Cadre 5:

This is the place to recount your superheroic deeds for all to gaze upon with astonishment and wonder.
Dr. Lovecraft
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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by Dr. Lovecraft » Fri Jan 13, 2012 3:42 am

I think my most favorite character initially was Brian...but I agree that he is probably the least developed character (though he follows in the tradition of many great comic leaders - such as Cyclops used to be - of coming across a little "dry and stable"). He's got a lot of "built in" points (like being the only one on the team who is the child of a superhero AND feeling the crunch of responsibility as team leader) that he takes in stride pretty well. I look forward to seeing how his development continues.
I have really come to love Rowan. Questions of sexual identity are something that I can relate to, but questions of gender identity are something I've never wrestled with and I find his/her journey fascinating. I don't know anything about you personally, but I think your writing is very accessible with a diverse cast and such unique perspectives for the characters.
I miss Aiesha. I think that her headstrong personality made for interesting times (especially with Sawyer and Kenna). I am looking forward to her return!
My least favorite character is probably Kenna. Not that there is anything wrong with Kenna (I like her very much too). As I sit here trying to think of exactly why Kenna is my least favorite, I find that the only real reason I can give is that she always seems to be right about everything... *LOL* Which is a pretty silly reason I guess.
I love the new group...particularly Thumper (well, what else would you call her?) and Webs.
I really enjoy reading your stories. My only complaint would have to be that you need to write faster and more often. *LOL* Thanks for sharing your creative spark!! :D

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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by cobalt-blue » Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:07 am

Again, thanks. Of course the new group is actually my gaming group, so the characters were actually developed by someone else. Thumper was the NPC I sent along to cover the fact that there wasn't a brick on the team. She just sort of grew on me.

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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by McGuffin » Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:05 am

I really agree with everything Gilliam wrote above about Brian. And the whole leader/tactician difference between Brian and Sawyer works well in my view, calling the shots and rallying the troops versus thinking of all of the possible options.

And yeah, Kenna is in a pretty unique position (at least inside the team, maybe in the school as well) of having a better idea about what's coming compared to the others. I still like her, but she's pretty hard to stump (lol, comes with being a telepath I guess :D )

Anyway, I'm definitely looking forward to reading more and seeing what comes next.
McGuffin's Workshop: Warp, Naga

Why crawl when you can walk? Why walk when you can run? Why run when you can fly?

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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by cobalt-blue » Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:23 am

Yeah, the Brian/ Sawyer dynamic is going to get mentioned in the next issue. A character will draw a parallel that will surprise everyone.

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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by Gilliam » Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:00 am

Now you are just teasing. :)

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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by cobalt-blue » Sat Jan 14, 2012 6:31 am

Of course. I'm currently working on the cover.

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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by cobalt-blue » Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:31 pm

Issue Y2-10 Bloodfire
LIGHTWING aka Tracy Mattison

We were able to make it back to the school without even being questioned by the police or the DNA. I'm not sure why that was, but for some reason, the locals took it for granted that we were the good guys. The school's insurance got a bill for some of the property damage, but not for what we expected. I guess the sight of a giant ripping off a church steeple and hurling it toward a building in downtown sort of identified who was at fault for most of the damage. We were however held liable for the cost of replacing all of the electrical lighting and wiring on that bridge. Brian's lightning bolt fried the whole system. I'm just glad there were no barges nearby when it happened.

Things for our team calmed down for the most part. The McAllisters decided it was safer for Michael to be at Wyndgate than at the Salem Center school. Nobody in his class even tried to stop him from being kidnapped, while we went after him. And we went after him not because the McAllisters asked us to, we went after him because he is our teammate and our friend.

Between us and Cadre Aleph, things were starting to get interesting for neo-humans. Oddly enough things were quiet for Neo-Force 1 and even Cadre 4. I think shadowing NF-1 was going to be a lot less informative than if they'd continued to work with us. The President was railing against our action in West Virginia, but for some reason the local authorities not only were refusing to give his accusations any credence, the sheriff told the DNA that if they interfered with the investigation, that he'd lock them up. It seemed that some local officials were starting to reclaim their authority. The country was starting to turn against a president who was sidestepping the other branches of government to push his own agenda.

Cadre Aleph plus Naja had an encounter that left them in good standing with the government, so nobody was digging too much into our activities. A group of homicide bombers attacked the Mall in Richmond where they were shopping. Earendil and Protea managed to neutralize the bombers fairly easy, but then two winged guys calling themselves the Host of Shaddai showed up with kill-o-zap laser guns and almost took out the team. Poor Webs had been totally overwhelmed by some kid of field they were generating, and according to Protea, he was on the verge of an almost religious fervor toward them. The whole team said they all felt it, but only Webs succumbed to compulsion to treat them as some kind of angels.

Cadre Aleph managed to take them out of the equation, capture and disarm the bombers and save innocent lives in the mall. That went a long way with positive press for the school. They were quickly making a good name for themselves.

Rowan was very embarrassed by his performance in the fight. For the first time, he really had gone berserk and almost single-handedly killed that giant. It was strange because everyone who went into that basement told the same story: they were scared out of their wits, but did what was necessary. Even Kenna said that whatever it was had gone right through her mind shields and had her terrified. Patrick later confessed to me that he was so terrified he was afraid that he was going to lose control of his bodily functions, but he wasn't about to show himself a coward in front of me. That confession had some interesting connotations in itself. That is everyone was scared out of their wits except for Ghost who stayed insubstantial the whole time. His ghost power had evidently protected him rather well.

There was some interesting dynamics going on between Rowan and Patty that had me concerned. Patty was trying to include Rowan in more and more family dynamics since it was revealed his dad was dating Rowan's cousin. But Rowan was having none of it. She was steadfastly finding other things to do during the weekly dinner dates, and weekend outings. Usually it had something to do with some kind project she was working on. She treated Patty with the utmost courtesy and deference, but refused to let him get any closer than teammate. It was as if she were angry, but was going out of her way to be fair about things. I was afraid it was going to start to affect the team.

I tried talking to Kenna and Sawyer about it, but they adamantly refused to discuss it in anyway other than team business. The two had closed ranks around Rowan to protect her sense of privacy. They didn't treat Patty any differently than always, but they were very firm in their refusal to discuss anything Rowan might have shared with them about her feelings. Their only explanation was that Rowan went out of her way to respect the privacy of everyone else, and “telling tales out of school” as they called it would be a poor way to return that kindness. Those two could be just as difficult as our resident neko hermaphrodite.

Oddly enough, I was worrying about Pat and the rest of the team, and it turns out that Doctor Chapel was worrying about me. When our next psych-eval came around she was very concerned that I was the only member on the team who had not found a partner with whom to swap spit. I just shrugged and told her that right now I was concentrating on not sinking in Mr. Wateford's class, and didn't have time for either a girlfriend, or a boyfriend. I smiled when she raised an eyebrow at that admission. I was in no way ashamed of what Pat and I shared. Friends with benefits worked for us, and I had no problem considering the right person of either sex to be a suitable mate. It was just that right now, I had too many other things to worry about than whether or not I had a date for the Spring dance or what to get somebody for Valentine's Day. Although I did wonder about Tamara and Eric on Cadre Aleph. Easter was after all coming up.

The school announced that there was going to be a school-wide barbeque on the upcoming weekend. Pat had to scramble to cancel the outing with his Dad and Heather- they were planning on a shopping trip to New York and to see a Broadway Musical over the weekend. I'm not exactly sure why he chose to stay for a barbeque instead of going to New York, but I think the fact that Rowan was staying had something to do with it. He wouldn't talk to me about it. To be honest, I was about getting tired of all this “it's private” shit and was about to start busting some heads to get them to talk. It wasn't Pat's fault that Rowan was having problems with her cousin, and that wasn't an excuse to keep him at an arm's distance.

It was a fine early April day and the school had set up a large grill on the back patio by the pool, which had not been filled since it was drained to get all the dog hair out of it. There was talk about filling it come May first. There was also a huge pork roaster setting to one side and smells coming from it were mouth watering. Mr. Waterford, Commander Erikson and Chief Ballantine- the other ROTC instructor as well as one of the three combat instructors the school now employed- were in charge of the actual cooking. Ms. Lakota and Ms. Thomas were in charge of all the fixings, plus coleslaw, corn on the cob, and the drinks. Mr. Griffin, the cadre instructor for Cardre Epsilon- the cadre to which Sawyer's sister had been assigned- and our music teacher Ms. Deller were in charge of the music. I had been asked to play my guitar some as well.

There was a vicious game of football being played in the back yard with Coach Moore refereeing. I think she was regretting the rules allowing the use of powers. I was warming up to some old Journey tunes, and several people were lounging around half-way listening and carrying on various conversations. I didn't mind. To me, unless you were at an actual concert, music should be in the background.

Suddenly, Crissy Grey came out the back door of the conservatory and announced, “There's something on the news we might want to watch.”

Worried I turned to her and asked, “What?”

She swallowed hard and said, “You know how they let some amateur astronomers get time with the Hubble telescope?” she asked.

I shook my head and said, “No. I didn't know they do that.”

“Well, they do,” she replied in a tone that indicated that she thought I was somehow mentally deficient for not knowing. “It seems that one astronomer wanted some close up pics of Europa to get a better idea of whether or not there could be life under those oceans. Well, they found it.”

“Found what?” Amelia asked from where she and Michael were sitting in a couple of lounge chairs.

“Life,” she said. “More specifically, they got pictures of what are undeniably spaceships, and they released them before the government could clamp down.”

“What are you talking about?” Sawyer asked.

“Go look for yourself,” she told him pointing to the lounge where several people were gathered around the large plasma television.

I put down my guitar and went inside with the rest of the team. Vixen News was on and they were showing several still photos of six space craft, all gathered in a cluster with Jupiter's eye forming an impressive backdrop. It was the kind of thing that you might dream of finding by accident, but never expected in a million years that it would actually happen.

The announcer was saying, “These photos were taken earlier this week by the Hubble Space Telescope and released without government oversight. Yes, ladies and gentlemen you are seeing manufactured objects near Jupiter. What does that mean for Earth? Are we about to be visited by aliens? Do they intend peaceful contact? So far the administration has been silent on the issue. When we return from our break we'll engage our All-American Panel to discuss the ramifications of this development.”

“What the hell?” I asked.

Conrad looked up from the sofa where he and Nurene were sitting and said, “Looks the like we may have proof now that we're being visited by aliens.”

I shrugged and said, “I don't think anybody in this school would doubt that, Conrad. The problem is getting people who haven't encountered them to believe that they aren't just another expression of the neo-gene.”

“What are we going to do about it?” he asked.

“I don't know what we can do about it; at least not yet,” I replied as I straddled and then sat down on one of the low-backed chairs that the school provided for those of us who have wings that tend to get in the way of sitting in normal chairs.

“Should we contact the authorities and tell them about what we know?” he asked.

I gave him my best, “you've got to be kidding” look. “You guys fought a bunch of winged guys with high-tech gear. According Amber, they talked about something called the Host of Shaddai. Maybe these guys are them.”

“Lord, I hope not,” Webs said. I could tell he was still smarting over his performance in that particular fight. We all have things we need to live down, and the sooner he learned that the better. He'd been coming out of his shell lately- something I think Naja had a lot to do with- so I hoped this wouldn't send him scurrying back into it.

I shrugged and said, “There's not much we can do at this point, Conrad. Sitting here and worrying about things we can't control won't make a difference.” I looked over at the screen. “Now the rest of the world knows what we already knew: there are aliens out there and they have been visiting Earth. Me? I'm going to worry about Mr. Waterford's upcoming physics exam, and whether or not Mikey and Pat are going to leave us any of that cole-slaw Ms. Thomas made.”

“You're awful sanguine about all this,” Rowan said standing behind me. I have no idea how she managed to slip up on me so easily. She really did move like a cat.

I turned and smiled. She was wearing a baseball cap, a Washington Nationals jersey and pair of khaki shorts. I couldn't help but notice that she made just as handsome of a boy as she did a beautiful girl, and that the ears and tail only added to the charm. Bad Tracy! I chided myself. She's taken. What I said aloud was, “What good does it do to worry about it. If we have to fight them, then we will when the time comes. Until then, I'm not about to worry a hole in my stomach trying to figure out why they are here.”

She nodded her head and said, “I thought I was the only one who had decided to wait and see how things work out and not go borrowing trouble.”

I shook my head and gave her an honest answer, “No. I'm the only one doing that. You're avoiding dealing with a situation, and calling it a private matter when it affects the whole team.

She started to say something, but then stopped herself. I could see the conflict in her eyes, and I could see where she was really hurting about something. In a flash of insight, I also realized that she was hiding her pain behind a facade of apathy. Finally she said, “I don't want to discuss it.”

I smiled and said, “That's going to work only for so long. This kind of thing can tear the team apart, Rowan.”

She shook her head and asked, “What have I done to give offense, Tracy?”

“That's just it, Rowan. You've been a perfect lady, or gentleman, or whatever you want to call it. But at the same time you've pulled yourself out of any kind of interaction closer than teammate or polite society.”

I saw a gleam of defiance in her eye, “Would it make you happier if I just got mad and treated everybody like crap? Would you feel better if I got angry and threw what Sawyer calls a hissy fit?”

“Something is bothering you Rowan. It's something to do with your cousin, and with Patrick's dad...,”

“It has nothing to do with Patrick's dad,” she countered.

“Okay then with Heather. Whatever it is, it's affecting the way you treat your teammates. It's affecting the way you treat Patrick.”

“It is not,” she countered. “I haven't treated him any different than I did when we first met.”

I said, “Exactly. As people's relationships grow and change the way we treat each other changes. You've suspended yours and Patrick's relationship in amber. It hasn't changed one bit since that week you found out about his dad and your cousin.”

“Do you two think you should be having this conversation in the middle of the lounge?” Brian asked as he entered the room from down the hall.

Rowan blushed deeply and said, “You're right Brian. This is a private matter and shouldn't be aired in front of anybody not on the team.” She turned on her heel and left.

“Let's take a walk,” Brian said putting down his soda.

Oh crap. It was “the walk with the team leader”. That usually meant he was going to bust my chops about something.

Thena aboard the alien starship Astrapi

I couldn't believe that it was coming to this: A joint expedition by four of the great powers to Earth to observe this Cadre 5. There was already intelligence pouring in that the Hosts had made their presence known on the planet. This could very easy spark an incident that would plunge the Five Galaxies into a war lasting centuries. Worse yet, as it was we ourselves who were traveling there- not our proxies- not projections of ourselves, but our actual physical selves, it could set off the kind of conflict not seen since the last Earthwar millenia ago.

My brother Ari was taking every opportunity he could to “counsel with” the heads of the others' military forces. Of course their counsel usually ended in a long drinking session and discussing old battles long over, and past glories that had not yet faded from memory. What worried me was that among their drinking there were also plans of an alliance against the Elim and the Hosts. They were seriously considering going to war over a small planet whose people had not yet left their own planetary system, much less their solar system or heaven forbid their galaxy.

But I also realized that Earth wasn't quite just any planet. It was one of the primal worlds. A world where the power that was the Divine had once resided; a world that had been one of the great laboratories for all the major galactic powers and more than just a few of the minor ones as well. It was a world they'd all touched, they'd all molded in one way or another. It was also a world where only the Ayoda had not been driven off by the Hosts. It wasn't just a primal world, it was the primal world- a world capable of giving birth to Gods.

Ari entered my study without bothering to even chime. I've seen my brother under the influences of many different emotions from a towering rage that shattered mountain ranges, to the throws of passion- but we won't talk about that particular situation- but I have never seen him worried. Until today.

“What is it?” I asked.

“The Ahau have decided to see as the humans would say, what all the fuss is about,” he said. “They're coming themselves.”

“This is not good,” I told him. “They have all the self-control of a Nemian with a bad fang.”

Ari nodded, the raven ringlets of his hair tight against his brow reflecting the overhead lighting with flashes of cerulean. “Intelligence says they've brought a gene bomb and a planet cracker.”

“Why would they bring those?” I asked.

“To make mischief. I'm not sure Atu can keep them in line,” he said. “You know how they've been lately. They seemed to be upset that we're paying attention to someone other than them.” He was of course right. The Ahau were not quiet a client state of the Ennead, but they weren't totally free of their influence either. They were a rogue state that tended to cause problems for other great powers. The only reason that someone hasn't wiped them out is because the Ennead prop up their economy. King Atu tended to use them to distract the other powers from whatever he might be doing somewhere else. The fact that they were among the last of the minor powers to be driven off Earth by the Hosts is a fact they never let anybody forget. On more than one occasion, they have made noises about reconquering it.

“What do the others say about it?” I asked. “Can the Ennead control them? There are six trans-galactic cruisers bearing representatives of four of the Great Powers in the system. Do you think that will be enough to keep them in line?” I asked.

“Donner and I have informed our captains to keep our respective ships' batteries trained on the Ahau ship. We've also let that leak out through intelligence channels. The Ahau know we're watching them. So do the Ennead.”

“What about the V'nir, and the Suttang?” I asked.

“The Suttang are upset about something. Evidently Donner followed through with his threat to Surt's agents. Two class one warspawn were killed and a his warmaster has gone to ground and taken a walker with him.”

“How do you hide a war walker?” I asked.

Ari shook his head and said, “I'm not sure. House Suttang still has access to the talent prime in ways that only Grandfather knew, that only Aunt 'Cate understands now among our people. Donner tells me that they once hid an entire mountain from him, so I tend to believe him.”

“What are they likely to do about the Ahau?” I asked.

“Probably ignore them. You heard Surt. He's willing to kill someone he thinks might be in the possession of the talent prime. I have no doubt that he'd let the planet be destroyed. It would be good riddance for him.”

“And the V'nir?” I asked.

“I have reason to believe they have an agent on the planet itself. They will stand by Donner and the A'er,” he said. “It was their agent that warned Cadre 5 of your forces approach to their home.”

“I think that perhaps we should ask Donner to bring this Ljol to us to question,” I said.

Ari shook his head and said, “He won't do that. One of the V'nir has placed him under their protection, and he is loathe to upset their cousins. Actually the two houses have become so close that they might as well be one- and I think that's what worries House Suttang the most.”

I nodded and said, “Very well. But keep a guard eye on the Ahau ship. There is more to this than there appears.”

“I do not take orders from you, Sister-dear,” he said with a smile.

“No, but you recognize good advice when you hear it, Brother-dear. Or is this going to be another incident like that with Medes,” I asked him with a smile.

“You interfered there. He would have died had you not protected him,” he protested.

“But the question is are you going to listen to reason or are you going to let your ego get in the way?” I asked.

“I will do what what is necessary to protect the Five Galaxies from being dominated by the Host of Shaddai,” he said.

“As will we all, Brother-dear. As will we all,” I replied. I changed the subject, “What about Ashera?”

“We've been manipulated, and I don't like it. Shaddai destroyed all of his brothers and sisters, set aside his wife, and rules alone, comforted only by his Hosts. Ashera has drug us into this feud, but I can't say that I'm that upset about it. Her moves have been masterful, and what this Ljol has created is as much her child as it is of the Fyroar. She's managed to unite all the great powers against her former husband, and make sure we as the humans would say, have skin in the game.”

“You quote the humans a great deal, Ari,” I said. “I think you admire them.”

“I do. They've always been some of our greatest entertainment, and our biggest threat. Even Father admits that,” he said.

“Father's interest in the humans is the source of most of his past problems with your mother,” I said.

Ari laughed and agreed. “That's true. My interest in them is their spirit and their ingenuity. Even if Primals rise from Earth, it will not be all of them. The ones who do not still offer a great deal of study.” He smiled and added, “And as for those who do, it's been a long time since we've welcomed new brothers and sisters into our midst.”

SPEEDFIRE aka Patrick Mattison

The news of the alien ships sitting in orbit around Jupiter had run through the world like wildfire. Every government on Earth was trying to figure out what to do. Some wanted to make contact, others wanted to avoid attracting their attention in case they were hostile. Some were even trying to figure out how to get a spacecraft out to meet them. The only thing they could agree on was presenting a united front to the aliens- but none could decide who would be the spokesperson. Yeah, a united front.

The active teams at the school had been put on standby just in case. That meant we always had to have our battle suits nearby and the command center was always manned. It also meant that we got almost no work done in the classes. There was all kinds of speculation as to what the aliens would be like. The fact that one of the ships looked like a giant pyramid had the fans of a certain sci-fi television show insisting that the various governments start combing Antarctica for giant side-flushing toilets that might be gates to the stars.

As for the team itself, well that was going okay- I guess. I still couldn't get Rowan to open up to me. I was excited about my dad finding some kind of happiness with Heather, and I was genuinely hoping that they would make their relationship something more permanent. Rowan was always polite, and she was always deferential to me, but she refused to let me be anything more than a teammate and a casual friend.

But if I were entirely honest with myself- which I try to be- then I would admit that maybe she had some right to feeling the way she did. It didn't escape my notice that Heather seemed to be more withdrawn toward her cousin. I mean when we were all together, Heather seemed distant to Rowan. When I would visit with her and Dad, Heather rarely asked about Rowan- she just seemed dismissive of her absence. It was starting to bother me too, and the worst part about it, I couldn't get Rowan to discuss it with me. There was definitely something not right with the situation.

The rest of the team was noticing it as well. Tracy and I talked about it some, but he could get nowhere with it. I spoke to Brian and he asked if I had a specific complaint about Rowan. When I told him no, then he told me that she would talk about it when she was ready, and he was not going to pressure her about it. This was a family matter, and he didn't want it drug into the team.

On the plus side, we were all happy to have Michael back. Even the rivalry between him and Sawyer had calmed down again. I think a lot of us were still worried about what had happened to us when we fought that werewolf. I mean I'll admit it. When that guy wolfed I almost lost control of my bodily functions. Only our constant training with Commander Erikson allowed us to work through it, put the fear aside and do what had to be done: to use the adrenaline the fight or flight instinct had generated to our advantage.

Michael seemed a lot more subdued too. He even went out on a couple of dates with Amber from Cadre Aleph. I think the two decided that they were never going to be anything but friends, and called it quits though. As for me and Amelia, things were good in that area. We had a lot in common, and our feral qualities made us sort of stand out- but I was starting to see that it was in a good way.

It was about a week after the discovery of the aliens that we got the call. There was a situation in upstate New York not far from where Brian lived, and right on the doorstep of the Salem Center school that Mikey used to attend: the school that let him get kidnapped. I still don't know who it was that called us in. I mean we weren't exactly on the government's speed-dial, but somebody asked us to look into a wave a darkness that kept cropping up in western Connecticut and northeast New York. It was as if the sun had gone down. People were reporting seeing the stars in the night sky. Worst of all was the fact that when this happened, no light generating technology that required electricity to run would work. There was concern that it might be aliens causing problems. Others wondered if it was a neo. What it turned out to be would change the world forever.

Again, it was a helicopter ride. We really needed to get our own jet like in the comic books. At least getting to where we needed to be would be easier. This time, we didn't fly all the way to the location. The pilot wasn't about to put the chopper in a situation where he could lose power and we'd all crash and burn. Instead he took us to within a mile of the latest place the zone of darkness had appeared. It was a little town called Braden, Connecticut about twenty miles outside of Danbury, and it was dark in the middle of the day. It was like being out in the desert at night, away from any of the city lights. The only light anybody could generate came from fire or candles. It was weird.

As we entered the town, I ran ahead to reconnoiter. People were out in the streets looking around in fear and wonder. I could tell by their body language they were spooked, as if they were ready for something to jump out of the night and bite them. Damn if that wasn't close. I could also tell that our presence there helped alleviate that fear. It reminded me why we do what we do- because someone has to step up and protect those who cant protect themselves.

And when I call it a town, I mean a good old fashioned New England town with a main street and picket fences around white clapboard houses, like something out of a Stephen King novel. I skidded to to a stop in the center of the street as a middle aged man with a little girl beside him pointed to me and said, “It's Cadre 5! They'll get to the bottom of this.”

I'll admit it, I was shocked at the comment. I guess we'd been living in a bubble, and our reputation was being defined for us by the administration. All of the mainstream media were calling us out-of-control kids with dangerous powers that set us apart from humanity. There was even talk about us being not only a different species, but a new order of life. In other words we aren't human and shouldn't have the same rights as everyone else.

The darkness began to fade away as Lightwing made his appearance glowing like a beacon in the sky, the angel of the Lord arriving to save the day. Faerie, Boomer and Ghost landed beside me, and Ace came running up to join us. It was good to have him back in action. We were only missing one. “Where's Shadow Claw,” I asked.

“She's taking it a bit slower into town,” Ghost said. “We thought it would be best for her to get a good whiff of the place with her more advanced senses.”

“Good idea,” I said.

“It was hers,” Boomer told me.

“I'm not surprised. She's very thorough,” I replied.

The man with the little girl came up to us and asked, “Boomer, do you guys have any idea what's going on?”

Boomer turned to the man and I could sense a change in his posture as he went from command mode to public relations mode. “Not yet, Sir. We just got on the scene. What can you tell me has happened?”

He rubbed the back his neck nervously and said, “About an hour ago, it was like something passed in front of the sun and it became night.”

“Has this happened before?” Boomer asked.

The man shook his head and said, “No. But it did in Westchester Center over in New York, just yesterday.”

“Nobody reported it?” I asked.

“The mayor over there thought it was something to do with that neo-human school over on Greymalkin Drive. He figured it was one of those kids. But we're too far away, too isolated.” He looked up at the sky and asked, “Do you think it's the aliens blocking out the sun?”

Boomer followed his gaze to where the sun should be. There was no dark disk, no penumbra to indicate an eclipse, only the star-filled sky above. “I don't know sir, but we intend to find out.” He turned to the rest of us and said, “Spread out. See if you can find any clues as to what's causing this.”

I nodded and began running up and down the streets going in and out of back alleys and yards. I wasn't sure what I was looking for, but I knew I would know it when I saw it. As I was coming out of one particular alley, I heard Shadow Claw's voice over the radio. “Boomer, there's something dead around here.”

“What?” he asked.

“I don't know,” she said. “But it smells like a grave.”

“How would you know what a grave smells like, “I asked.

“Because I visit six of them fairly often,” she said with a low growl. Damn I put my foot in that one. Of course she'd know what a grave smells like. She buried both her parents.

“Sorry,” was all I said into the mic.

“Interesting,” a voice said from behind me.

I spun around to see a boy about our age. He was tall, lean and with well defined muscles. He was also very pale and he had red eyes that glowed like two coals in the darkness. He was wearing black button down under gray jacket, and a pair of white jeans. His watch was one of those new watch-phones- very high end, and tech savvy. “That was one transformation I hadn't considered.” He raised and arm and sniffed, “Do I really smell like a grave?”

“Who are you?” I asked carefully as I touched a stud on my belt to broadcast my side of the conversation to the whole team.

He smiled and I couldn't help but notice the sharp fangs from his mouth. They weren't too different from my own, but for some reason they looked at lot more menacing on him. He sighed and said, “I've thought long and hard about that. I haven't registered a code-name. I'm supposed to be dead, actually I am dead- or at least undead- so I never bothered to register. I guess if I were to register one, I'd register Blood-fire- with apologies to David Gerold of course.” He stopped to think about what he was saying and shook his head, before correcting himself, “Or was that Blood and Fire? I'm not sure. I've been sort of busy to be able to keep up with my favorite fandoms.”

I looked around, gestured at the sky and asked, “Did you do this?”

He nodded and said, “Yeah. Neat isn't it. I'm still learning to control it though.”

“Control what?” I asked.

“Magic,” he said.

“Magic isn't real I said. There are neo-human powers, and there are psionics, but nobody has ever been able to make the most basic of spell work work. Not before the Burstout Event and not after it,” I told him.

“Really?” he asked. “I'll have to keep that in mind the next time I cast a spell.”

“Who are you?” I asked again.

“I already told you, Bloodfire,” he said. Then as if realizing what I was asking, he said, “Oh you mean my real name.” He shrugged and said, “I guess it's only fair that I tell you my real name. After all, I already know that you're Partrick Mattison.”

“Jimmy?” Boomer's voice sounded incredulous from above us. “They told me you were dead.”

“They were right, Brian,” he replied. “It's been a long time.”

Boomer landed next to me. He had a very confused look on his face. “I went looking for you when I came home on break.”

“Me?” Bloodfire asked. “Why?”

“Because I felt bad about what happened with Kaye. I felt bad because you didn't seem to have many friends. I wanted to be one for you.”

Boomer's words seem to hit the other guy like a sledge hammer. “Really?” he asked softly. “You know, I felt bad when I found out they released your secret ID. I mean how could you have a normal life without a secret id?”

“What happened Jimmy?” Boomer asked.

The guy shrugged and said, “I died- I think. I know I when I woke up I was in a grave. The sun burned me, Brian. It burned me bad. It took..., well it took my innocence to heal it.” There was an almost pleading to his voice at times. I wasn't sure this guy was all there upstairs.

“Is that why you blacked out the sun?” Shadow Claw asked stepping out of the shadows from behind him.

He spun around, surprised that she'd managed to sneak up on him. I watched him swallow at the sight of our neko. There was something in his eyes that told me that his interest in Shadow Claw was a bit more than I expected. “Shadow Claw,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper.

“Not Rowan?” I asked.

He turned back and said, “He, uh.. she.. uh... Shadow Claw hasn't given me permission to use her personal name.” Interesting that he was confused about the first pronoun but not the second.

“You called me Patrick,” I protested gently.

He shook his head and said, “No. I said your name was Patrick but I didn't address you as such.”

“And you called Boomer Brian,” Shadow Claw said.

“He was Brian to me before he was Boomer to you,” he said. Then turning to Boomer he said, “But if you prefer Boomer...,”

Boomer shook his head and said, “No, no, we're friends here, Jimmy. At least I hope we're friends.”

“I don't want to fight you,” he said. “And I haven't hurt anybody.” I could almost hear a this time at the end of that sentence.

Boomer shook his head and said, “No. No, you haven't. But you've scared a lot of people. Why did you make it night?”

The other boy blushed and said, “Because I had some business to take care of in town, something I couldn't wait until dark to do. I didn't really have much choice in the matter. I didn't mean to scare anyone, but I guess I probably did.”

“What about in Westchester Center?” I asked.

He turned and looked at me and said, “I was experimenting. I needed to know if I could do it.” Then shrugging, he added, “Plus I had business there.”

“What kind of business?” Shadow Claw asked.

He turned to look at her and seemed to consider his answer. Suddenly he stopped and turned to face the shadows. “Please don't do that Faerie. I know when someone is trying to read my mind.”

Faerie and Ghost fluttered out of the shadows on the side. Then turning to Boomer he said, I take it Lightwing and Ace are coming from the North?”

Boomer considered his options before nodding. “Yes, at least Ace is. Lightwing would probably give himself away before he got here.”

Bloodfire shook his head and said, “I don't want to fight you, Brian.”

“We don't want to fight either Jimmy. But I didn't know who you were, or what you were doing. I was deploying my forces the best way to contain what might have been a threat. So far, you haven't broken any laws or hurt anybody. If you want to walk away, I'll let you walk,” Boomer said.

He looked over at Ghost and asked, “His idea?”

Brian narrowed his eyes at Jimmy and asked, “Are you reading our minds?”

Jimmy laughed and said, “No. I just recognize the relationship.”

“Relationship?” Faerie asked. “You and Ghost have a relationship?”

Jimmy chuckled and said, “Not that kind of relationship.” He stopped and looked at both of them before saying, “It's classic. Boomer is in command, but Ghost is his good right hand. His second in command- the Spock to his Kirk.”

“Now that's not a connection I'd make,” Ace said dropping down from the roof of a nearby garage.

Boomer shot him a glance that I knew meant, back off. “Jimmy would though,” he said. “And there's nothing wrong with it.” He was daring anybody to contradict him.

The boy just shrugged. “So I'm free to go?” he asked.

“If you want,” Boomer said. “I would like to talk to you. Find out more about what's going on. I'd like to know why you say what you're doing is magic. I also would like to help you. I know Doctor Blair had a scholarship for you when he found out you went through an eruption.

Bloodfire did a double take. “Why me?”

“Because he thought he could help you learn to use your powers,” Brian said.

Bloodfire shook his head and said, “Maybe then, he could have. If I'd survived it possibly. But I didn't. I died. I came back.” He leveled his hot eyes at Brian and said, “You know what that means.”

“You don't sparkle,” Ace said.

Faerie and Bloodfire both looked at him and and said a sarcastic, “P-lease.” Then as if realizing they'd had the same reaction, both laughed.

“No, but I drink human blood. The sun burns me- badly.” He subconsciously rubbed the side of his face. “I can take the form of a mist, a bat, or a wolf. I can mesmerize people, especially people from whom I've drank, and I can kiss the wound away. I also don't cast any reflection.”

“How about holy symbols?” Faerie asked touching the small hammer she wore around her neck.

Bloodfire shrugged and said, “So far, no effect. But I can't say I've met someone with true faith.”

“Want to find out?” she asked.

“I”ll pass,” he said.

“It might be good to know in the future,” she said.

“I've entered a Church,” he said. “It didn't bother me.”

“What about the darkness?” Ace asked.

“It's magic. It's a spell I found in a book. I cast it, and it worked,” Bloodfire said.

“Okay,” Faerie said starting to pace absently. “Let's say it really is magic.”

“Faerie?” Ace asked.

“Look, we fought a frost giant and a giant werewolf that I killed with a silver blade. I won't dismiss the idea that magic on some level has started to work just because it hasn't in the past. Something is changing. You weren't at my house for Winterfinding. You didn't feel what we felt.”

“I don't know about that,” Bloodfire said. “I just know that several spells I've tried have worked remarkably well.”

“Do you think it would work for anybody?” I asked playing along with Faerie's thought experiment.

“I don't think so,” Bloodfire said. “My sis.., uh someone I know tried the same spell and it didn't work.”

“Is this the only spell you've tried?” Shadow Claw asked.

He shook his head and said, “No. I've tried others. I've used a couple of spells for fast travel, and a few enchantments.” He blushed and said, “I've even been to where your school is- or at least to that nearby town: Bath. I was a bit surprised to find that the Civilian Defense Force had a base there.”

“I didn't know that,” Boomer said in surprise.

Bloodfire nodded his head and said, “Well they do. They got a visit day before yesterday from some guy who brought them some new equipment.”

“New equipment?” I asked.

Bloodfire shrugged and said, “Yeah. Some new utility belts.”

“Jimmy?” Brian asked. “What were you doing in Bath?”

Bloodfire glanced over at Shadow Claw and blushed deeply. Then catching himself he turned his eyes back to Brian. “I just wanted to see about something.”

Shadow Claw smiled slightly. Stepping forward she put a hand on Bloodfire's shoulder and said, “You know I'm in a relationship, don't you?”

Bloodfire looked down at the hand and then back to Shadow Claw and smiled wanly. “I do now.” He glanced over at Faerie and Ghost.

Brian looked over at Bloodfire and then the rest of the team. “Guys give Jimmy and me a minute along please.”

“Do you think that's a good idea, Boomer?” Ace asked.

Surprisingly it was Ghost who said, “He wouldn't have suggested it if it wasn't, Ace. I agree with him.”

Ace shrugged and we all stepped down the alley to give them some privacy. Of course with mine, Ace's and Shadow Claw's hearing, privacy was a relative term. But the two talked for nearly half an hour. The rest of us were silent, the whole time, letting our leader do what he did best. In the end, Boomer gave Bloodfire something from his utility belt, they shook hands and Boomer walked down the alley to us and said, “Let's go guys.”

“That's it?” I asked.

“The darkness is going to dissipate in about ten minutes, and he's not going to do it again,” Boomer said.

“We're not going to take an unregistered neo-human back to the school with us?” I asked.

Boomer shook his head and said, “No. And we're not going to mention this to anybody who doesn't have a need to know. We've got enough of a problem brewing in Bath.”

“What?” I asked.

Boomer looked over at Faerie and said, “Werewolves.”

Posts: 1965
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 6:56 am
Location: Russell, KY

Re: Cadre 5:

Post by cobalt-blue » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:34 am

EARENDIL aka Eric North

We were all on pins and needles when Cadre 5 got called out on a mission. We'd watched them deal with the mess in Huntington and were catching all kinds of fallout over it. There were just some people who would rather see the bad guys destroy an entire city than let someone other than the government handle the situation. I don't know, maybe it's because I was born and raised in Barrow, Alaska and we sort of are a take care of it yourself kind of breed, but I don't like this idea of turning all our problems over to Uncle Sam and expect him to fix it. My dad always said that if you want something done right, do it yourself, otherwise don't complain if it's not the way you want it.

As for our team, we were slowly coming together. Conrad had been grounded from any more missions until he took his mask off around the team. Doctors North- no relation- and Chapel had finally put their foot down after he froze up in a training exercise when his mask was removed.

I got a pretty good look at his face. No it's not human looking, but it's not repugnant or stomach turning either. Actually he kind of reminds me of a cross between a spider and that alien in the predator movies. Naja has seen him without his mask. I have it on good authority that she's seen him without anything if you know what I mean. But he's got to learn to trust us not to reject him.

Kevin is giving me a lot of grief about my dating Thumper. Hey, he moved too slow, and Tamara's a nice girl. We like to spend time together- and as to what we do together. Well my dad always told me that a gentleman doesn't kiss and tell. I think that after he returned, Michael McAllister and Amber went out a few times. It didn't work out between them though. Amber's not the kind of girl who's willing to be a notch on somebody's bed post- even if they are the famous Ace from Cadre 5.

But we were all waiting for something to come out of the area of darkness where Cadre 5 disappeared. We were on standby in case they needed their butts rescued and for the most part not trying to think about what we'd do if we had to go in without Webs. We may give him six different kinds of hell, but he was still a teammate, and he was still one hell of a guy to have in a fight.

Ms. Lakota got the call after Cadre 5 was on their way back. They were all closed mouth about what had happened and said they would not discuss it until they got back to the school. That told me it was something personal. It was well past sundown when the telephone rang. Ms. Lokata listened carefully to the person on the other end of the phone and nodded. “We're headed that way.”

“What's up Ms. L?” Protea asked.

“They just finished fueling the standby helicopter. There's something going on in Bath. There's rioting in the streets, the sheriff has asked for our help,” she said.

“What kind of rioting?” Thumper asked. Of course she'd be worried. Her family lived there. At least her grandmother, her aunt, and her uncle do.

“We're not sure, but it has the sheriff spooked enough to ask for our help,” she replied. Then turning to Connie she asked him, “You're still grounded. You'll be staying here.”

I didn't have to see is face under the mask to know that he was not happy with that. He was hoping against hope that they'd still clear him for an emergency. It was Protea who spoke up. “Make up your mind quick, Webs. People's lives are on the line.”

That seemed to hit him full in the gut. He shook his head, reached up and peeled the mask from his face. Like I said, he wasn't repulsive looking just alien. There was a strange beauty to his features that wasn't disgusting at all. It was like I said, just different- alien. “You win,” he said defeated.

Protea didn't even look to Ms. L for confirmation. She just said, “Get your butt on the chopper. We've got people to save.” I know I was relieved to have him going with us. It didn't seem like a team without his quiet advice. One thing I've come to count on Webs for is his strong moral compass that always seems to point to what is right.

The flight was over almost as quickly as we took off. It was literally just a quick five miles away, but it would have taken far longer on the roads than by helicopter. As soon as we were in the air we could already see the fires burning in the town. In the distance, on the other side of town we could see a castle that looked down on the sleepy little town. According to Tamara it was a built in the latter half of the nineteenth century and was something of a local landmark. I would certainly hope so. At least it wasn't burning.

The rest of the town however was a different story. Both the middle school and the intermediate schools were on fire. I bet the kids weren't going to complain about that. Most of the lights were out in the town itself, and only the twin spots of various headlights, the occasional flashing of emergency lights, and the fires lit anything in the valley.

The chopper set us down down in a broad intersection between Independence Street and North Washington. On the corner was one of those old fashioned town buildings that straddled the corner, taking up parts of both street facings. There was the Blush N Stuff on one side of the building and Hollyweird Video on the other. Across the street was a bank, and houses were on either side. The service lines running on both sides of the street, and there was a vehicle fire in the parking lot of the bank.

As the chopper took off, Thumper looked around and asked, “What the hell happened here?”

Protea shook her head and said, “I don't know, but look sharp people. We don't want to be taken by surprise. With our luck we'll turn a corner and find a horde of zombies or something. Earendil and I will fly cover, the rest of you spread out.” Hey, she got my name right.

I rose into the air and activated my force-field. The soft glow it gave off gave us a bit more light to see by, even if it did have a blue tinge to it. “Northeast or Southwest?” I asked checking my compass.

Protea gave me her best Jethro Gibbs look and pointed up the street to the north and said, “That way.”

I smiled and told her, “Got it boss.”

I drifted along just in front of the team generating a long beam of light forward to light the road. Protea was behind me and directly above the rest of the team. She had ignited the air around her to burn and spread some of the visibility in the other directions.

I guess I should have been paying more attention. As we passed a two story clapboard house, suddenly something came charging out of the space between the house and the little grocer next to it and slammed into me. More accurately it slammed into my force-field and I felt it begin to buckle under the force of the blow.

The momentum carried me out across the parking lot of the bank and into a small copse of trees on the other side. I watched as Webs shot two strands of is webbing at me. It hit the force-field and slid off, not being able to gain a purchase. I hit the ground hard and the field buckled completely as I looked up into the insane brown eyes of a half man half wolf. His breath smelled nasty, like he'd been eating his own waste or something.

Other tall dark forms were in the copse with me. Without a thought, I snapped the force-field up tight again just as a second blow hit me from the side. I used that momentum and rolled to my feet to realize that I was surrounded by five or six other creatures like the one that had hit me. I suddenly understood what had happened. They were pack hunters, and since I was slightly ahead of my teammates, I was “cut” from the group to be taken down. Well I don't go down quite so easy.

I came up swinging. I let loose with a thousand tiny daggers of light in every direction. To add a bit of a personal flair I arranged them in the form of an expanding rose. It worked a hell of a lot better in that anime where I got the idea than it did in real life. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Not a single one of them penetrated. Crap on a cracker. I forgot my basic physics. Force equals velocity times mass. Lots of velocity with the mass spread out into smaller forms does considerably less damage than the same velocity with all that mass concentrated. That's the last time I'll take an idea from a television show.

Another blow hit me from behind, and part of it got through my force-field. I felt a claw rake the back of my head. Instead of slamming into the waiting claws and teeth of the wolf-man that was in front of me, I hit the ground rolling and passed right between his legs to the outside of the pack.

Coming to my feet, I launched myself into the air as a I felt a clawed hand close around the force-field at my ankle. I pulled as hard as I could, but he had me. Damn these things were fast. With a heave, he swung me around like a sack of potatoes, and directly into the claws of one of his packmates.

“Rabbit Combo-kick!” Thumper screamed as she came flying into the clearing feet first. In a single bound she was in front of the wolf toward which I was flying. A snap kick to the groin and he bent over over in pain. A roundhouse kick to the side of the head and he started slumping forward. The spinning back took his head clean off off his shoulders and sent it flying backwards into the woods. Damn my girlfriend was impressive. We just had to break her of the habit of screaming out her attack when she went into combat. But right now I wasn't complaining.

I sailed over the wolfman and right into the limbs of one of those damnedable sewer trees. I don't know what they're really called- some kind of pear tree I think. But when they start blooming they smell like an open sewer. A friend of mine calls them something else, but I don't have as much experience with other guys' semen as he does.

As I pulled myself out of the tree, the rest of the team came flowing into the fight. The pack tried to break apart, to circle us again but the rest of the team spread out and engaged them. I watched as Psi-Claw telekinetically lifted one of them off the ground. Then with a look of concentration, he began to pull it apart limb by limb.

Protea hit the one who'd tossed me with a flame bolt. He went up like he'd been soaked in gasoline. She just hovered there, concentrating on the form as it was slowly reduced to ashes. Something had seriously pissed her off.

It was Webs though that surprised me. He came striding in on his four insect legs and grabbed one of the wolf-men. It lunged in at his face trying to bite him. In a move that I absolutely couldn't believe, he shoved his fist into the creature's maw and down his throat. I know he was bullet proof and all, but sticking his hand in the wolf's mouth was going a bit far. The last person I heard about doing that lost his hand.

Then to all of our surprise, Webs body broke apart into thousands of tiny spiders that suddenly started pouring down the wolf-man's throat. They flowed from the wrist and arm, up his body until nothing was left. The wolf man tried to howl but only made a gurgling sound as as the spiders flowed down his throat and into his body. Suddenly he began to convulse, and then his skin began to crawl off his muscles and bones. We all stared in horror as the spiders tore him apart from the inside out. As the skin collapsed inward, the spiders began to flow out of the terminus of the wolf's digestive tract. Off to the side I heard Psi-Claw lose his lunch.

I landed next to Thumper and said, “Thanks.”

She grinned, and yes it was a bit buck-toothed- and said, “Just taking care of my investment. Are you okay? Did they bite you?”

I shook my head and said, “No.”

“You're bleeding,” she replied reaching a hand up to the back of my head and pulling it away bloody.

“They hit harder than they look,” I told her. “That was a claw not a bite.” Then with a smile I said, “Besides, it's already healing.”

I looked up to where Protea was carefully approaching a wobbly Webs. He looked around at all of us and then said sheepishly, “I guess he disagreed with something that ate him.”

“Webs! Don't!” Psi-Claw protested wiping his face.

Webs just shrugged and turned to me. “I didn't know my webs wouldn't stick to your force-field.”

I shrugged and replied, “Neither did I.” Then looking around, I said, “Thanks for the assist.”

“It's what a team does,” Protea replied. Then looking again at Webs she asked, “You sure you're okay?”

Webs nodded. Looking over at Psi-Claw he said, “I just feel a little full.” Then he burped and we all started giggling. We couldn't help it. The adrenaline, the stress, and the strangeness of the night were getting to us.

After a few moments we were all able to pull ourselves together and head back into the town. What we found there made our blood run cold. There were lots of bodies in the houses, and the streets. All had been ripped to shreds. Some had been violated in other ways. The wolves had cut a path through the little town that was totally devastating. What they didn't violate, they killed. What they they couldn't smash they set afire. It was as if it was some kind of wilding night.

About a block down the street, suddenly Thumper said, “Oh no! Mamaw!” Then she took off in ground-devouring leaps to where a late model Chevy was crashed into the side of a house. The top of the car had bee peeled back and one of the doors was ripped off its hinges. From here I could see specks of blood on the inside of the windows.

Thumper landed next to the car and stuck her head inside. By the time the rest of us got there, she was sitting on the ground, her back against the side, crying and pounding her fists into the curb. I smelled it long before I got there. It smelled like a human feces. I looked in the car to see a what was left of a woman in her mid fifties. She'd been literally ripped in half, and it looked like something had been eating at her. Most of the major organs were gone as were huge chunks of her thighs and arms.

I climbed out of the car and squatted down next to her. I had no words. I had no experience with this kind of things. Nobody I ever knew had died. Nobody I ever knew had had anyone close to them die. I reached out tentatively and touched her shoulder. Suddenly she was in my arms, crying uncontrollably as the others arrived. I gently patted her on the back as I looked up to Protea and the others helplessly.

Protea looked over at Psi-Claw and asked, “Was it the same wolves?”

I watched as the tiger-boy started sniffing around the car. Once he crinkled up his nose in disgust before turning back to our leader and nodding. “Yeah. Six wolves are all I've smelled so far.”

“How many wolves did we kill?” I asked.

“Counting the two that attacked us after you were taken into the woods,” she said. “Six.”

Webs looked around the town, and asked, “Just six wolves did all this damage?”

“They're normals,” Protea said. “Those wolves packed enough punch to hurl Earendil sixty yards into the woods. I saw his force-field crack under the force. They were strong. Just look at what they did to this car.”

I nodded as Thumper pulled away from me. She looked around, her tall ears seeming to take in all of the sounds. “There are still people hurt. We have a job to do.”

“Thumper,” I said. “You don't have...”

She smiled at me and touched the side of my face. “I need to, Eric.”

I didn't say anything about her breaking protocol and using my real name. Protea looked at me and then at her. “Thumper, why don't you come with me. We'll go help the emergency services get a base of operations and triage set up. These three can spread out and bring them to it.”

Thumper nodded. I knew she needed to work, to get through the night. She would break down later. She would grieve later, and I would be there for her. But for now, we were who these people were counting on to rescue them.

And we did. It took most of the night too. Sometime well after midnight we managed to finally scour most of the town. What we slowly pieced together was frightening. The government had not pulled all of its CDF forces out of Bath in order to keep an eye on us. They left just a half dozen agents in town who were there to make sure we didn't get out of line. Sometime right after sundown something happened in that base. Something turned all four men and two women into hulking anthropomorphic wolves that tore this town to pieces.

It was about three or four a.m. when an argument between an EMT and a patient caught my attention. “Please sit still sir while I try to get a pulse,” the EMT was saying.

“I'm alright, I tell you,” the guy who was trying sit up said.

“Sir, just a second ago, I could have sworn you were dead. You've had a huge shock. Let me check you out,” the EMT said.

I walked over to where the EMT and the guy were arguing. I said, “Sir, he's just trying to do his job. Give him a moment and then we can see about clearing out the bed space for someone who needs it.”

The EMT looked up at me and then indicated where the man was lying. There was a small sea of bloody sheet covered forms lying in neat rows on the ground. This guy wasn't taking up any space that we wanted to fill again. Returning to checking the man's vitals, the EMT seemed to become more and more frustrated. He tapped his stethoscope tried again. Finally he sat back and said, “Sir, I think you need to go to the hospital.”

The patient looked at him strangely and asked, “Why? I feel fine.”

The EMT said, first of all because you had a nasty bite wound on your wrist, and secondly because I can't seem to find any indication that you're even alive.” He pulled out one of those new thermometers and placed it in the man's ear. It sat there for a while and never beeped. He reached up and touched the man's forehead, and then pulled back.

The patient looked down at his wrist and said, “What do you mean a bite on my wrist?” I looked at the bloodstained skin of his lower arm. It was smooth and unbroken.

The EMT continued his examination. Pulling out a tongue depressor, he asked the man, “Open your mouth, please.”

The man gave him an annoyed look but complied. That was when we noticed the man's canines slowly elongate and extend down to form a set of fangs like out of a bad vampire movie. The EMT sat back on his haunches suddenly. The man's eyes suddenly became like hot coals. He looked at me and then faded away into smoke. “What the hell?!” the EMT said.

“I think hell is right, sir,” I told him. “I think it's exactly right.”

'Thena aboard the starship Astrapi

“We've been played, 'Thena,” Ari said as I stepped onto the bridge of the starship.

“By who?” I asked.

“Looks like the Ahau, and maybe even the Ennead,” he replied as he watched the holotank. I could see an above the elliptical plane view of the Sol system. Sol was currently between us and the Earth, and all the other starships were still packed around us. We could see the Ahau ship braking into the system from above the galactic plane. The problem however was a small fast moving object heading directly for Earth from the other side of the system.

“What is that?” I asked.

“An Ahau fast interceptor. They just hit the Earth's atmosphere with some kind of torpedo,” he said.

My heart sank and I asked, “What kind of torpedo?”

Ari shook his head and said, “We don't know. It hasn't detonated.”

“Where did it hit?” I asked.

“Where do you think?”

“The Yucatan.” I said. Of course they'd hit their former stronghold; especially if that torpedo contained what I think it did. I looked at Ari and asked, “They couldn't wait and get the information from us and the Fyroar?”

“Are you kidding. The only galactic powers they dislike more than us and the Fyroar are the Elim. They have a special place of hate in their hearts for the Hosts of Shaddai.” He shook his head and said, “They're not interested in sharing the secret of creating Primals. They want a galactic war pitting the Ayoda against the Elim.”

“They'll see us all destroyed,” I protested.

“Have you ever known the Ahau to care? With the exception of the Ennead, they've been ripping out the hearts of any non Ahau that come into their space. They are the same blood thirsty savages they always were,” Ari told me.

“What do we do?”

“I'm not sure. Right now according to my sources among the Ennead, they are demanding the name of the Fyroar agent on Earth,” he said. “I think they intend to murder her.”

“You know who it is?” I asked.

He nodded and said. “Yes. I think that would be a very bad idea. Killing her would set the Fyroar off into a bloody rage. They might go through the Ennead to wipe every Ahau man woman and child from the five galaxies.”

“Have they lost the last bit of reason they might have?” I asked. “They'd set off a war that would destroy whole civilizations.”

Ari laughed and said, “They make war like you accuse me of; mindless battle, chaos and destruction.” He sighed and said, “But you're right. It would be a bad idea. I've quietly informed Prince Donner of what I know. They in turn are moving to counter the Ahau's next plan. If Donner's plan works, then our little upstart Primals may very well solve both the Ahau and Ennead problem for us.”

Dr. Lovecraft
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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by Dr. Lovecraft » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:30 pm

This is great! I'm psyched to finally find out what Webs looks like without his helmet (and transforming into thousands of spiders - Creepy!). :mrgreen:

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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by cobalt-blue » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:47 am

Issue Y2-12 A God Among Us!
SHADOW CLAW aka Rowan Croften-Blake

It was a bit unnerving to discover that someone had obsessed over me enough to actually visit Bath to get a good look at me. What was worse was that there was no way to describe him except as a vampire. Probably the only thing that kept the major ich factor away was that the guy was the one from Brian's old school and someone he knew. It was something that I thought about all they way back to the school.

When we got back we found that Cadre Aleph was in Bath dealing with some riots, and reports of werewolves. Well that fit Brian's warning. I'm not sure what Jimmy had told him, but it was definitely enough to make him take the warning seriously. Too bad we didn't get back in time to warn the town.

I don't know what it was, but something in the world had changed. Never before had there been any neo-human, nor any neo-power that couldn't be explained through science. Never had there been anything even remotely resembling magic. Yeah, sure the effects could be described as magic, but there was always an underlying physiological explanation. The muscle fibers in my body were stronger and more dense, by bones were honeycombed with an unknown mineral that made me stronger. There were thousands of times more scent receptors in my nose than a baseline human, and my ears were better designed to hear smaller noises and higher and lower ranges. Kenna's psionics were an active part of her brain that was dormant in most humans, and was amplified by her antennae. There were extra organs in her body that allowed her shrink herself, and generate a field that could affect objects. We didn't understand how they worked but we knew they were the physiological source of her powers. It was the same for all of us.

But this thing with Jimmy, suggested something had changed the rules. I know the scent of a dead body. Jimmy was dead. He had no heartbeat, his body temperature was that of surrounding air. He wasn't breathing. Now the other stuff, where he cold cast spells, I don't know about. But I know a corpse when I see one, and Jimmy was a corpse. I shuddered at the thought of him watching me. Brian and I were going to have to have a talk about that.

Then there was the werewolf in Huntington. Granted if you stick a knife through just about anything's eye and into its brain, it'll kill it. But nothing else the rest of the team was doing seemed to affect it- except Speedfire's fire which in itself was one of the vulnerabilities of a werewolf. Now according to Brian the leader of that little group had given the CDF facility in Bath several belts that would allow them to transform into werewolves. From what Cadre Aleph recovered, the belts weren't any kind of holographic projector, but were simple belts lined with wolf fur. There were no enzymes on them, and if the CDF wasn't already vulnerable to becoming a neo then a mutagen should have had no effect on them.

All of these thoughts were racing through my head as I sat down with the plans the architect had sent me. Again, I could see where Heather had signed off on them, but her scent was barely there. I'd swear she'd signed the top page and left it alone. There were no notes, no annotations, just her signature. She didn't even care.

I sighed, signed my part and put them back in the envelope to mail. I stripped, got my shower, changed into some comfortable sweats and dropped down into the comfortable lounge I'd bought and curled up with the first in a series of adventures stories called The Feline Factor. I had just long enough to find out that the hero was some kind of weretiger sent back in time before the alert sounded summoning us to the Command Center.

Shaking my head, I grabbed my uniform, pulled it on and headed out. I was met in the hall by the rest of the team, all except Speedfire were still pulling on their boots and gloves. “It's five in the morning,” Ace said. “Can't evil at least wait until after breakfast?”

“Come on, Ace,” I said. “What's the fun in that?”

He glowered at me and said, “Some of us need more sleep than just a few hours a week, Rowan.”

I grinned and headed toward the elevator. “Come on, you can sleep when you're dead.” Damn in hindsight I wish I hadn't said that.

What surprised me the most was that when we all came barreling into the Command Center it was already full with Cadre Aleph, Mr. Waterford, Ms. Lakota, Doctor's Chapel and North, and a man I did not recognize, but who if it were not for the well trimmed blond goatee, he would have had government agent written all over him. He was tall and thin with blond hair and blue eyes and wearing a black featureless business suit that reminded me of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

I looked up to the monitor screens and my heart skipped a beat. There was a live feed from what the Washington area showing various buildings in rubble and flames. There were these giant walker-like robots all over the place, blasting buildings, cars, and whatever military resistance was being put up. I could see several downed helicopters and aircraft.

“Shadow Claw,” Speedfire nudged me. “Look at the bottom right hand monitor.”

I turned to see the feed and my heart stopped. One of the buildings they were showing as a pile of smoldering rubble was my home in Manassas. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. Heather was supposed to have been home tonight. I felt my blood run cold as I stared at the damage.

I don't know how long I sat there seeing red, trying to feel something other than numb. Finally, Brian shook me and asked, “Rowan! Did you hear?”

I shook my head and realized that I'd completely blanked out. “That's my house,” I said softly.

I felt him pull me into a hug, he whispered into the side of my head, “I know. You have to work past that. There are emergency personnel there now. They'll find her.”

“That's my house,” I protested again.

“I need you to snap out of it,” he said pulling away. “We've got work to do.”

“What?” I asked looking back at the other screens. It was total devastation. Where ever the walkers went, they destroyed buildings, people, vehicles. I could see Neo-Force 1 and Cadre 4 were on the scene. They were helping, but there were just too damn many of them. They were swarming all over the place. Lady Lightning's electrical blasts were of limited use to the obviously hardened defenses of the walkers.

I looked around and realized that everyone in the room was looking at me. I shook my head and said, “I'm sorry. What were you saying.”

“It's okay Ms. Croften-Blake,” the stranger said. “I can understand what it must feel like to see your home devastated.”

“Tell me about it,” Brian replied next to me. Of course he would understand. His home was blown up just a little more than a year ago.

“My name is Robert Killpatrick. I'm here to try and give you some information about what's really going on and some assistance in dealing with it.”

“How do you know what's going on, Mr. Killpatrick?” Faerie asked as sparks arced between her antennae.

“Because I'm the one responsible for the original Burstout Event back in the nineties,” he said, shocking us all.

“What do you mean?” Doctor Chapel asked.

“I mean that the whole genesis of the neo-human event was me recreating the attempts of the Elderkin in the distant past to uplift humanity to a status greater than mortal,” he said carefully.

“What do you mean by Eldkerkin?” Faerie demanded. The word had set off an excited series of sparks between her antennae.

Killpatrick looked at her and said, “The inclusion of one of the faithful was not planned, Ms. Draupnir but has been a welcomed bonus to my work.”

“What do you mean by Elderkin, Mr. Killpatrick?” Faerie demanded again, the dagger she used to kill the werewolf with in Huntington suddenly growing in her hand.

“Exactly what you think it means Ms. Draupnir. The Elderkin, the progenitors of the Nordic peoples, the beings you know as the Aesir and the Vanir. The Norse Gods,” he said. His body seemed to shimmer for a moment. He grew taller and thinner. His ears elongated, and he took on something of a regal bearing.

“You're an alf! Kenna accused.

“Ljolalfar to be exact, Ms. Draupnir. I was a body servant of the Lord,” he replied.

“This all is interesting, but why are we talking about Norse mythology while there are aliens destroying Washington DC?” Boomer demanded.

“Because the aliens are direct servants of a group of Meso-American Primals who are trying to draw you out so they can kill the Elderkin here on Midgarth,” he said. He turned and looked at Doctor North and said, “My Lady?”

Our doctor began to shift subtly. Her weight changed as she took on a much more motherly body shape. Her hair lengthened to golden locks and her eyes became impossibly blue. “I am Nerthus of the V'nir. I have been observing the one known as Robert Killpatrick's work on the Grand Experiment.” The force of her personality hit us like a sledge hammer.

Kenna did something I thought I'd never in my life see her do. She dropped to one knee and bowed her head. “My Lady,” she said. I knew she felt this was true. It was the only thing that made sense to her considering all that she'd told us she'd sensed in each of our conflicts. The giant we fought speaking in Old Norse, and being Jotun. The werewolf we fought. The aliens who spoke a variation of ancient Greek.

The woman calling herself Nerthus smiled and said, “Rise little one. Know that we are well pleased with your family's and your service. We were barely aware that our worship had returned to this world. It gives us hope in the coming battles.”

“This is all well and good,” Protea said. “But the rest of us would like to know what's going on.” This is the first I remember of her or any of Cadre Aleph speaking since we entered the room. But then again, I was sort of out of it for a few moments.

That thought coming unbidden to my mind, I crushed it savagely. There was too much to do. There would be time for grieving later. I reached out and put an arm around Sawyer and Kenna when Brian asked, “What IS going on?”

The Goddess in front of us frowned and said, “This cycle's Ragnarok, I'd say.”

Kenna made a small little sound. “The death of the Gods?”

“Armageddon?” Sawyer asked.

“And our rebirth,” Nerthus said. “We cannot truly die except at the hands of one of our own kind. It is simply the closing of this cycle and the beginning of the next. The last one was the rise in power of the Elim, the one you call Yahweh. His forces slowly drove all of the old Gods from the world so that only he and Ayoda were left in dominance.”

“Ayoda?” I asked.

“Hindi,” Kenna said.

Again the Goddess smiled gently and said, “Yes, the Hindi. We have ever been their friends and allies. But the Five Galaxies were not meant to be ruled by only two superpowers. Look at what's happening in your own world now. People are falling away from faith in general because of the conflicts created by His followers whether they be his first people, the followers of Yeshua, or those dedicated to His mad prophet that has brought so much misery to the world.”

“That seems hardly fair,” Ms. Lakota said.

“Say what you will, Ms. Lakota, but wherever the followers of Yahweh's last prophet go, they bring war, misery, and slavery. It is not a fit religion for free men and women,” Kenna said.

Nerthus only smiled at her. Then turning to the rest of the room she said, “The Ahau have come to cause destruction. They venerate the Coyote of your world. They are mischief makers. In the Five Galaxies they are client state to the Ennead, used to stir trouble for other powers.”

“Oh great, there's a galactic version of North Korea,” Sawyer said.

Raising an eyebrow, Nerthus said, “An apt comparison. But far more deadly. They have launched some kind of torpedo into the Earth's atmosphere. We believe that it's broad spectrum mutagen. As it builds in the atmosphere, it will recreate the Burstout Event, but this time it will not target only those descended from our experiments. It will target any person descended from the experiments of any of the Great Powers. It will be so broad based that it will not only return the heroes like yourselves, but the sports and monsters.”

“Like werewolves?” I asked.

To my surprise, she shook her head. “No. Those as well as the undead, the witches, and wizards are part of what we call the Talent Prime- something that is held by a single human on this planet at this time. If it breaks loose then the world will truly be changed. Magic will once again become real,” she told us. “But it will mean the return of monsters such as dragons, the kraken, and even some of the combined races that the Theoi played with.”

“Wonderful,” I said. “We'll be less of a superhero team and more of a Godzilla Force.”

Nerthus gave me a startled look and asked, “Even after all this you would still stand between humanity and those that would the free enchain?”

I looked around at the rest of the team. Each nodded to me and turned to Brian who said, “We will do our job to the end.”

With a delighted smile she turned to Mr. Killpatrick and said, “You have truly chosen well, servant of my son.”

Something seemed to click in Kenna's eyes. She asked, “Your son? You really are both Nerthus and Njord?”

Nerthus laughed and said, “No dear one. I did not transform into my brother. We are twins, much like our children are. Much like you and your brother are.”

“Wow,” Kenna said. “But I'm not doing that with my brother.”

“Understood,” Nerthus said. “This is a different time, with different mores. Besides, you already have your consorts. There is no need.”

“What about these Ahau, and their bomb?” Boomer asked. “How can we stop them?”

“There are more problems than just their bomb, Boomer. We've received that information that aboard their starship they have a planet cracker. It's designed to drill a hole to the planetary core and let the world tear itself apart. The force on the ground is only a distraction- and an attempt to draw out the Mother of the Earth,” Killpatrick said.

“Why would they do that?” I asked. “It doesn't make sense.”

“They would rather see this world destroyed and an intergalactic war sparked than for you to become what I have designed you to become,” the alf said with more than a bit of pride.

“And exactly what is that?” Webs demanded.

“That's not important now,” Nerthus said. “What is important is that you both engage the Ahau and keep them from destroying your capital, and destroy that planet killer weapon.”

“Hence two teams,” Protea said grimly.

“Hence two teams,” Killpatrick replied.

“We'll take the starship. I've always wanted to go to space,” Protea replied. “I am assuming that you have a way to get us there.”

Killpatrick nodded and said, “We do.” Then with a mischievous smile he added, “We even have a way for you to get back.”

“Good,” Earendil replied.

“We'll discuss your mission parameters in a bit,” Killpatrick said, and then turned to our team and said, “You are facing probably the most difficult mission. I can't guarantee that if you are successful that one of the Ahau Primals won't join the fray. If that happens then you will be fighting a God.”

We all exchanged looks. A nod here, an eyebrow raised. Finally it was Sawyer who said, “We fought Fury. We do what we have to do. Anything we should know about how to take out those rejects from a Battletech game?”

Killpatrick smiled and said, “They don't have to worry about overheating. They are designed to be resistant to energy weapons. You aren't going to take them down with lasers or lightning, or fire. They're only slightly less vulnerable to physical damage. But once they're on their back or their side, they can't right themselves easily.”

“How vulnerable are the pilots?” Sawyer asked.

Killpatrick turned to Nerthus and said, “See what I mean. Vicious isn't he?”

“It's a fair question,” Nerthus replied.

“The pilot compartment is a clear plasti-steel canopy with a built in glare defense,” Killpatrick replied.

“What's plasti-steel?” I asked.

“It's a moldable plastic that's strong as steel, not too different from your own ballistic glass, but with far more strength and much lighter,” he told us. I just nodded wondering if I could punch through it.

Brian turned and asked, “Any other questions?”

“How are we going to get there?” Speedfire asked. “I could run ahead, and Lightwing could be there in less than a second, but what about the rest of you?”

“I will take care of that,” Nerthus said. “Anything else?”

“What's the government likely to do when we show up?” I asked.

Killpatrick laughed. “President Panty-waist as Sawyer calls him has already sent in Neo-force 1 even though they were put on administrative stand down. He seems to value his own neck.”

“He's not in Air Force 1?” I asked.

“Anything that gets above a certain altitude in the Washington DC area is being shot down by the Ahau. They dare not send him up,” Killpatrick replied.

Brian turned to the rest of us and said, “Let's go save the President's butt.”

Nerthus smiled and said, “I'll have you there in a second,”

Suddenly the world shifted down, then sideways and back up. The next thing we knew, we were standing in the middle of Dupont Circle facing down three of those blasted walkers.”

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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by McGuffin » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:04 pm

I really liked this issue, the shout-out to Feline Factor was an especially nice touch. I miss that series, I enjoyed it tremendously. Can't wait for more :)
McGuffin's Workshop: Warp, Naga

Why crawl when you can walk? Why walk when you can run? Why run when you can fly?

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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by cobalt-blue » Thu Mar 01, 2012 7:11 am

Issue Y2-13 Battles Above and Below
WEBS aka Conrad Skorzyni

My grandparents- the family that did not desert me when I went through my cold-burn- were liberals in the classic sense. They are card carrying members of the ACLU, and they are activists for Neo-human rights. They are also Holocaust survivors, and devout Jews, as am I. The incident in the mall had me wondering about my own faith. I had bowed down and almost worshiped the aliens who had defended the suicide bombers; who had presented themselves to us as Angels of God. Now here I was fighting at the whim of a Pagan Goddess supposedly to bring about the end of the domination of my own God of this world. Boy were things ***deleted*** up beyond all recognition.

“Where did they go?” Protea asked when Cadre 5 seemed to sink into the floor and then disappear.

“They are where they need to be,” the woman calling herself Nerthus said.

“Is that how we'll get to the starship?” Ellen asked.

She smiled at him and shook her head, “No. That will require a more technologically based transport.”

“How will we know where to go to find the weapon when we get there?” Protea asked.

Killpatrick picked up a briefcase from under the table and said, “I'll show you.” He reached in and pulled out a pair of packs that looked like they were designed to fit onto our utility belts. “Each of these is a one-way transport device. They will fold space to a preprogrammed location. The first one will get you there. When there it will act as a homing device designed to detect the exact energy signature of the planet cracker.”

“The second one?” I asked.

“It's programmed to bring you back to these grounds,” he said. The power required to transport through the Ahau shields however will overload them. You've basically got one trip there and one trip back. Then they're slag.”

“How convenient,” Psi-Claw said. “We get to play with the toys but won't be able reverse engineer them.”

Killpatrick smiled at him and said, “Isn't it though.” That was when it was clear that this man, or alf, or whatever was not going to give away anymore than he had to. I got the feeling that he might be in some hot water with his own people. He pulled the device out of its case and touched a stud on the side. Suddenly it projected a hologram into the air with an arrow pointing down and East. He smiled and said, “Just follow the arrow.”

“Why is it pointing toward the ground now?” I asked.

“Because the sun hasn't yet risen and Jupiter is on the opposite side of the sun from us,” Psi-Claw replied.

Killpatrick nodded and said, “Very good.”

Protea added, “Which raises the question of how anybody was able to get pictures of Jupiter right now.”

Killpatrick looked over at Doctor Blair and Ms. Lakota and said, “You teach critical thinking. Very good.”

“We do our best, Robert,” Doctor Blair said quietly. I got the feeling he wasn't happy with some of the revelations of this morning.

“What are the Ahau like?” Ellen asked.

“The Primals are not that different from us,” Nerthus said. “However their crew is likely to made up of a mix of human, Yaguarete, and Acatl servants.”

“What are Yaguarete and Acatl?” I asked.

Killpatrick smiled and said, “The Yaguarete are an uplifted species of anthropomorphic cats. They're big, mean, and territorial.”

“And the Acatl?” Thumper asked.

“An amalgam species,” Killpatrick said. “The Ahau like to mix species. The upper body is of a scaled human, with feathered wings on the back. The lower body is that of a snake. They are territorial as well, but less prone to the mindless violence that can be triggered in the Yaguarete. But they are highly venomous.”

“Like Naja?” I asked.

“Like Naja,” he confirmed. I saw what happened to one of the Hosts she'd bitten in the mall. It was not pretty. Her venom was both an neurotoxin, and a hemotoxin.”

“When do we go?” I asked.

“When ever you're ready,” Killpatrick said. Right now the Ahau are passing Jupiter's orbit and proceeding on sublight drive.” He checked his watch and said, “Their current speed is just under a quarter light speed. That will put them here in about two hours.”

“And your ships are just going to let them pass?” I asked incredulously.

“If we fire on them, it's an act of war, and the Ennead are sure to fire back. We don't want to plunge the Five Galaxies into a war that will let Elim strengthen their hold on any more systems,” he said.

“Why Earth?” Thumper asked.

He smiled and said, “Because believe it or not, Earth is one of the birth worlds for Primals. It is where Gods come to get themselves born.”

“Wonderful,” was all I could say.

We all looked at Protea to see if there were any other questions. Finally, she looked at the team and said, “Let's do this.” We all nodded as we secured the devices to our belts.

Looking back at our guests, Protea said, “When this is over Mr. Killpatrick, you and I are going to have a long talk.”

“Get in line,” Nerthus said as the school suddenly disappeared from our field of view. “There are those of us who have a previous claim.”

BOOMER aka Brian Alexander

BAM! We landed in DC and from the looks of it, not far from the White House. The street sign read Pennsylvania Avenue, so I knew it was somewhere along this street. The first thing that caught our eye was that there were two walkers attacking a single building that at the street level looked like it was built in another century. However the top floors were all glass and modern, with Greco-Roman like protrusions in various places on its side. I could see the small bronze plaque at my feet that read, “La embajada de España”.

In the distance we could hear other explosions and could see smoke rising above the trees that were just beginning to fill in with their leaves. I looked at the rest of the team and said, “Lightwing, you Ace and Ghost reconnoiter the area and let me know what the situation is. Where are enemy and allied forces? Faerie, you and Speedfire see what you can do about distracting the walker on the left. Shadow Claw, you and I are going to take out the walker on the right. Radio channel red.”

With various affirmations, my team spread out. I took to the air as Shadow Claw charged from the ground. This thing was a good thirty feet tall and had backward facing legs that made it look kind of like a bird or a chicken. On either side of it the main body were what looked like spent rocket packs. Slung low under it were two nasty looking guns that reminded me of lasers or blasters from various sci-fi shows. Charging my force-field, I circled around to the other side and then accelerated toward it.

Passing over the second walker, I shot down like an arrow, counting on my force-field to protect me while Shadow Claw slammed into its “ankle”. With a loud crash I hit the top of the walker just below the canopy as Shadow Claw locked down and punched the mech's ankle. Twin booms echoed across the intersection as the giant walker went tumbling to the ground. As I pulled up for a second pass, I saw Shadow Claw leap atop the main body and grab the canopy.

With the sound of screaming metal, he peeled the protective cover off and grabbed the jaguar-like alien inside. Snapping the safety harness and probably a few of the alien's bones, he pulled the pilot from the cockpit, and slung him hard into the stone faced of the building. As it slid down the wall into a crumpled puddle, I saw where the wall had cracked from the force of the alien's impact.

As he leapt down from the walker, the other one turned and fired on him at almost point-blank range. I watched as a laser beam the size of a telephone pole crash into his torso. There was a blinding flash of light. When my vision cleared from the light show, I saw him standing there looking down at the red hot glowing section of his costume. He might actually make it out of this fight with his clothes on this time.

He spun on his his heel, grabbed the walker we'd just brought down and to everybody's surprise lifted it over his head, twisted his body and hurled it into the walker that had just fired on him. With a thundering crash, the two walkers went slamming down Pennsylvania Avenue in the general direction of the White House.

“Hey that was our walker!” Speedfire screamed in mock indignation. Shadow Claw turned and stuck his tongue out at our teammate.

“Boomer, Shadow Claw, Faerie, get your asses down here now!” Lightwing's voice came over the radio.

“What's up?” I called.

“We got a situation in Lafayette Park! Power Bolt from Neoforce 1 is down, and we've got one hell of fight goin... Arghh!!!!”

“Move out, people!” As I rose above the battlefield, I barked into the radio, “We got teammates in trouble!” Speedfire took off like a shot, sonic booms echoed off the surrounding buildings.

As I passed over the smoldering form of the two now crumpled and twisted walkers, I saw the pilot crawling out of the one that Shadow Claw had targeted. I hit him with a lightning bolt to make sure he didn't call for reinforcements. Making sure he was down- Ghost would have my head for leaving an enemy behind me- I then headed southeast along Pennsylvania Avenue staying just along the tops of the buildings.

The scene over Lafayette Square was horrific. The dead and dying were everywhere Emergency personnel lay beside soldiers, police, and civilians. An Abrams tank was smoking and holed and was lying half way in the crumbled front wall of the Decatur House. An Apache attack helicopter was burning atop the pedestal where the statue of Lafayette used to sit, black smoke billowing into the clear April sky. Several Humvees were overturned, and burning, and at least two squads of soldiers were hunkered down in the rubble of one of the buildings. Power Bolt from Mom's team lay in two halves on the walkway below, each half neatly cauterized.

Virago was tussling with one huge walker trying to lure it away from where a limo was on its side. Lightwing was hovering over the battle, his right leg mangled and burned. He was doing his best to cut through the canopy of the damned thing with his lasers. I could see where the entire left hand side of the limo's engine compartment had been melted to slag and flames were licking along its undercarriage. Goth was trying to get into the limo to pull the passenger out. He had taken a nasty shot to the shoulder, and his right arm hung limply at his side.

At the north end of the park, where one of the statues stood, Lady Lightning, and Tower were pounding on a walker, keeping the pilot distracted while Ace was swinging from one of its joints trying to climb up its leg. There was a large smoking hole in the canopy, which I suspected was Mom's work. I got the feeling that Ace was going to use the hole in the canopy as a way inside.

Opposite them, Talon, Ice Storm, and Speedfire were hitting a third walker with a series of blasts designed to overload its structural integrity. Between Ice Storm's almost absolute-zero cold blasts and Speedfire's flame bolts I could see where the metal of the walker was starting to buckle and collapse. Talon's dive bomb attacks were keeping the pilot busy. Somewhere she'd gotten her hands on several grenades- probably from one of the downed army units- and was dropping them into places that were not designed to handle small explosions. Suddenly Ghost appeared behind the pilot in the cockpit and pulled him up and out through the canopy.

Lastly, Trance, Sound Wave and Grey were doing everything in their power to keep a walker from from firing on the White House. Trance was dive bombing the canopy and covering it with her wings to block the pilot's vision. Sound wave was playing havoc with the knee joints with his sonic screams. I could see where they cracking and locking up. As for Gray; going two dimensional and slicing through chunks of the legs was highly effective.

The main thing was to keep the walker away from the tall wrought-iron fence that usually surrounded the North Lawn of the White House. It was already down, and a second walker lay burning just inside it. I could see Secret Service Agents all along the steps and the building. They had light weapons, including at least one shoulder launched surface to air missile. They were not going to go down without a fight.

“Shadow Claw, you assist Grey, Lightwing, and Trance. Faerie, you help Lady Lightning, and crew. I'll see what I can do to help Goth with the passenger of that limo,” I radioed my team and got an immediate affirmation from both.

I hit the walker Virago was fighting with a lightning stroke to the canopy as I dropped to the ground next to Goth. He spun around at me, his good arm raised as if to attack. I could see his third eye was open and glowing. “Cool it, Goth. I'm a friend.”

“Boomer, you scared the life out of me,” he protested. Turning back to the car, he said, “The damn thing is armored and I can't get the door open. You are not going to believe who's inside.”

“Stand back,” I told him as I charged my lightning field and grabbed the limo. Willing the field to contract with my hands, I crushed the armor plating on the door and pulled back. Screeching in protest, the door came loose from the car and I tossed it aside. Lowering my field I reached in for the occupants.

“Bam!” Fire and concussive force shot through my arm as I yanked it back.

“Crap on a cracker!” I yelled grabbing my wrist where the nine millimeter passed through my forearm and snapping my force-field back into place. “The son of bitch shot me!”

I leaped up onto the side of the car and reached in grabbed the Secret Service officer and ran enough electricity through the field to stun him. Yanking his sorry ass out of the car, I dropped him on the ground and yelled, “I'm on your side, moron!”

Then looking back down into the car, I saw an elderly gentleman in a three piece suit. He had gray hair and I could see where the hair plugs had been implanted in his scalp. “Mr. Vice-President, I'm with Cadre 5. We're here to rescue you.” Looking back at his body guard who was just now recovering from the jolt I gave him. “Your escort not withstanding.”

Lady Lightning dropped from the sky next to me and said, “Boomer, you cover Ace and Tower. I'll take care of the Vice-President.”

I grunted, “Yes, Ma'am.” Looking down at the man on the ground I put on my best manners voice and said, “Nice to meet you Mr. Vice-President.”

He just gave me a strange look as my mother picked up the Secret Service agent and tossed his gun aside. I got the feeling that when they got to where she was taking them, that particular agent was going to get an ear full.

Arriving on the north end of the square I saw the walker topple over as Ace rode it to the ground like a bucking bronco. He reached through the smoking hole in the canopy and pulled the struggling pilot out. The unmistakable barks of gunfire came from the struggle, before there was the audible snapping of bones, and then Ace hurled the jaguar faced man off the walker. The alien landed, one leg bent out to the side, the bone protruding through the leg. Both of his arms seemed to be useless below the elbows. I guess getting shot again pissed Mikey off. Looking down at my own arm, I could see where it had stopped bleeding. I did have something of a healing factor- nothing like Rowan's but it was there. It was for all of us.

I landed and used my field to rip the legs off the walker and hurl them toward the one trying to get through the fence. “Head's up!” I yelled as they slammed through the other walker's leg. I guess the stress Speedfire and Ice Storm had put on their metal had paid off, because the collision did more than just trip the thing up. In a blast of shrapnel, the legs of the pilot-less target walker shattered like glass and the main toppled body to the ground.

“Boomer, you and your team help Trance and Sound Wave. My team will assist
Virago and Lightwing,” Ice Storm yelled. Damn, I loved it when she took charge.

“Got it!” I called back. “All right team, you heard the lady. Let's take that puppy down!”

“Already taken care of, Boomer,” Shadow Claw radioed to us. I looked over and saw that the walker was lying in jagged pieces on the ground. The main lasers looked like they'd been shoved upward from below the central body and fired. There was a charred corpse sitting in the pilot's seat.

“Who's been feeding Shadow Claw raw meat?” Sound Wave asked.

Suddenly and explosion came from the front of the park. I turned in time to see a large gear slam through Virago's legs before it embedded itself in what was left of the building where an Army unit was hunkered down. One soldier was kneeling there holding the spent tube of a rocket launcher.

“Medic!” Lightwing yelled as he dropped to the ground next to the fallen blonde woman who'd recently joined my mother's team. One leg was completely gone and was spurting blood; the other was mangled beyond all hope. Damn, she'd lost two teammates all ready. Lightwing wasn't in much better shape. His right leg was a huge mass of burns, and I had no idea how he was even conscious much less functioning.

Our winged hero ripped off his belt and began to tie it around her upper thigh as Goth and Faerie headed their way. If anybody could help Virago, it was them. I knew to let my people do their job. Looking around I saw that the smoke was clearing, the walkers were eliminated and the Vice-President and my mother were gone Lafayette Square and the North Lawn of the White House looked like a war zone. A glint of something caught my eye on the roof of a nearby building. “Oh great, the battle got filmed,” I said to myself.

Shadow Claw and Ghost came up beside me. Shadow Claw replied, “There are at least five of them on various buildings.

“This is not going to look good on the evening news.”

Suddenly a brilliant light exploded in the middle of the square. Pieces of metal and stone were hurled out in a deadly circle of shrapnel. Shadow Claw slammed me and Ghost to the ground, covering both of us with her body.

A booming voice echoed across the square, “This is not over you whelps! We will destroy the scion of the Fyroar and the invaders who took our people!”

When the light and sound cleared, I looked in that direction to see three forms standing in a circle of devastation. The first, the largest, the one who spoke, was huge and muscled, standing at least seven and a half feet tall. He had shiny feathers along the backs of his arms and he carried in his hand, a long stone knife. He was naked above the waist and wore some kind of vaguely Egyptian kirtle. The one next to him was a woman with a skull for a face and black butterfly wings like Faerie's, except that on the edges of them were sharp claws. She too was naked from the waist up, and wore a short gold lame-like kilt. She had a long sharp stone blade in her hand as well. The last was man painted red and white like a candy cane, and carried a bow. I could see flame coming out of the arrows in his quiver. All had long straight blue-black hair and dark eyes.

“Now Fyroar, you will die,” he boomed. Suddenly I felt the same kind of presence as I did around Nerthus. Except hers was not as aggressive, as overbearing. I had to force myself to look at him. There was definitely an aura of fear around him.

Above me, I heard Shadow Claw growl, “Bring it.”

PSI-CLAW aka Kevin Warner

I didn't like this. We were going in blind with unknown technology and on the word of someone who claimed to be a pagan Goddess. Now don't get me wrong, everybody is allowed their own little idiosyncrasies, but sending a bunch of teenagers in space on a mission from a Goddess is going a bit far.

Still there was no denying that the aliens were here. There was no denying that we were here, and we had a job to do. Cracking the planet's crust would be at the top of my list of things that would be bad for my day. Like a certain blue-clad hero once said: You can't destroy the Earth. That's where I keep all my stuff! So it was up to us to stop it.

When the world faded back in around us, we were in some kind of storage room. There were tall racks with containers stacked neatly in them. I couldn't read the writing on the containers, it reminded me of the stuff I'd seen on the pyramids in Mexico several years ago when my dad and I visited there.

Dad; now there's another sore spot for me. He was so damn glad when I went through my cold-burn. Not because he was happy for me. He could barely look at me. But I could tell he was glad that I would now be attending a boarding school. When Mom died, that meant he got rotated out of a combat unit and sent State-side because someone had to take care of me. The fact that I was now in a boarding boarding school meant that he could go back to Afghanistan.

“Look sharp people,” Protea said. Now there was a woman I could follow. Good brains, a born leader who genuinely cared about her people, and the package was nice too. I had considered stomping a mud-hole in Ace's ass for the way he treated her after she started showing signs of being a telepath. Yeah, he got screwed with a sandpaper condom by a rogue telepath. Sure he'd been kidnapped, but that was no reason to suddenly give Amber the cold shoulder. He needed his ass kicked. Eric, Conrad, and I were going to do it too, but she told us not to. Again, she was one classy lady.

“Where are we?” Ellen asked.

“I'd say we're in some kind of supply closet,” I said looking around. A small flashing light in the back caught my attention. I leaned in under the shelf and looked at it closely. It looked like some kind of homing beacon. Evidently we landed just where we were supposed to have.

“Which way?” Thumper asked.

Protea looked at her read-out and said, “According to this we need to go that way and up.” She pointed toward the door. I thought it was actually a good idea to make sure we all had a scanner to tell us where the device was. That way there was always a back-up.

“Then let's go,” Webs said a little more enthusiastic than I thought was healthy. I got the feeling he was trying to redeem himself from what had happened in the mall.

“Wait a minute,” Ellen said. We need to see what's out there. I get the feeling the five of us are going to stand out. Especially Thumper and Webs.”

Protea nodded and stepped up to the door. She touched the surface and it slowly became clear as glass. On either side of us were two soldiers that looked even more like cat men than I do. They even had the backwards facing knees, which I knew weren't really knees, but their ankles. They both also carried big-ass guns that looked like they could deal a lot of damage.

Protea looked at Ellen and whispered, “Earendil, can your light constructs pass through this glass without breaking it?”

Our team elf-lord smiled broadly and nodded. I watched as he held out his hands and a blue beam of light reached out to just short of the glass. He looked to both sides to make sure we were ready. When we nodded he took a deep breath and the beams of light shot through the glass and arced backwards on either side. I couldn't see what they became but there was a sudden thump and a sharp indentation on the walls on either side of the doors.

Protea dissolved the rest of the door and we filed out watching down the hall and on both sides. I smelled blood. Turning I saw neat hole through both of the breast plates of the jaguar-men. I raised an eyebrow and said, “You killed them.”

“Would you rather have them behind us?” he asked dragging them into the storage room.

I shook my head and held up my hand, “I'm not complaining. I'm just surprised you had the balls to do it, Elf-Lord.”

“That's Earen..., oh never mind,” he said.

“Are you two finished?” Protea asked.

“For now,” I grinned at her.

“Well, come on. We need to find an elevator.”

The trip down the hall was surprisingly uneventful. The walls weren't the antiseptic white I expected, or even the dark and pitted dystopian designs from the Scy-fy Channel productions. It was like stone or even concrete- neither a material I expected to find in a starship. The lighting was recessed panels along the top of the wall, and ceilings were actually vaulted.

We came to an intersection that branched off in to the right and left. The left branch led down about thirty feet where there was a bank of what looked like elevators. Checking to make sure nobody was coming, we raced down the hall to the doors. So far we'd been extremely lucky. Nobody'd found the blood-stained walls yet, but we knew it was only a matter of time that they did. Then upon investigation, I was sure they'd find the two guards, Elf-Lord perforated.

Protea studied the control panel to the lifts trying to figure out how to operate them. She ran a finger along the wording. Finally, she shrugged and hit a series of symbols on the display panel. To everybody's surprise, and indication light came on and it was moving toward the door.

What was even more surprising was when it opened, it had two guys with the upper body of a man, and the lower half was long, green and serpentine. Resting on their back were multicolored feathered wings. They too were carrying long rifles.

I reacted instantly. I lashed out with my telekinesis and slammed the one in front of me straight up into the ceiling. There was an audible crack as his neck broke. But like a serpent he kept moving and thrashing about.

The one my left brought it's rifle around and fired almost point-blank into Thumper's chest. The laser flashed against the crimson of her uniform building heat, but not penetrating. “Rabbit front kick!” she growled and grabbed the front of the rifle, stepped in and kicked the guy where his humanoid torso joined the snake. He slammed backwards into the wall behind the lift, his head making the sound of ripe melon. As his eyes rolled back into his head, he collapsed to the floor. I'm not sure whether or not he was dead, but he was incapacitated.

“Get them out of there,” Thumper demanded.

“You're the one with enhanced strength. You get them out,” Webs said.

She shook her head like she was afraid of them. “I can't touch 'em. I can't stand snakes.”

“You almost kicked him through a wall,” Webs pressed.

“I didn't think about it,” she grimaced as she looked at the two crumpled forms and then shuddered.

“I'll get them,” Ellen said. A blue energy wrapped itself around them and obscured their features. As the energy pulled them out of the room, I could see it was in the shape of a garbage bag, the name of a popular company embossed on the side. The kid's got flair, I'll give him that.

“Where do you want me to put the garbage?” he asked Protea.

She gave him a sharp look and said, “Somewhere out of sight.”

Suddenly the air was split with a shrieking sound, the lights shifted to a light blue and there was some kind of guttural language projected into the hall. “Never mind with that,” Protea said. “Let's get out of here.”

Ellen nodded, slung the snake men down the hall and we all got into the elevator. I don't know how she figured it out, but Protea at least got the elevator going in the direction we wanted it to. Then it surprised the hell out of us by moving sideways taking us even closer to our destination. “How'd you do that?” I asked.

Protea shrugged and said, “I just hit symbols that looked like they meant weapons bay.”

“They looked like chicken scratch to me,” I said.

“Maybe she's just smarter than you are,” Webs commented as Protea got a far away look on her face.

“Nah, maybe she's just lucky,” I teased.

“Earendil, we need a force-field over the door now. Psi-Claw, reinforce it. The rest of you get against the sides now!”

Both elf-lord and I sprang to action. A blue wall of light shaped like studded steel appeared in front of the door, and I reinforced it with my own telekinesis.

Suddenly the lift stopped and the doors opened. There was massive explosion and a tremendous amount of heat and pressure against both elf-lord's wall and and my force-field. I felt it push around the edges and force both of us back against the far wall. If either one of us buckled the the other would die too.

Then as quickly as it hit, it was gone and we both fell forward. As the door collapsed Webs, Protea, and Thumper surged out of the elevator. Elf-lord and I were hot on their heels and just in time too, because two missiles came spinning toward us and into the elevator. These guys were playing for keeps. Then again so were we.

GHOST aka Sawyer Jackson Grey

Suddenly the woman spread those huge clawed butterfly wings and a beam of pure darkness lashed out to where Goth, Faerie and Tower were trying to use their psychic healing powers to save Virago. Something told me this was bad news. “Get out of the way!” I screamed and leapt. I hit Goth with one arm, and Faerie with the other, and hoped against hope that Tower's steel skin would protect him. I knew that I couldn't get him and the others. There was just so much mass I could affect and he was over that limit.

The beam was fast, I would like to say that I was faster, but I know that wasn't the truth. I was just lucky. We went insubstantial and down into the scorched ground around us. Even through the ground I heard the twin screams of pain that were suddenly cut short.

Scrambling, I brought the three of us to the surface to see the blackened skeletons of Tower and Virago burning where they stood. I felt my blood go cold and hot at the same time. Tower was on the the gentlest souls I'd ever met. He argued with nobody and always sought to bring peace. Virago was just starting out her career. She was the first graduate of the Salem Center School to make it to the big time and here her career was cut short. I stood up and looked to either side of me. “You guys get out of the way. It's on! I am tired of taking it on the chin. I'm taking it to them. Primal, God, or just any other son of a bitch down the road. Somebody on that side is gonna' die.”

I bent down and picked up a piece of stone about the size of my fist and went insubstantial and invisible. As the rest of the teams scattered I judged the distance between me and the bitch with the wings and sank into the ground. As I did, I heard Faerie yell, “Ghost, no!”

I pushed off through the ground measuring the distance carefully. When I was where I wanted to be, I rose behind Madame Butterfly and slammed my fist with the stone in it forward into her head. It was Fury all over again. I almost broke my wrist. It was like hitting molasses, but I kept pushing. When I was sure I had the stone in, I let go and rose into the air.

She gurgled once, grabbed her head and fell to the ground convulsing as her skull popped and cracked. I smiled grimly to myself and looked around. All three teams had scattered and circled our attackers, not giving any of them a clear shot at more than one person at time. Her companions had not yet figured out what I'd done, as they were still back to back in the circle. Hadn't anybody ever taught these idiots basic small unit tactics?

My teammates didn't wait. The hole I'd created in these guys defenses was exploited as soon as I was clear of the blast radius. Lightning, absolute cold and concentrated sound all lashed out simultaneously and slammed into the back of the guy with the bow. He screamed once and spun around. Seeing his fallen comrade he took his eyes off the rest of us and BOOM! Speedfire clocked him good in the side of the jaw at Mach one. He spun around and stumbled into the third guy- the one with the feathers on his arms.

Suddenly the whole area lit up as lightning poured in out of the clear sky. Lady Lightning had rejoined the fight with a vengeance. When the spots cleared from my eyes, I could see where both men were righting themselves looking surprised. The woman on the ground was still convulsing. I couldn't believe she was still alive with eight pounds or so of granite melded with her brain.

“You dare!” the guy with feathers screamed at me.

I crossed my arms and became visible. “What? You aren't used to people fighting back. You just killed two of the brightest heroes I know of. I'm going to kill you back, you misbegotten son of a whore.”

“Ghost!” Boomer screamed. “Language!”

To all of our surprise Lady Lightning just grinned and said, “I don't know. It sounded pretty good to me.”

Even more surprising was the guy went stark raving bonkers when I said that. “You will die at my hands, interloper. I'll rip your heart still beating from your chest.”

I'll admit it. I was feeling cocky. I was angry and I wasn't thinking. I'm sure most of the news services blurred out the gesture I made. “Come and get it, loudmouth,” I told him.

He screamed once and launched himself into air after me. I'm not stupid. My wrist was still throbbing from slamming into Madame Butterfly's head. I wasn't about to let this guy get his hands on me. I increased my density and dropped to the earth like a stone. It was petty, it was even naughty of me. As he passed over me, I reached up and grabbed his kirtle and made it insubstantial. He flew right through it so he was left in his birthday suit.

I laughed and asked, “You call yourself a man?” He spun in mid-air, banked and came back toward me. “Guys, I think I hit a sore spot!”

I looked down and saw the other guy draw his bow and flaming arrows and take aim at Ice Storm as she took cover behind Rochambeau's statue- or what was left of it. “Ice storm! Look out!”

I watched as she turned to see the flaming arrow coming right at the statue. It hit the marble base and to all of our surprise began boring through it. I dove to intercept, to pull her away, but something clamped down on my foot. I looked back to see tall, ugly and naked had me by the ankle and was squeezing. I was not about to get my leg busted in a fight again. First I went insubstantial and twisted. I got a little more movement, but he still had me good and tight and was trying slice into my leg with the stone knife he was carrying. It too was passing through me, but it hurt like hell. I fought to drag us to the ground. If I could get him down there, I could pull us both into the ground and make him let go. At least I hoped that was what would happen.

A horrible scream of pain broke my concentration. Then I heard Ice Storm scream, “Sound Wave!”

Both I and my opponent turned to see where Ice Storm was picking herself up off the ground. Next to her Sound Wave was toppling to the ground a fiery hole a good foot in diameter was bored through his upper torso. Evidently the archer had gotten a second arrow off.

Turning back, I maxed out my density and kicked the son of a bitch in the teeth. Once. Twice. Three times my boot slammed into his face bringing blood as we accelerated toward the ground. The sudden shift in weight was more than he expected and I pulled out of his grip. Just before we hit, I went invisible and insubstantial. As I disappeared into the ground, I saw a shadow pass over me and heard a massive thud.

By the time I stopped my momentum and got myself back to the surface, my opponent was locked hand to hand with Shadow Claw trying to twist him to the ground with brute force. He was bigger than Shadow Claw. He was uglier than Shadow Claw but he was not stronger than Shadow Claw, and he hadn't been taught to fight by Mr. Waterford and Commander Erikson

Shadow Claw shifted his weight slightly, and the huge man was suddenly towering over him. Then with an evil smile, my lover stepped back, balled his legs up and kicked forward, claws first. There was the sounds of tearing flesh and breaking bones as Shadow Claw launched himself straight back and away from her opponent. He fell forward flat on his face as something was launched behind him. My eye followed it to a stop at the base of one of the statues. Shadow Claw had emasculated him with a single kick.

“I don't believe it!” Trance yelled from above. I looked around and saw Madame Butterfly on her hands and knees as the pieces of stone were slowly pouring out of her head.

“Trance, distract her!” I screamed. “Boomer, Speedfire, Lady Lightning! Hit her with everything you've got now! Don't let her bring those blasts back on line!” I can't believe I just gave an order to Lady Lightning.

Boomer nodded and said, “Do it people!” He gave his mom a sheepish look.

Even more startling was she yelled, “Got it!”

Suddenly the park lit up as a thundering blast after thundering blast of lighting and fire poured into the winged woman's back. Everything went white as the fire and electricity danced all around us. I felt it charge through my own body as I rose back into the air to get a better view of the battlefield.

*So you've finally decided to get back to work as a tactician?* Kenna asked telepathic.

*Sorry, I sort of loss my head when she killed Tower,* I sent back to her.

*I understand. But we need your genius here now. We've lost four lives in less than two minutes. We can't keep this up,* she told me.

I nodded and said aloud, “Understood.”

The battlefield was a mess. She was right. I couldn't afford to lose my head like that. Bitch-face was flat on the ground, and the ground she was flat on was about fifty feet deeper than it was before that blast. Evidently the force of that blast had also punched a hole straight down and into the reinforced tunnels that were running from the White House to the Decatur House. As for bitch-face, her wings had been burnt off by the combined blasts of Lady Lightning and Boomer. She was still struggling to her feet and shaking her head.

“Why does this feel like Fury all over again?” I asked as I continued to survey the battle. Like I said the woman was in the pit. Big, ugly, naked, and no-longer completely male, was picking himself up next to the statue of Rochambeau. He was growling and howling in pain. Shadow Claw had somehow managed to get himself on top of the statue so he was crouched on the French Major General's tri-cornered hat like a cat, his tail twitching behind him and his ears flat against the back of his head.. I half expected to see him spit and scratch at the air.

Fire bow guy had an arrow drawn and was trying to draw a bead on Grey who'd gone two dimensional. I could see several nasty cuts healing on the bowman's shoulders and arms where our resident master of the martial arts had marked him good. Ice Storm, was trying to pull herself together and I could tell she was trying not to look where Sound Wave lay dead.

Circling above, Talon, Trance, and Lightwing were preparing for a stoop onto either fire bow guy, or big naked and ugly. Ace, Faerie, and Goth were dropping into the hole on top of the woman in the pit. So far only our team had suffered no losses other than Lightwing's hurt leg. Neo-Force 1 was hurting bad. They'd lost two team members and Cadre 4 had lost one.
Suddenly fire bow guy spun on his heel and fired straight into the air. Nobody saw it coming. The arrow shot across the sky and slammed into Lady Lightning's force-field. A look of surprise marked her face just before like a drill the arrow made of fire, bored through the field and into her chest and out her back. The guy with bow smirked at his shot. It caught us all so much by surprise that even Grey was stunned. He never saw the second arrow that took off the back of his head.

“Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!” Boomer screamed into the air.

“Oh hell no,” a voice I never thought to hear again said from the foot of the Statue where Shadow Claw was sitting.

I turned to see Kenneth dressed in a red tunic over black britches floating there, his red wings spread wide. Next to him, wearing our Year 1 costume was Glitch looking like she was ready to kill.

Dr. Lovecraft
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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by Dr. Lovecraft » Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:12 am

YES!!!! Glitch!!! Holy Crap this is some battle!!

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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by Gilliam » Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:45 am

Words fail me just outstanding.

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Re: Cadre 5:

Post by McGuffin » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:27 am

Wow, whatever else may happen, it looks definitely like Cadre 5 (and 4 and Aleph) will be the new vanguard of Earth's defense. A damn bloody way to handle the changing of the guard but it shows how high the stakes on all of this are. Great story, can't wait to see what comes next. Oh, and Yay!!! :D for Glitch coming back.
McGuffin's Workshop: Warp, Naga

Why crawl when you can walk? Why walk when you can run? Why run when you can fly?