Castle Roland


by Hammy

On Hold

Chapter 4

Published: 8 Apr 14

When FireBird arrived at what was left of Jeremy's cabin, he could barely recognize the area. It looked like a war zone from hell; trees were scattered all over the place, grass was badly burnt, several forest creatures from deer to bears to mice were lying dead and some were limping about. The air was filled with stale burning smoke and dead bodies lying around. In a panic, FireBird called out to see if anyone was alive, but was receiving no response. Even in the darkness of the evening, his wings lit up the entire area of about a two hundred foot radius. His heart started to sink when he spotted a body off in the distance with a squadron vest. He immediately teleported himself over to the location and attempted to pick up the vest. When it didn't budge, he cleared some debris, only to his horror to find it was Brock. He knelt down quickly to check for a pulse. It didn't take him long to find one, but it was weak and Brock needed healing.

FireBird knelt and put his hands on Brock's chest, then concentrated on healing him. 'What the hell happened here? It looked like a nuke went off and completely leveled the area. I just hope everyone is ok or Stealth would have my h…' his thoughts were broken apart by Brock slowly opening his eyes and struggling to move. The light before him was almost blinding and the heat was intense; it blinded him and his skin felt like it was on fire, causing Brock to squint and flinch. FireBird realized the light and heat was hurting him. He somehow lowered the intensity of the brightness and Brock's eyes widened in surprise.

"Fire!" Brock quickly sat up and hugged FireBird hard as he braced himself for the hug.

"Easy, kiddo, you still need more healing…"

"Never mind that, Fire! We need to help the others…" Brock turned to look for the others, but there was too much debris, and he attempted to stand up, causing him to wince slightly, but FireBird put his hand on Brock's shoulder and shook his head 'no'. Brock, fearing the worst, began to panic, wondering what had happened.

FireBird caught it, "Relax, Brock, we must be calm and search for survivors. Hopefully someone can tell us what happened here. I know it isn't easy; these guys are your friends. I…"

Brock looked down with some tears beginning as he pounded his fist into the ground in frustration. "I wish I could have done more! I wish…" FireBird didn't say anything, but gently squeezed his shoulder, hoping to give him some comfort. Brock looked up at FireBird with questioning eyes, "What happened to you? How come you look healthy and not like the rest of us? I half expected you to be badly hurt or something?"

FireBird went on to explain a brief summary of what he experienced during his time away from the boys. "When I got here, the first thing I did was stuff food in a shack somewhere up front. We aren't out of danger yet, so it'll have to wait a bit longer," FireBird explained as Brock's stomach growled quite loudly, causing FireBird to chuckle at Brock's predicament causing him to blush some. FireBird then frowned as he looked away from Brock then scanned the area carefully. "What really happened here?" He spoke to no one in particular.

Brock looked around and saw no one moving. Tears started to flow as he thought he had lost all his friends, and FireBird caught sight of the tears, pulled Brock into a tight hug, comforting the boy and healing him some at the same time.

8 Hours Earlier –

Off in the distance, maybe some five hundred yards or so from where the destroyed house remained, two bodies appeared to be lifeless on the ground, not moving. They appeared to be twelve, and one of the boys had blond hair while the other had red hair. They remained motionless, but still breathing as their chests showed signs of a shallow rise and fall. A mysterious man with a black cloak and a cigar being lit approached them with silence in his footsteps. He started down at the boys as he approached them, almost as if daring them to wake up and attack him, but it never happened. He looked off in the distance at Aaron's motionless form and a wicked smirk grew on his face as he turned to head towards the sounds of battle taking place.

At the scene of battle, there were many bodies about lying on the cold dark field. Many were hurt or dead. Several of the henchmen were writhing in pain, others were knocked out by the overwhelming pain that the boys did to them. Brock was on the ground slowly crawling towards Jesse, but his motions were stopped by something kicking him in the gut, knocking him out.

As a small yelp filled the air, Jesse opened his eyes just in time to see a dark figure approaching him, then quickly shut them and played dead. He waited and nothing happened, but after a few minutes, he tried to move and was immediately knocked out with a kick to the head. The cigar smoking man let out a small chuckle as he looked for Jamie, but couldn't find him. It didn't take him long to find him anyway. Jamie was simply lying there with shallow breaths. The man smiled then turned to watch his primary objective fight off the rest of his 'army'.

Bryan clotheslined the chest of a man, sending him flying through several dozen trees at an astonishing speed. The next second had him surprised as a missile was launched from a helicopter directly above, causing him to freeze in terror. He knew his XO would be telling him not to react, but to act and he could see Aaron doing the same.

He had an idea as he balled his fist and pulled back his right arm. As the missile neared Bryan, he crouched, then jumped into the air, launching himself directly towards the missile, then grabbed the missile and strained as he attempted to turn it around. Once he finally managed to turn the missile around, he kicked it in the back, sending it off towards the helicopter, and Bryan towards the ground. It only took a second for the missile to reach the helicopter, causing it to explode in the sky, shocking those who were attacking.

"Damn you!" One of the goons with a freshly scratched face shouted, "get him!" He transformed into a black bear and launched himself at Bryan.

As Bryan recovered from his landing, he turned to stare at the bear, not flinching one bit. It was like something snapped within him. Time seemed to move at a crawl as Jimmy watched the Black bear run directly at him.

'Dude, you need to get outta here!' c_ame a faint thought from a barely conscious Jimmy. 'Run! Go! There's too many of them!'_

'But dude, you're my best friend! I don't wanna be helpless! I hafta help you somehow!' Bryan pleaded with his thoughts in hopes Jimmy would hear him.

'Aaron wouldn't want you to be taking everyone on by yourself! FireBird would agree!'

Jimmy closed his eyes and looked down, _'I know. I've always been helpless, but I wanna prove everyone wrong! I can do it!' _Unknown to the two boys, the black bear realized what Bryan was doing and saw Jimmy's body slightly moving, and quickly changed the direction it was running.

_'Dude, I'm already feeling a power increase within you! If you go off and release everything, there's no telling what'll happen!' _Jimmy protested in thought, despite his body failing to respond to his commands. He desperately needed food, healing, and rest, but now wasn't the time to be thinking about these things.

'I know…' Bryan thought for a second and before he could continue, Jimmy's echoing screams filled the air causing Bryan to quickly open his eyes in shock. He tried to move, but his body was frozen in fear. He felt he was no more than a hundred feet away from Jimmy as he watched the black bear standing on its hind legs on top of his best friend.

Bryan screamed so loud, but not as loud as Brandon. "JIMMMMY!!!!!!!"

The black bear fell back on all fours and it looked as if the bear was smiling. He then lifted his left hind leg and dropped the claw end directly into Jimmy's back, striking something with a sickening crunch.

"NO! NO! NO! LEAVE HIM ALONE!" Bryan yelled as tears started falling.

The bear, finally deciding to move towards Bryan, was growling softly. The bear thought Bryan would make a nice chew toy and started quickening his pace. Bryan, on the other hand, was beginning to feel a sudden power surge swelling from inside. Pure anger rose to the surface, clouding his judgment. Jimmy was still alive, but Bryan didn't think so as he couldn't see him moving at all. The bear had knocked Jimmy unconscious, giving Bryan the illusion of him lying motionless. He wanted to run to his best friend to see if he was still alive, but the damned bear was blocking his path.

Bryan was starting to lose control of himself, but only barely. He couldn't move, he couldn't flinch, he couldn't think. He continued to stare at Jimmy as the bear slowly approached. When he finally took his eyes off Jimmy's bloody, motionless form on the ground, he looked directly at the oncoming bear. His eyes were slightly red, his voice changed from a normal eleven year old's to a deep booming voice. "You hurt my friends and my best friend!"

The bear kept moving forward, completely unfazed by the growing power coming from the boy. He was followed by several other shape shifters, all who recently joined the bear after he 'shut up Jimmy', of various animals from lions and tigers to elephants and deer. Suddenly, the bear leapt into the sky as if it was planning to jump on Bryan.

Bryan saw this and decided to use it to his advantage. He launched himself forward, only this time using extreme speed and extreme strength as he pulled his arm back and connected it with the bear's stomach. A sickening crunching sound could be heard as the fist continued plowing all the way to the spine, splitting it in two. The bear was then launched towards the sky.

When Bryan landed, the other animals stopped suddenly, then with a newfound fury, they all rushed towards Bryan, but their efforts were fruitless. Bryan made quick work of each animal coming at him, giving them no mercy.

Next, several aerial fighters took position in the sky as they watched the bear take flight once again, only this time they were helpless to save him. They pulled out their guns and began launching bullets at Bryan with automatic fire. One of them had two twelve gauge shotguns, and they seemed to cause Bryan some pain, but not a lot. Bryan winced as the slugs hit him, fueling his anger some more, causing new augments and empowerments to surface.

Bryan found himself wanting to unleash everything he had and be over with it; he began to feel another power buildup, only this time it was from within his lungs. He wondered what to do and sighed, watching a gale force breeze blow several of the bodies back. An idea formed inside his head as he looked up and watched the enemies fly towards him. With a deep breath, he inhaled, then exhaled, sending a powerful gust of wind at the fighters in the air. They appeared to have been sent shooting to the moon, but they were only knocked off their bearings.

Not expecting the boy to have such power, those with wings found them folded back and lost flight while others slammed into each other in the confusion, rendering them dazed or unconscious. The rest struggled to control their flight, only to find it difficult and it left them somewhat drained. Soon, they began to lose energy to hold their flight and began falling out of the sky like hailstones, littering the battlefield with more bodies.

Bryan fell to his knees coughing while clutching his chest, as it felt like as if it were on fire. This was his first use of his newfound augment, and with the little training he had had to go with, he tried to push the buildup away and tried to relax. He knew he would get more training on proper use of his new powers later, but for now, it was a test of his ability to survive under heavy assault, and he wasn't about to give up yet, but something didn't feel right. He couldn't figure it out, but the feeling in the pit of his stomach told him something bad was going to happen. What Bryan didn't know was there was a mist form forming in between himself and the enemy in the air, but he also blew the mist away, whoever it was.

Bryan took a few moments to close his eyes and try to relax once more, but the anger and pain of seeing his best friend get killed tore him apart from the inside out. He began to stand and slowly walk towards Jimmy with watery eyes and shaky legs, making each step seem like a thousand. His thoughts began to wander, as he couldn't figure out why anyone would want to hurt his friends, especially when they were down. Unknown to him, someone was slowly creeping up on Bryan, and he didn't notice it as he began to form some thoughts.

'Jimmy...' A sharp stab of pain hit him, causing him to wince and stop dead in his tracks, taking his mind off Jimmy. He looked down at his dirty hands, which were trembling as his body was struggling to recover itself, but was lacking the most important thing: replenishment. 'Must be endurance and recovery. But ohhh man…' _he held his arms around his stomach as if it were in great pain, but moved too fast as he winced again at another sharp stab of pain. '…I feel soooo hungry. It feels like I used too much energy and there seems like an endless army of them! This shit hurts! Being hungry is one thing, but these muscle cramps and the hunger pains make it worse!' Bryan attempted to calm himself down some as he closed his eyes in thought. 'That won't stop me from preventing them from hurting my friends! I won't stop till every last one is gone!'_

Bryan's thoughts were broken up with a quiet crunch of a twig as he quickly spun around, only to find a dirty thirteen-year-old blond boy staring at him.

"Get outta here! It's dangerous!" Bryan hollered as he tried to shove the boy, but he wouldn't move.

"I know." The boy began to grin, "For you anyway!" His grin widened some more till his teeth were showing.

Bryan looked confused. He didn't understand what he was talkin about till he saw the wicked grin forming across the boy's lips.

"Just what are you trying to do?! Get outta here before you get hurt or else!"

"Nothing much and not really! Yer the one who'll be getting hurt!" The boy quickly reached out and grabbed Bryan by the shoulder. Bryan flinched, but nothing happened. When he looked at the boy, the boy began to wince in pain as he had tried to use power negation on Bryan, but Bryan was too powerful for the young teen to negate.

With some realization and experience of seeing power negation happen, Bryan simply shook his head, brought his finger to the boy's head and flicked him as hard as he could, sending the boy backwards fifteen feet, where he then slammed into a tree and lost consciousness.

What happened next caused more of Bryan's empowerments and augments to come fully to the surface. From what looked like a group of muscle men, about twenty-five of them, quickly circled Bryan and closed in, trapping him and trying to poke him with poison needles or anything that could penetrate his skin. The amount of poking was annoying Bryan as he tried to shield himself from the several punches from some class twos and threes till he couldn't take it anymore. With a mighty blast of telekinetic shockwave, Bryan screamed into the air as he activated his telekinesis by pushing his arms outwards in an instant.


With an uncontrolled burst of energy, Bryan sent the army of twenty-five hurling outwards towards several trees, knocking them over as they hit. as well as getting impaled by some in several places. A crater had formed around Bryan as he dropped to one knee in pain, while clutching his head with both hands as he felt a massive headache. Some of them who survived were badly injured, but shook it off and immediately took off they had severely underestimated the curly brown haired boy.

Bryan was having none of them escaping, but since he was fighting for his life, he forced himself to stand. He looked quickly for the nearest tree and instantly found it. Just as quickly as he found it, he was already lifting it from its roots, causing the fleeing group of men to look behind at the sight of an eleven year old getting ready to use them as targets for batting practice. With a mighty swing, Bryan sent the men flying into the air, then dropped the tree on the ground, causing a slight rumble as it hit.

'Now, that's what I call a home run!' Bryan mused to himself grinning as his attention was suddenly drawn to a truly troubling and unexpected sight. 'What is she doing here…' he was staring at what appeared to be a mist forming into the shape of a woman about ten yards to his left. Her form was easily recognizable to all TIGERS cadets as it was her signature move when appearing before anyone she encountered. 'I am really going to be extremely sore for several days at this rate…I could use her help, but how did she know…'

Aaron sat up with a groan after a wave of nausea passed over him some fifty yards to Bryan's right. As he came to his senses, the sounds of battle were evident in the air as he looked around to find out where they were coming from. 'Man, I'm gunna have a hell of a headache after this…woah! Is that Bryan?' He spotted Bryan fighting by himself as he watched him push the men out with a telekinesic blast, followed by ripping the tree out and hitting a 'home run'. He slowly managed to stand as he made his way towards Bryan, only to be frozen in his tracks.

'STEALTH! At a time like this, how did she know we'd be here?! I remember FireBird telling us he didn't tell Stealth where we were going, but he at least let her know it was a day with the boys…' Aaron hissed as he managed to find some power to be able to use darkness control, but he wanted to wait to see what Bryan would do. 'I'll only be in his way…and I need to listen to what she says. I might find something useful should…' _Aaron shook his head as he was blindly going to accuse Stealth of being a traitor, but he decided to concentrate his thoughts on Bryan again, 'He's at a much higher level than me! I can feel his powers flowing like a broken faucet, but he'll need a lot of training when this is over.'_

Bryan stood, feeling slightly relieved, seeing Stealth approach him, "Stealth! I could really use some help!"

"I can see that." She looked around at the small number of hostiles approaching, "Quick, come to my side and I'll protect you."

Bryan was reluctant to approach her side as his nerves were telling him one thing and his rational mind was telling him to follow her lead. He nervously smiled and steadily approached her as he failed to notice she had her right arm behind her back.

When Bryan was within an arm's reach, he noticed the hostile forces stopped their advance and was beginning to wonder why. Stealth took this distraction to her advantage and rapidly brought her arm around in attempt to plunge a syringe into Bryan's arm, but it didn't penetrate his skin, much to her surprise. Bryan had to cringe, but when he noticed the surprised look on Stealth's face, then looked at the needle, he quickly swatted it out of her hand and jumped back out of her reach.

"What the hell…?"

"Such naughty words for a boy your age. That isn't how you address your squadron commander!"

"My squadron commander would never try and inject something in me in any way!" Bryan shouted as he moved his arms around him, indicating nothing in particular.

"Really? I'm sure Lord Shadow would think otherwise…" Stealth let slip her mistake of outing herself and it showed on her face as she groaned softly.

Bryan thought for a few moments before suddenly getting an idea that formed in his head. "Shadow? I might be young, but I ain't stupid. Not one commander of any USDT base is called Lord Shadow. The closest to us is Professor, even if it's a name that doesn't fit his powers, but only because of the twenty something P-H-D degrees he has hanging in his office, or so FireBird told us when he was telling one of his stories."

"Now, now, surely you don't believe such stories? I mean for all you know, they could be fake. I never saw them when I was in his office."

A smirk crept across Bryan's face, "Busted!"

Stealth gasped mockingly as if she were playing along with Bryan, but she had to think fast as she was going to be outed by a kid!

Bryan noted this and continued as if nothing happened, "FireBird also warned each of us about you a long time ago. He told us several things to tell you, should anyone of us find ourselves in a situation like this." Bryan had to think some, and while he was at it, he also felt some of the pain slowly fading and was going to use this to his advantage, so he continued, "anyway, Fire made sure we baited you into getting you to admit something that wasn't true. What is true is Professor really does hold more than thirty doctorate degrees, but he doesn't have them at his office." Bryan grinned widely at the fake shock turning into a real shock that appeared across Stealth's face, so he kept rambling, "What you just admitted to makes you a traitor as you betrayed your squadron and the USDT by… doing what you are doing. Don't lie! I can tell who lies to me and who doesn't!"

She smiled coldly, "Aren't you the clever one?" Stealth shifted so her left hand rested on her hip as if she was making a seductive pose. "Good insight, but no one is around to hear your little discovery, so my secret is safe at the time being." Little did Stealth know, Aaron had been watching and listening into the whole conversation and he finally had an excuse to really hate her now. Stealth continued as she let the words sink after a moment, "First, I don't consider myself a traitor; after all, I did my duty as squadron leader, but of course, I want you. The master wants to see you, but you've caused so much trouble, he insisted on coming here himself. I suppose he's here to observe, but…"

"ENOUGH!" Bryan darted off towards her, cut to her right and ran around her in circles, causing Stealth to revert to her mist form, only Bryan sped up to run at a thousand miles per hour, causing a tornado like vortex that lifted her off into the air, followed by a shrill scream coming from her.

Bryan hadn't been paying attention when a hand suddenly appeared in front of him, grabbing him by the neck, immediately stopping his running. He grabbed the hand with both hands, attempting to pull off, but he couldn't. He had used up so much energy, his recovery and endurance couldn't sustain him as he was brought to the face of a cigar smoking brute.

"So… you are the brat causing me trouble." The man inhaled his cigar and blew it out at Bryan, causing him to cough from the smoke. "Using up a lot of energy, not very wise when you could have used something else, but you obviously missed it."

Still struggling to break free, the man chuckled, "Pointless…" he raised Bryan high into the air, then immediately slammed him into the ground with a boom. "Now, sleep!"

Aaron had been watching this and it was finally his turn. He couldn't let his friend be captured by that man, so he concentrated as much as he could in making the area dark, but not pitch black. Once the area was dark, he quickly moved towards Bryan, but as the man let go of his friend, Aaron sent out a wave of telekinesis, launching the man back some twenty feet, striking him into a rock face. Once he came to Bryan, he knelt down and picked him up, then sped away to safety.

Once they were in the clearing some three thousand feet from the scene, Aaron looked around then turned himself invisible as well as Bryan, but it was short-lived as the man had found them, surprising Aaron. The man made short work out of Aaron as his punch connected with his jaw, sending him crashing into the ground, making himself and Bryan visible again.

The man smiled as he reached to pick up Bryan, but his smile faded as Bryan's eyes shot open with an angry expression about them.

"How dare you hurt my friend!" His anger, once again, fueled his strength and launched himself with a combination of speed and strength to punch the man square in the jaw, twisting his neck backwards and sending him flying towards a huge tree. The man survived, but the tree had a huge dent in it from the outline of the man's body.

Bryan looked at Aaron and was going to kneel next to him as the man pushed himself off the tree trunk, then dropped to the ground, landing on his feet. Bryan quickly turned around at the thudding sound to face him, only to spot Sean and Justin lying on the ground, off in the distance past the brute. They were still out of it, it seemed. Bryan really wanted to check on them, but he couldn't. He had an obstacle to deal with and with a mighty inhale, he exhaled his breath at the man, causing him to shield his eyes from the blast of air. That, however, didn't stop him from advancing, but the cold air combined with the high force of wind was causing ice to form around the man, and when several moments had passed, the man was now encased in a frozen stance and Bryan sighed with relief.

Bryan slowly walked closer to the brute and noticed the ice was starting to crack. He groaned as the crackling sound picked up its pace. 'Ughh, this guy is tough. I can't leave my friends, but it's me they want. I'd better run! I hope the guys won't think I'm a coward or anything.' He turned to run towards Aaron when the ice shattered and the brute took off after Bryan with equal speed, but quickly overtook Bryan and decked him into the ground, finally knocking Bryan out.

As the man let out a sigh, he clicked his communicator in his left ear, "Subject Bryan captured successfully. I'll decide who'll return to base with me, the rest stay on lookout. I'm convinced FireBird isn't dead yet. We haven't found a body."

"Seriously, FireBird is dead! I made sure myself! That blaze was hot enough to burn bones!"

"Save it for later, Stealth! You'd better pray he is! If he isn't, I'll finish what this kid couldn't!" There was a moment of silence before he continued; "I'll be at our base in a moment. Take whomever with you and leave the rest to keep watch for twenty-four hours. After that… burn the area! If the brats try to interfere, dispose of them!"

Stealth giggled evilly over the radio, "Consider it done, Lord Shadow."

Mr. Shadow growled at the name Stealth had called him. He preferred to keep it simple, without the Lord in it, but everyone was treating him as if he walked on water. He knelt to pick up Bryan, then took off towards at an amazing speed towards his base with Bryan in his arms.

Meanwhile, at the Girls' camp –

"But guys!" Cameron pleaded, "We really need to help them out. I have a vague idea of where they went, but Stealth not telling us of her leaving and it being against protocol raises an eyebrow. This is something we need to look into and fast! The boys are in trouble and we should help them."

Rose brushed her red hair back as Marge was twirling her slightly curly brown hair and rolled her eyes. "Why should we even care? They can handle themselves! They're boys after all…"

Cameron punched the ground hard, causing a small tremor and startling the girls, "We do not turn our backs on anyone, especially one of ours! I am the leader of this group and I'll decide if we should help them or not!" Getting several nods, Cameron continued, "First, contact base and found out if the boys managed to get a hold of them. If not, inform them of our situation, and if we can't, we have two choices: First, we decide to head to Seven Springs and back the boys up or second, we contact base and get someone from base to help us." She looked around at the slowly nodding faces before continuing, "any questions?"

Carol piped up, "I haven't been there before, so teleportation is out of the question. We'll hafta get a vehicle from a hangar and take it out there with medical supplies. I'm fairly sure, if the situation is really bad, we'll need it. I'm more worried about enemy forces out there."

Julie nodded in agreement, as did the others. "I'd love to get some workout in there…"

Cameron shook her head and sighed, "Seriously Julie, you should use your head more than your fists, ya know!"

Julie pulled her jet-black hair into a ponytail and flashed Cameron a knowing grin, "Well, intelligence is nice, but I kinda like smashing things better!"

"Oh whatever, Julie, but you just got yourself radio duty!"

"Aw man!" Julie pouted, "but ok!" She stood and walked to the tent to radio Defender 31 while Cameron laid out the plans.

Few Hours later at McGuire Air Force Base –

Sky Angel walked into the communications room as several screens flickered. Curious, she walked towards the one that was flickering the most, then her eyes widened in surprise.

Clicking the PA announcement button, she picked up the microphone, "Base is under attack! Battle stations! I repeat, base is under attack! All hands to battle stations!"

As she put the mic down and began to head for Professor's office, her quiet thoughts were suddenly interrupted, 'Sky Angel… what is happening?'

'I was heading to your office to explain the situation.'

"Never mind that." A voice spoke behind her as she turned around to it.

She went stiff, as if to salute Professor. "At ease, Sky Angel. What's going on?"

Sky Angel visibly relaxed, "We're being jammed. All incoming and outgoing signals aren't going to get through. We have no way to receive alerts from any squadrons in deep trouble or from anywhere else."

Professor sighed, then folded his arms behind his back. He wasn't sure who'd have the technology to pull this off, much less attack an USDT base with a lot of personnel and guns. He looked down silently as if in deep thought, then suddenly looked up at Sky Angel. "Any ideas on who could do this?"

Sky Angel looked lost in thought when a voice from behind them broke the silence. "If it were my guess, I'd put my money on Shadow."

Professor and Sky Angel didn't bother to turn around at the voice, that is, till they heard the name Shadow.

"You can't be serious! After last time he toyed with us, he…"

Professor held up a hand to stop Sky Angel from continuing. "I'm aware and I expected him to attack again. Are you sure of this, Blue Illusionist?"

"Very sure. Stone's out there scouting the area, along with Speed Demon, after the alert went off. We caught some people who have the shadow logo on their left arms."

"Bring them in for interrogation. I want to know what the hell Shadow is planning this time."

"I'm afraid we can't do that. They were prepared to swallow suicide pills upon their capture."

Sky Angel's fists began to visibly glow and Professor saw that. "Calm down, Sky Angel, you'll get your chance." He shifted his attention to Blue Illusionist, "Do we know an approximate location of Shadow's last known whereabouts?"

Blue Illusionist shook his head 'no', till Stone appeared behind him announcing he did. "Western Pennsylvania, somewhere in the Laurel mountains region." At that moment, Stone was just realizing who else was going to be there. "Oh Shit!"

"What?" Professor almost barked as he glared at Stone.

"FireBird's group is in that region today! They could be in grave danger!" Stone exclaimed, getting somewhat nervous and excited at the same time.

Sky Angel was about to voice her agreement and concerns, but Professor beat her to it. He ran a hand through his long white hair. "I haven't told everyone this, but as you all know, FireBird is classified a class four." He sighed in thought as he pondered wanting to continue, but he slightly smiled at the memories beginning to form, yet shook them away as he spoke, "What you all don't know is, he really is a class five. He just hasn't realized he's got two or three more augments and empowerments that he has used before." Seeing the questioning looks on each of their faces, he continued, "Well, to an extent, he has used them before, but in extreme anger and the end result was the death of his father. He didn't know what happened, nor could he remember what he did or the cause of his anger. Only his sub-conscious mind knows how, and it's FireBird who has to tap into that. Once he does, he'll be the only one who can actually beat Shadow. It would have to be a one on one battle, but an army? He is good as captured as any of us are."

"Surely that doesn't mean we can't just ignore this threat! There has to be something we can do." Sky Angel waved her hand at nothing.

Professor smiled, "Actually, there is. Stay out of his way."

The groans across the room caused Professor to smile even more. "Guys, I'm serious." He then lost his smile and turned serious. "For the squadrons, they must work as a team to be successful. If not, they allow themselves to be captured or worse. We need to prepare and be ready for when communications come back on-line." Getting several nods in return, he continued once more, "Finally, we need to search the area for this device jamming our signals. I'm issuing the use of private, independent radios that only we use. Hopefully those aren't being jammed. Sky Angel, you're leading this team, I'll monitor the base."

After they gave him 'yes sirs' and a salute in return, everyone departed from the communications room as Professor turned to face the panel and made an expression that could kill, causing the monitor to slightly crack. 'Damn you Shadow, of all the times to attack, this one is highly unusual. What are your motives this time and why?! I really don't want to alert the other USDTs in the region unless absolutely needed.' _He thought for a moment, then finished his thoughts, 'Maybe…I wonder if…'_

Professor looked around and noticed how quiet the room was. For a moment, he thought it was odd to be unmanned, but he had a sudden thought. 'Sky Angel, was this room empty when you made the announcement?'

'Now that I think about it, yes, why?'

'We have a mole. Who ever did this took out the staff and hid them. Probably Shadow's XO, someone whose been here before…'

'Whoever it was, we'll make sure they don't kill themselves prior to questioning.'

After a few moments of silence and heavy thought, Professor looked back into his memories to find someone he could remember who had been to the base before. Other than FireBird and Stealth, there was no one else with augments that could have known the base well.

'I don't suppose I recall anyone other than FireBird and Stealth; those were the only two to ever come in here…' His thoughts trailed out till Sky Angel interrupted him.

'You can't mean Stealth had access! There's no way she'd…'

'Break into the base unnoticed?' Professor finished for Sky Angel. 'Her unique ability allows her to make the perfect stealth for missions like this. On top of that, she had to have a teleporter with her and if it was FireBird, I'd have known. His presence is quite immense, and someone like myself could feel it from one point on the base to another, I'm guessing. But, exercise caution; there may be some lingering parties and stay alert.'

'Roger that.'

Professor looked back at the monitor and sighed. 'FireBird was right about her. Damn!' The monitor blew up, causing some small sparks and smoke to come out of it, causing Professor to groan. 'Not again.'

Few minutes earlier, before FireBird arrived at Jeremy's cabin –

FireBird teleported to his house and immediately willed his augments to a rest as he noticed a burning smell coming from a nearby table. He turned to look for the source of the burning smell and noticed small flames beginning to grow from his tablecloth and quickly took action to put them out. He sighed, then headed straight for the pantry, only to bump blindly into the fridge, as he didn't watch where he was going. He shook his head at his own clumsiness and reached for the switch near the fridge in order to turn the lights on. Once he found it, he flipped the switch and made his way towards the pantry and started grabbing everything he could.

The pantry was huge and well stocked, but he had an emergency to deal with and needed to take a small detour on his way to the campground of their supposed training. As his thoughts finally caught up to his actions, he chuckled at his own mistake, then shook his head as he placed the various items of high carb foods on the table. He walked out of the kitchen then returned momentarily with an armload of MRE's, then started shoving the food in the packs. Once the sacks were filled to the point where they looked like they were going to burst, FireBird took some food for himself and started eating it in order to ease the slight hunger pain he was feeling. He knew he had to control his intake, but he was in a hurry. As he finished with his fill, he quickly swung the bags over his shoulder and was about to head out when he almost forgot to shut the lights off. He shook his head and turned off the lights, then teleported to the campgrounds, but slightly away from the cabin. He had expected trouble, but what he didn't know surprised him.

Once FireBird arrived with the sacks, he quickly looked around but it was too dark to see. He called his wings fourth and the area immediately lit, but he remembered to remove the sacks from his shoulders first before doing so. He looked around for a hiding spot for the food and quickly found a small outhouse that was never used; only it wasn't an outhouse, it was a small storage shed that Jeremy had there as a lawn decoration. He quickly walked towards it and stuffed the sacks in it, then closed the door. He took a deep breath and slowly let it out as he teleported to what was left of Jeremy's cabin.

Several minutes later, after FireBird healed Brock -

Brock pulled away from FireBird, silently letting him know he was okay. He then turned in silence to look at his own flickering shadow. After a moment, he looked as if he wanted to say something, but a shiny metal knife that was being thrown at him caught his attention! FireBird wasn't watching, but heard Brock gasp and immediately looked at him, then saw the shiny knife. In a split second, FireBird moved to protect Brock, but as if on instinct, his wings moved to protect them from the knife, curling in a shield like fashion as they began to glow brighter. The knife hit the wings and immediately melted in the intense heat being radiated outwards from them, leaving Brock and FireBird completely unaffected.

'Cover your eyes, Brock.'

Brock looked at FireBird confused, saying or thinking nothing.

'Trust me, cover your eyes; I don't want you to go blind. Something tells me my wings can illuminate an entire area quite brightly, causing possible blindness with the added intense heat. I suppose I'm unaffected from it somehow… and I guess I don't have FireArmor like I originally thought or was led to think.' FireBird looked down to Brock's confused face and simply mouthed 'later' to him, getting a nod in response.

Brock immediately closed his eyes ,and once he did, the wings immediately left their protected form and uncurled, then began to grow brighter, lighting up the area to at least five hundred feet in diameter, exposing several waiting enemies on watch.

'Brock, I want you to use your mud armor and stay down. I know you are immune to heat, but I want you to remain where you are. I think I can generate enough heat to the point where you could get burned. I'll try and keep the heat away from you, but it seems to be directional. There looks to be as many as thirty men, women and teenagers surrounding us. I'm gunna attempt something my unconscious has shielded from me for years. I must have done something like this in the past but only managed to tap into it when I was either extremely angry or in serious danger. But right now, I'll handle things. Anyway…'

'Hold it! What do you mean thirty? Last I heard, there were at least a hundred and we only managed to reduce those numbers to ah seventy-five before they overwhelmed us. There's no way…'

FireBird shook his head as fifteen knives and axes came flying towards him, only prompting the wings to shield him and Brock in the same manner moments earlier. It wasn't hurting them, but it was starting to become annoying.

'Just do it.'

FireBird clapped his hands together in rapid fashion, emitting a loud clap, not enough to cause any damage, except his hands started emitting small lightning sparks. At first they looked like lightning was forming from inside the hands. It only took a few seconds before the intensity of the lightning grew, then held steady. Once FireBird was satisfied he had the required energy to form his lightning pole, which he later called it, he slowly spread open his arms, revealing a solid blue-white crackling pole of pure energy. FireBird grinned at the new sensation as he rapidly spread his arms out as far as he could, then in a swift move, he let go of the ends and grabbed it at the center with his right hand just before it began to fall to the ground. Brock had an expression of shock and awe at the same time till he finally realized the XO was intent on taking on all of them alone. At first, he wanted to protest, but FireBird managed to give him a look that caused Brock to drop to the ground face first and cover himself with his mud armor. A second later, FireBird sent one last thought.

'Whatever you do, don't get up till I say it's ok. That is an order.'

After some hesitation on Brock's part at the order, he nodded slowly, giving FireBird his silent word of acknowledgement.

FireBird slightly smiled, then lost his smile as he looked up and around at the gathering army. It seemed they had crept closer, each one displaying some sort of augment, but they all had guns ranging from pistols to semi-automatic, all which were pointed directly at FireBird.

_'I'll make quick work of these, 'cept the leader of course.' _FireBird thought before speaking up.

"So, which one of you has the balls to go first?" FireBird mused as several teenagers could be seen slightly shaking, but still moving forward.

As if on cue, each of the thirty men, women, and teenagers lifted their left hand to their left ear as if to receive some sort of communication from the leader. They nodded when they got their response, then all of them launched themselves towards FireBird.

At the same time, FireBird also heard where the order came from, as it was pretty close and also heard the exact words.

'So they now want me dead this badly? What exactly are they planning? Hmmm…' FireBird re-directed his thoughts, still standing still with his lightning pole in his right arm now at vertical. 'Brock, did you contact HQ?'

'Yeah, the signal was jammed. But get this, our CO wasn't with the girls when we asked for her…'

FireBird cut him off, 'I know and thanks.'

'How did you…?'

Once again, FireBird cut him off, 'Later.'

As the army edged closer to FireBird, he crouched slightly and moved his lightning pole horizontally and wickedly smiled, "BOO!"

He disappeared and re-appeared some thousand feet to the south, surprising the leader, grabbed his shirt, then returned to the same spot he was standing in. As FireBird let go of the leader's shirt, he then teleported to behind the incoming army, only to find several teenagers hanging back. He looked towards them as they peed in their pants at the sight of FireBird. "Any thoughts of escaping will get you severely hurt or even killed. I don't like killing kids, much less killing anything, but your life is in the hands of whatever decision you make… starting… now."

The four teenagers looked at one another, exchanging glances, nodded, then dropped their weapons in defeat, only to cause the rushing mob to stop and turn to see the results.

"Fucking pussies!" came the chorused reply from several of the men as they turned to point their guns at FireBird and opened fire at him. Their intent to kill was great, their faces were filled with sheer hatred; this caused FireBird to wonder why.

As if on instinct, his wings spread outwards and intense heat poured towards the bullets, melting each and every one of them before they had a chance to hit FireBird. The group had a hard time believing what they were seeing, but it didn't stop them from charging head on towards FireBird. As they neared closer to an arm's length, with one swift toss of the lightning pole from FireBird's right hand to left followed by a swift swing, the rushing attacker stopped dead in his tracks as he was sliced in half, as was the person directly behind him. The sound of flesh bubbling was sickening as it sealed the wound of the dead, causing FireBird and several of the attackers to wince. This stopped the crowd from moving, but only for a few seconds.

"Any other volunteers?" FireBird spoke with a wicked grin after recovering from the slight surprise.

The mob of attackers grew angrier, if that was even possible, then everyone rushed towards FireBird.

"Bloody fucking awesome!" FireBird sarcastically said as he griped the lightning pole with his left hand, palm up, then gripped it with his right, palm up and broke it in two, causing a chain of cracking lightning between the ends of the poles where they broke apart.

Suddenly, FireBird's wings shrank and became stronger, as if his body was defending itself from attacks from behind. FireBird's frown faded as he crouched down and leapt into the angry mob, then disappeared. He then reappeared directly behind every attacker, slicing them in two. He didn't wait or hesitate; he kept on going in the same manner, making it look like a spectacular show of lightning on the ground and something from a Star Wars light-saber duel.

Once FireBird was sure no one was left standing except the leader, the leader immediately fell to his knees to plead his life to FireBird.

FireBird rolled his eyes as he relaxed the energy flow in the lightning poles, making them slowly fade with several crackling sounds. His wings began to become more relaxed looking, and the intense heat coming off them was reduced to tolerable levels. He then turned his attention to Brock. "Okay Brock, all clear. I'm going to deal with the leader there, make sure those four..." FireBird pointed to the four teenagers, causing them to wince in fear after what they had seen, "...won't try anything stupid. They said they wouldn't, but we shall see."

Brock's armor slowly withdrew as he began to stand and nod at FireBird, then turned his attention to the four teens. "I think some kind of information would be a good start…"

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