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View Full Version : Special Police DekaOps: Covert Killers


scikaiju
09-25-2006, 04:30 AM
Twin suns blazed in the sky over a jungle type of planet. A military style compound was burning to the ground while several black and white Licenses lay on the ground, broken. On top of a mountain an individual in a black and red Dekasuit battled a bald, gray Alienizer wearing what look like silverfish knights armor. The shoulder plates curled up in points. He wasn’t wearing a helmet so he could see his opponent. Solid green eyes flashed at the Deka. He pulled his weapon, the Alienizer believed the intelligence report called it a D-Colt. The Deka fired twice and six shots came at him. He pulled his broadsword in front of him and deflected each bullet back at the Deka with the glowing blade.

“Argh!” the Deka cried as the shots struck him. He rolled down the mountain trying to use his D-Knife and D-Rod to slow or stop his decent. He crashed on the ground and slowly got to his knees. He looked up and saw the smoking, charred remains of one of his teammates. “Damn you!!”, he cried at the top of his lungs. The knight slowly made his way down the mountain holding his sword at the ready. The Deka grabbed his partner’s charred D-Shot and started firing away. Each shot was causally flung away infuriating the Deka even more.

“Begin phase 2,” he spoke into his wrist communicator. Behind the Deka a woman with blue skin wearing as similar style armor appeared from the bush. She opened her right palm and a whip like coil shot out and wrapped itself around his neck. He dropped his weapon and tried to remove the coil from his neck. Then another blue skin male wearing a helmet and twice as wide as the others lumbered out of hiding. Two rakes on his back flipped up and a laser barrage exploded around the Deka.

“Ha-ha-ha” the big one laughed, “that never stops being fun.” The woman released the coil and the Deka fell to the ground. The Dekasuit disappeared and a tiger-seijin in a black uniform with a red star on his right shoulder laid there on the ground writhing in pain. “He lasted longer than the others Zyra.”

“Of course he did Matox,” the woman said crossing her arms. “The leader is usually the toughest of the bunch.”

“Or the luckiest”, the knight said as he reached them. With his boot he flipped the tiger to his back. He reached down and tore the black badge from his uniform and placed it in his pouch.

“Which are you Waven?” she asked, a dangerous undertone in her voice.

“Try and find out witch.” He stabbed the sword into the tiger’s chest between the ribs.

“Ragh!,” the tiger cried as blood sputtered out of his mouth. Waven grinned with cruel glee as he used the sword to force the tiger to his feet. He felt the weight on the blade, then pushed it in a little further.

“You failed your team,” Waven taunted him. “Do you think they are cursing your existence in the after life?” Zyra took the OpsLicense from his back and tossed it in the air. One quick crack of her whip coil broke it. “As of now you are defenseless against us.”

“Can I smash him like I did the pink one?”, Matox begged. “It was fun hearing her bone break over her screams.”

“No,” Waven said with an evil grin. “This one is mine.” He used the sword to lead the tiger to a better view of the burning training facility. “Do you think anybody survived? It is possible one or two may have escape out little visit, so your honor may still be intact. Tell me Deka, did you expect to win this little encounter? Did you think you were invincible? Did you think nobody would be around to tell the others about the black badges? Did you think there wouldn’t be any action taken against you?”

The tiger spat blood in his face. “If it’s not me who will send you to the pits then somebody else will.”

“Well I guess we’ll find out,” he twisted the blade slightly, just enough for the pain to race through his body. “We have been ordered to hunt down and eliminate all the black badge units SPD has.” Matox started snickering in anticipation at what was coming up. “Say hello to your fallen team mates in the pits below,” Waven snarled. He pulled the sword out, spun and aimed the edge of the blade at the tiger’s neck. His head flew from his shoulder as his body fell to the ground.

“You should have savored the kill for a few moments longer,” Zyra told not looking impressed.

“Patience wench,” he said, “These Dekas, no matter the color of their badge, have an annoying habit of coming back from almost any situation. It’s best not to let them have too big of an opening. Besides an artist always knows the right time to end it.” She snorted and turned away from them. Waven pulled out a galactic communicator. A small image of a chameleon-sejin wearing a cloak appeared above the device. “There was a training center on Nagaus 7, just like you said Agent Chatrox.”

“I’m surprised the fools didn’t move it,” Chatrox told him. “Was there much resistance?”

“Some, the commander here was particularly ferocious. But we left him alive as bait.” He sneered, “And a DekaOp unit took the bait.”

“And the status of this unit?”, Chatrox asked. Waven crossed a finger across his thoat. “Good, who was it?”

“Their leader was a tiger-sejin.”

“Ah, him,” he grinned. “I was hoping he would answer the call.”

“The bosses said you wanted a rather unusual payment for this information.” Waven remained cautious, every Agent he dealt with usually had a very high price tag for information.

“Nothing too outlandish,” the Agent informed him, “I get to chose which Op unit you go after next.”

“The universe is a rather large place to hunt down one particular unit.” Zyra snorted and Matox looked disappointed. “We would have to allocate a great deal of resources to pinpoint one particular unit.”

Chatrox grinned, “Than fear not, I know exactly where they are. Are you familiar with the planet Earth?”

“That Deka infested mud ball?!”, Zyra exclaimed.

“More to smash”, Matox said.

“Why would a planet that heavily protected need a Ops unit?”, Waven wondered.

“Even I couldn’t figure out how the SPD command thinks.” He started looking very serious, “Are you going to accept?”

“Of course,” Waven sneered.

=======
Special Police DekaOps- Covert Killers
=======


There was movement in the basement of a rundown apartment building. A piece of a Batsuroid fell to the ground as a black and yellow figure kept moving. He saw his partner, wearing a black and blue Dekasuit, come around the corner. Both of them shrugged, no sign of the target. Something coughed, the sound came from a hole in the far end of the room. The two Dekas cautiously approached the hole and aimed both of their D-Shooters into the hole. A small green alien with huge black eyes was cringing as far back as he could go. “This can’t be the guy who’s wanted in three sectors for massive drug running and murder?” Boomer said.

“Don’t judge this book by his cover buddy,” D.E. said. He knelt down and lowered his D-Shooter slightly. Holding out his other hand he said, “Come on little guy, we gotta check you out.” The green alien stopped shivering and open it’s mouth revealing a set of fangs. He charged out of the hole, “Son of a…!”. The alien knocked D.E. on his back and stood on him. He shot a goop out of his mouth twice and covered both D.E. and Boomer than ran off.

“We got to stop that thing!”, Boomer cried trying to wipe the slime off his visor. A boot came out of nowhere and knocked it to the ground. That same boot kept it on the ground as it tried to get away and they realized it was Ace.

“Cap, D.E. and Boomer found him!”, Ace called out. She looked them over, “What happened to you two?”

“Don’t ask,” D.E. answered shaking some of the slime off his arm. Dan and Rev ran up a moment latter. Rev twisted his head slightly as he studied his two comrades.

The green alien hissed and spit more of that green slime out of his mouth that they easily dodged. Dan pulled out his OpLicense and switched it to Judge, “Target orders.” Ace removed her foot as the red X and blue circle flashed before the alien. After a minute the blue circle shined before it. “Apprehend target,” Dan ordered. Ace nodded and slapped the D-Whoppers on it’s wrist.

“Gag the little bastard while you’re at it,” Boomer told them trying to get the slime off him.

“You two better find something to hose off with,” Ace told them. “Cause you are not getting that slime in or on my jet, you got me?”

“That is a very wise decision Trish,” Rev informed her. “The less the slime is spread the better.”

“Why?”, D.E. asked, sounding a bit nervous. “This stuff ain’t a acid or something is it?”

“No,” Rev said, “but…”, he trailed off.

“You know I hate being kept in the dark Rev,” Dan said. “Is that stuff dangerous or not?”

“Well the slime is used to mark his territory or property.”

Ace started laughing, “So this squirt just made these two his bitches?”

‘That is not funny,” Boomer whined.

“I’m not the one covered in slime.”

“Calm down people,” Dan told them. “I saw a hydrant outside of the building. Use that to clean that gunk off you. Rev, give then a hand.”

“As you wish Captain,” he replied.

“The faster the better,” Boomer said.

“No arguments here buddy,” D.E. agreed. And they walked out.

“I believe we got a nice cell aboard the Shepard for this guy,” Ace hauled him up and pushed him ahead. “I even see you point your mouth in my direction you’re losing teeth,” she warned the alien.

“I’ll let them know to expect company,” Dan said switching his License to phone as he followed. “Ops1 to base.”

“This is OpsBase,” Michelle said over the line, “what is your mission status?”

“The target is in custody and we’re heading back home,” Dan said.

Michelle sounded surprised, “That was fast. Were you guys in a rush or something?”

“Resistance was lighter than expected.” He looked down at the slime trail D.E. and Boomer were leaving, “Outside of this one slightly unexpected turn of events the mission was pretty routine.”

“Sounds like you got some free time tonight then,” Michelle said. There was a tone in her voice that he recognized.

“Michelle we talked about this, no conversations about personal matters on company time.”

“Just making an idle comment,” she said innocently. “We’ll have the holding cells reading when you return. We’ll talk when you get back, OpsBase out.”

“Sounds like somebody planning a hot date tonight,” Ace said with a hint of humor in her voice.

“And I get the feeling I better make it a good one too,” Dan said with a chuckle

***

By the time they landed at OpsBase, Michelle had already talked the Major into giving her and Dan the rest of the night off. Of course they had to process the suspect first. Dan and Rev interrogated him over who he was selling to while she arranged for a transfer to a SPD penitentiary. With that done, and making sure D.E and Boomer weren’t his actual property, Ace and the others had the rest of it covered, freeing up the rest of the night.

Seeing how there was no time to arrange dinner at one of the fancier restaurants in town they agreed to go someplace a little more casual. Dan was wearing his usual red shirt, jeans and bomber jacket. Michelle wore a white blouse with a loose black skirt that went to here knees. Holding hands as they walked down the sidewalk, Michelle saw the place they were heading for. She gave Dan a skeptical look as she said, “You weren’t planning on taking this Latina to a Mexican restaurant, were you Dan?”

“No, of course not,” he said. “Excuse me for a quick moment will you?” He turned around and pulled out a cell phone. Dialing a quick number he held the phone to his ear. “Yeah this is Dan Stevens, I like to cancel that eight o’clock reservation.” He pulled away as Michelle tried to take the phone from him.

When she finally did get a hold of the phone she shot him a look, “This isn’t even on.”

He tried to charm her with a smile, “Just having a little fun.”

She shoved the phone into his chest then said, “You’re lucky you’re cute.”

“Come on, the place is a little further down the block.” The place was an outdoor café, with red and white umbrella covering each table. Dan held out a chair which Michelle thanked him for and sat in. Their waitress came up a few moments later handing them a menu. Michelle knew what she wanted right away, Dan took a few minutes to figure out what he wanted. They talked while they waited. Her hand found his, Dan lightly griped hers in return. This is what both of them needed.

After dinner Dan took her by the hand again and just walked around the area. There were times he still couldn’t believe he was breaking his number one rule: do not mix your private and professional lives. Then he looked at Michelle, watch her smile and get that twinkle she had in her eyes and remember exactly why he broke it to begin with. And he’s never been happier.

Michelle was just happy he finally opened up and let her in. The Major warned her about his rule, and she had every intention to leave him be. Then she stated talking to him after he arrived and got settled in. She didn’t think attracted was the right word to use, but she found she enjoyed his company. It surprised her even more when it looked like he felt the same. Gripping his hand a little tighter, she was so glad he let her in. “Looks like it’s going to be a beautiful night,” she said while looking at the sky.

“I didn’t notice,” Dan said while looking at her.

She gave him a sly smile, “If I didn’t know better I’d say you were trying to flatter me.”

He stopped walking, “And why wouldn’t I?”

“Because you are not the type,” she informed him. “You come right out say it.”

“Hmm, something like,” he took her other hand, “you’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen?”

“Yeah,” she smiled, “something like that.” Dan let go of her hands and put his around his her waist and drew her in. “What about your rules?”, she teased.

“I keep forgetting about my rules when I’m around you,” he told her softly. “Is it wrong that I don’t want this night to end?”

“Yeah I don’t want to go back to that madhouse either,” she joked.

Dan pulled away, “Michelle.”

She pulled him back in, “Sorry.” They looked at each other for what seemed like forever. If she had to be honest with herself, she hadn’t felt this way since she met her late husband. “Is this getting a little more serious?”

“I think so,” he said. God, his stomach had never felt like this. “Do you want it to get a little more serious?”

“I’m not going to complain.” He leaned in to kiss her.

“You fucking bastard!”, somebody yelled out. Dan and Michelle looked around until the sat a woman with slightly wavy blond hair wearing a white button up shirt and black jeans storm out of a building.

She was followed by a brown haired guy wearing blue jeans and a denim jacket with a sweatshirt hood run after her. “Rachel it’s not what he thinks it was,” he tried to explain to her. “Would you stop and listen to me for a second.”

“Fuck you Jack,” she said without turn around. He looked behind him and shot an angry look at somebody before chasing after her. After them came an annoyed looking brown haired woman being followed by a guy with long blond hair.

“I can’t believe you just did that,” she said not hiding her anger.

“She had to know Melissa,” he said. “It’s better that she finds out now.”

“Finds out what Lance? That woman you saw Jack with was my cousin who I asked him to pick up from the airport? Or that she’s gay?” Lance rambled something as Melissa walked off, “God, I did everything to get those two together and you go and ruin it.”

Michelle held Dan a little tighter, “We’re not going to turn out like that are we?”

“Not if I can help it.” Dan’s License went off. Letting the annoyance show on his face he answered it, “This is Stevens, go.”

Michelle felt the same and muttered, “This better be good.”

“Cap,” The Major said. “I’m sorry to interrupt your date but we got some bad news. Both of you better come in.”

“What kind of bad news?”

“I think it’s better if I told you in person.”

“Right, Stevens out,” he closed the License and sighed. “That didn’t sound good.”

“No it didn’t,” she admitted.

***
When they got back to Base they found that the other were in the command room and they could feel the somber mood in the room. Oh this was definitely not good. The Major stood by the railing tapping his cane on the floor, there was no way to sugarcoat this, “Nagaus 7 was attacked.”

Dan was stunned, “How… who did …?”

“Apparently it was the Alienizers, or at least that what one of the few survivor said.” He nodded to Ace who activated the main screen. An image of Commander Scorp with a heavily bandage Commander Mynx lying in a hospital bed appeared. “Scorp said Mynx wanted to warn the rest of us personally.” The image played a moment later.

“…three of them, wearing armor. Took us by surprise. I lost a good chunk of my men during the initial attack.” Mynx started coughing and a nurse whispered something to Scorp.

“Rest now,” the tin voice of his translator said. “Well talk about this later.”

“Cut the image,” the Major ordered. He gave Dan and Michelle a moment to digest what they just saw. Dan in particular looked a bit rattled. “The only reason Mynx was left alive was to lure in a Ops unit. The plan worked, One lead by a tiger-seijin…”

“Tony?”, Dan came back to life. The Major looked down at the floor. “What happened to his unit?”

“There were no survivors from his unit.” Dan fist flew back and hit the wall behind him surprising everybody. “I’m sorry Dan, I know he was your friend.”

“Who did this?”, he demanded.

“We don’t know yet. The only reason we got this much was because that unit got Mynx in a escape capsule when they arrived. All the remaining DekaOps units are being put in high alert. High Command thinks this was a direct strike at our branch of SPD and are sending everything they have about the incident. There no doubt that whoever these guys are they will strike again. Nobody knows where though. I want us ready to go at moment notice, is that understood?”

“Rodger,” they said. Dan remained quiet and left the command room for his quarters to change.

“How did they find out about us?”, Boomer asked. “We do everything to make sure people are kept in the dark about us.”

“We ain’t perfect Boomer,” D.E. said. “Nobody can get everything. Something was bound to slip out here and there.”

“And how many of those we and the other units captured talked,” Ace added. “Word is going to get around the grapevine.”

D.E crossed his arms, “I’d bet this kind of news spread like wildfire.”

“No doubt,” Rev said. “I feared it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. Major Pierce, are the other Deka units on this planet aware of this?”

“Word been sent to the commanders, it’ll be up to them to decide how they want to handle it if these guy appear. Although a couple have called me and said we have permission to come in and wipe the floor with them if they show up in there area.”

Michelle looked at the door to the field team quarters while they were talking. After a few moments she went after Dan and found him leaning against the wall. She walked up to him and put her arms around his waist. “Dan I’m so sorry.”

“He was the first person to actually accept during Ops training,” he said. “He was the first one to call me friend.” He stood straighter and a she let him go as he went all business, “I want to see that report as soon as it comes in.”

“I’ll make you a copy as soon as I get,” she told him.

“Thank you,” he said quietly. Despite his best efforts what he was feeling was starting to show through.

“Are you going to be alright?”

“I’ll let you know.”

“Come on,” she tugged on his arm, “I’ll buy you a coffee while we wait for it to come in.”

***
The final report came in after a few hours. Like she promised Dan had a copy of it within minutes. He took the elevator to the old building above OpsBase before reading the report. He leafed through the report several times before he found the section he was looking fore, the death report. He scanned the names until he found Tony’s and the cause of death. He dropped the report a second later. What kind of sick bastards…?

He walked out into building’s plaza and onto the grass. Looking at the night sky he pulled out the can of beer he had in his pocket. Lowering his head just enough to bring the can to his lips he drank half of it’s content. Then looking at the sky again and poured the rest to fit on the ground, “I’ll get the bastard who did this to you Tony.”

“You’re letting it get personal again,” Michelle said. Dan couldn’t look at her. She walked up to him with his copy in her hands. “You know that’s sure way to get yourself killed. Or the others.”

“My main priority is to make sure they come back alive,” he said.

“You better be included in that they. I don’t want to lose you.”

“Not if I can help it,” he repeated. “I plan on being around for a long time.” She walked up to him and he hugged her, not wanting to let her go. Tearing up he told her, “Tony didn’t deserve to go like that.”

“I know,” she told him. “Did he have any family?

“His wife just had a litter of cubs when he was chosen for the training.” He remembered how proud Tony was when he got there, claiming each one had the hunter’s spirit. “I need to see if I can send a message to her.”

“I’ll get you set up,” Michelle said. “Come on back inside, it’s staring to get cold out here.” She had dragged him to get him started. When they got back inside he took the report back from her. “I think you read that enough of that.”

“I had to know how he died first,” he said flatly. “Now I need to know what we might be up against. The fewer blanks I have to work with the better the chance we have in getting back in one piece.”

“The Major had a couple of pots of coffee brewing when I came looking for you. I think he had the same idea.”

“We better give him a hand. Helen is going to wonder where he is before long.”

***
The next few days were uneventful but everybody was on edge. Communication with the remaining Ops unit was pretty regular if sporadic. None of them wanted to accidentally let whoever it was home in on their signal. One ambush was enough for everybody. Then the DekaSpaceBace sent word of an incoming vessel that wasn’t answering any of there hails. Then they announced it shot right by the check points. This was it, Dan felt it in his gut.

“Where is the ship headed?”, The Major demanded.

“I’m pinning down the trajectory,” Michelle informed him.

“You maybe want to hurry that up.”

“It’ll be done, when it gets done,” she said with a small hint of annoyance. After a few very long moments she exclaimed, “Indiana, they’re heading for Indiana.”

“Get them in the air now.” Michelle made the call as Dan headed for the launch bay ready room. They were already in there getting dressed. They boarded the Machine Shepard and took their positions. The ceiling above them opened up and the black and white jet rose into the air fading away as the cloak was activated.

They were unusually quiet, even Boomer wasn’t trying to lighten the mood. Dan looked at each of them then stood up to get their attention. “I know what you guys are thinking. Could this be them? I’ll be honest with, I think it might be. We all know what happened to the last Ops team they encountered. I knew their team leader so I know they were good. But we have one thing they didn’t, we know how these people operate now.” Slowly they nodded in agreement. “So we don’t give them a chance to do this to anybody else. We strike hard, we strike fast and we take these bastards down. Is that clear?”

“Yes sir,” they answered. Hopefully they felt as confident as they sounded. Hell he was wishing he felt as confident as he sounded. But fear was a good thing, the moment you stopped feeling fear was the moment you were dead. They approached the landing site and found the ship sitting there waiting for them in the middle of a field.

Ace landed the Shepard landed close by. They ran down the lamp and powered up the Dekametal. Three figures in armor, the bald gray one apparently in the lead, stood watching them. The female and big one stood at the ready. Dan stopped a few yard from them and the other followed suit. As one they unlatched the D-shots from their packs and leveled them at the trio. “Fire!”, he ordered and they complied. The leader quickly drew his sword and blocked the shots. As the slugs impacted the ground Dan stared at the sword. He griped his D-Shot a little tighter.

“Is that the best you have?”, their leader smirked. “Matox, Zyra begin phase 1,”

“As you wish Waven,” Zyra stated.

“Oh boy, fun time,” Matox clapped as the rack on his back flipped up.

“Scatter!”, Dan yelled. They jumped as Matox fired his lasers. Ace rolled to a knee and brought up her D-Shot. A whip coil wrapped itself around the gun and ripped it out of her hands. D.E. jumped over her with his D-Rod glowing blue and slashed through the coil.

“Damn you,” Zyra cursed clutching her right arm. Ace and D.E said nothing as they drew their D-Shooters and started firing. During the barrage she pressed something on her wrist and disappeared in a flash of light.

“Nobody said they could do that,” Ace said as she turned around. Another whip coil wrapped itself around D.E. ankle and picked him up in the air. Before Ace could react Zyra slammed D.E. into her. Then she did it again then a third time. Both of them were dazed.

The whip coil retracted itself into her left palm. She stepped on Ace’s hand as she reached for a D-Shooter on the ground, “I don’t know how you black badges got the reputation for being so tough.”

Boomer dodged the blows Matox was throwing in his direction. Rev jumped up and tried to plant his feet into his chest. He expected the Alienizer to fall backwards but he bounced off. “Rev!”, Boomer tried the block the hammer like fist aimed at Rev’s head. He took it on the back and went to his knees, it gave Rev enough time to aim his weapon at the huge alien face and fire.

“Ow!”, was all Matox said as he stepped backwards holding his cheek.

“You got to be kidding me,” Boomer muttered in disbelief. He aimed his D-Shot at him and started firing away point plank. All he did was make the huge alien angry. Matox grabbed the D-shot from him and bent it in half. He dropped it to the ground and fumed at the black and yellow clad human, “Fuck.”

“Robert look out!”, Rev tackled him the ground as Matox fist made a small creator in the ground he was standing on. “I believe he was holding back on us.”

“Please don’t tell me things like that,” Boomer told him as they got to their feet and started running. Matox flipped the rack back up and fired. Rev and Boomer went flying and landed hard. The blue alien walked over, picked them up by the back of the head. He barked out a short laugh before throwing them into the side of the ship.

Waven found himself being slightly impressed with this human. Much like the tiger he fought with a controlled rage. And his team wasn’t even dead yet. Dan looked back at the other when he could. His first instinct was to run over and lend them a hind. But he knew how dangerous this one could be. Every time he tried to pull the sword back out of the scabbard Dan aimed a kick or punch at it to force it back in. Then he faked him out when Waven reached the handle then took a quick step back. Dan stumbled foreword as his fist found nothing but air. His head and body snapped around from the backhand that followed.

“Not bad human”, Waven said as he drew the sword. “I wasn’t expecting a species as underdeveloped as you to actually but up a fight. As an artist I always appreciate a challenge, something to push my skill to the limit. I almost got that here today.” While he was talking Dan pulled out his hold out D-Shooter from his back and fired all four shots at Waven. The slugs bounced off his armor but the impact forced him back. Dan jumped to his feet and charged as he brought his D-Rod out. Waven sword glowed as he blocked the swing. Smiling he squeezed the handle the energy pulsed outward sending Dan flying back.

He got back to his feet and put the D-Rod up ready for another attack, “I’m still breathing.”

“And who said I wanted you to stop,” Waven grinned evilly. That distracted Dan enough that Waven pointed the sword at him and the energy around the bald shot out at him. Dan felt the air leave his body as it connected and saw star as he landed on the ground. “Zyar, Matox,” he called out, “Phase 2.”

“Finally,” Zyra said while unleashing on last kick to D.E.’s head before turning her attention to Dan. Matox did the same, dusting his hands off. Dan unsteadily rose to his feet, totally unaware of what was happening. Zyra extended both whip coils, wrapping them around his wrists and held them out making sure he was wide open. Matox raised the rack as Waven pointed his sword at him. They unleashed another barrage, Dan screams of pain were drowned out by the noise. When Waven finally lowered his sword the assault stopped.

Ace, Boomer, D.E. and Rev were just conscious enough the see what happen. They felt helpless as Zrya let go and Dan’s Dekasuit disappeared. His eyes rolled into his head as he fell to his knees, then going face first into the ground. He wasn’t moving. “Cap,” Ace said weakly, her body refusing to get up and help him. Rev and Boomer were having the same problem.

Waven walked over and kicked Dan over to his back, “He’s still breathing, good.”

“Pity,” Zrya pouted.

“Leave him alone!” Boomer got to a sitting postion and just fired away with his D-Shooter. Rev was able to do the same a moment later.

“Matox, if you would,” Waven said wearily. He started for them but Zyra used her coil to knock them away.

“Hey they were mine,” the big one whined.

“It was faster,” Zyra told him.

“No matter,” Waven said as he reached down and grabbed Dan by the shirt. His cap fell off his head as he was hauled up. “This decoy has served it’s purpose. Leave it as a reminder at how easily they were fooled. Return to the ship.” The all pressed something on their wrist and they disappeared with Dan in a flash of light. Ace reached out to where they were before she blacked out.

***
After a hour of not hearing anything the Shepard finally requested clearance to land. Something didn’t sound right to Michelle, Ace sounded different. She got out of her chair and ran for the hanger. The doors to bay open right when the Shepard’s landing ramp was lowering. She knew something was wrong when D.E was the first to leave the jet, Dan was always the first one out. She ran past him and into the jet fearing the worst. Some of her fears were lifted when she saw the med bay was empty. Blowing past Rev and Boomer she entered the cockpit, Ace was standing beside the controls looking downtrodden. But she was the only one there and she was holding his cap in her hands. Michelle looked behind her, she couldn’t have missed him, “Where’s Dan?”

“I…,” she started, “I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?”

“They took him,” Ace looked like she couldn’t believe she just said that.

Michelle grabbed her by the front of her uniform, “They took him? And you just stood there and let them!?”

Rev came back and tried to calm her down, “We did everything we could Michelle. They teleported away before we could stop them.” She let go and walked out of the cockpit without a word. “Michelle,” Rev began.

“Let her go Rev,” Ace told him.

“But she needs somebody right now.”

“Too bad the person she wants isn’t here.” Ace teared up and mentally kicked herself for her choice of words.

***
Chatrox studied the unconscious Stevens for a few moments. He was being held in the air, hands and feet attached to four silver orbs. He grabbed the human by the hair, lifted his head up and studied it. Stevens looked just as self righteous knocked out as he did when he was awake. He had plans for this human, but when the bosses “suggested” he tell what he knew about the black badges he altered his plans. He didn’t junk it entirely, there where still Deka on this miserable planet and the plan can still be altered to affect them a little more directly.

But despite all of that, this part of the plan he did not mind altering one bit. He slowly pulled a knife out from under his cloak. Chatrox scaly lips formed a sick grin as he brought the edge of the knife up to his neck. “That would be a mistake Agent Chatrox,” Waven said coming up behind him. “I need this one alive, for the moment.”

“He won’t talk, if that’s what you’re expecting,” Chatrox told him. “I know him enough to realize he is as stubborn as the universe makes them

“I don’t want him to talk. I want him to watch before we kill him.” Waven turned toward the human then said, “I suggest you leave Agent, if you don’t want him to see you when he wakes up that is. If I am in a generous mode I may call you back to finish him off. Just to see how you do it of course.”

“I left your order with the other two, as arranged.” As he turned invisible he added, “And I better be called back to deliver the finishing blow.” Waven smiled to himself as he heard the footsteps leave the room.

Zyra walked in a moment later. “So why did you want this one alive? You made sure we keep the other leader alive till last.”

“Because an artist doesn’t do anything the same way twice,” he informed her. “I could feel the frustration of the other one as he realized his teammates were dead. I want to see that build in this one, as his are killed right before his eyes. I want to savor his insanity as it happens.”

Zyra studied the orbs, “And didn’t you say that you shouldn’t give these Deka an opening?”

“Yes I did,” he said as he turned to walk out. He pressed a button by the door and four sentry guns popped out of the wall. Zyra gasp in shock and quickly got out of the range of fire. “Each of these guns are connected to one of the orbs. If he some how manages to release a limb they activate and fire. If you want I can arrange a, let say, a personal demonstration.” Zyra shot him a look that could kill. He walked out saying, “An artist never leaves anything to chance.”

***
The Major let them rest for as long as he dared. He knew the faster he found out what happened the faster the can locate them and Dan. If Dan was… no he was still alive. Ace and the other walked in, none of the looked rested and each of them had some paper in their hands. “What we could remember,” she told him as they handed him and Michelle the papers.

“Good,” he said. They scanned the papers, searching for anything they would pop out at them. Rev, of course, had the most information. “Waven, Zrya and Matox. Well, at least we got some names now.”

“I’m running them through the SPD database now,” Michelle told him with out hesitation. As the search ran she looked over Rev’s report. “The head guy called himself an artist?”

“I read that,” Ace said while sitting against the railing and looked at the floor.

“Man, is Cap even alive?”, D.E. wondered out loud.

“We can’t start thinking like that,” Boomer said. “We got to believe Cap’s still breathing.”

“He’s still alive,” Ace told him. “If they wanted Cap dead they would have killed him right there and then.”

“I heard them say he was alive,” Rev added. “But that does not mean that mean they just didn’t take him else where to finish him off.” He looked over to Michelle who put down his report and closed her eyes. “I am sorry Michelle, but it is an option we must consider.”

“Cap’s alive,” Ace repeated. “I know it. When I joined the force, this old pilot took me under his wing. He knew a lot of detectives, ones who would talk about some of their cases. There was this particularly nasty one, he called himself an artist too. He never killed his victims the same way. But they were able to tie him to each murder because he did one thing the same with each one. A signature I guess you would call it.” She looked up, “Whoever this guy is, I praying that I know what his signature is.”

“He kept Mynx alive,” the Major said following her train of thought.

“It ain’t much, but it’s all we got to go on,” Ace got off the railing.

“So they’re using him for bait, like they did on Nagaus 7,” D.E. said. “So how do we not do a repeat of the other Ops unit then?”

“You said they had a teleporter right,” Michelle said as her council beeped, the search was done. “Those are pretty rare to get your hands on. But they’re still traceable. Maybe we can catch them by surprise if I can locate their ship”

“Allow me Michelle,” Rev said. She nodded and started on what she was doing. Rev read over the report, “Not much is known about Zyra and Matox, except that they are mercenaries for hire. Waven has been wanted for mass destruction on several worlds. He also appears to be a weapons designer, developing his own weapons. And selling them to the highest bidder as well.”

“Explains why I didn’t recognized what they were using,” D.E. said. “Could this guy have developed his own teleporter too?”

“He appears to have the intellect to do so,” Rev said. “Hmm.”

“What is it Rev?”, the Major asked.

“According to reports, all three of them disappeared a few months ago. Only recently reappearing on Nagaus 7.”

“They been in training for this,” Pierce said. “I think that pretty much confirms that the Alienizers know about us.”

“They were training a little too well,” Boomer said darkly while crossing his arms. Then he had a thought, one that scared him, “How well do they know us.”

“They haven’t attacked the base,” Ace said, “so I don’t think they know us all that well.” He didn’t look all that relieved and she knew why. “But you might want to call Lisa, just in case. You too D.E.”

“I don’t think they should be the only ones calling their families,” the Major told her. “Just to ease everybody concern.”

“Got it,” Michelle said suddenly.

“Got what?”, Ace wondered.

“The Shepard does a continuous scan of the area when it’s out in the field,” she started. “So I linked up with the computers and ran through the data she collected during that time period. I was able to pinpoint the exact energy signature for his transporter beam.”

“So you know where they’re at?”, D.E. sounded hopeful.

She looked a little defeated, bringing down the mood even further, “No. But if we catch them teleporting again I should be able to lock down the source.”

“To or from there location?”, Ace asked.

“Either one, but I rather be it from their location. In order to increase or chances I’m going to have to link up with the SPD satellites in orbit to get a better coverage area. It’ll take me a few minutes to get that set up though.”

“Do it,” Pierce told her. “I’ll authorize anything you’ll need to get it down.” Michelle would have replied but she was already busy establishing the link.

***
Pierce walked into his office and sat down feeling very weary. He knew there was no point but he couldn’t help but think he could have trained Dan a little better. Pushed him a little harder back in basic. But he knew he pushed Dan to his limits back then. There was nothing more he could have done. He opened one of the drawers on top his desk and pulled out a picture in a frame. In it was a old picture of him, his wife Helen and Dan right when they bought their house. Dan was as excited as they were when they paid it off. Helen even considered him one of the family, in some way so did he.

He looked up and saw Michelle walk by, finally taking a break. She had Dan’s cap sitting on the table as soon as they all agreed to keep it there. All of them saying they were going to hand it to him when they get him back. After a moment he looked back up just in time to see her walk back to the Command Room. He hoped she had a cup of coffee with her at least. They last thing they needed was her dieing at her post trying to find him. Not that everybody else wasn’t working themselves to the bone trying to help her. And what exactly was he doing? Pierce reached back into the drawer and pulled out a small metal box.

Slowly opening it up he set it on the table. Inside was a black License with a white faceplate. The lettering was gold instead of black like the others. Pierce thought it was a joke when they gave it to him. But he took it anyway knowing the tradition behind it all. “So that’s the StormLicense huh?”, he looked back up and saw Ace leaning in the doorway. “Michelle was telling me about it. Are you going out with us next when they show back up?”

“And do what Ace? Hobble my way around the battlefield?” He closed the lid on the box. “I’d be more of a hindrance out there than a help.” Pierce put the box back in the drawer and closed it. “Anything yet?”

“No but we’re still searching for any stray energy reading. The SpaceBase is sending us the data they collected over the last few days. If that ship they were by was a decoy they had to come in from somewhere.”

“Good,” he said nodding. “I’ll contact the other commanders and have them keep an eye out for them.” She went to leave put he stopped her, “As of now they’re your team Ace. Are you ready for it?”

She didn’t answer for a few moments, “I’m just in the pilot seat until we get Cap back.”

“I want to believe he’s still alive too, but we have to prepare for the worst.” She looked unsure at that. “Dan picked you to be his second for a reason Ace. If he didn’t think you could handle the job he wouldn’t have gave it to you in the first place.” He snorted a bit, “Actually he was pretty nervous the first time he had to take over command of a unit too.”

“Really, I never would have thought it looking at him now.”

“You should have seen him back then, I had to calm him down the night before he officially took over. But after a getting a couple of assignments under his belt he found his way and turned into the person you know today.”

She looked skeptical, “How do I know that’s true?”

“Well, I guess you’re going to have to ask Dan when you find him.”

A smile returned to her lips, “I’ll remember to ask him when you’re around.”

“I’ll deny everything of course,” he chuckled.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less Major. I’ll keep you informed if we get anything.” She started to leave but paused, “I’ll do my best Major. And we will get him back.”

“I know you will Ace.” She nodded and headed for the hanger. With the few moments he had alone he stared at the picture one more time. “It was definitely easier to build up her confidence than it was yours Dan.”

***
He had to be in hell, it hurt too much for him to be any where else. He slowly opened his eyes and didn’t see the fire and brimstone he was expecting. Moving his head as little as possible he tried to get a look. His arms and legs were attached to some kind of orb, that explains why he couldn’t move. What worried him more that there were a few more sets by him. Then he saw the guns aimed at him move when he tired to free his hand. Ok, getting free was not an option right about now.

“Ah, you’re finally awake,” the trio leader said. “I was starting to think we caused some sort of brain damage when we captured you.” He stood right in front of him and held his hands behind his back, “Are you accommodations agreeable?” He was going to wipe that smirk right off this alien’s face when he got the chance.

“Why am I still alive?”, he demanded.

“Because it is part of tapestry I designed. Much like this,” He set his OpsLicense on a small platform in front of him, well within reach if his hands were free. “I have often wondered how fast one of you SPD operatives could activate your fabled Dekametal. Is it possible you could get free and transform before the sentry guns blast you to atoms?”

“You’re demented,” Dan said not hiding his disgust. “Did you play these games on Nagaus 7 too?”

“Not these games exactly, that would be boring.” Waven turned his back and Dan eyes went right for the License. “Right now you’re wondering if I’m dumb enough to step into firing range. Use me as a shield as it were. Do you wish to find out?”

“Of course that depends if you think I won’t go for it anyway.”

“Yes that is an interesting variable,” he agreed while turning back around. “One that has crossed my mind more than once. Tell me human, would you actually throw your life away, on a gamble.” Dan felt the fingers on his right hand start to twitch. Waven gave him a small smirk. “I didn’t think so.”

“Why deny myself the chance to kick your ass when my team get me out of here.”

“I’m glad you think that way human, because they will be joining you soon enough. A meal will be served to you in a few hours. I do hope you understand that it will be in liquid form. Do not worry it won’t be poisoned.” Dan watched him leave then looked at his right hand, his glove was still one. Maybe he had a chance after all if he could use the built in sensor. Slowly and carefully he turned his hand around. Then keeping a close eye on the cannons he raised his hand just slightly, then brought it down in a tapping motion. He wasn’t sure how far away from base he was but he had to try something.

In the next room Matox watched as Waven walked over, “He’s trying it, just like you said he would.”

“Of course he is,” Waven crossed his arms and watched intently. “They are trained to use everything at their disposal after all.”

“I don’t get it,” Matox said, “why have us take everything off of him but that. Can he get into contact with the others with that thing?”

“Possible, but the signal won’t penetrate the ships hull. It’s just not strong enough. I was just curious to see how long it will take him to realize that it’s futile and watch his frustration grow.”

Matox started to look a little worried, “The other Alienizers say it not a smart idea to make a Deka angry.”

“The other do not think like I do.” He started paying close attention to the human’s eyes. How they only revealed one thing, determination. Oh this one was in total control of himself. Waven enjoyed breaking people like him. “Find Zyra and tell her to begin training but be ready to leave at a moment notice. I just need to study this one a little longer.” Matox said nothing as he headed out. Oh yes he will enjoy breaking this one.

***
It took her longer than she expected to wrap her head around the idea that she was in charge now. Ace still thought of this as Cap’s team, but now everybody was looking at her. She needed to clear her head, and she only knew one way to do it. Taking one of the spare Machine Hounds to the side she was soon elbow deep into it’s engine. Usually this did the trick when she wanted to forget everything but one thing was still on her mind. He said, “Strike hard, strike fast,” why was that still bugging her? It was SOP by now, no point in questioning it. She stopped what she was doing and just stared at the Hound then at the Shepard for a long time.

Slowly a hint of a plan came to her as she looked back and forth between the two black and white Machines. “Strike ‘em fast then strike ‘em hard,” she said to herself, a smile returning to her face. Catching one of her crew she said, “Put that back together.” Ace ran off to clean up and find the others. Cap did tell her not to think like him.

None of them had to wait long before Michelle got a hit from the satellites scans. “They’re in Nevada this time,” she said. “The signal just appeared.”

“Did you find out where the signal originated?”, Pierce asked.

“I think I got a couple of blips,” she told him not taking her eyes off her monitor. “But they were so close together, and one of them is so faint that it’s hard to be sure. It’s going to take me awhile to separate the signals, if there are two signals that is.”

“Keep working on it,” Pierce told her, “Ace…”

“We’re already in the air.” The call went out to scramble a moment later. As Ace got in her seat she hoped she didn’t barf up her lunch before they got there.

***
“You said they be here,” Zyra said while kicking a rock.

“Patience,” was all Waven said as he searched the night sky. He purposely kept the transmitter beam “loud”, but he didn’t tell them that. An infant could figure out where they were. Unless these human were as backwards as the stories say they are.

“Are you sure?”, Matox asked.

“Be quiet,” Zyra snapped, “before he goes into one of his ‘artist’ monologues again.”

“I do know how you love to hear them Zyra,” Waven taunted. She tested her repaired whip coil on a nearby boulder. She tried not to show her pleasure in the new feature he added. One always had to keep your opponent guessing. An engine could be heard in the distance, one that was getting closer. His sensors confirmed it was the same engine noise emitted from the Deka jet. It quickly came into view and opened fired on them. Zyra and Matox leaped out of the way while he knelt down smiling slightly, “So the rest of the pack has some teeth as well. Matox, welcome them.”

“Right,” He fired at the jet as it spun to it’s side and zigged and zagged to avoid the shots. Two new sounds came out of nowhere. Matox turned around and saw two black and white motorcycles come at him. Rev and Boomer both hit the front brake and swung their back tires into the huge alien knocking him off his feet, “Argh.”

“Damn you,” Zyra spat as she reared back with both hands, ready to shoot the whip coils at them. Then a shot hit her in the shoulder. “Where did that come from?!” On top of a small hill a half mile away D.E. ejected the bullet shell from his sniper rifle and took aim again. Exhaling as he pulled the trigger he hit her in the knee and watched her go down.

Waven was about to order Matox to get up and fire in that direction was a blast knocked him foreword. He turned around to see Ace level her D-Shooter at him while she controlled the Shepard with the pad in her other hand. He saw the ship land behind her while keeping it’s flood lights trained on them. The lights revealed that Boomer had the Hounds weapons aimed at Matox while Rev had his D-Shot aimed at Zyra. “As my friend would say,” she began, “we got you covered six way to Sunday. Give up now and tell us were your hiding Cap.”

“Or what, you’ll delete me?”, Waven taunted. “How will that help you in locating you commanding officer.“ Much like his captive this one body language barely betrayed anything. The human had a good student in this one.

“Even if you don’t tell us anything we’re tracking you teleporter signal as we speak.”

“Then why would you need me then?”, he said mainly to distract her and the others. “Perhaps you want to know if my ship is booby trapped. Perhaps I rigged the ship to self destruct if I am deleted.” Just like he thought that caused a reaction in her and the others. “Are you willing to take that chance?”

Ace felt herself being torn in two. Their mission was to take this guy and his cronies down, but at the expense of Cap’s life? She gripped the handle of her D-Shooter tighter as she quickly made her decision. “Cap wouldn’t want us to spare you to save him.” Rev and Boomer looked at her momentarily in shock, but nodded in agreement. Dropping the pad she reached behind her back for her OpsLiciense.

Zyra took the moment they looked away from her to move. She opened her right palm and extended the whip coil. It wrapped itself around Rev’s leg and before he could react she squeezed her fingers into her palm. A high strength electric charge ran down the coil as Rev stiffened from the jolt, “Argh!”

“Rev!”, Boomer shouted. Matox grabbed the bike by the front tire and threw it up. D.E. fired off a couple of more rounds, mainly at the leader and the woman. Ace held her aim steady on Waven.

“Call them off now,” she ordered.

“Matox,” he sneered, “twelve degrees to your left, maximum range.” The big one turned and fired blindly.

“Damn it,” D.E. dropped the rifle and tried to get out of the way but wasn’t fast enough. He rolled down the hill as the blast rocked him.

Ace didn’t hesitate to fire the moment he ordered an attack. Waven armor protected him from the energized slugs just long enough for him to draw his sword and swat away the rest. She dodged the blast that came from the sword and went over her options. Seeing no choice she drew her D-Rod and put it up in a guard position. This was not how the plan was suppose to go down. Waven just stood there with blade resting on his shoulders. “This fight isn’t over yet.”

“Oh I think it is,” he said casually and looked back. Ace resisted the urge to cruse out loud. Zyra kept shocking Rev until his Dekasuit disappeared. Matox just pounded away with his fist until Boomer’s suit did the same. He raised his hand for one more strike but Zyra wrapped a whip coil around it to stop him.

“We want them alive you dolt,” she scolded him.

“But I like hearing them scream,” he whined.

“I do believe the move is yours to make,” Waven said to Ace. She felt the D-Rod button under finger, thinking she might have the chance to get this guy before his team could do anything to the others. But that would leave the others open to retaliation. Slowly Ace lowered her arms and let the D-Rod drop to the ground. “Pity, I was hoping you put a fight.” Without warning he energized the sword and swung it at her. She felt the blade crash against her chest. As soon as she got back top her feet he slashed her again. Ace pulled her D-Knife and threw it at him. Waven caught it in the air, but he was caught off guard when Ace charged him and tackled him around the waist.

She tried to get the sword away from him, at least that way she stood a chance. Then Matox hand wrapped around her neck and lifted her off of him. She kicked away at his arm trying to make him let go. “I must admit, I admire the fight in this one,” Waven said. If Ace wasn’t wearing the helmet she would have spit at him. “Give her to Zyra.” Matox looked disappointed as she was flung to the third one.

“Not so tough now are you?”, Zyra mocked.

“Go to hell bitch,” Ace told her. He whip coils wrapped around her wrists and hauled her up. Zyra smiled as she squeezed her palms, shocking Ace. She held there a little too long as Ace was knocked out by the time her suit faded away and fell to the ground.

Waven walked up and studied her, “I wasn’t expecting this one to be so young. Take them to base.” He reached down to pick her up and held Ace under his arm.

“What about the one out there?”, Zyra said nodding her head toward D.E. direction.

“Leave him,” Waven told her. “Why waist the time to search for him, especially if he’s a corpse.” With Matox holding Boomer and Zyra grabbing Rev, he said, “Return to base.” And a flash of light later all of them were gone.

***
Michelle knew something was wrong when she got the blip again. Either they ran or…, no point in thinking like that. “OpsBase to Ops5 come in,” after several moments she repeated, “Ops5 come in. Ops2, Ops3, Ops4 somebody come in.” Silence was the only thing that greeted her. She put her face in her hands as the Major put a hand on the railing. Then a call came in giving them both hope, “OpsBase.”

“Ops2 here,” D.E. said weakly.

“D.E.,” the Major said, “what is the status of the others.”

“I don’t know, they were gone when I stopped seeing stars. All I’m seeing is the Shepard and the Hounds out there.”

“Did they take the others?”, Michelle said mainly to her self but the others heard her.

“Be my best guess, I still barely seeing straight after that barrage. They might have thought I was dead or something and decided to leave me here.”

“Scope out the area the best you can D.E.,” the Major told him. “We’ll have somebody out there to pick you up momentarily.”

Michelle tuned them out as she concentrated on the blips she got. She believed with everything she had that there were two each time. Now she just had to prove it. Starting with the last one she ran the signal through several scans. She had to repeat the process a couple of times but she finally found what she was looking for, the secondary blip. As she thought it was so close to the stronger transmission it was easy to miss. She did the same with the first hit and found the same thing. That was the easy part, now she had to figure out why they didn’t register a bigger hit on the transmission source.

Pulling up the sensor data she compared the weaker hit to what was collected to what was recorded. This part took way too long for her liking with the stakes involved, but slowly she was starting to narrow down her search area. The Major remained quiet during all of this trusting her to get the job done. “Come on, come on,” she muttered, “where in the hell are you hiding. And more importantly what’s hiding you.” She was able to track it as far as the mid west, that’s when she noticed a strange level of interference. It almost looked like background noise but something seemed off about it. More than likely it was just her imagination but she was getting desperate enough to look into it. She located the source of the interference quickly enough. “I don’t believe it.”

“What did you find Michelle,” Pierce asked sounding hopeful.

“That decoy ship they left,” she answered.

“What about it? The SPD tech went over it with a fine tooth comb and found nothing. Not even when they took it apart in a clean lab.”

“It wasn’t on the ship itself,” she said while bringing up a computer generated image on the main screen. “But the ship may have left something behind. I’m getting a field of some kind being generated underground. From these reading it’s covering a ten mile area.”

“Why didn’t we detect it before now?”

“Because it’s powerful enough to cover their tracks but weak enough not to be easily noticed. It’s a work of a genius, or an artist,” she added, leaving a bad taste in her mouth. She was able to filter out the interference from the readings. In moments she got a lock, “Like I thought, they been in Indiana the whole time.”

“Hiding under our noses the whole time too.” He watched her get up and take off her lab coat. “And what do you think you’re doing?”

“I am going to pick up D.E. then we are going to Indiana,” she told him plainly.

“Michelle you’re not a field agent.”

“No, I’m special situation only. It doesn’t get any more special than this.”

This was not good. “It just the two of you,” he argued, “Against a trio that’s captured most of the unit. Even Dan would say this was nuts.”

“And Dan wouldn’t sit on his ass either while the team was held captive,” she snapped. Pierce turned away slightly. Losing some of the edge in her voice she said “I’m sorry Major, I really am. But like you said this was an attack on us. It maybe unit pride, but we shouldn’t enlist the other units until we exhaust all of our options.”

She headed for the hanger and ready room when Pierce spoke again, “Michelle.” When she turned around he took Dan cap off the table and handed it to her. “Make sure he gets it.” Nodding she took it and placed it on her head.

Pierce looked around the empty command room the moment he was alone. It was a feeling he wasn’t comfortable with, especially when one of the tech took Michelle’s chair after she left. He looked at the canes in his hands. If he was smarter back there on Nagaus 7 he wouldn’t have thought twice about evening the odd. Slowly he headed for his office and hoped everything turned out alright.

***
Dan wasn’t sure what was worse, the fact he wasn’t alone anymore or that none of them were awake to talk to him. Waven had strung them up with the same orbs as him, with their License in front of them. That bastard of an E.T. had to be loving thing. Hanging beside him, Ace finally started to stir. “God, what hit me?”

“Pretty much the same thing as me,” he told her. He watched her try to shake the cobwebs from her head. When it looked like she was going to put her hand to her forehead he warned her, “You might want to think twice about that.” With his head he gestured at the guns in front of them.

“Can my first time in command get any worse,” she said, almost whispering.

“Everybody’s alive, that what counts.”

“Everybody captured too if you haven’t noticed.” She looked around the room, “Well, almost everybody. You could not have done this bad your first time in command.”

“Nearly got half my unit killed,” he told her. “So far you’re doing better than I did.”

“You call this better?”, she asked in disbelief. “We got our butts kicked.”

“I saw,” Dan informed her. “Our decided to filter in a image in here to let me see what happened. Your plan was good Ace, you put the hurt on them. More than we did the first time we faced them.”

“It wasn’t good enough,” she said darkly.

“I didn’t see the coil upgrade coming either. And I’ve been here for the past couple of days. Just like I didn’t know you could fly the Shepard with the remote pad like that.”

Ace smiled slightly, “I didn’t either until just then. It seemed like a good idea at the time.” She went quiet for a few more moments. Dan saw the uncertainty in her eyes as she studied the gun in front of her.

“You know,” he said after a bit, “there are times I forget you’re the youngest person on the team. You have your stuff together way more than I did when I was 20. I couldn’t even imagine being in charge of anything. Hell, I was more like Boomer back then, which isn’t a good thing”

“I heard that,” Boomer said weakly.

“Just making sure you’re awake kid. Rev what about you?”

“I am present Captain,” he answered, “although not knowing exactly where is a bit bothersome at the moment.”

“Join the club,” Boomer said. “What about you Cap, how you holding up?”

“Outside of waiting for you goldbricks to show up, terrible. And could you not use the words ‘holding up’ while we’re like this?”

“Ah,” Waven said as he entered, “I wonder how you acted around your subordinates.” He walked in front of each one, starting with Ace. “I took you for the means to an end type of commander. That they were just tools to you and not people with their own wants and needs.”

“All you had to say was that I reminded you of yourself, that would be insult enough,” Dan said not taking his eyes off of him. He notice the way he would glance over to him briefly as he studied the others. What was he looking for?

“And what are these people but tools to be used?”, he said almost casually. “Surely you must see that at times out there in the field. The right tool for the job as it were.”

“You didn’t go mad after all this time listening to this guy Cap?”, Ace asked. “I’m impressed.”

Waven gripped her face, “Adults are speaking child.”

“And that’s my second in command you’re talking to,” Dan informed him. For the first time Waven looked caught off guard as he let her go and took a moment to get back control.

“Well after tonight’s performance I assume you are reconsidering that position.”

“Not for a second. She hasn’t disappointed me for a second since I picked her for the job. Hell, after seeing what she came up with I’m glad she’s on my side.”

Their “host” snorted, “If being captured so easily impresses you then I am wasting my here.”

“Were you watching the same battle I was or is your head that far up your own ass?”, Dan taunted. Waven snorted again and left. It felt damn good to get into his head for a change, even if it was only a little.

Rev was the first one to speak, “He has been doing this to you the entire time?”

“I got to go with Ace,” Boomer added, “I’m impressed.”

“I’m sure being around us helped,” Ace tried to joke.

“Remind me to tell you about some of the jokers I used to hang around with back in the day when we get out of this.”

It wasn’t long before Waven returned, looking more like his usual smug self. “We appear to have company coming.” He tapped a few keys on a panel beside the door. Dan knew what was going to happen before an holo image from the ship’s scanner appeared in the air. A black and white shuttle type craft landed within sensor range. “So how many SPD operatives to you have on standby?” Dan said nothing but two popped into his heard right away.

***
Michelle had found D.E. easy enough, he stayed around the Shepard until somebody arrived. Convincing him she was in her right mind was another story. She came close to pulling rank before finally calming down enough to explain her plan. He still wasn’t completely sold but he agreed it was the only thing they had at the moment. And maybe if luck was on their side they catch Waven and his crew with their pants down.

Hiding the pod in what she thought was a safe spot, D.E. suggested they go in fully equipped. A good idea considering they might not get the chance to do so inside the ship. Michelle went ahead as D.E. watched they’re backs. Keeping a eye on the scanner in her hands, it wasn’t much but it helped her get a rough idea what was in front of them. Of course she give anything for one of Dan sky probes right about now. “Michelle,” D.E. whispered, “is that a interface port over there? Do you think you can hack into it?”

She looked over to where he was pointing, and it did look like one. “Don’t you think that’s a littler risky?”

“And what we’re doing right now isn’t? Besides if we know where the others are we can get there a bit quicker than just walking around in the dark.” He had a point.

“Watch my back,” she told him.

“Thought that was Cap’s job?”, he joked. She was glad he was trying to keep her from going nuts. Michelle punched in the code for the keyboard into the keypad on her left forearm as she carefully walked toward it. Plugging into the port she set up her own security walls before starting cracking the ships’. After that was done she had to make sure nobody noticed she was in there. Alien symbols appeared before her eyes so she had to waste a few moments bringing up the translating program and let it turn the symbols into English. Sweat formed on her brow as she started breaking down the wall around the programs until she found the one she was looking for, internal sensors.

That part done she watched as the sensors grid automatically went from deck to deck. Another time waster but it was a little safer than doing a more aggressive scan. She wanted to jump for joy when the sensors indicated were three human and one Zalmanian life signs were detected. A feeling she quickly lost when she realized those were the only life signs being detected. “I got a location,” she whispered. D.E. nodded. Before she could pull out of the system another set of alien symbols appeared, there were different than the others so it took longer to see what they meant.

“I see you,” was the translation.

“No, D.E. we got to…” was all she got out before a blast rip a hole in the side of the ship. Matox walked out and waved the smoke out of his face.

“I said use the airlock you dolt!,” Zyra screamed at him.

“But they might have gotten away,” Matox explained.

D.E. pushed Michelle behind him as he started firing with his D-Shot. “Find that airlock and get the others!”, he told her “I’ll hold these guys off.”

“And exactly how long would you be able to do that, might I ask.” Waven came up behind them cutting off that route. “I’m almost curious to find out.” Michelle kept her hands behind her back, quietly punching a five digit code.

Putting a hand on what she hoped was a conduit she said, “Electro charge!.” A quick pulse ran down the conduit before hitting Zyra with the full blast. D.E. took the opportunity to unlease several shots into Matox face. He tried to cover up after the first couple hits, getting angrier with each hit. Finally he pounded the ground causing it to shake. Seeing it coming D.E grabbed Michelle and jumped out of the way.

“Careful you idiot!”, he yelled. “If you caused anything to kill the ones we have before I am ready and I will have your head!”

“He made me angry,” the big one said, sounding depressed. “And they hurt Zyra.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Waven pulled his sword. “I’ll handle this.”

D.E. first instinct was to shot, but he knew Waven would deflect he shots. Or could he deflect them from this range? Was he willing to press his luck and find out? Yes he was. D.E. fired and prayed. Waven barely got his sword up in time as the slug bounced off and nicked his shoulder armor. Then he fired again, with the same result. Third time had to be the charm he thought as he pulled the trigger again. Waven swung his sword like a bat and knocked it back at them.

“Ugh,” Michelle grunted as it hit her in the leg.

“Michelle!,”, D.E. was distracted long enough for Waven to race in and sliced the D-Shot in half. He dropped his half and had his D-Shooter half pulled out of it’s holster when the alien struck him in the chest. He fell into Michelle who tried to catch him. As Waven came in D.E. kicked out his leg catching him guard and almost making him loose the sword. Waven looked disgusted as he tightened his grip on the sword. Michelle turned quickly into a roundhouse that caught him off guard with a solid hit. D.E. saw him stagger then jumped in with a straight right to the nose.

Zyra leaned against the hull watching Waven troubles with these two Dekas. “No master brush stroke for this fight Waven?”, she asked enjoying the scene entirely.

“One,” he grunted, blocking an backhand from Michelle, “does not need not need an masterstroke for every situation. Particularly with these two.” Both Michelle and D.E. punched him in the chest. Waven saw his opening and kicked D.E. away. “Anyone can see that thisone is not very proficient at hand to hand. While this one,” he grabbed Michelle by the left wrist and held it in the air, “admittedly wearing a Dekasuit of a design I have never seen before, weapons are obviously tied to this device on her arm. Even you two could handle these two with no problem.”

“Let her go!”, D.E. told him pulling his D-Shooter. Waven made sure to keep Michelle between them.

“Now this is a interesting situation,” Wavan said. He twisted Michelle around so she could see D.E.. “Here I am wide open, with only your team mate in front of me. Let me ask, how good a shot are you?” D.E. didn’t answer as he stood up. “Are you asking yourself that very question? Is it possible that you can shot past this one and hit what little of me is exposed? Perhaps you are considering taking her out before you try taking a shot at me.”

D.E. felt a chill go down his spine at the idea. He would never shoot one of his own to get the bad guy. This bastard was just trying to get in his head. Then he saw Michelle tap her leg with her right hand. No way she was thinking what he thought she was thinking. She gave a small, barely noticeable nod, almost as if she was reading his mind. Praying to God Cap and the others were going to understand he changed his aim to her leg. Waven pushed Michelle toward him. “Get down!,” he shouted firing away. The alien took the shots as he swung his sword unleashing an energy wave.

He stepped on D.E. neck, apply just enough pressure to make him start choking. “You were actually going to do it weren’t you? You were actually going to shot her. I didn’t realize your commander trained you to be so ruthless. I am actually impressed.” He turned his attention to Michelle, who hand was going for the keypad. “What about you, can you type in whatever command you were planning on before I crush his throat?”

Michelle finger hovered over the first key when a coil wrapped around her neck and shocked her. She fell to the ground as her Dekasuit faded away. Waven immediately ran over and grabbed Zyra by the neck and held her up in the air. “I told you I would handle these two!”

“I… was getting… bored,” she choked out.

“Please let her go,” Matox begged, “she didn’t mean nothing.” Waven kicked him away and dropped Zyra in disgust.

He hauled Michelle to her knees by her hair and held the edge of his blade to her neck, applying a little pressure. “My patients is at a end,” he spoke to D.E.. “Now unless you surrender now I will end this one’s life right before your eyes.” Not seeing any other choice D.E. deactivated the Dekametal and held his hands over his head. “Good, you have some common sense.” Calming himself down he ordered, “Take these two and hang them up with others. I do believe it’s time for the next part of my plan to start.” Matox quickly complied while Zyra looked at her hand than back at him. “Did you actually think I would give the two of you weapons that could be turned on me?” She hissed and followed Matox back into the ship. He studied his blade for a moment before following them into the ship.

***
Waven manipulated some controls as Dan and the others watched helpless. Matox held D.E. to the rack as Zyra worked a counsel to activate the orbs to hold him in place. Then they did the same with Michelle. Waven calmly walked in and stood in front of Dan. He smirked as the human attempted to keep his face emotionless. “So, is everybody here now?”, he asked with a note of whimsy in his voice. “Nobody else is going to drop by unannounced, witch was very rude I might add.” He looked around the room and looked like he was thinking something over. “But I must say it is getting rather crowded in. Perhaps we should make some room.”

“What are you babbling about now?”, Ace demanded.

“Maybe you should be the one to go,” Waven said studying Dan out of the corner of his eye. “Have the student die before the master. It does tear on one’s soul, or so I have heard.” He walked over to Rev, “Or maybe the outsider of the group. Put him out of his obvious misery.” Rev didn’t dignify the remark with a response. He quietly did the same with the others, always making sure he kept an eye on Dan. Waiting for any kind of reaction from him, telling him which of these people would have the most impact. Then he stood in font of Michelle and got it. His face remained emotionless but his eyes were another story. The edges crinkled slightly and a warning flashed in them that he didn’t see with the others. “Her,” he pointed at Michelle and slide a finger across his throat.

“No!”, Ace and Boomer shouted.

“You betrayed yourself my friend,” Waven told him. Matox took her off the rack and at Waven direction forced her to her knees before Dan. They stared at each other, both of them mouthing the words I love you. Matox held her in place as Waven stood behind her. “You appear to have each others hearts. Now I know to take hers,” He held up the sword, the tip pointed at her back. “Do not worry, she won’t be lonely. The others will join her when the time is right.”

“Pray I don’t get free,” Dan told him coldly. Waven smiled at him.

“I would advise against that,” a voice said. Everybody looked around before looking to the hallway leading to the bridge of the ship. The Major stood there with a very determined look on his face.

“Major?”, Boomer said in disbelief.

Waven recognized the SPD command uniform. “So the actual commander finally decided to come out of hiding. Or did you, as they say, lose your mind.”

“Maybe,” he said twirling his cane in small circles on the floor as he studied them. “Then again if the people under me can have their crazy moments, than so can I. Let’s cut to the chase. I am ordering you to let them go.”

“Tough talk from a cripple,” Zyra snorted.

“Crude, but essentially correct,” Waven agreed. “If you are the last of the black badges on this planet then I saw the day is already lost.”

Again he said, “Maybe.” He let the cane drop to the floor, “But we have a saying on this planet.” Reaching behind his back he pulled out the StormLicense, “It’s not over until the fat lady sings. And she not even close to warming up as far as I’m concerned.” He held the License up to his chest, “Emergency!”, he brought the license foreword and pressed the button on top, “DekaStorm!”

Pierce was surrounded by a black digital field as he threw off the command coat. Dekametal formed around him transforming into a jet black bodysuit. It flashed again forming red armor around his feet, shins, knees, elbow and hands. Finalizing into blood red chest armor as a black one hundred burned into it. “Face on!”, A red helmet shaped like an army helmet appeared around his head.

A fire started burning behind him as he brought his hand to his chest, “Striking down a hundred enemies from the shadows. The bringer of hell on Earth.” He brought the arm down in a slashing movement making the flame grow higher. “Soldier of the Inferno, DekaStorm!”

“My, wasn’t that impressive,” Waven tone implying he was feeling the opposite. “So I suppose this is where we see if the old dog still has any fight left in him.”

“Right after this,” He switched his License to Judgment, “Target orders.” The room went black as a red X and a blue circle started flashing front of him. Waven just stood there with his arms crossed while Zyra smirked at the whole situation. Matox bounced in place as the License scanned them. After a minute the X shined brightly before them, “Eliminate targets.”

Waven barked out a laugh, “Ha, we have been X, again.”

“This is the third time too,” Matox was nearly chomping at the bit to get this started.

“I do believe so, I do believe that’s a record too. Remind me to check on that once we are finished here. But this… individual is not worth our time, maybe if he wasn’t hampered as he was it’d be a challenge. Zrya it’s time to use the package.” With a nod she hit a switch on the wall and three Igadroids dropped down. Each of them threw four grenade, forming eight Batsuroids. They threw more that made a huge number of Anaroids he didn’t want to count.

“I guess nobody ever heard of the easy way,” Pierce commented. He reached down and grabbed the handle hanging from his waist. “D-Sword Blaster!” Two metal bands ran up his arm and wrapped around his forearm. Pierce studied the situation, the room was crowded and they could get in each others way if he played this right. “Rifle mode,” two barrels extended from the grip and he fired at will. It didn’t take long for those who could to fire back. Pierce was forced to run out the bridge and into a side passage and he felt every bit of it in his leg. Looking back he saw what he thought was them putting Michelle back into that contraption. At least he didn’t have to worry about anything there.

The droids tried to surround him but he kept blasting away. An Igadroid jumped over and landed in front of him. Raising it’s cross blade Pierce quickly said, “Sword mode.” A part of the bottom band swung up and extended forming a sword of his own and blocked the blow. The Igadrid kept swinging away forcing him back into the group behind him. But right now his leg giving out on him was him main concern, then things would be over for good. Thinking quick he shouted ‘Rifle mode” and blasted the Igadroid in the chest. Feeling a blow coming behind him he ducked and rolled foreword trying to come up on his good leg, but still feeling it in his bad one. He had to end this fast.

Extending the sword again he faced the group before him and readjusted his grip on his weapon. An Batsuroid and a Igadroid lead a small charge of Anaroids. Pierce stepped out of the Batsuroid way and slashed the Anaroid behind it at the waist. Turning quickly he slashed the Batsuroid up the back. The Igadroid caught him from behind but the Major was able to stab it’s leg taking out support junction that made it lose it’s balance. Pierce shook free and slashed across the neck. He backed up knowing this was getting him nowhere. Time to thin out the ranks. He backed up a few steps and readied himself.

Extending his right arm to the side the room grew dark and a fire started to grow behind him. Slowly he lifted it up in a circular motion until it was pointed to his left. Feeling the heat of the flames at his feet Pierce shouted, “Fire wave slash!” and ran at the droids who were now trapped by the flames. Slashing back and forth an energy wave followed the swords movements and he cut them down. Finally he ran out of opponents and stopped, “Got you,” he muttered and leaned against a wall for support.

***
Waven listened to t he sounds of battle ringing through out his ship. It was music to his ears. His joy was increased by the look of some of his captives as they heard it as well. Zyra, as usual was getting impatient. “Are you going to change the plan now and force the cripple to watch instead of this one?”

“No,” he said gripping Dan’s face forcing him to look at him. Even now he still had that determined look in them. “My target has always been this one. The true heart of any unit is the one who leads them into action, not the one who orders them there.” Dan gave in to his rage and spit in his face. “Are you’re walls finally starting to crack?”, he taunted. It wasn’t long before they realized the fighting had stopped. “Who do you think prevailed? We’ll find out soon enough I ordered the Igadroids to drag what the carcass of whatever they encountered back to me.”

Before long a single set of foot steps could be heard coming toward them. Then Pierce came limping into view. Waven and the others joined him on the bridge and waited. “One last time, let them go.”

“I think not,” Waven told him.

“Fine, Rifle mode.” Pirce pointed the weapon at him and them. Again the area went dark and fire blazed behind him. Waven stood there with his hands on his hips, but the others behind him were starting to get a little nervous. Finally the energy built up enough, “Burning Shot!,” and he pulled the trigger. His leg gave out at the same moment and his blast went between Waven and Matox who jumped. Collapsing to the floor, the Major grabbed his knee, “Ugh.”

“Oh my, they mighty DekaStorm actually missed,” Waven feigned surprise despite at how relieved the others looked.

The DekaStorm suit faded revealing the smirk Pierce was carrying on his face, “Who said I missed?”

“That damn bastard,” Zyra said looking back. Waven did the same, the control for the holding rack and sentry guns were destroyed. After a few moments Dan came out leading the others onto the bridge. Each one holding their License in their hand. Waven raised an eyebrow has his first captive tried to get some of the feeling back into his arms quickly.

Dan only said one thing, “Change standby,” to his left Ace, Boomer and Rev nodded while Michelle and D.E. did the same on his right. “Emergency!”, as one the raised their OpsLicense across their chest then pushed them foreword, “DekaOps!”

Michelle did the same while adding, “DekaData!”

Dan was covered in Dekametal that turned into a black bodysuit in a burst of light. A dark red strip traveled down from his shoulders to his boots, the shape of the number one forming on the left side of his chest. The metal formed a backpack on his back and the D-Shot appeared in a flash of light. “Face on!”, Dekametal flowed around his head forming a dark red helmet. “Ops1!”

D.E. was covered in Dekametal that turned into a black bodysuit in a burst of light. A dark blue strip traveled down from his shoulders to his boots, the shape of the number three forming on the left side of his chest. The metal formed a backpack on his back and the D-Shot appeared in a flash of light. “Face on!”, Dekametal flowed around his head forming a dark blue helmet. “Ops2!”

Rev was covered in Dekametal that turned into a black bodysuit in a burst of light. A dark green strip traveled down from his shoulders to his boots, the shape of the number three forming on the left side of his chest. The metal formed a backpack on his back and the D-Shot appeared in a flash of light. “Face on!”, Dekametal flowed around his head forming a dark green helmet. “Ops3!”

Boomer was covered in Dekametal that turned into a black bodysuit in a burst of light. A dark yellow strip traveled down from his shoulders to his boots, the shape of the number four forming on the left side of his chest. The metal formed a backpack on his back and the D-Shot appeared in a flash of light. “Face on!”, Dekametal flowed around his head forming a dark yellow helmet. “Ops4!”

Ace was covered in Dekametal that turned into a black bodysuit in a burst of light. A dark pink strip traveled down from her shoulders to her boots, the shape of the number five forming on the left side of her chest. The metal formed a backpack on her back and the D-Shot appeared in a flash of light. “Face on!”, Dekametal flowed around her head forming a dark pink helmet. “Ops5!”

Michelle was covered in Dekaetal that turned in to a black and white version of the DekaSwan suit. A ten number keypad appeared on her wrist as a backpack with two cylinders on the sides formed on her back. “Face on!,” the metal flowed around her head forming a white helmet. She held her left up top her chest, “Officer of the information highway,” she swung it back and punched her right fist foreword, “Dekadata!”

“Special Police!,” Dan shouted and the lights on the side of their heads flashed to life. As one they stated, “DekaOps!”

The two groups stared at each other. Dan finally broke the silence, “You saw the order, eliminate targets. Pair up and take them down.” D.E. and Boomer bumped fists as Matox wringed his hands together. Ace glanced over to Rev who nodded in response as Zyra crossed her arms. Michelle stepped closer to Dan who didn’t take his eyes off of Waven. The alien did the same. Slowly balling his hands into fists he lowered his head slightly as he added, “By any means necessary.”

Waven grinned at the rage underlining his voice. “Matox, Zyra prepare for plan delta.” DekaOps charged their targets and soon as they got in range the aliens activated their teleporter and all of them disappeared.

Pierce used a nearby counsel to get to his feet and try to figure out where they went. “God speed.”

***
Boomer, D.E. and Matox appeared at a near by quarry. The huge alien recovered faster from the transport and started attacking. D.E. and Boomer had a hard time staying one step ahead of his blows. “How is a freak that big that fast?”, Boomer wondered out loud.

“We gotta stay in close,” D.E told him while jumping out of the way of a sledgehammer like blow. “I don’t think he can fire those weapons in his back at close range.”

Matox pounded the ground causing a small section of it to shake. “Too bad he doesn’t need it to fire at close range.” Just then Matox flipped up the weapon rack and fired a burst of laser at them.

“So much for that idea,” D.E. muttered.

“Catch,” Boomer shouted out as he tossed D.E. his D-Shooter. Firing away with guns in both hands D.E. tried to circle around Matox while Boomer went the other way blasting away with his D-Shot. D.E jumped for his life as Matox turned toward him and unleashed another barrage. When he did the same with Boomer D.E. got a good look at his back. That might have been custom equipment but he recognized a power pack when he saw one.

They got up and tried to regroup behind a rock wall. “I think I have an idea,” D.E. said catching his breath. He outlined his basic idea quickly while keeping an eye on Matox. “Ready buddy?”, he asked.

“Wait,” Boomer grabbed his arm, “I got a better idea. Cover me.” Boomer ran around the wall and right at Matox while reaching into his pack.

“I’m surrounded by nuts,” D.E. muttered in amazement as he supplied cover fire. Boomer didn’t change course as Matox laughed out loud and brought his hands up over his head. Boomer jumped as they came down at him. As he flipped over he put two explosive charges on the power pack.

“D.E.!”, Boomer shouted as he tossed something over Matox. He ran out and caught it, the object was a detonator. He quickly got the idea. The charges started beeping as Matox realized what happened. He tried to reach for the charges and get them off but his bulk and the armor and weapons prevented him.

Boomer held up the other detonator and said as he got clear, “On three… three!” Both of them pulled the trigger and the charges went off. The pack got damaged and malfunction resulting in an explosion that incinerated Matox. “Got ‘im!”.

Boomer slowly walked over to Boomer and tossed the detonator back to him, “Now that was a bit unnecessary, wasn’t it?”

“Hey, it was your idea was to take out pack on his back. This way we made sure it was done. Besides, Cap did say by any means necessary.” Boomer looked back at what was left of Matox, “And I always wanted to do that.”

“Buddy, you’re sick in the head.” He put an arm round his shoulder, “And I’m glad I’m not the one who’s gotta explain what happened to Cap and the Major.”

***
Ace, Rev and Zyra found themselves in an abandoned town. Ace attacked high as Rev went low. They got through the whip coils and tackled her to the ground. As they struggled on of the cold found Rev foot, “Get off of me you insect!,” she commanded and flung him off. Ace jumped off when she thought she felt one come toward her. They pulled their D-Shooter and started firing. Zyra coils flailed wildly as she desperately tried to block the shots.

“This is getting us no where,” Ace said trying to think of something. A coil shot out a hit her in the gut. “Damn it,” she grunted. She saw another one coming down at her head. At the edge of her vision she Rev jump and run up a side of a building in an arch firing away at Zyra. She pulled back the coils and crouched to decrease the size of his target. When he landed on the other side of her Ace leveled her weapon too. “You want to call it quits now or do you want to see how us black badges really earned our reputations?”

“Still deluding yourself child?”, Zyra sneered and she disappeared again.

“Not this again,” Ace said as she quickly scanned the area. “Rev you hearing anything?”

“I am not sure Trish,” he said doing the same. They stood back to back to cover each other. Then the coils emerged from underground and hit them. She was starting to seriously hate this bitch. Zyra appeared in a flash again just long enough for them to draw a bead and fire before flashing away.

Rev suddenly said, “Behind us.” She didn’t even hesitate to turn around and fire. Zyra cursed and disappeared again. Rev didn’t have time to speak as the coils knocked them away. Ace hit the ground hard as Rev landed a few feet away from her. When he didn’t start moving right away she started getting worried and angry.

“That’s it,” she unlatched her D-Shot and ran at Zyra firing away not caring about the coils. Zyra started backing away as the shots impacted her armor. Ace jumped over the coils and kicked her in the face. When she landed Ace smashed the butt of the D-Shot into her face. Zyra cried out in pain and Ace kicked her down. She was getting ready to smash her again.

“Trish,” Rev said. She looked back and saw Rev standing there. A wave of relief washed over her. “Shall we complete the orders we were assigned?”

She nodded, “Right.” Running over and standing next to Rev they faced Zyra who was just now getting up. Locking their D-License into their D-Shots they pumped the grip. “Ready,” she said as energy traveled through the D-Shot and into the barrel. Level their weapons at Zyra she ordered, “Strikeout!”. Pulling the trigger two blue energy streams fired out and hit Zyra. She was deleted.

“Got you,” Ace said. Turning to Rev she punched in the shoulder, hard. “You scared me half to death!”

Rubbing his shoulder he said, “I am sorry Trish. But as you say I had the wind knocked out of me.”

“Good, I’m just glad you alright. Sorry about the shoulder thing.”

“It is alright, the Captain will not hear about this from me,” he told her with some humor in his voice.

“I wasn’t even thinking about that. How come you never told us you could do that wall running thing?”

“I never saw a need for it before now.”

Ace snorted, “I was halfway expecting you to say you never asked.” Looking around she wondered out loud, “So where are we anyway?”

***
Dan made sure Michelle alright as they appeared in a cave before charging Waven. The alien stood there waiting for him to attack. Unexpectedly Dan slide down at his feet. Waven jumped over him, which is just what Dan wanted, “Now!” Waven saw too late that Michelle had the D-Colt and fired three shots at him. Each slug hit him in the chest forcing him to the ground. “Get up,” Dan told him.

Waven slowly did so, still with that blasted smile on his face. “Well done human, I didn’t think you were capable of anything so deceitful.” A punched he didn’t see coming rocked Dan. “But you Deka still have that code of honor that makes you weak.” Dan swung around with a back hand that connected. “Did that feel good human?”, he said wiping some blood off his chin.

“Shut up and find out.” They started exchanging blows, blocking where they had too and striking where they could. Dan knew he was at a disadvantage being held captive for as long as he was. Waven knew it too and attacked accordingly. Michelle stood back knowing this was something he had to do first, but it wasn’t easy to just watch at the moment.

Dan step back and pulled out his D-Rod and D-Knife. Waven drew his broadsword as the human changed his grip on the knife so the blade pointed down. Bring them up in front of in a guard position Dan saw the alien hold the sword up in front of him. Waven attacked first forcing Dan to bloke or evade his swings as best he could. Backing him up against the wall Waven spun and aimed the edge of the blade at his head. Dan crossed the knife and rod and forced the blade to miss over his head. Dan kicked him away as Waven looked shocked.

“My friend was beheaded and you carry a sword. Did you think I didn’t know that was coming?”

Waven smile went a little bigger. “I see it now. It suddenly becomes so clear to me. I hurt you even before I targeted you. I was in your head before you even laid eyes on me. Oh, this is just perfect.”

“Do you ever shut up?” Dan charged blindly and took a kick to the chin. Waven put the sword on his shoulder and stood over him.

“The tiger was in a similar position on many occasions on Nagaus 7. At one point he even begged for his life.” Michelle knew he was just trying to get under Dan skin and could tell it was working.

He started attacking wildly before she could stop him. “And you’re a damn liar!”. Waven just parried or dodged each strike. He suddenly pulsed the energy around the blade that knocked Dan back. Waven pointed the tip of the blade at Dan

Michelle couldn’t stand back any more. Running she brought up her left arm and ran her right index finger down the first row on the keypad. She got between them, crossed her arms, “Barrier shield.” Throwing the wide open and a clear energy disk appeared in front of her as Waven energy blast hit it. She was forced back slightly but she didn’t fall. Before long the beam stopped as the shield broke with a small explosion.

“Michelle!”, Dan caught her as the as she fell back. “Tell me you’re alright.”

“No personal matters on company time remember,” she said softly. “Now are you going to get you head together or am I going to have to kick your ass too.” Dan nodded, he was letting it get personal again. They stood together and faced Waven.

“Planning to go down together are we?”, Waven taunted.

“Michelle, can you use that shield to deflect that beam.”

“I think so, you planning on doing anything stupid?”

“I’ll let you know.” The attacked together but Waven was ready for them. Or at least he thought so. Every time one got his attention the other stepped up the attack. He jumped back and pointed the blade at them again.

Running her finger down the pad one more time she brought the shield up just in time. Grunting with some effort she was able to deflect the beam into a cave wall. Dan had already locked his License into his D-Shot as he stepped into view, “Strikeout!”

Waven eyes went wide as he saw the blue energy stream come at him. He just barely batted the beam away from him, but it took a lot out of him. Dan was mumbling several curses while Michelle looked at Waven. “Dan, you seeing what I’m seeing?”

He saw what she was after a moment. Waven’s sword was cracked. “You thinking the same plan b as I am?” She nodded, good they were on the same page. They were going to have to be. Dan went in first keeping Waven off guard. He ducked under a swing and uppercutted him. Then swung his leg around and planted a kick to his head that kept him stunned. Michelle punched in a five digit code and jumped over him and at Waven.

Instead of attacking him directly she grabbed the sword between her hands. “Electro charge!”, the energy cracked the sword even more and shocked Waven at the same time. She kept Waven busy as Dan jumped over her and swung his D-Rod down at Waven with the weapon glowing red. He brought the sword up to block and the two energies collided. Time stood still for a moment, but both of them could see the cracks grow bigger and longer. The energy forced both of them back. Dan landed on his feet with a slight skid as the other one stumbled back. Waven could only watch as Dan and Michelle came running at him. Both of the reared a fist back as Waven tried to block the oncoming attack. Not thinking he brought the sword up on instinct. Their fists came into contact with the side of the blade and shattered it in it’s weaken state. They both kicked Waven back.

“That’s the difference,” Dan started, “between a tool and team mate. A tool will just do what you tell it to do. A team mate will help you come up with options and help keep your head on straight.”

“You still use them no matter what,” Waven said weakly as he tried to stand up. “Make them do what your order.”

“No, they follow and trust me because they know I wouldn’t ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. I trust I earned. Eliminate Target.” Michelle stood in front of Dan and got to a knee while punching in the Data Cannon code. The two cylinders on her back swung up and pointed themselves at Waven. Dan leveled his D-Shot and took aim.

“Data Blast!”, Michelle said

A moment later Dan followed with, “Strikeout!” They pulled the triggers and the green and blue energy streams shot out and hit Waven dead center and deleted him. Michelle threw a thumbs down as Dan said, “Got you.”

Dan sat on a rock to catch his breath as they deactivated the Dekametal and Michelle pulled out her License and tried to get their location and find the others. “You are not going top believe this,” she said after a moment. “Everybody was teleported about a couple of miles away from the ship. Do you think you can make it there?”

He held up a finger, “Give me a couple of minutes.”

She sat next to him, “You hurting that bad?”

“Not exactly,” he answered, “just a little stiff from hanging like that for the past couple of days.

She gave him a small sly smile, “So I’m guessing a private victory celebration is out of the question then?”

He surprised her by giving her the same smile and saying, “Give me a few hours.”

***
The Major sat outside of Waven’s ship by the two flight pods and waited. Slowly they came walking back from wherever they were. Ace and Rev first, and while Rev was checking over his leg D.E. and Boomer walked up. Both group exchanged storied of what happened. Everybody but D.E. looked at Boomer funny. Ace just said, “You blew him up?”

“We were in a middle of a fight,” he said, defending his decision.

“You blew him up?”, she repeated.

“We had to end it some how, what else could we have done?”

“You blew him up?”

“Cap said by any means necessary. This isn’t my fault you know.”

“I know,’ she said, “it was D.E.’s.”

“Whoa,” he interjected, “how did I get roped into this?”

“You should have stopped him,” she told him.

“I didn’t know what he was planning.”

“He said he had an idea, we all agreed that him having a idea was a bad thing.”

“Ha freaking ha,” Boomer said realizing he was the butt of the joke. “At least I didn’t go ballistic on my target. What would Cap say to that?”

“That there are some things I don’t mind her basing off of me,” he said as behind them. He leaned against the ship for support. The Major could tell he was glad to see everybody still in one piece. “You doing alright Rev?”, he asked when he saw him rotate his shoulder slightly.

Rev left antenna twitched slightly, “I am fine Captain.”

“How you feeling Dan?”, the Major asked.

“A little worn around the edges, but other than that I’m fine.”

“I’m still going to have Rev check you out when we get back.”

“Yes sir.”

“Now I won’t have to force you down there,” Michelle said. “Or call in Hawaii, cause I’d put in worse pain than you are now if I had too.”Ace and D.E. chuckled at that thought. They filled in the others about Waven and were caught in a few moments.

“That was a little extreme Boomer,” Dan said after they were done talking. “But I did say by any means necessary.”

“I told you so” Boomer exclaimed. Dan just gave him a look, “Sorry Cap.”

“Well, if the Major’s ready I’m ready to head back home and let the techs take over here,” Dan told them.

“That’s the best idea I heard all day,” Pierce told him and used his cane to get up. “Oh,” he reached into a pocket and pulled out Dan’s cap,” I found this inside. I think it belongs to you.”

Dan took it, looked at it for a moment then put it on Michelle’s head. “I’ll take it when we get back.”

Ace headed for one of the flight pod, “D.E., Boomer give me a hand back at the Shepard. We need to get the Hounds back on board and check her for damage from that run. I know I didn’t miss all of them.”

“You got it,” Boomer said.

“Right behind ya,” D.E. added.

Cap,” she said before leaving. “Some of the things you said back on the ship, thanks.”

“I meant every word Ace.” She smiles as she nodded and started off.

Dan did start for the second one but Michelle pulled him back, “Come here.”

Confused he asked, “What for?”

She put her arms around his waist, “Don’t you know the hero always kisses the dude in distress after it’s over.”

Dan raised an eyebrow at that. Pierce watched and shook his head, “Don’t get all macho on her now.”

D.E. and Boomer glanced at each other, “Cap and Michelle sitting…” Ace smacked both of them on them back of the head.

“Ow!”, D.E cried holding the back of his head

“Hey, she hit us,” Boomer complained.

“She beat me too it,” The Major told them. “Now give the two of them a little privacy.” He turned his back as he and Rev headed for the pod. D.E. and Boomer still shared a bit of a smirk before Ace pushed them toward the other one.

“Alone at last,” Michelle said. “Well as close as we can get under the circumstances. So, when you mouthed the words I love you back there did you mean that too.”

He didn’t hesitate in answering, “Yes. Michelle I…” he was at a loss for the right words. Michelle put a finger on his lips to quiet him.

“You don’t have to say anything Dan.” He leaned in and kissed her. Taking each others hand Dan and Michelle headed for the second pod.