Castle Roland


by Hammy

On Hold

Chapter 2

Posted: N/A

As the screaming continued, FireBird rapidly searched the area for the source of the scream, only to find it coming from the new kid. His eyes then darted to the rest of the boys to see who was the hardest hit. It looked like everyone was in pain, and he had to do something about it and fast. Just as FireBird was about to move, the screaming came to an abrupt stop, and FireBird quickly lowered his hands to see what had happened. He saw Jamie had his hand up towards the boy as if he was communicating with him telepathically. A moment later, both boys collapsed and fell to the floor with a thud as the rest of the group started to recover.

Aaron had been the hardest hit as his hearing was supersensitive; he shook his head several times to try and clear the ringing in his ears, but it wouldn't go away. He tried to trick his mind into believing it didn't hear any of the noise, but that was becoming hard to do. After several minutes of playing around with the idea, his hearing was finally clearing up and the ringing was slowly going away. Everyone had been watching Aaron, minus the two fallen boys. They had been shouting to him during the whole time and once Aaron looked up, he cocked his head slightly to the left and furrowed his eyes as if to make his face appear to be asking everyone a question.

"Why is everyone looking at me like that?" Aaron said as he was fingering his right ear.

"Dude, are ya ok? We all tried calling your name for the past few minutes, but you didn't seem to hear us…" Bryan said as he watched Jimmy kneel next to Jamie and place his hands on his chest. Next, a warm bluish glow emitted from his hands for only a second, then Jamie immediately opened his eyes, causing a round of gasps among the onlookers.

"Well, I'll be…" FireBird remarked, looking at the broken glass.

Justin walked to his brother, "Nice, bro. Ya gained an ability!"

Jimmy looked up at his brother with a grin on his face, then turned his attention to the other boy on the floor. He then looked in FireBird's direction as if he was silently asking permission to heal him, and FireBird simply nodded. Jimmy stood and made his way towards the boy, then knelt next to his head and placed his hands slightly above it. The same bluish glow started and stopped just as fast.

FireBird grinned at the twins as everyone watched their banter about Jimmy's new ability. He mentally made a reminder to himself to update the boys' charts and add an addition to the augmented population. He reached for his radio to inform USDT31 of the incident at the rest area and the newcomer they had stumbled upon. FireBird felt that the boy would feel safe with the current group, rather than simply handing him over to other strangers, and yet, something was nagging at his thoughts about the boy. It was something he couldn't ignore, a feeling, but he shrugged it off as a female voice came back over the radio.

"USDT31, we are granting you permission to retain temporary custody of the boy in question. "

"Acknowledged, USDT31. Requesting permission to gather information about the boy through questioning when he feels comfortable with us. At the moment, he appears to be shaken up, and I will hold off with any questions till he is ready for them. " FireBird responded with some hesitation.

"Acknowledged, FireBird. Proceed with caution. Notify the CO at your convenience. "

"Roger, FireBird out." He put his radio away, then thought about how much he detested his CO. He had his suspicions about her infiltrating the squadron after their previous CO had retired. Whenever he was around her, he always felt creeped out for some odd reason, even though she seemed nice. What is it about you, Stealth, that creeps me out so much? I've never felt this way in your presence compared to others. Sure, your resume is picture perfect for a squadron leader, but you do things completely different and not always correctly when you should. I truly wonder if she is a spy or worse…" FireBird shuddered at the thought of being in the same place for days on end with the entire squadron for training. Sure, he gave her a chance, per orders from USDT31, but it didn't stop him from having his thoughts. He had visited Professor and informed him of his concerns, only to be shot down. Instead, he brought Stealth to USDT31 for some 'paperwork', but it was really to meet with professor. Firebird was slightly amused at the expression on Professor's face upon his impression if her. He remembered the look Professor gave him when they left his office. It was a look that told him to keep an eye on her. He quickly shook his head lightly and pushed his thoughts away, as he had a schedule to keep.

"Ok boys!" FireBird waited for the chatter to die down and continued, "First things first: let's clean up the area and make it safe for people to enter. I trust Jimmy can handle this part." FireBird searched for Jimmy and found him to be nodding and smiled. "As for the rest of you, we need to make sure no one else is hurt from that loud sound blast." This caused the new boy to blush some and look down at his feet. Aaron saw this and maneuvered through the boys to get to him and envelop him in a hug.

"Dude, you did nothing wrong. You reacted out of fear, and that happens a lot. We were all going camping to train, I imagine…" Aaron looked up at FireBird and grinned. He returned his gaze to the new kid before seeing FireBird shuffle uneasily trying to hide his blush but failed. "Besides, you never told us your name?"

The boy looked up into Aaron's grinning face and decided he can trust him enough after a few moments thinking it over. "…Brandon…"

"Cool! Hey, Guys! This is Brandon! His ability is obvious; I'll introduce the gang to ya once we're underway." A bit of fear crept across Brandon's face and Aaron caught that. "Don't worry, you'll be safe with us."

Brandon weakly smiled as FireBird piped up, "Ok guys, get a move on! The stench in this bathroom is getting to me and I could use some fresh air!" This caused a round of giggles, and the boys quickly scattered to do their task while FireBird went to scout the forest. He wanted to make sure things were clear and no one was a threat to his group, even though he knew his boys would do well on their own. What they lacked the most was teamwork and he really needed to drive the word home into their minds, even if he had to teleport it there. The latter was obviously not possible, but he got a good chuckle out of the thought.

As the boys made their rounds, they were relieved to see nothing had been terribly broken and no one hurt. Some people had minor ringing in their ears, but nothing as bad as Aaron's. Just as Jimmy exited the building, he searched for Aaron and quickly spotted him chatting with Brandon at the RV.

Making his way towards the duo, sounding quite tired but trying to be cheery, "Hey Aaron, the bathroom looks good as new! I fixed up several leaky pipes and a clogged toilet and…"

Aaron held his hands up as if to push him away, "Dude! That's more than I needed to know! Too much info there! Take a break, Jimmy, ya looked wiped out." Jimmy nodded in response and slowly made his way into the RV as Aaron looked on to make sure he was ok, before looking around for the rest of the squad. He quickly spotted them scattered across the rest area, then turned his attention to Jimmy, "Hey Jimmy, can ya grab the rest of the guys and let them know to wrap things up here, we'll be leaving soon?"

Jimmy slowly nodded and took off towards the largest group while Justin walked over with Bryan at his side. "Everything's clear on my end. Waiting on FireBird to get back."

Aaron nodded then looked at Brandon, "Can ya hop in the RV with these two? I promise they won't bite!"

Brandon looked fearful for a moment till he saw the looks exchanging between Bryan, Justin and Aaron then giggled.

Brandon shook his head and climbed in the huge RV and was amazed once he got in.

"It's nice, isn't it?" Justin spoke from behind.

"Yeah! It is! What's that smell?"

"That? Oh, pine… for some reason FireBird loves the smell of pine. Whatever you do, don't ask him about it! He'll never stop telling that tale!"

Catching the tail end of the conversation, FireBird entered the RV, startling the boys, "What tale?"

"Ohhh, uhh…wellllll… nothing really. Maybe a story for later?" Bryan stammered, fumbling through, trying to find the right words to get out of listening to 'the pine tale', as everyone called it.

"Hmmm…" FireBird simply looked over the boys and made his way towards the driver's seat. Once he was seated, the rest of the squadron came pouring in.

"Off we go!" He started up the RV and pulled into the highway. As he cleared traffic, he looked in the rear view mirror and smiled. "Brandon, I've gotten permission from USDT31 to keep you in temporary custody in my care." Brandon shifted his attention from the window to FireBird, smiled shyly, then nodded, so FireBird continued, "Boys, make sure ya'll be there for him and protect him from any harm that might happen while we are on this trip." Seeing the simultaneous nods from the boys, he continued once again, "Also, Brandon, if you start feeling that power build up within ya, try and point your mouth skyward as to not cause any damage to the public and property. Our primary mission is to the safety of the people and property from accidental use of augments." Getting a nervous nod in return, he smiled, then returned his attention to the road as some of the boys decided to sit and chat with Brandon.

An hour later of boys chattering and horsing around, FireBird was getting slightly annoyed. At first it didn't bother him much and he thought nothing of it, but as it continued non-stop, it slowly got to him and he finally snapped. "Boys! Could ya'll tone it down some! It makes driving tough and we're almost there, for real this time."

The boys quickly fell silent and began to look outside for the first time. They were all in awe as they looked at the unfamiliar scenery till one of the boys spoke up, beating Jamie to it "Fire!" Bryan half-whined and half-shouted, "Ya coulda just like teleported us here! It would have been easier and… and… faster! We'd have been here already like hours ago…"

In a flash, FireBird was looking directly in front of Bryan, just inches from his face as he watched the boy's expression change from the devilish wisecrack to a complete look of horror as the boy quickly realized there was no one at the wheel. When FireBird smiled, he quickly teleported back into his driver's seat with a grin of his own, till the boys started laughing and egging him on for not teleporting there.

Moments later, Jamie finally remembered what he wanted to say. "Guys! This is in the area of Seven Springs! I'd know since I went snowboarding before…" Jamie spoke up but trailed off as Aaron moved next to him to comfort his best friend.

"Ya don't have to tell the story, ya know?" Aaron embraced Jamie in a tight hug as the younger boy nodded. Jamie turned to look into Aaron's brown eyes and smiled.

"For the first time in my life, I feel safe." Jamie smiled and wiped a tear from his eye and ran a hand through his light brown hair, picking up where he left off, "before becoming an augment. It happened on the same day and my parents left me there once they had found out. I guess I was snowboarding a little too hard and got careless. I lost control and fell off a cliff. They claimed I shouldn't have survived, but when they found me some several hours later, I had been fully healed, on my own, to their surprise, and they left me there. This was when FireBird found me. By sheer luck, he had gone snowboarding the same day and was about to leave, till he heard commotion about leaving one of them to fend for himself at the bottom of a cliff. I was surprised, but thankful for someone finding me." Jamie sighed and continued, "My parents didn't even want me after FireBird confronted them, nor did any of my family, except for my Godfather. He even has a cabin in the mountains and he's sooooo cool! I'd bet on anything that FireBird has worked out something with him…" Jamie trailed off as he looked outside to see FireBird standing right next to a tall man with brown hair grinning with his arms crossed.

Jamie was about to continue when the realization finally hit him, "When did we stop?! Jeremy!" Jamie took off running, followed by the rest of the group.

As the boys finally joined Jamie hugging his Godfather, introductions were made, along with the newest addition.

Aaron ran a hand through his blond hair and smiled, "I would never have guessed we were coming here, Fire!"

FireBird giggled. "That was the point. But don't think for a moment that we are here on vacation. You know what to do." Aaron frowned, as did the rest of the boys, and FireBird sighed, "Guys, we start training tomorrow and I would at least like to have our base of operations set up and running before then. I am making this training like a real mission, and it is my job to make sure everyone works the way we are supposed to." He looked around at the nodding heads looking sheepishly at him and continued once more, "Thanks, guys, and get it done soon, please! Supper is almost ready and I'd hate to miss it because…" He trailed off as the boys' eyes widened at the mention of supper and the possibility of missing a meal. FireBird didn't have to say anything else as Aaron began taking charge of the situation.

"Ok, guys, here's the deal! I'm pretty sure FireBird wants this set up fast and soon, so it looks like augments are allowed." He paused for a moment, waiting for FireBird to object, and received none, "Carry on, guys! Sean, make a small metal complex about 30 feet by 30 feet for our equipment." Sean nodded as Aaron moved on to the next, "Brock, help Sean with anything heavy he might need, and you'll also need to help move some heavy equipment once the complex is finished. If I had to guess, Fire either teleported something from base to here or he brought it in that RV."

FireBird smiled inwards as he turned to walk towards the cabin with Jeremy. He knew Aaron would make a fine leader and a good one. Looking at his watch so he could time the boys, he turned his attention towards Jeremy. So… besides the thanks for the invite, what's for dinner?"

Jeremy smiled as FireBird giggled some. "Still the kid at heart, eh? Lets see… Meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, corn on the cob, and I forget what else…"

"Sounds good…" And they were out of earshot as Aaron continued to lay out his plan for the squad and assign roles.

Somewhere out in the woods, another group of augments and the like were lurking in the shadows, fully aware of the little trip that had been planned. They intended to capture the most valuable augment in the TIGERS arsenal: Bryan.

Meanwhile back at the cabin, Aaron had just finished giving orders and went to help with setting things up using some speed and telekinesis. Some fifteen minutes later, activity outside the cabin died down as several boys stood around to look at their work, then the dinner bell sounded. Everyone exchanged looks with one another and quickly rushed towards the house, only to find no one there. They thought it was strange till Jamie spoke up, "Guys! They must be around back!" It didn't take long to find where the food aroma was coming from as the group rushed towards the rear of the cabin, only to find none of the food there.

"Boys, ya took a bit longer than I thought, and I'm sorry about the food, we kinda ate it all." FireBird said with a straight face that had Jeremy trying to hide his laughter.

It didn't take long for the boys to know they had been had. "That wasn't nice!" Jimmy whined.

"Sorry! The expression on your faces was priceless!" With a wave of his hand, the food instantly appeared and everyone rushed over to their respective seats and began to dig in.

Half hour later and all the dishes cleaned and put away, much to the whining from several of the boys, FireBird decided to talk to Jeremy alone while everyone else was busy.

In Jeremy's office, he closed the door, but kinda figured it hopeless since some of the boys had exceptional hearing, yet hoped they didn't eavesdrop on their conversation.

"How's things, Fire?"

FireBird sighed and scratched his head, "Not sure. I was wondering what you are feeling about all this."

Jeremy cocked his head slightly to the right, "huh?"

"Well, we picked up another one. It seems to be the norm these days every time we come here. I have to wonder if this place is a magnet for augments or something."

"Heh. You aren't that far off. This place is a magnet for augments." Jeremy spoke softly, emphasizing the 'IS'.

FireBird groaned lightly, "I know you've got some sort of a special sense, but you never show it and I've seen it happen once or twice, yet you hide it well. However, am I to guess it only happens when you sense something is off or not right?"

Jeremy looked at FireBird, slightly startled by his analysis, but weakly smiled and turned his gaze to his computer. "When I read, I can analyze a story and somehow predict what could happen next. Much to my amusement, the predictions I make are usually right on. It works sometimes when I really think about things. This sometimes happens in conversations. I don't know why or how, but I seriously doubt it's in a form of an augment. Maybe it's something nature gave me. I can't be sure, Fire, but I can tell you this: something is happening somewhere and I can't put my finger on it. It's just a really nagging feeling that creeps me out from time to time. Only this time, it gets worse and we aren't alone. Seriously, Jamie, why do you always sneak up on us?"

"How'd you know it was me?" came the voice from the other side of the closed door.

"I know you well enough to know you'd try this. I've caught you many times but said nothing. Only this time I can't let ya off the hook."

Opening the door and looking down at his shoes wearing a guilty face, Jamie slowly let tears run down his cheeks, prompting Jeremy to move towards him and envelop him in a hug. "I'm not scolding you or anything, but a closed door generally means to stay out and not eavesdrop. Whatever you heard cannot be repeated, not even to your squadron."

The boy silently nodded as Jeremy hugged him tighter. "I don't hate you and neither should you hate yourself. I kept this from everyone because it is just that special. I don't know how, but maybe someday it would be clear to me."

FireBird smiled, "And this is why I placed Jamie with you, Jer. Your secret is safe with me. The less who know, the better."

"Good and thanks." Jeremy smiled then looked at Jamie, putting a finger under his chin so he could look at him. "Whatever brought you up here anyway?"

"Well… I was hoping to scare ya, but it was taking too long and I was wondering if FireBird took you somewhere, that is, till I heard voices."

"Hmmm, lemme see… you want chocolate ice cream and can't find it." Jeremy said, more of a statement than a question, surprising FireBird.

Jamie's eyes widened. "How did you know?"

With a wink and a smile, "That's for me to know and you to find out."

Jamie was about to protest till his stomach rumbled, causing him to blush and the adults to laugh.

"You know where it is, Fire. Looks like the boys are hungry after that big meal. I guess I've gotta start cooking for more now that you boys are eating machines." Jeremy said with a grin, causing FireBird to giggle on his way teleporting out.

As Jeremy and Jamie made their way downstairs, they were met by cheering and Jamie immediately ran towards the kitchen, fully knowing what the boys were cheering for. As Firebird emerged from the kitchen holding a bowl of ice cream in his hand, he stopped in front of Jeremy trying to finish his mouthful of ice-cream. "Is it supposed to be cold tonight?"

"Huh… ?" Jeremy looked at FireBird with confusion, "All of a sudden you're talkin about the weather now?"

"Well, it was a mild day and we're in the mountains, so during the winter, it is a little cooler here than where we normally are. But well, I thought it was just me being silly."

Jeremy eyed him carefully, "Well, the news claimed it to warm up some before it suddenly dropped and started snowing heavily within the next several days or so. I suppose I should stock up some on groceries and other things for the incoming storm. How is Defender 19 handling this anyway? I've heard of reports that they will be buried under like a ton of snow and manpower is stretched somewhat thin? I don't have all the details but just concerned."

FireBird shook his head, "Just barely. Most of the squadrons are on alert in case shit hits the fan. I've even heard USDT19 is putting some BEARS on standby, maybe even full activation. I'm not sure my kids are ready for USDT31 to do something like that and it worries me when I think it could happen at any time. This is why I need to train the boys here. They need to develop teamwork and that is sorely missing, however in just today, they've shown more teamwork than I've ever seen in months. I don't expect kids in an EAGLE squadron to work together like any USDT, but if we could even act as a team for a few hours, it would be a big step up. That is something I'd like to achieve. Don't ask me why, but I kinda like working with kids. Maybe I'm too easy on them, perhaps that's why they seem to be a little lax around me, but when Stealth is there, they are kinda uptight. Hmmm… come to think of it…" Fire shook his head before he rambled on too far, while Jeremy still was interested, he just didn't want to involve him in the little details. He continued, "anyway, back on the training part, it just might be this place that encourages them to be better listeners. Hmmm… how can I keep the boys like this all the time when a real mission happens?"

"That, my friend, you have to learn for yourself. I already have the answer, but it normally takes the hard way to learn things in life. I could just tell you here and now, but you might forget it later on down the road. I found this out the hard way as well, and most of everything I learned was based on everyone else's experiences and some of my own. I learned from them, my friends, my teachers, my parents, and most of all, you and the boys. Believe it or not, the answer will come to you. If it doesn't, here's a hint: the answer was right in front of you, clear as day. Think it over some; it'll come to you. And that, my friend, when it happens, you will immediately know what to do and how to do it. I might be young, but sometimes living through other people's experiences in a few short years makes me seem old and wise."

FireBird chuckled, "Looks can be deceiving. I'll sleep on it. Speaking of which, it is close to bedtime and we do have an early start. I have a week to get things in order before we leave and I was really looking to some time off, but this has to be done. If we finish early and things succeed, I'll grant the boys some time to horse around for a day or two. They could use it from the looks of it."

Jeremy smiled fully knowing that FireBird almost grasped the concept, but understood his plan. 'It might be sooner than you think, my friend. This feeling I'm getting isn't going away, in fact it's growing stronger.' Jeremy thought to himself. He was also hoping FireBird didn't catch the thought and continued, "Have a good night, I'll make breakfast."

FireBird was about to protest, but Jeremy was having none of that. "As much as I hate waking up early in the morning, I'd happily do it for the boys. Life out here is often hard when you're living alone. When Jamie comes here for a short time or when everyone does, it makes my heart swell. I like doing things for people as it makes me happy. So, once again, good night."

FireBird smiled and patted Jeremy on his back as he began to walk towards his bedroom. "Night and sweet dreams."

FireBird turned to the kitchen to see the boys putting the dishes away and cleaning up some when he announced, "Guys, lights out in fifteen. We have an early start tomorrow."

"But Fire! It's still daylight out!" Aaron exclaimed as he looked outside and gasped. "Never mind."

"Again, fifteen minutes, but I'm going to bed. I'm quite tired from the long day. Good night, all!"

"Night, Fire!" Came the chorused reply, causing him to chuckle on his way to bed. The boys had a nest of blankets laying around in the living room for everyone to sleep together. It was amusing to see and the boys loved it. This caused FireBird to wonder as he made his way to bed.

Back in the living room, Aaron was busy giving the boys directions on what he was hoping to get done. "So, who wants a shower first? We're going to have to take turns and 15 minutes isn't nearly enough time, unless Jeremy has a huge shower where we can all go in together…" Aaron trailed off as an idea hit him. "Jamie, does Jeremy have a huge shower here?"

Jamie grinned, "Sure, follow me, we haven't got much time."

"Wait up!" Aaron called as he rushed to get a change in clothes and his shower stuff as did the rest of the boys.

"This is gunna be fun!" Justin mused as he watched his brother skip excitedly towards Jamie.

Brock noticed this, as did Sean and Jesse. They didn't say anything but each boy smiled to themselves, making sure no one else saw them. Bryan was the only one who caught them, however.

Ten minutes later, the boys finished their showers and got ready for bed. None of them were looking forward to tomorrow, but they wondered how Brandon was taking things. No one had the guts to speak up, but Bryan finally spoke the unasked question, "So Brandon, how do you like things with us so far?"

After a few tense minutes, "Like a dream come true. Never thought this was possible."

Jimmy spoke up before his brother, "Don't worry, it isn't a dream, but we've already welcomed you into our group as did Jeremy. I have a feeling he already knows what happened, but he would never turn down a kid in need, right, Jamie?"

"Right… guys, I'm fallin' asleep, good night." Jamie said already falling asleep.

"Yea, same here." Aaron replied sleepily.

"Us too." chorused the twins, causing everyone to groan.

Brandon giggled, "Are they always like that?"

"Pretty much." Brock giggled as did Bryan, but they too quickly fell asleep.

It wasn't long till the house was silent and the boys were finally asleep. FireBird checked on them thirty minutes later and found them fast asleep. He shut the lights out and returned to bed.

Morning came all too early for everyone as the smell of sausage and bacon penetrated the air.

Justin and Jimmy were the first to wake up to the smell. The house was cool in the early morning as the fire in the fireplace was beginning to warm up the house. The sun was just beginning to shine when the two boys appeared in the doorway to the kitchen, in matching grey sweat pants and tee shirts.

Jeremy looked over his shoulder and smiled, "Good morning, boys. Breakfast will be ready in fifteen or so."

"Mmmm, smells good…" Justin said while scratching his mop of blond hair.

"…Got any coffee for us?" Jimmy completed with a grin plastered on his face. His appearance was similar to Justin's.

Jeremy shot the twins a glance as his smile faded, "That stuff can stunt your growth, ya know?"

Just as the twins were about to speak, Aaron entered the kitchen with his blond hair standing straight up and his clothes on backwards, "Didn't think caffeine would stop an augment."

Jeremy's eyes nearly fell out of their sockets as Aaron made his statement with a straight face, causing the twins to giggle.

"But yea, orange juice all around." Aaron grinned, causing the twins to pout. "So… where's Fire?"

Jeremy shrugged as he returned to his cooking, "Who knows? Still sleeping, I'd imagine. He was quite exhausted when I saw him last night, and I figured he'd want to sleep in some, but sorry, boys, I kinda had to get you awake and about before him."

"We're used to it by now." came a voice from the living room. "What a way to wake up in the morning. I could get used to this!" Brock walked in the kitchen stark naked and not noticing the stunned looks some of the boys were giving him. Jeremy had been wondering about the silence after a moment and craned his neck to see a naked grinning Brock and nearly dropped the bacon on the floor.

Feeling slightly flushed, Jeremy was at a loss for words as Aaron broke the silence, "Dude! Get some clothes on! For once in your life, try and be decent around company! I'm not sure what Brandon would think about you sleeping naked, but…" It was too late. Brandon had already walked in with the rest of the boys and saw Brock in all his glory. He blushed madly and tried to run, but instead of running into an empty space, he ran directly into FireBird.

As Brandon looked up to watch FireBird's expression, FireBird winked at him, "So, what'd I miss?" Quickly scanning the kitchen, he found the reason and quickly came up with a solution. "I see. So Brock, I was wondering if you forgot your clothes or not, but don't worry I have an extra pair." With a snap of his fingers and some teleportation, he managed to find his sister's old dance uniform still hanging on a dummy. He was able to take the clothes and dress Brock with them with little effort and the boys started laughing once Brock finally realized what he was wearing.

Brock blushed a deep shade of red as Jimmy decided to take a crack at the funny situation, "Dude! Ya look like a girl in that! Could probably pass as one too!" This caused another round of laughter from everyone till FireBird decided it was enough.

With a snap of his fingers, the clothes disappeared leaving Brock blushing nude, "Okay, Brock, get some clothes on! Breakfast is almost ready and I don't see the table set yet!"

This caused the boys to groan, but they quickly jumped to the task at hand and had the table set right before the food was ready to be consumed.

After breakfast, FireBird had the boys change into their standard squadron gear. FireBird understood Brandon didn't have his own yet, and he might not qualify to be in a squadron. Until Brandon was classified as at least a class two, there was no guarantee he would allowed to stay as part of the squadron.

Fifteen minutes later outside the house, FireBird was doing rounds when the boys stepped outside and stood at attention.

FireBird smiled inwardly. "At ease, gentlemen. I'll be checking your gear thoroughly to be sure you have everything required. Everyone should have their Kevlar vests, even so, some of you might not need them for obvious reasons, but it is a good safety measure to practice." FireBird eyeballed everyone and continued on with proper procedures and requirements as well as receiving nods from the boys after he had finished.

Feeling satisfied everything was in order, FireBird looked over his squadron wondering if they are ready to handle what he has planned for them.

"Okay, guys, inside the base of ops, you'll find your mission briefing and your orders. Everything has been set up and will go according to plan... unless there is a true emergency, I expect you to break off and handle the emergency. Depending on the nature of the emergency, I'd still need to be informed of a change in plans." FireBird paused to look at the group, waiting to see if there were any objections and there were none. "Any questions?"

When no one answered, FireBird was about to signal the boys to carry on with their mission., He noticed Jamie feeling dizzy and out of focus. _'__Hmmm…' _FireBird thought, _'__is this a trick or is he having a vision of things yet to come or is it a warning or both?'_

Aaron quickly glanced at what FireBird was looking at and saw Jamie in a dizzy state. "Shit, guys! Jamie's getting a bad event prediction!" Aaron quickly glanced back to FireBird with a look of horror in his eyes, "FireBird, is there anything about this mission that puts us in extreme danger?"

FireBird shook his head, "No. Unless…"

"Unless what?" Aaron half demanded, sounding impatient.

"Unless this area is high in hideouts for anti-augment groups or extremists groups…" FireBird trailed off as realization hit him.

Suddenly Jamie shouted, "Guys! Find cover now! The house is rigged to blow in five seconds!"

The boys hesitated for a second before their training kicked them in the ass and told them to move it or else. FireBird was in a state of shock before he suddenly saw Jeremy beginning to enter the basement through the sliding doors, which were wide open.

_'__SHIT!'_ He thought as he teleported to Jeremy in hopes to get him out the second before the explosion.

Just as FireBird disappeared, a second later, the house exploded, sending debris and most of the boys flying!

Up on the hill, a watchman with binoculars smirked as he lowered them, "Damn! Looks like they have some sort of a pre-cog with them, but oh well! Without their squadron leader, they're a hopeless bunch!"

The man standing to the watchman's right smirked, "Even if they aren't too bad anyway! We still outnumber them!"

"Right…" The watchman pulled out his CB and spoke into it, "Boss, change in plans, the brats survived, but the XO didn't."

"Capture them! Quickly! We'll hold them as hostages, then decide later what to do with 'em!" The menacing voice replied over the radio.

The watchman smirked, "Will do!" He then took his hat off, revealing a baldhead with a huge claw-like scar across his head that looked very recent. It was his signal to proceed with their plan to capture the boys. As he turned to look at his little army of about a hundred men and teenagers, his grin never faded, "Capture them alive! If any of them resist… kill them!"

The crowd cheered and raced towards the burning house as the bald man watched with a paper list of augments in his hand of the TIGERS 28!

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