Fish Out of Water by TransmuteJun
Summary: Tiny attempts to explore a small island, and ends up where he least expected!

Excerpt

The one good thing about being alone was that I had no one telling me where to go. Usually I was taking customers to the best fishing spots, or Keyop was demanding to see the wildlife along the coast.

Today, I had decided to head out to Farador Island. It was a place I had only been by once or twice before, but one that had always called out to me. The island was somewhat remote, and not near any of the usual fishing or tourist areas. I had always been curious, and so I chose today to be the day that curiosity was satisfied.

Well, you know what they say about being curious.
Categories: Battle of the Planets Characters: Goon, Original Character, Tiny Harper, Zoltar
Genre: Action/Adventure, Character Study
Story Warnings: Mild Language
Timeframe: Mid-Series
Universe: Canon
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 2 Completed: Yes Word count: 5320 Read: 6180 Published: 10/24/2007 Updated: 10/24/2007
Story Notes:

This fic was written for Cloud Dancer, and is dedicated to her!

1. Chapter 1 by TransmuteJun

2. Chapter 2 by TransmuteJun

Chapter 1 by TransmuteJun

Chapter 1

I steered my boat along the ocean currents, letting them do the work as I made my way through the open water. The morning was bright and clear and a little warm, but the sea breeze cooled things off enough to make it the perfect temperature for sailing. A few puffy white clouds dotted the sky, and the salty spray in my face was invigorating. There was only one thing missing.

Someone to share it with.

I had been sailing since I was just a boy, and it was never the same when I was on my own. To truly enjoy the journey, I needed someone else with me. Usually Keyop was my sailing partner, but today Princess had insisted that he help her at Jill’s and finish his homework. I had to admit, he and I had been playing a lot of video games lately, so I hadn’t protested when Princess had stated in no uncertain terms that Keyop was not sailing with me this morning.

“I’m sorry, Tiny,” I could still hear her saying, “but Keyop isn’t going anywhere today. He has neglected his work for weeks now, and he has to catch up!”

I knew when to back away. Instead of pursuing the issue, I had just headed back to my Marina and set sail.

I should have had customers on a day like today, but I hadn’t scheduled any, because up until twelve hours ago I had thought that we would be on duty. But our mission to escort needed supplies to the Utopia Space Station had been moved up and completed yesterday. We had gotten back late last night, and after catching up on my sleep I had decided to take advantage of the prime sailing conditions.

The one good thing about being alone was that I had no one telling me where to go. Usually I was taking customers to the best fishing spots, or Keyop was demanding to see the wildlife along the coast.

Today, I had decided to head out to Farador Island. It was a place I had only been by once or twice before, but one that had always called out to me. The island was somewhat remote, and not near any of the usual fishing or tourist areas. It was owned by some private corporation that had never developed it. I had always been curious, and so I chose today to be the day that curiosity was satisfied.

Well, you know what they say about being curious.

I approached Farador Island, steering my craft to the small stretch of beach that appeared to be the only viable place to beach my boat. The rest of the island was surrounded by rocks that could easily smash a vessel to pieces, if the pilot wasn’t careful.

A less experienced sailor wouldn’t have managed it, but I felt confident that I could. After all, I had dealt with many more dangerous situations in my life. I moved through the water toward the beach.

But as I did, a strange sound carried on the wind to my ears. At first, it was very soft, and hard to describe. It had an almost… ethereal… quality, like something that was not of this Earth.

Okay, I was a little out of my element here… poetry wasn’t exactly my strong suit. But this sound had that effect on me; it made me imagine beautiful things, and want to be a part of them.

The sound grew louder, and it quickly became apparent that it was a form of music… to be specific, some kind of singing…

Well, not exactly singing… there were no recognizable words. But it was definitely voices… female voices.

The melody they were producing was exquisite and despite myself, I found that I just had to stop and listen for a moment. Something so beautiful deserved my full attention.

The boat rocked unexpectedly, and I nearly fell down on my considerable rear end as I realized that I hadn’t been focusing on my task at hand. The small beach was getting further away and I was drifting toward the sharp rocks that surrounded the rest of the island. I pulled at the rigging, attempting to turn the craft, when the music swelled again.

It was so enchanting… I vaguely felt the rope slipping from my grasp, but somehow, I just didn’t care. All that mattered was that singing…

I had to find the source.

With a sense of renewed purpose, I grabbed the rigging again, expertly pulling and securing the ropes in a manner that would send my craft in the direction of the mysterious music.

Unfortunately, it was also in the direction of the rocks. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I heard the keel scraping against the bottom, and felt a cool wetness on my feet as the boat began to take on water.

My last thought before I lost consciousness was of regret, that I would never find the source of that beautiful song.

88888

Of course, that wasn’t the end of me, but what scares me is that it could have been. Ever since I was a boy I had heard the tall tales from my father of fishermen lured to their deaths by the mysteries of the sea… giant whales, treasure, mermaids… But the one story that had always stuck out in my mind was that of the Sirens.

It was a story so whimsical that even as an adult, I had laughed at the concept. Mythical creatures enchanting sailors by singing to them… who could believe such a thing?

Yet apparently, that was what had happened to me.

As I came to, I shook my head, wondering where I was. There was silence around me, and I opened my eyes to find myself lying on a metallic floor of some kind.

“He’s awake!” exclaimed a harsh voice, and I felt a nasty kick in my side as I struggled to comprehend what was going on.

A rough hand grabbed the collar of my shirt, pulling me upward until I got a good look at the face in front of me. It wore a green mask, with small yellow fangs on the side. Shaggy brown hair stuck out from the bottom, giving the man a scruffy appearance, despite the uniform he wore.

Spectra.

Had they figured out who I was? Nervously, I felt underneath my body for my bracelet. It was still on my wrist, and I nearly sighed with relief.

“See how he squirms in fear!” laughed the harsh voice again. I thought it was coming from off to my left side, somewhere. “This pathetic wretch recognizes the might of the Spectran Empire.”

“What are you doing here?” growled the man holding my shirt in his fist.

I decided to play the role of the scared civilian for all it was worth. Sometimes, my bland appearance comes in handy. No one ever believes Mark or Jason when they try to play dumb, but for me, it always works like a charm.

“I don’t even know where I am!” I cried out, attempting to shield my face with my hands. “Please don’t hurt me!”

“Why were you approaching Farador Island?” the voice growled again, although this time there was something of a mocking undertone to it. I could hear the other man laughing nastily in the background.

“I… I was just curious!” I said, purposely attempting to stutter a bit, to show my apparent nervousness. “I wondered what kind of fish there might be around there!”

“He’s just a local idiot, like all of the others.” the soldier holding me sneered. “This fat buffoon doesn’t know what he’s doing. They all fall prey to our Sirens.”

“Just put him with the others.” said the Spectran with the harsh voice. “When Lord Zoltar gets here, he’ll tell us what to do with them.”

Zoltar? Here? What the hell had I just stumbled into?

I was itching to use my communicator to contact Mark and the others, but didn’t want to raise their suspicions. Hopefully, they would leave me alone for a moment so I could speak with the team.

The guard who had ‘questioned’ me hauled me to my feet, grunting with the effort of moving my considerable weight around. Sure, it looks like fat, but most of it is muscle. I weigh a hell of a lot more than most people think I do. It comes in handy when I use my wrestling techniques on scum like this.

I felt a pair of rifles being prodded into my back, and I stumbled out of the room and down a long corridor, moving where their incessant pushing directed me. Although I wasn’t restrained, I let them control me, wondering in the back of my mind who these ‘others’ were, that the one goon had mentioned. Were there prisoners here?

As it turned out, there were. I was brought to a small cell housing four men and a young boy. I was so surprised that I let the guards lock me inside, before I realized what they had done.

The moment the soldiers were gone, the men spoke to me.

“What date is it?” one of them asked me in a ragged voice. I noticed that he had dark circles under his eyes, and had something of a gaunt and unkempt look about him.

When I told him, his eyes widened in despair.

“Three months…” he muttered to himself, moving away.

“Don’t mind Samuel,” one of the other men said to me. “He’s been here the longest. I guess he’s pretty desperate to get home to his family.”

“Like he’s the only one!” snapped another man. “I think we’d all like to get out of here, Taran!”

“We all know what you think, Victor.” Taran sighed.

I looked over at Samuel. He seemed to have sunk into a deep depression, as he slumped down to the floor in the corner of the cell. I walked over to him, bending down to his level.

“I’m Tiny.” I offered, extending my hand out. He didn’t take it.

“I know how you feel, Samuel.” I said quietly sheepishly lowering my arm back down to my side. “I’m missing my family too. I haven’t been gone as long as you have, obviously, but I’ll do my best to get us out of here.”

Samuel looked up at me, a blank stare on his face.

“I’ll believe it when I see it.” he muttered, turning away to face the wall.

I knew when I had been dismissed. I stood up, facing the other occupants of the cell.

“Where are we?” I asked them.

“I think we’re on Farador Island.” the man named Taran revealed. “All of us came here when our boats were close to the island, and we heard this beautiful singing. We crashed on the rocks and woke up here.”

“That pretty much sums up my story.” I replied. “So, Samuel has been here for three months?”

“Yes.” Taran nodded. “They don’t feed us very often, and he’s in bad shape. He’s also worried about his wife and children.”

“I understand.” I nodded.

“But we’re going to get rescued really soon!” the young boy piped up. “I recognize those guards! I’ve seen them on TV! They’re from Spectra!”

“Johnny is right.” another man said, his arm around the youth. “I have heard the guards talking, and they are Spectrans.” He held his hand out to me. “Hello, Tiny. I’m Peter.”

I shook his hand gratefully, and noted that Peter bore a striking resemblance to Captain Jack. Did all sailors look alike in some way? It was probably my imagination. Still, I appreciated Peter’s friendly smile.

“So if the guards are Spectrans, that means that G-Force will find them, right Dad?” Johnny looked up at the man who had spoken. “G-Force always defeats the Spectrans! They’ll be coming to rescue us any time now… right?”

While the boy’s speech had started out full of bravado, it had ended on more of a questioning note, as he had looked around the small cell to the others for reassurance of his beliefs. As the men turned away, his face fell.

“That’s right, Johnny.” I said, ruffling the boy’s hair. In a way, he reminded me a bit of Keyop, especially when a wide grin spread across his face. “You can expect G-Force really soon.”

“Don’t fill his head with false hope!” Victor snapped again. “You already told Samuel you’d get us out of here, and now you’re leading on the boy. You just got here! You don’t know anything! If G-Force was going to come, they would have been here already!”

“Well maybe they didn’t know this place was here!” I retorted, folding my arms across my chest.

“So what makes you think that they know about it now then?” Victor scowled back at me.

“Well, uh…” I wasn’t sure how much to say, and I certainly didn’t want to reveal my secret identity, in case the room was bugged.

“I heard one of the guards saying that Zoltar was coming!” I offered. “That’s sure to attract G-Force’s attention!”

“We can’t sit around waiting for that!” retorted Victor. “Who knows how long it will take, or if the Spectrans will ki…”

The man stopped speaking as Taran elbowed him sharply in the ribs, his eyes jerking over sharply in Johnny’s direction.

“I agree.” I said.

Everyone looked at me.

“You do?” asked Johnny in a disappointed tone.

“Yes.” I replied. “I don’t think we should wait around for G-Force. I think we need to rescue ourselves.”

“I heard you saying as much to Samuel,” Peter said nervously, “but… how are we going to do that? They have guns, and we don’t.”

“We’ll never be able do it!” wailed Samuel.

“I’ll figure something out.” I muttered darkly.

Chapter 2 by TransmuteJun

Chapter 2

As it turned out, I didn’t have long to wait. Less than an hour after I had been brought to the cell, a pair of guards showed up with a tray of food and a jug of water. It appeared to be some kind of dry saltine-style crackers.

Ugh. I hate saltines. How boring can you get?

But apparently that wasn’t all. A third guard came up with a bucket covered with plastic wrap. I shuddered to think what that bucket would be used for.

“Move away from the door!” shouted the guard with the water jug. He set it down and waved his laser rifle at us. The others had already complied, and I found myself standing alone in the middle of the cell.

“Back against the wall, Fatso!” the guard shouted, waving his rifle at me. Slowly, I moved backward, being careful not to get too close to the men behind me.

The guards, obviously impatient with my slow pace and unworried by my less than threatening appearance, unlocked the door. The soldier with the rifle in his hands came in first, followed by the other two, who moved to drop their items as quickly as possible. They had weapons as well, but they hung at their sides from their belts.

As I had hoped, the goon with the weapon in his hands was distracted by his comrades, and I was able to send a well-aimed kick at his arm, making his rifle go flying.

Even better, in his surprise he accidentally set the gun off, accidentally shooting a laser beam at one of the other guards, causing him to slump to the ground. I hadn’t actually intended for that to happen, but I knew a good thing when I saw it. The two soldiers still left alive stared at me in shock, and I used that moment of surprise to bash their heads together, sending them crashing to the floor.

“Who knows how to shoot?” I asked, looking around.

Victor and Taran put their hands up first. Quickly, I picked up the three rifles, tossing one to each of them and keeping the last for myself.

Unfortunately, those same outward qualities of my appearance that had lulled the guards into a false sense of security were now causing the imprisoned sailors to gape at me in stunned awe.

“What are you all waiting for?” I asked them, as they stared at me in amazement. “Let’s get out of here!”

I walked through the door of the cell, and this snapped them out of their surprise. Samuel was first to follow me out, an exuberant Johnny close behind.

“Gee, Tiny!” he exclaimed, “you should be with G-Force! That was terrific!”

“I’ll have you write me a recommendation.” I grinned, mussing his hair as I usually did with Keyop.

“So what now?” Victor asked me. Apparently the events of the last two minutes had changed his opinion of my worthiness significantly.

“We find a vehicle to take us out of here.” I shrugged. “My first choice would be a boat…”

“There are no boats here.” Samuel offered, as we ran along the corridor. “They told me that when I was first captured. Everything is brought in by some kind of planes.”

“Even better.” I grinned.

“But what about the Sirens?” Peter asked nervously. “If they turn on that music again…”

“Good point…” I stopped for a second. Wondering what to do. I glanced back down the hallway, where the contents of the water jug, the tray, and the bucket were spilled out onto the floor, from within the cell we had all recently vacated.

Water, saltines, macaroni and cheese…

Macaroni and cheese…

“I’ve got it!” I shouted. Quickly, I ran back, grabbing the bucket with the remaining macaroni and cheese, and the plastic wrap that had covered it, as well as one of the utilitarian Swiss Army-style knives the Spectran soldiers wore on their belts.

“Someone needs to carry this!” I said, and Peter quickly stepped up to grab the items I offered.

It said a lot about how impressed everyone was with me that no one asked any questions about my odd choice of supplies. Had I just blown my G-Force cover?

At this point, I didn’t care. I just wanted to get everyone out of there. But I didn’t forget my team. I surreptitiously banged my arm on the wall, sending out an emergency locator signal on my communicator as we started off again.

There was only one way out, and having been through the base only an hour before, I was able to get the group to the main corridor before we encountered any resistance. Unfortunately, we quickly ran into a surprised group of soldiers. I bull-rushed two of them into the wall, while Victor and Taran each shot one guard, leaving the remaining goon running away in fear.

“Yeah! You guys should all be on G-Force!” cheered Johnny.

The men laughed, but I knew that it was premature to celebrate. The guard who had gotten away was likely raising the alarm right now.

“We need to move away from here.” I said nervously, trying to lead everyone from the scene of our small fight. The men caught the worried tone in my voice and immediately became serious again. Only Johnny was still grinning.

We encountered a few more guards, but we were able to take them out with the rifles. Victor and Taran turned out to be pretty decent shots, and I didn’t have to display any more of my hand-to-hand fighting skills.

And then we reached the Base Hangar.

For a brief second, I felt my heart soar. There, in the center of the hangar, was a small troop transport ship; the perfect size for the seven of us, and something I would have no difficulty operating.

Unfortunately, at least two dozen guards stood between our group, and the ship.

“Party’s over, boys.” sneered the sergeant of the group, an ugly fellow about six inches shorter than the average goon. He raised his gun, obviously aiming at us. His men followed suit, even as Victor, Taran and I took aim. But I could see that the other sailor’s hands were trembling.

“You all have minor value as hostages,” the sergeant stated with exaggerated casualness, “but it’s not really a bother if we have to kill you. The choice is yours.”

I could hear the men muttering nervously behind me. Taran and Victor lowered their weapons, and began to back away from me. Apparently they were thinking the better of my little escape attempt.

I didn’t blame them. What kind of half-assed scheme had I based this on? Usually when I was in this kind of situation, it was with the other members of G-Force next to me. They outranked me. They were the ones who usually made the decisions, and I didn’t have to worry about their welfare more than mine.

I glanced at the five people next to me. They looked tired, and defeated, although Johnny still had a hint of bravado on his face. They were completely unprotected against an attack by these goons.

Doubt began to creep across my mind, and regretfully I lowered my weapon as well. I couldn’t risk the lives of these innocent civilians.

“Excellent choice.” mocked the sergeant, moving his hand to direct his men to surround us. But just as they moved to do so, a familiar voice echoed across the room.

“What is this, Sergeant Klengdor?”

Like everyone else, I turned my eyes in the direction of the screeching words, laying eyes on the madman in a purple cape who was sweeping into the room.

Zoltar.

“Sire!” squeaked the sergeant, obviously surprised. “You were not due for another two hours…”

“And I arrive early, only to find all of your weak, Earther prisoners on the verge of escape?” Zoltar yelled at the man, striking him with his fist. “What kind of incompetent are you? How could pathetic wretches like this…” the Spectran Leader gesticulated wildly at the lot of us, without even sending a glance our way, “escape? Your security is obviously sub-par! All of you will be executed!”

“No, Lord Zoltar!” the sergeant begged, literally throwing himself on Zoltar’s mercy as he prostrated himself on the floor, grabbing at the rippling purple cape.

“Sire!” pleaded the goons, who were now obviously worried for their lives as well. They followed after Zoltar, who was attempting to depart.

The sailors next to me were completely stunned, staring at the events unfolding before them in shock. I was as well, until I noticed one very important thing.

The group of Spectran soldiers was now clustered in front of a pyramid of metal barrels. Each one was labeled as containing jet fuel.

Without even thinking, I hissed to the men, gesturing toward the large ship, which fortunately had a loading ramp down on the floor of the hangar.

“Get ready to run to that plane!”

The men looked at me nervously, the fear in their eyes indicating that they weren’t quite certain that I was in my right mind. Inwardly, I sighed. I didn’t have time to convince them that I knew what I was doing, but at least they had turned their attention away from Zoltar and his men.

Carefully, I took aim at the barrels. I was nowhere near as good a marksman as Jason, but the large grouping made for an easy target.

Boom!

The laser beam hit the barrels right where I had wanted it to, and the pyramid of fuel containers exploded in a fiery display. Zoltar and the goons all threw themselves to the floor as smoke and flame poured out toward them.

“Come on!” I shouted at the men, physically propelling a few of them forward. They quickly saw that it was time to run, and scrambled onto the plane. I was the last one up the ramp, and I slammed my hand on the retraction panel on the inside wall as soon as I was onboard.

“Does anyone know how to fly this thing?” Victor gasped, his face white.

“I do.” I muttered, pushing my way up to the front of the cockpit.

“You do?” Victor appeared impressed.

“I went to the Space Academy a few years ago.” I offered as a quick explanation. “But when I graduated, I decided to return to boating. It was more relaxing.”

The men all smiled weakly, and I was glad that my comment had worked. They were no longer suspicious of my abilities.

I sat down at the pilot’s console, quickly checking for weapons controls and viewscreens. Locating them, I turned both systems on, and then activated the flight sequence. Fortunately, this was a slightly older, uncomplicated Spectran craft, and one I was fairly familiar with. Certainly it was several degrees of sophistication below the Phoenix.

But even as I was performing these important tasks (and keeping an eye on the mayhem in the hangar displayed on the viewscreen) I heard someone causing trouble behind me.

“What did you bring that for?” one of the men complained.

“Tiny said to bring it!” I heard Johnny pipe up. “If Tiny says we need macaroni and cheese, then we need macaroni and cheese!”

The boy had apparently become my biggest defender.

“Uh… Tiny…” Johnny asked slowly, “What did we need the macaroni and cheese for?”

I turned away from the viewscreen, even though watching Zoltar and his men attempting to scramble for cover was great entertainment.

“I have plans for it.” I grinned at the youth. “Here’s what I want you to do, Johnny…”

88888

Less than a minute later I had managed to get the ship off the ground and moving toward the hangar doors. I had figured out the weapons systems, and I sent off a missile at the doors, blasting a large hole in their center, which was enough for a small ship like this one to exit.

Everyone cheered as we left the base behind, but we had barely gotten into the air when I heard that strange music starting up again.

“Johnny, I need them now!” I cried.

“Got it, Tiny!” grinned the boy, pressing two small lumps into my hand.

I barely had a moment to inspect them, but I spared a quick glance for Johnny’s handiwork. As I had instructed, he had shaped two small balls of macaroni and cheese and covered it tightly with plastic wrap.

“Great job!” I gave him the thumbs up even as I began shoving one of the balls into my ear with my other hand. We didn’t have earplugs, and on short noticed I figured it was the best we could do. The pasta was likely overcooked enough to conform nicely to the shape of our ears.

It worked better than I expected. All sounds were instantly muffled, and while I could hear the music, it was garbled, almost as if there were pillows over my ears. Somehow, it didn’t have the same effect on me when it sounded that way.

I spared a quick look around the ship, noting that all of the men were in the process of putting macaroni and cheese earplugs into their ears. A couple of them appeared disgusted, but Victor was grinning widely.

To be honest, I had never thought that bad Spectran food would save the day, but I was grateful that we had it!

When it became clear that we weren’t turning around, apparently Zoltar decided to enact Plan B. I noted two Spectran fighters heading our way on the radar.

“Hold on, everybody!” I cried, attempting to evade incoming weapons fire.

But despite its small size, the Spectran craft maneuvered like a barge. We were hit on the tail, and it was difficult to compensate. I knew we wouldn’t survive another volley.

The fighters appeared on radar again, moving in on us. I knew they were about to open fire, and I was desperately attempting to think of any way to avoid getting hit again… when suddenly they took off, passing us at rapid speed and moving off toward the horizon.

There was something else there.

I looked up, only to see the familiar red and blue of the Phoenix approaching on the viewscreen.

“It’s G-Force!” screamed Johnny happily. Despite the makeshift earplugs, I had no problem hearing that, at the volume the boy was emitting.

The Phoenix shifted a bit unsteadily, and mentally I groaned. I hoped to goodness that Jason wasn’t at the controls. I would have thought that everyone had learned their lesson the last time I had been absent.

But apparently Jason wasn’t at the helm, because the TBX missiles that shot at the Spectran fighters a second later had the kind of accuracy I attributed only to the G-Force Weapons Officer. The Phoenix zoomed past us, obviously setting its sights on the base we had left behind.

“Everyone hold on!” I shouted, hoping that they could hear me as I figuratively pressed the pedal to the metal, getting us out of range of any potential explosion as fast as the damaged ship would allow.

We bucked and writhed, but a few seconds later a loud boom was heard, and the music was instantly cut off.

“G-Force did it!” exclaimed Johnny, jumping up and down as the men removed their macaroni earplugs and grinned. I popped my earplugs out, smiling just as broadly as the rest of the men.

There was a brief moment of static heard around the ship, and then Mark’s voice came in, clear as day.

“Spectran Vessel, this is the Commander of G-Force. We will escort you to a secure landing site.”

The men cheered again, but I recognized that tone. For Mark, it was incredibly ominous. He thought we were the enemy!

Quickly, I opened a comm channel to the Phoenix, and surreptitiously contacted Mark on my communicator as well, to make sure he got the message.

“G-Force Commander, this is Tiny Harper, a Federation civilian.” I said slowly, hoping the team would get the hint that I had been unable to transmute. “We are all Federation citizens, who have been held captive at the Spectran Base back there. We would be happy to have you escort us to a safe landing site.”

There was a brief pause, and then Mark spoke again. His voice came through my communicator as well, but fortunately I don’t think anyone noticed.

“We understand. Tiny, we’re escorting you to the Jennson Air Force Base on the mainland.”

I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Mark sounded much more relaxed… and he had correctly interpreted my message.

“Thank you, Commander.” I replied. “Looking forward to seeing you on the ground.”

There was a sudden hush behind me.

“What?” I asked, frantically turning to look back and make sure everything was okay.

“We’re going to meet G-Force?” Johnny gasped.

I had to laugh. If only he knew.

88888

The rest was pretty anticlimactic. Apparently Spectra had been planning on using Farador Island as a staging point for an attack against Center City, and had been using the Sirens weapon to keep nosy civilians away. Of course, now that they had been discovered, this effectively terminated the threat, for which we were all glad. I shudder to think what kind of damage Zoltar could have caused with a mecha attack from there, before the Phoenix could have been readied to meet her.

Johnny was head over heels meeting Mark, and in his excitement he didn’t even realize that one of the G-Force members was missing. Kids. Shows you what you get for piloting the ship all of the time: all of the work, and none of the glory.

But somehow, when I saw Samuel reunited with his family, I didn’t mind. Galaxy Security had arranged for his wife and children to be brought to the Air Force Base to meet him, and the obvious joy with which they embraced told me that I had done the right thing, no matter how much (or how little) recognition I had received.

Of course, Keyop got an entire week’s worth of ribbing material once he heard that I had used macaroni and cheese to make the earplugs. I had used food to effect an escape… it was just too good an opportunity for him to pass up. Princess only smiled and told me that she had known that it wasn’t a good idea for Keyop to go sailing with me that day. Mark and Jason clapped me on the back, Jason commenting that he was grateful that he didn’t have to fly the Phoenix anymore. Apparently Princess had taken over for him while he was firing TBXs, and had shown him up badly enough that I knew that he would never live down the comments Mark was already making about the entire incident.

I looked around at my teammates… my family… and despite my recent solo adventure, I was relieved to be back. We always worked best together as five, and I intended to do my hardest to keep it that way.

Even though I was already making plans to build a new boat.

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