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Old Wounds by Hooty
Old Wounds by Hooty
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Old Wounds



Things were not going very hot for our Heroes as they were trying to fight their way out of a Galactor base.

"Damn you Hooty. I wish you would have stayed back in the Phoenix." Dirk was yelling to Hooty as he slammed another Galactor into the ground.

"I'm sorry Dirk. I can't help it. Let's focus on getting out of here right now, talk later." Hooty slammed another Galactor into a wall.

"Okay, the bombs are set, lets go!" Aggie called out to the team over the wristcoms. The team took off from the ground simultaneously and exited through a hole they had made in the base just moments before. Galactor's tried to shoot them from behind but to no avail as they watched the team slip away into the night.

Back in the phoenix, Hooty took it up as he listened to the cussing out he was receiving from his teammates.

"Damn you Hooty, why did you have to go into that restricted area? We could have pulled it off, but you had to screw it up." Dirk's voice was flaring with rage.

"Well, back when I was part of the team," Hooty realized what he had said and let it sink in for a second, "they didn't used to put security systems in their restricted area."

Ace came out of the woodwork at that remark, "What do you mean back when you were part of the team?"

"I'm saying that I don't feel like I am part of the team. All I do is sit back on the phoenix so you guys can make a quick getaway. Then, when you decide that you need me, I am not ready, something happens. Then it's Hooty you idiot etc. etc.. Then every time I try to resign, you guys always stop me, saying that crap about how I am part of the team. You know, all of you are there for each other to deal with things, and I am always here for you to talk to, but when I have a problem, the room suddenly turns a cold shoulder. The only one that actually ever listens to me is Peewee." Hooty cut himself short, "Where is Peewee anyway?" They all looked around and saw that he was collapsed in the corner.

Aggie called over. "Hooty, get this thing back to base ASAP! Peewee has taken a hit right behind the shoulder and he is losing blood." They all braced themselves as Hooty threw the Phoenix into high and headed into the base. In minutes, they were docked at Crescent Island. The team had carried Peewee in, except for Hooty. He went straight to his quarters in the base and stretched out on the bed.

He fell asleep for what seemed like minutes, but was awoken by the sound of someone banging his door off of the hinges. "Come in." He sat up to see a very torqued Dirk Daring charging toward his bed. Hooty didn't have time to react before he felt Dirk's fist slam against the side of his face. Hooty rolled off of the bed and was on his feet before Dirk could land another blow. He landed two punches solidly on Dirk's lower back. By this time Ace had jumped into the middle of the fight and was holding both of them back.

"You stupid jerk, what was that for?" Hooty was rubbing the side of his face as if it were going to soothe it. "I was minding my own business when, BAM, you charged me."

"That's because you deserved it you stupid oaf. Because of your ignorance, Peewee had to go into surgery to get a bullet removed from his shoulder, probably putting him out of action for a while. All because you screwed up royally on the mission today. I should've done worse, but I figure I might as well let you live." Hooty's face flared red at the thought that Dirk would kill him just because he messed up on a mission and someone got hurt.

"Oh, so you never make mistakes? I guess you are mister perfect huh? No one has ever gotten hurt because you messed up? Well, news flash Dirk, you make mistakes too." Hooty charged through the door, bumping Dirk intentionally, then heading toward doctor Brighthead's office. When he got there, he didn't even bother knocking on the door. He tossed his bracelet on the desk. Doctor Brighthead turned around slowly and shook his head.

"Hooty, we have gone over this a hundred times, you can't quit the team, at least not yet. The team still needs you" The doctor was about to go on with his usual convincing speech, but Hooty cut him short.

"Why? So the actual team has someone to blame things one when they don't go just right? Or so you can use me as extra power when you need it? As of now, I don't consider myself part of G-Force anymore." Hooty was getting up when the doctor picked up his bracelet and tossed it back to him.

"Come on Hooty, just take a few days to relax, we will pick up where we left off when you feel good and ready." The doctor was about ready to go back to work when Hooty put the bracelet on his wrist.

"You know doctor, for being a genius, you sure are blind to things happening on a smaller scale." Doctor Brighthead turned back to Hooty, clearly disrupted by that last remark.

"What was that supposed to mean Hoot Owl?" The doctor had never called him by his full name before, and it almost threw the big man but he held steady.

"You seem to be so damn busy sending the team out to save the world and to do this and that for the world, that you seem to forget who we are and about our personal needs. I used to go out with the team on missions, outside of the Phoenix, but now it just seems that I sit in there day in and day out, while they get all of the glory. Then the times that I do go out with them on a mission and I screw up because I have been out of the loop for a while on how Galactor is constructing their bases, I get blamed for the whole damn mission going up in smoke. And then Peewee gets injured. I get blamed for it because I triggered the alarm, and he was caught by surprise. Did you ever think that maybe he made a mistake? Or that it might have happened even if I hadn't triggered the alarm? Just think about it." The doctor stood up from his chair, his face red, and put his hands on his desk leaning forward on them.

"SIT DOWN HOOT OWL!" He yelled at Hooty with all of his lung power. Hooty shook his head. "I SAID SIT DOWN! NOW SIT!" Hooty got about 2 inches from Doctor Brighthead's face.

"Listen Doctor, you have no idea. You have been telling me to do this and do that, none of it seemingly with any point, and from this point on, I am no longer a part of G-Force. That is the only thing that I am sure of at this point and it is the one thing that no one will ever be able to talk me out of. Now you sit down, and get back to your work doc. I am sick and tired of you and the team's crap. If I never see you again, it'll be too soon. GOOD-BYE, FOREVER!" Hooty turned out the door, slamming it behind him. It hit the wall and busted the hinges out. Hooty kept walking.

"HOOTY!!! HOOTY!!!!!" It was Aggie's voice behind him. "HOOTY!!!" Hooty just kept walking. It did hurt him, but he hardened his heart by thinking of all the times that no one even acknowledged his existence. He got to the elevator to the surface and was almost clear away when he heard something.

"Just where in the hell do you think you're going Hooty?" It was Dirk in bird form. He dropped down in the space between the elevator entrance and Hooty.

"I'm getting the hell out of here before I do something that I will regret." Hooty took a step forward.

"You're gonna have to get through me first, you clumsy oaf. And I can guarantee that you won't do that." Hooty and Dirk locked eyes for about a minute. Hooty broke the stare down.

"If you think that you are going to intimidate me any more, you are wrong." Dirk reacted with a few punches. Hooty easily blocked or shrugged them off. He punched Dirk twice. Once on the side of the helmet and the other on the face mask, cracking it. He picked up Dirk and spoke.

"It pains me to do this Dirk, but I have to do it." He threw him head first into a pile of tools and junk.

Hooty exited the elevator up top and went straight for his boat. He boarded it and headed out to his house. His wrist com went off. He didn't bother answering it. He knew that they would just trace him and try to bring him in with force, if needed. He went into his garage and got a motor cycle out of the corner.

"Looks street worthy enough. It'll do for now." Hooty got out his helmet and mounted up. He rode up into the nearby town. He killed the engine multiple times trying to get the shifting down, and finally he gave up. When he got into the town, he stopped by the used vehicle dealer. A few minutes later, he drove out in a semi-decent car. He hit the road, trying to get as far away from the base and general area as possible. He pointed the car in a general direction and started driving blindly.

 Back at the base, Peewee was snapping out of it. He looked all around the team in a frantic search for Hooty.

"Where's Hooty? I want to talk to him." He was as calm as he could be.

Dirk stepped up from his chair. "Why would you want to see that stupid oaf? He's the one that got you shot, in case you didn't know." Dirk was about ready to go on, but he got a punch in the gut from Ace, who was sitting right next to where Dirk was standing.

"Listen Peewee, Hooty is gone for a while. He took off in a fit of anger because of what Dirk did, without reason I might add. We're going to give him some time to think things out and if he doesn't come back, we will go look for him.

***

 Days passed. Hooty had been driving for days straight, stopping only on the side of the road for sleep and at gas stations for gas. He was tired and needed to rest, but he was paranoid that the team was out to bring him in by force. He didn't want to keep going on forever, but his paranoia prevented him from stopping. He passed town after town, keeping it at a steady 75. He crossed state after state. He had no idea where he was, or what day it was. His eyes started to droop. He had gone for almost 48 with nothing to eat. His funds were running low and he needed to conserve his money for gas. These thoughts were running through his tired mind over and over, in a sadistic sort of lullaby. Soon blackness was the only thing that he knew.

Smoke was swirling around his head. He didn't know if he were dead or alive. He looked around and saw that there were people everywhere. Some of them were sitting silently, others were screaming out in terror. He lost it. He started to giggle and soon it built into a roaring laughter, but no one else in the room was even turning a glance in his direction. His laughing was soon over powered by a voice. The voice was that of a man, but he couldn't make out what it was saying, but he just kept laughing. The smoke thickened and the room disappeared.

"Hey, Irma, I think he's coming to. Hurry up with that water." The same voice he heard in his dream was yelling to someone else name Irma. Hooty fluttered his eyes, trying to adjust to the light in the room. He felt as if he had been hit by a train. His whole body hurt.

"Where........Where am I?" He almost didn't recognize his first croak as his own voice. He tried to sit up, but thought better of it when he felt the pain just racking his body. His eyes were adjusted enough so that he could see better. He saw the man sitting next to him. He was a muscular man who stood about 6' 4". He had a relieved look on his face.

"Hey son, take it easy there. You took quite a hit out there and you've been out for a couple of days. Do you remember how any of it happened?" Hooty seemed to take the man's suggestion as a command and relaxed. He tried to remember and he started thinking out loud.

"Well, I was run........" He cut himself off short as soon as he realized what he was saying. "Well, actually, I was on my way to my cousin's house and I had been driving for a couple of days straight and well, then I just blanked out." He instinctively grabbed his wrist and felt for his amulet. It was gone! Hooty started getting worried.

"Listen son, I'm not trying to contradict you or call you a liar, but I just don't think I can believe that story." The man's expression hardened a bit, showing his disbelief clearly.

"Why not? It explains my situation doesn't it?" Hooty was ready to hit the panic button.

"Well son, when I found you, you were out like a light, with your car crashed into a large rock on the side of the mountain. When I pulled you out of the car, you started screaming about how you didn't want to be turned back into G-Force and how you wouldn't go back etcetera. I knew something was up and that someone was probably hot on your trail, so I took all the registration papers, license plates and what not out of the car when I took you back to my house. On the way here, that bracelet of your's started to beep and go crazy. I panicked, so I took it off of you. I must have hit something, because I started hearing someone calling over it for someone named Hooty. Must be your name, huh?" Hooty slowly nodded, his expression turned depressed. "Well, then when I got home, a little while later, I got a call from someone claiming to be a doctor at the I.S.O. He asked if we would bring you in. I refused. He told me I had no choice, but I told him that I was taking care of you. He agreed and came over to the house in person. When he got here, he took that bracelet from me gave me a letter to give to you." The man produced large manilla envelope. "Do you want to be alone for a while to read it?" Hooty nodded and then responded.

"Yeah.... Umm, I don't think I ever heard your name." Hooty was busy fiddling with the envelope.

"Hank, and my wife's name is Irma. If you need anything, just call out one of our names and we'll be right in." Hank turned and darted out of the room and left Hooty alone.

Hooty turned the envelope in his hands a few times, before opening it completely. It was labeled "Hooty" on the front. He opened it and dumped the contents out on his lap in front of him. He looked over it. There was a long letter, a wad of cash, a new set of identification cards, a new watch and an old picture of the team. Hooty picked up the letter slowly. A tear slowly rolled down his face as he read the first few lines. He slowly read it out loud to himself.

"Dear Hooty" It started out, as he expected. "I am sorry I have to do this, but I must. You have become too much of a hassle for the team. Your constant efforts to quit have finally been rewarded. You are no longer a member of G-Force, and all your records of any connection with G-Force have been filed away deep in the archives. Now you can live a normal life. In case Galactor ever gets the identities of G-Force, you will be safe anyhow. I have taken the precaution of providing you with a new identity and the money to start a new life. Think of it as severance pay. I must warn you, however, because of your cutting all links with G-Force, you will never be allowed to talk to any of the members, nor will you receive any updates to progress, etcetera.  I wish you the best Hooty, or should I say Michael Owlson. Sincerely, Doctor Benjamin Brighthead." Hooty flipped the page to see what was on the next page. It was another letter from Ace. He started reading again.

"Dear Hooty" It started the same way. "I am sorry to see you go, but now that you are gone, there is no way back. This is the last time you will probably ever be able to correspond with me. I know starting a new life is tough, so I did a little looking around. I found you a nice little house in the town that you are in now. It is yours free and clear, and with the "Severance pay" that the doctor gave you, you should be able to do just fine on your own. I have also enclosed a watch. If you look at it, it looks almost exactly like the amulet that you used to wear, but with a watch in it and none of the advanced stuff. I have also enclosed a photo of us, so that you will never forget the good times that we had. I guess that's all for now. By the way, the address of your new house is written down after this letter. I'll be seeing you later. Until we meet again, Ace Goodheart."

Hooty put down the letter. He was crying and he couldn't help it. He didn't know if he was crying out of sorrow or happiness. He looked through all of the stuff in his lap. He strapped on his watch and started packing things up. He rolled the covers back and stood up. He cringed a little bit from the initial pain, but found it wasn't so bad. He walked out of his room and saw Hank and Irma sitting around a table talking. Hank looked surprised and started to stand up, but Hooty motioned for him to sit and he did so.

"Hank, Irma," He nodded to both of them, "I would like to thank you for your kindness. I could have died back there, but you saved me. I have just received news in my letter that there is nothing for me outside of this city anymore. I guess I will see you around, but I must go to my new home and start getting my life back in order." Hooty walked slowly out of the door, with Hank in hot pursuit.

"Hey, Hooty, wait up." Hooty slowed up a bit. He turned around and faced Hank. "If you're going into the city, at least let me give you a ride to your new home. Your car was totaled and I don't think that it going to get you anywhere." Hooty nodded and followed Hank to his car. When they were on the road, Hank asked the inevitable.

"Do you want to talk about it, Hooty?" He glanced over to see Hooty running his fingers over his watch.

"Not now Hank. Maybe one of these days I will, but not now." Hooty continued to fiddle with his watch and stare off into space for the rest of the ride. Hank pulled into a driveway and stopped the car.

"We're here Hooty. Listen, do you want me to come in with you? Maybe we can get some things sorted out for you." The house in front of them was a one story, light yellow house with white trim. It had a two car garage and a shop on that. Hooty decided that it would be a good home for him. He turned to Hank.

"Listen Hank, I need some time for myself with all that has been happening. I will probably be home for the next few hours, but I am going to need to get out. What's your last name so that I can look you up?" Hooty undid his seat belt and started opening the door.

"Mier. M i e r." He spelled it out for Hooty. Hooty shook his hand and stepped out of the car. He walked up to the door and opened it. A rush of air hit him in the face.

 Back at G-Force's base, Peewee was not taking the news lightly.

"YOU DID WHAT???" He was screaming at Ace and doctor Brighthead. "HOW COULD YOU CUT ALL TIES WITH HIM? AFTER EVERYTHING HE DID FOR US? YOU JUST LET HIM GO WITHOUT A SECOND THOUGHT?" Peewee's little outburst took even the Doctor by surprise.

"Listen Peewee," Doctor Brighthead was trying to use a soothing tone of voice. "It had to be done, he wanted to quit, he tried many times, but we couldn't release him then because Galactor was too powerful to leave unguarded for a short time in order to get someone else to fly the Phoenix. Now was the ideal time because we have seen a recession in Galactor activity. We already have a new replacement. His name is Casey. He has shown in testing to be a very good pilot." Peewee cut the doctor off.

"Just get out of here. I need some time to think and rest. If you would please show yourselves to the door." He pointed over in the doors direction. Ace and the doctor slowly sank out of the room like a couple of scorned pets.

***

Back in Hooty's new house, things were settling in quite nicely. He found a small cot in one of the closets, but the house was bare aside from that. After setting up his bed, he realized that it had been a few days since he had last eaten. He unrolled part of his severance pay and headed out the door. On his way down to the store, many cars passed him, some with teenagers, some with adults. He got yells and whistles, but he ignored them all. He reached the store and on his way in, he saw a gang of punks on the corner eyeing him. He went into the store and got the bare essentials for food. A pint of milk, and some dry foods. Hooty figured that the next day, he would take care of everything else. He was about the head home, when the punks on the corner made their move.

"Hey fatboy! Get the hell off of our turf." The punks started their move forward. Hooty turned toward the annoyances. "Yeah, you heard me buddy. I never wanna see your fat face around here again." Hooty stayed silent as the attackers moved closer. A crowd started to gather around the brewing fight. The punks kept spitting out insult after insult.

"You know, I don't like punks. And I like it even less when they wanna try to start a fight with me." Hooty was getting a angry with what the punk was saying to him, but mostly letting out his anger from the last couple of days. Finally, the punks were right up in his face.

"So, what're you gonna do about us, huh? You gonna sit on me or something?" The punks started laughing at the humorless joke that their ring leader made.  Hooty let them laugh and then busted in.

"No, I'm probably going to break a couple of ribs, your arm and possibly your jaw if you keep going." The smaller punk was laughing sarcastically, then he turned to his friends.

"He thinks that he is gonna hurt me? I'd love to see that in first person." With no further warning, he turned and punched Hooty right in the jaw. Hooty stood firm.

"That's one. You still have a chance to walk away intact. I don't start until the second punch." Hooty was trying to hold back the anger but it was becoming harder and harder with every growing second. Then the punk made a stupid mistake. Hooty felt the next punch go into his stomach. He gave up trying to hold his anger back. He let loose on the punk. In three punches, the main punk was down, and the rest ran away with their tails between their legs. The crowd around them started to applause, but then quickly dispersed at the sound of the sirens coming down the street. An ambulance and a police car pulled into the parking lot. Hooty slowly picked up his groceries. The officer took the groceries and put handcuffs on Hooty's hands. He read him his rights and put him in the car. The officer didn't say anything else. He just drove quickly to the police station.

Hooty had only been in the holding cell for about an hour, when an officer came to get him. He took him to a small interrogation room. His arresting officer followed him.

"That was a foolish maneuver that you pulled back there son. Those punks could have cut you to ribbons and not even thought twice about it. What made you want to fight with them?" The officer took a seat across the table from Hooty.

"Frankly officer, I have no idea. I have just been having a whole lot of bad things happening to me lately, and I just let loose on him." Hooty reclined a little bit. "By the way, my name is Michael, that is if you want to use it." The officer was caught a little off guard.

"Well Michael, the initial reports come as something of a shock. The interviews from witnesses said that you told the punk that you would break two ribs, his arm and possibly his jaw." The officer paused briefly. Hooty interjected with his own question.

"So, what is so shocking about that? He threatened me, I threaten him. He hit me twice before I even laid a glove on him." Hooty sat up in his chair a bit.

"No, don't get me wrong there Michael, it's just the fact that we got the hospital report back on the punk. He had a broken arm, a fractured jaw, and a broken rib. What I want to know is, how did you know what you were going to break, and how did you do it so fast?" The officer sat back expectantly.

"Well sir, I might as well give you some of my history. I was brought up around the fighting arts. Not just marshal arts, but other arts too. I never use them unless I am threatened. I hope you can understand my situation, but today I was just informed that my only possession on the face of this earth was the house that I now live in here in this town. So as you can see, I am having an extremely bad day. Do you have a name, sir? I feel odd talking to you without knowing your name." Hooty readjusted as did the officer across from him.

"Daniel. Just call me Danny. I understand your situation, but I am worried for you because the gangs in this town will, on occasion, work together against someone who threatens their presence. But don't get me wrong. I admire you for your boldness in the face of danger. It almost seems to me that you aren't a stranger to it, but I wouldn't put my money on it. Hey, how about you stick around for a bit and let me finish my paper work and we'll go out for coffee." Danny had a jovial mood about him and Hooty couldn't resist it.

"Sure." Hooty waited around for about 15 minutes. They left and got to the coffee shop.

"Listen Michael, there was something back there that you weren't about to tell me. I can just sense it about you. You have that aura about you that you are trying very hard to hide something. Do you want to talk about it?" Hooty took a drink of his coffee.

"Maybe sometime later, I don't want to talk to you about it in public. It is volatile information and could get some people in trouble. Hey, on a different subject, I need to find a car, and some furniture for my house. Do you know anywhere I can go for that stuff?" Danny nodded and put down his coffee cup.

"Yeah, I do. Hey, I'm off of work tomorrow, why don't I take you around and we can get all of that stuff taken care of?" Danny motioned for the bill. A waitress brought it by, dropping it on the table on her way by. Danny put down enough to cover the bill and tip.

"Hey, I'll give you a ride home, and maybe we can go in and have a beer or something." Hooty nodded.

"Listen, I don't mind you giving me the ride home. I thank you for that, but I can't take you up on the offer for beer, for one, I don't have any, and for two, I'm not old enough to drink. I'm only eighteen." If Danny was shocked, he didn't show it.

"I know. I was just testing you. I saw your I.D. Michael. Well, we had best be going." They headed out of the restaurant. Once in the car, Danny broke the silence. "Do you want to talk about what's been bugging you? I think it is pretty safe to talk about in here. No one else is going to hear us." Hooty hesitated and then made his decision.

"What the hell. I guess it isn't doing me any good holding it all back. Okay Danny. If you want the truth, that's what I am going to give you. I am an ex-ISO agent. I have family alive, but I can't really talk to them anymore. I have had my identity changed for security reasons and I am starting my life over here in massburg. That's about all I can say at this point in the game, but I might be able to say more later." They pulled into Hooty's driveway. Hooty shook his hand. "Thanks Danny. Be here at about eight. Just come on in when you get here. I may not be up yet, but just get me up."

"Will do Michael." Hooty shut the door and headed inside. He hit the cot and was out like a light.

 Back at G-Force headquarters things weren't going so great. "G-FORCE, REPORT TO BRIEFING ROOM ASAP." Ace, Dirk and Jun sprinted into the briefing room, taking their respective positions.

"Glad you all could make it. I am having Peewee brought into the room too. Before you ask, I have brought you here to meet our newest member, Casey. He is the new G-5 and pilot of the Phoenix." A boy about 6' 1" turned around.

"Hello all. Thank you for bringing me aboard. I just want to tell you that I will try my best to live up to what the previous G-5 was. I know it will be tough, but I think that I can do it." Peewee was wheeled into the room at that moment. There was a tension in the air at that moment. "Doctor, I have a request, it is not too big, but I think it would make all of the difference."

Doctor Brighthead looked a little puzzled at the moment. "Okay, go ahead Casey."

"I wish to have my number changed to G-6. In respect to the former member. I know it would help with the members accepting me, so I wouldn't seem as though I am replacing him, so much as succeeding him." The tension in the room sky rocketed. Ace half expected someone to go berserk, but nothing happened.

"Granted Casey. I think that it is a wise choice on your part." The tension immediately released. Casey turned toward Peewee and they shook hands.

"I think that you and I are going to get along just fine Casey." Peewee managed to croak out.

***

The first year had rolled slowly past for Hooty. He was still trying to get adjusted. He had gotten a job at the local "professional" wrestlers school, teaching all of the young wannabe's how to wrestle and not get hurt. However, once a year, after they had completed their course, there would be a night were they would wrestle each other in a tournament just to show off their stuff to potential recruiters. Hooty went to work on that morning just like any other. It was his one year anniversary for coming to the town, and already he had a full time, good paying job and lots of friends.

"Hey Michael, glad you could make it today." His boss, Justin was sitting in a chair, relaxing before the class arrived.

"Hey Justin. I know today is the exhibition day. Tonight should be fun. I'd like to go into the ring tonight too. Maybe I might get lucky and land a gig." Hooty was grinning ear to ear. He loved to bug Justin with that. He loved his job. It paid enough to keep him going and he had fun.

"Hey, here they come. We'd best be ready for tonight, so lets get them reviewed and ready." Justin stood next to Hooty. Hooty dwarfed the 5' 4" ex-wrestler. Hooty stood about 6' 2" and was massive in structure compared to most people he saw day to day. The rag tag band of wrestlers came into the room wearing their wrestling outfits. Hooty stepped forward.

"Okay guys. As you know, tonight is exhibition night. In case you've forgotten, it is the night where all of you are in the ring at one time or another, showing off your stuff. How you perform reflects on us. Today, you are going to review all day, but take it easy. We don't need any injuries or something similar the day of your debut. Now go get warmed up and Justin and I will be there in a few minutes to get you going." The group took off to their warmups. Hooty turned to Justin.

"Do you think you can handle them today? I have some things I need to go get taken care of for later tonight if I am going to perform." Hooty was fiddling with his shirt a little. Justin looked right at him.

"Yeah, I can handle this bunch. Just try to come back for a little while at least. I might need some help refereeing the practice matches. But other than that, take the day off." Justin was eyeballing a couple of guys on the heavy bag. "Hey, I need to get going, those guys don't seem to remember what I told them about holding and hitting the bag. See you in a little while there Michael." They shook hands and Hooty headed for the door. His first stop was the costume shop. He looked around through their selection of capes. He found that the only cape that fit him was a light purple one.

"Heh, reminds me of Galactor. What the hell, I'm no longer fighting him." He picked up the cape and bought it right out from the shop. He went to the clothes store next. He went in and looked around. He found just what he was looking for. He bought his purple shirt and headed out of the door. He grinned and thought of the irony. He used to hate the color purple because his worst enemy wore it. He thought nothing of it now. He didn't care. He was no longer part of the team. He dyed a pair of pants purple and while they were drying, he made his way to the sport shop.

"Give me a purple football helmet, minus the face mask." Hooty knew exactly what he wanted. The man behind the counter laughed.

"Gonna play without a face mask? Looking for trouble by doing that." Hooty cut the man off.

"I don't have a whole lot of time, I need to get going, so just give me the helmet and I'll be set to go. I'll take the face mask off later." The man behind the counter agreed. He gave Hooty the helmet and didn't say anything more. He was obviously put off by Hooty's directness. He gave the normal have a nice day and quickly turned to other customers. Hooty drove along the road until he saw something that caught his eye. A sign that said "Plastic shop".

"Not a catchy name, but it says it all." He was mumbling to himself with a grin on his face as he pulled in. He walked slowly in, not knowing what the expect. The showroom was a nice size, with small stands displaying the shop's different styles of plastic.

"Hello there big guy. Have a special need? Or something irregular that you need?" The man was jovial as he slowly approached Hooty.

"Yeah, I need a face mask made of purple plastic. But I need it soon." The man was a little taken back by the strange request.

"Well, how soon? I mean, I can do it, but I need to know how soon." The man's jovial mood was unaffected, but he was a little more cautious now.

"Like in about an hour or less if possible. I am in desperate need. I have a match tonight and I need it for my outfit." The man relaxed a little more.

"Oh, you're one of those wrestlers. Hey, I'll tell you what. For a little more, I can have it done in about fifteen minutes. But what are you putting it on?" Hooty was busy looking at a sample of plastic.

"Oh yeah, umm, I need it for a football helmet. I'll go get it and let you get to work on it." Hooty was out and back in about 30 seconds. He gave the helmet to the man. "I'll wait here for you, if you don't mind." The man nodded and disappeared into the back of the shop. The fifteen minutes passed rather quickly and the man reappeared with a purple football helmet in hand with a purple face mask attached to it. Hooty paid the man and walked out.

"Oh crap!! I forgot to call Justin. I'm late getting back to help him." Hooty took the fastest route he knew back to the school. He ran into the room. "I'm so sorry Justin, time got away from me." He looked up and saw Justin getting done with a match. He leapt out of the ring.

"Well, I'm not too worried. They have been doing fine on their own. No one has been hurt yet, and some of them are a little too nervous to get into the ring at the moment. I'm not worried about you being a few minutes late." Justin saw the guys in the ring doing their little stretches and pre fight show stuff. "HEY GUYS, TAKE THE REST OF THE DAY OFF UNTIL TONIGHT!" Justin yelled over the chatter and yelling going on between wrestlers. Justin motioned for Hooty to follow him into his office.

"Let's order some pizza or something, I'm starved." Hooty agreed quickly, and sat back.

"You know Justin, I've got a weird feeling about tonight. Like something out of the ordinary is going to happen." Hooty suddenly got serious on Justin.

"Aww, come on Michael, you know I hate it when you get these feelings. You'll do just fine in there tonight. By the way, what do you want to be know as tonight?" Justin was swiveling around in his chair like a child in a swing.

"The Cat. Kind of ironic you know." Hooty grinned a little bit. Justin put the name down on the paper. He then picked up the phone and proceeded to make a few business calls. The pizza soon arrived. Hooty ate his share and curled up for a nap in his chair.

 Time passed and Hooty was awakened to Justin tapping on his shoulder.

"Hey there buddy, you'd best be getting warmed up and dressed out. The crowd is already getting here." Hooty slowly rose and moved to the locker room where he put on his purple outfit. He somehow felt different when he was in the costume than out of it. He waited for his match to come up. Most of the matches were sloppy displays of unpracticed skills. He heard Justin announce his name.

"And our next wrestler is some what of a ironic one. Give a hand for  The Cat'." Hooty marched in to his entrance music. He climbed slowly, purposefully into the ring. Justin announced his opponent, speed demon. A smaller man came into the ring, quickly, clumsily. The match started and speed demon ran at him full tilt. Hooty easily dodged, and drop kicked the wrestler in the back, sending him down to the mat. He picked him up and body slammed him, but the man wasn't down so easily. He was up in a split second, running away from Hooty, preparing for a counter strike. Hooty jumped up to the top ropes. The man came running toward him, but before he could reach him, Hooty executed a near perfect cross body, and crushed the man into the mats. Justin made the count and declared Hooty the winner. He slowly got up and made his way to the locker room. He was in the middle of getting his face toweled off, when a man approached him.

"The Cat huh? Does the Cat have a name?" Hooty wheeled around and faced the man. He stood about 5' 7". He wore a business suit and a fedora.

"Yeah. My name is Michael. What's yours?" He put his hand out, and the other man took it and they shook.

"I'm John Debord. I'm a recruiter for the SWL. State Wrestling League. I liked your performance tonight. It was the best one there." Hooty was a little tired and felt like getting straight to the point.

"I know that you probably didn't go through the trouble to get back here and tell me that you are a recruiter and just compliment me. What's the deal?" Hooty was enthused, but he was also tired.

"Well, since you want to be straight forward, not like that is a crime. I want you to join the SWL. You'll get a nice salary, and you will get to travel around and perform in other states against other wrestlers in shows. Travel would be paid for by us. What do you say? Do you want to take it?" Hooty's heart leapt into his throat. He didn't know that Justin was right behind him at the moment. He was about ready to protest by saying that he was already working at the school, but Justin caught him and kept him from making that mistake.

"Go ahead Michael. He won't bite, and I can handle the school." He whispered quietly in to Hooty's ear.

"Okay John. I agree. Just tell me where to sign and I'm in." John produced some papers from his attache case and a pen for Hooty to use. Hooty signed quickly. "Now, I must take my leave. Contact me tomorrow. I'm tired right now and need some sleep, or else anything you say to me will be worthless." John agreed as they shook hands and Hooty left.

Back with G-Force, the year had passed with almost no effort what-so-ever. Hooty was hardly missed, aside for the occasional slip up when someone would mention him. Peewee and Casey had become best of friends and liked to go out and do stuff together.

"Hey Casey, the state wrestling league is coming into town tomorrow. Do you want to go see them? That is, if Doctor Brighthead will let us." Peewee was looking through the paper seeing what was going on.

"Sure Peewee. We'll go if the Doctor will let us. Let's go ask him now." Casey was up in a heartbeat with Peewee at his heels. The found the Doctor relaxing in his office.

"Doctor, we have a request." Casey strode in confident.

"And that would be, Casey?" The doctor didn't even look up from his magazine.

"Peewee and I would like to leave base tomorrow to go see the SWL perform in town. Would that be an acceptable request?" Casey and Peewee hadn't bothered to sit, because they knew that they would only be a second. The doctor put his magazine down briefly.

"Well, okay, but you have to be ready to return to base at a moments notice. We have been seeing a slight rise in the reports of Galactor activity and we don't want anything to catch us off guard." Peewee and Casey both nodded their agreement and headed out of the office.



The next day, Hooty was awakened to a telephone call from John. He just wanted to let Hooty know to pack his bags.

"Yeah Michael. You have a match on Friday in Coral Harbor. Just make sure that you are at the airport by six o'clock tomorrow morning so we can get you there. We wouldn't want our newest competitor to turn out to be a no show." Hooty slowly shook the cobwebs out of his head as he took down notes on what John was saying.

"Okay John. I'll be there sure enough." It didn't hit Hooty until after he hung up the phone.

"OH MY GOD! I'm going to be performing in the town next door to where I was in G-Force for so many years." Hooty had put his hand against his forehead in a mockery of his not realizing his predicament.

"You were in G-Force?!?" Hooty turned and saw Danny standing right behind him. "I knocked but no one answered, so I let myself in. Now, let's sit down and talk."  Hooty saw no way out of this one, so he took a seat in his big chair and Danny across the room from him on the couch.

***

"Okay Dan, don't panic. I know that it comes as somewhat of a shocker for you, but I couldn't tell anyone right away." Hooty was calm, but Danny was almost completely panic stricken.

"How could you belong to G-Force, and come into the town and not tell anyone?" Danny was in shock and obviously missing the point.

"Danny. I couldn't come into the town and say  Hey, I'm a member of G-Force.' or else Galactor would come after me. Anyway, I used to be a member. The keyword is used. I am no longer a member. That is why I came here. I had just left the team and I needed somewhere to start over. I am no longer a member or even an agent. I have no ties with the ISO or G-Force anymore." Danny was settling down a bit after Hooty had explained it out for him. Hooty continued. "Danny, I don't need anyone else knowing this. This is critical information. No one must know. Do you understand me?" Hooty had moved from his chair and was now kneeling in front of his friend.

Danny nodded ever so slightly. Hooty got up and got some coffee, letting Danny just sit and let is sink in. Hooty spent most of the day packing and getting things squared away before his trip. The time passed quickly. Hooty had some music playing off of his stereo. Danny had long since taken off to be with his newest affair. He had finally found a woman for himself and he was devoting most of his time to her. Hooty was still single and intended to be for a while until he had his life figured out.

The alarm woke Hooty from his sleep. He rolled over and grabbed his suitcase. He threw on some clothes and headed to his car. He had another one of his weird feelings about that night.

"I must be tired or something. I'm just imagining things." He drove rather quietly to the airport and parked his car in the long term parking. In the airport, he made a quick call.

"Hey Danny, my car is here at the airport. If you would pick it up, I've left money to cover the parking in the glove compartment. I'll be back in a few days to tell you how it went." He hung up on the machine and checked in to the plane. He took his seat and was out for the majority of the flight, except to go to the bathroom and eat.

"Hey Casey! Are you ready to go?" Peewee was calling from the bathroom as he was finishing getting ready. "It's almost time. Maybe we can meet some of the wrestlers before the matches begin. Wouldn't that be cool?" Peewee finished combing his hair. He walked out and saw Casey ready to go, keys dangling from his finger.

"Yeah. Let's head out little buddy." They headed for the door, unsuspecting of what the night was about to bring.

Hooty walked slowly into the locker room. He saw a bunch of guys pounding on lockers, or sitting getting themselves hyped up for the night. He heard John call out behind him.

"So you decided to show. I was worried that you might have gotten cold feet at the airport." John took Hooty's hand and shook it firmly. "Now, your down as Atlas on the roster."

"Atlas? John what for?" Hooty was busy sweeping his eyes over the crowd.

"Well, the cat isn't exactly a great name for a wrestler, and your going up against another wrestler named Cronus tonight and I thought it would be fitting." John took his hand off of Hooty's shoulder. "You will be wrestling near the beginning. Third match actually. Depending on the other two, that could be a long time away, or in a few minutes from the start. You never know." Hooty opened his bag and took out his costume for the night.

"Well, I'll see you out there John. I need to get ready and hyped for tonight." John grinned and took off out the door, trying to get everything ready for the matches. Hooty thought about all the times that he had been in fights and how adrenaline never failed him, but he was nervous tonight because he had never fought in front of an audience for entertainment. He was lost in thought, his face turned grim. His thoughts were interrupted by a voice booming through the locker room.

"ATLAS AND CRONUS! REPORT TO READY ROOM." Hooty rose and swiftly walked to the ready room. He didn't know what to expect, but he still had the same feeling that something abnormal was about to happen.

Out in the audience in their ringside seats, Casey and Peewee were enjoying the matches.

"I'm having fun tonight. You know, I always seem to remember Hooty wanting to become a wrestler one day just for the heck of it." Casey was a bit taken back by Peewee mentioning Hooty and not breaking down over it.

"Yeah. Hey Peewee. The program says that a new wrestler is making his debut tonight. Should be in the next match." Casey looked up and saw the two wrestlers in the ring throwing each other around like rag dolls. Finally one of them got the upper hand and pinned the other. "Heh, looks like he should have zigged when he zagged." Casey was grinning. The mats got cleaned off and the referee grabbed a microphone.

"Our next match will be between one of our experienced veterans and a new comer to the league. First let me introduce the veteran, CRONUS!!" The gargantuan wrestler made his way into the ring by way the bass of some unknown song. He got in the ring and threw his arms up, and the crowd went wild.

"Who are you betting on Casey?" Peewee was watching the big man's moves closely.

  "Are you kidding? I'm betting on Cronus." Casey was sipping on his pop slowly. Watching the referee. The referee interrupted the crowd.

"And his opponent, the new comer, ATLAS!!!" Hooty was introduced with the song danger zone. He spiced up his entrance by doing a few hand plants and flips on his way into the ring. He got into the ring and got ready for the match. He first uncoupled his cape from around his neck. He then pulled off his helmet.

"OH MY GOD CASEY!!! IT'S HOOTY!" Casey grabbed Peewee's shoulder. "Well, at least it looks like him."

"Hey, your probably seeing things. It might look like him, but I doubt it is him." Casey turned his eyes back on the ring.

"I'm gonna rip you limb from limb Atlas. You don't stand a chance against me." Hooty laughed a bit. The two men grappled in the center of the ring. Hooty dropped back and threw the man into the ropes. As the man turned, he was met by Hooty's forearm. Cronus fell down. Hooty used the chance to give him a drop from the leg. They both got up and it was Hooty's turn. Cronus picked him up and threw him down. He felt pain. He realized in a moments thought.

"Oh my god, this guy isn't faking. He's going at it for real." He grunted as the man put a boot into his stomach. "If that's the way he wants to go." Hooty got up and smashed his fist into Cronus' chest. He immediately followed up with a standing drop kick. Hooty was about to hit him again, but he heard what sounded like gun shots. At first, he was hesitant, but then the bullets started whizzing around his head. He dropped down. He looked up and saw two bird like figures zipping around the room. He knew one of them as Peewee, but not the other one. He was about to get up and help them, but he felt a darkness come over him.

Back at G-Force's home base, Casey and Peewee returned from cleaning up the mess left by the Galactors. "Well Peewee, we didn't that bad of a job, but I wish we would have had more support. It seems to me that the Galactors took a few wrestlers with them." Peewee was laying down on his bed.

"Yeah, but I wonder if that wrestler was truly Hooty like I thought it was. Hooty said he always wanted to try wrestling, but I don't know if did or not after he cut the ties with the team." Peewee was staring at the ceiling. The heard the intercom beep.

"Peewee and Casey, please come to my office at once." The doctor was waiting for them expectantly. He folded his hands and reclined back in his chair.

"Tell me what happened back there. And don't try to say that you don't know. Intelligence reports that there was a Galactor disturbance at the matches and two g-force members were there to break it up. They also reported some missing wrestlers. What did you guys see?" The doctor was calm, and not at all upset with them.

"Well doctor, we were watching a match, and out of no where the bullets started to fly. We changed out of instinct and broke it up. We did see some of the Galactors running off with some wrestlers, but we couldn't stop them. We did all that we could." Casey basically said it all. Peewee was debating whether he should mention that one of the wrestlers bore an uncanny resemblance to Hooty, but he decided against it because of the doctor's past  I don't care, he isn't here anymore' attitude about him. Peewee nodded in agreement with what Casey said. He mentally braced himself for a reprimand, but instead the doctor spoke in a calm, casual tone.

"Dismissed." They dismissed themselves back to their rooms and went to bed because it was getting late. END

***

Hooty awoke in a cell with the other wrestlers all around him. They were all starting to come around too. He stood up immediately, and he almost went to transform, but he remembered that he was no longer a G-Force member.

"Old habits die hard I guess."  Hooty grinned a little bit. He looked around and saw Galactor guards all around the room. He heard most of the wrestlers crying out in fear for their lives. Hooty knew better. He knew that Galactor had kept them around for a reason and that there was still a chance to live. Hooty was the only one standing. All of the others were cowering or still knocked out. He saw a door open and a whole company of Galactors lining the walls, guns aimed. He grinned even wider. The lieutenant, instead of Galactor himself came into the room. He saw Hooty's boldness.

"What are you grinning about you brainless oaf?" The lieutenant pointed directly to Hooty. Hooty heard gasps and sobs of terror from all around him. "Why do you insist on grinning in the face of death?"

Hooty kept his cool. He knew that one slip up might tip them off that he was a G-Force member. "Well sir, I just do this when I know that I am going to have a fun time beating up your boys even though I'm probably going to get it bad. I figure that I'll just hurt you first and hurt you the worst. As a matter of fact, I bet that your boys couldn't even stand a chance against me." He stepped a few steps forward. He heard the guns click and lock into position.

"That will be far enough, thank you. Your spirit is beyond compare, but I am sure that it will not stand up against my master's will. You will come with me." Hooty knew that he had just played the loser lieutenant into his trap. He followed him down winding corridors, where one looked just like the other. He wondered how on earth they used to be able to get in and out without getting lost back in G-Force. They finally came to a room with a closed door. The lieutenant signaled for him to wait there. He went in.

"Sir, I have a potential candidate for the mind wash. He is big, and strong willed, but I think with some work, he will turn out just fine as a fighter." He heard a small silence and then a voice, Galactor's voice to be exact, answered.

"First send him in lieutenant. I want to meet this man. Who knows, he might be good officer material. Maybe he has more brains than you oafs that I call lieutenants." The door opened. The lieutenant's face was clearly red from the previous comment from Galactor. Hooty walked in, but no one followed him. The chair turned around. Galactor sat there, with his fingertips pressing against one another forming a small triangle.

"Come in and sit down. I think we need to talk." Hooty sat down in the closest chair. "What ever made you want to stand up to one of my most ruthless lieutenants? Weren't you afraid that you would die or be seriously maimed?" Hooty was sitting, but he was no less alert.

"I am not afraid of death. I have the mental and physical strength to deal with almost anything that they can deal out to me. And I can guarantee you that I will hurt them first and worst if they attack me." Hooty was sitting as straight as a board.

"Your physical strength is apparent by your looks. But tell me more about this mental strength of yours. You mention it, but I fail to see where it could help you in the fighting for your life situation." Galactor was still relaxed, but had moved his hands to a folded position in his lap.

"Well sir, mental strength is a requirement for fighting. If you are weak in the mind, like my colleagues back in the other room, you can't take the mental strain that a fight puts on you." A silence existed for a brief split second and Galactor spoke.

"Explain mental strain to me. I know what it is, but I want to see how you define it."

"Mental strain is putting up with the idea that in a fight that you are going to be hurting someone and or getting hurt. It also helps you keep a cool mind in combat so you can keep your tactics straight." Hooty's and Galactor's eyes were locked.

"Tactics? Do you study tactics well? Or are you just trying to impress me?" Hooty decided to play his only card about now.

"Well Galactor," He let a silence take hold of the moment. Galactor got a surprised look on his face. "I can help you." Galactor's relaxed feeling was completely gone now. He was sitting up, eyes locked with Hooty's.

"How you know my name is not important, but how can you help me?" He stressed you and me.

"Well Galactor, I bet that I can stop G-Force." Hooty knew that meant no turning back. He knew as well that it meant for him to betray his friends, but he told himself it was for his better good.

"Well, that may be, but our organization is in the process of rebuilding for a massive attack against the world that not even G-Force could stop." Galactor had a triumphant sound to his voice, like he had just cornered Hooty.

"I happen to know that G-Force has been destroying key bases to that rebuilding and that it is hampering your progress severely. I am willing to bet you that I can stop them from destroying a base. If I fail, you can mind wash me and turn me into another brainless fighter." Hooty hadn't said anything for if he won, but he knew that it would play itself out if he did.

"I'll do much worse than mind wash you if you fail." Galactor muttered under his breath. Then in a louder tone, he spoke. "I will take your bet. You are know one of my lieutenants for the base in montana in America. If you can successfully block their attack, then you will be brought back for further meetings with me." Silence fell over the two. Neither of them had moved for a long time in their conversation. Galactor broke the silence that he had created. "You will report to docking bay ten for transport. Now go." Hooty stood up and walked out of the room. He walked slowly to the docking bay and boarded the ship. He gave them his orders and sat down in a chair and went to sleep.

"Casey?" Peewee was calling from his bed. "I'm worried."  Casey didn't respond for a while. Peewee was about to give up when a slow response came.

"About what Peewee? What happened at the matches?" Casey seemed to be semi-asleep when he responded.

"Casey, that was Hooty at the matches. I know it. It couldn't have been anyone else. I am worried what Galactor will do with him." Peewee was staring at the ceiling. Casey's response was faster this time.

"Peewee, if Hooty is half as smart as you say he is, he won't just tell Galactor who he is. And he can probably take what they can give him. Now go to bed. I'm tired and you should be too." Peewee fluffed his pillow and put his head in it, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't sleep.

The next day wasn't any better. Whenever Peewee tried to tell anyone that one of the wrestlers was Hooty, they wouldn't listen to him. Dirk was the coldest of them all.

"Listen Peewee. I don't give a damn if you saw Hooty or not. He doesn't have anything to do with the team anymore, so why should you even care if he were even alive?" This of course got Dirk a punch to the jaw.

"Dirk, why do you talk like that? He was like a brother to you. He did all the stuff for the team that no one wanted to do. You should be worried too. Just imagine what would happen if Galactor managed to turn him over to his side and get our secrets out. We would be in big trouble then. What would you do then? Just run and hide? Or would you try to take on the world by yourself like you so often like to do?" Peewee was about in tears and ran away. The other members of the team heard his little lecture and it struck a chord. They went off to Doctor Brighthead's office.

"Listen Doctor, we have a predicament that was just brought up by Peewee." The doctor turned around in his seat.

"That would be?" The casual response was normal for the doctor when he wasn't in a hurry to be doing anything.

Ace stepped forward. "He claims that he saw Hooty at a wrestling match. However, Galactor attacked the matches and kidnaped some of the wrestlers. Peewee believes that he could have been one of the kidnaped ones." The doctor had picked up a magazine and started reading, his response was slow and quiet.

"So what? He doesn't have anything to do with the team. Anyway, Galactor wouldn't know who it was, so why bother?" Ace grabbed the magazine from the doctor's hands.

"Because, if Hooty was smart, he would use his knowledge of us and our techniques to his advantage. And if Galactor got that information, then we would be in a world of hurt against them. They would probably achieve their long term goal of world domination." The doctor was not making an effort to move. "Don't you see doctor? Or are you blind to the obvious?" The doctor shook his head slowly.

"I am neither Ace. They found Hooty's body, or what appears to his body in a shallow grave up on the mountain. They did an autopsy and found that he died of natural causes. He was buried just today with no questions asked. So I think that your claims to his being alive are backed just about as well as claims that Elvis still lives." Doctor Brighthead grinned a bit, but it faded away as the team stared at him coldly. Without another word, they turned and slowly one by one left the office to break the news to Peewee.

***

Hooty sat quietly at his command chair in his new base. He looked over the troops that were scurrying around like ants at his feet. He was quietly thinking of ways to defend against G-Force, without really harming any of them, but doing enough to keep them from destroying the base. He knew that what he was doing boiled down to him being a traitor. He kept trying to convince himself that it was a necessary evil, and in doing so, he was slowly engraving it into his mind.

"Sir, what do you want us to do now? We have put the defense devices into place and we are now ready to move on to other projects." His right hand man was bowed down onto one knee in front of him. Hooty signaled for him to rise.

"Give G-Force our location. I want to get this over with as soon as possible." Hooty was watching some men running around below him, not paying attention to the man in front of him.

"But sir! I must protest. If you simply give G-force our location, they will suspect that something is waiting for them and they will take extra precautions." Hooty cut him off.

"Don't just give them our location out right. Make it look like it was a serendipitous discovery by their intelligence agents. That way, they will think that they have the drop on us. Now go. No more words. Just action." Hooty waived the man away. He continued working his plans out for his defense against G-Force.

 Back with G-Force, Hooty's plan was doing it's job with the team. They had been called into the office by the doctor.

"Listen G-Force. We have just intercepted the coordinates of what seems to be a very important site for the Galactor rebuilding.  Get out there and get that base. We can't afford to give Galactor a chance to rebuild. We have done so much and we don't want them to go for an all out suicide attack on the world." Doctor Brighthead pointed toward the door. The group gave the G-Force salute and took off running.

Once in the Phoenix, while Casey was at the controls, the rest of the team congregated in the back of the ship. Ace was quietly talking to them.

"I feel different about this mission. As if there is something more to it than what I am expecting. Be extra careful out there." All of the other members nodded slowly. Even Dirk was nodding in agreement. They carefully took their places to await their arrival. When they were in range, Ace commanded Casey to stay with the Phoenix and the rest of the team followed him.

They made their normal stealthy entrance into the base, not aware of the silent alarms that they tripped off, alerting Hooty to their arrival. None of them seemed to notice that the soldiers were purposely ignoring them, going on their way, even when they saw them in the shadows.

"Aggie and Peewee. You guys go get the generator, Dirk and I are going to go after the lieutenant. Maybe we can capture him and get a clue as to what Galactor is planning. Now go. Before you trigger the timers, let us know so we can get out in time." Ace and Dirk took off in a general direction and Aggie and Peewee in another. They both arrived at their designated location at about the same time. Hooty was sitting in his awaiting trap, watching on a wrist computer what was happening. He could hear every word due to strategically place microphones.

"G-3, this is G-1. We are here, but no one is around. We are going to look around a little. They maybe having an assembly somewhere else." Ace and Dirk were about ready to blast open a locked door, when Aggie replied.

"Save your energy. We have just set the explosives. We have about five minutes to get out before this generator goes sky high. Let's meet in sector 3 and get out from there." The quartet was already on the move toward the large room. As they approached, Hooty was grinning from behind a one way purple mask. He knew what was awaiting them.

As they group entered the room, it was dark, but on Hooty's command, the whole room was flooded with lights, and not even the most remote corner had any shadows. He stood up from his chair.

"Welcome G-Force. I have been expecting you. At last it looks as if I have you." He motioned and all of his soldiers stepped forward from the balconies, revealing themselves.

Ace was eyeing this new opponent. "You are too tall and your voice is too different to be Galactor. Who are you and how did you know we were here?" Ace had stepped forward.

"Come now G-1. You don't think that my soldiers would ignore the mistakes you made in infiltrating my base without direct orders to do so, do you? If you do G-1, then you are sadly mistaken." Hooty watched the whole group reel from the blow.

"I wouldn't be so sure about your victory. There are explosives set to destroy your base in about two minutes. It is your choice. Save yourself and let us go, or keep us here and die as well." Ace had a decisive grin on his face, as did most of the team.

"You mean the explosives that my men have just removed from out fake generator? How unfortunate for you. It looks like the tables are turned. It looks like you have lost G-Force." Hooty cut off his speech and signaled for the men to start firing. He knew that his men couldn't hit the broadside of a barn from two feet away, but he had them start firing anyway. G-Force escaped easily, leaving the base as intact as it was when they had gotten there. Hooty retired from the room to let his men clean it all up. He went into his office and opened a comlink with Galactor.

"You fool! You let them escape from you. May I remind you that failure will not be tolerated in this organization?" Galactor was red with anger and was yelling into the com unit. Hooty relaxed.

"Listen Galactor. The deal was that I would keep them from destroying the base. Nothing was ever said about capturing them as well. So as I see it, and you should too, I fulfilled my part of the bargain." Hooty reclined in his chair.

"I will concede to you this time lieutenant, but never again." The comlink was cut off by Galactor and Hooty was pleased.

"You won't have to Galactor. Because next time, I am going to be in control, not you." He was talking to himself. Hooty decided to get some sleep before his transfer orders would arrive. Deep down inside, it he knew that he was betraying his friends and all that they stood for, but the majority of himself was telling him to keep going. He felt as if there was an outside force pushing on him, telling him to keep going, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. He slowly slipped away into the darkness of sleep.

Back on the Phoenix, things were erupting left and right from all sides of the team.

"I told you things didn't feel right about this mission." Ace was muttering to no one in particular. Dirk burst out from his chair.

"What were we supposed to do, Mr. Hero? Disobey a direct order to attack and destroy that base?" Ace jumped up and met Dirk face to face. They were about two inches apart.

"Oh yeah, and you are one to be talking about obeying orders Dirk. Up until now, this has been noticeably lacking from your performance with the team. Tell me, when did you all of the sudden decide to start obeying orders?" Dirk grabbed Ace by the chest of his body suit.

"Don't you ever talk to me that way. I can beat the daylights out of you any day. Don't even start criticizing me about my obeying of orders. You are just as bad, if not worse than me at times." Dirk was yelling. Ace grabbed his suit and in the same motion pushed away Dirk's hands from his chest.

"Listen. I don't have to take this." Ace pushed Dirk backward. Dirk jumped into his ready stance as did Ace. They were both oblivious to the coming blows. They both hit the floors and looked up to see Aggie standing over them.

"Look at yourselves. You call yourselves heroes and role models when you can't even cooperate and just say that the whole mission failed because Galactor had a one up on us this time." She was shouting at them. They slowly rose up. "Let's face it. We have never run into a failure like that before and you guys just don't know how to handle it so you want to put the blame on something. Now if you two don't mind, I would like to have the rest of the return trip in peace. If you can't handle that, I will do worse than knock you on the ground next time." She glared at both of them and returned to her seat. Ace and Dirk slowly returned to their seats, and it wasn't until they were both finally sitting that they took their eyes off of each other.
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