hope this things works better than it did against the happy flower." Remembering that incident as well Hawk silently hoped it did as well.

"Initiating sonic scans now," Reid said over the line.

Back at the Castle control room everyone tensed up slightly as the scan started. Everyone remembered how this one creature that could control the Earth itself reacted when they tried a similar scan. "I have the reading," Bridge said looking at the sensor readings of several Scan Tracks that were placed around the construction site. "I'm linking up the respective scans now. Remember to keep it low for right now."

"We have it as low as it can be and still be on," Reid told him. "Do you have anything yet?"

"A massive blob that's not telling me anything," Bridge responded. In all honestly he was expecting that on this sonic level. Reminding himself that the earth mover didn't emit smoke he said, "All Track in the link start to raise the sonic frequency slowly."

"You heard the man," Reid told the man behind the scanner station in the vehicle. Being linked they could keep the frequency increase relatively even. Bridge kept his eyes on the readings until he saw a clearer picture.

"Stop right there," he said. Switching what he saw to the main screen in front of the room the people inside stopped what they were doing when he did so.

"Is it the same creature?", Reid asked.

"Not exactly Commander."

"Show me."

"Patch me in too Bridge," Hawk said over the line.

"Patching both of you in now," he told them as he hit the appropriate commands into the computer.

After studying the image for a few moments Reid broke the silence, "I think I'm seeing a set of wings."

"I'm seeing it too," Hawk confirmed.

"We're estimating the creature's mass to be larger than the two headed creature," Bridge said as the people in the room fed him the information. "And so far we're only detecting one head."

"So," Reid spoke up, "unless the two head one was some sort of strange larval form then this is a different creature entirely."

"Commander," Hawk said, "at this point I wouldn't be surprised by anything. But we could use a drill vehicle right about now. And word of what I just said does not get to Williams in any form."

In his office Brooks monitored the situation. In a way he had to admire Hawk's efficiency. Within a couple of hours he had the area evacuated, cordon off, set up troop placement and found a way to retrieve the dead. Actually the whole program seemed faster now that Jamira wasn't there, or it could just be his imagination. Also his earlier hunch had paid dividends as the troops he sent out to patrol found some that were trying to sneak into the cordoned off area.

It was a shame that he was going to have to kill him eventually.

Perhaps even in this conflict. And Reid seemed competent enough to take over if that did happen. Although at that time Brooks thought he might wish Jamira was still around, then again maybe not. While he would have made a mess of thing in the transition he would be next to impossible to deal with.

Still he might as well get this over with. And hopefully his masters were still unaware that he could do this. Focusing the dark energy they granted him he opened a portal to view Barrangas through the smoke. Opening a vortex like this to talk to them was no problem, and one he figured out rather quickly. But to create one that didn't send out any ripples they could be detected by them, well all modesty aside, that took a little skill.

As did this. Concentrating on the energy that linked them he made contact with the creature's mind, something his masters said was impossible. But the headache doing so gave him was more than worth it as he proved them wrong. While he couldn't control the creature directly, it's emotion, instincts, urges and will was far too strong for that, he could nudge it into action. As he did with a simple thought.

Barrangas arise.

"What the hell ever happened to freedom of the press?", a cameraman demanded as Ken and the female UNDF officer with him tried to get him and the female reporter behind him to get back into their van.

"Feel free to get the hell out of here then," Ken said getting annoyed with the situation. Ryo could not be having this much of a problem. Of course Ken's unit was the one who decided to split up into groups of two. "This is a restricted area. And wearing WW2 era gasmasks doesn't count."

"The people have.." he went on.

"The people are safe at home, watching the coverage I assuming," his partner told him. "If you try to persist any further we will be forced to detain both of you."

"Come on Trevor," the reporter said, "they're not going to budge. "Let's go." When the cameraman wouldn't budge she dragged him by the arm. "Come on."

"Alright Sara, alright," he finally conceded as they got into the van.

Watching them leave Ken commented, "They are so going to try somewhere else."

"More than likely," she said. "I wonder what she looks like under that mask. She sounded cute."

Ken snorted, "I saw how you looked at her while she was leaving, you're approaching horn dog territory there Janice."

"Be in the dry spell I've been in," she told him, "And you had the same look. She probably doesn't even play for my team."

"One more me then," he said with a smirk.

"And you'd still strike out. Come on fellow horn dog, there's probably somebody else around here."

"Yes ma'am." As soon as he said that he somebody jump deeper into an alley, "Over there!" They ran in to find a boy who couldn't be older than ten try to climb a fence. Janice rushed over and pulled him off of it.

"Let go of me!", He squirmed in her grasp. "I gotta get home!"

"Easy kid," she said, struggling to keep a hold of him while he squirmed. "It's too dangerous for you to go back in there right now."

"You don't understand!" he yelled. "My mom told me to stay home! I'm grounded!"

"I'm sure she'll understand this one time," Ken said, not really believing his story. If he was grounded he would have jumped at the chance to get out of it. Then the kid kicked him in the shin as he continued to try and get away. "Ow!" The ground started to shake before he could react, "Whoa," Ken's hand almost went for the Spark Magnifier as the kid stopped fighting.

On both of their comms they heard Bridge announce, "The creature is trying to break through! I repeat the creature is trying to break through!"

"Razor Wing units launch now!", Hawk said right after. "All search units retreat to the safety zones."

The kid didn't struggle as much as the both grabbed him under the arms and escorted him to the street. About then they felt the ground shake again, this time with monstrous roar in the background. He looked around wondering how he was going to do this. "Janice," he finally said, "take the kid. I thought I saw somebody else over there."

She looked in the direction he was pointing, "I'm not seeing..."

"I have to be sure," he cut her off. "I'll catch up with you as soon as I check it out."

"Alright," she conceded. "But I better see you soon."

"As soon as I'm sure," he told her. Running after the "person" he saw he stopped as soon as he was in the alley. Trying to peek without being he seen he made sure she was headed toward the safe zone with kid. Once he was sure he ran toward the smoke filled area.

Barrangas continued his way to the surface and broke free with one final roar. A deep red in color he walked away from the hole as the smoke swirled around his feet. Roaring one more time smoke seemingly feel out of the holes in the half horns on either side of his head. Wings that seemed a tad too small for his body flexed a bit right before the first couple of missiles hit him from various angles. Roaring in anger he increased the amount of smoke trying to obscure his body from view.

In the air the razor wings came into view. Jess silently cursed as she realized the smoke was playing havoc with her targeting sensors. "Razor Wing One to all air units. Switch over to manual targeting and aim for the center of the huge mass of smoke."

She got a round of confirms as Bill told her, "The board's going to give you hell of that if one of those missiles hit the city."

"As big as that thing is we're going to hit something," she told him as she lined up a shot and fired. There was an explosion as her missile hit that was followed by several others. The smoke cleared enough that they could see the creature inside.

Pulling the jet into a circle pattern outside the monster's reach Bill looked at it before saying, "Would you hit me if I said I don't think we're going to run out of missiles before that thing goes down?"

"Once we hit the ground, yes."

"Then I'm running as soon as we land."

Jess was about to respond when she saw a flash in the smoke below. For a brief second she thought one of the missiles missed. Then a giant column of light appeared revealing Ultraman on the inside. He took his usual fighting pose, while flexing his left wrist a bit, and shouted his customary, "Shiah!"

Looking at the helmet in front of her she commented, "I don't think we have to worry about our missiles anymore."

Ignoring the smoke Daxium rushed right toward Barrangas, who towered over him a bit, and bunched it right in the snout. The creature fought back in some attacks that he easily avoided. Pivoting on on foot he planted a foot into it's gut. Seeing he had the advantage he tried to grapple with the monster. Barrangas positioned his head just enough that he spewed the smoke full blast right into his face. Making a brief gagging sound backed up out of instinct to get out of the way. The creature charged him trying to knock him down but he held his footing.

He tried to fire a flashbolt but the creature rammed into him again. Barrangas surprised him by grabbing him into a bear hug and blowing the smoke straight into his face. Daxium struggled to keep his face out of the way as he tried to get free. Realizing the monster was pushing against him he fell back using the creature's own momentum to fling it off him and kept on the attack. Pounding the creature to try and keep it down and subdue it. But it used it's own considerable strength to knock him back. Rolling to his feet as the diamond shape jewel on his chest started flashing he charged again. Barrangas used his own tactic against him as it grabbed him and used his momentum to slam him into a building still under construction. While he was stunned Barrangas and pinned his arms to the building, using it's full weight to keep him in place, and started spewing the deadly smoke again.

Daxium grunted and struggled to get free but felt himself keep weaker, to the point that his legs started to give out on him. In the air above jess watched, determination forming on her face, "Bill...".

"Already ahead of you," he said. Razor Wings seven and ten form up and follow me. We're going to cook us one giant, ugly ass turkey." After a couple of quick "Rodger" they were quickly in formation and heading for the back of the creature."

"Missiles away!" Jess announced as she pressed the trigger.. Three set of missiles hit Barrangas right in the back. The creature roared and reaction and let him go. Quickly banging his forearms together he shifted into Power Mode and kicked Barrangas back. Not wasting a moment he attacked Barrangas with renewed urgency. Kicking the creature down he backed up as he put a hand by the jewel to ready the Giga Wave.

The wings on Barrangas' back started to flap causing the smoke to rush toward him forcing Daxium to cover his face. Daxium and the rest around them watched as the creature lifted off the ground and into the air.

"Holy ****!", Bill exclaimed. "That thing can fly?"

On the ground Hawk grabbed a helmet and out it onshouting orders, "Target is airborne! I repeat target is airborne! Break out whatever breathing units we have to spare and pass them out to the civilians in the area, and I want children to be front of the line." He knew it wasn't going to be enough if Ultraman couldn't beat this thing but it was the best he had at the moment.

Daxium quickly took off and followed Barrangas trying to knock it back down to Earth. But the creature fought back creating some space between them. It rose even higher still until it turned around and came at him in a dive bomb like attack. Daxium flew backwards toward the ground to give himself time to set up and fire the Storm Globe. It caught the monster flush in the face causing it to explode in midair.

Hanging in the air Daxium noticed that the dark smoke quickly dissipate into nothing. Satisfied that the threat was over he flew off into the sky, "Shiah!"

"There you are," Ryo called out as Ken ran up to them. "Exactly how do you get lost in a city you grew up in? And Janice wanted me to tell you that she's going to hurt your good arm when she see you."

"With all the smoke and commotion I got turned around a couple of times," he said. "And this brace doesn't exactly come with a built in GPS."

"And I'm assuming you never found your mystery person."

"I had to be sure," he replied with a shrug.

"I suppose so," Ryo agreed. "And since I know Hawk is going to ask, how is you arm."

"I might have banged it against something in the confusion at least once."

"He's going to put you on desk duty for a month now, you know that right?"

"It's better than latrine duty," then he looked down at his communicator hoping he didn't hear that.

Ken leaned against the hood of his car as Hawk's GTO pulled up next to his. Wearing his civilian gear he looked at the diner behind him as he got out, "So this is the place you invited us to."

"It's not as deadly as it looks," Ken joked. "So why did you invite me to it."

"Actually," he looked back as cars he recognized as Jess and Bill's pulled into the parking lo as well. "I thought we try that team outing again."

"Oh for you everybody shows up... sir," he quickly added when Hawk gave him a look that quickly turned into a smirk that made the younger man relax a bit. Then he got a good look into Bill's car. "Is that Bridge?"

"He took some convincing," Hawk admitted.

"Bridge, my man," Ken called out as he got out of the car. He gave him a small wave and muttered some sort of hello. Just like he usually did when he wasn't in the confines of Castle. "I'm going to break you out of that shell if it kills one of us."

"Pretty brave thing to say in front of somebody who knows what you were like in high school," Jess told him.

"It just proves it can happen," Ken quickly told her.

"And I thought I was quick on my feet," Bill commented.

"Lousy jokes don't count as quick," Ryo told him. Looking at the diner and frowned a bit, "I'm still suffering heartburn from the last time I was here."

"Just means the food is good," Bill said. Still Ryo held his stomach.

"Seeing how I grew up in Philly," Hawk said as they headed for the diner, "that Philly cheesesteak I keep hearing you talk about better impress."

"I thought it was pretty good when I tried it," Jess told him.

"Yeah but she dated the civilian, what kind of taste could she... have...," he trailed off when she shot him a look that could kill.

Ryo leaned over to him, "Just so you know, you're probably getting shot later."

"Anybody want to take some bets on when?", Ken joked.

"I can get video proof," Bridge offered. Bill looked betrayed.

Ken put his arm around Bridge's shoulders and told him, "That's the spirit," as they entered the diner.

ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside


Episode 19

OP - Mercy Drive - Burn In My Light

As Hawk lead the section of Alpha Team that were immediately under him, known by most on base as Monster Squad, they all took a moment to gaze at the giant black jet with the usual red highlights of the standard UNDF colors, taking up a good chunk of the room, a hanger retrofitted a bit after a giant monster attack directly on Castle, a few Razor Wings were on standby in sitting on the side. The big machine, code named Alpha One, was triangular in shape with a couple of engine ports on the back, although the wing were looking more like wings now since the last time they were in here. Still Hawk honestly had doubts the thing would actually fly but the techs and experts assured him it would.

"There you are," Dr. Williams said and came toward them. Or at least that looked like his plan, he somehow got his foot stuck between a couple of thick cables and couldn't free himself. Hawk tried not to frown while he was slowly shaking his head as couple of people quickly hurried over and helped get him free.

Behind him Bill muttered, "Only that guy." Hawk shot him a look to silently reprimand him. But it was hard to disagree.

"A beauty, isn't it?", William said as he turned around to look back at the ship, but he kept walking backwards. Ryo, Bill and a couple of other deck hands were poised to catch him since he was backing right into a crate that was in his path. But he turned around and avoided it. "I never thought I'd see the day it was built."

"She's quite impressive," Hawk told him. "In all honesty I never thought she'd get built either." Probably for a different reason than Williams but there was no need to say it out loud.

"Come, come," Williams motioned them to follow him toward the Alpha One. "It's maiden flight awaits. Oh I wish I had a bottle of Champaign to christian it properly."

"Ah, Captain," Jess said after they went a few feet. She gestured behind them at Ken who was frozen by the doors staring at the jet with his helmet in hand, and he was looking a little green at the moment.

"Oh I'm sure he's just taking a moment to admire it a little longer," Williams told them.

"I'm sure that's it," Ryo said looking worried. He leaned in closer to Bill, "How close is our station to his again?"

"I'm sure it's out of spew range," Bill assured him. "But I'm taking the seat furthest away."

"Not if I get there first," Ryo told him. Hawk cleared his throat and they both shut up.

Williams lead them into the ship and on to the now fully functional bridge. Those currently not frozen in dread outside to a second marvel at their stations. Each of them spent time in the simulator so they knew what each switch and button did what when you used it. Still the real thing made them wonder if it was enough. Hawk looked around and realized they were still short a man. "Does anyone want to head out and collect our wayward mechanic?'

"Wade to Tony," Jess said into her communicator, "can you nudge Ken toward the Alpha One for me please."

"We've been nudging," came the reply. "We just upgraded to a slight push."

"Take it up to a full on shove if you have too," she told him, remembering some of the things she had to do when they were dating back in high school. "Wade out."

"While we're waiting," Bill spoke up, "did anyone else bring some barf bags for the civilian? I got two."

"I grabbed four," Ryo answered.

"I have three," Jess said.

"Now I'm ashamed of all of you," Hawk told them. "I'm aware Ken has an affliction too. But don't you think this will embarrass him at all? How would you feel if you were him and you found out everyone expected you to throw up over everything?"

Ken walked onto the bridge looking like he was in a foul mood. He had that look all day so it wasn't like he overheard what they were saying. Still nobody said anything right away. He sulked over to his station and practically slammed a stack of those sealable white bags onto the station beside him. "You got anymore add them to the stack," was all he said. Jess, Ryo and Bill put the ones they brought on top of it. To Hawk's surprise he did look grateful for the extras.

As the rest of them took their station Ryo opened a communication link to Bridge in the control room, "Castle this si Alpha One, we are ready for our test and maiden flight."

"Acknowledge Alpha One. Skies are clear and calm like the ocean. Perfect weather for a test flight."

Ryo smiled, "Acknowledged Castle, Alpha One preparing to take off." He turned around to look at the Captain's station. "Does the captain wish to say a few words before we take off?"

"That's never been my style Ryo," Hawk told him, although he did appreciate the gesture. "Just keep it smooth and steady for the maiden flight."

"Oh let's give this ship a proper shake down," Williams insisted. "Let's do a few barrel rolls and the like."

"Permission to aim directly at him sir," Ken said from his station.

"Denied," Hawk quickly said. "Engine status?"

Looking at his screen Ken replied, "Everything's green." Hawk thought he heard him mutter the word, "Unfortunately," but let it go.

"Wade, weapons status?"

"We're ready to go hot at a moment's notice," she answered.

"Flight status?"

Bill looked at Ryo and nodded. Ryo said, "We're ready to go Captain."

"Captain’s station is green as well. Ryo, Bill this is officially your show now."

"Yes sir," Ryo replied. "Alpha One to castle we are ready to launch."

"Acknowledged Alpha One, opening hanger now." The wall in front of them opened and a ramp extended and personal quickly got out of the way as the engines came to life. "Alpha One you are a go for launch."

"Rodger, Alpha One launching now." Ryo push the throttle forward and the super jet went forward with a lurch. Ken's hand immediately went to the bags next to him. Dr. Williams was the only one who didn't flinch when he did so.

"I can't believe that albatross got off the ground," Richardson said to no one in particular. In the control room he stood with several other members as they watched the launch on the main screen. From the celebration going on behind him none of the others heard him. well one of them apparently did as he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked next to him to see a sympathetic smile on Peter's face.

"You're not the only one Harold," he said over the commotion. "I'm personally surprised it got green lighted at all."

"Then what did you vote for it to begin with?"

"Well Dr. Williams enthusiasm about the project was rather catching," he said sheepishly. "later on I started to wonder exactly what i was thinking?"

"You're not the only one," Richardson said as he led Peter through the board members still congratulating themselves. After exiting the control he looked back at the door and mumbled, "You would think they did it single handedly." The younger man nodded in agreement as they walked down the hallway. "I can almost hear what your father would have said after he found out. You haven't told him about that thing yet have you?"

"I do believe he would have said something to you about it by now if I did. In fact I'm expecting a rather long message or two by the time I get home."

"I'd thank you for taking the blunt of his initial outburst but i know that would just be the warm up for that blow hard."

"Yes," Peter chuckled, "we both know my father all too well." Richardson didn't notice when Peter stuffed his hand into his pocket when it startled to crackle in annoyance with dark energy. "So," he said lightly, "what are we going to do with those extra Razor Wings now the Alpha One is in operation?"

"Ugh," Richardson groaned, "Alpha One. First it Ultraman and now it's that. I swear nobody can think of a decent name for anything anu more. As far as the razor Wings are concerned Captain Hawk hasn't officially decided yet. He said he wanted to see how the experiment went before doing so."

"I assume the good Captain would like to have options," Peter mused. "It might be a good thing, have the proper equipment for the job depending on what it is. Similar to what Ultraman does I suppose."

Nodding Richardson agreed, "I suppose."

"Although," Peter went on, "rumor has it Hawk is looking for anew person to main the engineering station on the jet. Given Scott's condition and all."

"He was looking for one before the jet was even completed," Richardson informed him. "Unfortunately Williams was given full authority over staffing the thing by the board."

"I recall. I also believe we were the two votes for the negative category."

"Right," Richardson agreed. "Scot being here was my idea to begin with and I know Williams enough to know he never too his condition into account when he assigned the core stations. And believe me I tried to talk to him out of putting Scott in there."

"I'm sure he appreciated the effort Harold."

Given the threats he used to get the bastard to sign up to begin with that was highly doubtful. "I'm sure he would be, but let's not tell him."

"Have to keep up the image, I understand completely. I hate to leave suddenly..."

"But we both have things to do," Richardson finished for him. "There’s always that isn't there?"

Greeting his secretary with a nod as he passed her desk Peter entered his office and quickly locked the door behind him, making sure it was locked for the moment. Finally taking his hand out of his pocket he studied it a bit. "I usually have better control than that." With a smirk he added, "Then again he always slightly annoying and everybody has their limits."

Going to his desk he pulled up the flight plan Hawk's men drew up for the initial flight. One Williams protested for it's simplicity if the grapevine was to believed. His masters sent out a little surprise not that long ago so it should be interesting to see how Monster Squad would handle that. Well along with the little surprise he set up for the trip. He was slightly curious how Scott was going to keep his secret in that situation.

Getting out of the Scan Track Commander Reid looked up at the sound of a roaring engine as the Alpha One passed over the tree line. He knew the general flight plan Hawk's crew had come up with as he glanced at the time, they were early according to his estimation. "Williams must have talked him into pushing the engines," he mused mainly to himself. He also silently hoped this was just a coincidence since Beta Team was assigned to answer the call that came from this forest area.

"That should have been us," somebody behind him grumbled. It wasn't the first time Reid had heard that since taking Beta over, it became more frequent the closer it came to launch time." he knew it was part inter-squad rivalry, part alpha male attitude Jamira installed early in his command.

Still he said, almost automatically by now, "Beta primarily a ground unit. Alphas are the flyers."

"Then the dork should have came up with a tank." He quickly quieted down looked back right at him. That outburst was all Jamira. The sooner it got through their thick skulls that he would tolerate that attitude anymore the happier they would all be. At least he'd be happier he was getting sick of dealing with it.

Letting out a breath to calm him down he walked over to the local police officer waiting for them standing in front a taped off section of the forest while motioning for the least annoying man in the Track to follow along. "Hello," he said extending a hand. When it was took he added, "Jason Reid, I'm the head of Beta Team." Part of his personal approach in dealing with the locals. Some were a bit put off just by seeing the uniform, especially if they weren't the ones who called them in. A rank like Commander would put them on the defensive a bit, protecting their territory as it were. Give them a name and just say he was in charge and most would relax a bit.

"Tony Malory," the officer said. "What I called you for is over here." Reid nodded as the officer lead them past the police tape and into the woods. "We were called in this morning. After seeing it we eventually decided to call you in. All be honest with you, part of me is hoping this is part of an elaborate prank. But with the way things are been going...", he trailed off.

"It's better to be safe than sorry. I rather have my time wasted than have a real threat being ignored," Reid assured him. Soon they were there, from appearances it looked like someone put up various statues in the middle of the woods. What Reid noticed right away was that just about all of them were rearing back from something, all looked like they were afraid of something. He looked over to his man and they both nodded and started scanning the area with their wrist scanners.

Getting closer to one of the statues he took a good look at the details in it's features. If this was a prank then the person behind it was damn good, he could see individual teeth in it's mouth as well as a tongue. "Was there anything suspicious about the statues that you notice Officer Malory? Outside of being out here I mean."

"Well this one over here," he said pointing toward one near the front of this particular line. Reid went over there with him but didn't see anything that stood out right away, but he waited for Malory to continue. "Now I know this is going to sound like I'm nuts."

"Like you said, the way it's been going lately," Reid tried to assure him.

"Well I'm positive this one looks like Tom Smith," he went on. "We play poker with a couple of other guys every Saturday night. The nights i'm not on duty that is. I've tried calling his cell already but he's not picking up."

"Does he come this way often?", Reid asked.

"Almost every night," Malory informed him. "It's a shortcut to his apartment building from his job."

"Is he married?"

"Divorced three years ago. He's been sowing his oats again, he's had a new girl just about every night."

"So nobody regular to contact," Reid mused.

"Commander," his man called out. Excusing himself he went over to see what he found. "I did a scan on a couple of these to be sure. My readings say the stone is only a few millimeters thick."

"Is it an empty shell then?"

"No," he answered, trying to keep his voice low. "The inside is organic. I'm reading internal organs."

Reid held up his wrist scanner and took a reading for himself. He felt sick in his stomach as he got the same reading. Even more so once he realized the person inside the shell was dead, as well as the rest of them. Behind the Malory had overheard them any way and looked what was his friend in utter horror. "Reid to Castle."

"Turned into stone?", Hawk repeated once he was told.

"That's correct Captain," Bridge confirmed. "I went over the readings Commander Reid sent in and have to agree with his findings." They were all stunned silent as they tried to process this. Ever since the monsters started attacking they’ve seen a lot of strange things. But turning people into stone? What could have caused that?

"Normally I'd make a comment about a woman with snakes for hair,' Bill said, mainly to break the silence that started to become a little uncomfortable, "but even I know that would be in bad taste."

"Are we going to investigate?", Williams asked, sounding a tad too excited about the prospect.

Ryo turned to look at him, "With an experimental craft that hasn't fully been tested yet? Captain I realize that this is our duty but I feel have we have a huge hindrance going in."

"For the most part I agree," Hawk said. "I don't think this ship is ready for actual combat."

"Captain Hawk," Williams protested, "I personally over saw the construction of this vessel. I will personally vouch for it's fitness. Ask Scott over there if he disagrees." Hawk glanced back at Ken who was a couple of shades of green at this point, with a several of those sealed bags at his feet.

Ryo winched, mainly from the memory of their academy days, "I'm sure he'd answer if he could at the moment."

Williams went over to his station and looked at him curiously, "Do you have this same problem when you..."

"Captain," Jess spoke up at the same time Ken shot Williams a look for almost blowing his secret. He put a hand over his mouth immediately regretting the action while she continued, "Maybe we can help look for the creature that did this. According to these sensors we have a pretty good range."

Ryo was forced to confirm her point, "That we do."

"Yeah Captain," Bill joined in. "In fact we could probably cover more ground if we used those jets stored in the back."

"I agree with Bill," Ryo quickly added.

Jess shook her head and ahd to take the jab, "Pilots and their toys."

"And you're just as anxious to fire the big cannon this thing has," Ryo shot back.

"Despite me better judgment that sounds like a good Idea," Hawk told them after quickly thinking it over. "Ryo, Bill take the Alpha Twos and prepare a spiral search pattern. Hawk to Castle, Alpha One will help Commander Reid and Beta team in the search of the area. Given the experimental nature of the flight we will only engage if necessary."

"Understood Alpha One," Bridge responded. "I'm sure Commander Reid will appreciate the help. I'm informing him now."

"Captain we're preparing to switch control over to you," Ryo announced from his station. In front of Hawk a control stick, matching the one Ryo and Bill had at their station, lowered from the console in front of him and moved forward a bit. Taking the stick he punched in the correct command sequence that would give him of the jet.

"I have the stick. Ken apologies in advanced if this ends up being a bumpy ride." Ken mumbled something that sounded like an affirmative. "You two go now."

"At least you skipped breakfast this morning," Bill joked as they passed Ken.

"That was an unnecessary shot man," Ryo as they jogged down the corridor.

"If you can't take a shot at your friend," Bill commented as they hit the fork in the corridor and each took a separate path. Near the aft of the ship they both jumped into a one man cockpit that was just above floor level. A canopy came down as they completed a quick preflight check before activating their comm.

"Alpha Two-A ready to disengage," Ryo announced.

"Alpha Two-B ready to disengage," Bill quickly added. "And I should have been A."

"Acknowledge and file a complaint that I'll be sure to ignore," Hawk told him. "You are free to disengage now."

"Rodger," both announced. Almost at the same time they hit the control in their separate cockpits. In the rear of Alpha One two panels lowered as two one man fighter jets were slowly backed out by a small ramp. On both black and red jets a tail fin popped into position as two sets of wings extended out and locked into place.

"Disengage," Ryo ordered and both of them released the clamps that were holding the Alpha Twos in place. Both fell out the rest of the way before the engines came to life and the shot forward under the Alpha One.

"Whoo hoo!", Bill celebrated. "That actually worked!"

"Let's just hope the reengaging is just as smooth," Ryo told him.

"Why are they surprised my device actually worked?", Williams asked. "I designed it myself."

"Maybe because you weren't exactly sure how do to it until the last third of construction," Jess offered.

"Dr. Williams if you would please sit down in one of the empty chairs." Hawk cut off his reply. "all this pacing is starting to make me nervous."

"Not words I want to hear right now," Ken muttered. The Alpha One started to shake and he immediately reached for another bag.

Still amazed he had anything left in his stomach at this point Hawk said, "Sorry son, I'm still finding the feel for here."

Starting their search from the point the stoned humans were discovered they started expanding their search grid. They found nothing out of the ordinary at first. If this was one of the usual sized creatures they have been fighting lately there wasn't a whole lot of places it could hide. as far as Ryo could tell. "I'm not picking up anything so far on any of my sensors, how about you Bill?"

"A whole lot of nothing," he replied.

"Right. Watranabe to Hawk unless you're picking up something I don't think it's hear any more."

"We're not getting anything either," Hawk answered. "Commander Reid, have you and your men find any more petrified people?"

Walking through the trees trying to keep an eye on both his wrist scanner and his surrounding Reid answered, "Not so far. I already have Bridge listening to the police bands for anything similar." Stopping and looking at the ground he spoke back up, "You care if I make a suggestion Hawk?"

"I'm listening Jason."

"Is there anything in that fancy new toy of yours that can scan underground. Part of me is thinking that this is another burrower."

Hawk glanced over at Williams who seemed to be thinking it over. Getting up and headed over to Jess's station he said, "It should be possible I would just need to readjust the setting. Should take no time at all." Half gesturing and half pushing her out of the chair Williams took it for himself and started on those readjustments.

With her seat apparently taken over she strolled over to Ken and gave his shoulder a slight squeeze. "How are you holding up? Not counting the throw up bags that is."

He started to answer then he got a wide eyed look on his face, "Engine readout just went dark!"

"Sorry, sorry," Williams said doing something over there right before his station came back on.

"Not in my current condition huh doc."

"I'm getting something," Williams announced. "It's underground. Activating weapons."

"Doctor wait!", Hawk cried out trying to stop him but he already had the button pressed. There was an explosive sound somewhere inside the ship and the alarms started to go off.

"Engines are offline!", Ken yelled as Jess quickly ran toward an empty seat.

"That wasn't my fault!", Williams cried out. "That wasn't my fault!"

"Not now Doctor!", Hawk shouted. "Ken engines!"

"I can't get them to come back up!", he answered doing whatever he could to make it not so.

"We're going down!", Hawk told him trying to fight it. "Brace for impact!"

"This shouldn't be happening," Williams stated as he assumed crash position.

"This not a good start," Bill commented as he watched the Alpha One go down.

"Not a good time Bill," Ryo snapped.

"Alpha One has crashed landed," Bridge said as he pulled up a image from a satellite flying over the area. while not being an experienced pilot Hawk was able to keep them from landing nose first. Although the strip behind them indicated that they took a good chunk of the forest in order to do so. "Castle to Alpha One come in. Captain Hawk respond. Captain Hawk!"

"We're here Bridge," Hawk grunted, a bit of pain edging his voice. "Everybody else respond."

"I'm here," Jess called out using the chair to get back up.

"That wasn't my fault," Williams repeated as he righted himself.

"I survived worse," Ken moaned, although he shook his left arm a bit and hoped none of them saw.

"Confirmed and great to hear Captain," Bridge said with a smile. "What's the status of the Alpha One?"

Over the line he heard Ken mutter, "I don't believe it."

"What is it?", Hawk asked.

"Outside of the engines being dead readings are saying this hunk of junk is still air worthy."

"Not now Doctor," Hawk said cutting off Williams response yet again. "The two of you get to the engine room and find out just what the hell happened."

"He overloaded the system by activating the weapons that's what happened," Ken said as he took off his helmet.

Williams stood at his full height and looked right at him, "We tested the weapons while the engines were running a hundred times."

Ken wasn't backing down, "Welcome to a hundred and one. I've told you we should have put them put them on separate lines."

"And what use would that have been?"

"We’d still be in the air for one." He stopped and got a weird look on his face, "Why am I saying that like it's a good thing?"

"You two," Hawk snapped getting their full attention. "Engines. Now!" As soon as they exited the bridge they could hear them start up again. Taking a moment to regain his composure he said into his comm., "Bridge we might be here for a while. We'll keep you posted on our status as soon as I find out myself."

"Understood Captain, Castle out," Bridge said. He switched to another comm. line, "Castle to Commander Reid, were you able to get the position of the creature before the crash?"

"Affirmative Bridge," he answered. "I already ordered the wagons to circle it. We're going to need more though if it decides to come up for air."

"Understood scrambling units now."

In a few moments after the crash Richardson and brooks returned to the control room. Staying out of the activity going around them. "If it could get any worse," Richardson mumbled.

Besides him Brooks smiled on the inside. Yes they could get much worse. Making sure no one was paying him any particular attention to him he closed his eyes and concentrated on the dark energy that permeated the creature. Gakuma arise.

"The creature is moving!", Bridge announced. On the main screen footage of a quadruped came out of the ground and shook the dirt off it's brownish gray, rigged body all the way down to the tip of it's tail.. The single horn on it's head swinging back and forth along with it's head.

"Commander Reid's forces are not in position yet," somebody to their left announced.

"Base units are almost ready to scramble," said someone to their right.

"Watanabe to Castle, me and Bill are going to try to lead the creature away from the Alpha One."

Acknowledge Watanabe," Bridge told him, "be careful and Castle out."

With nothing else to do at the moment Jess volunteered to watch over Ken and Dr. Williams in case they didn't get the word to abandon the Alpha One. Or at least referee if they started going at it again. "Are you sure it's not the intake you were worried about?", she heard the good doctor say from somewhere behind a giant cooling coil.

Coming out from an opening in a wall with his ponytail tucked into his jacket collar Ken replied, "It's the first thing I checked and yes I'm sure." On solid ground he looked and sounded like he always did. She was always amazed at how fast he could bounce back after being that green, even when they were younger.

"Well I'm not seeing any cracks in the transfer units," Williams told him.

"Start checking the lines then," Ken told him as he went to another opening.

Hearing footsteps come up behind her she looked back despite knowing that it was going to be Hawk. "How are they doing?"

"They haven't found anything yet. So far they seem kind of," right then Ken popped out of the hole and looked in a particular direction with a nervous look on his face, exiting all the way out as she continued, "oblivious to what's going on outside."

"Hmm, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not at the moment,' Hawk mused. “I'm suddenly glad the Alpha Twos have VOTL capabilities so we don't have worry about them for the moment."

"I found it," Williams called out. Jess and Hawk walked over to the other side of the engine room so they could see him behind the power generator a Ken made his way over to him. "A hole in the line, at least a foot long."

"How in the hell did that happen?", Ken asked not exactly looking for an answer. Once he got there he was surprised by something Daxium thought he was picking up. Making sure Jess and the Captain weren't looking he held a hand over it. It was pretty feint at this point and with the monster right there he might have missed it if he was in a rush but there was a slight trace of dark energy at the edges of the gap. "****," he whispered.

"How bad is it Ken?", Hawk asked.

"It's like he said," he called back. "About a foot gap in the line. It looks like it melted through but it should be a simple fix." Moving a bit better look at what was behind the two of them he pointed, "That third locker behind you. There should be a section of replacement lines. We're going to need the one labeled 7-J."

"I got it," Jess told him.

"Great," Ken said, "I'll get the tools we're going to need from the storage unit Doc."

"Ken," Jess called out again, "I'm not seeing it."

"It's clearly labeled," Williams told her, "plain as day."

"Doctor," Hawk spoke up, "she's not seeing it because it's not there."

"No way," Ken said as he freed himself from the engine. "That was full last night. Going over to her he saw that it was empty. Checking the others lockers they found they were empty as well. "No, me and two others doubled check these last night before I went off shift. These were full."

"Well they're not now," Jess said.

"Time we push that genius brain of your," Hawk told him, "We need to get air born or abandon ship because right now we're sitting ducks."

"I'm thinking, I'm thinking," he said holding his head. "We can't use a line from another part of the system because all the major systems are tied together by the same line." Going over to the storage unit in the wall he studied the tool situation. "If we had something to fill the gap. Wait..."

"Ken?", Hawk asked as he raced out of the room and followed him back to the bridge. Walking to one of the consoles he watched the younger man pull up the information on the ongoing battle outside. "Why are you looking up Scan Track placement?"

"Because my first thought was a hardware store and they're too far away," he said. "Scott to Commander Reid, I hate to interrupt but I'm going to need something from Scan Tracks 47, 52 and 78."

"Scott I can't send those Tracks to you at the moment," he replied.

"I'll be going to them, just have them look for me."

"Reid this is Hawk just do as he asks this one time."

"Yes sir," he sighed. "I'll give the orders to those three. Reid out."

"Thanks Captain," Ken said as he programmed the information into his wrist scanner. "And I need to take the Alpha Three."

"Go and don't prove me wrong," Hawk said as he left.

On the outside of the Alpha One, near the back another ramp lowered and Ken rode out on a motorcycle and headed toward the nearest Scan Track.

At Castle stood back in the Control Room and wondered what Scott's plan was. He specifically stated three Scan Tracks, so if he was planning on releasing the giant now how would he explain the delay?

The driver of Scan Track 52 saw Ken coming and came to a stop once he was close enough. "What do you need Ken?"

"I need in your toolbox," he said and the driver popped the back hatch. Getting into the box he quickly located what he was looking for, a role of duct tape."

The gunman happened to see it and went, "Seriously?"

"If you got a better idea I'm all ears," Ken told him. Not hearing anything he closed the hatched and was backed on the Alpha Three and headed off with the role on his wrist.

Still shaking his head the gunman told the driver, "Get in contact with Track 47 and 78 and tell them to have it ready for him."

Two quick trips thanks to that call ahead and Ken had already returned to the Alpha One and headed back toward the engine room.

"Duct tape?", Reid said out loud once word of what Ken needed got back to him. "That's what he needed so badly?" He took his mind off it long enough to order, "Right flank keep's it attention! It's starting to move toward the Alpha One again."

"We see it Commander," Ryo said he and Bill fired on the creature to get it's attention again.

"How long can we keep this up?" Reid wondered out loud. A few more minutes of firing at the creature finally did the trick as it finally started to move away from the down jet.

"Razor Wings are flying into the area and are getting into position now Commander," his scanner man answered.

"About time," he said. "All Razor Wings this is Commander Reid..."

"Commander!", his gunman called out. "The Alpha One is in the air."

"What?", Reid exclaimed as he looked back. As hard as it was to believe there it was hovering above the trees. "I'll be damned. Whatever he did actually worked."

"This is not possible," Williams said in downright amazement from one of the empty chairs upfront. "This should not be happening."

"Don't question it Doctor," Hawk told him from his chair. "This goes against my earlier judgment but Reid and the men helped us out so let's return the favor. Jess prep the ship's main cannon."

"Captain this will not..." Williams started to protest.

"Prepping the big gun now," Jess stated. She looked over to Ken expecting to hear some sort of joke. But he was busy staring at his screen and turning a light pale at the moment.

"How many shots are we going to get with that set up?", Hawk asked seeing how Ken wrapped all three roles around that gap.

"With that... that... hack job?", Williams demanded.

"One if we're lucky," Ken cut in. Putting a hand up to keep whatever was left in his stomach down he muttered after it subsided, "And if God really loves me."

The Alpha One got into position to fire without the creature noticing. On the bottom of the ship another set of panels opened and a large electronic cannon lowered into position. In a few seconds it powered up to full strength. "Fire!" Hawk ordered.

"Firing," Jess responded and hit the control. A redish gold beam shot from the cannon and his the creature dead in the side. It roared out in pain and fell to the side. "Direct hit!"

Alarms started to go off again. "Engines are sputtering," Ken called out. "Get us on the ground now!"

"Way ahead of you," hawk said as he put her down on the ground. While not as rough as their first landing it was still a bit bumpy as they touched down. Realizing they were all safe and sound Hawk looked back at Ken with a slight grin, "And that's supposed to be get us on the ground now sir."

Ken smiled back, "Lost my head for a second, won't happen again sir."

"Captain," Jess said. "Readings are saying the creature is still alive."

"Damn it," he said. "Is there any way to get us back in the air?"

"Captain,' she repeated a little more subdued, "according to this it's heavily wounded. I don't think it's going to make it." They walked over to her station to see what she was seeing. Pulling up the audio they heard breath after ragged breath. Like it was in immense pain.

"Hawk to Reid," he said softly. "Are you getting this reading on the creature?"

"Yes Captain we are," he sounded as disturbed as they were at this.

Right now there was only one order he could give in this situation, "Commander put it out of it's misery."

"Under..." The ground started to shake, "What the?"

Not far away a similar creature, slightly bigger and with two horns on it's head emerged from the ground. It looked around until it saw the dying creature and went over to it. Nudging it a bit it let out a low, mournful growl and backed up. Opening it's mouth and emitted a ray that coated the other one in stone. Then it looked at the Alpha One and let out an angry roar.

Nobody on board needed a translation for that. "Abandon ship!", Hawk ordered.

"Open fire on the new one!" Reid yelled out. "Watanabe..."

"We're on it Commander," he said. "Razor Wings form up on me and the Alpha Two-B."

Hawk and the rest of them ran down the entry ramp to see the monster still coming at them despite the new barrage. "Ken," Hawk said not taking his eyes off the situation, "take Dr. Williams and head toward the nearest Scan track. Wade we'll head in the other direction. It's bound to follow one of us so the other group should get to safety."

"Rodger," Jess said.

"Come on Doc," ken said grabbing him by the arm and heading to the right over his protest but he ran once the monster roared again. Getting close to the trees Ken looked back and saw the creature was heading toward them. "It must be sensing Dax. Doc stay back."

"What are you going to do?", he asked in a panic.

"What do you think?" He pulled the Spark Magnifier out of the inner pocket of his uniform jacket and held it over his head.

The other Gakuma reared back in surprise as the column of light appeared and faded away to reveal Daxium, "Shiah!" The creature fired it's beam again. The giant jumped out of the way as the tops of the trees in the way became petrified. Twisting ion the air it startled it's body as he landed. Gabbing one of the horns he started landing punches at it's back and neck. Gakuma tried to buck in order to throw him off. Feeling himself lose his grip Daxium uses the momentum the creature gave to rolled forward. Daxium threw up the field when he realized it was going to fire it's beam again. He grunted in surprise when Gakuma turned it into stone disk.

Gakuma jumped forward knocking the giant stone onto the giant and forcing him to the ground. Taking the advantage it jumped up and down on the disk trying to force him into the ground. The stone crumbled before that could happen and began to continue to jump on Daxium for a bit before walking off him. Slowly getting to his knees Daxium watched the creature as best he could. He was so worried about the beam he forgot about the tail as it came around and smashed into his head knocking him back down. Shaking his head to clear the stars from his vision he saw the creature prepare to fire the beam again and rolled out of the way. Realizing that it missed Gakuma fired again but to no avail.

Rolling to a knee he fired off a flashbolt that exploded on contact. Seeing the creature in pain started toward the creature but was caught off guard when it fired it's beam one more time. Catching him at the foot, stone quickly formed up to his knee. "Gah!" Daxium grunted in pain as he fell clutching at it as he dropped to the other one. It started to go past his knee on onto his fingers as the crystal started to flash.

"Do we got a clkear shot at the creature," Reid demanded.

Fortunately his gunner was pro Ultraman and truthfully replied, "Ultraman's in the way. I can't get a clear shot from this position."

"Razor Wings it's up to you to distract that thing."

Before they could respond or get in positions Daxium banged his forearms together and modeshifted into the red form of Power, the switch breaking the stone and free his body. Getting to his feet he grabbed the charging Gakuma by the horns and stopped it in it's tracks. He forced it's head away from him and any of the troops around them as it fired the beam one more time. Moving quick to change his grip to he had it around the neck. With a grunt he forced the monster into air and fell back dropping it on it's head. While Gakuma stunned he grabbed it by the tail and started swinging eventually letting it go and watched it land hard deeper into the forest. Drawing in energy he set up and unleashed the Giga wave that tore up the ground and destroyed Gakuma. Switching back to Normal Mode he fired the Dimensional Storm Ray and took care of the one covered in stone before flying off into the sky, "Shiah!"

Williams watched as ball of light appeared in front of him that quickly condensed into the shape of a man and broke away revealing Ken on the inside. He quickly dropped down and clutched the same knee Daxium got shot at. Concerned about the pain etching his face Williams went, "Are you alright?"

"As fine as I can be," he grunted between breaths. "Dax modeshifting more than once still takes a bit out of me, not to mention this," he gently patted his knee. Feeling the pain quickly subside he slowly tried to get his feet under himself, grunting every so often and waving Williams off, until he stood under his own power. Trying to get some more feeling into his leg he started walking around but with a noticeable limp for the time being.

"How are you going to explain your leg when they find us?"

"I'll tell them I stepped on it wrong,' he said thinking it out for a moment. "It sounds believable enough. I've had enough practice coming up with excuses since I was high jacked into this."

"Two creatures," Peter ranted in his office after it was over. "Two creatures and they couldn't both attack at once. I swear those Zetton bastards are trying to lose this war at times." A vortex started to form right in front of him and he quickly sent out a pulse of dark energy to temporarily disable the security cameras in the room.

"Avatar there is a problem," a voice said before the darken shape could be seen."

"Oh, you saw the utter failure of the Gakumas too?" In most cases this would be border line belligerence in their eyes and they would disciplined him for it. But apparently now was not one of those times.

"No," it answered, "those are not that we speak of. An experiment has escaped."

"Escaped?", the Gakumas dropped out of his mind as this had his full attention.

"Yes. Somehow it overpowered it's guard and found a way to create a rift into your world."

"This could be bad. How dangerous is this experiment?"

"More than you originally gave it credit for."

"Than I...?" Quickly it dawned on him on what this experiment was exactly. "Of course it would be him. Who else could it be?"

Elsewhere a hiker was walking along a path until he came to the lake. He stopped and tried to get a good picture of it. Supposedly this was the one those two giant creatures came out of. The UNDF said it was currently safe but people stopped using it all the same. More than a few pointing out they said that after the first creature came out of it then we got another. Truth be told part of his was worried that was one was going to pop out of the water right there and then.

Admiring the calm water he reached down and grabbed his bag when he thought he saw a flash out of the corner of his eye. He looked around and saw a man dressed in dirty rags curled up by the water line. He wasn't there before grabbed the small first aid kit out of his bag and hurried over to him. "Hey, you all right?"

As he got closer he saw the shaggy beard and dirty skin of the stranger. He had some welts that were visible where the clothes were ripped but he didn't look hurt otherwise. This stranger looked in his direction causing the hiker to stopped out of a sudden fear that crawled up his spine. "Help me," he uttered softly and tried to grab at him.

Finding his courage again he got close enough to touch him. "I'll help you just relax. We'll call the police and..."

"NO!", he sat up and shouted startling the hiker he scooted back quickly. A little calmer he went on, "Not police... the UNDF... Hawk... Need to call Hawk."

"Okay," he said mainly hoping it would keep him calm. "We'll call the UNDF and ask for this Hawk. But they're going to want your name."

"Right name, they'll want my name," much to the hiker's relief it looked he was calming down and acted like he was thinking a little more clearly. "My name is... My name is...," His face twisted and he grunted as he held his gut and seemed to curl into himself.

"Relax mam," was the last thing the hiker said as the stranger started to glow. Rearing up he screamed at the heavens as the energy expanded instantly killing the hiker.

Breathing heavily after the wave he produced faded he went on to say, "Jamira. My name is..." He looked up to see the man he just killed then at the glow fading from his hands. Getting up he staggered forward trying to comprehend what he had just done."

ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside
Professionally Insane
Mar 27, 2005
Pretty good episode, the first and maiden flight of the Alpha One was certainly a memorable, and eventful one. Also two Kaiju's out and about, one having a Stone Beam that would make Medusa jealous. Was pretty cool to see the new craft do some damage, even though it was only able to get one shot off. At least they had Ken there to patch it up for that. The Doctor needs a good kick to the side of the head though.... and maybe Bill as well. :p

Dax using the mode change to get rid of the stone leg was pretty neat, and thankfully they won't heave to deal with those monsters again. But seems like an old character has returned to unknowingly wreak havoc; though clearly not a human anymore from the looks of it. :3

Nice job man. :thumbs:


Episode 20

OP - Mercy Drive - Burn in My Light

There was a small crowd in the Alpha One hanger after it was able to get back. Something that was made a little simpler after they rushed them a line to replace the one Ken had to fix on the fly. Right now nearly everyone there was huddled around making Ken a little self-conscious as he and the damaged line was in the middle of it. Commander Reid used a screw driver to trace the size of the hole that had melted through the duct tape wrapped around it. "I still don't believe it," Reid said handing the screwdriver back to the mechanic he borrowed it from.

The Chief looked amused beside him, "Dr. Williams is still saying it shouldn't have gotten off the ground."

"And yet it did." Reid looked at him, "Duct tape is a standard tool in the Scan Track's toolbox?"

"And the Razor Wings," he informed him. "I'm going to have to make sure a couple of rolls are stocked on the Alpha One from now on. If nobody takes it off the blasted things." Ken and Reid both nodded knowing why with the length Ken had to go through once they found out the supply cabinets on board were surprisingly empty.

Still Reid said, "I know they say it fixes everything for years but still..."

"It won't fix everything," The Chief told him, "but it's good for a quick fix in the field when you need it."

"I'll take your word for it Chief," Reid said. "Scott, I don't know if this fix of yours was genius or insane, but you officially have my respect for pulling off this stunt."

"Thank you sir," Ken said and meant it. Reid smiled a bit and clapped him on the shoulder before making his way through the crowd.

At seeing this the Chief said, "All right, breaks over. All of you get back to work." As the crowd dispersed he said a little softer, "Ken."

"Yeah Chief," he said as the last ones walked away.

The Chief didn't say anything right away. He just had a hand on the line as he inspected the damage a few moments longer. Finally he looked at him and went, "Four and you might have still been in the air."

Grinning a bit Ken said, "I was estimating five minimum and I was in a rush."

Shaking his head the Chief told him, "Get back to work."

Walking into the Control Room Hawk studied the usual chaos until he found Bridge. Instead of being at his usual station he was in a small station on the side of the room. Walking up behind him he saw he was still going over the footage the various security cameras in the Alpha One hanger. Putting a hand on the back of the chair he said, "Anything?"

Bridge looked back at him before returning his attention to the small screen, "Maybe sir, I'm not sure yet,.â€

Holding back a sigh he said, "I have the Chief, Ken and a few others swearing up and down those supply lockers were full the night before. I need a little more than that Bridge."

"I may have a little more than that... there it is," he said suddenly.

Hawk leaned in trying to see whatever the other man was seeing, "There what is?"

"Let me show you," Bridge rewound the footage then said, "Watch the time stamp in the corner." He did so and Bridge still had to show him one more time before he realize the time stamp jumped forward twenty minutes.

"I'm hoping that's something important."

"It could be," he said. "I noticed it on one of the other feed by accident. At time I thought it was a glitch in the camera itself. But when I started watching the next one I just happened to see it again."

Now Hawk's curiosity was piqued, "How many of the cameras had this jump?"

"With this one? All of the ones in the Alpha One hanger," he answered. "I have other checking the security feeds around Castle around the same time. Just to make sure it wasn't a system wide glitch."

"Part of me is hoping it's a security blip," Hawk said. "Because if it isn't..."

"I don't see how that's possible," Bridge told him. "I designed the security protocols myself and test them regularly. There's no way somebody could have hacked into our systems."

"I understand Bridge but it's something we have to keep in mind." Much like him Hawk didn't want to give this next order. "I want the whereabouts of the people who worked on the Alpha One and this time period. And I mean everyone. And pull the guard roster for that night as well. Whoever did this didn't just appear out of thin air."

"I'll get right on it sir," Bridge replied.

"Make it fast Bridge. If we do have a snake in our midst I want him routed out immediately." The big question going through his mind was if there was why did they wait until now to do something?

Peter stalked through the woods toward the lake. While he briefly wondered how close he was to the spot he killed Joseph Richardson he didn't have time to reminisce. His masters had said that Jamira had escaped somehow and opened a portal to this area. Peter was curious about how Jamira was able to create a portal to this location. The man was always pull the trigger first then figure out what was going on type. And his masters didn't exactly elaborate on how he did it. Was it possible that the all mighty Zettons were embarrassed one of the "lessor species" was able to escape their grasp? The idea was delicious on it's own.

The lake coming into view he slowed down when he saw a light ahead of him. There were four or five in front of body on the ground. It was too much to hope for that it was Jamira. He quickly noted that one of the group was a forest ranger. A couple of them and moved and Peter got a better look at the body, like he thought it was too much to hope for. But he could tell he died from dark energy. and the amount he was still feeling in the air it was fairly recent too. "Damn it," Peter muttered.

"The UNDF is on the way," he overheard the ranger say. Great. "I'll make sure nobody touches the body. Folks I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask to hang around a little while longer. The UNDF is going to want to ask you all some questions."

"But we told you everything we know," one of the protested.

The ranger held up his hands to quiet them and replied calmly, "I know it's an inconvenience but it's standard protocol in this unfortunate situation. If you would all just wait over there..."

Cursing under his breath Peter went deeper into the brush in an effort not to be seen. he was tempted to kill the lot of them just because they were in the way of his investigation. But the UNDF was already on their way. And since this as the third incident at this particular lake it would be given top priority and Hawk would probably personally to oversee it. And more skeletons would only increase the UNDF presence in the area.

So he had to do the next best thing as he concentrated on the dark energy still lingering in the air. Essentially "seeing it" as he could pick up the epicenter of a dark energy wave that the dead man had to be near. And it was massive in size too as he mentally traced the wave, it was almost like something exploded. It almost masked the presence of the trace remains of the vortex opening Jamira had used to escape back here. Looking past the edge he saw something a little more interesting. Quietly making his way over he found the trial Jamira must have used. He must be radiating dark energy just based on the signature still remaining in these footprints. That would make him easier to track down. Unfortunately that meant Scott and the giant inside him could pick it up just as easily. And given the location Scott was just as likely to show up as well. And the UNDF was on their way.

As much as he wanted to follow the trail and take care of Jamira personally he couldn't risk being discovered doing so. He was in no position to be discovered now. The best outcome for the situation for him was Scott running into Jamira and letting him and the giant finish him off before he told any of the UNDF about him. And he couldn't bet on that.

"All right," Ryo said as he banged the side of the Scan rack after the back hatch was closed, "Move it out. They want you back at Castle ASAP."

Commander Reid walked over as the track sped away taking the body that was discovered with it. "Tell me something Ryo, does anything about this job surprise you anymore?"

"Hardly Commander, as soon as I start thinking I've seen everything something new pops up. So I try not to think like that anymore."

"How is that working out for you?"

"I'll let you know if it ever works," Ryo joked. He looked out over the lake. This was the third time that had been called out here. "Why this place?", he asked out loud and to nobody in particular.

Reid looked at him, "What do you mean Ryo?"

"I mean everywhere a giant monster and shown up this is the only place that had more than one confirmed sighting. What's so special about this place?"

"I'm sure several scientist back at Castle started working on that very question as soon as we got the call," Reid told him. “I'll let the people with more brain power than I do figure out the why. I'm more worried about the what at the moment. Come on let's rejoin the search for whatever did this." Ryo nodded in the affirmative as the went back to the others.

Closer to the woods Ken searched for some sort of trail while he asked Daxium a similar question as Ryo's. His answer was, "I am not sure. Perhaps the dimensional wall between our three universes is weaker here. This was the same area that was chosen for me to cross over."

"Maybe," he muttered so the others wouldn't hear him talk to himself, but he had no real clue either. He knew machines not inter dimensional physics. Looking back to where the body was found they could both feel the dark energy in the air, truth be told it was making Ken a little nauseous there was so much of it around. "Do you think whoever did this is the same guy we've been looking for?"

"I don't think so," Daxium responded. Whomever killed Harold Richardson's son exhibited more control than what I am sensing. The dark energy that was released here was unfocused, random."

"Maybe he lost control for a moment."

"Commander!", one of the others called out. "I found a trail leading onto the woods. It looks fresh too." Reid, Ryo as well as Ken and a couple of others that was close jogged over to look at the trail. The moment Daxium sensed the energy emitting from the prints that were barely visible Ken knew this was the way it went.

While he looked in the direction it went Reid was looking in the opposite direction at the lake. "They could be form that area. If only those hikers didn't trample over everything we could have done a better scan of the area. Are the hikers and the ranger still here? Somebody get their shoe sizes before the leave. Maybe we can eliminate them from this mess somehow."

"No offense Commander," Ryo spoke up, "but that sounds like a longshot."

"I know," he conceded, "but we have a dead body by a spot that's been known to produce multiple creatures. I'll let the people smarter than I am tell me if I'm wrong or not." Both of them looked at Ken.

He told them, "I know engines not computers."

"Be nice if you knew both," Reid told him. "Ryo, you two head back to Castle and get some rest. We got it from here."

Ken glanced at the trail with the fading energy footprints, "I don't mind being an extra set of eyes Commander."

"I appreciate the offer but Hawk only let me borrow the two of you for a little while. I'll call for backup if we need it. Which we'll probably will given how these things usually go so rest up while you can."

"Come on Ken," Ryo told him. "I'll buy you a coffee back at base. Ken gave in and followed him back the Scan Track they came in. He looked back over his shoulder at the trail wioshing there was a way he could lose all of them and follow it.

Back at Castle in the Alpha team war room Hawk was looking over the results Reid had sent in. earlier. Bridge had made a mock up hologram of the info that was displayed on the table between them. Bridge did something and some of the footprints disappeared. "Commander Reid’s theory about the shoes was really helpful," Bridge had said. "I was able to get enough of them out of the way in order to find this."

Hawk silently watched the other find in the sand, one shaped like a man. "How accurate is this Bridge?"

Sighing slightly he said, "Not very, but it's the first one the program identified."

"We're going to need more than this," hawk told him, not taking his eyes off the image.

"I know, it's why I debated with myself on if I should show you this or not. Although it does line up with the trail they found. I already did the work and based on the distance of the steps the person who made them would match this guy’s height. If you straightened him out. Which I did... digitally of course."

"I'm not questioning your work Bridge, it's just a pretty flimsy angle to go," Hawk told him. "But right now it's the closest thing we have to a lead at the moment. I'll contact Reid and tell him to put a couple of more men on it. We need to find whoever did this as soon as possible. Is there a preliminary report on the body found yet?"

He pulled up the file but read it for him anyway, "To paraphrase the medical units the insides were smashed around like crazy. How that happened without any outside sign of battery is baffling them."

"Tell them to join the club after everything I've seen." Bridge shut off the image and started to leave when hawks topped him. "When you gave the report of everybody locations that dealt with the Alpha One I noticed Ken wasn't listed anywhere."

He looked more than a bit confused, "You don't really think Ken had anything to do with that?"

"Trust me, I don't want too," Hawk told him. "But somebody was able to circumvent the hanger's security and cameras long enough to pull this off. And everything we got makes it looks like it was somebody on the inside, one of us. I have to suspect everybody involved Bridge. Even if I'm still praying they haven't been playing us as a fool."

Bridge, while understanding, still didn't like the idea about checking on Ken, "I'll look into it and report back to you."

"Thank you Bridge. And believe me when I'm praying he's not the culprit."

He was hungry, he spent the entire night walking with no real direction in mind what so ever. He shielded his eyes as the sun seemed unusually bright to him. Having spent God knows how long in that dark hell hole he was grateful it didn't totally blind him. Still he kept going he had to reach... had to reach... what did he have to get to again? He panic for a moment as he tried to remember. Castle... that was it, he had to get to Castle and find... Damn it who was he trying to find again?

One thing at a time he kept walking until he found a gas station. And praise the lord it had an honest to god payphone right in front of it. Now please still work.

Practically running over to it and ignoring the looks the other people were giving him he picked up the receiver. Despite not having any money there was a code he could punch in that would connect him directly to Castle. He pressed exactly two of the numbers when the pain came back. "No... not now..."

"Hey," the attendant shouted at him. He ran over as he dropped to his knees. Trying to keep the other customers at bay to give him some room he asked, "Hey buddy are you all right?"

Jamira looked at him with pleading eyes as the pain raced through his body, "Run."

Fingers tapping on the holo table as his team came in Hawk gestured for them to take their usual places. Even now he could see the curiosity in their faces as they waited for him to begin. "I know this alert seemed rather sudden but it really wasn't," he told him. "Me, Reid and the other squad leaders studied this footage for a good hour before we called for an alarm."

"Why did you wait an hour?", Ryo asked. He knew that question would be coming sooner or later.

"Yeah,' Bill added, "we never give anything that much of a head start. Not even civilian here."

"Not now Ken," Jess quickly cut off his response.

Without saying a word he activated the table and let them see for themselves. Bill squinted at the bearded man that seemed to be the focus of the footage. "Why does that guy look familiar?"

Ryo pulled up a solid still shot of the man's face than activated the facial recognition software. Hawk paused the footage momentarily to give him the time to look it up. A few minutes later a picture ID of the individual popped up, a more clean shaven that they were more used too.

"It's Jamira," Jess said for the group. Ken moved up a bit to get a better look at the paused figure.

"What the hell happened to him?", Bill asked.

"Did he come out of hiding?", Ryo said to Hawk.

"Keep watching," was all he said as he restarted the video. They saw him head closer to a phone then act like he was in pain. None of them took their eyes off the footage as someone came up to him. jamira looked at him in fear right before he exploded in a ball of light.

"Holy ****," Ken muttered.

"Amen to that," Ryo commented as the light faded away revealing Jamira folded over in pain. He looked up to see how far he knocked those around him away, especially the guy who looked like he was trying to help him. Clutching at his hair he stumbled a bit as he started running away. Hawk stopped the footage there.

"That's why we waited an hour," he told him. "We wanted to be exactly sure we were seeing what we were seeing. I had Bridge run it through every filter he has, twice. It's real."

"So we're going to be hunting Jamira now?", Ryo asked.

"He's to be brought in alive, if possible," Hawk told them. "We want to know where in the hell he's been. And how he can do that all of a sudden."

"I'm sure Beta Team loving that option," Ryo said sarcastically.

"Good thing Commander Reid purged the Jamira loyalist out of Beta then," Jess commented.

"Do you really think they jump ship and join him?", Ryo asked her.

"Probably not," she admitted. "But I wouldn't have been surprised if they 'forgot' they saw him once or twice."

"Civillian being pretty quiet," Bill said as they looked at ken. "What's going through that noggin of yours?"

"I'm just wondering how he can do that," he told them. Not adding the, "And for how long?", that was racing through his head.

"Right now, based on this, we're thinking he's responsible for the latest incident at the lake,' Hawk went on. "We don't know how stable this new ability of his is. Just because we haven't had any casualty reports between these incidents doesn't mean he hasn't lost control with nobody around. It goes without saying we're considering him to be highly dangerous. And he looks scared which only multiples that.

"We gave Reid’s men in the field the location of this gas station this was taken from," he continued. "Bridge was able to get the general direction he went in. He'll get a more accurate direction as soon as they report in and confirm the location of the various things seen in the feed. Once that happens we will cordon off the area as best we can."

“That's if he keeps going in that direction," Ryo pointed out.

"We already have a still of his face from the security video circulating in the media as we speak," Hawk said. "With a warning to stay away from him if they spot him and to report in immediately. Right now we want all units in the field on the ground to try and find him before a civilian does. Dismissed, I'll meet you in the Scan Track hanger shortly."

"Rodger," they replied and started to leave the room.

"Ken", he spoke up to get his attention, "a word." Jess looked back at him before glancing at Hawk and leaving. "I know you two had your problems in the past son..."

"I won't go all gung ho on him if that's what you're worried about." He wouldn't make that promise for Dax though. And Daxium, still seeing and feeling the situation, silently chided him for the thought.

"Just promise me you won't take him on alone," Hawk told, some concern in his eyes.

"If he becomes dangerous and there's no other UNDF guys around I'm not sure I can promise that."

"Do what you think you have to Ken," he said. "But if it is you, considering how the last time you two were together went, there will be an investigation into the matter. And I'm not sure how much I'll be able to help you once the legal claws come out."

"I understand," Ken told him. Hawk let him go after the others.

Alone he pulled up the face still they sent to the media outlets. "Don't put up a fight when we find you."

In the office level of Castle was pacing back and forth in his office. He had viewed the footage along with Hawk and the others team leaders. HIs assistant Patricia knew enough to stay out of his way when he was in this mood. She as secretly glad the good Doctor wasn't here, he would have found a way to make the situation worse somehow. It was a "talent" she wouldn't have wished on anybody at this particular moment. "That bastard!", Richardson exploded. "That bastard killed my son! And he was under my nose the entire time!"

And this part was going to be dangerous in his current mood, "I don’t think he was sir."

He whipped around and got in her face, breathing heavily with anger. "What do you mean? You were there! That bastard Jamira did it!"

"I personally checked the records and audio logs of that day after we saw the footage," she explained. "Jamira was here when the monster appeared."

"He could have falsified the records!"

"Except we have him on security video getting into a Scan Track when the deploy order was given. We can account for his whereabouts the entire time before and after Joseph death. And he was nowhere near us when it happened."

"It had to have been him," Richardson said not wanting to hear this but looking defeated as he dropped in a chair. "There's no one else it can be."

Elsewhere in the complex in a quiet corridor Ken was having a similar conversation with Daxium. "Are you sure it couldn't be him? You said he started hiding himself once he detected you."

"I am very certain it couldn't be this Jamira," he replied. "As I told you before this outburst of energy was too unfocused. The person we are after has far more control over his ability."

"Well maybe he lost control," Ken argued, going back to a point they didn’t have a chance to discuss earlier. "Maybe his power became unstable or something."

"I would have noticed this instability long before now."

"He did disappear for a couple of months. It might be why he went off the grid."

"While I will admit that is a possibility I do wonder if your personal experiences with this person if clouding your judgment."

"No it's...", he began, "alright maybe. It might explain why he had it in for you. Why he always seemed angry when I was around."

"And I do believe you once told me the others said he acted like that well before you joined this organization." Not having an immediate to that he was quiet long enough that Daxium ended the communication.

Walking out of the hallway he nearly ran into Jess. "There you are," she said. "Come on we're about to head out." Walking down the hall she looked at him out of the corner of her eye, "You going to be okay with this? No side issues we're going to have to worry about?"

"Why does everybody keep asking me that?", he moaned as they continued toward the hanger.

"We have angry everyday civilians who don't exactly understand the situation," Bill told Hawk. He was standing by a table looking over a touch screen like map that had the area highlighted that Jamira could have conceivably traveled on foot in the time it took them to mobilize. The temporary HQ tent that was set up gave them a pretty good view of the sky line and the ground. "Can I just point out we didn't go this all out when we were sent to pick up civilian."

"There was no real prof at the time Ken was actually dangerous," he replied. "And Richardson wanted to check him out personally before asking him to join."

"Right," he said remembering. "It's got to be great to be the boss to get away with a stunt like that. I wondered what he offered civilian to ease over that stunt."

"I've been wondering that since day one," he muttered. "Hawk to Bridge how's the facial recognition scans going."

"Slow," he responded. "I got cameras tapped all over the city. So far I have nothing. I'm slowly getting access into building security feeds in case he headed indoors. Unfortunately a good chunk of the buildings inside the search area are off the public grid system. So if he went into one of them we're out of luck."

"Understood, send those building coordinates to the ground teams and we'll see if we can get access to it from the street levels."

"Better make sure the medics have plenty of aspirin on hand," BIll half joked.

"Captain one more thing," Bridge went on. "They're done examining of the attendant and the others." Both Hawk and Bill braced for the news. "The damage done to them was the same as the victim at the lake. They're positive Jamira in the cause for both."

Leaning against the table with his head hanging Hawk pounded the table with a fist, "Damn it." Bill remained quiet as the Captain composed himself. "Anything else Bridge?"

"I was able to estimate the size of the field Jamira emitted. If the men stay outside of fifteen feet of jamira they should be fine."

"Acknowledged Bridge, I'll let the field teams know."

"Understood, Castle out."

"I got it Captain," Bill said. He walked away saying, "Waters to all units..." Hawk asked grateful Bill had done that. As much as Jamira was a pain in his ass over the years but he was still a comrade in arms. This was not an order he was looking forward to giving if Jamira got out of hand. No matter what he had done.

"This is Miller and Jones, no sign. Moving on to the next section." Old instincts and training kept Jamira hidden enough that the two UNDF officers didn't see him. Which confused him on some level, he wanted to get to them. Why was he hiding from them. But they scanned the area with their wrist scanners and still didn't pick him up. Why didn't they pick up his life signs? It was what those devils did to him, that had to be it. That had to be the reason why he wasn't going to them. He was turned into a freak.

Waiting a moment he got out of hiding and went in the other direction. They were hunting him, for what he'd done. He was sure of it. He was turned into a freak and they were hunting him down like an animal. That's what he would be doing in their position. The pain came up on him faster this time, catching him off guard and dropping him to his knees. He glowed slightly, his eyes widening in horror as the flesh on his arm started to go grey. "No, no, no," he whimpered as he clutched at his arm after what seemed like the glowing and pain stopped as his arm went back to normal.

But he sensed something this time... no more like felt it. But how... no he knew how... no who it was. And that scared him more on a primal level than anything else going on right now did.

Ken's head whipped around as Daxium sensed it. That flare up was either really close or Jamira had gotten better at controlling the intensity, it it gotten away from him. And if Dax was right he it was becoming more unfocused by the second. Truth be told all three options didn’t sound all that appealing at the moment. "Ken?", Jess called out as she and Reid noticed he stopped walking.

"Did you see something?", Reid asked.

"I thought I saw something," he said as he looked at his wrist scanner. Hoping they wouldn't notice him trying to increase the range of the scan. Although the fact he was getting better at covering up those "Daxium" moments bothered him a little. "I'm not picking up anything but the three of us though."

"I'm getting a little jumpy too kid," Reid assured him. "I thought I saw him in the shadows a couple of times myself."

"Is that why we're a group of three when everybody else is a duo?", Ken asked, letting them know that bit didn't go over his head.

"It's just how it worked out," Jess said.

"And I'm sure how this has nothing to do with pretty much half the base thinking I'm going to do something after he forced me to quit before he disappeared." At least Jess and Reid respected him enough to at least look a little guilty after getting caught. "Can I just add that most of the guys on base wanted to shoot him at one point or another before this happened."

"Most of the base wasn't put in your spot," Reid countered. "Not that anybody really thinks you'd go that far but you know how rumors go. Besides Hawk asked me to be a extra set of eyes in case you did run into him."

"And I'm here to do the actual shooting if it came down to it," jess spoke up. "Becasue you are a horrible shot even with the target assist."

"I've been practicing," Ken argued.

"With your eyes closed according to your last range score," she smirked.

"Tell me something Ken," Reid spoke up to save him from any further ribbing, "How would you locate Jamira?"

"Why are you asking me?"

"Because I've been thinking this entire time if Jamira is hiding from us he knows how we operate. So in that case we're going to have a long search ahead of us. And since you're not totally ingrained with the system yet you might have a better perspective about it."

"If you're trying to test this genius brain I'm supposed to have you're pushing the wrong area Commander."

"I'm just looking for an outside perspective is all."

Jess spoke up, "If you're looking for any ol' opinion you might not want to tell him you took his place for one."

Grumbling a bit Reid said, "That thought already crossed my mind several times. How about it Ken, any thoughts?"

"Well," he said trying to think, "Only thing coming to mind is he might head underground. I don't think we have any units down there at least."

"Hmm," Reid went considering it for the moment. "The initial searcher didn't find a loose manhole cover. Of course that doesn't mean the he couldn't have found another way down. I'll contact Hawk and see if he thought of that already."

As he contacted him Jess looked thoughtful about something, "I don't think we're taking something into account here."

"What would that be?", Ken asked.

“something me and Ryo were talking about right before we scrambled. He was scared in the video. He may not be thinking as straight like everybody seems to be thinking." And there was another thought that didn't sound all that great.

"And that makes him even more dangerous," Reid said after reporting in. "Hawk is redirecting a couple of units underground just in case. If he did go down there it'll make him easier to catch at least."

"Hopefully," Jess commented. Still Reid nodded in agreement.

"This is Rogers," their comms came to life, "we found him..."

"Argh!", the scream was audible even without it playing over their comms. Ken led the charge feeling the dark energy at the same time.

They came to an intersection between the buildings and Reid swore, "Damn it!. Split up and take a route each. Bridge this is Reid, scan for the location of all units in the area and highlight Rogers location to all of them."

"On it Commander," Bridge replied.

Ken went in the direction that flare up felt strongest. Taking a few turns ended up in a wide area between buildings. He saw the two UNDF agents splayed like ragdolls against the wall. Then he saw Jamira curled up on the ground. His eyes or the glowing field around his body must have been playing tricks on him as it looked like his body was changing for a moment. Ken's hand started to move, not for his weapon but for the Spark Magnifier in his jacket. He stopped it since this quivering mass wasn't the SOB he remembered and cautiously went toward him trying to stay outside that fifteen foot range Bridge was warning them about. "Jamira," he called out. Ken flinched back when he moved back a little. "Keep calm, we're here to help you." That what's you were supposed to saw in this situation right?

Jamira looked up in fear then in relief when something in his head clicked together. "You!" He rushed toward Ken, catching him off guard. Grabbing him by the shoulders he pushed him until his back was against the wall. Right then Ken was so scared he couldn't move. "You," he looked distracted, almost revolted by something. With that much dark energy coming off oh him this close to Daxium he could understand because it was making him a more than a little nauseous too. "You got to help me! You got to save me!"

"Stay calm," his voice even sounded shaky to him.

"He told me...," he went on, breathing heavy. "He told you were Ultraman."

Oh hell. "Who told you?"

Jamira struggled for a bit, "Brooks. He told me you were Ultraman. Had this done to me." Ken stopped listening at Brooks. He was the one behind all of this?

"Ken, concentrate on what he is saying," Daxium told him.

"Right," he muttered. "How did Brooks do this to you?"

"Sent me somewhere. Monsters were everywhere. They did this to me. They turned me into this!" Behind Jamira Ken saw Reid come into view and looking right at them. He motioned with a hand for him to stop coming closer. Reid did the same when Jess entered the area.

"Okay," Ken told Jamira, "just... just calm down, we'll help you any way we can. We’re a team right? We got to help each other." And he prayed to whoever was listening that playing that card wouldn't blow up in his face.

"Help each other, right." He looked like he was starting to calm down. Still Ken didn't relax, just in case he had another flare up right then. Then jamira started looking at him in this way that was making him even more nervous, if that was even possible. "You knew."

Glancing at where Jess and Reid where he went, "I knew what?"

"You knew!" Grabbing him tighter he threw Ken off the wall. Landing near Reid he looked back at Jamira who started glowing again. "You knew who it was! You let this happen to me!" Jamira's body started changing, skin going grey his head seemed to melt into his body. Reid grabbed Ken off the ground as Jamira yelled in agony as his body started expanding, growing.

"Let's get out of here!," Reid yelled as he dragged him out of there with Jess right behind them.

"Captain!", somebody ran up to where he was standing with a pad in hand. "We have a situation!"

"Now what?", he grumbled as he took the pad from the soldier. He was greeted by the image of a giant, grey humanoid monster whose head seemed to be part of his chest. "Where in the hell did that thing come from?"

"Reid to Hawk!", came over the line. "Jamira turned into a monster!. Repeat Jamira turned into a monster!"

Hawk looked back at the image on the pad, "Oh my god."

On the ground Reid and the others were running for their livesz as what used to be Jamira tried to free himself from the enclosed space. "Move! Move! Move!" a section of a wall came crashing down behind them knocking Ken to the ground. "Scott!", Reid called out as he started back toward him.

Ken rolled to his back, drew his weapon and started firing. "Go on!", he yelled. Getting to his feet he kept firing as he went into a side alley.

"Ken!", Jess started to go after him until Reid grabbed her by the arm. Amazingly Jamira seemed to turn to follow him.

"We're going to be no use to him like this," he said. "Reid to all scan Track units, mobilize on my location ASAP. The monster is headed east so try and draw it's attention. All foot units be on the look out and be prepared to aid Ken Scott as much as you can. The monster is after him for some reason."

"Reid," Hawk cut in, "repeat that last statement."

"I can't explain it but he's after Ken for some reason."

Ken took a few more shots at Jamira before switching the gun to the other hand. On the run he pulled the Spark Magnifier and activated it.

Daxium appeared and turned to face Jamira who was still freeing himself, eventually breaking through to the street. Jumping up he landed a flying kick that knocked the former human back. Taking a defensive stance he uttered his usual, "Shiah!", as Jamira came at him. Unlike the previous creatures he had faced monster Jamira was a capable fighter. In fact it seemed like he retained his fighting instincts and training as he blocked every punch and kick Daxium threw at him. Not the he was taking that many hits himself as he countered everything that was thrown at him.

At the temporary HQ Hawk could just make out the giants from where he was. As everybody else stayed glued to the confrontation on the monitors he kept his attention on the two in the distance. "Ultraman just this one time. Don't do it." Deep down he knew the giant couldn't hear him, still he had to say it out loud.

Jamira threw Daxium over his shoulder and the buildings around them shook from the impact of his landing. Daxium got his legs up and kicked him away as he leaned over him. Getting up he rolled forward a couple of times to create some space. Twisting on a knee he faced the former human, hands to his side as he prepared to fire a flashbolt. As the energy swirled between his hands he hesitated. Right before him there was a creature of dark energy, there was no way he could miss at this range. But it was also a human. If this was done to him perhaps it could be undone. The light between his hands dissipating he stood and held them out hoping Jamira would understand the gesture and calm down. The human stood there breathing heavily but he did not advance. Taking that as a good sign Daxium slowly approached him trying not to do anything to that could look like an attack.

Jamira didn't move as he got closer. Through the darkness the giant of light could feel the human's fear and confusion. Hoping most of the human was still in control he held out a hand, palm open to show he had no malice in his intent. For a moment it looked like he was right as Jamira started to reach for his hand.

"Come on," Hawk begged from where he was, "let him help you."

Hands almost touching, either from Jamira's hatred for the giant or anger over the situation, a rage flared up as he wrapped his hands around Daxium's neck. The giant struggled in his grasp as he tried to free himself. In the safe area Daxium had created Ken broke his general rule and watched the whole thing and shouted, "Jamira stop it!" If he heard him Jamira didn't respond outside of through repeatedly at a building until he crashed through. Picking him up from the rubble he threw him against another building and started thrashing him. Daxium was able to trap an arm under his and tripped him to the ground. Jamira kicked his leg out from under him, reached up as he fell forward and trapped his head under his arm. His body started to glow again could feel the dark energy within Jamira start to eat at the light in his as the crystal started flashing.

Survival instinct kicking in he started punching away at the former human's body until he let him go. Picking him up when the glowing stopped he continued to pound on him. With a grunt he picked up Jamira and threw him down the road. As he got up Daxium set up the Dimensional Storm Ray. Hawk went cold as he turned toward a monitor as the giant's right hand went up and his left went down. Again he hesitated in that position not wanting to take the human's life if he could be cured.

Jamira looked at him, held his arms open a bit and stood there. Not taking his eyes off the screen Bill went, "What is Jamira doing?"

Leaning against the table like it was the only thing able to hold him up Hawk knew immediately, "He wants him to finish it."

Daxium lowered his had a bit, understanding his meaning as well. Picking it up he crossed his arms at the wrist and fired the multi-colored energy stream. Jamira recoiled from the impact and exploded soon after. Lowering his head once more Daxium stood there for a moment before silently launching himself into the sky.

Leaning hard against the table Hawk had his head lowered as well. Taking a moment to remember his former comrade before he was turned into that.

"I didn't think Ultraman would to do it," Bill stated. "Even after Jamira wanted him to."

"He wanted his suffering to end," Hawk said after a moment. "Jamira must have felt that it was the only way to fix him. To give himself some peace."

"How can you be sure?"

"Ultraman didn't want to do it. He hesitated, twice. He has never hesitated to destroy a creature before now."

Emerging from a ball of light Ken stood there and took off his helmet. Daxium took that moment to say, "I am sorry Ken. I didn't want to kill him but..."

"It's alright Dax," he told him. "Jamira was a pain in the ass but he gave us something we didn't have before. Now we can end this and pay back the bastard who did that to him."

"Ken," he looked over his shoulder to see Jess running toward him. "Are you all right. Reid has everybody looking for you."

"Yeah," he told her, "I'm fine."

"Well you might not be," she informed him. "Despite having everyone looking for you Reid's wants a word about you running away and drawing Jamira's attention like you did."

"It worked didn't it?"

"It's your funeral," she said as they walked off. Although she did start looking at him in a way that confused him a little. "Are you sure you're all right?"

Remembering what he just told Daxium. Remembering who was responsible for this mess he was currently in he answered, "If I'm not I will be soon."

ED - Shinedown - Fly from the Inside
Professionally Insane
Mar 27, 2005
This episode was really good, and tragic, even if Jamira was a pain in the ass. Definitely like the nod to the Original Ultraman episode with this character, and having a similar fate, though different. As he was able to advance the plot and bring Ken and Dax some answers finally. Now what will happen is a good question, though not sure if Ken will try to confront his enemy head on. Though he could, but I wonder if Dax will talk him out of it till they can figure out a plan?


Episode 21

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in My Light

The mood was sullen as everyone returned to Castle. Well after the fact Jamira, who had been missing for months, returned with some sort of strange power had taken everyone by surprise. Then he transformed into a giant creature and let Ultraman kill him. No one was talking one the way back outside of basic information to make sure nobody crashed into anything or each other. Not that Jamira was that well liked, most that knew him couldn't stand him. But he was one of their own and everyone wondered how did this happen to him.

All but one person that is. Not only did he have an idea about the how, thanks to Jamira being leveled headed enough before he changed he now had an idea on who was responsible. But like everything else Ken kept that thought to himself. In order to explain that he would have to explain Daxium. And that was a can of something he wasn't ready to open just yet. Although if he got his way tonight then everyone would be dealing the repercussions.

And right now he didn't give a damn. After all this time he finally found the person Daxium sensed his first time at Castle. Brooks, the man aligned with the beings Daxium's people had been fighting against. The one helping those creatures come into this universe. The reason, through an act of murder, he and Daxium bonded. And now the end was in sight, Ken could just feel it.

The Scan Track he was in entered Castle's garage level and it pulled into it's assigned spot. Pulling off his helmet he got out and stood there. Mind already made up as soon as the battle with Jamira was over he looked around at the others around him, hopefully some of them would understand why he hid this for so long. Lowering his head a bit he barley whispered, “You ready Dax?”

“Yes I am,” came the reply in his head. Part of Ken wondered if he was really as ready as he sounded. While not the first time he had to let his giant friend out soon soon after his last battle Jamira had used the dark energy he was radiating to practically eat away the light energy Daxium was pretty much made of. There was no way he could have replenished this quickly. But this might be their only chance to get at Brooks so they had to risk it.

Glancing around at the rest of them Ken made his way toward an exit. One hope was dashed when he heard Jess call out, “Ken where are you going?”

All he told her was, “I got something to do real quick.”

“Hawk wants to talk to everybody,” she reminded him of the order they received right after the battle was over. “Like right now.”

Unfortunately that was going to cut into Dax kicking Brook's ass time. “It's kinda important,' he told her. Like stopping the enemy's main supply line kind of important. But that was something else he couldn't mention, no matter how much he wanted to.

She grabbed his arm, “Hawk will flip his lid if you're not there.

“Then he can chew me out later,” he said freeing himself and using the garage crowd to lose her. He hated doing that to her but he'd take the heat. Then he wondered if he would get the chance to make it up to her, or any of them, if he could just finish this tonight. Getting into the hallway that lead to an elevator he saw Richardson's assistant Patricia Stanberry stand there. Pushing her aside she simply said, “Brooks has already left the compound.” That made Ken stop in his tracks and stare at her. “As I'm pretty sure that was were you were going I thought I'd save you the effort.”

Looking around to see if anyone else was in the hallway Ken was more than a bit confused. “How do you know about Brooks?”

“It doesn't matter how,” she stated to say.

“Yes it does matter,” Ken snapped. “How long have you known about Brooks?”

She calmly informed him, “We just found out ourselves” It just infuriated him. “We need to go after him with a plan.”

“I have a plan,” he informed her. “And it involves Dax blasting him into atoms.”

“He will make you look like the aggressor,” she told him. Way to calmly for his taste at the moment. “He will use that to force Richardson to sic the entirety of the UNDF forces against you.”

“As long as I get him,” Ken told her plainly.

“Listen to me,” she said finally showing some annoyance. “I spent a good hour calming Richardson down and he agrees. So much so he's ordering you to leave Brooks alone while he's here.”

“He might not come back” Ken snapped again.

“Either way we need to build a case against Brooks. We have to make sure everyone knows he's the target. When that happens you and the giant can let loose to your hearts content. But until then you need to back off him for the time being.”

Ken really wanted to tell her where to stick that order. But surprisingly, well maybe not that surprising considering who it was, in his head Daxium was agreeing with her. Traitor. “Fine,” he said, I'll let it go for now,” and he walked off, back toward the hanger. Pounding te wall in frustration at this twist to the situation.

Jess caught up with him as he came around the corner, “Where were you?”

Trying to hid what he was feeling at the moment he told her, “That thing wasn't as important as I thought.”

Hawk was waiting as Ken entered his office. To the side Reid gave him a friendly greeting but Hawk just stared at him. While part of him was glad he remained standing, realizing this time it was an official meeting. Another part hoped he was wrong about the reason why they were having the meeting to begin with. Yet another part prayed he wasn't so blinded that he let the proverbial fox into his hen house. Eventually the he said, “Ken.”

“Sir,” the younger man replied, not giving anything away from whet he could tell.

“So,” he began, “Jamira.”

“I wish I knew what to tell you Captain,” he said. “I know he was a pain but nobody deserved what happened to him.

“You know,” Reid spoke up, “most people would have thought you would have been overjoyed at that,”

Ken had the decency to look confused, “A man died, who would be happy about that.?”

“You and Jamira did have a history,” Hawk told him sharply, taking him by surprise. Even Reid look like his tone caught him off guard. “Both Commander Reid and Wade said they heard Jamira shout 'you knew'? What was it that he thought that you knew exactly?”

After a bit Ken answered, “I don't know.”

“Then think of something,” Hawk demanded.

“Umm, Gabe,...,” Reid started to say.

“Not now,” he snapped. “Well Scott, give me something.”

Ken looked like he didn't know what was going on, even casting a glance at Reid, but eventually said, “Unless he somehow made his dislike for me as part of the reason why this happened to him I have no idea.”

“It does seen a logical conclusion,” Reid spoke up. “And remember we both told you Ken was just as confused at what was going on.” Hawk shot him a look out of the corner of his eye. Reid didn't look pleased but he backed down, Ken still looked confused.

“And after Jamira turned into whatever the hell that was I expect you have an answer to why he seemed to be specifically targeting you?”, he demanded.

“Why are you..?”, Ken started to say.

“Just answer me Scott.”

“I was pretty high on his **** list sir,” he replied getting a bit of an attitude.

Reid stepped in again, “Before Jamira got reagitated I pretty sure Ken about had him talked down. You would have been proud of him Captain.”

He shot him another look, but this time Reid didn't shy away and stood his ground. Fine, he'd take a slightly different route. “Scott, where were you the night before the Alpha One test flight, around 21:50 and 22:10?”

“What does that...?”, he asked caught off guard by the change of subject.

“Just answer the question civilian.”

Reid shot him a warning look. Ken had the audacity to look hurt, “I was by myself.”

“Where by yourself?!”, he demanded. “We couldn't locate you anywhere on base turning that time frame.”

“Why were you...,” then things seemed to click together for Ken as he started looking angry. “You think I had something to do with what happened?”

“Answer the question!”

“I was on the god damned roof!”, he nearly shouted.

“Why were you up there?”

“It's the only place I found where I can get some peace and quiet around here.”

“A likely story,” Hawk spat.

“What have I ever done to make you think I was behind sabotaging the Alpha One?”

“Why are you on this team?”

“I told you why.”

“Tell me again!”, Hawk said standing up.

Reid quickly jumped between then and pushed Ken out the door saying, “Go somewhere and cool off Scott, that's an order.' And he quickly closed the door before Ken could say anything.

Hawk exploded, “That was my man!'

Again Reid didn't look pleased, “I know, which is why I separated the two of you before either of you said or did something you'd regret. But seriously Gabe, what has he ever done to make you think he'd be behind any of this?”

“He lied about why Richardson put him on this team,” Hawk told him. “I'm sure of it.”

Reid sat in a chair by the desk, “I seem to recall you saying Wade backed up the reason he gave you.”

“Then he told me a story he knew Wade would agree with.”

Reid smirked a bit, “I was halfway expecting you to say she's in on it too.”

“This isn't funny,” Hawk snapped. “Somebody around here had something to do with what happened with the Alpha One. And I would bet anything that same person had something to do with what happened to Jamira. He is the only one who stands out.”

Saying nothing Reid unzipped his jacket and pulled out an envelope and placed it on the desk. “Before you finish this particular witch hunt and throw away something you've been very proud of you might want to read that. It got delivered to my office by mistake.”

Hawk ripped it open and read the contents. Any anger he had built up slowly evaporated as he went, “Damn it.”

Looking him right in the eyes Reid went, “I'll ask you again, has Ken done anything to make you think he would be behind any of this?”

On the roof Ken looked out as the sky darkened around him. Despite Reid telling him to cool down he was still all sorts of pissed off. Granted he wasn't the perfect soldier, like he was even a soldier at all, but he thought he had earned a little more respect than that after all this time. He heard the door open and looked back to see Hawk step out onto the roof. Ken looked back at the ground in front of Castle and set himself. If he wanted a fight than Ken was more than ready to give him one.

Not even acknowledging the Captain as he joined him at the railing as well. After a long bit of silence Hawk held out a opened envelope, “Here.”

Ken just looked at it and said, “You firing me by mail?”

Uttering a very tired sounding sigh he said, “Just read it.”

Practically snatching it out of his hand he read the letter inside. His anger turned to confusion as he read it again. Finally saying, “I've been here a year. Holy ****.”

“That sort of slipped by everybody with all the buzz about the Alpha One and Jamira,” He said. “Reid kept asking if you ever done anything to make me suspect you. And I couldn't think of anything except my early suspicions about you joining. I'm sorry son.”

“Forget it,” Ken said putting the letter back into the envelope.

“No. Ken it wasn't right. You've done everything I've asked of you and done everything possible to fit in.”

“Then why suspect me at all?”, Ken demanded.

“Because there's a snake in this particular garden son,” he said. “and I was desperate to find anybody who might be responsible. You were my first real lead.”

“Captain, if I was going to do anything to the Alpha One I would have made sure it wouldn't have launched at all just so I wouldn't be on it.”

“That accord to me after I cooled down a bit. But there is somebody here working against us. I just wish I knew who it was.”

“Trust me Captain I'd be kicking his ass right now if I could.” Hawk smirked but he had no idea how true that statement almost was. Still there one thing he had to get out in the open. “You called me 'civilian'.”

Looking ashamed of himself Hawk said, “I know. I'm not going to try and make any excuse for it, it just came out. You worked so hard to be seen as more than that. And I have been proud as hell of you too. I hope you'll forgive me about that unfortunate slip of the tongue I had.”

“Already forgotten,” he said with a small smirk. Hawk nodded and clapped him on the shoulder.

“But I am sorry for treating you like that son,” he told him. “ You haven't done anything to betray my trust in you yet.” Patting him on the shoulder one more time he headed back toward the door.

Suddenly Ken was real tired of his situation. “Captain,” he started to say as the older man turned toward him. All the the things he wanted to say right there and then. I'm Ultraman. Richardson knows and blackmailed me to be here. I know how Joe really died and I'm pretty sure Brooks was the one who did it. He wanted to say all of those things. But he didn't. All because he didn't know what Richardson would do if anybody else found out. So instead he said, “Sorry about giving you some attitude back there.”

“Don't be son” Hawk said walking back to him. “I pushed you into a corner, it's only natural that you'd push back. But don't go making a habit of it,” he said pointing a finger at him. “I'm only letting it go this time because I was in the wrong here.”

“Completely understood sir.”

Putting an arm around his shoulder Hawk guided him back toward the door. “Come on Ken, the next cup of joe is on me. Halfway to the door Hawk took the envelope from him. “Just so you know this bit of information will be leaked to the others. And a party will be planned to celebrate this particular occasion.”

He attempted a joke, “As long as there isn't a dunk tank and I'm the one in it.”

The Captain smiled, “I make no promises.”

The next day Richardson was still on the warpath. Although Patricia and Dr. Williams were doing their best to keep it confined to his office. “Where is that bastard?”, he demanded.

“He's apparently on his way in,” Patricia told him.

“I'll strangle him myself!”, Richardson exclaimed.

“We need proof,” she said firmly as she was getting tired of having this conversation. At least when she saw Scott earlier this morning he still understood the need for the most part. He didn't like it but he still understood. But with Richardson she had to start all over, again.

“To hell with proof!” he bellowed. “We heard Jamira say it was him.”

“And Jamira was out of his mind,” she told him. “He will turn that into a very believable defense. Then Scott would be wondering how we knew Jamira said that. He still isn't aware that we are monitoring him through his communicator while he is in the field. And I'm sure he's still wondering how we knew about Brooks as it is.”

“I don't care about that nobody!”, Richardson bellowed. “If he wants to cause problems then I'll reveal his secret to the others and watch him deal with the consequences.”

“If he doesn't tell the others his secret first,” Dr. Williams said. A sharp look from Richardson made him back up and sat down into a chair, that he just missed the edge of and hit hard on the floor.

“The good Doctor does have a point,” Patriicia said as she watched Williams scramble into the chair. She was unfazed as Richardson turned that same gaze toward her. “You can only push him so far until he starts pushing back. And considering who he's bonded with...”

“The giant wouldn't dare,” he protested. “Fine, I'll get rid of Alpha Team entirely and replace them with new people just to remind him who's in control.”

Finally getting into a comfortable position in the chair Williams said, “Then he would blow his secret then.”

“Captain Hawk and the others have been an effective buffer between him and you for some time now,” Patricia argued. “Not to mention the uproar from the entire base if you did that. But Scott isn't, and shouldn't, be our main concern right now.”

“Right,” Richardson muttered as he finally calmed down and sat behind his desk. “Brooks, he looked me right in the eyes and didn't betray a goddamned thing. Shake down his entire family tree if you have too but find that proof.”

“At once Mr. Richardson,” Patricia said, pulling Williams up by the coat as they left the office.

Alone Richardson finally looked at a picture of Joseph that had been on his desk. “He didn't reveal a thing. What kind of cold, hearted bastard are you Peter?”

Elsewhere in the complex Ken was studying one of the datapads that he still had in his possession. Mainly to try and keep his mind off of Brooks. But also because according to Hawk he was pretty close to “graduating” the course, so to speak. Not officially of course since he would never be able to pass the simulator. But academic wise he was almost there. The end was so close he could practically see the finish line in his head.

“Hey man,” Ryo said as he and Bill sat with him, each with a mug in their hand. “How are you doing?”

“I'm doing pretty good,” he told them. He looked up from the pad to see the looks they were giving him. “What?”

“Bridge let it slip,” Bill started, “that the Captain thought you were the one behind the mess that's been going on lately.”

“Oh my God,” Ken groaned. “It's fine guys, me and Captain Hawk worked it out.”

“Commander Reid,” Ryo went on, “said that he had to separate the two you when it started to get a tad heated.”

“It wasn't as bad as it sounds,” Ken told them. “He had us calm down before it got out of hand.”

“Still the three of us already had a little talk with the Captain,” Ryo informed him.

“I can fight my own battles guys... Wait,” he looked around. “Where's Jess? Oh God he threw her in a cell didn't he,” he started to get up.

“She's fine Ken,” he assured him.

“Me and Ryo made sure we did most of the talking,” Bill joked. “Although I have to admit it was strange that Captain Hawk seemed proud that we were standing up for you.”

Ryo told him, “Because as far as he's concerned we finally gelled as a team.”

“He still told us not to get into the habit of questioning him like that again. As far as Jess goes,” Bill said as he started to grin, “he just happen to slip us an envelope with some interesting information about you.”

“Oh no,” Ken groaned. Hawk told him that would get out. He didn't think it would be this quick.

“Oh yes,” Bill continued. “Her and the Captain are going over the basics of the party right now. I do believe Jess was talking about some giant pink bunny ears for you to wear as the guest of honor.”

“Don't tease him like that,” Ryo cut in. “They were purple.”

“Right,” Bill said with a nod, “with bright yellow polka dots.”

Ken looked at them, “You two ain't funny.”

“You'll find out if we're telling the truth soon enough,” Ryo told him, betraying nothing.

After a little more, what he hoped was, ribbing Bill suddenly got this look on his face. Neither he or Ryo could figure out what was going on because he never looked this serious about anything. Suddenly he went, “Ken can I ask you a question?” Motioning him to go ahead he surprised him again. “Do you have a problem when I call you civilian?”

Having an idea where this was coming from he went, “You always call me civilian.”

“Captain Hawk mentioned something about it,” Ryo said as he took a sip of his coffee.

“Kinda guessed.”

“He did have a point though,” Bill went on. “I mean, yeah, you're the civilian operative and all. But you are one of us.”

“Bill it's fine,” Ken told him. “At this point if you start calling me something other than civilian I going to think I'm dying or something.”

“I guess you have a point.” He got up and put a hand on his shoulder. “I'll see you around,' he went all somber and serious, “Ken.”

“You're not funny,” Ken shot back as he left.

“Please I'm hilarious.”

After he was gone Ryo went, “Since we're asking questions, why did you think Jess got thrown in a cell?”

Kent went, “Let's put it this way, have you ever seen her angry?”

“A couple of times,” he answered.

“Trust me, you really haven't.”

It took Ryo a couple of moments to understand what he was talking about. “Ah well, I suppose you would know that better than anybody. Of course you're assuming she would went that hard for you to begin with.”

“Seeing how we 'gelled' as a team and all I'd like to think she got got a little angry.”

“Then it's a good thing Bill and I did most of the talking,” he said with a smile. A couple of UNDF soldiers walked by and greeted them before heading toward a different table. Although Ryo lost the smile a bit as he watched them walk away. “The Captain tell you why he suspected you?'

“Yeah he did.”

“I can't believe it's been somebody on the inside this entire time. I hate feeling like I don't know who I can trust and who I can't.”

“I know man, I know.” Unfortunately ken did know who he could, and more important exactly who he couldn't trust. But again he had to play along because he couldn't explain how he knew.

So far it had been a week since the incident with Jamira happened, and Peter still hadn't let his guard down. He hadn't been acting any differently, he learned a long time ago that you had to keep up appearances. Especially after Scott became a regular fixture in the organization. But he was a little more aware of his surroundings and of the people around him.

So far no one was acting like they knew something nor were they treating him any differently. Richardson seemed to be avoiding him of course. But he'd been through these stages of melancholy ever since Joseph died so he really didn't think anything of it. Particularly since his assiasstant slash bodyguard was as cordial as ever. He was starting to think that he might have caught a break and Jamira didn't say anything to anyone.

Then he locked eyes with Scott as they passed each other in the hallway.

His face betrayed nothing, But his eyes, they stayed locked on him a little too long. Then he felt the giant that had bonded with him, no longer trying to hide his presence like he had been. Again Peter betrayed nothing, although he did try and get a reaction out of him by smiling and nodding his head in greeting. He just walked by him without any type of acknowledgment. But Scott and the giant knew, in that there was no question. Even if he hadn't felt the giant broadcasting himself Scott's eyes were those of a man ready to fight.

Yet he did nothing. He wanted too Peter had no doubts about that. But Scott didn't do anything, he didn't even look back over his shoulder. Which possibly meant he didn't think he could at the moment. For the time being that was good for him but eventually that was going to change.

“Good morning my dear,” he said cheerfully as he greeted his secretary, stationed outside of of office as usual.

She greeted him with her usual smile, “Good morning Mr. Brooks. “You have a few hours before your first meeting this morning.”

“Right,” he said remembering, “for the next public relations event. I wouldn't mind them so much if someone came up with something different for a change. Thank you for reminding about it,.”

“Maybe you can ask Ken Scott to get involved,” she offered. “Being a civilian operative might give P.R. A boost.”

He grinned, “That's going to depend on Captain Hawk I'm afraid. He is rather protective of his men. But I'll bring it up and see what the others think of it. I'll be in my office.”

“I'll be out here if you need me.”

Closing the door behind him peter tried to think. Oh he would be bringing the idea up alright., but prayed it would get shot down. Mainly because it would mean he and Scott would be in close proximity to each other for the entire event. And until Scott finally decided to act he couldn't risk being that near him for long.

Speaking of, he was taking a huge one right now not knowing how close Scott was at the moment. Sending a small pulse through the room he temporarily disabled the security cameras to his office. Then he formed a swirling vortex in the middle of the room. Waiting for the shape of one of his Zetton masters to appear he said, “The worst case scenario we discussed is closer to happening than I originally thought.”

Looking through the folder in front of him Richardson looked at his assistant and asked, “Are you sure this information is accurate?”

“As sure as I can be,' she admitted. “I had to do some digging just to find that,” she pointed to a one page in the file in particular. “After I found that the rest was relatively easy.”

“Then we got the bastard,” he said jumping out of his chair. “I want an armed response unit, and I want to be there when we bring him in.”

“That may not be the wisest course of action ir,” she told him.

“We have him dead to rights!. We need to...”

“We shouldn't do anything.”

“Now listen here...”

“No one is going to risk your health and well being in a potential conflict,” she said calmly. He sat back down, he was fuming, but he sat down. “If we confront him with an entire squad it'll expose our hand before we're ready.”

“Then what do we do then? We have what we need right here.”

“We give what he have to Captain Hawk.”

Richard thought it over. “He's still looking for whomever it was that sabotage the Alpha One.” He looked up at her, “He won't confront Brooks directly.”

“No,” she agreed. “Not without some concrete proof. However he might be convinced to have Bridge look into the matter a little further. There's also the added benefit that Bridge could locate something I missed.”

“Do it,” he said leaning back into his chair. “Don't tell him why we're suspecting Brooks but tell him something.”

I still can't believe you thought I would get so mad that Captain Hawk threw me into a cell,” Jess said they sat together in one of the break rooms.

“That was a week ago,” he reminded her.

“It still blows my mind you'd think that. Why would you think I would ever get that angry?”

“I never thought you'd get that angry either until it was directed at me.”

“Yeah well...”, she trailed off.

“Jess, Ken,” Hawk called out as he walked up to them. They stood at attention pretty quickly as something about him said this was official. He stood close, enough that he could speak low enough so no one could over hear them. People were looking at them any way but they were just going to have to wonder what was going on. “ I can't give any specifics right now. Just be ready to go if I call for the team.”

“Yes sir,” Jess answered for them, a little confused but remaining professional. Ken, on the other hand, wasn't hiding his.

“What was that about?”, he wondered out loud after Hawk left.

“I'm not sure,” she answered. “Come on, we better find Ryo and Bill if he wants the whole team ready.”

Before they could move Ken's communicator went off. Wonder what as going on now he answered it. “Scott here.”

“Ah Ken,” Dr. Williams replied as Ken and Jess looked at each other. “I need you down here in the Alpha One hanger right away.”

Why now of all times, “I'd love too Doc but I was just put on stand by.”

“I'm afraid I must insist,” he said with an authority that startled both of them. Well mainly it shocked the hell out of Ken if he had to be honest. The guy didn't seem to have it in him when he was working on the Alpha One. “I will make that an order if I have to.”

“You know what,” Ken shot back. “The moment you out rank Captain Hawk is the moment I'll start taking that threat seriously.”

“Ken”, Jess spoke up. “Go ahead and see what he wants. Just be sure to run if Hawk calls us.”

“You sure?” She nodded and went off to find the others. Ken started off to the hanger going, “What the hell Doc? This better be a good one.”

Walking into Brook's outer office Hawk nodded at his secretary. She looked at him and Reid a bit unsure what was going on exactly as they didn't have an appointment. Not that Hawk felt like giving him some advanced warning, just in case. “Is Mr. Brooks in his office?”

“Uh, yes he is. Is there something I can do,” she started to say as she rose out of her chair.

He motioned for her to sit back down, “Would you please tell him the Commander Reid and myself would like to see him.”

“Yes sir.” Still unsure she hit button connecting to the inner office intercom, “Mr. Brooks, Captain Hawk and Commander Reid want to talk to you.”

“Really?”, came the reply. After a couple of beats, Hawk could picture him trying to figure out what was going on, he spoke up again, “Please send them in.”

Smiling at the secretary he nodded and said, “Thank you,” before he and Reid entered Brook's personal office.

Standing up to greet then he extended a hand to as he walked around his desk. Each of them took it and Brook gestured to a couple chairs in front of his desk. Hawk noted that his eyes occasionally flickered toward the folders he carried in. Only Hawk took one of the offered chairs as Reid took a couple of steps back. Brooks watched him for a moment before turning his full attention to Hawk as he put the folders down on the desk. “So what to I owe the pleasure of this very unexpected visit?”

“I do apologize for the unexpected nature if all of this but I have a couple of informal questions for you. If you don't mind.”

“Of course Captain, I'll be happy to oblige.” He glanced back at Reid who remained silent, perhaps noting that he positioned himself between them and the door. “However do we really need a third person for a couple of 'informal' questions?”

“I'm just hear as an impartial third party,” Reid said.

“Yes,” Hawk stated, “for both of our protection. You know how the rumor mill around here works. A couple of people saw us enter the room then half the base starts thinking we started shouting at each other and throwing punches.”

“How considerate of you Captain,” Brooks said with a slight smirk. For some reason that sent a chil down Hawk's spin, but he didn't show it. “While my appointment calendar is full I'm sure I can spare a few moments for you Captain. Please ask away.”

“Well, as you know Mr. Brooks”, he began, “we ares till looking into the matter of who tampered with the Alpha One. During his initial investigation into the matter Bridge discovered a short anomaly
in the security feed. It cut out for about twenty minutes.”

“Really,” Brooks said, looking a bit shocked by that announcement. Not in a bad way, like he was surprised that was possible.

“Yes sir,” Hawk continued. “He almost missed it but by his estimation the time it was out was long enough for someone to sabotage the Alpha One. To make sure it wasn't a system wide glitch he checked other security feeds around the same time. And all he found was the cameras shutting off in the hanger. But he also found,” he opened one of the files on the desk between them, “a couple of reports of the cameras going out in this very office. The last one was a few days ago according to the report.”

“Well Captain,” Brooks slid the report back toward him after glancing at for a bit, “as evidence of wrong doing that is rather flimsy.”

“And normally I would agree with you sir but given what happened with the Alpha One I hope you understand the need to check on it anyway.”

“Of course Captain,” Brooks agreed, leaning back. “But I can't tell you any more than what I've told the repair teams when they call or come to check on them after they go out.”

“Maybe there was something you didn't tell them,” Hawk purposely looked back at the door to the outer office.

Brooks; eyes narrowed a bit, “If you are suggesting what I think you are Captain I'd suggest you put a stop to that line of thinking right now. She is a happily married woman and even if I did something, not that I am admit that I did, I wouldn't ruin her reputation to cover it up.”

“Very well sir,” he said taking the folder back, “we'll put it down to a system glitch. Then he slid the other one over but didn't open it right away. He kept a hand on so Brooks couldn't open it either. That made the other man even more curious. “I'm not sure if you heard, after hearing that someone on the inside might have been responsible for what happened with the Alpha One Richardson started his own investigation into the matter.”

“Really,” Brooks said evenly. Putting on one hell of a poker face from Hawk's perspective, and time spent around a poker table or two. “In fact I have not heard that.”

“I just found out about it recently myself. I'm assuming it came from on of his infamous hunches. I also assume one of those lead him to look into peoples background information.”

“Captain, are we really here now because of a hunch? Because I would lose some respect for you if that was the case.”

“I would never do this on simply a hunch sir,” Hawk told him, “No matter who had it. Especially when it about one of the Board of Directors.”

“Yet here we are Captain.”

“As I said never on a hunch. However,” finally he opened the file and pushed it toward Brooks, “he did give us a lead that had Bridge check out thoroughly.”

Brooks read this file a little more closely, “Captain, do believe this says were I went to school growing up.”

“Yes it does sir, it also has your records there as well. In fact those are the ones you supplied when you became one of the Board.” Reaching over and pulling away the top page of the document Hawk fanned out the rest that was underneath. “However a recheck of those very school and we can't find a trace of you any where. No academic reports, no extracurricular activities, no address forms. Nothing any where.” Brooks looked like he was trying to find a way to explain the discrepancy. Hawk didn't give him a chance. “Going back even further we couldn't find any sign of a birth certificate at the hospital you were born in, a social security number or a drivers permit. In fact it looks like Peter Brooks didn't even exists a few years ago.”

Brooks, or whomever this was, picked up the papers and studied them for a long time. Then he started smiling and chuckling a bit, catching Hawk off guard.

“It's true what they say,” he said finally putting the papers down, “the Devil is truly in the details. I sincerely believed that no one would recheck these particular records after so long.

“Then who are you,” Hawk demanded.

“Oh I am a Brooks Captain,” he said. “My name may not be Peter but I am a Brooks through and through. Well since the secret's out what else to you want to know, hmm? Please don't act so shocked I plan to be completely and totally honest with you. So gentlemen, what shall it be? Perhaps you want to know the master plan. Or maybe you want to know exactly how many giant creatures we have at our disposal. Just to prepare yourself of course. “Or maybe,” he looked at Hawk with a slight sneer, “maybe you would like to know who Ultraman really is.” Hawk just eyed him. “Not that you would believe me. That is why I fought for you over Jamira for command.”

“You fought to get Hawk this command?”, Reid said incredulous.

“Part of the delicate balancing act I have to perform on a daily basis,” he said as easily as he would about the weather. “for every negative there had to be a positive to counter it a bit. Can you see the potential chaos and low moral if Jamira was put in command? Not to speak ill of the dead but the man was a moron at times. As such he would have been replaced by someone more competent eventually, so we avoid the rush and put in some one who could get the men to put up a decent fight. Life is nothing without the occasional challenges after all.”

“Why the lake?”, Hawk asked suddenly.

Brooks wasn't following, “I beg you pardon?”

“The lake,” he repeated. “At lest two monsters have been confirmed coming from that lake in the park. The earliest we can trace Jamira after he popped back up was at the bank of that same lake. What is so special about it?”

“Well this is awkward,” Brooks shifted in his seat. “While I would love to feed whatever conspiracy theory that's grown in your mind, truth be told nothing is particularly special about that lake. The second monster just happened to to come along with Bemular, that's the name of the first one just so you know. Much better than the designation we gave him. Giant creature one ugh... no imagination. I'm still shocked they came up with Ultraman. Back to the second one, well that was a little experiment on my part. The results were rather spectacular if I may be so bold. As for Jamira well they're not even sure how he got out of his cell much less been able to operate an interdimensional transporter. He's lucky he didn't appear a thousand feet in the air. Although that would have save me a lot of hassle if he did. No offense to the dead of course,” he quickly added.

“Who are they?”, Hawk demanded. “You're partners in all of this?”

Chuckling a bit, Hawk wasn't sure if he was purposely trying to piss him off or not but it was working, Brooks said, “From my point of view? Early on perhaps I believed that, when I could delude myself. But now I'm a servant in their eyes. A useful tool to help them bring their creatures over.”

“You seem pretty happy for a 'servant',”Hawk commented.

“I like to see it as getting in on the ground floor after it's all over,” he answered. Brooks quieted down and studied Hawk for a bit. Almost looking sad for some reason.”It is a pity really. I truly did like you Captain, I was hoping to put this off off a bit longer.” Brook's right hand started glowing with this deep, dark purple energy. Combat instinct made both Hawk and Reid jump out of the way as he pointed it at them and unleashed a blast that took out part of the wall behind them.

As his secretary screamed at the explosion as a fully armored squad of UNDF soldiers burst in and took aim on Brooks and fired. Almost instantaneously the energy expanded and formed a barrier between him and them. “Cease fire!”, Reid shouted as the bullets started ricocheting.

“You had an armed guard with you,” Brooks said, not lowering his guard.. Chuckling again he changed his tome to a more disapproving one, “Now that's just dirty pool Captain. But I should be honored you did so. You realized how potentially dangerous your target is.” Suddenly the field expanded knocking them and the furniture back into the wall. “Fortunately for you I'm in a generous mood today and in quite the rush.” Pointing his hand at the floor he blasted a hole and dropped down to the next level.

Struggling to his feet he took a cautious look down the hole and hit his communicator, “Captain Hawk to all troops, this is a Level Five Alert. We have an hostile in the building. The hostile is Peter Brooks, repeat the hostile is Peter Brooks. Consider him armed and extremely dangerous. Do not try and detain, shoot on sight. Shoot to kill if absolutely necessary.”

“Son of a *****,” Ken muttered, almost completely feed up with the run around he was getting from Williams on why he was down here. “Look Doc you have five seconds to give me a damn good reason on why I'm down here or I'm out that door.” Williams didn't give him a reason, he didn't have time as Hawk announcement came from his communicator He looked at Williams accusingly. He still wasn't sure how Richardson and them knew about Brooks to begin with. But right now he was positive that the Doctor knew this was going to go down. So why in the hell did they separate him from the others?

To his credit Williams look apologetic and more than a bit uncomfortable under his gaze. “This is it,” he said. “We can end this now if you and your friend can get to him.”

“You're damn right I'm going to end this.” Ken said as he ran for the door.

“Ken!”, Williams shouted to get him to stop. “Richardson doesn't want Hawk and the others involved in this. His orders.”

“You tell Richardson to stick those orders up his ass,” Ken told him as he headed back down the hall. “I'm tired of hiding this.” Hitting his communicator he went, “Scott to Hawk. Dr. Williams had me in the hanger levels. I'm going to try and cut off Brooks if he tries to come this way or the garage level.”

“I already have a team headed that way Ken,” came the reply. “But the extra fire power couldn't hurt. If he gets there before they do do not engage him by yourself. You have no idea what he's capable of.”

“Understood, Scott out.” Cutting the link he muttered, “And I have a pretty good exactly what he's capable of.”

Perhaps it was a bit overkill on his part, blasting through several levels of floor, but he had to make sure he met a little resistance as possible. For one, mainly, he wanted to avoid a prolonged, drawn out fight if possible. That would just slow him down and increase the chances of the UNDF troops taking him down. And secondly, if he was forced into the prolong fight more than likely he'd leave a skeletal corpse or two behind. He could only picture the fury in Captain Hawk when he discovered that he was the one who killed Joseph.

No this was the proper play for this situation, put as much distance between himself and the majority of the forces after him as soon as possible. Which was quite a feat in these confined spaces. Not that he expected the entire force to be above him, Hawk wasn't that stupid. There would be heftier resistance further down. The question was how much resistance was he going to come across? And where Scott and the giant were in all of this? He probably should have started blasting his way up toward the roof, but there were a few surprises he wanted to keep to himself at the moment.

Finding an empty level he ran down a few random corridors and started blasting his way down again another few levels. And practically on top of a small armed squad of troop, about four at a fast count. , Smiling warmly, Brooks reacted faster than the one directly in front of him, grabbing his rifle in one hand and his throat by the other. The kid grabbed at the one clutching his neck, crackling with dark energy. Then Brooks snapped it as easily as he would a twig. Dropping the body and he weapon he sent out a pulse of energy that sent the others flying back hard. While they were dazed he changed his mind and picked the rifle back up. Almost casually he walked up to each one and shot them in their exposed faces before dropping the weapon and moving on. The smile never left his face as he did each deed.

There were a few small patches of resistance here and there as he made his way down, At this point they had to figure he only had one real escape route at the moment , getting to the garage level, and started planning accordingly. Hopefully he wouldn't run into the Chief and his crew along the way. But he shouldn't have that much of a problem with whomever put up a fight down there.
Then Brooks felt it before he saw him. He slowed his gaunt as he stopped a few yards away from Ken Scott. Behind him was one of the ways out of here, and he probably could have made it to one of the others before Scott got to him. But this particular showdown was going to happen sooner or later, now was just a good as time as any, even if it wasn't the best of conditions. “Ken,” he said in greeting. “Am I still allowed to call you Ken? Or did that get rescinded when you discovered it was me this entire time?

“Ask me if I give a damn,” he told him.

“So,” he said evenly, taking a chance to glance around to see if there was anybody waiting in the wings, “is this where you demand why I betrayed humanity and and join forced with evil overlords form another dimension?”

“Still don't give a damn,” Ken said. Brooks noted his right hand was going for something inside his jacket. “A buddy of mine might though.”

“Yes,” Brooks grunted, “why waste time when we can get right to it.” Scott's hand was already in his jacket when he fired a blast. Ken jumped out of the way, rolling to a knee with a strange decvice in his hand.

“Brook!” he looked back to see Watanabe and Wade lead a squad of soldiers down the ramp behind them and hold position as they covered him.

“Figures,” he mumbled, “just when it's getting good.” Looking back at Scott he was still holding the device in his hand, although he glanced back at the others a couple of times. Having a idea what the device was he said, just loud enough so Scott could hear, “Are you really going to blow your secret in front of them?”

Very plainly, and keeping his eyes locked on him, Ken said, “Yes.”

“Hmm, I do believe you might,” Brooks mused. Without warning he blasted the ceiling above Watanabe and Wade's group causing part of it to collapse on them.

“No!” Ken shouted in horror. Using the distraction Brooks ran past him. He look back just long enough to see Scott look undecided and start to help the others.

“Go,” a woman's voice, probably Wade's, told him. “Get him, we'll be fine.”

Ken ran after him as fast as he could. Brooks launched a few blast back behind him to try and slow his pursuer down. Finally he made it outside, he was almost there. Then he went down after a blast hit him in the back. Gripping his shoulder he looked back to see Ken come out holding his weapon out, and the cylinder in his other hand at the moment.”

“You shot me in the back,” Brooks grunted as he got to his feet. “Not exactly a fair play from the hero.”

“You murdered people,” Ken shot back. “It's over Brooks, or whoever the hell you are.”

“Ask Captain hawk what I told him,” Brooks said. Ken said nothing as he holstered his weapon and returned the device to his right hand. “Just like that? You're not going to arrest me, lock me up for the others. Although I do think they would believe you if you told them I resisted. Granted security cameras are everywhere out here.”

“I don't care,” he said.

“And it never accord to you that I would have a plan just this situation?” Ken stopped, now looking confused instead of determined. Not realizing Brook never once stopped emitting the dark energy around his hand.

Backing up and looking up as he felt it and his senses were nearly overwhelmed. A huge pool of dark energy started to form. Ken's communicator started making a electronic squeal as Brooks shot a wide beam at it. Before long something stared to come through and quickly took shape. A giant reptile creature, it had heavier armor looking hide around it's upper torso, tuft's of hair coming from spaces between those segments and a curved horn on top of it's head. It seemed to to orient itself for a moment before zeroing in on Castle and started heading toward it.

“Have fun with Gomess,” Brooks said with a smile and a wave. Suddenly he was covered in dark energy and shot into the air.

“The ****?”, Ken muttered stun as he watched fly away. The ground shaking hard brought back to the immediate threat as the creature continued toward the base., Very aware of the cameras behind him he didn't have any other choice. Holding the Spark Magnifier over his head he activated it.

Daxium barely appeared from the column of light when Gomess charged forward. Caught off guard he barely stopped himself from hitting the base behind him. With a grunt he was able to push the creature back. The monster roared a bit as he stopped pushing then quickly fell to the side while twisting, using Gomess' own power to fling him to the ground. Both giant quickly scrambled to their feet, with Daxium being slight faster geting off a kick to it's head. With the creature stunned, he grabbed it, struggled slightly to get it over his head, then tossed it further away from the base.

Slapping it's head in frustration Gomess got up and charged Daxium again. Bracing for it better this time he barely budged as the creature rammed into him. Felling it position itself to do the same flip move he waited for it to fall and twist. Jumping with the throw Daxium flipped in the air and landed on his feet he was caught by a tail swipe that him him around the knees. Stumbling to hold his footing it was long enough of a distraction that Gomess launched his attack. Grabbing around the lower torso in a bear hug it stared to squeeze with all it had. Daxium grunted in pain from the increasing pressure as he tried to free himself.

Inside Castle's control room Hawk made his way through the chaos to Bridge. While he was clearly busy shouting out orders and working his station Hawk was more worried about what was happening outside. “What's the hell is going on?”

“We're trying a reboot now Captain,' he said, never taking his eyes of the screens in front of him. “Whatever Brooks did to summon that monster somehow fried a majority of our systems. Communications, security, repair systems are either offline of freezing up.”

“Can we launch the Scan Tracks and Razor Wings?”

He checked something, “Hangers are off line too,” Bridge told him.

Swearing under his breath Hawk snapped, “Can we get people on the roof to launch paper airplanes at it?”

Back outside Daxium had finally loosen it's arms enough to get one of his own through. Grabbing one of Gomess' arms he turned and flipped the monster over his head, the ground shaking from the impact. Daxium went to grab it again. But he was surprised when Gomess whipped it's head up and caught him under the chin. Stumbling back Gomess came at him again. Falling backwards he got a foot between them and flipped the monster over. Rolling forward he turned, set up and fired the Dimensional Storm Ray.

After the creature exploded from the multicolored energy stream Daxium looked in the general direction Brooks had went off in. Whatever happened when Brooks and hia allies brought that creature over saturated the area with dark energy. Enough to completely cover Brooks' trail. He also realized right then the true purpose of the creature he just fought. Just to delay him long enough for the human to get away. Relaying this information he received the expected human swear word in response. Feeling anything but victorious Daxium flew into the sky with a , “Shiah.”

Jess and Hawk found Ken still outside the compound looking real disappointed about something. And a bit ashamed too as he kept looking at the ground after he spotted them. Well the secret was out now, time to deal with the consequences. He flinched a bit before looking at Hawk when he put a hand on his shoulder. “You all right son?”

“He got away,” was all he could say.

“The bastard thought of everything,” Jess told him. “Don't beat yourself up over it.”

“Yes he did,” Hawk agreed. “Still I'm glad you didn't get stepped on when Ultraman and that creature started going at it.” Now Ken was confused again. Didn't anybody tell him the cameras caught him turning into Ultraman yet? Somebody had to have seen it. The ones by the entrances had the best view in the house of his confrontation with Brooks. Or did Richardson come down hard with a black out order or something?

Still he had to tell Hawk something, “Just lucky I guess.”

Jess smiled, “I guess your GLC is still working then.”

“I wished it worked that well with the electronics,” Hawk commented.

“What about the electronics?”, Ken asked.

“When Brooks summoned that monster,” he continued, “it did something to fry most of the systems.”

“We can't even launch the vehicles at this point,” Jess added. “If Brooks let's another monster loose anytime soon we're officially screwed.

“All the systems?”, Ken went, still not believing it.

“A good size chunk of them,” she answered.

Ken looked up at the cameras above the entrance. Nobody saw him change. That means nobody else knows his secret. That meant he still had that hanging over his head. That he had to keep lying to just about everybody. The ones who trusted him completely. The one thing that made him sick to his stomach every time he thought about that.

Unless he just let all go and told the two of them everything right now.

He looked back to see Dr. Williams and Richardson's assistant had made their way outside and stare at him. But Patricia wasn't exactly staring at him. He glanced over at Jess. What would Richardson do?

Damn it all to hell.

Eventually he forced out, “How are Ryo and the others?”

“Banged up,” she answered. “But they're going to be all right. Unlike some unlucky bastards that crossed Brook's path.” She gripped his chin and made him look at her. “Never do anything that stupid again, do you hear me?”

Freeing himself he went, “You're the one who told me to go after him.”

“I mean coming down here by yourself,” she corrected him. “You wait for back up first.”

“You heard the lady,' Hawk said as he guided both of them back inside. “We have a ton of repair work to get started on. And more than a few things could probably use a mechanic's touch.”

“Yes sir,' he said, trying not to look like he was faking the smile.

“He was going go blow everything!” Richardson snarled. It was hours later and repair work had been in full swing. Still Scott's almost decision from hers and William's point of view still ate at him. “This is totally unacceptable.”

“It was bound to happen sooner or later,” Patricia told him. “I told you as much before. I'm surprised it took him this long to start pushing back at the situation.”

“Well he better remember what we'll do if he does reveal it.” Knuckles rapping the desk as he walked around it to his chair, a little more subdued he asked, “Is there anything on Charles Brooks yet?”

“Our teams are still looking into it. So far they can't find a sign of him any where.”

“He has to be some where,” he said staring out into space. “I've talked to him several times since Peter came on board.”

“Yes sir,” she said before leaving him alone.

A couple of weeks later, after they had the major repairs and bugs fixed for the most part, Ken was summoned to one of the break rooms. Since nobody had seen hide nor hair of Brooks since his escape he hope this didn't have anything to do with him, despite the location. The fact they were still repairing the holes in the floor Brooks had made made him wonder what this was about with work still needing to be done. He found out as soon as the door opened up.

“Surprise!”, the entire monster squad shouted as he entered. And ken jumped so hard a couple of them thought he was going to make another hole in the ceiling.

“What the hell?”, he got out as Ryo and Jess dragged him into the room.

“We told you a party was being planned,” Ryo told him.

“It's a little late to be celebrating the one year thing ain't it.”

“It's not just that son,” Hawk said as he herded him toward the cake on the table.

“Happy one year anniversary,” he said reading the gel written letters out loud, getting confused at what else it said, “and graduation?” Hawk nodded at Bridge who walked forward and handed him a brown envelope.

“It's been a long time coming civilian,” Bill said. Jess quickly stomped on his foot. “He said it was okay.”

Opening it Ken studied the graduation certificate that was inside. “That's the same one we all received,” Jess said getting closer to him, “when we graduated from the academy.”

He was hearing the words she was saying but they weren't making sense in his head. “This can't be real.”

“It's about ninety-fave percent real,” Hawk told him. “As you instructor I determined you worked and did enough to pass the course I set up for you.”

“But I can't pass the simulator.”

Hawk smiled, a proud one if any of them saw it, “Son, on one your first missions with us you didn't bail out on your wingman and brought down a Razor Wing in a crash landing. As far as I and the rest of us are concerned, you passed.”

“And since I'm still alive,” Ryo added, “I'd say with flying colors.”

Finally tearing his eyes from the document he said, “I seriously don't know what to say.”

“Just keep doing your job,” Hawk told him.

“Does this mean I'm officially one of you guys now?”, he asked as the thought occurred to him.

Hawk lost a bit of the smile as they all looked at him. “Not yet officially. I'm working on finalizing that last five percent.”

“Well as far as the rest of us are concerned, “Ryo spoke up, “you are one of us through and through.”

“Damn straight he is,” Bill agreed. “Even if we didn't want him to begin with.”

“Bill”, Ryo quickly chided him.

“I know what he means,” Ken told him.

“Congratulations Ken,” Jess said giving a quick kiss on the cheek. “Of course when it does become official you're going to have to cut that thing off the back of your head.”

“He hasn't finalized anything yet,” Ken said, mainly realizing he would have to lose the ponytail.

“I'm sure he's going to push hard for it,” Jess teased.

“Just to remind the two of you,” Hawk spoke up, “we have a perfectly good cake wasting away here. I think it's time we started eating some of it.”

“Yes sir,” Ken grinned.

“Congratulations Ken,” Bridge said as he handed him the knife. Inside of him somewhere Daxium offered his congratulations as well. Ken looked at all of them before cutting into the cake. He still hated the fact he was lying to all of them. But for right now, he knew why he still had too. Because he didn't want to lose any if this. Not if he could help it.

ED – Shinedown – Fly From the Inside


A/N Just a bit of warning there is some heavy subject matter in this one

Episode 22

OP – Mercy Drive – Burn in my Light

Walking down the hall to the war room Ken wasn't sure if he should relax or not. After Brooks initially high tailed it out of Castle he hadn't been seen since. Most of the people around here thought he was regrouping and biding his time. A couple of the guys were overheard saying how they would kick his ass if he ever showed his face again. Knowing exactly what he was capable was Ken seriously doubted the latter. And since of couple of them were formerly Jamira's men part of him wanted to find a seat and some popcorn to watch them try.

Walking into the war room he found Hawk studying some footage. He nodded to acknowledged that he entered the room but kept his eyes on what he was watching for the most part. Ken paused briefly when he realized Daxium was a main part of the footage. Maybe they were able to get to the camera back up and salvaged the footage. And if he was trying to figure out which way Brooks went. Ken got nervous all over again. If they were able to get where Brooks flew off to then maybe they caught something else. And he better get prepared to the chewing out of a lifetime for keeping this secret for so long. If he was lucky.

“I have the reports of the Brooks investigation so far Captain,” he said, trying to sound normal.

He didn't attack him right away, so Ken was taking that as a good sign. “What did they find?”, Hawk asked.

“Well for one nobody is sure what happened to Charles Brooks,” he began. “Or at least where he is now. He's made the occasional public appearance since Peter Brooks had been on the scene and that's the last time anybody has seen him. But they did find something of interest,” he trailed off as he got a better look at what Hawk was watching. Daxium wasn't fighting that Gomess creature as Brooks called it. No this was from a few monsters back.

“That bit of interest?”, Hawk asked after Ken was silent for a bit.

“Um,” Ken stalled as he tried to hid how afraid he was getting. If he was looking for further proof about him and Daxium he was probably screwed. “Charles Brooks apparently let go of his entire staff a few years ago.”

Hawk finally looked at him, “Let me guess, right around the time Peter Brooks appeared.”

“That would be correct,” he remembered to say, “sir,” a little faster than he usually did in these informal situations.

“You gotten better at that,” he said with a smirk before returning to the footage he was watching. Ken calmed down a bit, maybe the big secret was still safe for the moment.

Still he had a report to finish, “After interviewing the current staff it turns out they were all hired by Peter Brooks personally and rarely saw Charles.. eh the elder Brooks. The investigators did say that after interviewing the original staff that they seemed surprised that Charles Brooks had a son, much less a full grown one.”

“That's not surprising,” Hawk told him. “I know Richardson and the board never questioned it that much because Charles Brooks was apparently very secretive about his personal life. According to a couple of board members I've talked to nobody knew his wife died until a couple of years after the fact.”

Ken couldn't believe that bit of information, “That's like government black ops level of secret keeping.”

“No argument here son,” Hawk told him. “Is there anything else Ken?”

“Nothing major, they're still monitoring Brooks' house and the spots he's known to hang out at. Bridge is checking to see if there are any system disruptions similar to the ones Brooks caused here when he brought that monster over anywhere else.” That made him look at the fight footage one more time. “Um... Captain?

“Was there something else Ken?”

“Not to question what you're doing or anything...”

“But you're going to any way,” he said with a slightly bigger smile.

“But what are you doing exactly?”

“Studying previous footage of Ultraman,” he said as matter of factly as you could get and not be joking.

“Okay,” he said softly. “As I heard it we started doing this because Brooks suggested it”

“That he did.”

He quickly tried to figure a way to say this that didn't make it sound like he was insulting or questioning the first guy that really had his back here. “Considering who Brooks turned out to be maybe he had an ulterior motive for suggesting it.”

“I'm sure he did,” Hawk agreed. “But it doesn't mean it's not a sound strategy. Just in case of course.”

“Of course,” he said more than a little dismayed.

Hawk glanced at him briefly. “If it makes you feel any better Ryo, Jessica and Bill all had the same objection that's probably going around in your head right now. But as the leader of this team I have to be prepared for any situation, even ones featuring a currently friendly ally.”

“If you say so sir,” Ken sighed. Damn it, he thought him and Dax would be past this nonsense by now.

“I don't like it either Ken,” Hawk told him, “but it's all part of the job. If there's nothing else take some down time and try to relax. Everybody's stressing out on when Brooks is going to attack again. And I don't want everyone burnt out from worrying about it too much when it does happen.”

“Yes sir,' Ken said and left the room.

“It is a viable strategy Ken,” Daxium said in his head after they were in the hallway.

“Doesn't mean I got to like it,” he shot back. After a bit his communicator beeped, “Scott here.”

“Ken,' Bridge said. “You have a person trying to get in contact with you. It sounds pretty important if they're going through official channels to get to you. So I put them on hold and said I page you.”

“Thanks Bridge,” he said. “I'll take the call in my quarters.” If it was that important then there were probably several missed messages on his phone. Now what was going on.

Given the situation as he understood it Captain Hawk quickly gave him leave. Still Ken still found it hard to believe as he sat in the waiting room, trying not to look at the other people talking to each other with various armed police men watching them. His UNDF credentials helped get him as private a table as you could get in this situation, which helped a little but still. He didn't know what to say as a couple of more guards brought his brother Jeff into the room. The handcuffs he was wearing around his wrists helped him believe the situation a little more, again but still... Jeff sat across form him and they just stared at each other for a bit as the guard backed away to give them some “privacy”. Jeff started by snapping at him, “It took you long to get here. I've been stuck in here for hours.”

“I just found out,” he snapped back. “Not to mention I had a hard time processing the fact you're in jail.”

His brother snorted, “They're blowing this all out of proportions.”

“You hit Janet,” he said. Jeff didn't even looked embarrassed, he just angry like his time was being apparently wasted. “And not for the first time according to Mom.”

“She doesn't know what she's talking about,” he snapped again. “Believing that lying piece of **** over her own son.”

“She's also the mother of you child,” Ken reminded him. As it was it took all he had not to reach over the table and try to shake some sense into him. And seeing how he was wondering exactly how far his credentials would go into getting him out of that mess, he kept his hands clasp under the table.

“That don't mean anything,” he grumbled. Then the anger went away, not entirely but just enough for somebody who knew him to notice, “Is... Nicole still there?”

Ken hesitated to answer, not sure if they wanted him to know or not. Eventually he said, “They're both still at Mom's the last I heard.”

“Good,” he said, “she won't let that ***** keep me from my kid.”

“Mom the one who called the police on you to begin with.” Here Jeff finally reacted, like he wasn't expecting that. Right now Ken didn't care one way or another. “Jeff what exactly happened?”

“She started another fight that's what happened,” his brother said. “The same ol' crap too. I'm drinking too much. I'm not doing enough to help around the house. I'm not putting enough effort in at work. Nag, nag, nag.”

At this point Ken didn't know what to think. Yeah he stopped Jeff from slapping Nicole after what was supposed to be her birthday party. But he never thought of it much after that, hell he didn't even think it would get to this extent. Hell if this was going on why didn't Janet say anything about it sooner?

“You got to get me out of here,” Jeff said breaking him out of his thoughts.

“What?”, he went.

“You got to get me out of here,” he repeated, Ken just now realized how quiet he was speaking now, so much so he actually leaned in to hear him better. “You got the government connections. Use them to get me out of here before they trump up the charges.”

“They're not going to trump up anything,” Ken began.

He was quickly cut off, “The hell they ain't. They love sticking it to guys like me.”

Pinching the bridge of nose Ken wasn't exactly surprised thing would be going this way. Still damn annoying though, “They're not sticking it to anybody.”

“The hell they won't!”

“Look if Janet is lying about being hit before they'll find out.”

“Like anybody is going to believe me over her. The courts eats up stories like hers like a god damned buffet. I am screwed no matter what. That's why you got to get me out of here.”

“Then what?”, Ken asked him. Jeff looked confused, almost as if he never thought thing past that particular point. Knowing Jeff that was a pretty big possibility. “Say I do get you out of here, then what. You still got to go to court.”

Checking to see where the guards were Jeff leaned in a little closer and spoke a little softer, “They got to find me first.”

“What?!”, he said through his teeth.

“I go to court and I'm screwed. I leave town and it never happens.”

“Yeah and when they find you it'll be even worse for you when they drag you in front of a judge.”

“Not going to happen I know where to hide. I just need to get out of here.”

“Jeff I can't do that.”

“I'm family little bro,” he said, in a tone Ken was all to familiar with. “And you always got to help family. Dad always said so.” And there it was, his go to ace in the hole. Ken knew he was going there as soon as he started talking. He always brought up there dad when Ken wasn't immediately bending to his will. It still pissed him off royally when Jeff did that. But mainly at himself, because like now he started to listen. That button was way too fucking obvious.

“How soon before the next creature comes through?”, Brooks said to the figure in the vortex. “If I may ask that is.” he stood in a dark cavern, his only refuge since he “retired” from the Castle Board of Directors. So far the UNDF hadn't located any of these site yet. Although now they knew how the monsters were appearing, and possibly from where since they saw him bring one over. Hopefully it'll take them a while to realize their main points of access to this dimension are primarily located underground.

“Soon,” the figure replied. “We are making some modifications to Golza. There is some... debate on where the improved destructive beam should emit from.”

“Ah, making him a 'fire' Golza as it were,” Brooks quipped. Realizing the figure wasn't reacting he sighed, “Right, no sense of humor. I forgot.”

“We will tell you when he is ready Avatar,” and with that the portal vanished.

Brooks grunted as the annoyance he was feeling made his right fist crackle. “How are you doing? I'm perfectly fine for not being able to go anywhere public since my face is posted just about everywhere. Just a minor inconvenience is all. Not that it matter to any of you, you one eyed...” Letting that annoyance build up and quickly get to him he blasted the wall.

As the dust hanged in the air he started at the creator he just made. “That's going to be happening a lot now, I can just feel it”

The next morning Ken was in the Castle practice range firing his gun at the target in front of him. His head wasn't really in it as his shots went a little wilder than usual. Jess, who was at the station next to his, had placed her shots in the “heart” of the target as usual. He put his gun down and lowered his head, leaning against the station. She always made some sort of comment about his shooting ability, right now he really wasn't in the mood for it. Hell he almost turned around and walked out of there earlier when he saw she was in there already. But this was a scheduled practice session, and Hawk usually gave you an ear full when you missed one. So he tried ot keep his tongue in check and remind himself she usually meant it as a jab between friends and not something mean spirited.

She did say some say something, just not what he was expecting at this particular moment, “Rough night huh?” He looked at her not really understanding. “Captain Hawk mentioned you got a call Jeff was in jail last night.”

Groaning, because he really didn't want that to get out any time soon, he asked, “How many of you did he tell?”

“Me and Ryo,” she answered. Okay at least Bill was still in the dark at the moment. “He just wanted to make sure you were alright since you really didn't say anything after you got back. Do you know what happened? I mean you don't have to say anything if don't want to, or if you can't depending on legal matter. But we're here for you if you need us.”

“I know,” he said, just looking ahead. Knowing he had to get at least one of the things weighing him down off his chest he told her, “He hit Janet.” Jessica sucked in some air but said nothing, just letting him continue at his own pace. “According to Mom not for the first time either. He's want;s me to use my 'connections' to get him out of this.”

“Are you?” even though it a perfectly legitimate question, the look she was giving him pretty much said she thought it was already a done deal.

Granted he gave in to Jeff before, a lot. Pretty much every time Jeff wanted something so it was a perfectly reasonable for her to expect him to do it again. Still that look was annoying the hell out of him, “I don't know.”

“Did he bring up your dad?” He looked at the next target down the line because it looked really interesting at the moment. She walked away in disgust, “Oh my god you're doing it.”

“I don't know what I'm doing yet,” he snapped. “I've been trying to get a hold of Janet all morning to get her side of things. She hasn't been answering her phone. She's even staying at my Mom's and I still can't talk to her for some reason.”

Jess wouldn't let it go, “But you're considering it. Don't lie to me I can tell.”

“I'll be the first to admit Jeff can be a ass. To a level only he's capable of reaching. But I don't think...” He stopped and amended himself. “I don't want to believe he's capable of doing something like this.”

Her expression softened a little, mot much but a enough to notice. “I understand that. But Ken, if this is something he's been doing...”

“I know,” he said. “I just want to get all the facts before I decide one way or another. Is that really that bad?”

“For you, after bring up your father, that would be an improvement,” she said smiling softly. “Just don't rush into anything no matter how hard Jeff pushes the 'dad button' alright. Just promise me that much.”

Seeing how Jeff's repeated pushing of that particular button was one of the, okay the major reason why she broke up him Ken said, “I'll try.”

“Good,” she replied looking satisfied with his answer, “because the court martial would be worth it to beat some sense into you if I thought you did otherwise.”

“Hey Jackson!,” a burly man sitting by a campfire shouted out. “Can you take that downwind. Yer stinking up the campsite.”

“**** you man,” he said coming out from behind a bush. “That's your cooking you're smelling.”

“Ain't nothing I've cooked made anything that smelled like that,” he protested. “You got something wrong with you. Been telling you that fer years.”

“The only time I hear anybody complain is when I'm camping with you,” he said sitting back down by the fire. “So the problem is your cooking.”

“Keep telling yerself that.” This particular argument had been a running joke between them for as long as they been camping in this particular location. Not that it still didn't get annoying but it did magically get cleared up after a couple of cold ones. Before that could happen a grumbling like sound filled the air. “I told you something wrong with you.”

“What are you blabbing about now”, Jackson demanded.

“Yer stomach making that noise. I know you can't be hungry already.”

“You're hearing things,' he said with a dismissive wave of his hand.

“There it goes again,” he winced as the sound hit his ears.

That's when Jackson started to look around in the darkness surrounding them, “That wasn't me.”

“Who else could it be?” He heard the sound for a third time, much louder than the previous two. And the grumbling sounded more like a growl. “Wolves,” he as he took one of the larger sticks from the pile and next to him and stuck an end into the fire.

Looking into the darkness Jackson went, “There's never been any around here this time of year before.”

“**** it better not be a bear,” the burly one said keeping his makeshift torch in front of him.”

“Don't fuckin' aggravate it if it is.” They heard the growl again, it was definitely getting louder. And coming from above them. They both looked up to see a huge set of glowing eyes starting right at them. Dropping the torch they ran for the hills. Almost right after a foot came down on top of the fire leaving the area in total darkness.

The very next morning Commander Reid lead a team, including Bill and some other members of Alpha team on loan from Hawk, to investigate the claims the local forest rangers filed. Seeing the size and shape of the footprint in the middle of the campsite Reid was more inclined to believe them. Not that he personally doubted any information from a government source being a federal park and all, but there had been a few crank calls recently that wasted time and resources so his current investigation team wasn't as large as it usually would have been. Looking at the footprint for who know how many times he looked at the forest around them. “Now where in the hell did you go?”

“Hey!”, Bill called out. “Trust me you don't want to go behind that bush.” This was directed at one of his Beta Team officers.

Who promptly ignored his warning and walked around said shrubbery. Before long there was a “Good lord!”

“Warned ya,” Bill muttered.

“Welcome to my first couple of days in command,” Reid told him.

“Not that I don't mind the company Commander,” Bill said after a bit of silence. “But why am I and a couple of other Alphas tagging along again?”

“Captain Hawk and myself was starting to think that the 'friendly rivalry” between Alpha and Beta team was starting to negatively impact both units.”

“Wait,” Bill cut in. “It was supposed to be a friendly rivalry? I don't think nobody passed that memo around.”

“In theory it's supposed to be,” Reid admitted. “But Jamira's attitude did cause way more friction when he was in charge and that never went away after I took over.” Seeing that he could see exactly who was in which unit right just by how they paired up he let out a sigh of frustration. “We're hoping that by making both teams work together on investigations like this it'll lessen the tension between them a bit.

Just them on of Reid's men bumped into Bill, “Out of the way Winger.”

Bill shot back, “Watch were your going Tracker.”

Reid sighed again, “Of course it doesn't help that one unit primarily air based and the other ground. Never did understand the reasoning behind that decision.” After a bit a thought occurred to him. “Waters, if you were in the air how would you track this thing? If you couldn't see it that is.”

Bill thought it over for a moment. “Well if I couldn't see it I don't know how. Wait we had a situation like this before. The monster turned invisible but we were able to follow the tracks it was making. And we knew it was making tracks before because Jess and Civilian found one while on look out.” Reid started giving him a funny look.

And it took him a little too long to realize why as Bill told him, “He said it was okay to call him that.”

Letting it drop for the moment Reid asked, “Did they go looking for any more tracks to get a general direction of where it's going or been.”

“I think they looked but I can't remember if they found any or not, sorry.”

“Then hopefully we'll have better luck. Reid to Castle.”

Promptly as ever Bridge replied, “Castle her Commander.”

“Mark my location and send out a small squadron of Razor Wings to survey the area from the air.” A couple of his men looked slightly betrayed but he ignored the, Finding this thing was more important than catering to their egos.”We have a giant footprint at this location and I'm sure there has to be more. We're going to split up into two groups and try and locate some more. Have the Wings give the location of any they find from the air and give it to the closest unit. If anything can get a rough estimate of it's size and figure out where tit could possibly hide. Better yet find out where the damn thing came from.”

“Understood Commander, we'll be launching shortly. Castle out.”

“You know this one is going to be fun if it can turn invisible too,” One of his men, one who actually respected his command from the start, commented.

“This job been more 'fun' then I can handle at times,” Reid told him. “Waters, it'll probably be better if you stuck with me.”

Considering some of the looks he been getting Bill stepped a little closer to Reid and said, “If you say so sir.”

“Gerald,” Reid called out. “Take half the guys and head that way,” he pointed in the general direction that that the footprint seemed be going. “The rest of us are going in the opposite direction. If you find anything that looks like that creature could hide in contact Castle and mark it's location.”

“Yes sir,” his man saluted and quickly picked some men to go with him, including a couple from Alpha Team much to Reid's hidden delight, and headed off to follow the minuscule trail they had.

“Alright Waters,” he said. “Let's see if we can a nest.”

“Maybe we can find a giant egg for the mess,” he joked. Greeted with silence he moved along mumbling, “Nobody has a sense of humor in this entire outfit.”

Walking up behind Bridge, Hawk watched him multitaask, going over several of the screens in front of him. One had the current monster search. A quick look around and he could see others in the control room were helping there. As it was Hawk was looking over his shoulder at the various other screens given the assignment he gave him previously. “Anythings in the records yet?”

“Not yet sir,” Bridge said as he continued outlook at the screens. “Geological surveys haven't revealed any monster size cave in this particular area as of yet.”

“They rarely do,” Hawk commented. “I know you're pretty thorough Bridge, but given the Brooks situation I'm not sure we can trust the surveys all that much.”

“I've considered that Captain,” Bridge said. “I've checked the files myself to see if they have been tampered with in any way.” Gesturing to one of the screens Hawk could see he was still checking them even now, in a different area than the one they were currently in if he was reading them correctly. “I have people now going over any older surveys record to see if they can find any discrepancies”

“Good man Bridge,” Hawk told him while patting him on the shoulder. “Although I think it might be a good idea to get some new surveys done just to be on the safe side.”

“Good luck getting that through the Board's next budget meeting,” Bridge joked.

“I'm going to need as much as I can get,” he grunted. But hopefully it wouldn't be as much of a fight, especially if Bridge can prove the surveys on file were tampered with in some way or another. Then again with the Brooks situation they may agree any way just so he didn't have any sort of advantage over them. He had it for far too long as it was.

The familiar incoming communication beep got both of their attentions. Bridge replied first, “Castle here Razor Wing seven. What do you have?”

“We're not sure,” came the reply from the female pilot. “Sally picked up a weird signal on her sensors. We swung by the area twice and picked it up both times. I had Nancy and Justin in Razor Wing eleven fly over the area and they got the same reading.”

“Send it,” Hawk said as Bridge picked up the incoming signal and brought it up on the big screen.

“We're receiving it now seven,” Bridge said. On the screen they could see the signal they were picking up. It seemed to be becoming from the mountain range in the area the creature was initially spotted. Hawk went to another screen and pulled up where Reid and his units was. And currently they were on the opposite side of the range the signal currently was.

“It's never easy is it?”, Hawk said to no one in particular. “Hawk to Reid.”

“Reid here, what is it Captain?”

“The Razor Wings have picked up a reading on the other side of the mountain range. Get you team together and get into position as fast as you can. Bridge will give you the exact coordinates in a moment.”

“Understood Captain, I'm recalling my men now.”

“It could be nothing,” Bridge said as the link ended. “The readings we're seeing doesn't indicate anything in the monster size category so far.”

“And this creature has to be somewhere,” Hawk reminded him. “Based on some of the things we've seen it makes sense that it would create a place to hide if there wasn't one there already.”

“That could also be how Brooks was able to hide them all the time once he got them all this time.”

That thought occurred to Hawk as well, more than once actually. And it literally depended on the time and his mood on if he believed it or not. Today and right now, “It would take time to create a large enough space to hold a giant creature. And that kind of work would be noticed some where no matter how he did it. Right now I want to concentrate on a possible creature sighting instead of what ifs.”

“Yes sir,” Bridge said with a nod. “I'll get the internal units on stand by and ready to launch.”

“Good man,” Hawk said one more time as he left the room.

In one of the lower level Ken tried Janet's number one more time. If it went to voice mail one more time he was going to say screw it and head over to his Mom's place. And maybe get the Captain's permission to leave base first, he was semi official now after all. Hearing it ring again he finally got a voice, a cautious one, “Hello?”

“Janet?”, he said more out of amazement that she actually picked up. He had to remind himself that he wasn't going to get the whole story if he only had one side of it now that he finally gotten a hold of her. Still what was he going to say now? “Okay, dumb ass question of the year here but are you alright?”

“I'm, I'm fine,” said said. “Wait, I'll call you right back.”

“Janet wait,” he said but she already ended the call. But like she said she would Janet called right back, wanting to talk over a video call. Almost not wanting too he accepted the call and held the phone out a bit. Her face filled the small screen and his eyes went to the huge bruise on her cheek. Leaning back against the wall behind him for support his free hand went to his mouth, the realization of what his brother did slamming into him full force, “Oh God.”

“I,” she looked almost ashamed that he could see her, “I wanted you to see for yourself. It's not as bad as it was but it still .. yeah.”

“I see,” he said, part of him still not to wanting to believe the evidence in front of him. “How long has this been going on?”

“A few months,” she answered.

Each word felt like a physical blow. A few months? “Why didn't you say anything?”

“What was I supposed to say?”, she demanded. “He kept apologizing and and I kept forgiving him. Then he'd do it again.”

“Why now?”, he asked. “If he's been hitting you for months why wait until now to say anything?”

“He did this,” she pointed to the bruised side of her face, “in front of Nicole. That was the last straw. I only wish I did it sooner.”

God, he didn't even think about his niece. “What are you and Nicole going to do now?”

“I don't know,” she admitted. “The house is in Jeff's name and I'm not going back there. You're mom said we can stay there for as long as we want. But I don't want to impose on her good will any longer than I have too.”

“I'm sure she'll tell you you're not imposing, you're family.”

“Right now we are,” she said suddenly. And it took Ken a little too long to understand what she was getting at.

“You're thinking about getting a divorce?”

“I'm,” again she seemed hesitant to answer, “I'm not sure.”

Before he could respond Bridge's voice came over the intercom, “All teams prepare to launch. A potential monster signal has been detected. All teams prepare to launch.”

“Damn it,” Ken muttered as he looked at the ceiling. Looking back at his phone he said, “Janet I have to go. I'll call back the first chance I get.”

“Right,” she said, but she still didn't look happy about it. “I'll talk to you then.” Still she soften a bit as she said, “Ken be careful.”

“Tell it to the creature,” he said attempting a joke. Both of them knew his heart wasn't in it though.

An hour after they mobilized and arrived they were still waiting. The area was cordoned off and all civilian withing a mile of the location were evacuated, some more than a bit angry about according to some of the others. Nothing like the gratitude of having your life potentially saved. A few ground units not currently aiming their cannons at the potential underground target estimated location were patrolling that mile area for any stragglers or people trying to sneak back in to watch, generally the orders were about any reporters but any one with a recording device was to be detained and quickly escorted from the area. Currently Ken was in the group keeping any eye on the target. Leaning against a Scan Track he had his arms crossed and was deep in thought. And not about the current situation.

“Hey Civilian,” Bill said as he joined him against the vehicle. “Family trouble getting you down?”

Snorting in disgust Ken muttered a, “Is everybody talking about this?”

“You ain't that special Civilian,” Bill shot back. “Besides Hawk and Jess ask me to keep an eye on you and see how you're doing.” Ken snorted again. “Hey man, you got your real family and you got this one too.” This time he snorted a bit, “Hell for some of us this is the only family we got.”

Right about then Ken remembered Bill was raised in an orphanage and never adopted. Not that it meant anything in the current situation but at least he was trying to show that he cared. Ken also immediately felt like a bit of an ass, “Sorry Bill.”

“Forget about it Civilian.” After a moment Bill started looking at him, in a way that almost made him uncomfortable.” “Is this you trying to figure out a way to shoulder everything going on in the private life? Because Jess said you would and this is looking like it to me.”

“I'm still trying to wrap my head around things,” Ken admitted. “My brother's been arrested, my sister-in-law has a bruise on her face the size of his fist. And I even had a chance to ask about my niece yet but I know she has to be scared and confused as hell after it happened.” His gaze went to the mountain range, “And I'm here stuck waiting for whatever the **** that's supposed to be to come out of hiding.”

Bill just nodded seeing how he didn't know what to say to that. Ken was kind of glad he say anything, he just needed to vent for a second. Both of them looked up to see the Alpha One fly into the area. “Just a hunch but I'm guessing they really think that something there if they brought out the big guns.”

Being this close Daxium was already sensing the creature so there was no doubt in Ken's mind. He told Bill, “Better them up there than me.”

“I betcha anything Ryo in my chair right now. Pretending he's the Alpha's main pilot.”

“That's why they invented rock-paper-scissors,” Ken joked, but still not feeling it at the moment.

“Ryo cheats,” Bill said joking along. “Hey man just remember, even the rock needs help every so often, so if you need anybody to lean on we're there for you,” he patted him on the shoulder and headed back to his Scan Track. Seeing how that was something similar to what Jess used to tell him Ken had a pretty good idea on where he got that line. Still he appreciated the gesture.

“Hawk to all units,” he said from the bridge of the Alpha One. “Target has been confirmed. We have the green light to try and force it out of the side of the mountain range. I want a man from each unit to join in the patrols on for for the time being. Report as soon as you see anybody who's not supposed to be here.”

“Understood,” The Scan Track driver said as he joined a chorus of other who confirmed the order. “Ken,” he shouted out the window, “since you;re already outside the vehicle why don't you join the patrols in this section.”

“On it,” Ken said as he headed for the woods. He looked back at the Alpha one hovering n the air. That order just saved him a ton of hassle for when the creature decided to pop up.

On the Alpha One Hawk looked back at Jess who was at the weapons station. “Wade, do you want to tell me again why that order was a good idea. Because I'm still not buying it.”

“With an area this big the patrols can't see everything, especially when there's a lot of places a person can hid,” she said. “The more eyes on the ground looking for them the less chance of any civilian getting got in the crossfire.”

“Outside of Scott that is,” the man next to Ryo said. And like Bill was worried about, Ryo was in the pilot seat.

“No one asked you opinion Phillips,” Ryo snapped at him. Phillips looked back at Hawk, realized he wasn't going to get any support on the matter and quietly turned back to his station.

Consider that situation handled Hawk glanced back at Jess. While he was open to any suggestion, especially ones that could save lives, he still wasn't fully buying it. Consider the Scan Tracks sensor package any stray non combatant could be detected easily. Still, for now at least, he'll consider it an experiment. A few more men patrolling on foot would cut down any chase time by a few seconds as soon as they were located.

After an half hour several all clears came from those currently on patrol. Before giving the order Hawk thought, and not for the first time today, that Jamira would be extremely happy that they were about to do what he thought they should have been doing all along. “Wade, lock on to the signal and send a round of missiles to wake it up.”

“Rodger,” she replied, already having a target lock on her screen before he said anything. “Firing missiles.” Around of missiles flew out struck the mountain full force. Everyone watching a cloud of smoke and debris flew up from the impact on the mountain and waited. The fingers on Ken's right hand started twitching slight as he still felt the dark energy. Suddenly a crimson beam of energy fired out from the cloud and started tearing out a path in the ground. Realizing he was in the path of this wave of destruction Ken jumped out of the way but was still caught in it's wake and ended up flying further than he intended. Stunned for the moment he tried to regain his bearings as the other units started firing.

Through the smoke other parts of the creature started to emerge. With parts of it's skin looking like a hard, gray leather hood as it roared in defiance. As more of it's body became visible more of the gray area became apparent, looking like sections of armor covering the blue flesh underneath. It's gigantic neck started to glow a bit as arcs of electricity flew up it's head and collected themselves in a point right above it's forehead. A moment later that same crimson beam attacked it's assailants one more time. Scan Tracks in it's path that didn't react fast enough were sent flying or were destroyed altogether.

“All units move,” Reid ordered. “Try to fire at it on the fly and not give that thing any stationary targets.”

“God I wish I was in the air right now,” Bill whined from the sensor station.

“Get it's attention,” Hawk ordered as he saw what Reid's troops were trying to do.

Ryo already had the Alpha One moving into position as Jess called out, “Lock acquired. Firing missiles.” A new set of missiles hit the creature on the gray part of it's hide. It didn't seem to do much but the creature started looking at them. Seeing the energy build up in it's neck and travel up once more Ryo quickly maneuvered the super jet out of the way of the destructive beam. Jess glanced over at the engineering section now occupied by some one else. Where ever Ken was at this moment he was probably glad he wasn't aboard for this particular ride.

Loose dirt fell off him as he was finally able to get off the ground. Ken looked over at the freshly dug, gigantic rut that was next to him. Yeah that was too fucking close for comfort. Look back at the mountain he saw the troops try to engage the creature. Although seemingly making it angrier would have been a better assessment. Spotting the Alpha one, he started getting a bit queasy just watching the moves it was pulling off. Time to lend a hand he thought as he subconsciously shook his left arm a bit. Making sure no one else was around as he reached into his jacket Ken raised the Spark Magnifier over his head and activated it.

Attracted by the column of light Golza roared a challenge as Daxium appeared, “Shiah!” Both giants charged at one another. At the last moment Daxium jumped and twisted in the air as he landed so he faced the back of the monster. As it turned he fired off a flash bolt that hit it. But it didn't seem affected it much as it hit one of the gray panels. But he was confident enough that it did affect it and ran at the creature. This time connecting with a right to the blue flesh of it's face. Hat seemed to get the reaction of pain he was looking for and he tried it again with the same results. Trying it a third time he was surprised by the creatures quickness as it grabbed his arm and threw him to the ground face first.

Golza started stomping on his back with apparent maniacal glee. Grunting with each stomp he rolled out of the way as he felt it's foot lift off his back. Not going far he tried to surprise the creature by tackling it at the waist to try and catch it off balance and silently celebrated as he did so. The two giants his the ground in a earth shaking crash. “Really wish I was in the air,” Bill mumbled as they watched the ongoing conflict. On top of it Daxium started landing several blows to the monster's face before Golza started building up energy again. Rolling off the creature as it fired straight up he wasn't prepared for how fast the creature could get to it's feet. It came at him hard trying to knock him off his feet. It took all he had but Daxium kept his footing but he was still a bit wobbly. Changing it's tactics a bit Golza came in and after a bit of a struggle got it's arms around him and started squeezing. Daxium cried out in pain as the pressure increased. Then he saw the monster's neck start to glow. Despite the pain he got his hands under it' chin and started pushing up. He just barely pushed it up enough that the beam went over his head.

Letting him go the creature battered Daxium around a bit as he tried to defend himself but they quickly crumbled. With ease it picked Daxium up and off his feet and threw him into the side of the mountain. Dazed for a bit too long as the creature had time to charge up it's beam and fired it and kept firing it. The pressure against him increased the longer it hit him, even feeling the mountain behind him start to crumble as he was pushed into it. He tried not to panic as the jewel on his chest started flashing.

“All units open fire!”, Reid ordered as Scan Tracks and Razors Wings unleashed a load of missiles at the creature to try and get it to stop it's beam.

“Main cannon primed,” Jess called out at her station on the Alpha One as a handle and trigger lowered into position. Underneath the ship a cannon lowered into position. She impatiently watched her read out as it quickly hit full charge. “Main cannon ready.”

Hawk didn't even hesitate, “Fire!”

“Firing!”, and she pulled the trigger.

A stream of energy fired out of the cannon barrel and hit Golza between the gray plates and hit the softer blue flesh. The beam stopped and the beast spun around to locate it's new attacker. Seeing his opportunity Daxium slammed his forearms together and mode shifted into Power Mode.

“All Scan Tracks back away now!”, Reid called out although a few drivers were already doing just that just in anticipation of of him unleashing his main move.

A new sense of energy flowing though him Daxium ran toward the creature and grabbed it from behind and forced it to turn around and punched it again. This time the monster reacted in pain. He kept up the attack and Golza stumbled back. Daxium was able to grab it around the head and with a grunt he was able to pick it it up and over as he fell back slamming it to the ground. Golza seemed to panic and quickly pushed him away. Turning over it started to claw at the ground trying to dig it's way out of there. Daxium ran in quickly and grabbed it around the waist and with another strained grunt was able to remove Golza from the hole it was creating. Holding the monster over his head he faced the mountain and threw the monster into it's side.

Holding his fist to his chest he drew in energy. Then punched the ground unleashing the Giga Wave. Then energy wave hit, tearing up the ground as it hit the creature and through it into the mountain. A moment later Golza exploded in a massive fireball. Turning around Daxium looked at the UNDF forces in the sky and on the ground and gave them a nod in thank before flying off into the sky, “Shiah!”

Ken's Scan Track found stopping on the other side of the gigantic rut that was still smoking a little. The gunner jumped out to get a closer look at it, whistling at the sight. He looked over at him, “How close were you to that?”

“Really trying not to think about it,” Ken told him. Trying to find the best way to cross the rut, thinking it wasn't the best of ideas to jump into it considering the readings his wrist scanner was picking up, he didn't see anything in the immediate area. “I'm going to head that way, it had to stop ripping up the ground at some point.”

“We'll meet you down there,” the driver called out as the gunner jumped back in. “You better hurry.” As the drove off Ken actually smiled. That would have been a totally different conversation after he first joined up.

“The park services are still giving us hell,” Reid told Hawk hours later. They had both debriefed their respective teams and was currently sitting in Hawks office. “Even after we helped put the fires out.”

“I'm sure it's coming from a bureaucratic level,” Hawk said taking a sip from his cup. “I've notice in my time in this organization that the ones behind the desk are usually the ones making the most noise. I'm sure if you asked the rangers in the park they be giving you a different story.”.

“You seem so sure of that particular theory.”

“Deal with the board as often as I have,” Hawk answered with a small grin.

“I'll let you keep that particular honor,” Reid grinned back. “Although one park ranger did ask me if there was a way to warn people when Ultraman was going to go into his Red Form.”

Hawk stared at him for a moment, “Red Form?”

“His Red Form,” Reid explained, “that's what we call it in Beta.” Still Hawked looked confused. “Multi, Blue and Red?” Still not getting any reaction of recognition Reid asked, “What does Alpha call them?”

“Normal, Hyper and Power.”

Frowning Reid went, “That was in no report by Jamira that I've read.”

“Honestly we never really talked about it,” Hawk told him.”I suppose that's what I get for assuming he read my reports that I sent him. Then again I wasn't much better considering I just skimmed his only concentrating on the parts were he was complaining out something in the operation.” A chime went off signaling somebody was at his door. “I really need to get an assistant. It's open.”

Ken walked and looked like he was starting to say something when he spotted Reid. “Sorry Captain I didn't think you'd still be busy.”

“It's alright Ken,” Reid said getting up, “I got to go over some old reports anyway.” When Hawk gave him a confused look he said, “I have to figure out where Alpha and Beta started to see things differently now to avoid any future confusion. Captain, Ken.”

“Sir,” Ken said as he stepped aside to let him out. Reid gave the young man a quick, friendly pat on shoulder as he passed. Hawk hid his smile, finally he was acting like he belonged. Now if he could just convince him to zip up that blasted jacket.

“So what can I do for you son?”, he gestured toward the now empty chair.

Taking the offered seat he looked unsure of himself all of the sudden. Naturally this pique Hawk's curiosity because even when he first joined up he never looked this uncertain about anything. Maybe about getting into Razor Wing but he was usually a pale shade of green in those moments. “I... ah.... I have a pretty strange request. And I'm probably stepping way outta line too.”

“I'll be the judge of that.” Knowing what happened with his brother he tried not to think the worst. “Would I be correct in assuming this 'request' is family related?”

Fidgeting a little he replied, “Pretty much.”

Again he tried no to think the worst. It could be he just wanted an ear to vent too. Or perhaps he wanted some advice from someone not personally involved in the situation. It was even in the realm of possibilities that he wanted an extended leave of absence to help sort things out at home. Or Jessica could be correct about her fears about the situation when she talked it over with him earlier. “So let's hear it.”

“It's about time you showed up,” Jeff spat as he sat down across him at the same table they had earlier. He had already been arraigned but so far nobody they knew had stepped up to supply the bail money to get him out of jail. “I'm rotting away in this joint. You talked to whoever you had to yet?”

Looking at him with the straightest of looks he said, “Yeah I talked to my Captain.”

“Went straight to the top. Smartest thing your grease jockey ass ever did. When am I getting out of here?”

His expression didn't change, “You're not.”

Jeff sputtered, “He turned you down.”

“No he accepted my request,” Ken told. He was trying not to show that he was enjoying this but based on how angry Jeff was getting he probably was. “He arranged for Janet to get an work interview at Castle in a couple of days.”

“Janet?! She's the reason why I'm in here!”

“No,” Ken said sharply, “you got yourself into this. Don't go blaming her because you can't control yourself any more.”

“I'm your family!”, he growled and started to get up. Holding up his UNDF badge Ken waved the guards off and they complied by stepping back. But they were keeping a closer eye on their table now. “Did you forget what Dad always said? That you have to take care of your family?”

“I remember,” Ken calmly told him. “Dad said a lot of things. You have to take care of family. If you **** up act like a man and face the consequences.” Jeff snorted and looked away. “And this one has been running through my head a lot lately. Sometimes you have to forget about the past and start worrying about the future.”

“And what the **** does that mean?”

“It means I'm thinking about Nicole's future,” Ken told him. “Because I;ve been wondering what kind of future is she going to have, who she's going to end up with, if you're acting like the jackass you have been.”

“She's just fine!” Jeff shouted. Another hand up by Ken kept the guards in place again. The apparent power play in Jeff's mind was making him even crazier. “I don't need you or anybody telling me how to raise my kid.”

“Because the example you've been setting has been so fucking great hasn't it?”, Ken shot back. “Jeff for once in your life listen to reason. Pay for what you did At least admit you did something wrong.” His older brother sat there fuming and said nothing. Sighing Ken said, “I wanted to tell you what was going on face to face.” Not sure what else to say since Jeff clammed up Ken got up and left.

“Don't you walk away from me you son of a *****!” Jeff yelled, getting partially up. “You are nothing without me!” He started struggling with the guards who tried to calm him down.. “You owe me! I made you the man you are now!”

That made Ken stop in his tracks. Standing there fuming himself he suddenly turned around and headed back tot he table. With one last wave he sent the guards back and leaned against the table staring his brother right in the eyes. Eventually Jeff sat back down, confused by his sudden change of visual attitude but still angry as hell. Ken quite literally didnt give a **** at how angry he was right then. “You know what?”, he said evenly. “You're right. You are absolutely right. You are responsible for me being the man I was. But you know what? I got away from you, I got away of your put downs and your guilt trips and everything else you threw at me and I quickly became somebody better. Somebody everybody else saw in me.”

“There is nothing to you,” Jeff spat.

“Yeah, you keep saying that. For as long as I can remember. Everybody else I knew said I had a gift, I had a future and you kept saying that. And you were the one I kept listening to.”

“That's because there's nothing special about you.”

Any other time time Ken might have enjoyed telling Jeff this, just to see the expression on his face. But right now, after years of this crap, he just wanted to shut him up. “Too bad I saw my file from the academy, before I got medically disqualified. I'll be honest I'm still not sure if I believe it or not myself. But according to their experts, I am quite literally a mechanical genius.”

“You are not,” his brother began.

Ken didn't even give him a chance to start with the spiel again. “It would explain why I was always able to figure out those newer engines they keep coming up with. Barely even had to crack open a manual. I just knew how it worked just by looking at it.” He stopped and waited a bit to see if Jeff had anything to say to that. His brother just sat there seething. He went on, “You're my brother and I love you. But I can't help but get a little pissed off thinking about where I'd be right now if I didn't keep letting you drag me down. Now I'm not blaming you entirely, I was the one listening to you and that's fully on me. But you kept trying to drag me down for whatever reason. And right now I really don't give a damn anymore what that reason was. Because right now, I'm pretty sure I'm who I'm supposed to have been all along. After I got away from you. And I'm praying to God or whoever listening that's something Nicole will never have to through with you acting like you have been.”

Again he gave Jeff an opportunity to say something, anything. But again he just sat there, not even looking ashamed of himself or anything. Feeling strangely lighter after finally getting that off his chest he turned around and left the room and didn't look back after the door closed.

Wandering around the office level of Castle Ken finally found the office dealing with outside civilian employment. It occurred to him that there would be a joke there for some people on base, at his expense of course. Which was why he didn't ask anyone of directions. He didn't go in, he wasn't needed in there of course. But he did walk by the reception desk and sat next to Nicole who was playing with her visitor badge and looking like the loneliest person on the planet. The way he heard things was the interview was scheduled pretty much after Janet had to pick her up from school and Mom wasn't available since it was a busy time at the store and was low on help. And there was no other openings in the schedule for her to come in earlier. Fortunately they let her bring Nicole, Ken just wished he could have gotten away from Dr. Williams sooner. “Hey kiddo, how are you doing?” He realized a little too late that was probably one of the stupidest things he could have asked. “I was able to talk my Captain into letting me give you guys a tour of the base after you Mom's done. That'll be pretty cool right?” She nodded but still said nothing as she kept looking at the floor. Seeing this usually happy little girl in this state was breaking his heart. More to break the silence than anything he said, “I hear you're staying in my old room. Now I don't care what Grandma says you tell her I said you can decorate it any way you want.”

“Uncle Ken,”she finally spoke up.

“Yeah kiddo?”

She looked at him, “Is my Daddy a bad man?”

“Um...,” alright, how in the hell was he supposed to answer that one? “No honey, he's not a bad man. He... just forgot how to be a good one.” He happened to look over to see Jess standing there listening to them. Ignoring the look she was giving him he said, “Your Daddy just need time to remember how to be a good man. And he needs a long time to think about the things he's done that got him to where he is now.”

On the other side of the room the door opened and Janet, the person she was talking to, and Captain Hawk for some, came out of the other room. Nicole ran over to her before Ken could stop her. Fortunately Hawk knelt down smiling at her and started up a quick conversation with Nicole before straightening back up.

Alone with Jess all he could say was, “Don't give that look. Jeff doing a good enough job on his own but I don't want her to think her father is a monster. Self-centered, an idiot and maybe even a jackass,” he glanced back at Nicle who was now hugging Janet's leg while still talking to Captain Hawk, “but not a monster.”

“Fair enough,” she ended up saying. “But forgot how to be a good man?”

“Janet had to see something in him,” he told her. “God knows I never seen it but it had to have been there at some point.”

Janet, Nicole and Hawk came up to them. Hawk said, “There's been a slight change of plans, I need to show my new secretary the office while the final paperwork goes through. Just to get her familiar with the set up.”

“Secretary?”, Ken asked, more than a little caught off guard. “I thought she was signing up to be part of the janitorial staff.” Janet just shrugged her shoulders.

“Not after seeing those college transcripts,” he said. “I'm lucky nobody else snapped her up yet. As I said there still a little more paperwork, just the usual background stuff. But that can wait a bit why don't you take your daughter and get something to eat n the cafeteria. I'm sure both of you are hungry.”

“I will in a bit,” Janet told him. “Thank you sir.”

“She started calling me that faster than you did,”Hawk said taking a friendly shot at Ken. He faked a laugh, fortunately Hawk was more than familiar with his sense of humor by now. To Janet he said, “I'll see you in a bit.”

“Yes sir.” Hawk and the other person reentered the office leaving the alone for the most part. Janet looked down at Nicole then at Jess. “I know I don't really know you and shouldn't be asking you this, but can I talk to Ken alone for a few moments.?”

Jess was a little surprised but she said, “Sure.” Kneeling down she looked at Nicole and gave her a soft smile, “Hey there sweetie. I don't suppose you remember me. When that monster spoiled your birthday?” Nicole looked at Jess then nodded that she did. “Cool. How about you and me go down to the cafeteria?”

“It's okay kiddo,” Ken told his niece. “You can trust her.”

“'Kay” Nicole said. Without any prompting she took Jess' offered hand and they headed off.

“Me and Uncle Ken will join you soon honey,” Janet told her.

Ken added, “Charge whatever she gets to my account.”

“I was planing to,” Jess shot back.

Out of the blue Nicole looked up at Jess and asked, “Are you Uncle Ken's girlfriend?”

“Ah,” caught off guard Jess looked back at Ken who was looking embarrassed at the moment, “I'm a friend who's a girl.”

After they turned the corner Janet looked at him. “Thank you for doing this. But why? If you expect me to get back with Jeff...”

“There's no hidden strings here,” Ken assured her. “I don't know what going to happen in the future. But if you do go through with the,” he paused, looked around then just said it, “ the divorce I know you'll probably going to need a better paying job than the one you have now to support you and Nicole. And since I used to live with Mom I also understand the need to get out of her house as soon as possible.” He said that last bit mainly to lighten the current mood. Luckily it worked for the moment.

“But why?”, Janet pressed the issue. “After the divorce we won't be family any more.”

“Divorce or not I'm always going to consider you family. So you're stuck with me because I'm not going to just drop out of your life. And Mom would hunt you down if you tried to do the same. And,” he couldn't believe he was saying this after everything that went down,” Dad always said you helped family. Besides you have my favorite niece.”

Janet chuckled at that last bit then hugged him, “Thank you. Thank you for helping us like this.” She broke off and said. “I guess we better hurry up and catch up with Nicole and your friend.” As they walked down the hall Janet looked at him, “Why did you're captain ask me if I make my coffee as strong as you do?”

Ken sighed, “He's the one who said he wanted it strong enough to strip the paint off the walls.”

ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside