Castle Roland


by Kyle Aarons

In Progress

Chapter 11

Posted: 22 Oct 15


Kyle Aarons

In the base command center just outside of London, a Royal Air Force officer continued to monitor the weather phenomenon and the havoc it was creating over much of Unified Britain. The normally calm RAF operations center of Northolt Air Station was now a beehive of activity, as real-time reports from one end of the country to the other were put up on a map showing temperatures, wind speeds, wind directions, rain totals, and barometric pressures.

Across the room, members of the RAF Weather Services were one step away from pulling their hair out, as data being collected made zero sense. It was as if the science of weather forecasting had been changed, since normal models showing predictions were useless. Weather from one area could not be linked to the next, nor could anyone understand what had caused the catastrophic change.

Suddenly a junior radar operator hit a button next to his terminal, causing a red light to start blinking.

The senior officer frowned and pulled his eyes off the weather reports. "What's the problem, Airman?"

"Sir, I have four targets on the scope… They just appeared out of nowhere!"

The rather frazzled officer grunted to one of the women operating the operation center's main viewer, "Give us a real-time feed up on viewer four from Doppler terminal three."

Instantly a three-dimensional image appeared showing a quartet of images flying at just over three hundred meters up. The data put them just over the west side of the outskirts of London. "What the hell are those?"

"Sir," The airman stated nervously, "I can't get a good lock, but it appears they have moving wings."

"Those are way too big to be birds! Send an alert. I want a couple of attack birds up there to get us a visual!"

"Weather is awful rough still…"

"I don't care!" The man shouted to the weather officer. "If someone else can fly in this, so can our guys!" He then pointed to the airman again, "Roll it back. I want to see where they came from."

The young airman cringed as he did what he was told, "Sir, they really just appeared out of thin air."

"Bullshit, everything comes from somewhere!"

"This storm sure didn't." His weather officer reminded the man.

"All right, put it up…"

A moment later, with a replay of the display showing from only five minutes prior, the airspace over western London was clear, save for a few spots of heavy hail, picked up by the ultra-sensitive radar. Then, suddenly, a target appeared, then another. At the same time, less than five hundred meters away two more targets appeared, all right at five hundred meters over the buildings below. They took a few seconds, seeming to free-fall, but then the images from the radar clearly showed large wing like structures flapping. Three of the four fell to closer than two hundred meters from the ground, while the fourth, the largest of the targets, seemed to gain control much faster. The other three then regained altitude and loosely formed up around the big one.

"What in the hell are those?" A junior officer asked.

The operations officer shrugged and shook his head, "I have no clue, but we need to find out. Weather be damned, get those attack choppers up now!"

"Sir, we do have an incoming COSAM anti-terrorist team from off the coast - they are only a few kilometers from there."

"You sure it isn't them?"

"No sir, I just checked. Their stealth is the best out there and prevents them from showing up on radar, but they activated transponders so we could see them. It was the only stipulation the government put on them for allowing them to deal with the threat against their interests on our soil."

"Put up their transponders on the display!"

A moment later a pair of dots appeared on the map. "They can get there way faster than we can and are already airborne. Contact them, see if they can get us a visual!"

Aboard Cynthia, Stan gathered the data requested by Bryan. He studied the three birth records for only a moment before his eyes fell on the date and time of birth. They were the same, the exact same. Even odder, all three stated each of the three had been born with red hair. With this information in hand, he decided to backtrack a step further.

Less than an hour later, he couldn't help but stare at the paperwork he had assembled. The older birth certificates of the boys' parents didn't contain exact times since their births were before the international link of births to the nuclear clock in Unified Britain, but the mothers of all three boys had been born on the same day, at very close to the same time as well.

With this information in hand, he sent a request to access birth records worldwide for 'research' reasons. Knowing it would take time and probably an arm bending for some places, while others would allow almost instant access, he set the computers to do a search for the birth days and times to match Alex's, then, if it found what he was looking for, to do a search for the mother's date of birth.

With a large sigh he pushed back from the computer and gazed out the window of his quarters. The story Evan had told was beyond unreal, yet his boss had backed up the last part, adding in both Alex and Ryan had displayed the ability to use some phenomenal powers as well. What made this even more troubling was the fact the former special forces men he had not only hired, but worked with in the past, also came forward, admitting they had seen some strange things out of Ryan, but had simply brushed it off as odd. Those who had seen him do weird things were no longer dismissing the events.

Wondering what in the name of God was going on, he stood and stretched in preparation for a workout. Before he could do more than start to loosen his arms up, his company phone beeped an alert tone. He growled as he moved up to it, wondering what was next. "This is Stan, go."

The voice of the special forces team leader came back sounding more than a bit uneasy, "Sir, this is Team Leader One. We just got an emergency signal from UB Air Defense. They are asking if we are armed, and if so, can we help in an unknown incursion into their airspace?"

Stan scowled, "How in the hell did anyone penetrate UB airspace; they have the best systems in the world to prevent anyone from getting so much as fifty kilometers from any UB chunk of land!"

"Unknown, sir. I think they thought it was us, but we are still twenty clicks from the outskirts of London proper and ten from where the unknowns just popped up."

"London? They have unknowns over London? How in the hell did UB air defense allow anything to penetrate all the way to London?"

"Their exact words were, 'whatever it is just appeared, as if out of thin air.' They are scrambling fighters and attack helicopters, but the weather is still pretty bad and we happen to be the closest. Do we have permission to check it out?"

"They'll owe us for this, so go for it. Make sure you do not activate any weapons until you have visual confirmation and UB authorization to engage. The last thing we want is to shoot down some nut job in some home-built contraption."

"Understood. Leader One out."

Clicking off his phone, he looked out over the water and spoke aloud in a bemused voice, "How much weirder can this day get?"

Back in London, Alex and Lyle went up to the snack bar at the front of the hotel, both looking over the menu. Alex pointed to the board, "Why not split a small cheese pizza? We can eat a real meal after we swim."

Lyle shrugged and dug into his pockets, pulling out the last of the money his mom had given him for the day with a bit of a frown.

Alex shook his head. "I'll take care of it."

"Dad doesn't like me taking handouts," Lyle started to argue.

"Hey, look at it as if a new friend invited you to lunch." Alex paused as he looked out the window, "It looks like the storm is finally starting to let up."

Lyle's gaze followed Alex's and nodded, "Good. My folks didn't come back last night, which isn't totally unusual when we are on vacation, but they have never been gone all of the following day too."

"They left you alone…"

Lyle managed a slight smile mixed with a bad blush. "They don't think I know what they are up to, but Mom has been talking to Dad about wanting me to have a brother or sister. They just don't want to try with me in the same hotel room as them."

Alex also turned a color of red almost matching his hair, but snickered nonetheless. "Well, I can see their point. I'm surprised they aren't more careful about talking about it if they don't want you to know."

Lyle kind of shrugged. "Over the past couple of years I have been able to hear, see, and smell things others can't when I really try. Sometimes when Mom and Dad are talking upstairs, I can focus in and hear them talk from the basement where my room is. Many kids see me as a bit weird, and I don't make friends very easily since I can do some strange things. Today has been great." He stopped and looked back at Alex, wondering if he had said too much."

"You seem normal to me and Ryan. As far as new friends go, I consider you to be one of the best. Why do you think others see you as weird? What sort of things do you do?"

Lyle sighed as Alex ordered the pizza. "Well, other than the hearing, seeing and smelling things I shouldn't be able to, I do other stuff when I get mad or hurt, like get stronger. A couple of times food started tasting really salty right after others teased me, and a couple of times others swear they smell and see whiffs of smoke around me."

"Are you sure it's you?"

"Oh yeah." Lyle shook his head wondering if he was about to screw up a very rare new friendship. On the other hand, he figured Alex had trusted him with a secret so he should probably be as honest. "One time, after an older kid knocked me off my bike as we both went for a jump, I got really mad, picked it up, and threw it at him…"

"A bit extreme, I guess, and not great on the bicycle …"

"No, you don't get it. It was a motorcycle, my dirt bike. I ride dirt bikes in competitions. Actually I'm really good. Anyway, I was doing a practice run on a course I had never run before with a handful of others I was to compete with at the time. When I tossed my bike at him, he was already well over the jump and heading down the hill."

"You threw a motorcycle… " Alex whistled while shaking his head, "Did you hit him?"

"Just missed, thankfully." Lyle shook his head and let out a long breath of air, "And it was only a few of us on the course since it was getting late and the sun was almost down, so no one saw what I did, but the kid I just missed with my bike knew where he knocked me off and saw my bike smash into the ground just in front of him." Lyle looked down at his feet. "And you know what is really weird?"


"Well, the same energy I feel when I do the strange things I do, is exactly the feeling I'm getting now, only it's all around, spilling out of those." Lyle pointed to the central holo-video in the lounge of the hotel showing waves of energy still rolling out of Stonehenge. "I can feel the pulses hitting me."

"Interesting…" Alex's eyebrow shot up as he stopped for a moment and glanced down at his necklace. Seeing it started glowing faintly, he put his hand over it, commanding it to calm, then turned back to Lyle, "This ability you have hasn't happened to get stronger and easier to use over the last few days, has it?"

Lyle's eyes went wide, "Yeah, it has. How'd you know?"

Alex handed him a piece of the pizza he had just bought, "Cause something weird has been happening to me and my brother too."

Lyle kind of nodded and eyed Alex with a bit of suspicion, "Yeah… I wonder if Craig is like us too."

"Why? Have you seen him do anything?"

"Not really, but all of us were real good in the pods until the last game, and it was real odd the way the four of us were drawn together in the game room. I almost never make friends, and never as easily as I did with you, your brother, and Craig. I'm normally the odd one out, yet when I saw you all, it was totally different." Lyle's train of thought was interrupted as he spotted the gemstone of Alex's necklace. "Why and how does the stone held by your eagle-looking thing keep glowing?"

Alex glanced down, noting the stone was now glowing quite brightly again, only this time it was a crimson color. He put his hand over it, making it calm, but this time he had a much harder time doing so; it also made him feel uneasy. Alex gulped, deciding to trust Lyle fully. "It's part of all of this and I think it is trying to warn me… us…"

Lyle's brow scrunched and his lips grew tight as if he was trying to decide if what he was hearing was the truth or someone was once again making fun of him again. Before he could ask another question, however, he spotted a dark blue sports car pulling into the hotel's valet parking. His eyes lit up as he made his way toward the front door, "Mom, Dad!"

Alex glanced up with a brief smile, but suddenly the stone held by the griffin lit up and a cold shiver went down his spine. Something told him this was a bad sign, but he had no idea what.

Several kilometers away the COSAM assault teams moved toward the four targets, guided by UB Air Defense. The low dark clouds prevented any of them from seeing too far, but suddenly, and totally unexpectedly, there was a slight break in the storm. The pilot almost lost control and all those in the back let out a huge gasp as one of the objects came into view.

It was a massive flying creature with the body of a red lion, a human-like head with wicked twisted sharp looking horns, and a multi-spiked scorpion-like tail. The paws were totally lion-like and also enormous with vicious serrated claws.

The pilot of the lead COSAM attack chopper banked hard to the left letting out a shrill scream, "Holy shit!"

The bizarre creature turned, spotting the helicopter, and snarled, showing rows of shark-like teeth in its mouth, and the sound it emitted was loud enough and piercing enough to hear over the rotor wash from the attack chopper. To those in the chopper it was the sound of pure evil and hatred. A couple of the battle-hardened men peed their pants.

The team leader felt his eyes bugging out as he flipped off the safety of his assault rifle. "For the love of God, get UB Air Defense a live feed of this and get us permission to fire!"

Back in the hotel Bryan had taken the boys to; Ryan quickly decided to forgo the elevator, electing to take the steps. He went right past the wide-eyed hotel security guy who had been looking for him without even acknowledging the man.

Before the guard could so much as say something, the doorway to the steps was flung open and the boy he was supposed to keep track of leapt out of view. Figuring the boy was doing so on purpose caused the man to snarl and chase, but by the time he got to the door all he could hear was a door somewhere below slam shut.

For Ryan's part, he didn't even notice the guy. Instead, his only thought was to get to Alex before it was too late. With the help of the railing, he jumped from one landing to the next, his feet only touching the ground long enough to grab the next railing and leap. He burst out into the side hall by the lobby, letting the door swing loudly shut behind him. He shot a glance into the gaming room, only to see the Robot Wars pods standing empty and just a few kids inside.

Not seeing either Alex or Lyle he paused, his heart beating hard in his chest. Craig's words came back to him as his eyes shot around wildly looking for his best friend, his stepbrother. 'A ground car is going to pull in and the kid is going to run out to greet them, but the car can't stop. It will hit him and will smash into the front window'. "Valet parking!" He verbalized without realizing it. Even as he continued to scan for Alex, he was sure his insight was correct, as it was the only area where a car of any kind could easily go through a window.

He took a deep breath and ran toward the front. Just as he got where he could see the front door, he also saw Alex munching on a slice of pizza and Lyle running toward the door. Just outside a dark blue-wheeled sports car was turning into the valet parking area, going way too fast. "Alex! Stop him!"

Back at Northolt Air Station, the operations officer heard the voice of the COSAM team leader's panicked voice and sent a hard nod in the direction of his communication officer, "Patch in a live feed if they have given us one."

"Coming up now, sir!"

The viewer showing the radar from terminal three was replaced by the view of the trailing COSAM attack chopper. Everyone saw something, but a burst of another wave of energy spilling out of Stonehenge broke up the signal for a moment allowing only some of those in the command room to catch a glimpse. It was enough for those who had seen it to elbow those next to them. By the time the signal cleared everyone in the room was focused on the holographic video coming from the COSAM chopper. A collective gasp of horror came out of everyone in the command room.

Not waiting for superiors to give him an OK, he grabbed the radio, "COSAM team, kill it! Whatever weapons you have, use them! Collateral damage be damned, just kill it!"

He then spun, "Activate the Civil Defense network now! Anyone who is not inside needs to get there! And I don't give a rat's ass what the weather is, get our birds airborne now! I don't even want to know what the hell that is. It needs to die!"

Alex jerked his head in the direction of Ryan as Civil Defense sirens started to wail. "Huh?"

"Lyle, STOP! The car is out of control!" Ryan screamed, even as almost everyone else in the hotel looked up at the sounds of the warbling sirens as they alerted them for the need to seek shelter. Still running at full speed, Ryan bolted across the lobby.

Alex frowned, and spun back in the direction of Lyle, realizing as he did so his stepbrother was right. The oncoming car was not slowing; if anything, it was picking up speed. At the same time the gemstone on his necklace was radiating a dark red color so brightly it basically wrapped him in a bloody-colored glow. Knowing he had only moments to do something, he extended his hands and let loose with the first thing to come to his mind. "αέρας- το τείχος!"

A wave of air erupted out of his hand and swirled around the front door just before Lyle reached it. Lyle got to the door, only to be thrown back by strong gusts of wind, away from the onrushing vehicle.

A couple of seconds later the car smashed into the front of the hotel, but came to an abrupt halt as it too impacted the incredibly strong wall of air Alex had tossed up. Glass also deflected off the currents of air churning around the front of the hotel, preventing those inside from getting hit.

Ryan raced over to where Lyle was lying on the ground, only to see the crying boy screaming and pointing at the smashed front end of the car, "Mom! Dad!"

Craig appeared at the elevator just as the car slammed into the barrier Alex had created. Not hesitating, he broke loose from his mom's grasp and ran toward the car, only to end up getting knocked back by massive wind gusts. Regaining his footing, he shook his head. He moved up and tried, without success, to push his hand into the invisible wind barrier. "What is this?"

Alex managed to shake off the momentary weakness following the release of so much energy. He waved his hand and muttered "ανατινάσσω." With a bizarre whirling, the wall of wind changed into a spinning vortex much like a dust devil, sending loose paper on the main desk blowing in all directions for a moment before it broke apart and dissipated.

At the same time, Bryan came out of the security office with Evan. They reacted faster than the stunned hotel personnel around them, who were too concerned with the Air Defense sirens telling them to seek shelter to pay more than fleeting attention to what was happening in the lobby. As Bryan and Evan paused trying to figure out what to do, first looking in the direction the hotel staff were going, then back to the lobby, they both quickly focused in on those they knew. They exchanged looks and rushed forward. Bryan, looking down at his son, felt his voice trembling. "Alex! Are you OK?"

Alex took a deep breath and glanced back, "I'm fine." He then pointed to the car, "I think they need help though!"

Evan moved though the broken front window and up to the car. Seeing airbags had deployed, and both the man behind the controls and the woman next to him holding their heads in their hands and trying to shake off the impact, he turned. "I think they're hurt, but..."

Before Evan could finish, a nasty looking half-meter tall creature with curled ram-like horns, reptilian wings, and lizard-like claws burst out from the back seat of the ruined sports car, causing Evan to fall backwards away from the car with a terrified shriek.

The wicked-looking creature continued to claw its way up and out of the leather seat, dropping pieces of the car's brake line and throttle controls as it did so. As if it knew what it was looking for with its blood-red insect-like eyes, its gaze tracked right toward Craig. It spotted the boy, snarled and pointed a barbed claw right at Craig, ignoring everyone else. "You ruined it", it hissed in a snake-like voice, showing a split tongue as it did do. "Me gave you extra sight, show you how to reach into the spirit realms, a way to unlock your legacy before others, gave you power before the Re-Emergence. No thanks you give me! Now you pay - puny Shaman!"

It leapt, dropping more control parts of the car as it did so. It paused for a split second to eye Lyle's father, "So this is the one who passed on the gift to its offspring. Now it pays." It raked its claws over the face of the man inside, opening up a quartet of ten-centimeter long gashes as it did so. "Now, this one die before it makes more!"

"No!" Lyle screamed and jerked his hand up. "φλόγα!" Suddenly a small burst of fire shot out of the boy's outstretched hand.

The vile creature jerked its head to the side, easily avoiding the small spout of fire and spit as it spoke, "Too weak for now, Warrior Adept child. You worry me none!" It then disregarded everyone else, forgetting about Lyle's father, as it leapt and extended its reptilian wings. It first gained a bit of altitude, then spun and dove on Craig.

Craig's eyes went wide, but remembering the one thing Ryan had just taught him, he focused on the horrible beast, clinched his fists, and shouted "Gom-To-Ren!"

This clearly caught the vile creature off guard as the energy of the simple spell grabbed it and slammed it into the ground only a couple of meters from Craig, breaking off one of its small ram's horns as it impacted with the marble floor.

It spat greenish colored blood out of its mouth as it stood and snarled, "Nice trick, little man, but not good enough!" Claws extended again and its wings flapped, getting it off the ground and headed right toward Craig's neck.

High above the outskirts of London, the COSAM lead attack chopper spun and fired dozens of armor-piercing rounds into the flying beast from its front mounted mini-gun. The horrifying creature tried to dodge by wheeling out of the way, but the red and green tracers allowed the copilot to track the fire into the beast. The whole right side of the lion-like body shredded under the assault. It fell out of the sky like a sack of bricks.

Suddenly a second, identical, beast came out of the clouds and whipped its tail. Five half-meter long spikes launched off the tail, three missed, but two others slammed into the chopper, one going clear through the side before sticking out of a seat only centimeters from one of the newly hired special forces guys. The pilot of the lead chopper spun so the copilot could get a shot off even while screaming into the radio "They have spikes hard enough to pierce our armored sides! Take evasive maneuvers when they flip their tails!"

The COSAM team leader heard this and yanked the side door of the chopper open, firing at the second human-headed lion. Seeing his small caliber bullets hit but do only limited damage, he flipped the selection lever, which chambered a small rocket propelled grenade into the lower barrel. With a practiced eye, he sighted in and pulled the trigger. The smoke trail told him it was a good shot. Moments later, and much to his satisfaction, the explosive shell impacted the back leg of the beast, blowing it clean off and causing it to drop from the sky much like the first, but this one was still alive, as its horrible sounding scream proved. The very sound caused the men in the chopper to clench their teeth and cringe in pain.

The men in the back of the second chopper followed their leader's example, yanking open the side doors and firing at the second pair of creatures. Much like their team leader, they couldn't help but notice the nine millimeter rounds coming out of the muzzles of their weapons didn't do a great deal of damage. Still, some bullets did get through the tough hide, causing at least a few spots to ooze blood.

This was enough to force the other two to dive away from the COSAM choppers. Before they could dodge into the buildings to escape, however, an incoming trio of RAF attack helicopters found them. With the pair of COSAM attack helicopters staying high, the smaller of the two remaining creatures banked hard as it heard the sound of the trio of new arrivals. It sent another shrill scream and a pair of spikes from its tail into the lead RAF chopper and made for the safety of the buildings, while swooping on a small group of people who were out on the street.

Eyes of the pilot and copilot went wild as one spike stuck into the cockpit window and the other went clean though, sticking into the center console between them, taking out their missile launch ability. Their communications were partially cut off by the waves of energy, but nothing could hide how panicked their voices were.

The watch commander at Northolt cringed at the order he was about to give. "You have to take them down! Do what you can to avoid collateral damage, but you can't allow those bloody beasts to get to any civilians!"

A broken response came back from the lead chopper, "Understood, releasing… un safeties… Oh shit."

The voice of the pilot of the second RAF chopper suddenly came over the radio, "Attack leader is going down! I say again…" More static interrupted the radio message.

The COSAM attack team watched helplessly as the bigger of the two monsters did a hard turn just as the lead RAF chopper opened up with its front mini-gun on the other creature. Its tail arched up and whipped with incredible strength sending a trio of spikes at the copter just as it opened fire. One of the spikes went though the already shattered front window, killing the pilot, while the other two sank deep into the side of the craft, cutting fuel lines and seriously damaging hydraulics.

The helicopter plummeted out of the air, spiraling downward, spitting hundreds of tracered rounds from the front mini-gun into buildings and the street below. The few who were on the street dove into doorways or were cut down before their minds could register the threat. People in surrounding buildings were forced to do the same as hundreds of rounds poured into buildings all around the mortally crippled attack helicopter.

Just before impact into a small storefront, the copilot finally managed to yank the dead hands of the pilot off the control stick, which ended the man's death grip on the trigger as well. As a final act the brave man, jerked hard at his own set of controls managing to slam the crippled chopper into the street rather than into nearby buildings.

The other two RAF pilots had seen more than enough. At almost the same time, they touched the controls for their missiles and managed to get locks. Without a second thought, both fired. One of the missiles lost lock as another wave of energy spilling out of Stonehenge disrupted its internal electronic lock. This caused the missile to streak right past its intended target and into a building instead of the larger beast, but the other missile managed to impact the smaller creature. Bits of furry hide, bones, and blood splattered over half a dozen buildings, breaking scores of windows, and leaving the few who were still alive on the street below coated in gore. The only saving grace was the rain was still coming down hard enough to wash most of it away before all but a couple realized what it was.

The final beast, the big one, whipped its tail again. This forced the military helicopter attacking it to take evasive maneuvers. It then screamed and did a spin. Before either of the two remaining RAF attack birds could turn their weapons to track on it, a weird dark crimson colored hole opened up in front of it and it flew in. A moment later it vanished and the hole snapped shut, leaving twenty-three dead, forty-two injured, one attack helicopter destroyed, and two blocks of London looking like a war zone.

Even as emergency units struggled to get through the flooded streets to assist, those at Northolt scrambled to recall all military personnel. With communications crippled by the waves of energy from Stonehenge, couriers were dispatched to make sure heads of the military and Government throughout the country were briefed and units across all of UB were put on enhanced alert.

Back at the hotel, Ryan reacted out of instinct as he saw Craig try to dive out of the way. His left hand coiled like it was grabbing a ball that was not there even as he reared back and made a throwing motion. At the same time he spoke. "Πυρκαγιά- ανατινάσσω!" A ball of white-hot fire erupted from his hand and flew across the short distance, trailing sparks. The evil thing trying to attack Craig turned at the familiar sound and its eyes went wide in shock. Terrified muttering came from the little monster, as it fixated on Ryan, much like deer caught in the headlights of an onrushing vehicle. "No human know the old way no more! Power, too much power for human now!" An instant later, the ball impacted the bug-eyed thing and exploded, blowing burning chunks of it all over the lobby and forcing Alex, Craig, and Bryan to smack at smoldering sparks on their clothing.

Ryan dropped onto one knee as he felt some vertigo. The energy release was enormous and he could feel it had depleted his reserves substantially. Still he managed a bit of a grin, "Then I guess I am not human."

Craig's mom stood transfixed and stunned at what she had just seen. Nearly seeing her son get attacked by the vile talking creature, then blown to smithereens moments before it got to him, was too much. A sigh escaped her lips and her eyes rolled up in her head. Before anyone realized she was passing out, she crumpled to the ground with a thud.

Craig quickly jumped up and ran to her side, "Mom!"

Over at the car, Evan managed to react a bit better, having seen some similar things happen only a couple of hours before. He used his limited first aid knowledge, reaching in and putting his hand over the deep cuts over the man's face. "We need help and those are air raid sirens!"

Next to Ryan, Lyle rolled over and shook his head, still seeing some stars after running head first into Alex's wind wall and feeling quite drained from his own throwing of a much smaller fire spout. He looked up with tears in his eyes, "Mom? Dad?"

Bryan brushed off another burning ember, reached down and picked up a piece of a broken horn and looked around, realizing as he did so the area was all but deserted. He took a deep breath as the sirens outside sent out an all clear sound for a full minute, then went silent. Finally he reached down, grabbed his cell phone, hit the quick dial button, and waited.

Not even a full ring went through before Stan's voice came over, "Boss! Are you OK?"

Taking another look around, he nodded as he spoke, "Me and the kids are fine, but something insane just happened. We need medical services at the hotel, and I want a team to hack in and wipe any internal video. Use the link I just established. It will get them straight into the mainframe here."

"On it, boss," Stan replied. "Until I get some help to you, stay inside. Our assault team ran into something… some things… our crew took down two and RAF took down a third, but one of them got away, disappeared into thin air. We are still trying to get a handle on it, but I'll send you a video clip so you can take a look."

Bryan gazed at the video of the lion-like creature and winced as the sound it made come over the speaker of his phone. He then glanced at the piece of horn in his hand, "It's all tied together, Stan. Alex and Ryan had to deal with something here too, much smaller, but still just as troubling and very dangerous."

"You need to get back to the ship!"

"Look, if there are things showing up out of nowhere, then it really doesn't matter where we are at, and like I said earlier, the best place for me to get a handle on it is here. In the meantime, I want our people scouring the globe for reports of anything similar. Make sure my communication patch is uploaded to all our facilities too. We are probably the only ones with decent communications at the moment. Let's start using it to coordinate efforts to figure this all out."

"You think this is worldwide?"

"Yes, and like it or not, I have a bad feeling this is just the start. My best guess is, the reports will start close to the areas of energy release, then continue happening further and further out. Both Alex and Ryan said they can feel this energy flowing out and starting to settle. If this is true, and I have no reason to think otherwise, then it is probable this power, energy, whatever, is what is allowing these… creatures… to form, which means the first places they can do so will be closest to the points of origin. Make sure COSAM facilities everywhere are put on full alert and lock down all research centers. I want every scientist we have as protected as possible."

"Also keep in mind we are the only ones capable of using cell phones, let alone talking to the other side of the world, without interruptions. No one else will be able to send data files, since the waves of energy totally disrupt signals for a few seconds. We may very well be humanity's first line of defense against what is going on, at least until the energy waves stop."

"All right, boss," Stan stated. "I'd still prefer you back here, more or less safe and sound aboard Cynthia."

"Not going to happen, at least not yet."

"OK, what about our assault team?"

"They need to finish what we sent them for. Those who hurt Evan are no better than the things they just took down."

"Understood. I have my phone with me. If you need anything, give me a shout."

"As always," Bryan managed a slight smile. "Right now I need a medical unit here and a mainframe wiped. Make sure our people do a backup though. You should probably take a peek at what Alex and Ryan just did here."

"Count on it."

Bryan closed the communication with Stan, then turned his attention to the devastation in the lobby. "Boys, an explanation, before authorities get here, would be nice."

Craig, who was next to his passed-out mom, glanced up. "It's my fault." He then shot Ryan a look. "I told you it wouldn't turn out good."

Ryan managed a shrug, "Well, all things considered, no one is dead, and I think we now know what was giving you those dreams." He pointed over to Lyle, "…and he was the one you thought was going to die."

Lyle glanced up from the mangled car. "You knew this was going to happen?"

Ryan held up his hand, "He saw it, but didn't know when. If he hadn't told me, you would probably be under the car right now."

Before more could be said, Ryan moved up to the man behind the controls, "Back off a second, Evan. I think I have enough left to heal him."

"Heal him?" Evan asked as he backed off. As soon as the boy removed his hands from the claw marks, they started to bleed badly again.

"I did it in a dream once." A sudden insight sent a shiver down his spine as he moved up to the man. "Although, now I'm wondering how much was a dream and how much was real." He closed his eyes and spoke. "θεραπεύω όλοι αιμορραγία και εσωτερικός βλάβη." As he finished, Ryan's hands started to glow a deep blue. The drain was enormous, but he held onto the power and pressed his hand onto the man's face.

The man's back suddenly arched and his whole body started shaking, but continued to look dazed and not fully aware what was going on. The woman next to him, however, did but was clearly still shaken up. "What are you doing to him?"

Lyle moved up to his mom, looked over to Ryan with a degree of hope, and spoke softly. "It's OK, Mom. He's a friend."

Ryan continued to hold on until the last of the glow passed out of his hand and into Lyle's dad. Once he felt the last of the spell slide out of him, he took a wobbly step back and sat on a stool next to the snack bar. Before the ambulance got there, the man was sound asleep with no sign of any injury other than four thin scars on the side of his cheek.

As more emergency personnel showed up and started asking questions, Bryan moved forward and took the lead. At the same time, hotel patrons and workers started to come up from the basement as word spread of the all clear given by London Civil Defense, although media warnings, broadcast on all channels, told people to stay off the streets until the following day. The mass confusion made a proper investigation impossible.

Once Bryan's identity was confirmed and attempts to pull any images out of the hotel cameras failed, those in charge quickly chalked it up as an accident caused by the weather and moved on into the rainy evening to deal with the next emergency.

Lyle watched the ambulance take his parents and turned, realizing he was once again alone, all but forgotten in the confusion. Suddenly, Alex appeared next to him, "I got Dad to pull some strings so you can stay with us. Once our bodyguards get here, we'll take you to the hospital and pick up your parents after they get checked out."

Lyle turned, his face still streaked with tear trails. "If you hadn't put up the wind thing and blew me backwards, I'd be dead right now."

Alex pointed over to Craig. "If he hadn't informed my brother, I wouldn't have been able to react in time. You should be thanking him."

Lyle nodded and used his shoulder to get the tears off his face. "I can't believe there are others like me."

Alex helped Lyle back to his feet and looked over the crowd of onlookers, "Right now there are five of us here, and after seeing some of the video on my dad's phone and the thing coming out of your parents' car, we best start finding more of us."


"Because if another one of those things show up, there aren't many who could stop it."

"And you think I could?"

"Maybe not yet, but once you learn to use the mag… um… energy… inside you, I'm sure you will. It all but said as much before it tried to kill Craig."

"So you think what I do can be fully controlled?"

"Yeah," Alex managed to grin, "after all, you told me you could already force your hearing, eyesight, and smell to get better. I'm sure the same applies to other… whatever they are. Someone just needs to teach you how. Besides, when your dad's life was threatened, you managed to almost cook it."

"Nothing like your brother!"

"I think we have an advantage and have already learned a few things. All you need to do is learn what you can do and start to control it better."

"Can you teach me?"

"I don't think I have the same kind of power you do, but I think Ryan and I can help some. However, we may be able to get someone… something… to help."


"It's kind of hard to explain, and I really don't want to try with all these people looking on. Let's get up to my room and get cleaned up, and go from there. Once your parents are back with you, my dad wants to have a meeting with everyone and talk over what we know, what we think we know, and what to do going forward."

Lyle looked back to what was left of the pizza splattered all over the ground, and managed slight upturn of his lips, showing the remarkable ability of a kid to shake off events of the past. "Too bad you lost the pizza, I'm starved."

Alex burst out laughing, "Me too! Let's round up the others. I am sure my dad will buy!"

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