Ultraman Daxium

Discussion in 'Justice Fiction' started by scikaiju, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. Matrix

    Matrix Matrix of Leadership

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    Im a little behind on this series, but seriously it is pretty neat, and hyper mode was a good power up for Daxium.
     
  2. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    Episode 9


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Daxium nodded, “I am afraid so.â€

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

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

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

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

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

    “That’s all you said,†Ken told her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Time out chairs,†Bill joked.

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

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

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

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

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

    “Once a mechanic,†Jess smirked.

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

    “Captain I can handle it,†Ken insisted.

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

    “Yes sir,†Ken said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “My shoulder?â€

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

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

    “How come you didn’t say anything?â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Damn it, why did he get caught on video?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “I thought you just did,†Ken frowned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Pretty much,†Hawk agreed.

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

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

    “And attack trailer parks,†Bill commented.

    Jess told him, “Bill shut up.â€

    “Any thoughts?â€, Hawk asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “I’m just asking.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Captain?†Ken asked stunned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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    ED – Shinedown – Fly From the Inside
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  3. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    Episode 10


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

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

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

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

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

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

    “You’re one of them,†he shot back.

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

    “Nice one asshole.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ken smirked in amusement, “Oops.â€

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

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

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

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

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

    “What? It’s the truth.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Traitor,†Ken shot at him.

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

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

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

    Ken quickly said, “Ex-girlfriend.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Some friend you are,†Ken said.

    “We’re not that close,†he shot back.

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

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

    “Anytime you’re ready.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “How would you describe their condition?â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “What does that mean?â€, Ryo ask.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Ken this is not real,†Daxium insisted.

    “I don’t care.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “You too Charles.â€

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


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    ED – Shinedown – Fly From the Inside
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  4. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    Episode 11


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

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

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

    “What new ally?â€, he asked warily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “What is it Dan?â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Did you recognize the voice?â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Hohohoho.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “No Ken,†Daxium said suddenly.

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

    “This being is not my target.â€

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

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

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

    “Jess!â€, Ryo shouted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “I had a lot on my mind recently.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “None so far,†Brooks answered.

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

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

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

    The Baltan suddenly spoke up, “No.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Understood,†Bridge answered.

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

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

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

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

    “Then let me out to battle him.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “That was my line,†Bill told him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “You’re lucky I don’t have my gun.â€


    -----
    ED – Shinedown – Fly From the Inside
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  5. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    Episode 12


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “So? He’s not mine,” she shot back.

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

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

    “A few months,” Hawk answered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Could it be another monster?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “And I thought you liked Bill.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Image received,” Bridge responded.

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

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

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

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

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

    “Not from this distance,” was the response.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Monster Squad move out.”

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

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

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

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

    “Hopefully not literally,” the scanner guy grinned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Keep that engine running,” Ken said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Understood Captain,” he replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Amen,” Bill agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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    ED –Shinedown –Fly From the Inside
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  6. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    Episode 13


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “It’s possible,†Bridge conceded.

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

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

    “Killjoy,†the first one told her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “You know.â€

    “Am I not good enough for you?â€

    “Uncle Ken,†she whined.

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

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

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

    “I’m happy you came.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Oh shit,†somebody muttered.

    “Now what?â€, Bridge demanded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “What the hell is that?â€

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

    “Is it going to…?â€

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

    “Get down,†Jeff mocked.

    “Not now,†he snapped.

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

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

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

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

    “Bridge?â€, Hawk asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “We’ll do what we can sir.â€

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

    “My partner’s doing that now.â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “What about you?â€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Daddy took this,†she said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Sounds like a plan to me. Oh I’m going to love hearing the theories that going to be coming out of this one at the next meeting.â€

    Elsewhere the beings from the dark dimension watched. The only thing that surprised them more than the fact that the giant from the light dimension showed up was the reaction of the creature they were told about. Well they would soon fix that As Daxium slowly came closer toward Makeena he held his hands open to show he wasn’t going to attack him again he stopped and looked up at the sky. He felt the wave of dark energy before he saw it. An vortex formed above Makeena and started assaulting him with bolts of dark energy. Daxium tried to help the creature but couldn’t get close until the bolts stopped and Makeena stood there. Eyes glowing purple he charged the giant and unmercifully assaulted him. Daxium took the brunt of it before ducking and flipping him over his shoulder. Makeena got up as Daxium tried to calm him down to no avail as he attacked again.

    Knocking him down again Makeena squatted down and surrounded himself with the rock again and lifted off. Flying up so fast the hovering Razor almost couldn’t avoid him he altered his course to crash into Daxium as he stood up again. Then he did it again from behind. On the third try the giant was ready for it and caught him, feet digging trenches into the ground until they stopped. The jewel started to flash as he drew on all his strength as and repeatedly slammed the meteor into the ground then threw him overhead. Makeena slowly came out of his shell as he brought his fist up to his chest, preparing to unleash the Giga Wave. The he saw the dwelling of Ken’s brother and others would be in it’s path. Going over the options he had in his head so he wouldn’t endanger it in case the creature would move he suddenly he crossed his arms over his chest and brought them down and mode shifted into Hyper Mode. Extending the Light Stream whip he swirled it around his head before wrapping it around the creature. Rearing the other hand back and drawing in energy from the surroundings he slammed it down on the wrist and the Light Pulse shot through the whip and into Makeena, a second later he exploded. Daxium stood there, clenching his fists and feeling no satisfaction over this. He flew off with a sharp, “Shiah!â€

    Ken reappeared, falling to a knee and holding his chest. “Those multiple mode shifts still suck,†he grunted. Looking back at where the battle was all he could say was, “We’re facing a bunch of bastards.â€

    ***
    With the board’s approval Hawk quickly organized a party to help the civilians hurt during the evacuation and help ease some of the chaos that was happening in the aftermath. He argued since they fired the first shot to antagonize the creature it was the least they could do to help out. Surprisingly enough Richardson agreed with him, especially since it would make for some good PR. In no time Hawk and the rest of Alpha Team were there joining Ken and trying to build up some good will. Jess in particular was having a bit of a time trying to find the parents of a little boy that was with her. Though she had to smile when they did find them. “Jessica Wade?â€, hearing her name she was greeted by a familiar face.

    “Mrs. Scott,†she said as the older woman hugged her out of the blue, “how are you?â€

    “I’m fine. And ‘Mrs. Scott’? Are you trying to make me sound like an old woman?â€

    “Sorry, force of habit drilled into me by my family.†It looked like she was trying to say something but stopping short from actually saying it. “What is it?â€

    “I always told myself I’d tell you something in gratitude the next time I saw you. But I can’t think of a way to say it without sounding like a total bitch.â€

    “Well you said it was in gratitude so I’ll try not to be offended.â€

    “Alright dear, you asked for it,†she said with what had to be a family smirk. “I always thought you breaking up with Ken was the best thing that ever happened to him. Only because he started growing a backbone where Jeff was concerned.â€

    “Good thing you told me you were grateful for it first.†Although she still wasn’t sure how she should take it.

    “Uh-oh,†Ken said walking up to them, “my mom and my ex. No good can come of this.â€

    “Only if you say anything stupid,†his mom warned him.

    “Which is pretty regular,†Jess added. “More so now a days.â€

    “I knew I was going to get ganged up on,†Ken whined.

    “Uncle Ken!â€, Nicole shouted as she ran up to him with a piece of paper in her hand. “I drew you a picture.â€

    “And I can’t wait to see it.†Ken took it and opened it fully prepared to be the proud uncle. Actually looking at it his eyes bugged out a little. There was a drawing of a man with a ponytail flying to the side in a UNDF jacket with his hand over his head. Instead of a hand though there was a drawing of a flash of light. And behind him was something that looked suspiciously like Dax. “This is great Nicole. Just great.†Nicole beamed as she left them alone. This could be a problem.

    Jess, who was looking over his shoulder at the drawing, said, “You’re niece thinks you’re Ultraman?â€

    “Why wouldn’t I be?â€, he as face he could manage. Then he broke out in a grin, “I’m the coolest guy she knows.â€

    “Then she needs to meet more people.â€

    “Hey civilian,†Bill said walking up to him, “you dropped you GLC.â€

    Catching it after it was tossed to him Ken pocketed it, “Thanks I was looking for that.†And he was so grateful one of the team found it were he put it and Jeff was right there to witness it. The look on his face alone was worth the risk.

    Of course Jeff being Jeff he tried to save some face. “Ha, you’re in trouble now. How dare you lose you Global… Locating… Comp… What does GLC stand for?â€

    Bill just gave him the strangest look, “Good luck charm.†And again the look on his older brother’s face was worth it.

    Just to rub it in Ken added, “My life been great since I found it.†Jeff walked off grumbling something colorful.

    “So you’re the smart one then?â€, Bill asked.

    “I think things are going great,†Hawk said as he and Ryo joined them. “at this rate we should be back at base in no time. Then I get the ‘joy’ of dealing with Jamira over what happened,†he added looking a little dismayed.

    “What did you steal from me?!â€, Jeff shouted. They looked over to see him and a very frightened Nicole. “I swear to God I out to..,†he raised his hand as to strike her. Nicole flinched expecting the blow but Ken was already there grabbing his wrist.

    “You do and I swear to God I’ll put you in the hospital.â€

    “And I’ll press charges,†Jeff threatened him.

    “Does it look like I give a damn?â€

    Taken by surprise by the look in his little brother’s eyes he said, “You and what army tough guy?â€

    Before either of them knew it Jess was standing beside him, then Ryo, then Bill and Hawk. Looking back at them then to his brother Ken couldn’t keep the smirk off of his face, “This one.â€

    Looking at them Jeff walked off saying, “Losers.â€

    As Ken made sure Nicole was alright Bill asked, “How are you two related again?â€

    “You have no idea how many times I’ve asked that?â€, Jess commented.

    “Captain I’m going to take my niece home,†Ken said. “I’ll be back at Castle later.â€

    “Take your time,†he told him, glancing where his brother went. “Report back when you do.â€

    “Yes sir. Come on sweetie let’s find Mommy and Grandma,†and he took her hand asking himself that same question for the millionth time this year. “Oh,†he looked back to make sure the others couldn’t hear him, “And we have to talk about something you saw today.â€


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    ED – Shinedown- Fly From the Inside
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  7. Kamen Rider Oni

    Kamen Rider Oni Professionally Insane

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    4
    So we do have monsters in our universe too it seems, nice ones in fact... till they get attacked and are turned evil by dark forces from another dimension. Too bad Dax didn't have a power to free it from their hold, but it was either that or let it run amuck.

    The bits with Ken and his brother were priceless, especially when Jeff really looked stupid and when Ken was about to lay the smackdown on him for trying to swat Nicole.

    Now her... this could go in a few different directions and hopefully Jess doesn't put 2 and 2 together.

    Good episode, Jim! :thumbs:
     
  8. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    1
    Home Page:
    Episode 14


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    OP -Mercy Drive - Burn In My Light
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    He had heard rumors of a regular poker game when he first arrived at Castle. Considering how the people around here treated him back then Ken wasn't all that surprised that he wasn't invited to join in right away. He didn't think it would take as long as it did but eventually Jess and Ryo invited him in. Even Bill seemed happy to see him the first time around, or as he put it happy to see his money. Things were a little awkward the first couple of hands, but after a couple of jokes things loosened up a bit. Now that it was a couple of months later they acted like they played together for years.

    As it was Ken felt free enough to throw his uniform jacket on the couch as soon as he came in. Actually he kinda like hanging out with his teammates in this situation, everybody was much more relaxed. Jess had her jacket unzipped while Bill had his hanging on the back of his chair. Ryo, while the only in the full, official looking uniform, seemed a lot more like he remembered him from thier acedemy days. Everybody was so relaxed and chilled he almost hated to do this. Almost. "Full House, jacks over eights."

    "Damnit," Bill grunted as he threw his cards on the table. Jess pushed hers back toward the deck while Ryo looked at his hand.

    "That's five wins in a row."

    "Not my fault I hit a lucky streak," he told him while collecting the chips he just won.

    Jess eyed him, "If I didn't know any better I'd swear you were cheating."

    Ken eyed her right back, "You two are the only ones with long sleeves at the moment to hide any cards. And if I hid them under the scanner they'd be all sweaty and smelly."

    "Looks like civillian covered all the bases," Bill chuckled as he took the cards and shuffled them.

    "Yeah," Ken agreed, "next thing you'll be accusing me of dealing from the bottom of the deck like Bill does."

    "I do not...", he started to protest before he realized Ken just got the reaction he was looking for. "Screw you civilian."

    "Buy me dinner first," Ken shot back. "And I am not a cheap or easy date."

    "You are not worth that much work," Jess told him. "I should know."

    "You weren't complaining all that much back when he were dating," Ken told her.

    She didn't miss a beat, "I didnt know any better."

    "You're just mad I'm beating you at cards."

    "You think so?", and there was no mistaking the challenge her voice.

    He wasn't backing down, "Oh I know so."

    "Sounds like we're being dealt out fo this hand," Bill told Ryo.

    "Looks like," he agreed.

    Bill looked at both of them and started smiling, "Maybe the two of you should make this a little more interesting. You know instead of money maybe something a little more personal as it were."

    Both Ken and Jess eyed him suspisiously. Ryo spoke for them, "Define personal."

    "Nothing too extreme," he explained. "Maybe a small token of victory for the winner."

    And Ken was suddenly not liking that grin Jess was giving him. "Alright, if I win I get to cut that thing off the back of your head." His hand immediately went for his ponytail. "What's the matter Ken?", she dared to ask innocently. "Not feeling as confident now."

    "I'm still in," he said a little too quickly. Seeing how he was used to having it he wasn't looking to lose it anytime soon. "If I win...," he said slowly. He tried to think of somethng that would: a) get her to call off the bet and b) not cause her to knock his block off in the process. "If I win... I get to see the twins."

    And if looks could kill he would be so dead right about now.

    Oblivious to all of that Bill pumped his fist under the table and gave out a small, "Yes."

    "Alone," he quickly ammended.

    "You suck."

    "Wait," Ryo spoke up, "you two used to date. You mean you guys never..." he trailed off but they all got his meaning.

    "With Miss 'I'm not doing anything untill I'm married' here?," he replied. "Please." Jess raised an eyebrow at his answer but said nothing. "Let's get this over with."

    "Ryo deals," Jess said suddenly. "You pissed off Bill and beating I'm you fair and square."

    "Fair enough," Ryo said as he took the deck from Bill. Ken and Jess never took their eyes off each other as he shuffled and dealt the cards between them. Slowly both of them reached for their cards.

    The sirens went off with Hawk commanding, "Alpha Team prepare to launch ASAP!"

    "Duty calls," Ryo said spriging out of his chair while Bill grabbed his jacket.

    Zipping up her's Jess told Ken, "We are finishing this hand as soon as we get back."

    "You bet we are," he told her. Reaching for his ponytail one more time he grabbed his jacket and followed them out.

    ***
    Several Scan Tracks pulled up around a forest park and Alpha team, a.k.a Monster Squad, Piled out and stood in formation as Hawk adressed them. "Alright people you know the deal, look for and clear out any civilians you find." Back at Castle Hawk had told them that Bridge up a steady reading, but it was too generalized to pin point an exact positision. And to avoid a PR disaster like last time they were sent in to discover what it was and get people to saftey. And seeing how this was a govenmnet funded park try to take the object out before they were forced to call in the heavy attialry. They were still hearing about the damage caused the first time a monster showed up in a forest park. Hawk continued, "Because of the sheer size of the area to cover more ground I want you to to do this search seperately. Because you will be alone I want all of you to be extra careful and to stay in constant contact. Any of you discover anything hit you communicator and the rest of us will home in on your location. Is that Understood?"

    "Yes sir!", they responded.

    "Search teams move out. Scan track try to scan the park as best as you can and link your sensors to Castle. Let's see if we can get a little more specific about what and where this thing is."

    "Hey Ken," Jess called out. "Don't for get, snip snip," she made a scissor motion with her fingers.

    "You better hope I don't find the coldest room in the building," he shot back. The he touched his ponytail before puttng his helmet on and heading out in another direction.

    Hawk glanced over at Ryo who only said, "Best if you didn't know."

    "Part of me was afraid you were going to say that," he said as they each picked a path and started their own search.

    ***
    "This is Scott, I finally convinced a couple to head back to their car. They should be heading your way soon enough"

    "Understood Scott, we'll keep an eye out for them. Scan track Forty Three out." It had been an hour so far and that was the third group that he had located and sent to safety so far. And those two were the only ones to argue the point so far.

    "I'm guess the acedemy had the class about dealing with morons after I was DQed," he said mainly to himself before he kept looking. But from the communications he and the others have been overhearing the park was surprisenly crowded for a non holiday weekday. Well as far as he knew, it seemed that way to him. Then again it's been awhile since he's been to the park during a holiday.

    Checking his wrist scanner again he tried to detect anybody else or anythng that looked out of place. Not seeing anything right away he kept going along the path then he stopped. Standing a few yards away, and with his back to him stood a man with salt and pepper hair wearing and wearing an army jacket and some jeans, not to mention some very worn sneakers. He checked his wrist scanner again, tapping the screen after a bit. The guy was well within range of the scanner, so why wasn't he picking him up. Now would probably be a good time to hit his commnicator.

    "Ken!", Daxium spoke up suddenly. At the same time this guy turned around and and closed the distance between them faster than he thought was possible and grabbed his wrist, stopping him from hitting the communicator. Staring into a pair of mirrored sunglasses for a bit the man twisted a bit and sent Ken flying over his shoulder.

    "Oof," he grunted as he hit the ground. Going for his gun the stranger put a foot on his wrist and put enough weight on it to keepo him from drawing it.

    They started at each other for a few moments. Eventually the stranger said, "You're not exactly human are you?" Ken tried to betray nothing but wondered how in the hell this guy knew that. "But the energy I'm getting off of you isn't eactly like the the one I'm after either. Which begs the question what exactly are you?"

    "Ken," Dax spoke up again, "I'm sensing an energy similar to mine but it feels different, fainter." That's when Ken noticed the triangular pendant with the circular green jewel in the center of it hanging around his neck.

    "That sounds like something I should be asking you," Ken told him. Before long the stranger took his foot off his wrist and Ken shook his wrist to get some some feeling back into it. Refusing the offered hand he stood up and studied the man. "So what are you then?"

    "Well if i'm right I'm someone in a simialr situation as you," he answered. "I'm just a lot further from home."

    "Okay let's say I know what you're talking about, " Ken said trying hard not to verify anything. "What exactly are you looking for?"

    "Something I've been looking for for way to long," he answered. "Somethng that changed my life in a way I never expected."

    Okay that last part was sounding way to familar to be comfortable, "So does this thing have a name?"

    Looking further into the woods he said, "Gudis."

    ***
    "After what happened with the Baltan I sincerly doubt we should be trusting this Gudis," Brooks told the being in the swirling vortex before him "A mass of practically goo you found floating around the dimensional void."

    "A sentinant mass willing to help anyone willing to assist it," he was corrected. Brooks hid his hand as it started crackling with dark energy. He was so annoyed with them right now. "It is a situation we have under control."

    "No," he argued, "the Baltan was a situation we could control, especially if there was some checking of what they actually wanted before hand. Makeena was a situation we culd control, especially after you found out it was exactly as viscious as you were led to believe. This is something from another reality entirely. We have no idea of knowing exactly what it is oher than what it already told us."

    The edge of the vortex started to grow in intensity, "Do you question our decision Avatar?"

    Brooks stood his ground, "In this situation I am." Although their previous dispaly of displeasure were as impressive as the one he was seeing now he fully expected them to actually lash out at him this time. He prepared himslef accordenly seeing how close those "stray" energy bolts were coming toward him.

    Slowly the vortex returned to normal, "Fortunate for you other among us share your concerns."

    He simply said, "Oh?" He had a more interesting retort in mind but he was to avoid any violence being done to his body at the moment.

    "Yes, as a compromise we provided enough dark energy to Gudis to make sure it arrived in your dimension. And it will be just enough that we can monitor it's actions whenever we want."

    "Well, that does change things a bit," Brooks admitted. "Not to mention a waste of a perfectly good moment of defiance."

    "A moment that will not happen again Avatar."

    "Of course my masters," he said with a slight bow. The vortex faded soon after. Hand still crackling with energy he blasted the wall in front of him.

    ***
    "Let me get this straight," Ken said as he followed the stranger down the path, "this Gudis only wants to make everything part of it?"

    "Yes and no," he answered. "Everything would still look the same, more or less, but everything would be connected to it. There would be no individuality, no free will. Just Gudis until it uses the planet up and it moves on to the next one. Although it hit a snag when it reached Mars in my universe. It got there and found a dead world already and got stuck some how."

    "Wait, how do you know it was on Mars?"

    He looked back at him and smirked, "I was there."

    Ken didn't know how to respond other than with a slightly sarcastic, "Of course you were."

    "I was an astronught before I ended there and joined up with him," he explained. "How did you met your guy?" Again Ken wasn't verifing anything. "Have it your way then."

    Instead he said, "Since you're tracking this thing can you tell me how you can find it."

    "I used to be able to," he said looking around. "I'm still sensing something but it's been altered somehow. I can't pinpoint it like I used to."

    Ken had a sick feeling he knew how and why it was altered. Hanging back a bit he lowered his head and whispered, "You getting anything?"

    "Not so far," Dax answered. Ken looked back up to see the stranger look back at him, smiling again.

    "I see you can talk to yours too."

    "I still don't know what you're talking about," he said trying to save face and knowing he was failing miserably. If this guy suspected before he pretty much knew now. "So... is the weather nice where you come from?"

    ***
    "Castle to Hawk," Bridge caaled

    "Hawk here," he answered the hail while continuing down the trail looking for anything out of place.

    "I think I have better fix thanks to the additonal data from the Scan Track's sensors."

    "I don't want to hear 'you think you do' in this situation Bridge," he told him. "Either you do or you don't."

    "It's more like we've shrunk the general search area," he ammended.

    "That's still not very helpful," he sighed, "but it's better than nothing. Who's closest to this new area?"

    "Checking now." After a moment he got his answer, "Ryo, Jefferson, Mike and Ken are the closest." Checking the readings one more time he added, "Actually it looks like Ken's well inside the new search area."

    "What the... Hawk to Scott. Wy are you further along than anybody else?"

    Where he was he glanced at the stranger before saying, "I was chasing a crackpot who refused who refused to cooperate and I lost track of him. I've been trying to find him before he hurt himself."

    Of all the rookie...."Call for assistance in that situation in the future Ken. But right now I have a new assignment for you. Bridge has reset the search area and you're the closest to it. Try and discover what it is, back up is heading your way in the mean time."

    "Understood, Scott out."

    "Chasing a crackpot?", the stranger asked.

    "I'm following you," he told him, "it's like I'm chasing you."

    In the meantime Hawk told Bridge, "Send the new coordinates to everybody else and have tem cordon off the area as best they can. I'll send Ryo and the others to back up Ken."

    "Yes sir, Castle out."

    Hawk looked at Ken's general reaction wondering if that was the real reason why he was out that far. "Hawk to Watanabe..."

    ***
    "Hold up," the stranger said after a bit. Ken looked past him to see he didn't need to say he found it. In a middle of a field was a partictularly brown liquid. In the middle of that was something roughly the size of a man. It had a single solid like body, it had a bulbish like head and large red eyes and a mandible like vertical mouth. A pair of tenticles hung limp in front of it and didn't move, they didn't even twitch. Either it didn't know they where there or it didn't care. The stranger looked a little perplexed, "I didn't expect it to revert back to this shape."

    "Okay is this where you," without really thinking Ken crossed his wrists together, "do whatever you do?"

    The stranger held the pendant in his hand and looked at it. "This would have been the place but not now. I have to use a lot of energy to cross dimensions. Usually it builds back up after awhile. But I'm not sensing it now, I may have made one jump to many."

    "Alright then," Ken said as he stepped forward. Holding up his wrist scanner he tried to get a clear shot of the creature. "Unless you want to say cheese you might want to step out of frame."

    "And why don't you do what you do?", he shot back.

    "Not his size. Scott to Hawk."

    "Hawk here, what do you have?"

    "I found the creature and sending you an image of it now."

    "Good job son. I'll relay the image back to Castle to see if they can determin anything from it. Hawk out."

    "The name's Jack by the way," the Stranger said out of the blue. He looked at Ken wth a little chagrin, "I over heard yours during the previous transmission. It only seemed far."

    Ken nodded and looked back at the Gudis, "You have beaten this thing before right?"

    "I thought I did," he said while taking off his sunglasses. "I never thought it would slip through a dimensional crack." Remembering why Dax and the other monsters were here Ken had an idea what caused that crack but didn't say anything about it. "I think the only way to really destroy Gudis is to obliterate every atom in it's body."

    "Yeah... we're going to work on that."

    "Ken." He looked around to see Ryo and the others hurry toward him. Wondering how he was going to explain "Jack" he looked at his other side and saw he had already disappeared.

    "How in the hell...?"

    "That's the thing huh?", Ryo asked as he saw Gudis in the somewhat flesh.

    "Ugly sucker," Jefferson commented.

    "It's probably a beauty queen where it comes from," Ryo commented. "Watanabe to Hawk we've arrived at it's location."

    "Acknowledge, Bridge says scientists are curious about that slime that's around it. Try to get a more detailed scan of the substance while we try to figure out how to deal with it."

    "Understood, Watanabe out. You heard him Ken," and he turned back toward the creature.

    He on the other hand, "Me? You're the one with senority."

    "And Hawk put you on point.," Ryo countered.

    "Paper-Rock-Sissiors." Jefferson adn Mike laughed but Ryo obliged. Ken put out sissiors. Ryo had out rock. "Shit. Two out of three."

    "I have senority so no," He said with a smirk.

    "We technically have senority too," Jefferson said as Ken looked at them.

    Grunting Ken carfully walked toward the creature. Mike called out, "Careful, that stuff looks hazerdus to your health."

    "You think," Ken shot back. Getting onto scanning ranger he paused momentarily At this range Dax was getting a faint sense of dark energy. He watched the Gudis for any sign it detected him. Nothing so far. Doing the scan he hurried back to the others. "That stuff stinks up close."

    "What did it smell like?", Ryo asked "You know they're going to want to know."

    "Kind of like rotting vegtables." Remembering what this Jack guy told him he hoped it wasn't too late already.

    ***
    "Bill," Jess waved him over as she spotted him.

    "It's a little wierd not being in the air for this one huh?", he said when he was close enough.

    "A bit," she admitted. A lot was more like it. She was too used to veiwing the situation from the confines of a cockpit. And the fact she was used to situations involving giant creatured was a little unnerving once she thought about it. More than likely the others felt the same way but it made her feel a little silly. But right now Bill's look was concerning her a bit. "Hey are you okay? You look a little distracted."

    "I grew up around here," he said. "This is hitting a little close to home."

    "You did? I never knew that.

    "What's to know?", he said. "I grew up in an orphanage. I was never adopted until I was in my teens. Some of the nuns hated me because instead of helping keep the younger kids in like I riled them up instead."

    She smiled, "Yeah that sounds like you all right." Thinking abit she asked, "How close is it?"

    "Over that ridge over there," he turned and pointed toward part of the mountain. "I already told the Captain about it and he assured me they already evacuated it."

    She studied him a bit, "You don't believe him or something?"

    "Oh I believe him," he quickly said.

    "But...," she nudged.

    "But," he continued, "but when I was there the head nun had a bit of a captain of he ship mentality. I'm talking the going down with the ship type of thing. If she's still there I can imagine she's still putting up a fight about leaving."

    "I'm sure our guys can perseuade her to leave," Jess assured him.

    "Only if they're prepared to shot her with this baby," he joked while patting his gun. "Speaking of do you think Ken's still about mad about it."

    "If he's anything like I remember," she said thinking it over, "he's calmed down enough from wanting to beat the crap out of you to landing one solid kick to the nuts and calling it even."

    BIll winced, "I hope he's changed more than that because out of the two I'd prefer getting beat up."

    Actually if Ken wanted to beat him up that would actually be a step up from what she remembered of him when they were dating in high school. He looked around and squinted, "What the..."

    "What is it?", Jess asked as he went to investigate. He knelt down next to a rose bush that was literally wilting before their eyes. "I look around to see if can find anything else."

    "Water to Hawk."

    "Hawk here, what do you have Bill?"

    "I have a plant going to brown real fast right in front of me," he said.

    "Bill!", Jess called back, "I found a tree dying more and more by the second."

    "I heard," Hawk said before Bill could say anything. "Hawk to all units look around for any signs of rapidly dying floral or vegetion."

    Where they were Ken and the others looked around, "This whole area's dying." Ryo reported as much.

    Every unit reported signs of dying vegation near their location. Given what was in the middle of it all there could only be one reason. Hawk gave the order, "Ryo take it out."

    "That's probably be easier if we were in the Razor Wings," Bill commented, while making sure his communicator was off.

    ***
    "You heard him," Ryo said. "Mike scan for a potential weak spot we can exploit."

    Keeping an eye on the GUdis for any sort of reaction Ken commented, "That order would be a little easier to follow if we had some grenades or something."

    "You don't hear me arguing," Ryo said. "But we have what we have."

    "I think I have something," Mike told them. "Just under it's chin, I think you call that a chin, and a little to the right."

    "Our right or it's right?", Ken asked. Ryo shot him a look. "I'm just making sure."

    "Ours," Mike clarified.

    "All right guys," Ryo said, "set the guns for full power and take aim." All of them drew their weapons and adjusted their settings. Ken and Jefferson hit the switch on the side that activated the targeting reticle in their helmet visor and took aim like the others. Still the creature didn't react. To make sure of that Ryo spoke just loud enough for them to hear, "Fire."

    They did so in unison. What they didn't expect was for the slime to react. It raised up blocking the blast then fell back to the ground. "Shit," Ken muttered even as he tried to line up another shot. Now the Gudis looked alive as red glowing eyes focused on them and opened it's mouth surprising them again with an energy blast of it's own. It was powerful enough that it knocked them to the ground.

    Mike was the first one up but still groggy enough that he didn't see the Gudis come up behind him and wrap a tenticle around his neck. He struggled to breath as he fought to get it off of him. The others soon came to their senses and opened fired again trying to get the creature to release him. It swung the tentacle in such a way and at such a speed that Mike stopped struggling and he went limp. Gudis flung his body away where he landed in a heap. It looked at them again and fired another energy blast.

    Expecting it this time they jumped out of the way. "Fall back!", Ryo ordered. Another blast forced them to go in different direction. Ryo relayed in the situation as he got in contact with Hawk and called for back up.

    Ken stopped where he was when he didn't see Ryo and Jefferson in sight. Looking back to see where Gudis was, and realizing it was looking right back at him, he said, "Dax, just this one time."

    Inside his head he heard, "I agree Ken."

    "Good." With the Gudis coming toward him he reached into his jacket pulled out the Spark Magnifier. Pointing it at the creature he was envolped in it's light and was replaced with a human sized Daxium. The creature screeched and backed up into the slime and started pulling it in, leaving behind brown dead Earth in it's wake. Gudis started to grow into gigantic size.

    Daxium looked up at him as he brought his wrist together, almost crossed at his waist. His eyes flashing a bit he threw the right one up into the air and grew in size to amtch the creature. "Shiah!"

    Elsewhere the stranger from another univere looked up as well, more in amusment than in awe. "It's been awhile since I've seen it from this angle." Looking at his pendant in his hand he could feel the spirit was willing, however the energy was nowhere close to being able. "I guess we better let a new generation handle it. Let's see if we can find out where he changed."

    ***
    At the Castle command center Richardson, Peter and Jamira were watching things unfold as Ultraman started fighting the creature as the rest of the crew around them focused on their jobs. "One does wonder how he gets there so fast," Peter said out loud. While he couldn't specifically point out that Scott was Ultraman without rasinging any unnessary questions, hopefully he could raise enough curosity about it that he would he would become a little more choosey about unleashing the giant at some point. More than likely not but one could always hope.

    "He's there," Richardson barked, "that's all that matters."

    "Since he's there we should send out the Razor Wings and target both of them now," Jamira demanded.

    "We've gone over this Commander," Richardson told him. "Ultraman is not to be touched until my say so."

    "Then say so already!", Jamira practically screamed, drawing more than a few looks from Peter and those around them. To his credit Richardson didn't look fazed by the Commander's outburst. Unless you knew what to look for like Peter did. And underneath that calm exterior Richardson was fumming.

    "And there is a reason why Captain Hawk is the one in over all command of the military forces around here," he said evenly. "I suggest you learn why and remember it. You are dismissed." Jamira looked like he was about to say something but thought better of it. He stormed out hitting the door as it opened.

    "You may want to be careful Harold," Peter said allowing him a few moments to calm down. "More than a few board members agree with him. Not to mention that more than a few people around here consider Ultraman just as big of a threat as the monsters he fights."

    "As I have been told that on several occasions," Richardson reposonded, only letting a hint of the annoyance he was feeling out. "As have a few public polls those board members have been fit to show me."

    "So why let the order stay in place?"

    "Because he is still an ally. And I will not condone any action on a ally wthout concrete proof he's not." Or, Peter thought, make him an enemy since he had a feeling Richardson knew Scott and Ultraman's little secret as well. After all it only made sense given the facts.

    Now the question was how many people around here have put those facts together?"

    ***
    Daxium dodged to the left as the tenticle came at him. So far Gudis had been able to keep him at bay and kept him from using any of his energy based attacks. He couldn't even switch forms without being attack. On occasion he had been able to close enough to keep the creature from using it's own energy blast so in that respect it was basically a stand off.

    The humans were far enough away that they couldn't actively particiapate in the battle. So Daxium, for the first time since coming to this dimension, was truely fighting alone. And in a way he preferred it. While he was grateful for the assistance they occasionally provided he was still more concerned about their safety when they were involved. From his connection to Ken he knew that this Hawk was hurrying to get his units into position, and he silently admired his dedication to the fight.

    Seeing one of the tenticles come at him Daxium was able to block and make his way inside their reach. Unloading several punches on it's body he forced it back a bit. A spin kick knocked it further back. Then a tententicle wrapped around his wrist. Daxium was momentarily surprised at a dip in his power levels right before Gudis flung him into the mountain. Daxium broke free and held his wrist as he forced his way to some open space. He looked at his wrist then at the creature, it could drain his energy much ike it could drain the life out of the area around it.

    Embolden by this fact Gudis lashed out again again trying to get ahold of a limb. Daxium blocked each attempt and continued to back up trying to locate an opening he could exploit. Then the Gudis fired off a series of energy blast that rocked the giant and forced him to cover up from the onslaught. Thinking quick he put his shield up against the barrage, a couple of shot reflected back at Gudis causing him to stop and scream in pain. Seeing the open Daxium rushed in but he failed to realize it was a trap until it was too late. A tenticle came in low and slammed him at the knee. He went down and the other one quickly wrapped around his neck. Gudis seemed to cackle as he drained the light energy from the giant, even more so once the jewel on his chest started to blink.

    Realizing he couldn't remove the tenticles Daxium dropped both hands to one side and aimed a flashbolt at the point Ken's fallen comrade had pointed out. It worked as Gudis screamed in pain. and he felt the grip around his neck loosen. Another flashbolt freed him and backed the Gudis up. Not taking the moment to cherish his newly won freedom he backflipped a couple of times, set up and fired the Dimensional Storm Ray. It caught Gudis flush and it exploded. Daxium stood and watched the area for a moment. Yes he defeated the creature... yet something was nagging his in the back of his mind. Not seeing a immediate threat and knowing his time was short he flew off into the air, "Shiah!"

    Ken materailzed from the orb of light close to where he first changed. Behind him this Jack person leaned on a tree branch that was over his head. "I almost thought you had him." When Ken looked back he wasn't there. Looking around he found the pendant he was wearing hanging from that same branch. He took it and studied it, some lighting was flashing inside the jewel but it was weak, barely visable. And right then Ken knew, Jack was sent home but not all of him could make the trip.

    ***
    The mood back at Castle was a somber one as the team returned. But that was always the case when they lost one of their own on an assignment. Ken and Jess made their way back to the rec room they were in earlier after the Captain finshed with the post mission briefing. Throwing her jacket on the couch Jess put her hands over her head and streched, "God I need to get out of here for awhile."

    "I guess it's a little late to get a pass from the Captain," Ken said as he headed for the table.

    "Unfortunately," she conceded as she joined him. Both of them looked att he cards still face down on the table. "Seems a bit stupid now doesn't it."

    "A bit," he agreed.

    "You want to call the bet off?"

    "If you want to." Inside his head he did a little happy dance.

    "It was a childish bet anyway. I don't know why we listened to Bill in the first place." She looked at him then at the cards then back at him. "Maybe it's because you're a year older and you memory is starting to fade first, but I seem to recall that we slept together more than once back in high school."

    "Well it was your birthday," he said with a shrug. "Then it was my birthday." With a smirk he added, "And I don't know about you but I haven't looked at Arbor day the same way since."

    The corner of her lip crinkled in the smallest hint of a smile. "So what was with the whole 'not before I'm married' BS?"

    "From what I've overheard you have a pretty good reputation around here," he explained. "I didn't want to accidentally ruin it and get you angry with me all over again. And if Bill thought he had a chance with you I'm pretty sure you'd put me in the medical wing."

    "You're damn right," she said with a finger poke to his chest. Again they looked at the cards. Both of them thinking the same thing. "Somebody probably messed with them."

    "I wouldn't doubt it. I don't even remember what I had."

    "I don't think I even looked at mine." One more time the cards called to them. She looke at him, "Since the bets off it couldn't hurt to look."

    "I thought you'd ever say it." He stood by the cards he had. "Just the cards we have now."

    "Turn them over all at once," she agreed. Jess had a pair of kings. Ken had three of a kind with fours. "You lucky S.O.B."

    "Well you know what they say, lucky at cards total moron at love," he told her as he headed for the exit.

    "Just because you were once doesn't mean you always will be," she told. Stopping at he door he didn't look convinced. "Ken you are a great guy that any woman would love to have in their life. Trust me, I should know. Show a little of that backbone like you did against your brother and the girl around here will be swooning all around you."

    "Swooning?", he said cracking a smile. "That's a bit much don't you think?"

    "I'm just trying to rebuild your confidence," she told him. "Epsecially since you're obvioulsy still so devastated I broke up with you."

    "You keep telling yourself that." Pausing a bit at the door he looked back, "Thanks Jess."

    She waved it off, "Just be happy you're ex if still friendly with you."

    "Every day." Walking back to his quarters his mind went a million places at once. What happened to Mike popped up first but he did not need to dweal on that at the moment. After that conversation he started thinking about how he screwed up things with Jess but he didn't want to stay there either. So that left him with one safe, more or less, subject that was floating around in his head. Making sure he was alone he pulled the pendant out of his pocket. The chain dangled from his hand as he looked at it. Part of him feltDax trying to feed some of his energy to it but so far he was being rejected.

    "I almost thought you had him."

    As those words rang in his head his fingers closed around it, "What the hell did we miss?"


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    ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside
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  9. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    Episode 15


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    OP - Mercy Drive - Burn in my Light
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    Sitting on the edge of a computer console Jess waited for the enevidiable to happen. Then again this could have been the day the unimaginable actually happened. Glancing back at the screen she watched the ongoing battle of red and green lights for a few minutes. Then like all the other times the red lights won out in the end. She wasn't even surprised by the very angry sounding, "Damnit!", that came from the chamber underneath the console. She'd witness this particular even a couple of times but she knew enough to do nothing as Ken slid out of the chamber frustrated beyind belief.

    Although he let it get the best of him this time as he slapped the bottom of the console on the way out. Looking back at the screen she tried a joke to ease the tension, "That didn't work either." The look on his face said the attempt failed, big time. It would probably be a good idea not to mention that was the fastest the machine had beaten him so far.

    "I almost had it," he grumbled.

    Kneeling down she went, "Ken as somebody who's known you for a long time now this is, what, the tenth time you 'almost had it' since you've been here?"

    While he wouldn't look at her he mumbled, "Twelfth."

    "Twelve times," she told him. "Look I'm not trying to be mean or negative or anything, but maybe it's time to admit this can't be beat."

    "I can beat it," he insisted as he got to his feet. "I can almost see the solution in my head. I'm almost there I can get it."

    "God I wish you showed this much determination back when we were dating when you brother was pushing your buttons to get what he wanted."

    He gave he a look then left the room, "Whatever."

    "All right that was a low blow," she said following him out. "I'm sorry. But damnit Ken...," she stopped herself. "No, I'm not going to start this conversation out in the open like this."

    "Why not?", he demanded, turning to face her. "We both know I'm the one who screwed it up."

    "And I could have been a little more patiant with the situation," she told him, remember something similar she told the Captain when he first asked her about it, after they lost Joe. "I could have told Jeff off at least once."

    "I think Mom would have paid you if you did," he told her.

    "Great, now you tell me," she smiled. It took a couple of moments but he started smiling too. "Okay we narrowly avoid the post break-up argument ten years after the fact. But serioulsy Ken, twelve times..."

    "I know," he said as they started walking again. "It's just I just found out I'm supposed to be a genius at this crap. One way or another I should be able to see a solution somewhere."

    "And a bunch of other geniuses created that thing, the odds aren't exactly in your favor. Everybody from Captain Hawk on down have been telling you this. Besides if a miricle did happen and you do beat it they're just going to make it harder. It's how those guys work."

    "I'm technically one of 'those guys' you know."

    "Like you said you just found out. they known for years. Actually I'm glad you didn't hind out until recently. If you would have found out years ago you'd be just as stuffy as the rest of them. Then I would be forced to hurt you."

    "I'll keep that in mind in case MENSA ever opens a mechanics wing," he told her.

    Jess gave a playful jab to the ribs, "You better."

    ***
    In another part of the Castle complex Captain Hawk, Commander Jamira, Richardson, his assistant slash bodyguard Patricia, Brooks and a cople of the other board members listened to a few of the scientists as they discussed the ecological damage resulting from the last monster attack. There was a bit of information Richardson and a few others were having a hard time trying to digest. "What do you mean there's nothing alive?"

    "The subsatance the creature secreated killed everything in an on the ground it stood on," he explained. "Animal life, plant life, bacteria... When I say it's dead Earth I mean dead Earth."

    "What about the plants life we discovered that looked like it was starting to be affected?", Hawk asked.

    "We studied those as well," said another. "Some of them might be salvagable. Most I personally doubt can be saved at all."

    Brooks spoke up, "What about this dead Earth itself? Is there any way to correct the damage done?"

    "We're looking into it," replied the first one. "We think it's possible to salvage the area but we would have to know invasive the substance was..."

    "Can we replicate the slime to use on another monster?", Jamira asked. The scientist looked among themselves somewhat bewildered by the questions.

    Hawk decided to speak for them, "I don't think using a substance that is almost as leathal as some of the creatures we've been in combat against, if not more so, is a good idea."

    "It's a potential weapon we can use," he argued. "It would be stupid not to take advantage of it."

    "I have to agree with the good Captain," Brooks piped in, "Some of the beasts have proven to be rather mobile in the past. What if you miss in a populated area."

    "Then we don't miss." Everybody knew he wasn't joking.

    "Commander," Brooks began, "There must be limits..."

    Jamira cut him off, "I'm trying to save lives here! Thise things don't hold back and neither should we."

    "And I heard that same bunch of bull back before you were born," Richardson told him. "One side got a gun so the other got a bigger one than the other got a bigger gun than that and so on and so on. I didn't believe in it then and I don't believe in it now."

    "So says the man who's betting on the giant freak," he muttered just loud enough for those close to him could here, which included Richardson.

    "That will be enough Commander," Hawk quickly barked.

    Richardson responded any way, "A valid opinion, While destructive in his own right Ultraman has helped more than he hindered. Then we have the situations where he decided to either not use or modify his most powerful weapon. Will this slime do the same?" Jamira didn't have an immediate answer. "Sometimes the potential cure can be worse than the desease. I suggest you remember that."

    "Yes sir," Jamira said before leaving the room. Hawk looked at the board and excused himself before following him out.

    "Well that's going to be a unpleasant conversation," Brooks quipped after they were gone.

    Richardson added, "And the man wonders way he's not in charge of the attack forces."

    One of the other board members said, "Getting back to this dead Earth, wasn't there an orphange near by?"

    "Yes there was," Brooks answered. "I believe Captain Hawk's report indicated one of Alpha team grew up there."

    "Yes," Richardson said recalling the report. Behind him Patricia pulled the report up on her tablet and showed it to him. "Waters. I believe Hawk sent him along with the research team. Partly to help ease things over from the incident and partily to help keep an eye on things. We still don't know if the danger is over after all, especially of this slime did as much damage as we think. Besides it will be good PR in the long run." Just about everybody quickly agreed with him on the last point.

    Silently Brooks wished that Gudis creature had made it's way over here.

    ***
    "I'm open!," Bill shouted as he played a game of soccer with some of the kids from the orphange. Once he did he got the ball toward the opposing goal. Although instead of taking the shot he quickly passed to one of the smaller players on his team let him get the goal. "Alright," he gave him a high five and quickly got both teams ready for the next play.

    "I'm not sure that's what the Captain had in mind by keeping an eye on things," one of the UNDF members commented as they studied the vegetation nearby.

    Ryo looked back before scanning another group of plants, "At least he's keeping most of he kids occupied and out from under foot."

    "Too bad the nuns won't let some of the older kids help out," he commented. "I'm sure they know the area pretty well. They could point out any potential spots quicker than we can find them."

    "I tried," Ryo told him. "I even suggested that maybe some of the nuns could go instead. The head nun shut that down almost as fast as she did with the kids. She seriously said she didn't want the woman under her charge to go out alone in the woods with male hooligans."

    "We have females with us on this particular team."

    "I tried pointing that out too but she didn't want them to do anything ungodly with her girls either."

    "Well we know where her mind is at," he laughed.

    "Joshua!", they heqard one of the nun called. The looked over to see a boy doing a hand in the air pose similar to the one Ultraman usually took when he appeared. "Sister Victoria doesn't like you to play as that thing remember."

    "And she's one of those," he added while going back to his readings.

    "I didn't think you were part of the pro-Ultraman group," Ryo commented.

    "I'm not," he told him. "Nor am I in the anti-group either. I guess you could say I'm in the wait and see group."

    "Fair enough."

    "Johnson to Watanabe," his communicator chirped.

    "Watanabe here, what do you have Johnson?"

    "This sector seems clear so far. We're going to double check things then head to the next search sector."

    "Understood. Everything on this side of the mountain looks clear too. But check your area for any streams of rivers that may connect the other side of the mountain with this one."

    "I think some of the others are doing that now and Bridge is going over evey geological survey they can find but we'll keep an eye out. Johnson out."

    Ryo looked at the mountain briefly, "I wish Bridge would hurry up with those findings."

    "So you know Ultraman?", a small boy asked Bill between plays.

    "Well not personally," he answered, "but I'm usually around when he shows up."

    "Is he really tall?", asked another.

    "Oh he's huge, almost as tall as that mountain over there." After that the floodgates officailly opened.

    "Where does he come from?"

    "Where does he go?"

    "Is he scared to fight the monsters?"

    "How does he the lights from his hands?"

    "Whoa, you guys are asking me things even the eggheads back at base don't know," he said quickly in an attempt to close this particular gate. "Now if you want to ask me about the jets I fly..." He realized that was a mistake as soon as it left his mouth as that floodgate opened wide one more time. "Where's Ryo when I need him?"

    "Children!", a stern looking older woman start over not looking happy. Bill felt an old fear creep up in the back of his mind. "It's time for your study period, so get back inside." The children quickly went back inside the building leaving the two of them alone. She looked him over with a bit of disdain. She had that look for as long as he could remember so he didn't really think anything of it. "Hello William," she said evenly.

    "Sister Vicoria," he greeted her with a genuine grin. "It's good to see you still up and kicking."

    "Yes," she said with little enthusiasum. "Are you and your... organization almost done here?"

    "Probably," he said looking back to see where the others were. "We're not sure how far what ever that stuff the monster was putting out went. We're just trying to be thourogh, making sure nothing was left over that could harm the kids or anybody else in the area."

    "I beleive just by showing up you potenially put the children in danger," she told him.

    "Sister believe me if we show up the danger is already here. Like I said we're just being extra cautious right now."

    "And yet you don't do anything about that giant false idol."

    "That's a new one," Bill couldn't help but smirk, "I never heard Ultraman called that before."

    "That is what that thing is," she insisted. "The children talk more about that giant heathan than they do the lord."

    "I don't recall there being all that much talking about the lord when I was here," Bill told her.

    "There is when I am around," she counted.

    "Because we knew had to," he informed her. "As soon as you left the room we went back to talking about what we were before you came in."

    "And I see you quickly learned to lie after you left this place."

    "Oh I learned to lie long before I left this place."

    "You become somewhat delusional too," she told him. "I suggest you and your organazation finish whatever it is you're doing and leave before you corrupt the children even more. Good day William." She turned around sharply and walked before he could say anything.

    "And I was actually happy to see her too," he said to himself. "Waters to Watanabe, do we have an ETA on the finish of this job? The head cheese is starting to act like I remember her." As he walked away from the building he failed to notice a group of daisies nearby that started to droop.

    ***
    Not being able to beat the unbeatable situation one more time non withstanding this had been a pretty decent day so far. The text he had to study had been getting smaller and smaller the more he caught up with the study program Hawk set up for him. Picking up one of the data pads he put it back down and reached into his pocket. Pulling out the triangular pendant that had been left behind by the stranger he only knew as Jack he couldn't get his last words out of his head, "I almost thought you had him."

    "Dax, you getting anything yet?"

    Somewhere deep inside his mind he got a responce, "Still nothing I'm afraid. The energy signature inside is still weak. I have continued trying to try and share mine but so far it has been rejected."

    Ken was confused, "Rejected? If you two are similar why would he do that?"

    "Perhaps we are not similar enough," Daxium offered. "Perhaps..."

    And he never really trails off when talking. "Perhaps what?"

    "Perhaps he feel his job is done."

    "What in the hell does that mean?"

    "Hawk to Scott," came from his communicator.

    "Crap," he quickly shoved the pendant back into his picket, despite the fact the Captain coldn't see him, before responding, "Scott here."

    "Relax Ken," he chuckled. "Jessica and myself were heading to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee and wondered if you wanted to join us. I'm sure you could use a break from all the studing you have been doing."

    He looked at those barely touched datapads. "Sure, I'll be right there."

    "And you can tell me your side about the lastest attempt she was just telling me about."

    "Thanks Jess," he muttered. "Permission to kill her when I get there."

    "Denied," Hak quickly told, although he did chuckle a bit. "Beside, she's standing right here and heard everything."

    "Permission to plan my own funeral before I get there."

    "I'll consider it," he chuckled again. "But it better be a cheap one, we have a budget around here."

    "Yes sir, I'll meet you there." Ending the conversation he reached into his pocket one more time and fingered the pendant.

    "Perhaps if you took it to Dr. William," Daxium offered, "maybe he would have a different insight that we currently do not."

    There was a thought. Williams was one of the few people around here who knew his secret. And out of the three he was the one he liked the most. Still, "I'm still halfway expecting him the jack the Spark Magnifier behind my back on those check ups. I'm not sure I want to trust this guy in his hands unless I absolutely have to."

    ***
    "Bridge," said one of the techs, "I just got a hit on that substance were told to look out for." He was afraid he was going to say that.

    "How strong is it?", he asked pulling up the screen. If they didn'y find a way to contain this now that patch of dead Earth was going to get bigger.

    "Not that strong, but if I'm reading this right it's growing stronger by the moment."

    "You're not reading it wrong," he was forced to admit. Linking into the Scan track's sensor package he tried to get a clearer picture of what was happening. "Now this is strange," he muttered, "It looks like it's pooling into one spot. Castle to Watanabe."

    "I'm here Bridge what is it?", he quickly responded.

    "We're getting a reading off that substance and you're the closest one to the source. Is there any dying vegetation near you?"

    "Not that I can see at the moment," he said. "Give a moment to do a search. Damn it how did it get on this side of the range. Bill, you and the others spread out check the area over."

    "You got it," he said. "You two look over in that direction."

    "Ryo," Bridge spoke up, "science section theorized the reason why you and the others didn't notice

    anything right a way when you found the creature was the substance affects the smaller organisms first."

    "I read the report Bridge, but thanks any way."

    "Ryo!", Bill shouted. "There a patch of brown grass that's getting larger by the second." Ryo ran over and saw that he wasn't kidding. He could literailly see the grass die right in front of him. "This seemed faster than it was last time."

    "Bridge you said we were the closest, where's the substance coming from this time?"

    "That's ther the thing it's not coming it's growing," he said, "Almost like it mashing together."

    "How is it doing that?"

    "If I knew that I wouldn't be trying not to panic right now."

    "Alright where is it mashing then?" This wasn't making any sense. Unless there was an underground stream somewhere it shouldn't have gotten on this side of the mountains, much less pool up in a single spot.

    "About a mile and a half west of your current location," he answered.

    Bill looked in that direction and blanched a little. "The orphanage," and he ran back there as fast as he could.

    "Bill wait," Ryo said in vain. "Damn it. Watanabe to all field units, meet back up at the orphanage. We have a situation."

    ***
    In one of the Castle cafeterias Ken, Jess and Hawk were making the usual small talk, after the initial teasing about Ken's latest test go around. Then Hawk started to ask about their acedemy days. He was already a military man before being assigned this duty so he never had the particulr "pleasure" of going through the academy process. Right now Ken was retelling his short time there , "But there was this one instructor who got on my nerves fast. I know he probably still knows more than I do but damn if he didn't get annoying fast. He was teaching, and I kid you not, proper field safety procedure in a combat situation."

    "Wait," Jess interrupted him, "did he talk in this long slow monotone voice?", going so far as to mimic the tone of voice to highlight the point.

    "And he walked like he had five sticks up his ass?"

    "Yes," she confirmed.

    "Oh God it has to be the same guy. There's no way there can be two like that."

    "Would you believe he tried to instruct me on how to clean a gun?"

    "Didn't you tell him you were practically brought up on the shooting range? At least since starting school?"

    "He wouldn't listen," she said. "I think he's head of admissions now or something."

    Remembering the guy when he was there, and forgetting where he was for the moment, Ken went, "Who in the hell did he blow?" Jess wincing slightly made him remember where he was, and more importantly who he was with. Then he looked at Hawk as a mild case of panic set in.

    Taking a sip of his coffee he waited a moment before saying, "Saying some disparinging things about a higher up if frowned upon. Considering I know exactly who the two of you are talking about," and Ken figured he was about to be royally chewed out," I would say that question passed though my head more than once."

    Being struck speechless for the moment Jess spoke for him, "Ah... Captain?"

    "I'm on a break," he explained, "and currently in the company of people I know fairly well." He glanced at Ken, "well one not quite as long as the other. I feel I can be a little lax in this situation. But if you said that in my preseance after this was over the lecture would have been on in full force." Seeing the younger man visiably relax made him smle behind his cup.

    "Bridge to Hawk," he called out over the line.

    "Hawk here."

    "We're getting readings for that substance and Ryo is reportig that plants in the area are already starting to die, faster this time around.

    "Understood. Get all avaialble Razor Wings in the air," Hawk ordered. "And have a Scan Track ready for me, Jess and Ken."

    "Understood, Bridge out."

    "This is what get for sending both pilots on an assignment," Hawk mumbled as they hurried toward the door.

    ***
    "That boy is as insufferable now as he was when he was here," Sister Victoria ranted in her office. Her listener was another nun who had been there almost as long as she had. "The nerve of that scoundrel, daring to tell me the children only talk about the Lord when I am around."

    The other one finally spoke up, "I don't know why you're so suprised. I've been trying to tel you that for the past thirty years now."

    "You don't kow what you're talking about," she said dimissing it.

    "No, of course not," she sighed. "I just have my own eyes and ears."

    "Is it wrong for me to want the children to respect the Lord?"

    "Respect is one thing," she countered, "teaching them they have to, especially when you're around. That seems a biger disserves than not talking about him at all."

    "Thay's enough Cheryl," she ordered. Before the discussion could continue the room started to shake.

    "What in the world?"

    Bill ran in, slamming the door open, "We got to evacuate the orphange!"

    "Now wait a miniute," Sister Victoria protested, "we just went trough this nonsense."

    "And this nonsense is a lot closer this time around," he told them. "We already got some of the kids out thanks to the other nuns."

    "I better go help," Sister Cheryal said. "Lord only knows where some of the hiding places the children like to use are."

    "Make sure you check the cubby hole under the stairs in the west end," Bill told her. as she proceeded him out of the room. He looked toward Sister Victoria who stubbornly held her ground. "Ah Sister, out is this way.

    "I have been the head of this orphange for almost thirty years," she informed him. "My place is here, no where else."

    "I don't have time for this," said. Because he knew she wasn't going to budge on this no matter how hard she pleaded. Which, in his mind, left him only one option. "I hope this doesn't send me to hell."

    Walking toward her he grabbed her by the arm, "What do you think you are doing?" Without another word he hauled her over his shoulder and took her out of the room. "Put me down! This is Blasphamy! I said put me down at once!"

    "Once we're outside," he snapped. Silently he hoped around a lot of people who could protect him from her.

    ***
    Hawk ordered them out of the Scan Track as he surveyed the area. According to Bridge the substance was pooling under the ground about a mile away from the orphanage. Thank heavan for small favors. As it was they could see the growing patch of dying vegation. Before putting his helmet on Ken said, "It can't be happening this fast."

    "Yet it is," Jess told him.

    Hawk hit his communicator and contacted Castle, "Hawk to Bridge, do you have any idea how it got on this side of the mountains?"

    "I haven't found anything yet," he answered. "There's nothing on record say that anything is connecting your side with the other."

    "Bridge," Jess spoke up, "are you getting any kind of reading from underground?"

    "Early sensor sweeps indicates something might be moving underground," he said. "Something big." Jess glanced in Ken's direction but he didn't notice.

    "No suprise there," Hawk said. "Jess, Ken scout the area for any civilians. I'm going to head to the orphanage to see if Bill and Ryo need a hand setting up a defense perimitter."

    "Right," Jess answered for the both of them. "Ken I'll take the area to the left, you take the right."

    "Got it." They went off in seperate directions. But Ken held something back, not that he could explain to the others how he knew to begin with. The closer they got the more the pendant reacted to Dax. And the feeling he was getting was if it was the Gudis it was reforming way too soon. Then again Dax was sensing dark energy a bit more easily now than he did the first time.

    ***
    "What's keeping that last truck from going?!", Ryo demanded as he looked at something that should have been gone hours ago.

    "Who do you think?", Bill shot back, sporting a newly earned black eye.

    "You have got to be kidding me," he groaned as he jogged over to see the head nun still refusing to get on the truck. "Sister we are trying to get the area clear and keep the kids safe. Empathis on keeping the kids safe. Now would you please get on the truck so we can do just that."

    "And I have told al of you my place and purpose is here and I will not run from it," she insisted.

    "Victoria," one of the other nun spoke up.

    "My place is here," she said firmly as a Scan Track pulled up.

    "I ordered that this area was to be evacuated already," Hawk barked as he got out. "What's going on?"

    "She's going on," Bill said frustrated beyond belief. Hawk stared at his new facial feature before he turned his attention to the sister.

    Before he could say anything she went on, "I told William, I told them over there," she pointed toward his troops, "I told all of them my place is here. I don't care what kind of authority you think you have or can act on but I will not leave the orphange on any condition."

    Hawk did not have the time for this, "Lady my main concern right now if for the children's safety. You don't want to leave, fine." Banging the side of the truck a couple of times he shouted, "Get them out of here now!" The other nuns protested but the truck pulled out any way. Turning back toward the Sister he told her plainly, "You stay out of the way. you do anything to impede my men in any way I will have you arrested on the spot."

    "You do not have the authority to...", she started to protest but he cut it off quick.

    "Yes I do and I have no qualms about arresting a nun in this situation." She walked off in a huff, naturally toward the orphange. Taking a moment he gestured toward Bill's eye.

    "Popped me one as soon as I set her on the ground," he explained. Then added, "She's a tad old school."

    "Obviously." Before Hawk could go on the ground started to shake hard. Bill rushed over to keep the Sister from falling as Hawk held on to the Scan Track. The ground shook so much Ken and Jess felt it where they were just as a giant tendril looking thing smashed itself free from the ground. Hawk took a quick look to see where the tendril was, realizing it was too close to the orphange to call in a Razor Wing strike. He looked round to see it fall down in the direction of Bill and the Sister.

    "No you don't," Bill turned to protect the nun by pushing her behind him puled his gun and fired. The tendril stopped just long enough for Ryo to run over and pull them out of the way before it fell all the way.

    "Come on," he said as he directed them toward Hawk's Scan Track. A little further away another one came up from the ground. Over her protest they pushed the nun into the vehicle with Ryo hopping into the back to man the cannons on top as Hawk drove them out of there. Ryo got a bead on the tendril closest to them and fired as more of the creature revealed itself. It looked like the first one but with some changes, the bulbus haed wasn't quite as large and it also had a more humaniod appearece with it's face with a very flat nose and mouth.

    Ken saw it from where he was and didn't hesitate to raise the Spark Magnifier over his head.

    ***
    This new version of Gudis ignored the colum of light as Daxium appeared. In turn he realized the foreign creature was heading for the orphange. Quickly getting between it and the building he took a defensive stance, "Shiah!" The Gudis didn't seem all that worried he was there.

    "What is that giant heathan doing?". Sister Victoria asked as she watched out the window.

    Bill answered her, "If you're talking about Ultraman it looks like he's trying to defend the orphange."

    "Why would that false idol protect something that's under the Lord's care?"

    "How do you know he didn't send him?", Hawk told her as he continued driving.

    While they sped away Daxium got past thse tendrils, close enough to land a few blows before backing up. The first Gudis cold drain his energy with prolong contact. Part of him was afraid that the indifference in this one was because it could do the same. Right then it started flailing away with those tendrils a bit causing him to cover up and make sure they didn't wrap arpund something on him. Then it opened it's mouth and fired a bubble like energy blast that exploded on impact and sent him flying toward the orphange. The walls shook as he landed hard on the ground. Seeing the tendrils come at him he quickly rolled out of the way. He got a quick glance behind it to see a trail of dead Earth seemingly following it.

    When it fired another round of the energy bubbles Daxium quickly threw his arms open to create the protective shield in front of him. When the blasting stop he quickly dropped the shield and fired off a flash bolt that exploded in a shower of sparks on Gudis' body causing it to cry out. He was setting up for another one when it did something he wasn't expecting. "You will die today giant," it said in a deep raspy voice.

    Everyone was caught off guard at this. Bill forgot the sister was there as he uttered, "Holy shit it spoke."

    Daxium was stunned long enough for it to lash both tendrils into the side of his head. Grunting in pain as he fell to a knee then they came at him from the other direction forcing to him all fours. One of them wrapped around his arm and started draining his energy as it pulled him up only to knock him back down with the other one. It came at him one more time and he grabbed it out of instinct then quickly let go as he felt the drain increase momentarily. But he missed as the first one wrapped itself around his ankle while it pulled and sent him to his back. Gudis started whipping him with those tendrils before stopping as the jewel started to flash. Slowlying getting to his feet he got into another stance but was powerless to stop it from firing another bubble at him.

    But this one was different as it quickly surrounded him. Even worse he felt the drain on his energy increase every second as he tried to escape. The Gudis laughed as he struggled, "Soon you and the rest of this planet will be one with me." The drain was so great Ken was starting to feel it in the safety zone Daxium had created, falling to a knee himself. Inside his pocket the pendent flashed with a brilliant light and something seemed to explode. In the outisde world there was a brief glimps of a red and silver giant that took Gudis by surprise, enough to cause it to back up. It fired some sort of energy blast from his hand that shattered the bubble around Daxium before disappearing completely.

    The jewel falashing faster than it was before Daxium was still in a knelling position as he realized the giant did something else. There were memories of fight with this creature that was forgien to him. In all of them the creature was defeated, in all of them it came back. And he quickly realized they all had one thing in common, the ground. The Gudis was connected to the ground it was on. Looking at the creature he stood and banged his forearms together shifting into Power mode. Launching an attack that caught Gudis off guard he pounded the creature before grabbing it's tendril, it was goind to drain more of his energy but it was necessary risk in order to pull this off. Feeling it full force he fought it as he started to fly and ripped it off the ground. GOing as high as he could with the drain he started spinning making the creature go around and around until he let it go launching it into the air.

    As it came down Daxium already had his hand by the jewel and drew in what energy he could as he flew at the creature. With everything he had left he punched the creature with the full unfiltered force of the Giga Wave. Gudis was obliterated on contact. The jewel flashing faster and faster he tried to sense something of the creature but couldn't. From Ken he recalled what the stranger said about thinking the only way to destroy it was destroying every atom of it's being and hoped he was able to accomplish just that, and hoped the humans could confirm it, as he flew off, "Shiah!"

    Ken immediately dropped to a knee as he appeared from the ball of light. Without even thinking he reached into his pocket for the pendant. The green jewel in the center was now cracked and blackened. He was almost afraid of what that meant. "Was he able to get home?"

    It took a moment but Daxium finally answered, "I'm afraid not. He used what little energy he had left to help us."

    Wrapping his fingers around it he felt a bit of sadness to well up inside him, "He was a long way from home just to die."

    "Indeed," Daxium sounded sad as well.

    "Do you think that's ever going to happen to us?"

    "I am not sure," he answered after a moment. "But I truely hope that is not our fate."

    "You and me both pal," he pocketed the pendant one last time, "you and me both."

    ***
    "Double check everything," Hawk told the crew heading into the orphange. "It wasn't hit directly but it was rattled pretty bad. I want to know that building is strucuturely sound before I let the kids and nuns set a foot back in there."

    "Thank you Captain," Sister Victoria said, although it pained her to do so.

    "No problem at all Sister," he told her. Looking back he saw some of his men, including Ryo, Jess and Ken, playing soccer with the kids. "And I hate to disrupt your routine like this again."

    "It'll help the children work out some nervous energy from the past couple of hours," she said. She noticed Bill hovering close by, "William I though you would be joining the other with keeping the children occupied."

    "I wanted to apologize for beng so rough with you earlier," he said.

    "I realize you were doing your job," she said. "As I hope you knewe I was doing mine."

    "Of course Sister, of course."

    "While I still don't believe in the hea... this Ultraman," she corrected herself, "I realize he may be part of God's plan."

    "Well you and the other nuns always said he works in mysterious ways," Bill said. "And I've seen some mysterious ways in this outfit let me tell you."

    "Yes," she said a bit stiffly. "If you will excuse me... and if you're Captain will let me I will check on the condition of the orphange myself."

    "With supervision," Hawk told her. "I don't want anything falling on you and nobody to be there to help."

    "I'm surprised it took you this long to get inside," Bill joked. Sister Victoria said nothing before giving a small nod and walking away. Seeing the moment Bill ran toward the group behind them shouting, "Pass me the ball! I'm In!"


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    ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside
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  10. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    Episode 16


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    OP - Mercy Drive - Burn in my Light
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    "Oh good you're here," Dr. Williams told Hawk and the others that made up most of the main squad that made up Alpha Team. He guided them toward the entrance to one of the hangers, one that had been recently reassigned to house something else. He seemed almost giddy as he let them enter first. There they got their first real look at the partially covered metal frame of the "super jet" William had finally convinced the board to get built a few months prior. "It's not much now in this state but the inside is almost complete. I can't wait to show you."

    "We can't wait to see it," Hawk spoke for the group.

    Williams started to enter the jet then stopped and quickly turned around almost causing the group to walk into him. "Wait, one of you is missing. Mr. Scott!"

    From one of the maintenance bays by the engine Ken poked his head out and looked around to find him, "Yeah Doc?"

    "It's time for Alpha Team tour of the ship," he told him while waving him forward. "You're part of Alpha Team so you're in too."

    Looking back at something in the hull he looked back at them, "I'm helping build this thing I already know what the inside looks like."

    Hawk spoke up before Williams could say anything, "Ken get in the line."

    Realizing this battle was over before it even began he looked at one of the other technicians, "Keep an eye on that gauge I set up. I thought I heard something start to shake as the system stated to pressurize."

    "You got it," she said.

    "Alright," Williams clapped his hands, "now we can go inside." He lead them inside the jet, almost skipping as he did so. Jess held back for Ken to catch up.

    "Did you ever finds out what those two chairs in the back were supposed to be?"

    "They're two mini one man jet fighters," he told her.

    That bit of news attracted the attention of the two pilots in the group. Ryo looked at him, "Really?"

    "Yeah," he answered. "They're supposed to disengage and reattach in midair."

    Bill didn't look sure at that bit of news, "How is that suppose to work?"

    He hesitated a bit before answering, "He's... still working that part out."

    "You had to ask," Ryo told Bill as they entered the body of the ship. Going toward the front they entered what they all assumed was the cockpit. Most of the control panels were completed, and few yet looked like they had any power yet but they got a good idea of the layout.

    "The pilot and co-pilot sit up here," William said with out any preamble as he went to the front of the room. Then he turned toward the center chair, "Captain you'll sit here. You can actually control the ship from that station in front of the chair. In case both jets have been have been launched."

    "I better log some time in the simulator," Hawk muttered.

    "Oh Wade," he said as he walked toward the chairs situated in the back, "This is weapon control. Since you are the teams 'crack shot', I think that's the right term, you'll be right at home right here. And over here," he said going to the last chair, "is the engineering display so this will be your chair Mr. Scott."

    Ken blanched a little as his eyes widened a bit with a bit of a squeak in his voice, "My chair?"

    "Mr. Scott in engineering?", Bill smirked.

    "Shut up," Ken told him before returning his attention to Williams. "Why do I have a chair?"

    "This is Alpha Team's jet and you are part of Alpha team and a mechanic as well, therefore it's your chair," he said like it was the most natural thing in the world. Based on the facts it was. In Ken's mind however...

    Ken stepped a little closer, "Ah Doc, I don't think you got the memo but I'm strictly ground and pound. Me and planes do not mix."

    "I have no idea what you are talking about," Williams told him as he walked away with Ken looking on in disbelief. "Since Mr. Scott already let the cat out of the bag how would the two of you like to take a look at those jets?"

    "I'll check them out," Bill offered. "You get familiar with those controls. I want my co-pilot to be well versed in their operations."

    "I'm not the co-pilot in this situation," Ryo called out as he left the room. He turned a pleading eye toward Hawk.

    "We'll figure that part out later," he assured him.

    "You better hope he doesn't play the 'Razor Wing one pilot' card," Jess teased her usual wingman.

    "We'll figure it out later," Hawk repeated.

    Meanwhile Ken kept looking at his chair in total silence. Then he bolted out of the room, "Oh Doc."

    "I'll head him off," Jess volunteered as she gave chase.

    "Ground and pound," Ryo said with a bit of disbelief once they were alone. "When did Ken start talking like one of the Trackers?" Hawk gave him an amused look, that was what the pilots called the Scan Track crews. Of course they called the pilots "Winger" but that was a whole other story.

    "He's finally starting to fit in," Hawk told him. "Do you know how long I've been waiting for this day?"

    "But he's one of us," Ryo protested.

    Hawk's grin got a little bigger, "And I've been waiting for somebody else on the team to say that for almost as long."

    ***
    "The continued favoritism shown to Alpha Team is completely unacceptable!", Jamira shouted. He had barged into Brook's office a few moments prior and those were the first words out of his mouth. Not even an angry hello, how rude. "It's bad enough the men are commanded by a man with no taste for battle. Now they're getting an over powered jet!"

    "Dr. Williams created the over powered jet in question Commander," Brooks told him, trying to be a

    calming influence in this conversation. "Since Alpha Team is primarily a squadron of flyers it was only natural that they would get first tibs." If it was possible it seemed like the man was seething even more. "I'm sure if your nice to Dr. Williams I'm sure he'll be more than willing to create some sort of super tank for Beta Team."

    Jamira slammed his hands on top of the desk, knocking over a picture he had on it. "I do not find this funny."

    "And I suggest you remember who you are talking to Commander," Brooks said sharply as he stood. Jamira backed up a bit but he didn't look repentant. Brooks picked up the picture and looked at it, "My Grandfather used to say anger can be a man's undoing. You can be angry but don't let it color your actions." He placed the picture back on the desk. "Perhaps they are words you should learn to live by." Jamira said nothing. "So why come to me with this particular complaint? There would be several other board members who would be more sympathetic." Although a little more nervous that he went over Hawk's head therefore less likely to do anything.

    "You seem more level headed," Jamira told him. "You also have Richardson's ear in most matters."

    "I wouldn't say I have his ear exactly," Brooks commented. "It's more like I'm a sounding board who talks back on occasion."

    "But he trusts you more than anybody else on the board," he argued. "Everybody here knows that."

    "You flatter me Commander but..."

    "You can make them see I'm right about this," he continued. "Beta Team is just as important as the Alphas." This was a plea that stunk of desperation in some ways. Brooks almost started to pity the man.

    "I'm not going to make any promises," Brooks conceded. "But if you truly want to prove Beta Team's worth you should show them the next time a creature shows up. Make a little noise as it were."

    "Prove our worth," he repeated. Jamira looked back down at the picture on the desk, then realized it was the only picture on the desk. He looked back at Brooks with a quizzical eye. "No pictures of your Father?"

    "He spent too many hours looking over my shoulder while I was working when I was younger," Brooks explained, "and I didn't that feeling while I am here. Grandfather was a little more relaxed while he worked, something I try to imitate. The pictures of my Father and myself are back at my home office. But do remember what I said Commander." He left the room without saying anything, an increasingly common occurrence. But how he detested to pretend to be nice to that man.

    But he did leave at the right time as Brooks started feeling a familiar sensation. Using a new trick he just learned he sent a quick pulse of dark energy that shorted out the monitoring devices in the room. A second later the vortex formed right in front of him. Hopefully Scott wasn't anywhere close by or this could get rather messy. "What can I do for you my masters?", although he wanted to tell them this was not the best spot or time.

    "The creature you sent over has proven to be worthless Avatar!", the shape inside said.

    "A pity," Brooks said. "Unfortunately it was the only creature I could get a hold of in such a short amount of time. And if you weren't so insistent on a flying creature..."

    "That is not relevant," he was told. Ah yes, this was exactly the conversation he needed right after the one with Jamira.

    "It's also the first attempt at turning a creature from this universe into something you can use against the light beings," Brooks said trying a different train of thought. Sooner or later security was going to notice those devices were down and call in to check on him. "There is bond to be some sort of trial and error involved." A hard thought to swallow since he thought that bat he captured could have worked. But he guessed that depended on if his masters had a vampire myth on their side of things.

    "True," the voice conceded. "The experiment is considered to be a failure. The creature you dubbed Pestar is worthless."

    "Maybe not," Brooks said thinking about his conversation with Jamira. "It may have an unintended side effect if I play things over here correctly."

    "In what way Avatar?"

    "There is a seed of descent in the forces over here," he explained. "If played right it could cause those cracks to grow. And if that fails then they will waste ammunition on a creature you were already planning on destroying any way."

    "Your words make sense Avatar. Very well, we will prepare to send Pestar over the dimensional rift."

    "I'll pick a proper location shortly," and the vortex disappeared. And just like clockwork security paged him. "Yes, is there a problem?"

    ***
    "All clear Captain." The Captain, a man who had spent more than few year on the water, nodded but kept his eyes on the seas before him, and an ear for those he had positioned around the ship to keep an eye on the sea around them. Three ships in the past two weeks had mysteriously blown up. He figured it was some sort of equipment failure but reports of lights in the sea itself made the men under him jumpy. That and those blasted monsters that had been showing up lately. A combination that made him put in the current set up around the ship to help put their minds at ease.

    "I can't wait to get to shore," The ship's X-O said, a woman who had served under him for a couple of those years. There was a more modern term for her position but the Captain liked the term Executive Officer, or X-O, and was allowed a few eccentricities.

    "You worried about those lights too?" he asked.

    "No, I have a hot date after we dock."

    "I didn't know you had a boyfriend."

    "I haven't picked him out of the crowd yet," she said with a sly grin.

    "Comments like that make me glad I instituted that no sex among the crew rule years ago."

    "And I hope you don't wonder why most of them disappear for hours on end after we dock and unload."

    "This old sea dog's not that old little missy," he grunted before breaking out into a smile. "And if you

    weren't so busy picking your next man out of the crowd you'd realized I'm usually one of the missing."

    "So the old seas dog still has some life in him," she smiled back. She turned around to look at the charts behind them. He took a quick, and admittedly unprofessional, glance at her rather lovely backside. If only he was a few years younger, and that rule wasn't in place.

    And thoughts like that made him remember why he put the rule in place to begin with.

    "We got lights starboard!", his man on that side shouted into his radio. His X-O went to the bridge windows on that side and looked out. She looked back and shock her head. That would have been all except he was still looking in that direction and saw the flash she didn't. And if this was the sea playing trick then this was a pretty good one because the trick was moving.

    "All hands brace for a potential impact!", he yelled over the comm. The X-O turned around to see the light flash again and getting closer.

    She ran for the radio, "This is the oil tanker Hayata, we have light flashing on our stabord side. Our position is..." Some kind of roar cut her off. Then the sun seemingly blacked out despite the fact the could see it reflected on the sea.

    The Captain looked out the window with widening eyes, "Mother of God."

    "Monster," the X-O got out. Another roar and explosion later that ended up being the last word ever heard from the ship.

    ***
    "Is that Scan Track ready?", Jamira barked as he marched his way through the garage. Those around him quickly got out of his way but Chief Albright stood his ground. This was his area and nobody was going it intimidate him.

    "An hour ago," he told him while going over his work schedule. "I sent you a message then."

    "I expect to be told personally Chief."

    "The moment I can get a budget for some message runner I'll get right on that," he said walking away.

    "I'm still talking to you Chief," Jamira grabbed him by the arm. "You do not walk way from a superior officer."

    "And despite the fact people call me 'Chief' I do have the same rank as you Commander," he said freeing his arm. "A rank I received before you if you want to get technical."

    "And I outrank the both of you," Hawk told them as he quickly got involved. "So I highly suggest both of you dial it back."

    "Captain Hawk," Jamira, with a large amount of sarcasm, started to say.

    Hawk wouldn't have none of it, "Commander Jamira, may I suggest before you start up anything with a fellow officer make sure you're not in enemy territory first." He glanced around the garage to prove his point. "Chief I'll let you get back to business."

    "Thank you Captain." Then he turned toward his staff, "Alright get back to work, show's over."

    "To you he's cordial," Jamira grumbled.

    "I don't tell him how to use a wrench he doesn't tell me how to use a gun," Hawk told him. "But that's not why I'm here. We got a call an hour ago. Another ship was destroyed."

    "More of those flashing lights?", he asked.

    "We got that this time plus something else," he informed him. "Monster."

    Jamira demeanor changed into something a little more serious, "Do we know what kind?"

    Shaking his head he went on, "That was the last thing said before the transmission was lost. We had some research teams flying over the area the lights were seen in since they were first reported, so hopefully we'll find out pretty soon."

    "You wouldn't be telling me this unless it was coming to ground."

    "Bridge detected a sharp turn toward land with this latest sighting. We have a couple of potential landing zones targeted already. Our forces are going to be stretched a little thin trying to cover them all. You better get Beta Team prepped and ready to go."

    "Don't tell me how to run my unit," Jamira grunted. "You just keep your flyers out of our targeting sights."

    As he walked off Hawk called out, "We're on the same side you know."

    "And Alpha and Beta teams are supposed to be equal too," Jamira said although Hawk didn't hear it.

    ***
    In the war room Alpha Team stood around the holotable as a map displayed the location of the lost ships, complete with dotted lines to highlight the pattern. There was a gently curve with the first three but definitely a sharp turn with the last one. The map also showed how close to land it actually was and those potential landing areas. Hawk filled them in on the plan so far, "We're going to break up the Scan Track among these four possible landing zones. Razor Wings will be stationed at this airport right here," he pointed at a section of the map that was highlighted a different color than the landing zones. "Once we have a confirmed sighting the Wings will launch and work in concert with the Tracks in that area."

    "Is there any reason why those spots were picked as potential landing zones?", Ryo asked.

    "Yes there is," he answered. "As you know all four ships were oil tankers. The ships have been found with no survivors and no trace of the oil they were carrying in the ocean at all. So here in this area we have a refinery, a couple of storage facilities and a dockyard were the oil is supposed to be unloaded."

    "I can't believe we're still using oil," Ryo commented.

    "It may not be the best solution," Ken said, "but it keeps those fancy Razor Wings and Scan Tracks going."

    Jess smirked, "Spoken like a true mechanic."

    "Save the debate for later," Hawk told them.

    "So where do you think this oil guzzler is going to pop up first?", BIll asked. Hawk knew he was trying to ease the tension a bit with the joke in his question, but he knew Bill enough to know it was a serious question. He said nothing as he watched them work it out on their own.

    "I think it's going to be the docks," Jess said after awhile. "Everything points to the creature being aquatic and we don't know if it can go on land."

    "This one storage facility is pretty close to the shore," Ken spoke up. "And there'd be less ships getting in it's way."

    "Not that it had problems with ships before," Bill pointed out. "It's going to be the docks, it's directly on the main path it's taking."

    I'm just saying."

    "It's sensing the oil somehow right?", Ryo said. "It's only attacked ship carrying oil despite the fact there were several ships in this general location. I'm with Ken on this one, it'll go after that storage facility. It is the largest food source, if it's using the oil as food."

    "Finally somebody agrees with me on something," Ken said.

    Jess told him, "Don't get used to it." He shot her a look.

    "I have to admit those are all pretty good theories," Hawk said taking control of the discussion. "I personally would have picked the refinery but all four of you made some good arguments and points. And I'm proud to have all of you under me. Ken get to the Scan Track Hanger and join your group. That drive to the coast is going to take a couple of hours at least. Ryo, Bill and Jess we'll launch in a hour and a half. We'll refuel once we hit the airport. If Bridge's calculations are correct we should be set up in plenty of time before it makes land fall. Monster Squad move out!"

    "Roger!"

    ***
    "How many passengers do you think we're pissing off with this little venture?", Bill asked as he and Ryo walked between the rows of Razor Wings occupying the airfield.

    "Well we gave the Tower and airlines plenty of warning to divert and reschedule flights to other airports for today," Ryo answered. "But I'm guessing quite a few."

    "I got to tell you buddy, there are times I tink the waiting is actually worse than the giant monster fight itself."

    "Well I'm not going to disagree with you." They reached their respective Jets as the Captain and Jess where finishing up the weapon checks on Razor Wing one and two. "How's she looking Jess?"

    "We're ready to fly," she told him.

    "How are we Captain?", Bill asked.

    "We are the same sir," he said with a big grin. Bill got real embarrassed and looked around to make sure nobody else heard that. "After five checks we had better be." Getting out of the cockpit he patted the side as he walked around her. "I should tell you there's been a slight change of plans, we're holding some of the Wings back."

    "Why are we doing that?", Ryo asked.

    "The board is worried about a stray shot hitting a storage tank or a ship full of oil. We're to hold back a couple of squads and load them up with a set of missiles fixed up with a special fire retardant to combat the flames."

    Ryo nodded, "Makes sense."

    "Wait," Bill spoke up, "we're not part part of the fire duty are we?" Ryo and Jess exchanged looks suddenly wondering that themselves.

    Hawk looked at Bill with a critical eye, "Is there anything wrong with being on fire duty Waters?"

    Bill suddenly stood a little straighter, "No. It's just... ugh... Ryo?"

    "You're on your own on this one," he told him.

    "You're supposed to back up your teammate," Hawk told him, "no matter how deep he's in it. Do you have an opinion Wade?"

    "We're trained to fight strange creature not fires," she said.

    "See, she backed him up. But you are also trained to follow orders and if you were placed on fire duty I know you would do it no questions asked. However being in command I do have the choice, and I never wanted to be firefighter when I was growing up."

    "Castle to Captain Hawk."

    "Hawk here, do we have a sighting yet Bridge?"

    "No sir, just a relay transmission from the garage." The four of them looked at each other as Bridge continued. "Commander Jamira is complaining that something is wrong with his Scan Track and demanding the best mechanic we have in the field. The Chief asked if it would be okay to borrow your man for the assignment."

    "Captain no," Jess said as she figured out who he was asking for. "Jamira hates him."

    "Captain you wouldn't," Ryo joined in.

    "Yeah civilian's a pain but even I wouldn't do that to him," Bill added.

    Hawk looked at them hiding the small sense of pride he was feeling. "Well he is the best we have in the field right now and he came in with a set of skills that I don't want to go to waste. I'll contact him Bridge, he'll complain less if it comes from me. Well at least not out loud. Hawk to Scott."

    "Scott here."

    "I have a little side assignment for you that you may not like."

    ***
    Jamira was chomping at the bit as the other Scan Tracks raced to their assigned locations. With the few that stayed with him, those who were loyal to him that is, they were in firing range if the beast showed it's head. And the dock below them still wasn't evacuated yet. As a new Scan Track reached their position he anger grew even more as he saw who got out of it. "What are you doing here?!"

    Ken fought real hard to ignore the sudden urge to get back into the Scan Track. "Captain Hawk sent me. He said you were having trouble."

    "Jamira to Hawk."

    "If this is about Ken yes I sent him," he responded before the question could be bellowed. "You said you wanted the best currently in the field and that's him."

    "I meant a mechanic from the garage in the field."

    "Mechanics from the hanger don't usually go out into the field. Besides one from the hanger wouldn't get here in time. Deal with it and let him do his job. Hawk out."

    Jamira didn't look at him as he waved toward the Scan Track. Ken made sure to give him a wide berth as he passed him. "The Chief wasn't much on details when I contacted him, so what happened?"

    "It stopped," one of Jamira's men commented as they stood by the open hood. The ones in the other Scan Tracks tried to stare a hole into him. He hadn't had a reception this warm since his first official day back at Castle.

    "A little more detail would help get this done faster," he told them.

    "It sputtered than stopped."

    "Sputtered huh?" Ken pulled a small flashlight out of his pocket and immediately inspected underneath the vehicle.

    "What are you doing civilian?" Jamira demanded.

    "We had a similar problem in our group," he explained as he checked out the fuel lines. Pulling his head out from underneath he looked at the group, "Did you hit a really hard pump on the way here?"

    "What if we did?", the driver asked.

    "A simple yes or...," all of them, including Jamira, glared at him. So he decided to cut out the sarcasm for the moment and continued his search, "Because if you did... yeah right there. A hole in the fuel line about the size of a pencil. You guys are lucky the other one had a huge gap in it. Had to replace an entire section."

    "Just fix it civilian," Jamira told him.

    "Yes sir," he said. "Phil get me the repair kit."

    "You got it Ken." Both of them knew it was standard procedure to use the kit of the Track that needed fixing. But seeing how these weren't the most agreeable of guys this was the next best thing. "I'll see if we have any spare fuel."

    "Good idea," he said as he started to patch the hole. "I should be done in no time Commander.""Make it faster than that," Jamira barked.

    "We got fuel," Phil announced as he came back. Ken finished putting the patch seal around the line making sure there wasn't any gaps. Hopefully this will last them long enough to get them back to Castle.

    "Fuel her up," Ken told him as he got out from underneath the Scan Track. They ended up putting two

    fuel cans into the tank. Ken had them start the engine after a few moments and stayed on the ground long enough to make sure the patch held. "You're good to go Commander."

    "We could have done that," he sneered. Then he started barking orders at his team.

    "It's great to be appreciated ain't it?", Ken told Phil as they got back to their Scan Track. "Come on guys let get back to where we're supposed to be.

    "We got lights!", somebody shouted. They all looked at the light previously reported among some bubbly, churning water Ken looked down at the still full docks.

    "I hate it when she's right," he muttered.

    "Target that thing as soon as it comes out of the water," Jamira ordered. Ken looked at him then back at the people just now starting to run.

    He turned toward Jamira, "They're still evacuating."

    "Not my problem. It should have been emptied hours ago."

    "We're supposed to saves lives."

    "Fine," Jamira turned around, "go down there and help." Ken started to wave his guys down there but the Commander stopped him. "Just you civilian, and not as a UNDF representative."

    "What?"

    "Shut up civilian," Jamira snapped at him. "You want to be a hero fine but your not doing it play acting as one of us. You want to be a soldier than get back in that Scan Track and follow the orders I give you such when to fire. You go down there with that jacket on and I will have you arrested for insubordination and desertion of duty." Jamira's men looked like they were waiting for him to do just that. "I'll be happy to accept your resignation if you so choose." Ken stared at him while hearing the churning water in the background. He started to unstrap the wrist scanner as he headed for his Scan track.

    Phil tried to plead with him, "Ken contact Hawk."

    "We don't have time," he said as he handed him the scanner and his weapon. Making sure Jamira didn't see him pocket his "good luck charm" he handed Phil the Jacket. "Besides I'm just the civilian, so no big loss right?", he felt a small form lump in his throat. "I know he outranks you but try to stall him for as long as you can. It's been great working with you guys." He ran toward the dock as fast as he could trying not to think about what he just threw away.

    Jamira stood there triumphant watching him go. "Good riddence. You're part of my group now so get ready." He didn't wait for any kind of conformation as he headed back toward his vehicle.

    Phil turned his back to make sure Jamira didn't see him hit his communicator. "Coleman to Hawk, we have a situation."

    Hawk listened to the short version of what happened knowing he didn't have time to be stunned. "Commander Jamira what are you thinking?! That wasn't your man!"

    "I took care of your trash for you," he said. "You can thank me for it later." And he ended the communication before Hawk could say a word.

    "Jamira! Jamira! Damn it!" Hawk pounded the side of the Razor Wing in frustration. The others looked at him with some worry. Despite all of this they had a job to do. "Ryo, Jess in the air. Ryo you're in command of the air assault. If that things pops it head out of the water make sure it stays at sea long enough so we can finish evacuation. Bill, contact a couple of Scan Tracks from Area A to pick us up. We're going after Jamira."

    "What about Ken?", Jess asked. Hawk could tell Ryo and Bill were wondering about him too.

    He gave the only answer he could at the moment, "I'll deal with Ken later. Right now I need to get control of the situation before it gets even more out of hand."

    ***
    Ken had a hard time convincing the dock security to let him help get people out of there. Then he remembered he still had his UNDF ID with him and as far as the guard knew it was still good. And he bought his story about him being off duty and in the areas to explain the way he was dressed. Thank God he didn't ask about the hair. "Come on let's go!" he shouted while waving people toward one of the exits.

    "Ugh," somebody tripped and fell to the ground. A couple of people had ran over him and on him by the time Ken and another guard got to him to help him up.

    "Come on ,this is no place for a nap."

    "Thanks," the guard said s he helped the guy out. Ken looked where the Scan Tracks were, how long did he actually have? A roar made him look at the sea and found a bat like head sticking out of he water.

    "Shit," he started pushing people toward the gates. The he heard the first barrage of missiles. "Down!", he shouted right before they hit the creature. It seemed unfazed as more of it came out of the water, which included two enormous, extremely thick star shaped wings that head was perched between. Those wings were so big it seemed to walk on them instead of flying with them. Then he heard the familiar engines of the Razor Wings that came up and shot it from behind. Then the Scan Tracks fired again. From his vantage point it looked like the monster was trying to go in the direction of whatever was attacking it. He turned toward the Scan Tracks and shouted, "Stop firing!". "Of course he knew they couldn't hear him from this distance, not that Jamira would have listened to him any way.

    The something exploded as a missile missed it target and hit a storage tank. The creature seemed to be attracted to that as it moved toward it. Some more Razor Wings came in from behind. "Missiles away!", Jess said as she hit the trigger. Those exploded on the back of it's head. Then the creature looked at them and opened it's mouth and sit out a stream of fire, causing even more tanks to explode.

    "Shit," Ryo grunted as he got the out of the stream's path.

    "Do you think it's using the oil to do that?", Jess pondered.

    "I'll worry about it later."

    "Let's do this Dax," he said quickly looking for a place he could go unseen for a moment and finding it. Once there he raised the Spark Magnifier over his head and activated it.

    ***
    Jamira watched the column of light appear, the other thing he was waiting for. Make a little noise Brooks had said. He watched as the giant made his usual, "Shiah!" sound and took the creature on. His back was turned to his position. Now was his chance.

    "All units target Ultraman!"

    "This is Captain Hawk," he cut in. "Belay that order!"

    "Fire!", Jamira shouted as he turned his communicator off. HIs unit and those closest to him followed that order without hesitation. He would find a way to court martial those who didn't.

    The missiles hit Daxium square in the back. He grunted in a mixture of pain and shock as he looked back in the direction it came from. That's when he saw another round come at him and he quickly put his shield up to protect himself. "Ken why are they doing this?"

    "It's not all of them," he answered from the protected area, "just one idiot and his followers." He tried not to think about all the ones he heard at Castle saying they want a shot at the giant. "At least I hope so."

    Pestar shot his fire at Daxium while he was distracted, causing him to drop his shield as another round of missiles was fired. Then a couple of Razor Wings led by Ryo and Jess tried to intercept them with their own fire.

    "What are those Razor Wings doing?" Jamira demanded.

    "Following orders," Hawk told him as he pointed his weapon at them. Jamira turned and raised his weapon only to see Bill and the UNDF soldiers with them had him covered. "Which is more than I can say for you."

    "I'm doing what need to be done," he insisted. "There are two dangerous beings right there and I'm taking them both down."

    "Richardson's order..."

    "I don't give a damn about that old fool's orders! He sits safely behind a desk and I'm a soldier in the middle of this mess. I know what needs to be done better than he does."

    "You can argue with him back at Castle." Hawk looked at Jamira's men, ready to fight their own at a moments notice. "I'm placing Commander Jamira under arrest for insubordination among other charges. Now the question is how many of you are going to join him?"

    Jamira's men held their position, one even had Hawk dead in his sights. Slowly Jamira raised his hand and motion for them to lower their weapons. "This will be settled before you know it." Bill and Phil came forward to place him in custody. He wouldn't let them touch him but he left with them.

    Hawk turned away from him and paid attention to the battle of the giants. "All units in the air aid Ultraman however you can. Razor Wings in reserve start that bombing run on the fires. The sooner we get this under control the better."

    Ryo and the other pilots complied with the order and turned their missiles on Pestar. It fought not to go down as a wing gave out. Daxium unleashed the Dimensional Storm Ray to finish him off once and for all. He watched as a new set of Razor Wings came in and attacked the fire with their special payloads. Knowing he couldn't help fight the blaze he flew off into the sky, "Shiah!"

    ***
    "So am I under arrest or what?", Ken asked as he sat on the bumper of one of the cars in the parking lot with a UNDF soldier silently guarding him. Something told him this was a situation he should be getting used to once Richardson was done with him. "Should I take that as a yes?"

    A couple of Scan Tracks pulled up and Hawk and the rest of the team got out of the, He suddenly found the ground in the other direction real interesting. Hawk motioned for the others to stay where they were as he walked toward him holding his former jacket. "Take a walk," he told the guard who nodded and walked away. He waited for Ken to look at him. Hawk felt the weight of the jacket in his hands before speaking, "I had Coleman tell me the specific of what exactly happened with Jamira before I came for you. So I won't be charging you with desertion. It's also why I'm currently keeping my fist from connecting with your jaw. I just want to know why you thought this was the right idea."

    "Jamira was going..."

    "Stand up when you're talking to me," Hawk ordered sharply. Ken did so, looking him in the eyes.

    "Jamra was going to fire on that thing despite the fact the docks weren't fully evacuated."

    "So far that's confirming what Coleman and the others told me."

    "Coleman told me to call you and I thought I didn't have the time. I made a choice that I thought could save some more lives. A long time ago my dad told me there were times what a man choose told what kind of a man he was. I choose to save lives, even if it was only a couple more than what it would have been."

    Hawk slowly nodded as he understood what he was saying. "Did you think Richardson would get you back in after this?"

    "No," Ken told him truefully, "I figured once I was out I was out." And if Richardson had his way he'd be back, being dissected or something just to get to Dax.

    "If I was in your shoes I might have made the same call," Hawk told him. "But you still should have contacted me, I would have ordered you down there and we wouldn't have to go through this. Listen to me Ken, regulations state that any resignation has to go through your commanding officer and be of your own free will. You were forced to quit and I didn't get it so consider your resignation officially denied." Ken started to speak but Hawk poked a finger into his chest.

    "But let's get one thing straight right now. Everybody else may see you as the civilian operative, even you. But you are a full fledged member of this team who has more than proven himself. We have put too much work into you for to just throw it away. You are part of Monster Squad and you never, never, quit on us again. Is that understood Scott?" There was no mistaking the disappointment Ken was seeing in his face.

    He couldn't hide the shame he was feeling at the moment, "Yes sir." Hawk's expression softened a bit and he patted the younger man on the shoulder before handing back the jacket.

    "Come on son, our team is waiting for us." Putting the jacket back on as they walked the team greeted him and welcomed him back.

    ***
    Hours later Jamira stood in Brook's home office. He was currently suspended from duty while they were decided on what to do with him. "You have to do something. This was your idea."

    "No," Brooks said as he sat behind his desk, "I believe I told you to make a little noise to get yourself noticed. Not to fully ignore an order put in place by Richardson. That is fully on you. Even I couldn't smooth talk my way out of this one with even the silverest of tongues."

    "You have to do something. This is my life we're talking about!", Jamira slammed his hands on top of the desk. Brooks moved to catch a glass that looked like it was about to fall but didn't. "This is my career on the line and I need help."

    "What did I tell you that my Father said about anger Commander. And I suggest you should be thankful you still have that rank."

    "Your Grandfather," Jamira said suddenly.

    "I beg you pardon?"

    "You said your Grandfather told you that."

    "Oh yes, I did didn't I?" Remembering something else Jamira looked at the desk in this home office then at the walls. He looked at Brooks with some confusion. "I also told you there pictures of my father and myself in this very office." He gave him an innocent shrug, "Apparently I made a slight mistake." A battle honed instinct made Jamira reach for a weapon that wasn't there any more. Brooks cocked an eyebrow as he watched him. Then he raised a hand and unleashed a beam of dark energy that sent Jamira crashing across the room. Laying against the wall in a heap his chest was smoking but he was still alive.

    Each breath making him wince in pain he got out, "What... what are... you?"

    "I am what I always have been," he answered as he stood and walked around the desk, "a Brooks through and through." Tiny arcs of dark energy dancing between his fingers he smirked, "Although a couple of decades ago I made some acquaintances that made me more than that. Now Commander what should I do with you, hmm? I could blast you like I did Richardson's son and a few others but I keep leaving the skeleton for some reason. Probably some mental block I currently can't figure out. And it would leave me with some remains to dispose of and I want to avoid that if possible."

    Jamira knew this was his time, he was going to die, which is why the sudden noise coming out of his mouth surprised him, "Hahaha!" Laughing so hard he started crying.

    Brooks watched him, somewhat perplexed, "Is something particularly funny Commander?"

    "This is why Hawk has his job," he told him. "You put him there to weaken the forces. I knew there was a reason why it wasn't me."

    He almost felt pity for the man as he let him in on the truth, "Captain Hawk is in command because he was the right man for the job. He had all the qualities the board was looking for in leading the troops. I agreed and voted him in as well. Quite honestly you're lucky you even in command of Beta Team."

    "Jamira wasn't fully comprehending, "But why would you...?"

    "Why would I?", frustration about the actual situation instead of the question started to build. "I have to appease my masters by hindering and weakening the forces over here and at the same time not look like I'm doing it. Backing you instead of Hawk would put up a microscope I don't need hanging over me." He started pacing around the room, "Nobody understands this delicate balancing act I have to preform on a daily basis!" Calming down a bit a thought occurred to him that made him smile as he turned his back on Jamira. "Scott might understand better than most, but I don't think he'd appreciate the nuances."

    "Scott?", Jamira asked in confusion. "The civilian? What does he have to do with this?"

    Almost dumbfounded Brooks looked back around to stare at him. "Really? After a couple of misspoken words by myself you're able to figure out something not quite right. But after said revelation I drop a huge hint and you... How did you ever make it to commander? Fine I'll spell it out for you." Squatting down in front of him he spoke slowly.

    "Ken Scott is Ultraman."

    "What?", Jamira couldn't process the information and Brooks couldn't stop himself from enjoying the stunned look on his face.

    "I've known ever since Richardson had him brought in the first time," he said almost casually. "In fact I'm pretty sure Richardson knows too, hence the order and the whole civilian operative nonsense. And if he knows then so does his bodyguard. I am a little surprised Hawk hasn't put two and two together yet. It is rather obvious once you think about it. Oh," he said as another thought came to him, "Scott apparently sensed me too, he didn't know who it was at the time but I made sure he couldn't since then.

    "Ah," Brooks went as yet another thought came to him, "I know what to do with you now." Holding up a hand and with some concentration he made a vortex form right next to Jamira. He could only watch as a shape appeared. It looked at him then back at Brooks.

    "What is the meaning of this Avatar?"

    "Things with Pestar didn't work out like I hoped they would," Brooks told him. "However I have discovered an excellent consolation prize. Would you say you are ready for a human test subject?"

    It looked down at Jamira, "I would say we are."

    "What is that?", Jamira demanded.

    "That is one of the acquiescence I was talking about earlier. They call themselves the Zettons. They are quite war like and aggressive. You would probably enjoy their company if you weren't being experimented on."

    "What?" Another portal opened up beneath Jamira and he slid in slightly. Two more shapes appeared and grabbed him by the arms as they started to pull him in. The further he went the more he could see the misshapen heads and single eye staring at him. "Nooo...." his cried were cut off as the vortex closed.

    "This one had better be more successful Avatar," the shape told him.

    "I promise nothing with this one my masters. Even though he somehow rose to the rank of Commander in the forced he was rather useless. If he doesn't survive it would be a huge loss since you could use the data you collected on the next one."

    "We will see Avatar," and the vortex disappeared. Brook went over to the spot the Commander had been and readjusted a painting on the wall that had knocked loose when he hit. His sudden disappearance would cause questions. But that also means the majority of the attention back at Castle would be focused on locating him. Which means he could be a little more subversive in weakening the forces.

    Or perhaps he could push forward a project that might be useful to himself and his masters. "Where was that project file? King something I believe it was called."


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    ED -Shinedown -Fly from the inside
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  11. Ziginz Zegell

    Ziginz Zegell No Fear, No Pain.

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    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.
     
  12. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    Episode 17


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    OP - Mercy Drive - Burn In My Light
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    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, "Fuck."

    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.

    "Shiah!"

    ***
    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.


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    ED - Shinedown - Fly on the Inside
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    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  14. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    Episodes 18


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    OP -Mercy Drive - Shine In My Light
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    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 shit," he said as he stopped the drill. The smoke continued to pour out as he checked the drill bit readout.

    "What the fuck 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 shit!", 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.


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    ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside
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  15. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    Episode 19


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    OP - Mercy Drive - Burn In My Light
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    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. "Shit," 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."

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    ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside
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  16. Kamen Rider Oni

    Kamen Rider Oni Professionally Insane

    Likes Received:
    4
    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:
     
  17. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    1
    Home Page:
    Episode 20


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    OP - Mercy Drive - Burn in My Light
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    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 shit," 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
    -----
     
  18. Kamen Rider Oni

    Kamen Rider Oni Professionally Insane

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    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?
     
  19. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    Home Page:
    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 shit 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 shit.”

    “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 bitch,” 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 fuck?”, 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
    ‑‑‑‑‑
     
  20. scikaiju

    scikaiju science experiment gone wrong

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    A/N Just a bit of warning there is some heavy subject matter in this one
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    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 shit 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 bitch 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.”

    “Fuck 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.”

    “Fuck 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 fuck 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 fuck 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 fuck 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 bitch!” 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 fuck 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.”


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    ED - Shinedown - Fly From the Inside
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