Ghosts of the past part 3- Utoland by Ebonyswanne
Summary:

Joe has been missing for ten years... On the brink of war, G-force are on high alert. The Washio's are facing their biggest challenge and worst nightmare. 

Note; because this series runs with episodes, there are direct quotes from the actual eps in parts.  


Categories: Gatchaman, Battle of the Planets Characters: Berg Katse, Chief Anderson, Colonel Cronus, Jason, Jinpei, Joe Asakura, Jun, Ken Washio, Keyop, Mark, Original Character, Phoenix/God Phoenix, Princess, Ryu Nakanishi, Tiny Harper, Zoltar
Genre: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama
Story Warnings: Death, Mature Content, Mild Adult Situations, Mild Language, Mild Violence, Sexual Dialogue, Sexual Situations, Violence
Timeframe: Other
Universe: Cross-Over, Tenuously Canon
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 9 Completed: No Word count: 22533 Read: 217 Published: 08/30/2017 Updated: 09/12/2017

1. Chapter 1 by Ebonyswanne

2. Chapter 2 by Ebonyswanne

3. Chapter 3 by Ebonyswanne

4. Chapter 4 by Ebonyswanne

5. Chapter 5 by Ebonyswanne

6. Chapter 6 by Ebonyswanne

7. Chapter 7 by Ebonyswanne

8. Chapter 8 by Ebonyswanne

9. Chapter 9 by Ebonyswanne

Chapter 1 by Ebonyswanne
Ghosts of the past part III

Chapter 1

Approximately ten years later….
The sounds of engine revving sent his blood pumping through is veins in hard pulsing heat.
The start gun echoed, a familiar voice over the loud speaker announced the start of the
event. With the roar of a lion he pushed his foot hard onto the floor taking off with plumes
of smoking tires and the roaring sounds of cheering crowds with banners flying in his
peripheral vision.

Jason Asakura was doing what he loved most-motor racing.

The feel of the vibrations of the powerful beast and its metal shell enclosed around him
excited every fibre of his being into a place of pure ecstasy. Inside the metal beast he
unleashed all his pent up emotional frustrations.

Throwing his focus onto the road ahead, and outsmarting the driver next him, shooting past
with inches from his rear bumper, as he hurled down the race track cutting into corners
over taking on his competition. Busting the track record in after a few hours of racing,
smashing through his enduring pain.

It was how Jason coped with life in general. Bitterness was his long-time friend.
Racing against the ghost of his father.

Living up to a legacy left in the racing circuit by a man who abandoned him as a boy at time
when he needed him the most… People do that, he concluded. They say they love you, care
about you, but the truth is, they leave one day and never come back. He wasn’t going to be a
fool in his life again, close relationships meant more wounds.

He was the youngest on the track to legally from the time he turned fourteen, he was now
eighteen and champion.

He was had become a champion in no time, acing races from the time he kicked over an
engine of race car- Many in professional field called him a natural talent.

There times when racing the ghost of his father haunted him- The man who abandoned him.
Anger drove the car those days, when tears racked his face while turning sharp bends with
G-forces pulling at his body dragging him around the corners again and into the longer
stretches.

He hated him, and at the same time loved his memories of being a small boy with his dad,
who said he loved him. What went wrong? Over the years it had haunted him, how he
vanished. They said he was dead, he wanted deep down to believe it, but his gut told him
other-wise, and the echo of a strange voice that woke him as he slept…

His dreams didn’t make sense, it was like he saw his dad walking through a jungle in a
strange place. Mark had offered him to bunk in at the airfield as they formed their cover
occupations. He opted for a trailer alone because of his strange dreams. He would wake up
with lingering scents of the place he was dreaming about.

The alien voice… it was like a wall was between them, but how? Too many unanswered
questions raced through his mind as he increased his speed for the final lap.

Sure, his dad wasn’t perfect, but he was fun. He had a temper and few times Jason had a
bruised bottom from a hard smack for playing up. Taking him racing as little kid, he loved
going faster and faster. Dad’s feather shuriken was the best, and he kept a stash of them in
his pockets. He spent time teaching him to throw them at a dart board.

He did things other kids dads wouldn’t do, he found out one day when he went to a playdate
at house burry in his memories- when he lived with him in Utoland- Other kid’s dads were
boring.

The times his dad would strap him into the backseat of his car, on an abandoned racetrack in
Utoland they’d burn tires, hurl down the track. The heavy smell of smoking tires caught his
nostrils dragging in the air, burning his fine nasal hairs, driving the bitter memories.

He waited for him on the beach, it was going to be the best day of his life, turned into his
most painful.

Playing in the sand, building a sand car. He tried but it turned out be a messy pile of nothing,
and then it happened. An explosion. People panicked and more explosions went off. He ran
down the beach trying to figure out what going on, then he saw his foster parents, broken bodies laying
still in the wreckage of their rented hut.

The strangest sight of all was the masked lady wearing a blood red bodysuit holding a red
rose in her hand. A pure white wig adorned her head, and an eerie expressionless mask.

He stared at her, taking in the details of the strange sight before him. She threw the rose his
direction, it landed on the beach.

A person, grabbed him from behind, sheltering him from the force of the blast. That person
was his hero. The man who sacrificed himself for him. He never saw his face, but one day he
wanted to be a hero like that faceless man. Becoming G-Forces Condor he would be a
faceless hero to others in crisis situations along with his team mates.

Losing all sense and consciousness, his memories of that day stuck in his thoughts with
every colour, sound, smell and details.

After that he woke up in a hospital dazed and bleeding.

Dr Anderson arrived not long afterwards, and once he was recovered enough to travel
brought him back to his mansion in Ameris from Centre Neptune where he recovered.
He was told his father wouldn’t be coming for him again. That was the extent of the
information he received.

Bloody coward. He thought, grimacing, the roaring of a track full of high powered engines
cut into his thoughts. Didn’t have the guts to raise him, so he abandoned him. The prick was
probably on some planet being the loser he turned out to be.

He hoped he was dead, the asshole deserved it to be dead. So why his dreams of him…

Gliding it smoothly into gear, he coming into the finish line, edging past his rival. Jason
brought his beloved new skyline racer over the finish line into first place.

The race track was his home, and he planned to keep it that way. With his winnings, he
planned to buy himself a trailer. He wanted his independence and was tired of living in the
mansion. Despite the size of the place, he still was crowded in.

He wanted to park his mobile home by the beach and spend the night hearing the waves if
that’s what he wanted- No restrictions.

Freedom…

Mark had the same ideas, he was settling into the shack on the airfield his parents left him.
Princess and Keyop had dropped in a few times to see their commander.

Princess and Keyop were signing a contract to rent the room above Jill’s snack bar. It was
part of their cover to not be all in the same place. With their training underway and
preparations with Spectra showing signs of hostile activities from intel. The five of them had
a hectic schedule to keep. The full operation of Centre Neptune had come online a few
months before.

Screeching to a halt by the side of the track, he spotted his four team mates in the stalls.
Mark and Prin were sitting together as normal, and Keyop and Tiny eating popcorn and
cheering.

Following the procedure of accepting first place, he leaped up onto the podium accepting
the race sponsors handshake. A stunning young teenage girl with her platinum locks and
heavy make-up greeting him.

Batting her fake dark eyelashes, she handed him the oversized bottle of champagne to spray
over the crowd. Performing the ritual of the winner, he covered the cheering crowd close by
with bursts of bubbling spray. Accepted his trophy and winnings. Leaving the podium to
catch up with his friends and team mates.

“Congratulations Jason.” Princess warmly greeted him. Landing a kiss on his cheek, from the
corner of his eye he noticed several stunning girls glaring at her. Making the most of the
attention he turned an interested eye their way.

Prin did it deliberately, he was sure of it. She wasn’t blind to what was going on around her,
her natural perception and ability to multitask was a team asset.

Mark extended his hand, accepting his commander’s proud handshake, and few slaps on the
back from Tiny and Keyop.

They hadn’t been called out to a mission so far, but they were on high alert.
Stomach growling from a long day of racing, he walked with his friends over to the smack
cart Jason picked up a hot dog. Noting Tiny picking up two for himself and Princess refusing
even a bite of Marks hot dog when he offered.

“I’ll have a salad later.” She blushed, thanking him for the offer. She was conscious of her
figure, almost seventeen, with slender curves and killer figure, Prin drew stares from the
young men walking past them. She’d have no hope of gaining weight with their training
schedule.

They made their way through the crowds, a few calling out his name and waving. He had his
fans. Nodding, he kept walking not really interested in talking to anyone.
“See those two over there.” Mark, indicated with a sharp nod to the side, following his
direction Jason spotted two younger teens than themselves. A boy and girl standing next to
the stalls.

“They’ve been watching us the whole race.” Marks natural suspicion was working overtime.
He was suspicious of everything and everyone, sharp Eagle eyes scanned the stands for
dangers.

“Plenty of people staring, you’re walking with me and I just won the last race.” He pointed
out.

Shaking his head frowning, the Eagle side glanced the pair still standing next to the stands.
They were talking, and the girl elbowed the boy with pale skin and wearing a beanie.

She folder her arms obviously annoyed with him. Petite, like Princess her hair was more
chestnut, with a heart shaped face and casual clothing, and she had to be a about two years
younger.

“They don’t look Spectran to me.” Princess said observing them. Approaching her motor-
bike she hopped on. “I’m going to Jill’s, I promised to help out this afternoon.”

Mark jumped on behind her, keeping a watch on the kids. He’d come to the track with her,
leaving his car at the café.

“See you at Jill’s.” He barked over the noise of her engine roaring to life.

Mark waved, as she turned the bike around and headed out of the grounds.

Jason turned his attention to the two young kids watching him. The girl appeared pensive,
and the boy looked like he wanted to approach him. They had been early teens, and alone.
A strange thing in itself on race day.

Strolling over, he figured it was better to break the ice, and find out what they doing.
“Hi there.” Jason casually sidelined the pair of them.

The girl elbowed the young teen, his response was annoyance.

“Hi.” She greeted Jason. “Congratulations on winning.”

“Thanks.” He stopped in front of them. These kinds of encounter were not, his usual
territory.

“Ahh yeah congratulations.” The young teen extended his hand. Lanky in appearance, his
startling green eyes studied him.

“I’m Syrah and this is my brother—” The boy cut her off with a glare. Straightening up his
shoulders, maintaining a steady gaze he extended his hand.

“I’m Jamie.”

“You know who I am.” Jason accepted his handshake, firm, but not crushing. He was
confident, and slightly arrogant. Looking into his eyes he was also more street wise than girl
next to him.

“You here with your parent?” He quizzed.

“They had to leave early, so we’re killing time.” Jamie filled in. “Syrah’s my sister and too
young for you.”

Syrah, screwed up her young face, obviously her brother was treading on her toes.

A lopsided smirk formed on his lips, like he would seriously go after a girl her age. She was a
rosebud, and only starting to bloom. His preferences were older and more developed.

“Look… I’m hanging out with a group of friends celebrating my victory race.” He said dryly.

“It’s at Jill’s Café, it’s not far from here, how about you two come along join in the party.” It
often turned into a party as people arrived from the tracks and he was there.

That should send Mark into a spin. He needed to be shaken up occasionally. He was
obsessive about caution, and often telling off about mingling too much with strangers least,
they be Spectran spies. He seriously doubted this pair could be spies, a couple of kids
escaping parents, misbehaving even- but not spies.

“Sure.” Syrah chirped, her bluish eyes lighting up, before he brother could object. “Is it
walking distance? We’d love to come.”

“How about I give you a ride.” Jason offered, lightening a little. That way he could learn
more about them on the way.

“Syrah.” Jamie scolded her as they followed him. Keeping a straight face, he listened in by
tunning in his implant.

“I call the shots here, not you, it what we agreed on.”

“No, it’s what you said, but I’m the one that got us here.”

“It’s a party, and he’ll be there.” She hinted. “Isn’t that why we’re here??”

“Yeah, but--“

“So, we’ll get a chance to talk to him.”

So, they’re possible runaways? A few things didn’t add up, and he didn’t want to let them
out of his sight.

They dropped the conversation as they arrived at the car. He figured they weren’t talking
about him as the teens jumped into the back, and he drove off towards Jill’s.

This was going
to be interesting…
Chapter 2 by Ebonyswanne
Walking into Jill’s Jason took in the usual later afternoon atmosphere. Mark was already
seated in his usual spot at the bar with a soda and Princess was busying herself with
waitressing.

Entering the busy diner with the kids in tow, the pair walked over to another booth, like fish
out of water. Jason told them he wanted to catch up with a friend for a few minutes.

More customers came through the door after him. Princess was busy taking orders on the
other side of the diner. The casual atmosphere and the reasonable prices made Snack Jill’s a
popular place for teenagers to hang out.

Pulling up a seat next to Mark, he observed two particular teens he’d brought with him. The
boy with insipid skin and a beanie pulled down past his ears, and long sleeves. His clothing
too warm for the weather.

He looked like he need a few days of sunshine to gain any, colour, and a girl must be his
sister upon closer inspection.

Jamie eyes swept the room, eventually his gaze fell on Mark, breaking eye contact and
picking up a menu. His commander’s sharp instincts appeared to be working overtime from
the way he was gripping his glass cup.

Enhanced hearing meant they didn’t have to move closer to hear their conversation. Both
Mark and Jason tuned in on the suspicious pair.

Spotting them Princess brought them over an extra menu. Politely thanking her, the girl
ordered sodas and picked a meal, along with the boy.

“No hot chips.” She said to her brother. Pursing his lips, he didn’t appear happy.
“You’re not mom. If I want hot chips I’m having them.” He bit back.

Forcing a smile, the pretty young girl, turned to Princess. “I’ll have the chicken salad thank
you.”
“Burger and hot chips.” The boy ordered, sending Princess a few charming smiles drawing a
blush from her. “Extra chips with gravy.”

Sending a Glare at his sister in full defiance.

Prin left to them, striding towards the kitchen, catching both their eye’s she signalled her
understanding of seeing them at the track. Still blushing, Jamie had worked some charm on
her.
“Well… “ Syrah leaned in closer. “Are you going to approach him?”

Shrugging his shoulders, he stared out the window.

“Feels different now that we’re here.” He said. “Why not you?”

“Because it was your idea.” She indicated with a cranky finger, sitting back in her seat.
Silence fell between them.

“Are you sure it’s him?” She broke the silence. “I mean-“

“Are you kidding, look at him.” Jamie hissed. “Syrah, its him.”

Sighing, and shifting in her seat as Princess brought over their orders.

“Are you two visiting?” “Princess asked casually.

Silent communication happened between the boy and girl with wide eyes, facial signals and
gestures.

“Ahh… yeah our, umm…our Aunty.” She sweetly smiled at her waitress. “She’s ahhh… going
to-“

“Working today.” The boy jumped in. “We decided to go to the track than sit around a
house.”

“Oh- Did you enjoy the race?” Prin’s friendly manner was infectious.

“Ahh…yeah Jason was awesome, we came her with him.” Syrah purred, winking in his
direction. “Ouch what was that for?

Screwing up her face, rubbing her sore leg. Jamie cast her an evil grin.

They’re lousy liars. Jason scoffed internally. Mark thinks anything suspicious could be
Spectra. They’d been on high alert for the last six months with no activity. The intel they’d
been receiving painted a different picture.

“I hope you enjoy your meal, we have a great dessert menu for afterwards.” Prin softly
smiled. Jamie blushed- The boy could sum up a bit of colour after all.

Prin left them to serve other customers.

“She’s hot.” Jamie grinned. “Kinda girl I’d date.”

“She’s older than you.” Syrah scolded him. “We’re not here for you to go on dates.”

“I think I could ask her out on a date, I made her blush. She’s not that much older…I’m
fifteen, I should be dating.” He leaned forward clutching his hands above the table.
“Mom doesn’t think so.”

“What she doesn’t know.” He snickered. “She’s overprotective.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Ask her that pretty girl out on a date as soon as the opportunity presents itself.” Jamie
sounded confident.

“Then she finds out about-“ Syrah face changed, lines etched across her young forehead.
The kids face darkened. ”Let, me pretend I’m a normal teenager for once.”

Mark responded, by shifting uncomfortably in his seat, clenching his glass tighter until
almost breaking point.

“Focus on why we’re here, once mom and dad work it out. They’ll interrogate Joey and then
watch out.” She shuddered. “You really wanna be on dad’s bad side.”

“You’re in as deep as I am. They won’t miss the a few dollars…” Jamie chuckled. “Who knew
they were that loaded… and we live like paupers.”

“That bit I don’t get either.” She picked at her salad, casting him disapproving glances.
“Get your mom looks off my food.” Jamie picked up a chip, leaning over and crunching it in
her face, earning him a sharp kick from under the table. “Ouch.” He flinched.

“The flight was awesome.” Her eyes widened. “First class all the way.”

“Scored well on that one sis…” He said, offering her a victory fists of approval from across
the table. “Work this right, and they’ll never know we were gone.”

“I hope Joey holds out… he promised he’d cover for us, along with your friends.”

“Ryan won’t tell a soul. He’s reliable.”

“Dad would get it out of him, you know he’s scared of him.”

” Did Cassie do the same for you?” He asked.

“That’s what besties do.” She smirked. Spying Jason again, the young girl drew in a breath.

“He’s cute.” She whispered to her brother.

“Too old for you. Guys like him, don’t look at girls your age- it’s called cradle snatching.

You’re fourteen, he’s at least eighteen.” Jamie teased.

“Same for the pretty green -eyed wench.” She hissed back.

Marks expression turned more pensive at the words spoken about Princess.

Like hell that kid was dating her. He thought.

“Get a grip.” Jamie chided.

Jason got his queue to join them, Mark followed.

“This is my friend Mark.” He casually introduced them. Mark extended his hand to Jamie,
who accepted it in a brief shake. They moved over for him to sit down next to them.

“Hi.” Syrah smiled as Jason sat next to her.

“What brings you to New Jork?” Mark started the conversation, underlying he was
interrogating them.

“We’re visiting out Aunty.” Syrah chimed in.

“You’re too young to be out on your own-“

“Who do you think you are? You don’t know us.” She defended a little too eagerly.
“Have you two runaway from home?” He persisted.

“No.” She answered him, a shaky hand gave her away.

“I said we’re visiting our aunty-“

“You’re not a good liar.” Jason pointed out.

“We should go.” Syrah indicated she wanted him to move.

He wasn’t moving, she sank back into the booth. A little frightened.

“We’re not here to hurt you.” Jason smoothly indicated for Princess to come over.

“This is our friend too, you saw her at the tracks right?”

“Yeah.” Jamie was on guard now, be he kept casting Mark curious glances.

“We wanna get to know you more, that’s all…remember I invited you here for a
celebration.”

“Princess.”

She warmly smiled. “I’ll bring some spider sodas on the house…. Since its race victory day.”

He went onto introduce his new friends, and she warmly welcomed them. Princess was
good at putting people at ease. She could be disarmingly innocent as she gathered
information. The conversation relaxed again as they struck up a conversation together. The
atmosphere at the table over the next hour became more friendly and open.

“What?” Mark’s eyes lit up. “You can fly a plane.”

“I can hold my own in a cessna.” Jamie retorted. “My dad taught me how to fly.”

Mark straightened, his tone softened. “Mine too.”

“I haven’t flown in a while.” Jamie stared into his cup.

“Why not?” Mark genuinely wanted to know from the way he turned in his seat.

Shrugging he didn’t elaborate too much, mentioning his dad had been away on business and
not as much time at home from school.

“You fly with your dad much?” Jamie asked.

“My dad went missing.” Marks tone lowered, it was sore spot, and something he rarely
talked about. By all reports his father wasn’t listed as missing like Mark claimed.

“I ride motorbikes too” Jamie, changed his tone. “How good of a pilot are you?”

Syrah’s turn to darken a little, she didn’t like her brothers tone from how she stared at him.
“I can hold my own.” Mark wasn’t going to be baited. He too sensible for it.

“I bet I could outrace you.” Jamie challenged. Mark’s poker face came into play.
“Why?” He asked. “I’m not the competitive type.”

Jason could have choked on his coffee, Mark was competitive in his own field.
“What is going on?” She asked, turning on her brother. “How did this come about.”

“I wanna know how good he is.” Jamie huffed. “See if he’s made of something.”
Jason twisted his head sideways, a pensive expression passed across the Eagles starch
features. His commander was rarely drawn into things like this. But from his looks he was
considering it.

“I bet you can’t out race me in your plane… “ Jamie said.

“Jamie.” Syrah hissed. “Stop.”

She jumped over the table, pushing past Jason roughly determined to get them out of there.
Jamie reluctantly followed her.

“Here’s the address kid. Dawn, be late and the race is off.” Mark handed him a piece of
paper as the taxi pulled up.

Syrah pushed her brother into the backseat. A pair of hazel eyes flashed darts at him.
“I’ll be there.” Jamie promised.

“You’re insane.” She soured like curdled milk, jumping in beside him, folding her arms tight.
“Stupid… so stupid.” She scolded.

Jamie ignored her. “The Hyatt please.”

These kids must have wealthy parents. He thought.

“Mark what was that all about?” Princess had joined them, she’d finished her shift was
preparing to meet up with friends. Two sets of eyes turned on him.

“He has a chip on his shoulder… but there’s something else.” Mark in deep thought
furrowed his brows.

“The kid has attitude, and he’s aiming it at you.” Jason agreed.

Mark didn’t reply, stoic as always, he stared into the open skies, like he expected to see
something.

“They said they flew in from Utoland.” Princess added. “It’s odd, but I think they’re just kid’s
runaways.”

Mark nodded, he was thinking, but not talking, like there was something he did know, or
picked up on.

“He’ll can use my trail bike, a race through the hills around the airfield will sort him out.”
Mark walked over to his red sports car. “I’m going to get some sleep, looks like I have to
spent time sorting these kids out in the morning and getting to bottom of it.”
Chapter 3 by Ebonyswanne

Fuming Jun went into the accounts again, typing in her carefully selected passcodes.

“I’ve been hacked Timmy.” Gritting her teeth as the data downloaded. “Damn it.”

Tilting her head to the baby rocker, she spoke to her youngest son cooing away without a care in the world. Four months old, he was wide awake staring at something on the ceiling, playing with his soft toys on the rail above him in his blue jumpsuit.  

She was working over the numbers in both bank accounts and the suspicious transfers.

“Syrah’s been hacking into out financials.” She cursed out loud. “Has to be her, and she’s left a trail I can follow. Sloppy Syrah…soooo sloppy. I bet she didn’t think I could follow her. She’s gotta lot to learn about hacking.”

Their bright daughter was doing a lot more hacking of late. She had found a path into the ISO security and she almost got in. A phone call from Chief Anderson confirmed it, she was prepared to let it slide of she pulled her into line.

She totalled the amount that gone missing. Eyes widening, followed by vigorous typing trying to work out what they were doing with it. Ken was going to flip, if kids didn’t fear her, wait until the wrath of their dad came down on them. Even Jamie trembled when dad was in full discipline mode.

”They have no idea.”Furious she complied the information to start searching for them.

She’d been at the computer terminal in their home in Utoland doing other work, when she discovered the discrepancies. The weekend was approaching and both kids had asked for time with friends. She granted it, because they’d been so good of late.

Too good… she should have known, seen through it. Having another baby had kept her occupied.

They’d been busy cleaning their bedrooms, coming home on time from friend’s houses. Helping out around the house, she thought it was because of Timmy’s birth.

Now she understood why, they had their own agenda, and getting on their parent’s good side was part of it.

Underlying worry resounded in her words, they had to find them. The last few months Jamie had become more rebellious.

Ken was even finding him hard to deal with. No longer a small child he was standing his own ground, a headstrong budding teenager. A lot Ken at the same age in some ways.

About four weeks before, a few days after Ken left for Riga, and was caught by her street racing through Utoland with an unruly gang.

Remembering the night, she frantically called in a sitter after discovering Jamie was gone from his bedroom… Tight lipped Syrah declared she knew nothing about it when she woke her up.

Timmy was crying for his feed time, getting through it first, so he’d sleep.  Joey fast asleep in his bed. Half asleep Syrah was asking what the fuss was all about. He was probably in the garage looking for something. Her high-powered motorbike was missing… she’d checked the garage.

“At midnight, I doubt it.” She snorted. “Where did he go?”

 “He’s likely sleeping at the terminal, probably in the computer room mom.” She snorted. ”I’m going back to bed.” 

Jun knew better…. Suspecting her daughter as a co-conspirator, she was closest to Jamie and adored her older brother. Dragging Syrah out of bed again, the girl moaned all the way to the car.

 Getting the three of them into car quickly, out of the driveway into the pouring rain, the dead of night and furious, she raced into the city.

She knew where he’d be, street racing was his hobby. He was banned from it, but it didn’t stop him, no matter how he felt, all he wanted to do was race.

Worse he was being chased by the cops when she found him along with a few other daring racers, darting into alleyways, and thinking it was fun.

Driving family car that more like a mini bus, into alley ways, pounding rain made it more dangerous. Screeching tires and hugging corners, with Timmy wailing and Joey scared, her temper grew as she caught him in the headlights.

Stopping like a stunned nocturnal animal he screeched to a halt, tires spinning in the wet.

She stepped out of the car, sleep deprived, her chest was fire from tension. Her irresponsible boy standing before her.  

“You head home now.” She hissed, balling fists, soaking wet and shivering. She could feel the milk swelling her breast with discomfort. If she didn’t feed Timmy soon, she’ll burst.

“No, I’m finishing the race.” He retorted. “I was winning until you showed up.”

“Selfish boy.” She fumed. “Back answering me, you think this helps you?”

“I only get to live once mom.” Retaliating, he started up the bike, gunning the engine. Tightening the helmet.

“Hey Jamie, this broad trouble?” A voice came out of the darkness. All the while his siblings waited in the locked car, she could hear Timmy.

A street gang descended on her, thinking she was a push over.

“Hey, leave her alone, she’s my mom.” He shouted, pulling off his helmet, revealing his bald head.

 “I got this.”  For the first-time fear entered his stance, as his eyes darted from her to the car with his siblings inside it.

Jun took care of it- the leader didn’t see it coming, and Jamie was floored when he watched his mother take down four gang members within seconds. They backed off, and ran. It hurt, the pain of her swollen breasts, body still recovering from birthing another baby, along with martial arts movements compounded her anger.

Turning on her son, like thunder. When she looked at him she was met with a youths slumped shoulders, worried about his siblings. He’d put them in danger, the one thing that would stop his reckless behaviour.

 He gradually agreed to come home, gunning the motorbike, skidding in the rain as they left the street racing gangs territories.

During the trip home that night he faded, pulling over to the side of the highway and falling off the bike unconscious. He was always pushing himself past his limits, like his father.

Syrah, helped her get him into the car, and they raced to him hospital. Jun had a meltdown from the mounting worry when he refused to stay there, he needed the medical help, part way through treatment and he was on a path of self-destruction.

Grounded with a loss of privileges did nothing to curb his attitude. Until two weeks ago, she saw a change in him. Thought he was coming to his senses.  

 She’d have to send word it was time Colonel Cronus came home from Riga.

He’d been there training a squadron for the Federation on a new base.

Anderson had come to conclusion either he included them-- or risked a rogue team. He’d rather have Ken on his side, under his alias. They had struck an agreement.

Because of Jamie’s illness, she had stayed in Utoland. In a way, he was trying to deal with his son’s diagnosis, and flying on missions out of Riga, was the only way emotionally he could do it without falling apart.

Tear stung her eyes as she thought about the day the specialist handed them the results. Ken pleading with him to take out the implant in his brain to put it into Jamie’s.

The doctor sadly shook his head, it was impossible to remove it, the implant was interwoven into his brain now from recent scans- It was part of him.

They’d hidden the true results from Jamie, fearing he’d give up hope if he read them.

Her heart broke as he wept like a small child, he didn’t care if it killed him to remove it- save his son. She’d never seen him like it, he lost all of his normal stoic composure in those moments.

The doctor left them alone to have privacy. Weeping with her own fears, after a while he came out of his own enough emotional state, to pull her into his arms holding onto her like if let go she’s vanish.   

“We’re not giving up.” She whispered. “We don’t give up.”

“I know.” He croaked. “We stay strong.”  

Pulling her out of her thoughts, the sounds of shuffling feet caught her attention.

Joey stood in the doorway, the kid took one look at his mother’s pensive glare and bolted.

“I’ll deal with you in a minute.” She roared after him. He was more timid than his older siblings, kept to himself mostly.

Musing she was tracking her children’s movements.

“They booked a flight, false passports… How long have they been planning all of this?” Jun mused.

Clever kids, part of her admired them for it. “They changed flights, and after that the trail has gone cold.”

Sinking into her seat, with a hand over her mouth, unshed tears stood in her green eyes. In those moments, she missed her husband.

She was worried sick about him. If he missed a treatment… she didn’t want to think about the consequences.

Jamie was once a sensible boy, and overnight it was like he turned into a rebel determined to commit every crime on the planet, and now he had dragged his sister into it the mess.

Leaving the room, she went to find Joey, the kid had to know something of what his older siblings were up too.

Chapter 4 by Ebonyswanne

How long has it been he wondered? The days and the months merged into nights as the planet rolled around them, shorter nights during some seasons, and some seasons were more like constant twilight blending into nothing.

 Survival was all that mattered. He was good at surviving.

 So far there was no way off the rock Joe crashed on in his attempt to escape from Spectra and attempt to return home.

The season was in a time of nights and days, but from his scratching and trackers it would soon be turning into twilights as the suns crossed over.

Watching the bluish horizon, anticipating a change in weather that held promise from the darkening atmospheric clouds in the distance.

Adjusting his leathers, a form of clothing he’d made from skins, after his shoes fell apart and prison garbs turned to threads over the years. Calloused heels protected his bare feet, and hands from the rough terrain that made up part of the landscape.

Mostly in the summer months he didn’t bother with wearing clothing, enough to protect his groin, was all he needed alone, in a place with no other souls to be concerned about. He did as he pleased.  

The odd drone had flown over, but none of his investigations revealed a source. It could have been federation scoping the place, but if it was, he’d have seen a ship of some sort gracing the skies.

Running to find more supplies, he considered heading back to his treehouse. The rocky terrain contrasted the jungle like woodlands close by the river.

His companion. ‘Great Spirit,’ dropped in occasionally when his mental guards were down. The creature enjoyed its conversations, often talking to him about power and the need for him to come to its presence- Insisting he and the creature were connected.

Then there was the other dream, it was more like a vision…. He saw his son Jason standing behind a thick wall that was like ice. He was a grown man, with craggy features much like his own. The dream twisted his insides wanting it to be real.

How they would ever be connected in anyway shape or form.  He couldn’t fathom. He had lots of time for thinking, and hated it.

His ship had crash landed on an outer Spectran planet. Fortunately, one with a combatable atmosphere to Earths, the gravity was less, he could do leaps across rivers in ways he would never be able to do on Earth without his birdstyle.

Unlike the planet atmosphere generators, and precious distribution of the mineral vitalunas was used for planting crops, on outposts throughout the Federation. Causing an explosion in settlements with people leaving Earth wanting a better life.

The crisp air around him, enhanced his alertness, a gentle breeze brushed his long hair.

The planet he had come to know and respect, was a natural balance in its echo system. A few run-ins from time to time with the wildlife had instilled a sense of caution in him.

The season he was in was winter. While the climate in these parts was temperate, it grew colder of a night. Grateful for his treehouse- Joe had enough to keep himself and his furry friend warm.

Even a half human, half cyborg had the common sense to keep out of the path of a creature with claws of a lion, five times the size of any found on Earth. They incredible strength and speed for a creature of their size.  

In his time on the planet he hadn’t stumbled across civilization, nothing to assist him finding a transport out of there.

His current destination opened into a huge gorge with a wide river flowing through it. A few waterfalls lead into other gorges and river flats further downstream.

Massive fish lived in parts of the rivers, along with smaller creatures.

 Fishing was interesting, he’s take to making a net out of vines to catch a meal. It was enough for several days. He’d even learned to salt the meats with natural pink rock salts found in the rocky regions surrounding the area.

 The river that had spent thousands of years cutting through the rock raged below him on his never-ending trek.

Glancing up at the pale skies reflecting the colours of the landscape. Joe noted, he was yet to stumble upon an ocean. He’d found huge lakes where the rivers ran into, and gorges like the current one he was following.

But no oceans, endless rivers flowed across the planet. Surprised at finding no human life, he had become an explorer, mapping his way on tree bark with charcoal. Finding foods without poisoning himself was a miracle.

He’d swiped a medical bag in his escape from the prison. Inside it was tiny bacteria tablets enabling him to drink the water, and adjust to the planet over the course of a year. Boiling it had become his option after that.   

Pulling at his beard, He was contemplating if fish would be on the menu or Wildcat.

The distant sounds of an engine of some kind caught his enhanced hearing. Stumbling on the rocks- The shock of hearing a mechanical sound that hadn’t even whispered in his ears since he landed on the planet sent him into a moment of shock.

“Joe, it your way out.” Out-loud, addressing his travelling companion. “Get it together.”

“Whoofffahhh.” The dog like creature responded, tongue hanging out he was kind of like grinning at him.

He had feeling it was trying to talk, sometimes Jin’s big dark eyes had a personality of their own. A wiry animal with the body of a greyhound, and shaggy long fur resembling a Scottish deer hound crossbreed.

He’d rescued it as a pup, when its mother and the rest of the litter came under attack from a wildcat.

“That sound, we’re finding out what it is.” He watched its furry face, and amber eyes. For some reason, he had a feeling it understood him. Or he was going insane from being a hermit.

He couldn’t tell if it was male or female, and after a while he didn’t care.

The dog he’d named ‘Jin’ after it keep annoying him by following him after its rescue. The thing jumped all over the place, full of energy, after a while he grew fond of it. Like the Swallow when he was a kid, and annoyed the crap out of him daily.

The only reason Jinpei survived childhood was because of Jun, and sometimes Ken from the wrath of the Condor.

Jogging to keep the silver ship insight, the former federation commander pushed his muscular body faster. Breathing in the cool winter air, his lungs on fire, he increasing his pace.

He hadn’t hunted in the last day so his stomach had begun a campaign threatening legal action if he didn’t oblige its needs soon. Ignoring its growl, he pushed on through the rocky terrain.

He’d lost track of the years, as he explored the planet, after long time of being a nomad he’d finally found a place to build himself a ‘home.’ Not far from his current location was a forest with massive tree’s, on one of them he’d built himself a treehouse. What started as a basic shelter grew over time.

Loneliness had become a friend and, his greatest enemy.

Jumping over a few boulders, landing gracefully behind another, the ship had landed on the open surface below him.

“Fucking Spectran’s. the first ship I see… and its them.” He snorted, looking at his pet. “Now what are they doing.”

He moved slowly along the rocky slop, easing his way down, watching a single hooded prisoner pushed roughly from the ship and moved into position. A gun at the poor soul’s head signalled an execution was about to take place.

Leaping over the cliff in an arc landing close by the first soldier, taking the man down in one swift move he turned to the next one, with less than a minute he was surrounded by bodies.

The prisoner in the meantime had taken flight. Arms tied the person stumbled and fell into the rocks tripping over, falling down the slope, and rolling to a halt next to a boulder.

Unmoving, he slid down the slope as fast as his legs would carry him. Grinding to halt, and observing the human being before him like it was some alien.

The black hood, and the loose clothing indicated they person was a slave of the Spectran empire.

Still, whoever it was, he had company for a change.

Taking care of the small ship, he closed the exit bay, checking it for tracking beacons. Then proceed to dump the Spectran bodies onto a path normally occupied by wildlife. Some wildcat will enjoy a hearty meal tonight.

Picking the unconscious body off the ground, and tossing it over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. He headed back towards the treehouse. Keeping up a steady pace he would be there by twilight.

He had a few rations at the treehouse, a collection of cooked salted meats, it would have too, since he didn’t have time for anything fresh.

Climbing the ladder with a weight on shoulders wasn’t new, but this one was alive, and human. He gently placed the unconscious body onto the floor with a soft thud.

Scolding himself loudly, he forgot one detail when he picked up the body.

Pulling the cord on the black hood, he gently pulled it off the persons head. Revealing a familiar face in the fading light.

Gawking, Joe gazed into her face. His heart hammering, and paling internally-- he had to be dreaming…

“Asha.” He spoke her name out loud- And she murmured.

Her eyes flew open, and with a start she bolted upright, ridged with caution, like an animal in snare ready to fight its way out. She scurried towards the exit.

“Asha its me.” Quickly he found a torch, lighting the stick, he held up to his face.

Hesitating, her eyes darted around the treehouse, falling back onto him. Traumatised by the events, she shuffled keeping him in sights like she didn’t believe her reality, looking for a weapon.

“Can’t be true… can’t be…” Shaking her head. Never in his wildest dreams did he expect to see her again.

“It’s me.” He choked. “You’re alive.”

“You’re supposed to be on Earth, raising your son and married to some Italian woman by now with more children than you know what to do with.” She gasped, staring at him, her defences crumbling as he moved in closer. “No…its not real.” She cried, I’m dead, the sound of the gun…”

 Shivering uncontrollably, she moved slightly, Jin sniffed her hand. He moved the animal away, indicating it go and sit on its fur pelt.

Moving through the room he found a fur skin to draping it around her shoulders he found a water skin for her to drink from.

Sinking to the floor, as the shock set in. He joined her, watching her every move.

Accepting it, greedily slurping own a few gulps and handed it back. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.  

She finally came out of her trance.

“You’ve been here a long time.” She observed. The light of the moon filtering through the tree’s leaves illuminating her fine features. He grunted, the thought of conversation was daunting after being a hermit for more time than he could count.

“Too long.” Closing his eyes, remembering his last sighting of Jason, and leaping across the sand to save his life from the blast, only to fail him. He wished his dreams of him being alive and grown up were real.

Tilting his face away from her, the sharp edges of his grief had diminished with time, but not the guilt. Walking to edge of the hut’s wall, and looking out the window.

A wildcat was passing below, slowly sniffing the air to catch the scent of its prey. Fortunately, the big animals didn’t like to climb for their meals.

The huge birds preferred the higher branches and were herbivores. They had taught him some of the green vegetation he could eat without being poisoned. She once told him to watch the animals, they knew what they could eat in an alien environment.

Sensing his tormenting emotions, she didn’t press him for more information.

Having her in the same space again, was like a dream magically morphing into reality.

For a long pause, the sounds of the jungle filled the space between them. Both of them lost in the river of their own journey through time until now.

“Why…” He started to ask, and lost his words.

“Why was I being executed?” She filled him in.  

“One of my questions.” He turned slightly, she hadn’t moved.

 Long knotted hair hung to her waist, she was thinner, more drawn. In his dreams, he’d lost some of the details of her, the strong feelings had remained.

Time had made some changes, but she was still as lovely to him as the day he’d left her standing on the docking bay.

“I was a terrible slave.” She bitterly smiled. “I kept trying to escape... I threw a spanner in the workings of a mechanical beast, there was explosions, I was thrown… They bagged, me and threw me on the ship, and now I’m here.””

 “Good to hear you haven’t lost your touch.” A grin tugged at his lips.

“Your influence, I decided I was over being a slave trying to escape.” Whispering harshly, she moved her legs underneath her. “I did it out of desperation.” Dark eyes glistening in the soft light, unshed tears stood in the depths of her eyes.  

A jarring pain like a stab in his heart hit him, what had they done to her?

Walking back over to stand in front of her. Joe extended his hand assisting her to her feet. Gingerly she stood in front of him studying his appearance. “ How long? You’re almost unrecognisable.” The words caught in her throat, she was as overwhelmed as he was.

Touching his beard and unruly long hair. Her facial features softened, moved by his presence.

Seeing her again stirred him emotionally, the undercurrent of chemistry between them reignited.  

It was like his blood had been stagnant in his veins, a sandy riverbed after a long drought- and then the rains finally came in a rushing torrential downpour. His veins flooded with a rush of strong currents bringing him back to life.

His heart pumping harder to keep up with the pace of the flooding. Joy glimmered inside of him like the farmer seeing the dark grey clouds on the horizon, the rain was coming drought was over. He would survive another season.

He’d been devoid of human connection, hungry for the simplest touch. Drawing her into his arms, leaning down and burying his face into her musty hair, a welling pool of emotions threatened to drown him. Breathing in her every feminine scent, he was holding a real human being, not just anyone- his Asha.

“I thought you were dead too.” He whispered into her ear, warm tingling ignited like a gas lamp, weaved through his entire being. “Pinch me… tell me I’m not dreaming. You’re here with me.”

“I’ll ask you the same thing.” Encircling her arms around him, resting her cheek on his chest, time melted away between them. “I never forgot about you. I hoped you were living a good life…not alone like this.”

They stood there for an eternity, holding each other and not wanting to let go.

Lightly her fingers touched a precious item still hanging around his neck, gasping in surprise as her fingers traced the outline of the golden angel. Question eyes sought his.

“You’ve always been with me Asha. I’ve spend a lot of time remembering our few hours together, and your parting gift.” Joe wondering if it was all dream, her warmth against him, was like a soothing balm for his soul.

Asha wrapped her arms around him tight. Burying her face into his chest.

 

Joe was no longer alone. 

Chapter 5 by Ebonyswanne

Looking out the small window of the shack, yawning as he pulled on his shirt, trying to wake up. The hour before dawn, when everything was still, the world was on the crest of waking up, but not quite. The sounds of his kettle boiling broke through the stillness. Making a cup of instant coffee, he needed something to kick his vitals into gear.

Some people would think it was the best part of the day, but for the Eagle, all he wanted to do was crawl back under the covers of his still warm bed and grab a few more hours of sleep. When he wasn’t being called for a mission, his late morning sleeping in time was more precious than gold.

He had given his word to Jamie, if he didn’t show at the break of dawn, the race was off. Likely he wouldn’t, but he had to be prepared.

Walking with his coffee, still half-asleep into his bedroom, and rummaging through a few draws he eventually found what he was looking. Placing the cup on the side table, he yawned again as he stared at the cover of a small photo album.

Gingerly turning the pages, he found a few pictures of some small kids playing in a park. From the looks of it, the park was close to the boardwalk in Utoland bay.

Staring at the young boy laughing, with a little girl warmed him. It was his favourite photo of them together.

Jamie and Syrah, his siblings from another land. When he looked at Jamie he saw Jun in him. He recognised them at the race track, he’d looked around for Jun and Ken during the race, making an excuse to go and buy a drink, scooting off on his own searching the area- Only the two young teens were there.

He wasn’t sure how to approach it, his pride didn’t want to admit his own guilt in cutting of the contact when he was nine years old. He was still in two minds about it, and didn’t have time to allow conflicting emotions in the current climate of pending war.

There were things he didn’t discuss with the team about himself. His adoption was one of them. Not even Princess knew he was adopted by Matt and Natasha Butler as a baby. They’d assumed he was their biological child, and while it wasn’t raised as a subject, he sensed the assumptions there from them.  

His mother had been a nurturing influence on his team before she passed away. Princess often talked of her warm and affection during the days when she was grieving for the loss of her own parents. He missed them deeply, someday, more keenly than others. Hid way of coping was to pour himself into his work. Forget about the lingering pain.

He couldn’t explain why he chose not to correct them- it’s not like he needed to keep it a secret, it was simply something he kept private, he kept it all locked away inside.

Jason didn’t disclose his private thoughts about his father and his death. The only thing Jason had mentioned about him in all the time he’d know him.

“My dad’s dead, some accident in space, his ship was blown up, and I have no idea who my mother was…she gave birth to me I figured, and cleared out.” The Condor shrugged it off like it was important. The topic was dropped and it hadn’t come up again.

Speaking of the Condor, he heard his car pulling, tired screeching to a halt near the hanger, the hum of a motorbike a few seconds later.

Tiny and Keyop wouldn’t be there, he hadn’t invited them, and wouldn’t have even had Jason and Princess present, if they were not there when the challenge was issued.

He wasn’t about to let the kid call him a coward, if he backed away from his challenge, the words tethered on his lips as he watched him think about it. Plus, he was curious, what had Ken taught his son about racing? He had the idea Ken was a good fighter pilot, fought during the Galactor wars.

But he hadn’t provided much information beyond it. By other peoples, ideas of family they would consider Ken his father because of blood. But to Mark, and his own ideas on family- Ken was a sperm donor, and nothing more in his life.

He didn’t raise him, he gave him away along with Jun. He’d never behave like he did, getting Jun pregnant, walking out on her. What kind of man was he?  

Then she took him back after how he treated her? Why? He was struggling to comprehend the betrayals. Mark wasn’t ready for the answers and more lies.

It stung like a scorpion bite to be discarded by the people who should have loved him. They had a chance to reclaim him and neither of them did.

His father, the one who loved him and raised him was missing presumed dead…. He was determined to find him. He didn’t feel in his heart he was dead.

Drawn out of his thoughts by the sounds outside, it was time to face the world again.

The sounds Princesses charming voice and a few others he recognised. Jason must have stopped by the hotel and offered them a lift. He wasn’t going to miss seeing this kind of race.

Finishing his coffee, the bitterness hitting his stomach, and waking up. Quickly stashing the small album back into the draw. Mark walked to the door of the shack, hit with the coolness of the morning air, drawing it into his lungs, he was ready for battle.

“Hi Mark.” Jamie stepped forward, with a black beanie pulled tight over his head making his green eyes stand out more. Not even a wisp of hair showing from underneath it.

The young boy in his photos had more colour in his flesh, spirited and joyful. The older version standing before him had more untamed wild in him. What had changed over the years? He wanted to know their reasons for running away. He hated to think they were being abused.

 He had a cocky nature in how he observed him.  Not sarcastic like Jason’s he was somewhere in between with a competitive edge. He was sure of himself, and he wondered if he was like Ken in personality.

Pink stains of the sunrise were on the horizon.

“You’re on time.” He said, indicating to the rising sun.

“I keep my end of the deal.” Jamie cocked his head sideways, observing Mark like he was waiting for something.

“So, do I.” Mark extended his hand, Jamie clasped it.

“Before we get started I’m making a few rules.” He said, tightening his grip.

“What… no small talk about the weather?” Jamie’s young face broke into a cheerful grin. “I like your style.”

“Get on with it.” Syrah on the other hand was cautious. “It’s not why we came here Jamie, so you could race.”

Syrah was like a tight rose bud blooming, the soft curves of her figure changing from a girl into a woman were highlighted by the tight jeans and white T-shirt she wore. She was tailored, neat hair pulled back into a ponytail, her young eyes spoke of intelligence.

Jason was ignoring her long looks, leaning against his car, arms folded waiting to see what his commanders next move would be.

Glaring at his sister, Jamie turned his full attention to Mark while Princess rode his trail bike out of the hanger, checking the fuel tank and handing Jamie a helmet.

Mark outlined his expectations.

1.      No cheating

2.      They start the race officially once Mark had done one full turn after take-off.

3.      Jason and Princess determined the winner

4.      The race circuit was according the map he’d prepared. Two rounds of the circuit.

“Looks like you put some thought into it.” Jamie said, studying the map. “I want Syrah to be other one to call the winner. Let the girls decide.”

“Fair enough, one from my team and one from yours.” Mark agreed, finalizing it with a handshake, he left for his Cessna.

“You fly lower, it’s not a race of you’ve got easy, meters off the ground.” He challenged, as he reached his plane.

“I can fly, you worry about staying in the race.” He called back.

Princess caught up with him as he went to jump into the cockpit.

“Mark, you know something about them.” Her eyes narrowed. He didn’t answer straight away, not wanting to lie, and not wanting to elaborate either.

“I like your new hair colour, suits you.” He said, pulling down the canopy before she asked any more questions. Secretly enjoying her response, he hid the warm smile playing on his lips.

Turning her long lashing onto him in a way that sent his heart racing. Placing her fists on her hips, tilting them slightly conveying her annoyance and, shaking her head. She did look cute with bright green locks, deepening her eyes and making her skin even more creamy.

The Swan watched him turn the plane heading down the runway. He enjoyed the game they played, she asked him a question he didn’t want to answer, and returned it with a compliment.

Look but not touch, that was his personal rule when it came to Prin and any other female under his command or within the ISO.

He was her commander, and understood the Federation rules relating to relationships within units and their punishments for breaking them. He had a job to do, that demanded his complete focus.

The sounds of his engine and the wonderful feeling of lifting into the skies dominated his concentration as he turned the plane around seeing Jamie on the start line. The kid had wait until he was about to pass over, Princess was ready with a flag in her hand to signal the start of the race.

Ready…. Go!

The red flag swooped down as he came over the top flying low, and the kid on the motorbike leaped off the start line, gunning his engine with balls of dust and engine smoke in his wake hurling down the runway, and straight off the end into the grasslands area surrounding the airfield.

Watching the rider below taking the lead, he figured he’d give some false confidence. The first lap was done, with the rider below him racing over hills, the both of them had come to a tie.

Seeing his team mates below waving, as the sun rose in the sky, and the day was shaping up to be a sunny and warm. The next part of the circuit was going to be tricky, he had navigate, between the hills.

But what was a race without a real challenge in it for both of them. Mark was using as a training exercise. Keeping his wings level, one false move and he’d be landing in a few awkward places with his plane it pieces.

Diving lower over Jamie, he saw him look up for a split second before jumping over a hill and flying down the slop, kicking up plumes of dust, like small clouds behind him.

Aiming the lever as he plunged down the hill after him over taking the rider he was in the lead now.

A few more daring jumps, he had to admire, Jamie’s skills on a motorbike. The kid could hold his own.

It was on one of those jumps that things unravelled for the young teenager. Mark couldn’t exactly tell why it happened. Mid-air he tilted sideways on the bike, and came crashing to the ground, thrown off his ride, and splaying on the dirt below.

“Jason, get up here.” He spoke into his communicator.

“On my way.” He replied.

Doing a circle, taking the plane higher trying to find a landing place in the hills was never an easy task in civilian mode. Jamie wasn’t moving, paling from the sight of him sprawled on the ground, and praying he wasn’t badly hurt Mark found a place he could land.

Running back toward him Princess held out hand as she rode past, pulling up behind her without slowing down. The sleek manoeuvre had been practised many times over the years.

Jason was already there with Syrah. The you girl leaping out of the skyline crouching down next to her brother. Tenderly she checked his vitals.

“We have to get him to a hospital now.” She ordered, without looking up.

Pulling off his helmet slowly- Syrah was trembling. Revealing instead a crop of thick dark hair like he expected from his childhood photos, Jamie’s head was bald.

That’s why he wears a beanie. Mark thought wildly. Turning questioning eyes onto the young girl. Jason checked him for injuries.

“He’s very sick.” She choked in tears, like a babbling brook she spoke. “We shouldn’t be here, it’s my fault, I should have talked him out of it…but… he would have come alone and--”

“What’s wrong with him.” Princess tenderly touched the panicked girls arm. “We can help you.”

“Cancer, it’s bad, he’s in the middle of treatment…he needs to go home.” Syrah stared straight into his eyes, anger brewing like a boiling kettle. “You could have told him NO. But your egos took over as usual, boys are soooo, idiotic.” Like she was about to boil over”… you’re both hot heads by the looks of it.”

Princess was sympathetic, nodding… like she actually agreed.

Jason found the accusation amusing, smirking as he checked his patient.

“We’ll get him to the hospital.” Mark promised. Jason already had the back door of his car opened up. Indicating he couldn’t find any breaks.

“Why are you here?” Mark cast her hard look.

“He… wanted to meet you.” She whispered. “That’s all.”

“Really.” His eyes widened a touch, tightening his lips. They knew about him. What have they been told? He wondered.

“Yes.” She replied sharply.

“You shoulda stayed home kids.” Jason snickered. “You’re out of your league here.”

“You’re mean.” She shot back at the Condor.

“It’s my car you’re travelling in little girl, hang on tight.” Jason helped him carry Jamie’s limp body into the car, not asking questions but as usual the Condor was taking it all in, he could see brain ticking over in his cloudy grey eyes.

 Syrah dove into the back seat, cradling her brothers head as they lifted him inside. Princess was shooting him all kinds of enquiring looks, and he didn’t have time to elaborate.

Syrah’s words hit home like a hard slap across the face, if he knew his condition, he wouldn’t have allowed the race to happen.

“We’ll follow.” He indicated for Jason to get moving.

Leaping onto the bike behind her, gripping her tiny waist tight, trying not to allow his swimming emotions to surface. Closing his eyes tight as she gunned the engine, and kicked up the rest bar, they followed the G-2 into the city.

 

 Praying his younger blood brother would be alright.  

Chapter 6 by Ebonyswanne

Unknown planet…

They’d had a few weeks catching up on the last decade since the time they had parted ways. Sitting on the floor of his treehouse, leaning against the main trunk running through it, resting, they didn’t have a lot to do but talk.

Joe told her about the events on the beach, fresh tears stung his eyes as recalled it in details. For a long time, he blotted it out of his memory.

The jaded images hit him hard like blasts of fine sand as the images of the rose hitting the ground, shielding Jason with his body… Everything blurring around him…. his son limp in his arms unable to save him, before he lost consciousness himself, and woke up a captive…

Asha was curled up beside him as he talked about it, reaching out for him with her arms. Resting her warm cheek on his chest bringing him the comfort of home. She wept with him, feeling the pain of his loss as he finally found the words.

“Common, let’s go for a walk.” Springing to his feet, she followed him down the ladder, and along the path.

After a while they entered a clearing, indicating they had work to do. Asha complied, waiting for his instructions, she’d asked him to teach her better fighting skills.

The foundations of their relationship always had been close friends, taking things slowly he’d respected her need to touch base again with him.  

They’d both been through a lot since they last saw each other.

He warmed inside watching her fascination with his world, the plant life he showed her, and her excitement. He stared as she studied leaves, and flowers. A particular red flower caught her attention, furrowing her thick brows he watched her delicate fingers trace its soft petals. The flower was familiar, a miniature version of the enormous flowers that Jun almost died in, the flames of the field flashed through his memory, and Ken’s plane flying over.


Watching her studying the fauna of his world, and throwing his thoughts, back in time to planets they visited while on missions, and her collections in the labs ready for ISO scientific studies. He fell in love with her during their long treks, alone through strange environments and dangers. 

He’d taken her to the waterhole, not far from the treehouse. It was safe for swimming in. A crystal, clear water in a solid rock basin, with run off streams into the main river after rain.

Enjoying the growing intimacy again, between them it was like lost pieces of puzzle coming together again at last.

Asha, gave him an idea of what her life had been like being a Spectran prisoner. Pretending to play the good slave in order to gain access to places and escape.

She told him of the things demeaning things she faced as a slave, and her escape attempts, one she came close to succeeding a few years before. They kept transferring her other units once the Captains grew tired of it. Eventually her last actions led to them deciding to get rid of her altogether.

“You can get out of this.” Gripping her arms in a lock, she worked to fight her way out of it. “I could bite you.” Baring her teeth, she was trying hard to find a way out of his grip.

“Do that and I can’t guarantee your safety.” He smirked.

Seeing the scar on her arm, he still cringed at the painful wound. He’d extracted a tracker from her arm with his knife, a painful procedure. Bravely she tried not to cry- but painful tears still stung her eyes, escaping down her cheek as he dug the knife in. Closing as best he could with a bandage made from leather.  

“You’re holding on too tight.” Joe coached her. “Loosen up, relax more.” The lesson was turning into a brawl. Eventually Asha worked it out and he copped a hard elbow punch in his abdomen.

“It’s not good enough. We’ll try it again.” He readied himself to begin the fight. Pursing her lips tight, she turned and marched away.

Clenching his jaw tight, she wasn’t backing out of it. Reaching for her shoulder, she deflected him, eyes flashing like a wildcat. Pivoting on her heels, strutting in the direction of the treehouse.

“What’s going on?” Shouting, after her, his temper rose.” You’re still not doing it right get back here--“

“It’s not about that Joe.” She retorted. “I’ll never be on your level in hand to hand fighting.”

Throwing his hands in the air, following her. The last few weeks had been bliss until he started martial arts training with her. He had to remind himself constantly she wasn’t Jun in skills, barely had any form of instruction.

 Jin followed him, a curious expression on the dog’s face like a scientist observing human interaction.

Arriving at the treehouse, she pulled herself up the ladder. Following her, he was worried if they ended up in a serious fight she’d be badly injured or worse. Determined to improve her fighting skills he was pushing harder than normal.

“Then what?” He asked settling onto a bundle of furs, drinking from the water skin.

“We have a ship, why are we staying here?” pacing the treehouse hands clasped behind her back like they were on the bridge of his ship.

Direct as always, he thought. Pushing him to examine his reasons.

“We’re not ready.” He answered. “Your hand to hand fighting skills need more work--“

“We or you.” She responded, her native accent thickened more when she was angry. “I’m better with a gun, then, close combat. Spectra will come back to investigate their missing soldiers.”

He had to agree with her there, she could shoot a target accurately, and then there was Spectra.  

Falling silent, he wondered himself. Why the delay?

A lot of time had passed creating changes, and growing apart with them. Both of them needed space. Part of him wanted her as much physically and emotionally, as he had during the time of his command on the Federation exploration ship the Endeavour.

He spent years trying to find a way off this isolated planet, only when the opportunity presented itself he didn’t want to leave. How could explain it to her, when he couldn’t explain it to himself.

“What will happen to Jin?” Pointing at his dog.” I can’t leave him on his own.”

“We take him with us.” She said. “We can’t stay here.”

“Why not?” He snorted. “What’s out there for us? What am I going back to Earth for?”

Tension building, she changed the topic. “You need a shave.” She picked up the sharp knife from his pack.

The truth was he hadn’t shaved since before he escaped from the prison, she’d commented a few times he looked like a caveman.

Sitting cross legged, and straightening his back. he gave in at last to her request he remove the fuzziness from his face. Picking up a small pouch of gel she found in a plant. Explaining it was like Aloe Vera from its scent and substance. Testing it on her skin she found it had benefits. Running plant oil through his long-tangled mess of hair, pulling out the knots as she worked.

Walking around him, tenderly tilting his face up wards his eyes met hers, his forehead resting on her breast. Angling the knife, he was at her mercy as she slid it along his skin removing facial hair.

Bits dropped to the floor, and the breeze picked up moving it towards the door of the hut. The intimacy between them grew as she worked, he couldn’t tear his eyes off her, watching her furrowing her dark brows in concentration. Taking extra care with the knife not to cut him. 

She fell silent for a moment. “I’m not a psychologist, I’m a biochemist and botanist, I study vegetation and molecular cell growth its why I was on your ship to start with.” Closing her eyes.

“I know.” Trying not smile from the memories. Asha was trained for radar at the Federation academy. The woman who wanted to serve on a ship so she could collect plant samples, and ended up on a radar on the bridge. He allowed her to make use of the small lab on board. A lot of crew were multitasked in qualifications.

Keeping him close, eyebrows furrowed in concentration as she finished- his heart filled to the brim, watching her pretty golden features, in the dappled light drawing out her reddish highlights in a mass of dark brown hair falling softly around her oval face to her waist.

“I can see your face now.” She examined her workmanship and continued.

“I have all I need here.” He quietly replied as she applied the plant gel to his skin. Deeper feelings swirling’s inside of him, the love he once felt for her surfacing again, blossoming each day they spent together. He could stay there, and forget about the rest of the universe.

Live a life together free of the problems of the Federation and the entire universe.

“The universe has a way of finding those how isolate themselves.” She whispered as if reading his thought. Smoothing his skin, taking her time. “What about your friends? The ones in the photos you kept on your desk on the ship?”

Shifting his gaze away from her, he had thought about his family, and how their lives had progressed for years. He hoped Ken and Jun had a happy family life running their restaurant. Ken a knife throwing champion.

That thought often brought a smile to his face, images of his brother perfecting the art, and turning dicing vegetables into a form of ninja skills. Ryu would be a father by now and Jinpei? Who knows with him, likely newly married or single, or being the- annoying-pain-in-the-butt he always was.

“They’re living their lives without me.” He selfishly retorted.

“Running away… It’s not like you…” Scolding him, dropping the knife onto the bag.

“I’m not good at being close to people.” He admitted. “Anyone close to me dies.”

“We all die one day, we’re alive now…. Let’s not waste it.” She moved closer to him, feeling her warm moist breath on his skin, goose bumps rose from her breath. Placing a hand on his knee.

He was being stubborn, he was holding back—and finally understood why. He was being selfish, wanting her for himself and time alone. Reigniting everything, he had lost during her absence.

Main tumase pyaar karata hoon.” She breathed in her native tongue, meeting his searching eyes, lost in the moment.

“What does that mean?” He asked.

Mohabbat.” Love… A smirked played on her lips. “Shut up and kiss me.”

“No- it doesn’t.” He chortled. 

Playfully Asha side glanced him, with her long eyelashes fluttering seductively.  “Chup raho aur mujhe kis karo.”

Greedily Joe picked up her smaller hand with his fingers, drawing her closer, the undercurrent of electricity encircling them.

Touching her cheek tenderly with his fingers, moving her hair away from her face, curling his fingers around her head cradling her, drowning in the warm pools of her deep amber glaze.

A natural beauty in his eyes, she needed no embellishment for him to love her. Her spirited personality and willingness to take risks was devilishly attractive.

Pulling her in closer, returning his affections. Parting her lips, pressing his lips against hers, he drew her in more deeply with each passing second, their hunger grew like sounds of wildcats in the distance.

It was the first time he’d kissed her in a decade, and she had the same hold over him. Warm sensations flooded his entire being heating up the air between them.

The hours that followed reignited everything he had suppressed for years. Shedding clothing wasting not a second more, wanting her in every way was like sweet torture.

Lying down on the bare timber floor of his home, shaking from pent up desires and years of abstinence- both of them trembling with urges they’d not touched on for years.

The warmth of her bare flesh against his overwhelmed his senses and desires as they ardently made love into the afternoon on the floor of the treehouse.  

Later as the sun dipped into the sky- Breathless, with her body moulded with his, long hair flowing around her, tickling his skin. Her cheek lying on his chest he stretched his neck so he could see her face.

The sound of the tree’s branches moaning, and rustling of leaves as the birds claimed the higher branches the solitary sounds of the forests nocturnal wildlife waking up around them. The growl of a wildcat coming out to hunt drifted up from the ground below. Jin- lazily lifted his head from his afternoon nap, and slumped back down again for a longer one.

“I still want to know what. Main tumase pyaar karata hoon.”

“What do you think it means?” She said, shifting slightly.

“Ti amo la mia bella Asha.” He replied, his heart beating wildly, tingling sensations ran through him like a stream. He meant every word of it. Searching her eyes they softened as he spoke.

Sono innamorato di te.” I’m in love with you… he whispered, thick with emotion.

“In English, what do those words mean?” Tilting her head, she moved up his body closer to his face. From her expression, she’d guessed their meaning.

“You first.” He chuckled.

“One day…I’ll tell you.” She replied in deep thought, fingers stroking his chest. “I want to stay here too. Just the two of us. But we can’t Joe.”

Sighing and shifting off him, and picking up her ragged slave clothing- Inspecting her, feminine curves as she walked to the window of the treehouse.

She shivered as the cold breeze drifted inside, drawing her arms around herself to stay warm. Springing to his feet, and eloping her in his arms. Relishing the feeling her soft breasts against his biceps, warming her body with his own crushing against her. 

Enjoying the moment holding her in his arms- Planting a hot wet kiss on her neck, she quivered turning slightly, drawing in a sharp breath, as his callused hands ran over her smooth skin.

“I know we can’t stay here.” He resided. “I’ll be ready soon…. To face the universe, and the human race again.”

“Joe… “Closing her eyes returning his affections, in his heart he understood the meaning of her words spoken in Indian. I love you in another language means the same thing. Everything about her body language conveyed her feelings towards him, reciprocating with his own unspoken language.

She wasn’t a woman to hide her feelings, but at times she chose not to voice them too openly, a discipline she used often during the time they served together in his ship.

“The ship is short range, not suited for a long run to Earth, plus its Spectran. They’d be touchy over it, depending on what relations are like now days. We need something bigger- in the next few days we’ll fly to Oden...town of Harken.” He decided. 

“Harken- it’s a rough outpost, and we have no Federation money.” She reminded him.

“I’ll make a few house calls. A few pirates owe me, for not shooting them. Besides pirates don’t care who’s ship it is, they’ll buy it.” They were lucky, when he was the Condor and a driven teenager out for revenge. He wouldn’t have hesitated as much especially since they would have been the types to align themselves with Galactor. He calculated a few gangs he’d had run ins with during his command.

“I know what your house calls entail, I think I’ll need some more hand to hand combat lessons. We have those Spectran guns if… when things get out of hand.”

“You know me well.” A feral grin fluttered across his lips.

“Harken… of all places.” Asha leaned into him. “I remember the last time we were there. Federation asked our ship to check some trouble in the place.”

“Wasn’t so bad. We lived through it, and they learned not to mess the Commander Asakura.” His grin intensified. “Wonder if Dingo is still around, he owes me.”

“Owes you, he wants you dead, it’s what he said as you blew up his joint, and threatened to haul him back to the Federation for trial-“

“He had you as his prisoner the shit, threatening all sorts of things- what did he expect from me.”

“How did you know I wasn’t in the place you launched the rocket into? You never answered beyond that feral grin you mastered so well.”

“I know a bluff when I hear it, he wanted to show everyone in town how powerful he is… thinking he could intimidate a Federation commander to his bidding.”

“I came back…”

“So… you did…came back unharmed, and he lived… see why he owes me.” Joe swayed with her in his arms, enjoying their shared memories of missions.

”Let’s get back to what’s happening here.” Trailing hot kisses down her neck, a low growl left his lips, enjoying her skin against him. He could feel her gently moaning from his touch as his hand slid down her stomach towards his intended destination. Both of them stumbling towards the bed of furs for the evening.

Jin would have to catch his own dinner tonight, the dog observed them briefly, and left. Leaping from the branches onto the platforms towards the ground Joe had made for him.

Catching his lips with hers, as they fell onto the soft mass he used for a bed. “You’ll have to tell me how you learned to fight the way you do someday.” She gasped for air between passionate kisses, and their hands moving everywhere.

“Someday…” He promised, feeling his physical response to her touch, as it heated up the atmosphere around them, sensual tensions building, their steamy breath sending clouds into the air. He was never parting ways with her again.

 She didn’t know he was a cyborg, or the Condor from the Science Ninja Team during the Galactor Wars. He’d find the right time to disclose that information, for now he was enjoying other sensations.  

Unprepared for how he’d feel when was finally given the opportunity to leave his place of isolation.

It had served as an escape from his pain, and grief over the people he had lost along the way. His parents, Dr Nambu and his son, until that moment Asha.  

Going back meant knowing the fate of his family, Ken, Jun, Ryu, and Jinpei. A small flame sparked inside of him, with her reminding him of them. A deep longing to see them all again ignited unexpectedly.

With Asha coming back into his life he was finding the strength to come to terms with it. Move into a place of acceptance and the courage to find his sons resting place on Earth.

The idea of standing before his grave was raw, but it was time to seek out closure, like he did with his parents. He couldn’t block it all out forever. 

Chapter 7 by Ebonyswanne

Zoltar stood tapping his foot inspecting the damage to his new mecha, receiving word that the project had hit another delay, he’d flown to the slave planet of Horition furious he had hit another obstacle in launching his attack.

“What did you do with said slave?” He asked. Leaning in closer to the Captain in charge, he wanted to strangle the culprit himself.

“That stupid slave was nothing but trouble sire. Totally incompetent at doing her work correctly. All her fault it’s been delayed.” Stammering, the man hurriedly explained he sent her with a crew to be executed. Unsatisfied with the answer, he wanted to know if she was a spy.

“Why couldn’t you shot her on the base for all to see, it would be more effective. The body?” Zoltar hissed, the tip of his mask poking the man’s trembling face. “Did they bring back the body?”

“Ahh... left it on the planet, all done my Lord.” The Captain fumbled.

“You left it? You had no authority to land there.” Poking him again.

“Blood is messy to clean up sire, and the men…ahhh well.” He pleaded. “Well… she was feisty and… I ahh… killing a woman like that, cold blood…”

Pursing his pink lips until they turned white, he wondered how they passed the entry exams into his army. The Captain fell into step as Zoltar whirled on his heels and headed down the corridor.

He had thoughts of his own intel about an elite team in the, Federation called G-force. They had a female on the team, and they’d better get a stomach for killing a woman by the time they launched their attack.

“I want to speak to the one executed her… what was her name?” Zoltar wanted someone to take his frustrations out on. Sadly, the Captain jumped ahead of him and had the slave put out of her misery.

“They didn’t come back… did they. Your men?” He said. Clenching his jaw tight, drawing a deep breath he waited.

“Not yet.” Captain answered. “They could have stopped on another slave planet to replace her—“

“You imbecilic.” He hissed, halting.

“Go yourself to the location, investigate.” Poking his chest with a pointy index finger.

“You’ll stand before The Great Spirit and explain your incompetence.” He promised, striking fear into the heart of his captain. The man hastily nodded, marching off to go on his recovery mission.

The planet was meant to be left isolated, by the orders of the great Spirit himself. He has to clean up the mess and fast before he found out- the whole planet was a prison for a particular prisoner, they had trouble keeping caged in.

Flicking his purple cape and marching down the ramp off the beast he was creating to being his military campaign and acquiring of resources his failing planet badly needed Zoltar had to find a way to gently explain their second delay in launching in a decade.

The first was after the capture of two Federation ship officers. They both escaped after the first few hours of capture.

Successfully blowing up the almost finished Turtle Mecha. The force of the explosion sent the pair of them flying, they found the female unconscious. She was immediately put into prison until they could tag her.

The other male was presumed dead, caught in the explosion.

Asha, the name of the person who sent his project back ten Earth years. But the Great Spirit wanted her alive. Said she would be useful, and to send to a remote slave planet to work hard labour. He did it to break her spirit. His leader was never good at explaining his reasons for ordering anything. Any questions he had were met with a sonic blast, and over time Zoltar stopped asking.

Unbeknownst to him the woman had become trouble, and transferred often without his authorisation.

Now he was stuck with a dilemma. The Great Spirit had request he bring her to him, along with picking up Joe Asakura from his planet prison of the last eight years.

 She might have proved to be trouble, but she wasn’t stupid like the captain painted her be. This master had plans for her, and he wanted them together.

At least she would possibly be in the same place if the crew failed.

A Galaxy girl dressed in blood red and platinum bluntly cut wig approached him.

“Lord Zoltar.” She addressed him formally.

“My dear.” Turning slightly a sultry smile played on his lips. “I have a mission for you…. To bring me an old friend.”

He had a long history with Sari. She had proven to more than an excellent assassin over the years. Her work as a spy on Earth had located a vital piece of information that would change the course of Spectra and its gathering of resources.

She had located vitalunas an essential mineral only found on Earth. It was vital for the survival of Spectra. Earth had an abundance of it, the beast before him Terrapin, was his answer to the crisis. Earth will be forced to surrender their resources.

His mecha production had slowed down with having to replace metals and find qualified engineers to work on designs. His captive Federation slaves were nothing but trouble when it came to putting them on the job.

Nothing but stress and ongoing problems, was enough to make him want to hand the leadership over Joe Asakura. It what he figured the Great Spirit had wanted to do. Let him deal with it.

Sighing heavily, he adjusted his mask, straightened his shoulders and got on with doing what had to be done. He was Spectran, and Joe wasn’t. That made a bigger difference to his commitment to ruling well.

What was it that made the Great Spirit obsessive with the man, he didn’t know, but eventually he planned to find out his secret.

“You there.” He indicated a man in a green uniform, they all looked alike to him with masks on.

“Yes sir.” The man stepped forward.

“I have a mission for you.” Zoltar flicked his cape, as he strutted towards his shuttle, the man fell into step a respectful pace behind his leader.

Handing the man, a small package, instructing him to fly to Spectra and deliver it to Mala.

Saluting his leader, the man straightened with pride for being selected for an important mission.

Zoltar didn’t see the other man observing the scene, he blended into the general population of working slaves, and moved fluidly through the base without a soul knowing he was there.

Stealing onto the shuttle, the spy had plans acquire the package, and send the information back to the Federation.

An agent working for the red rangers, a source in deep cover, no one knew his identity, only the code name he sent to the red rangers for the intel to be passed on directly to Colonel Cronus himself, who then passed it onto Chef Anderson.

“Mission code Cronus…”

 

########################

 

Days later…. Centre Neptune Earth.

The lights dimmed for the footage, as a room full of high ranking officials watched as G-Force showed them what they are made of. Mark issuing orders, and his team responding, Forming a whirlwind pyramid. Then all flying out of it with the ease of bird in flight to continuing their training exercises. Eventually the footage ended, and the light came back onto a room full of silence.

The whole time he confidently waited for the feedback… Then the discussion of the project began in earnest.

His hands clasped firmly behind his back, watching the sharks swim past the huge glass windows catching the odd fish that strayed from the schools swimming close by- Chief Anderson, head of Federation security, listened to the heated discussion going on in the room.

The discussion had turned into a debate, the sharks in the room were lining up for the pickings from anyone who strayed out of the ridges guidelines of the current leadership.

“Gentlemen and ladies.” The General of their federation research fleet stood up to have his say.” We are a peaceful federation, and I don’t see the need for team of hormonal teenagers running around the galaxy stirring trouble.”

 “That Condor, can you keep him on a leash?” A commander snickered. “He’s one scary hothead I hear.”

“I bet he’s more trouble, and then the girl?” Another agreed. “Sixteen-year-old pretty girl and teenage boys on heat, in the same room eventually… well…its a bad combination, the boys could be hot for each other who knows what--“

“They’re completely professional Federations soldiers.” He declared, gripping his anger, cutting through the rising voices. “There is fraternisation between any of them.”

A few stern faces tilted in his direction, along with a shift in the conversation. Doubts in the viability of his long-term project had come to surface, and political bickering was like a Roman mob.

“The Commander, Mark is barely eighteen years old. I suggest we can find a replacement. I’d agree to that-“

Another General, with thin hair and a dower expression turned like a shark, staring at Anderson. “His second-command… why not replace the whole team for older, more experienced specialists, if the public learns of their implants as toddlers, the scandal of it, and Keyop’s cloning there will be outrage--“

Clearing his throat, it was time for him to join in. “The public will think they are hero’s they’ll save the day.”

“Save the day?” One snorted.” They’re a financial drain, fancy kids on superhero bird costumes.”

“We need them.” He stated firmly. “They are in sync with each other, we can’t pull Mark out of his Command. It would destroy everything we have achieved, he is dedicated to the Federation, you won’t find anyone as trustworthy as him.”

“There was another team put together by your uncle. The Science Ninja Team.” A General turned an accusing finger on him. “Is it your inflated ego to have a team like his?”

They saw him as a stray fish in their vast ocean of the federation ready to be picked off and replaced. If G-force was disbanded as a team, he would lose his position- and he found himself defending it to his last breath.

“They died protecting our planet, and were a success.” He parried. “You saw G-forces training, and scores. The five of them work together as one, they are more effective than the previous team, I assure you, once activated you won’t be disappointed.

“Spectra hasn’t show itself to be the threat we feared. They have done nothing since we discovered their existence. It appears they wish to be left alone.” Another officer lounged in his seat, fiddling with a pen, oozing arrogance. “We have the outer watch on Pluto, and the Z.A.R.K systems robot, we can put military watches and a few bases closer to them. That should keep them away, and the children you trained can go back to school where they belong.”

This wasn’t about their ages, it was about the costs and funding of running a base exclusive for G-Force, more politics and blindness. He fumed internally, masking it with a slight turn of his head, furrowing his brows and adjusting his glasses.

“This facility can be used more effectively.” His opposition pitched in.

“We need G-force, they are the best defence we have against any attack from Spectra.” A commander with her greying hair pulled tight, flashing eyes stood in his ally.

Eyeballing the generals, the meeting was souring further- politics in action.

Spectra had been quiet, but it didn’t stop him from putting the team on alert. Something was brewing out there, he could taste it like salty water.

His intel had indicated as much, sharing it in the meeting before he showed them the footage appeared to do nothing at all. They had become complacent over the years, and he was in danger of being shut down.

Leaning on the table, splaying his fingers and delivering a menacing glare, he slowly turned his fiery gaze on all of them.

“G-Force are trained like no other team we have. Their cybernetics… ” He paused, some of that information had a higher level of security.” Shut down this project and you leave us vulnerable.”

He had a few supporters in the room, but they were few and he was losing fast, something had to happen, and soon or he would lose his position as chief in favour of someone more pliable.

“You have until the end of the election in a few months to prove it.” President Wallis said. “ If by then we can’t justify G-Forces costs, then we move onto another plan for defending our Federation in slight chance of a threat.”

The meeting gradually came to an end with no real conclusion to the fate of G-force, one by one the official blue clad generals and commanders left the room.

Making choices on revealing information was part of his job. A piece of the pie he kept closer to himself, depending on how the meeting went.

There was some knowledge in command about possible Spectran activity, and constructions. He’d personally handed to the current president, the man said to keep a close, but felt Spectra was more wind, than action.  

The monitoring of one of Spectra’s activity was his job, and he did it well.

Placing his hand into his pocket, and fingers curling around a computer stick, he pulled it out, staring at vital information he hadn’t shared.

The cryptic stick contained images and footage of a monster mecha being build, and intel on its intent to be used in an attack on earth lead by Spectra’s leader Zoltar.

It had come to him through Cronus, he had sent him to investigate it with his red rangers. So far, he didn’t have news from him.

Staring at the stick, there no point simply sharing information with the hierarchy. The only other person he had revealed it too, was in a private meeting with the opposition to Wallis, Senator Kane.  

 Senator Kane agreed telling them was no use, they would dismiss it like they had the others sent though, minor threats, if any, Spectra used the mecha’s for other purposes, they would say.

Complacent since the end of the Galactor wars, the federation was getting comfortable in peacetime.

He had spent time weighing it up, his conscious of what he was retaining, and how it was affect the Federation.

One real attack, and G-Force would be commissioned in full, no one would oppose it. A few sacrifices for the good of the many. Spectra would back off once they saw their effectiveness, withdraw totally. In the end, it was the best move to assure the compete safety of all the planets under his protection.

Most of all, Chef Anderson would retain his position, in war mode he gained a higher standing in the Federation.

Mark wouldn’t disappoint him, the boy had his biological fathers disposition for duty and command, blinded by it like a robot- he owned him like a slave master.

Jason was harder to control, rebellious, and at one point he was going to replace him with Don Wade until the kid turned out to be worse- where near as good in combat, and targeting as Jason was.

Marks protests led to him keeping Commander Joe Asakura’s son on the team. Ever since the young teenager had fallen into a place of insecurity. Anderson saw his determination to be better than his father and follow in his path of command.

He had heard legends about him in the federation, a drive he hoped the young teen would grow out of it.

Dropping the plastic stick onto the floor, it made a soft crunching sound as he crushed it under his shoe. He no longer needed it, picking up the sharp pieces, and dumping them into the fiery disposal unit, no one was accessing it again.

The rogue spy that delivered it was still active- and no one knew his true identity. His first place of contact was with Colonel Cronus- He passed on the information to him.

His gut feeling about the spy’s identity was likely to be correct, all of his transmissions and code held a familiar ring to it and codes, only he would know.

He had all but told him many years ago. Cronus, was the word used each time, and he had figured out it wasn’t for his contact with Ken Washio. The spy was the real Cronus- Matt Butler- Marks missing father.

He couldn’t tell his commander, it would distract him, and he’d want to run off looking for him. He was needed in the Federation, and focused on his job. Keeping a strict eye on his commander, he wasn’t taking any chances.

Another piece of intel he kept to himself. He kept telling himself it was the right thing to do.

Secrets upon secrets.

Clearing his conscious, he thought of the millions of lives he would save activating G-Force, one sacrifice for the good of the many.

 

The mecha named “Terrapin.” On the computer stick was likely to attack. G-force would defeat it, and he would have his funding, and base, and secure in his position as chief, for the good of the Federation. 

Chapter 8 by Ebonyswanne

He looked younger than fifteen- with a breathing tube running across his nose, monitors stuck all over his pale chest rising and falling as Jamie Washio slept with Mark watching over him.

Syrah rested in a seat nearby, Princess and Jason had left for a while and gab some sleep at his request. They would be back later, Princess especially had picked up he knew more about the kids than he was letting on.

He often thought of his intuitive nature, but she had her own sharp senses, more in people than any of them.

Syrah had gone into her own shell since they arrived, she had spoken quietly on the phone at the nurses, station with her mother. It sounded like Jun was on her way to New Jork, taking a commercial flight.

The scrapping sound as he pulled a chair over by the bed pierced his ears, a sharp pain hitting his senses.

Sinking into it, leaning back crossing his arms, a mixture of emotions fought inside of him. If he hadn’t of broken contact ten years before he would have known Jamie was sick. In two minds over his choices, he wasn’t completely sure why he did it.

Scratching his head, running fingers though it to straighten it out. The odd thought of needing a to wash it drifted amongst his deeper ruminations.

“You don’t have stay.” She said flatly, staring blankly at the pages of a social magazine. “Waiting is painful, and really, I’m sure you have other things to do.”

“I’ll stay.” Mark promised, secretly hoping he didn’t get an emergency call.

“It’s boring, and he’s in hospital now.” Shrugging she moved in her seat.” They’re talking his doctors in Utoland, nothing you can do here.”

“You said he came to see me.” Mark turned sideways in his chair to face her.” You don’t think I know why?”

“Maybe.” She glanced over.” Do you know me?”

“We spoke a few times as children.” His tone softened. “I remember your voice.”

She straightened, eyes widening. “You… remember us?”

Nodding Mark looked into her eyes, he could see the connections there, her resemblances to him.

“You’re my sister, and Jamie is my brother right?”

“Yeah.” She lightened up a little. “Mom told us about you, when we talked on the phone, we were too little to really understand much. Just that you lived with another mom and dad.”

“I know, I had a hard time figuring it all out.” He half smiled.

I’m still trying to figure it all out, he thought.

“How long has he been sick.”

“Too long.” Can his answer from Jamie, his eyes forming slit’s. “Dad was teaching me to fly… one day I passed out on him as we were coming in to land. Almost crashed.”

Syrah moved fast to her brother’s side, sitting on the side of bed.

“I had… well sickness but figured I kept getting viruses…. Than after I blacked out landing… dad took me to a hospital. Tests started and they found tumours…” Jamie croaked.” I wasn’t allowed to fly, do anything. I’m like a caged bird… its suffocating… Chemo… can’t.”

Tensing up, fists balling he looked like he wanted to rip off all the monitors and leave.

“Don’t move.” Mark rested a hand on his brothers chest.” You try to leave, and I’ll have to bring you back, won’t be pretty.”

“You look like dad when you say that.” Jamie snorted. “You look so much like him.”

“I’m my own person, and he-“Cutting of the rest of the words, he didn’t raise me, he doesn’t know my, how can I be like him… he flies planes, so what…. He thought. They might be related as siblings, but they barely knew each other.

A nurse appeared at doorway, beaconing Syrah, from the quick conversation it sounded like her mother was on the phone asking for her.

“I get it.” Jamie inhaled. “You didn’t grow up with us, so… why not start now.”

Mark lightened more, he was warming to the young teenager lying in a hospital bed. He had guts and spirit, even if he could be cocky at times.

Extending his hand, taking Jamie’s fingers in his, shaking hands, and introducing himself, Jamie did the same.

“Good to know, cause, I’d hate for you to have to hots for your own sister.” Jamie joked. “Or me, if you go that way.”

“Nah, too much like a Star Wars plot.” Mark laughed. “I’m straight, if that’s what your implying.”

“Yeah… me too, who’s the hot lookin babe you hang out with? She your girlfriend or the other dudes?” He asked.

“She’s ahh…” How could he respond to it. Its not like he owned Princess, and she was his sub-ordinate.

“She’s single.” He managed. “ Why?”

“I wanna ask her out on a date…when I’m…if I.” He started. Slumping back into his pillow, looking away.

“Then ask her out on a date.” Mark relented, even though he felt strange inside at the prospect of it.

For the next hour, they chatted about various things. Discovering they both had a love of flying. Jamie’s competitive nature had a lean towards racing motorbikes.

He was starting to compete in motorbike racing in Utoland before his illness. It looked like he had something in common with Princess after all. Warming up more, he liked him, they had the potential to become close friends over time.

 Syrah came in and out of the room, and one point they helped Jamie sit up so he could eat. From the sounds of it, the doctors were waiting for Jun to arrive and have discussions about his medical treatment, and further planning.

“Mom’s here.” Syrah said walking back into the room, carrying a little baby in her arms and followed by a young shy boy. “She’s with the doctors now.”

“Dad?” Jamie asked, Syrah shook her head sadly. Jamie’s face dropped, he appeared disappointed with her answer.

“He’s still away.” She said turning her gaze onto the baby.

“What’s his name.” He asked, breaking the tense silence.

“Timmy, he’s a few months old. Mom said no more babies now.” She held him out to Mark. Instructing him on how to hold him. Blankets and all.

Taking the sleeping babies weight into his arms, gently cradling his head against his forearm, wrapping his other arm protectively around him. Captivated by the peaceful soft baby features much like his own. For a flinting second, he wondered what his own children would look like. The thought hadn’t entered his mind until that moment.

“That’s what she said after me.” The boy with glasses finally spoke up. “My names Joey, if anyone is interested.”

“Nice to meet you Joey, I’m Mark.” Mark would have extended a hand, only he was holding a baby. A little awkward since it was his first time.

“You too.” Joey brightened a little.

“Big bro.” Jamie pitched in.

“Really, never would have guessed. “Joey sarcastically pitched it at Jamie.

A female figure stood in the doorway, turning and catching his breath, Mark wasn’t completely prepared for his feeling as she watched him. Mixed emotions softy washed across her face taking in the sight of Mark holding her youngest son in his arms.

She was older than the photos he had of her, she’d had a haircut to shoulder length now. More drawn facial features as her gaze fell on Jamie and back to him.

The realization hit him. He was the same age as Ken would have been when was born, possibly a year older, but close to it. Taking in that thought he wondered…

“Hi Mark.” Jun’s greeting broke into his thoughts.

“Hi.” He managed. It wasn’t how he’d pictured the moment they’d see each other again. For a long time, he was able to even forget about it during his training years.

Timmy stirred in his arms, from his mother’s voice. Fumbling a little, he walked over to hand him back to Jun.

“He’s cute.” Mark said.

“Yes, he is, a good baby too.” She forced a smile, trying not to stare at her tall estranged son before her.

“Mom.” Jamie’s voice drew her away from him, walking past him, and handing the baby to Syrah she placed her complete attention onto Jamie.

Everyone else might as well have left the room. Jun indicated she wanted sometime alone with her sick son. Taking the hint, Mark and the others left the room, they sat in a waiting area a few doors down the hallway. Syrah changed her brother’s nappy in the changing room close by, Joey mostly kept to himself. Saying the odd word from time to time.

The young boy was hard to talk too, but Mark sensed he was the kind person you had to peel like an onion, he had layers, and would take time for him to emerge from under them.

Emerging a short time later, Jun didn’t look any happier than when she went in.

Slowly sinking into a seat in the small area, they were alone. Swallowing hard, she stared out the window for a moment gathering in her thoughts, taking in the gravity of the situation.

“He’s sleeping now.” She finally said. “Thank you for getting him here.”

“My friend Jason you’ll have to thank, he drove him here.” He said.

“Either way, you’re here.” She sat forward clasping her hands staring at the floor.

Jun filled them in. “We won’t be leaving here for a while, he can’t be moved and has to resume treatment starting from tomorrow morning.”

Mark listened as she talked about the cancer, and his journey with to the that point. It also left him wondering where Ken was. His son was in a bad way and he wasn’t around. Wondering why Jun put up with it, a twist of his stomach from the thought of the kind of man Ken was, to abandon his family during a time like this… made him determined not to be like him. When he mentioned it, she defended her husband.  

Standing up and walking towards the door of the room Jun leapt to her feet.

“I’m sorry.” She said.

“What for?” Mark asked. It was a cryptic answer. Syrah, carrying her baby brother and Joey, walked out the door, saying something along the lines of going for fresh air.

“You don’t understand him, and I can see why you’re judging him- “

“No, I don’t know him, and from what I see, he runs the moment things get tough, Jamie needs him here now.” Mark said.” Where is he?”

“He’s working, it’s not like you think.” She came closer to him, placing a hand on his arm, like she wanted to say more.

“I’m not sure what to think.” Mark admitted. “I’ll be here in the morning to see Jamie.”

Lost for words she watched him walk out, arranging his facial features and suppressing the emotions he didn’t want to deal with in that moment. He left the visitors room to be greeted by Princess walking up the hall.

He cast her a stoic eye and kept walking.

“Mark.” She called out to him. Halting and drawing in a deep breath, as she spun around in front of him with questioning eyes.

He wasn’t in the mood for talking, his insides hungered for the blue skies, drawn to them it was like an eternal pull to reach his plane, and get off the ground. His place of release, peace was thousands of miles above the Earth.

“Its complicated.” He said. ”He’s an old friend from Utoland, my childhood there.”

It was enough to satisfy her curiosity for now.

“Oh.” She responded. “I thought I’d go and see him and Syrah.”

“He’d like that.” Again, that strange feeling ran through him. “I’ve gotta go.”

Prin was used to it, often Anderson called him in for top secret meetings and solo missions, checking out potential alien activity on Earth.

“See you later.” She warmly smiled. “Enjoy your flight.”

“The lady in the doorway, is she his mother?”

“Yes, go and introduce yourself.” He indicated, as Jun stepped back into the visitor’s room.

“I will.” She left him standing there, walking down the hall.

Warming from her assumptions, she was spot on, he needed to be in the air, so much it physically hurt.

Leaving her behind, and racing down the hall, drawn to the beaconing skies of the late afternoon, he’d be flying into a sunset, the most dramatic show of the day.

 His car powering down the road to the airfield couldn’t move fast enough, screeching to a dusty halt spinning the wheels in away Jason would have been proud of. Leaping out of the car, and into the seat of his Cessna.

Swooping across the ocean. Running ahead of his team mates, and leaping onto his motorbike.

The Eagle left the city returning to his shack, not wasting another second. He was flying over the ocean when the call came from Zark.

“Ears on Zark.” Mark tensed as he was called into action, adrenaline racing through his veins it was the moment he was trained for. The team were officially being activated, an alien threat was on the shores of his beloved Earth.

 

########################

 

Princess left Mark to his calling, she had seen that look in his stormy blue eyes over the years. He needed to be flying, and she wasn’t holding him back.

Walking past the visitor’s room, she saw Jamie’s sitting alone, she was crying, leaning her head against the wall in despair.

An older woman with shoulder length dark hair, drawn lips. Fine lines marked her shaped brows.

Her heart went out to her.

She must be so worried about him. Princess thought, walking quietly into the room. The older woman straightened in her seat seeing someone else in the room, blowing her nose and apologising. Splotched patches of red rings around her green eyes, she looked at her from a moment, and burst into more tears.

“It’s okay, I was just talking to Mark, and he mentioned you… You’re Jamie’s mother.” Gingerly she sat on an angle in the seat next to her. The woman nodded. An awkward silence followed, as the older woman squared her shoulders, trying to get a grip on what was happening around her.

“I’m Princess, its what my friends call me.” Prin said. “Marks one of my friends, I was with him when Jamie… well.” What could she say to his mother about what led to it.

“I know he was racing, Jamie is always wanting to race motorbikes and live on the edge.” Her facial features softened as she studied her. “I’m Jun Washio, you met my daughter too.”

“I saw them downstairs, you have another baby, he adorable.” Prin warmed, and Jun responded with a half-smile at the mention of her children.  

”What else did he mention?” Jun ask, raising a brow. They walked together towards Jamie’s ward.

“Apparently they’re old friends from Utoland.” She answered truthfully.

A moment of awkwardness, Jun moved robotically, like going back into the room was a form of torture.

“I should be angry.” Jun’s tone softened staring at the door. “I can’t… I hate seeing him like this.”

Prin didn’t have words, the closest she had to mother after hers died in the car accident was Marks mother. Then she wasn’t in her life for long before she left the world too.

“Would be okay if I go in and see him?” She asked. “You look like you could use some sleep, it must have been a long flight from Utoland.”

Jun appeared grateful for her concern, nodding. “I have to find a place to stay, book into a hotel…Timmy’s feed time is soon. I… my other kids need me to do things for them.”

“He won’t be alone, I’ll stay, you go and do those things.” Prin offered. “I promise.”

Princess hoped she wouldn’t be called out before Jun came back.

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” Jun said. “If you’re not here… it’s okay.”

A cryptic smile crossed Jun’s fine lips. A side glance at Princess like she knew something and she wasn’t voicing it. Shaking the thought, she couldn’t know a thing about her, likely it was because she wasn’t around many women with lots of kids to worry about. It was a motherly look, she concluded.  

After a few moments of contemplation, Jun accepted her offer.

Walking into the room, Jamie was awake again pulling off monitor cords.

“I’m alive, and hate these patches.” He frowned, peeling off the round white stickers.

“Are you meant to be doing that?” She tried to sold him, but it came out more like a flirt.

“I don’t always do what I’m supposed to do.” A warm smile flinted across his fine features. He looked to be around her age, and without his beanie, his eyes stood out even more, a dark shadow across his scalp indicated his hair would be dark. An unexpected flutter of her heart caused a warm blush flooded her without knowing why.

Walking over beside his bed, she sat in the chair as a conversation sprung up between them, they talked about all sorts of things over the next hour.

“I’ll come back in the morning with Mark.” She said as the afternoon drew on.

“What your leaving now?” Jamie sounded disappointed, shifting in his bed as he tried to get out of it.

“No…no, I need to move.” He cringed, as she tried to help him. Dressing only in hospital pants. Walking gingerly on his bare feet over to the window, stretching his legs, and arms.

He was almost the same height as Mark, leaner build and muscle. Watching him, it was like… shaking her head in doubt, she pushed away the thoughts as coincidence.

“Well, I tracked Mark down, old friends…” Jamie said with a glint in his eyes.

“I’ve known him for a few years, he’s a good friend.” She said, keeping the conversation going. Easing into his company, she found she was liking him more, the brash youthful nature was calmer.

“Wanna go on a date?” Jamie’s face broke into a bright broad grin.” I mean, it’s a little harder in a hospital, but often they have a nice café. Not the cafeteria… I wouldn’t take you there, not classy enough for a girl like you.”

Lightening up from his easy nature, the atmosphere between them electrified, she found him infectious.

Sure, she liked Mark even found him attractive, he was someone she clicked with, but he was also her commander. Any thought of a relationship there was senseless.

“Don’t say yes because you feel sorry for me. You know…’date the cancer guy, might be his last chance…’ that kinda thing.” Jamie’s narrowed, he was dead serious. “I don’t do pity dates. If it for those reasons, say no…”

“Neither do I.” She replied. “I’m saying yes because I like you.”  Warming more because she found him genuinely attractive, she’d felt something watching him racing, he had an energy that appealed to her. “I’d love to go on a date with you.”

“Great… give it a few days, you don’t really wanna see me throwing up, not pretty. Not a good way to start things.” He was smiling, he was enjoying her company, blushing again, she kept side glancing him.

“How about I check in on you anyway, then we can plan it on a day you’re feeling okay.” Princess wanted to melt inside with excitement, her first real date.

“Sure, I have good days and no so good ones.” He moved in a little closer. “Spontaneous… I like it.”

Biting her bottom lip, she was wrapped up his attention, he sincerely liked her.

“I’m ahh…turned sixteen, last month.” She blurted out. What? She scolded herself, why did she say a stupid thing like that.

“I’m sixteen in a few days.” He said continuing the conversation. “Mom wasn’t happy… I can tell by her looks- she likes birthdays and always fusses over it. Seeing Mark here helped. But Syrah’s in the firing line worse than me.” Shaking his head. He admitted to his crimes of running away, he wanted to see his old friend, and feel alive.

“All this treatment, I feel washed out, lifeless. Drains it all out of my… like a vampire.” He explained. “I just wanna race… ride my bike… I hate feeling weak… what about you?”  

How could she explain her own life? Side glancing him. A few ideas ran though her mind like a movie reel.

Imagining telling the full truth…

She could lightly say. “I work part-time at Jills, and in my other job I make bombs, train to save the galaxy from Spectra if they attack us, transmute into birdstyle ride a super-sonic motorbike, and they I’m called the Swan… I’m home schooled by the ISO on a secret base called Centre Neptune… Mark… well we know each other because we work together he’s the commander… Eagle….Ahh… big fat NO.

The only part of that she could use was Jill’s and lie about going to high school. Heavy internal sigh…  

Oh, I understand… she thought. Understand what? She’d have to lie to him- how could she explain anything real when she had a secret identity. Even how she knows Mark is a rehearsed fabrication from the Chief.

The chief had warned them about relationships, and complications. She was willing to take a chance here. Even if Jason voiced to her before she came he didn’t like him or trust him. He didn’t understand Mark, the one with the least trust of people of anyone he knew.

Her heart skipped a few beats. He had something about him that attracted her, she couldn’t place the feelings of familiarity with him. Mark had briefly explained he was an old friend from his childhood in Utoland, not elaborating on it further. That could have relaxed his usual suspicious nature.

A team of doctors walked through door interrupting their conversation. A few disapproving frowns from Jamie removing the monitors.

Ushering him back to the bed, one was there ready to take a blood sample.

“Vampires.” He said to nurse as she drew blood. Princess moved around the other side, taking his hand.

“I’ll keep them away.” She purred.

“You have garlic?” He replied.

“No, but I’m sure Jason has some garlic, he eats a tone of it.”

“Wondered what smelled odd about him. “He joked. “I bet her uses it for fuel, no wonder he wins races.”

Any other time she would have been defensive, but his smile was disarming. His fingers tightened around hers as the doctors continued their reports, and preparing him for further treatments based on his Utoland medical team’s relays.

“You’re mom’s booked into a temporary apartment a few blocks from the hospital, part of our family, and patient accommodation. She’s on her way back now.” One of the male nurses informed him.

Nodding he looked relieved hearing it. Sensing despite running off during his treatment from home.

He had a few weeks left of chemo, screwing up his face at the prospect of it.

“Jamie, you need to do this.” Her tone softened looking into his eyes, there was fear too.

“I hate it, being sick, and then I could die anyway.” Shrugging as he tried to mask his fears.

“I’ll come visit you every day… I’ll bring you a birthday cake if it’s okay with your mother.” She promised. “When you come through it, finish the treatment… We’ll have a fun day out together riding motorbikes, picnic somewhere near the ocean.”

Jamie lightened as she talked.

“Everyday.” He repeated determined. “You’re on.”

“Promise not leave the hospital… and co-operate.” She sweetly smiled, he drew in a breath.

“Promise, for you… I’ll do it.” He said.

Glowing inside, she leaned over and spontaneously kissed him on the cheek as her bracelet started to change colour.

She had a call to duty.

“I have to go.” She whispered in his ear, tingling all over from touching his bare flesh. “See you tomorrow.”

Briefly halting at the door, and turning back, with a small wave, he was craning his neck over medical personnel blocking his line of sight, as she raced towards the door.

“See you tomorrow.” He called after her.

She entering the hallway, bringing her bracelet to her lips receiving the orders to meet up with the Phoenix, pronto.

Turning on her heels, she ran headlong into Jun.

Something crossed her face, as she watched Princess. She tried to say she was being called into work, someone didn’t show for a shift. A knowing smile crossed the older woman’s pink lips.

“I’m sure they need you. Good luck… with your shift.” She called after her.

“Oh,” Jogging backwards.” By the way, would you mind if I made Jamie a birthday cake?”

Jun, looked amused by her request. “I’m sure he’d prefer your cake over mine.”

“I didn’t mean to step in on the family, after all you hardly know me—”

“Go ahead Princess, no offense taken. We’ll have a small party in the café, see if Mark will come with you.” She looked hopeful.

“I’m sure he will.” Princess promised, she’d drag him there if she had too.

Racing away towards her motorbike, adrenaline coursing through her, as she gunned the engine ready for the mission ahead. 

Chapter 9 by Ebonyswanne

Assembling on the Phoenix they all waited for the good Chief Anderson to pop up on the monitors. Instead they got Zark.

“Hello there, team this is 7Zark7 calling from Centre Neptune.” He chirped brimming over in excitement. Jason rolled his eyes, with a jab from Mark for him to hold his tongue and thoughts.

“We know who you are.” The Condor snickered. “Cut the crap and—"

“Hello Zark.” Mark greeted him louder than normal cutting through Jason’s snide remarks.

They all waited for an order to go into outer space, but none of it came.

Zark proceeded to deliver in his own over the top fashion their current assignment. Once it was all out, and the robotic image was off the screen. Jason couldn’t contain it any longer.

What… All dressed up in our birdstyles and no action?” He exclaimed, thrusting his arms under his blue mantle, folding them. “You have got to be joking, another cooky assignment babysitting a politician. “

“It’s our orders Jason, civilian uniforms, and staying sharp.” Mark shot him a severe glare.

 The Condor didn’t bother to hide his disdain. “Senator Kane is doing an election rally, he’s a target for Spectra.”

“We could die of boredom before Spectra does anything. Tiny what do you think, if went to the amusement park we’d get more action.”

The Owl blushed wildly, and turned away, trying to keep out of it.

Her own distractions, of thinking about Jamie, her date, were keeping her silent in at her console. Watching the sweeping motion of the radar blip it was like the pace of her heart. Trying to bring it all under control, she was softly humming a happy tune.

Mark shot her a questioning glance, catching his eye, her blush deepened, sheepishly, she tried to contain her feelings. A secret hand signal indicated he was going to ask her about it later.

“Ahhh.” Keyop saw the whole thing, turning cheeky eyes and a snide grin on her. “Moon eyes for Marky.”

“Ahh.” Caught off guard. She shot up in her seat, faulting with her words as she tried to deny only made it worse, the kid was milking it.

“Well.” Gathering her wit together at last.” Better to be mooneye’s than a silly kid like you.” She shot back, placing her hands on her hips. Mark winked, grinning wildly, he turned back to his command station, so she couldn’t see his face.

It was start of the Swallows taunts, he wasn’t buying she didn’t have a crush on Mark at all. She wasn’t giving more fuel by mentioning she was going on her first date. She had to come up some creative ways to put him in his place.

Arriving at the rally, they did their usual observations of the dense crowds. People waited to hear him speak, his supporters cheered and a some booed, the mission was completely uneventful.

“Jason was right, there isn’t even a protester out of line. What threat was the Chief looking for?” Mark shook his head.

“Nothing stands out to me.” She agreed.

“How did you go?” He finally asked.

“Oh, fine.” She replied, unable to contain her excitement.

“Spit it out Prin, you’re glowing like campfire.” Mark raised a curious brow, shoving his hands into his pockets.

“Well, he asked me on a date, I said yes.” She gushed. “I like him, I hope… well....I hope all…turns out…”

“I see.” Mark held some of his usual caution in his response. “You barely know him.”

“I know, but… I feel something here, and I want to give it a chance to be something.” Doubt played on her mind, hoping it wasn’t too good to be true.

Mark studied her, and he appeared to come to some kind of conclusion.

“Please don’t go telling the others, I just want to enjoy it.” She admitted. “Go one my date with Jamie…without Keyops input and Jason’s threats of disembowelling him...if he steps out of line.”

“I promise.” He warmed, shoving his hands into his pockets. “He steps out of line with you, he has me to answer not Jason.”

“Thank Mark, but I can take care of myself.” She hinted.

“I’m sure you can.” He said, as they headed back to rendezvous point to return him after all the officials had left in their armoured vehicles.

“It’s his birthday in a few days.” She added. “Jun let me be the one to bring him a birthday cake, since they’re not home. I have to prepare, get into Jill’s kitchen…”

“You bake a mean chocolate and raspberry cake Prin, I’m sure he’ll love it.” Mark was sincere. He loved her layered chocolate and raspberry cake with thick creamy frosting, and often asked for seconds when she baked it- The few times he ate sweets.

“I have go shopping.” She declared. “ A real dress, and…oh… ingredients, and present…what should I buy him?”

“You in a pretty dress and a cake, he’ll be smitten if not already.” He stopped walking for a moment, becoming serious, arranging his facial features to his normal stoic manner. “Look, I know I haven’t talked much about my connections with him, and-“

“About time, I was looking for a bar.” Jason cut in sarcastically. “I missed my afternoon nap from the amount of action I’ve had today. Worn out from looking after kids.”

“Prreedoopp. Not a kid.” Keyop growled.

“You act like one.” Princess sweetly smiled. “Kid.”

“Let’s go home.” Tiny drawled. “I have a few burgers waiting for me.”

“Stop.” Princess sighted a screen. “I’m confused, it looks like we were on the wrong detail.”

“What the hell.” Jason strolled up the screen as urgent news updates flashed across it. 

The groomed presenter spoke the words that would change the federation bringing suspicion and fear in their midst- The Federation President Harris died of natural causes in the Federation presidential home today…. Speculation of Spectran spies trying to undermine the federation…. Medical experts are currently working to rule out alien involvement… more to come…

There was, a few seconds of reporters trying to get a word from Chief Anderson as he left an ISO building. Overanxious reporters accosted him as he ran for his car.

“The protection of his successors is now my priority.” He stated. “The Federation security is always my first concern. G-Force-“

A reporter cut in, asking about the mysterious team of five, a hand went up, he was refusing to answer any more questions.

Sounds like your shopping trip will be delayed.” He whispered.You could still pull it together in time for him birthday… I know you will.”

Princess folded her arms.

“Chief needs us, let’s go.” Mark said louder, as he turned and ran, followed by the rest of them.

 Over the next few days, Chief Andersons position was challenged, and hastily Senator Kane rose in power, into the Federation presidential office overnight. He reassured the public Chief Anderson was the perfect man for the job.

He held high confidence in Andersons character, and abilities to protect the Galaxy. 

This story archived at http://www.gatchfanfic.com/viewstory.php?sid=1603