The tall blond teen that appeared to be the spokesperson for their group slowly stepped forward.
"We are as much as a victim as you are. We were captured for his own personal reasons. Don't ask us why, we just did as we were told. None of us had any families and we've all been living on the streets for quite some time."
"Don't you dare tell them anything you fucking runt!" The leader shouted as FireBird approached him, causing him to instantly shut up and glare at the four boys.
FireBird knelt down to the leader and simply stared at his face. He was actually using telepathy to probe his mind, hoping to find some answers while Brock asked some questions.
Brock craned his neck and looked at FireBird for some sort of answer. Seeing him crouch down and not looking back at him told Brock that he should continue with his questions, so he did.
"How can I trust you? I'm willing to give you the benefit of doubt, but you attacked us!" Anger began to swell from within Brock, but he pushed it aside. "All right, just tell us what you know and where the place is."
The leader shifted in his position, as if to lunge, but FireBird held him with his hands on his shoulders. He was able to see where the leader was thinking of, but the place was unfamiliar to him. He continued to probe his mind as one of the boys started talking again.
The teen sighed and looked down in defeat. "I know how you feel. The camp is huge. He has been either kidnapping augmented kids or forcing them to join them or just removing them off the streets. I have no clue what his plans are. Like I said, we are all just pawns in his little game. We've tried to get away on a number of times, but each time we tried, many of his men were there to stop us. It is impossible to escape and the only way is by body bag. We chose to live and keep trying, but we finally caught a big break and we have to thank your FireBird for that. I know where the camp is, but it moves a lot and it surely will move once he finds out a huge number of his men didn't return."
The leader was about to use his augment, but FireBird quickly knocked him out then stood watching Brock. He knew they were being watched, but he was hoping Brock would catch the feel of eyes looking at him. He wondered if he only felt it or others did as well. He was about to illuminate the area, but Brock's loud sigh caused him to look at him. He needed a plan of action and he didn't have any at the moment. He wasn't thinking very clearly as some slight pains of hunger made their name known. He shrugged it off and would worry about it later, unless something came up, but as soon as he felt as if he was being watched again, he illuminated the area as Brock sighed.
"We aren't alone. And Glenn? I believe you are telling the truth." FireBird smiled, shocking the teen somewhat.
As the bright glow from FireBird illuminated the area, everyone had to shield their eyes due to the intensity of the brightness.
A short ways out, maybe a hundred feet to FireBird's left, stood six girls. FireBird and Brock gasped in shock but it wasn't the shock of seeing the girls show up, but they were holding up the rest of the missing members, with the exception of Bryan. Brock and FireBird gasped as Brock was the first to make his move towards the girls. FireBird lowered the intensity of the brightness so there was a soft glow lighting up the area, but not harmful to the eyes.
Aaron looked up with a pained, but dopey grin on his face at the surprised looks on Brock and FireBird's faces.
As Brock got closer he looked over every member of the team, then turned to look at Aaron in the eye.
"Dude, are you okay?"
Aaron nodded, "Don't worry about me, worry about them." He nodded towards Jimmy and the rest of the boys.
This was Brock's first real shock; Jimmy was a bloody mess. He was still lying on the ground, but there was a faint rise and fall of his chest. FireBird saw this and rushed towards him. Once he was there, he knelt to his knees and began to heal Jimmy. A bright red glow emitted from his palms as he began to heal him. The healing was taking quite a while and it appeared FireBird was starting to sweat as he concentrated. In what seemed like hours, but five minutes had gone past, as everyone watched in silence, the glowing red beams stopped and FireBird let out a sigh.
"The damage done to him was so great, it took a lot out of me to just heal him. I need to eat something to gain strength, but I see Cameron already has the stuff I hid."
This caused Cameron to smile and blush at the same time. "I figured I'd check out the place for hostiles and I found a huge stash of food in a pair of sacks and began to wonder if someone just hid it there, but when I looked inside, everything was fairly fresh, so I brought them along thinking someone might need them."
"Need?! Oh man! I am soo hungry, I could eat a horse!" Brock rushed over to Cameron and dug through the bag, pulling out several MRE's for himself and began to eat fast till FireBird spoke up.
"Careful Brock, eat too fast and you'll end up feeling sick." He stood, then looked at the rest of the boys. They were finally beginning to awaken. "That goes same to the rest of you." He walked towards Cameron, grabbed two handfuls of MRE's and set them on the ground. As he began to eat, Justin and Sean started stirring. At first, they seemed confused, not recognizing the area. A second later, Justin bolted from the girls arms towards his brother once he spotted his badly beaten, but healed body.
FireBird looked up and grinned, not expecting anyone to expect Justin to just jump out and be ready on short notice, but he did. He took note of that, guessing both twins must have unlocked two augments at the same time. He wasn't sure what the other augment was, but he knew it was there when he was healing Jimmy.
Justin began to form tears in his eyes as he brushed his brother's hair. He looked towards FireBird with tears flowing down his cheeks. He wanted to ask the dreaded question everyone is afraid to ask. He was too blinded to see the steady rise and fall of his brother's chest. He was too busy trying to form words as his emotions were threatening to take a hold of him.
In between sobs Justin barely spoke, "Is he…?" he sniffled, "Is he…?"
FireBird smiled, "He is alive, if that's what you want to know."
Just as fast as the tears had started, they suddenly stopped and Justin's frown turned into a happy, but pained smile. "Thank god. I wouldn't know what to do if he had died."
Glenn quickly spoke up after hearing the word 'god', "Don't thank us, we were only following orders."
Everyone gave him a strange stare, causing the boys to giggle.
"We kinda call ourselves GODS, by our first names. My name is Glenn, the lanky guy to my right is Oliver, beside him is Dylan, and finally Stan. We've been best friends since we were five years old. We pretty much stuck together since then. I guess our parents gave us that nick name after my own dad figured it out this one time after he kept saying 'gods sakes' for too many times. It's a long story but it can wait. There are more important matters to take care of before anything else."
Justin and Aaron laughed, but they winced as a sharp pain stabbed their stomachs. They placed an arm around there as if to make it feel better but it went away just as quickly as it started. FireBird noticed this and motioned for the two boys to walk towards him. As soon as Justin was close to FireBird, Aaron was being helped over by a jet-black haired girl who had sapphire eyes. Aaron looked at the girl and smiled.
"Thanks, Julie." She blushed and smiled at the same time as she helped Aaron to sit in front of FireBird.
"Welcome!" she said as she turned to walk back to the others.
FireBird just placed both hands on the boys' stomach at the same time and the same red glow began. It didn't last long as his hands were roaming all over the boys' upper abdomen till he finally found the source of pain and quickly healed it.
"Go eat boys. The night ain't over yet!"
Aaron froze in his tracks as he stopped to turn around and look at FireBird in the eye.
"I know." He turned and made his way to Cameron. Once he got there, she raised the bag and he dug in, grabbing quite a handful of MRE's for himself and Justin then walked towards Justin, who was still sitting right next to FireBird. As soon as Aaron sat, FireBird motioned for Julie to bring the next person over, which was Sean. Two other girls, one with curly brown hair and the other with a strange mix of blue and grey hair brought an unconscious Jamie, in their arms, with them.
FireBird smiled as Julie knelt, lying Sean on the ground in front of him.
She nodded then stepped back and watched as FireBird performed the same motions as he did with Aaron and Justin. FireBird spent a bit of time on Sean than Aaron and Justin. Once he was done, Sean began to slowly wake up after a moment went by.
Sean let out a groan as he looked around slowly. He suddenly bolted upright as he thought he saw a ghost staring at him.
"Fire?! How? I thought you were dead!" Sean stated from the obvious shock of seeing his squadron XO alive.
"I ain't called FireBird for nothing, kiddo." FireBird smiled.
"Umm…well… yeah… but…" He scrunched his face and tried to think of a better word to say but he couldn't and just blurted out, "I mean I thought the force of the explosion was so intense, you might haven't had a chance to escape."
FireBird simply shook his head. "I'm still here, aren't I?"
Sean slowly nodded, when realization suddenly dawned upon him. "What happened to Jeremy and Brandon?" He then wrapped an arm around his stomach. "Man… I'm hungry."
Several MRE's were placed in front of him as he briefly looked up to see who it was then started at tearing one open when he suddenly froze after saying his thanks.
She smiled, "no problem!"
"Wait a minute! How'd ya'll get here?!"
"Give FireBird some room for Jamie and once he is alert enough, I'll tell ya."
Sean shrugged then went back to his meal as Jamie was lied down in front of FireBird. FireBird repeated the same motions with Jamie, taking his time, but he quickly found he didn't need to do much healing as Jamie was a healer as well. What FireBird didn't know was Jamie was completely faking it, he has been since the girls arrived, thinking it was for his own safety so he could gain some strength to escape if needed. FireBird grinned as a wicked idea formed inside his head.
"Brock, I'm afraid we lost him." FireBird said with a wink, hoping Brock would play along.
Brock fell to his knees as did the others. "Isn't there anything you can do?"
FireBird shook his head, "He's been long gone. Only if I was able to get here sooner…"
Brock let out a fake sob, "I'll… make a grave." He slowly placed his hands on the ground in front of him and concentrated making a hole in the ground, big enough for a body to fit. At first nothing was happening, but it didn't last long as a rumbling was felt and the ground started to split open. It didn't take long for Brock to create a hole. Once he did, the rumbling stopped and he quickly stood, walked towards FireBird and picked up a 'sleeping Jamie' and walked over towards the hole, only to find Jamie looking at him with very wide eyes.
Brock smiled, "Hi, faker!" He was about ready to toss Jamie into the hole when he suddenly latched onto Brock's neck.
"I wasn't faking! I was just… 'playing dead'!"
"Coulda' fooled me!"
Jamie rolled his eyes, "Can ya please not throw me in there? I'm hungry ya know."
Brock grinned, "I'm not sure you deserve that after faking it! How long were you really awake anyway?"
"Welllll… Till the girls got here I guess. I got kicked in the head before that, didn't get a chance to see who it was."
Brock slowly put Jamie's feet on the ground till he was able to stand on his own. "We're all going to have to compare notes, gain strength, refuel, and coordinate an attack to rescue Bryan."
Jamie wanted to protest but he relented and moved towards Cameron holding several MRE's for him with a smile on her face. As soon as he had the meals in his hand and was seated, Cameron began her tale.
"Now that everyone is awake, we had help getting here, but they had other issues to deal with at the time being, but we learned of our missing Commander when she wasn't anywhere to be found. We concluded that she must have disappeared off somewhere as a test of survival, without her around… but I can see that's not the case." Cameron could see steam pouring out of FireBird's ears at the mention of Stealth.
"She betrayed us. She is no longer our squadron commander. From now on, I am the acting squadron commander until USDT 31 or BEST appoints another or promotes me. Which reminds me…" FireBird stood after eating the last of his MRE's. "I need to take care of a few things. The rest of you need to plan and coordinate a strike, including them" FireBird pointed to the four teens who finally managed to sit down, off about twenty feet away from everyone's right. "I don't want anyone causing a fight; they are as much of a victim in this as you all are. I won't be long."
FireBird walked to the unconscious leader on the floor, knelt to touch a shoulder, and teleported out, leaving a blank space from where he was a second ago.
Aaron turned to look at Cameron with a grin on his face. "I never thought I'd see you all the way out here."
"Wasn't planning on it." She quickly turned her head to the right to look at Aaron and brushed a strand of her light brown hair from her face and grinned, "but that didn't mean we weren't just going to sit around and do nothing. When Stealth left us, she didn't say much, just to stay put. She never came back, and after Brock radioed us, we all got to discussing the possibilities and at the end, it was decided we make a trip here to help you. It ain't going to be easy from the looks of it."
Cameron smiled as Aaron just returned the grin and looked at the four boys sitting off all alone. "You guys over there…" The four boys suddenly became stiff and alert at the sound of her voice addressing them, but they didn't say nothing. "Come here for a few minutes. There's something I want to ask about this compound of yours…"
The four boys stood and started becoming nervous, but they tried their best to hide it.
"Sup" Glenn spoke first as soon as he got closer.
"How good are your memories?"
Glenn tilted his head slightly to the right. "Huh?"
Cameron grinned as her piercing blue eyes stared at Glenn. "I mean, do you have the entire compound memorized?"
Glenn shook his head, "but Oliver is quite good at this."
Oliver wasn't paying attention as he had his eyes on something else, till Glenn elbowed him in the ribs to get his attention.
"You have a great memory, don't ya?"
"Well, yeah. What of it?"
"If you had paid attention some more instead of staring at every cutie here, then maybe I wouldn't hafta explain everything again, now won't I?"
Oliver blushed at being busted for what he always does. This caused everyone to laugh, which deepened his blush even more.
"Busted, Oli!" Stan spoke up, trying to make Oliver blush some more, but that wasn't happening till Dylan elbowed Stan to stop.
"Yes, Oli can describe everything down to the very last detail of that compound, except for several areas where we weren't allowed to enter." Stan spoke and paused in thought before continuing, "I don't see how this'll help us. We have maybe an hour or two at best before they move the compound again. Once they do, there'll be no way to track them."
"I wouldn't be so sure of that." Aaron started between mouthfuls of food. "If I know FireBird, he's taking him to visit with the Professor."
"I don't see how this 'Professor' of yours can help." Oliver stated, thinking back on his experience with Lord Shadow's group. "Especially since they have some kind of stolen tech that helps cloak them from being discovered."
Aaron wanted to speak up, but he was busy eating so Cameron took over for him, "If that guy has been in any of the forbidden areas, he'll find out, no matter what. It's what he does best. If that guy has been with the group for a while, all the better."
"Well… I suppose so." He fumbled with his feet trying to avoid looking into Cameron's eyes. Her eyes were so blue, you could get lost in them. The only thing stopping him was, if Cameron was a boy, he'd probably be very lost in those eyes. He let out a sigh as he thought of the compound. He closed his eyes so he could concentrate more on his memories.
"I'll try my best." He sighed as Cameron and Aaron nodded their heads. He didn't see the nods as his eyes were still closed.
"The compound is set up very much like an amusement part, only scattered. Last time I heard, there were well over one thousand people there, about ninety percent of them are augments. You guys pretty much reduced those numbers, but not by much. They are still a force, even with fifty percent of them being above class three. Anyway, the compound is about ten acres big or more, depending on how many new members show up. All tents are the same camo color, except for a certain few being blue and red. Those are the ones that are restricted to everyone except the leaders. There are twelve barracks for sleeping, ten of them are for just the members. The other two are for the leaders. Each one can hold up to one hundred members. They have weapons tents, food tents, and training tents, but most of us train outside when the weather is favorable. All tents are unmarked. Everyone is expected to know where everything is and that was that. No questions asked. Sometimes when someone was bad, they'd be sent to the blue tent and didn't see them for ten days. They pretty much come out as a different person then when they went in. Most new members either go in the red or blue tents, some enter both if they really resist. I just…"
"Hold it…" Aaron spoke up catching something of interest. "How is it you four aren't like everyone else that attacked us?"
"Well, none of us went in the red or blue tents because we didn't resist. We didn't have any choice when they forced us to come with us and they were quite persuasive."
"Surely you wouldn't have went without a fight! I know I would!"
"Against five class fives? I don't think so. All of us are class threes, with various abilities, we'd have no way of knowing whether we could ever take out a class five."
Cameron rolled her eyes. "Class level is only just that. We've been taught that sometimes a class two can take down a class five, but very carefully too and with teamwork. It won't be easy, but it sounded like you guys were severely outnumbered when they kidnapped you four. I just wish we could have done something about it, but since none of us control time, we can only learn from it."
"I wish it were that simple." Glenn spoke up while he had a hand on Oliver's shoulder, silently letting him know he'd take over from there. "They pretty much had our parents on a 2 way and there's no way they'd fake that. Their threats went both ways. They told us if we resisted, our families would perish while we watch. If they informed any USDT or BEST agent, any one of us would end up six feet under."
Cameron sighed, "Okay, fair enough."
Aaron stood after finishing the last MRE, feeling much better now. "Okay guys, since we can't call in active duty to USDT 31, we need to configure our radios so that only all of can communicate with only each other. I know Jamie can use telepathy, but if we were too all split up too far from each other, it would strain him and I want everyone here healthy. We have to leave once we have a plan ready, whether FireBird gets back or not."
Cameron gasped, "But we can't just leave without permission?! I know Bryan is our teammate and all and I want him back as bad as you do, but..."
"But what? I'm not going to sit around while we wait. For all we know, Professor can take anywhere between thirty minutes to four ours to be able to break down any mental shielding that dude might put up and by then, it might be too late. I know our chances are slim to none, but if it's sooner, we're going to have a lot of backup.
Just before Aaron wanted to continue on with his ideas, a voice spoke up from behind everyone, causing them to jump slightly and turn around in a defensive posture.
"Heard ya'll needed some help."
Meanwhile at McGuire Air force base –
Professor was busy reading the various reports that were coming in from the battle on base. Sure, it was taking place outside at quite a distance, but nowhere near civilization where many innocents could get hurt. Professor was at least happy about that one thing, but the problem he was having was there wasn't enough personnel at the time with Christmas coming up and half the staff taking shore leave. He would have been on the field with a full staff, but there was hardly anyone around, just barely enough for a skeleton crew.
He let out a loud sigh as the last report had them located about two miles south west of the base near the Amphibious Lake. The last explosion shook the ground quite hard as Professor knew it was Stone at work. At the same time, he jumped up out of his chair out of reflexes at a new sensation that had arrived on base. He couldn't be sure who it was, but it felt like a very high class four to a class five. Professor knew he was in trouble, but he mentally prepared himself and his augments as he slowly made his way towards the closed door.
Suddenly, the door burst open, revealing a spiky red-haired man carrying what looked to be another unconscious man in his arms before he dropped him to the ground with an audible thud. Professor was quite stunned to see it was FireBird and not some enemy trying to take over the base.
"This is unexpected and surprising at the same time."
"Sorry about barging in, this man is one of the leaders of attackers who attacked us. I've managed to disable him and brought him to you for questioning. He appeared to have strong mental powers, but if he used them on me, I didn't notice anything. Anyway, I'd appreciate it if you could do some digging for me?"
Professor rose an eyebrow then lowered it at the same time in concentration. "Really? What happened?"
"I don't have much time, but from what the boys tell me, a group of about a hundred augments attacked them and managed to kidnap Bryan. I don't know if Jeremy and Brandon were kidnapped as well. I am going to assume they were because I couldn't find them at all in his house when it blew up."
Professor's eyes widened. "You mean you almost blew up the house?!"
FireBird chuckled, "No, no. They set up a trap for me in hopes to get me out of the way. Stealth is involved and effective immediately, her status as a TIGERs XO are revoked and she is to be on the wanted list. I also have a witness to prove she is a traitor. Furthermore, I'm on a tight schedule. I need help, lots of it. I know you're busy right now by the sound of explosions out there, but can't I get USDT One to help?"
Professor had moved to behind his desk while FireBird was talking. He was feeling slightly surprised at the change of events and fell slowly to his chair to think things over.
"The way I see it… I don't think USDT One can help. You might have to rely on gathering a large number of TIGERS squadrons. I realize I'd be sending you all to your deaths but knowing Shadow is behind this, there is a chance his forces have grown in strength since the last time we met."
FireBird let out an audible groan, "I don't have that kinda time! There's a chance their base will move soon or we may never see Bryan again! I'm afraid to think what would happen if they have already gathered enough class fives to the point where it's impossible to take them all on!"
Professor immediately stood as he slammed his fists on the desk at the same time. "That's impossible! There's no way they have that kind of power! I would have known!"
"Obviously they were quite good at keeping themselves under the radar."
Professor was about to bark out another word of 'impossible', but he also know with the wonders of technology these days, he had to consider things carefully. He really didn't want to have to go as far as to call in the elite forces of the world down on this threat, but he needed more information before he could act. He let out a loud sigh as he continued to think things over and listen to FireBird. "While that might be true, there is still no way anyone could hide under the radar unless…"
"I'll see what I can do." FireBird caught the full understanding behind Professor's words as he considered it to be the one weakness Professor had over discovering them, yet he had to be absolutely sure in his facts first before he could do something. "Can you scan this man? He must have a lot of information we'd need to know."
"I'll see what I can do. In the meantime, see if you can help the others at the lake two miles south of here. I've got massive reinforcements moving in to assist the base. This attack on the base is a suicide mission for those doing it."
"It just might be a distraction." Professor's face changed to a questioning look, then FireBird continued, "Just a haunch, sir. This guy could be the likely key to what we need to know."
"I see. In the meantime, you will not go alone with your squadron to rescue Brian." FireBird was about to protest, but Professor held his hand up to stop any further comments he knew was likely to happen, "Not anytime soon, yet. I've sent a messenger to the other TIGERS squadrons to assist TIGERS 28. As soon as communications are restored, I'll alert the rest of USDT."
FireBird thought for a moment then decided to change the subject. "Our old fishing spot?"
Professor had a confused expression on his face. He wasn't sure what FireBird was asking about till he realized their conversation before his orders to FireBird. He thought for a moment then smiled slightly at the fond memories of the two when FireBird was just a teenager. Sure, it was only seven years ago, but FireBird has came a long way from just being a quiet and shy boy with a massive amount of power.
"Yep, remember it?" Professor finally responded after his quick flash down memory lane.
FireBird simply grinned and teleported out.
Professor rolled his eyes and muttered something about 'kids' under his breath and focused on the man on the floor, who was beginning to awaken. Once the man finally focused his eyes, he looked around till he saw a Silver haired man staring down back at him. Fear and sweat immediately started as he trembled at the sight of the one he knew was told to avoid. He knew he was trapped and tried his best to throw up his mental shields, knowing full well they'd do him little to no good. At least he knew he would be delaying time a little.
Professor smiled as he sensed the shields in the man's mind blocking his thoughts. "Pointless. You might as well cooperate with me than resist. Since you recognize me, you should know this will be very painful."
The fearful man nervously smirked, "Try as you may, in the end, we will be successful!"
This was all Professor needed. "I'll be the judge of that."
As Professor knelt down and placed his hands on top of the struggling guy, he used telekinesis to hold him down while he concentrated on breaking the shield barriers inside the man's mind, causing him to scream in pain.