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Time Lost

It had been a long day and all of the guys were very tired.  They had just finished their concert and were ready to turn in.

“Man, how many of those do we have left?”  Asked Howie, as he flopped down on the couch in the back of the bus.

“About ten.  Maybe even more if the big guys in the business say so.”  Answered Kevin.  All of them groaned at the idea.  Yet, they knew when this was all over; they would want it all back.

“Well, just think.  After this, we can go home and do whatever we want.”  Said Kari, who had been waiting for them the whole time.  Brian was watching everyone as they talked.  In his mind, he was fed up.  He didn’t want this anymore.  He wanted all this go away and never come back.  You see, he never told anyone that he was thinking about quitting.   He wanted to start a new chapter in his life and leave it all behind.  He knew that the others would be disappointed, but it’s what he wanted to do.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to head to bed.”  He said.  The others agreed and followed his example.  As he crawled into his bunk and closed his eyes, he imagined what his life would be.  Just to be alone for one minute.

He awoke to the sound of what seemed like a gunshot.  His eyes popped open to see that he was no longer in the tour bus.  Instead, he was on a small island near a city.  He looked around and tried to figure out where he was.

“Nick?  Kari?  Kev?  Anyone?”  He yelled.  There was no answer.  Instead, something rose up from the ground and pointed right at him.

“What the heck is that?” he whispered.  He found out when it began to shoot at him.  He ducked out of the way and began to run toward the water.

“Where am I?”  He screamed just before he jumped in.  He then began to swim as fast as he could.  The object was still shooting at him.

“I have to be dreaming, this has got to be a dream.”  He said to himself.  He swam harder.  It seemed like the bullets kept coming closer and closer.  Suddenly, there was a second blast.  Brian turned around to find that the object had been destroyed.

“But, how?”  He thought.  That’s when he looked up to see some kind of airplane hanging above his head.  He hadn’t noticed it before because it didn’t make any kind of noise.  Suddenly, a doorway opened and a rope ladder fell down from it.  Brian could see two figures standing there.  He didn’t know if they would hurt him, but he began to climb the ladder anyway.  As he reached the very top, the older of the two people helped him inside and pulled the door shut.

“What on earth were you doing out there?  You could have been killed!  You know the rules about leaving the city!”  The person yelled at him.  Brian looked up to see it was an older man.  At the controls was another man, whom was a bit younger than the one that stood before him.  The two looked fairly alike, so Brian wouldn’t doubt that they were brothers or some kind of family.

“I’m sorry sir.  I don’t know how I got there.”  Brian said as he stood up and faced the man.  The man then gasped and his eyes widened.
“I don’t believe it.  It’s you!”  He laughed.  There was something familiar about that laugh, but Brian couldn’t put his finger on in.

“You know me?”  He asked.  The man laughed again.

“You mean to say that you don’t recognize me?”  He smiled.  Brian shook his head.

“No.  Should I?”  He said with one eyebrow raised.

“Brian, it’s me!  Your old pal Nick!”  The old man exclaimed.  Brian’s jaw dropped.  He then looked over to the man at the controls.

“Then if you’re Nick, that means….Aaron?”  He asked.  The man turned around and smiled.  Brian couldn’t believe what he was seeing or even hearing.

“What happened to you both?  Why do you look so much older?”  He asked with a bit of fear.  Nick looked at him with worried eyes.

“You don’t know?”  He whispered.  Brian shook his head again.  “You have been missing for twenty years.  You disappeared without a trace on this very night.  We looked for you everywhere, but it was no use.  Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years.  But now you are back!  How have you not aged?  You look exactly the same.”  He explained.

“Missing?  How could I have been missing?  I just fell asleep and found myself here.”  He wondered.  Nick then looked to Aaron.

“Bro, let’s head back to the base.  The others will be pleased with our find.”  He ordered.  Aaron gave a little salute and began to steer the plane to wherever they needed to go.

“Have a seat.  You have had a hard night.”  Said Aaron.  Brian sat down and put his head into his hands.

“Look out the window Brian.  The world has changed since you’ve been gone.”  Nick said somberly.  Brian peered out the window and was surprise by what he saw.  The city was nothing but a ripped up piece of land.  He could see fires burning everywhere and people dressed in rags.  He then saw these strange creatures marching through the town, causing all to leap out of their way.

“What has happened?  What is this place?”  He asked in shock.  Nick lowered his head.

“This place was once called Orlando.  The invaders came to our world and destroyed so much.  They patrol the cities and arrest those who try to go against them.  The ones you saw down there are some of the few that get away.  Most others are either killed, or put into slavery.

“Invaders?  Slavery?  Sounds like a movie if you ask me.”  Brian said.  Nick nodded.

“I knew you might say that, but the plot thickens here.  Aaron and I are part of a powerful group of freedom fighters.  We have been fighting from the very start.  We are very few, but we are almost always victorious.  You might remember some of the members.”  He said.  Suddenly, the plane made a thump and Brian was knocked out of his seat.

“Ow.”  He said, rubbing his arm.  Nick got up from his seat and walked over to the now open door.

“Welcome to our home Brian.”  Said Aaron as they jumped from the vessel.  Brian looked around at the larger metal walls and the huge defense machines.

“Wow!  This is fantastic.”  He exclaimed.  He then looked up to see Nick and Aaron walking out another door.  He ran to catch up with them when he ran into another person.
“Watch where you are going!”  They snapped.  Brian looked up and laughed in surprise.

“Howie, is that you?”  Brian asked.  The man the stood before him looked very much like his old friend.  Only now, he had a few gray streaks in his hair and a few wrinkles.  Yet, his eyes would never change.

“Brian!  You have returned!”  Howie yelled.  Before Brian could react, Howie grabbed him into a hug.

“Oh my god Howie!  How you have changed.  You look so much older.”  Brian said when they finally let go.

“I’m 48 this year.  And for my own opinion, I look almost 30.”  Howie snickered.  Brian just rolled his eyes.

“I was following Nick and Aaron.  They were going to show me the place, but I got lost.”  He explained.

“Well, follow me.  I think someone will especially want to see you.”  Howie smiled.  He began to walk down a long corridor toward an open door.  Brian look closely to see someone moving about with some kind of bowl in their hand.  When they made it to the doorway, Howie put his arm out to stop Brian from entering.  He could see that it was a woman.  Though her back was turned, he could tell by the blond hair and the short stature that he knew her.

“Kari!”  Brian exclaimed.  The woman stopped.

“Whose voice is that?  I know the tone but I can’t remember your face.”  She called.

“Just turn around and see.”  Brian said.  The woman didn’t turn, but her gasp spoke louder than words.

“Brian!  It’s you!”  She almost cried.  She turned to face them.  That is when Brian let out a gasp of his own.  Kari’s eyes were gone.  All that was left were the black sockets.  And yet, she acted as though that she could see clearly as she moved about.    She also gave him a hug and a kiss.

“You’ve have been gone so long, but your face.  It hasn’t changed since the day you disappeared.”  She said, placing a hand on his cheek.

“You’re not the only one that has notice.”  He answered.

“But why haven’t you aged?  It’s been twenty years!  You should be 46 by now.”  She asked.  Brian didn’t have a chance to answer.  Suddenly, he was attacked from behind.  He spun around to see that A.j. had hit him head on.  For an older man, he sure was strong.  They fought until Kari and Howie tore them apart.
“You left us behind Littrell!  You traitor!”  A.j. yelled.  All of them could hear footsteps approaching and saw Nick and Aaron were coming.

“What’s going on?  Why are you two fighting?”  Nick demanded to know.  A.j. just scowled.

“Who died and made you the boss?”  He hissed.  The others fell silent.  Brian looked at their somber faces and couldn’t help wondering what was wrong.  Suddenly, he realized that someone was missing.

“Where’s Kevin?”  He asked.  Kari let out a soft chocked noise.  Howie let out a heavy sigh and put his hand on her shoulder.

“About 15 years ago, the invaders attack the underground.  It was a terrible battle but we were victorious.  But, we lost one member.”  Nick explained.  Brian didn’t say a word.  He was in shock.  Finally, he opened his mouth a let out a sob.

“Kevin, he’s, he’s…” he chocked.

“He fought for us.  He died with dignity and honor.  None of us have ever forgotten him.”  A.j. said.  Tears were flowing down Brian’s cheeks.

“Where was he buried?”  He asked.

“That’s the only thing, we couldn’t bury him.  We had to remain hidden until it was safe again.  His body was frozen.”  Said Kari.

“What?”  Brian said with outrage.

“Our technology is better than before you left.  We might be able to bring him back to life.”  Said Howie.  This wasn’t helping.

“My cousin, my family.  Gone forever.”  He cried.  Aaron tried to comfort him the best he could.
“Do you want to know what he was doing when he was killed?”  Kari asked.  Brian gave a nod.  “He was protecting me.”  Brian’s head shot up.

“Is that when….” He started.

“I was hit in the face by enemy fire.  I was lucky I wasn't killed.  Kevin kept the invaders from coming closer to finish the job.  I’ve been blind ever since.”  She explained.  Brian wiped the tears away.

“But you could see me before you turned around.  How can you do that if you are blind?”  He asked her.

“After the fight, we found that the radiation from the enemy’s guns gave each of us something extraordinary.  It was like a small gift from losing our best friend.”  Said A.j.

“Will you please tell me already?”  Brian almost shouted.

“I’m telepathic.”  Said Kari.  Brian looked at the others.

“What about the rest of you?”  He asked.

“Well, Howie can control minds, Aaron can levitate, Nick can pick up things with his mind and I can see the future.”  A.j. answered.  Brian’s jaw dropped.

“Wow, I really have missed a lot.  A.j., if you can see the future, didn’t you see me coming before hand?”  Brian said with one eyebrow raised.

“I did alright?  But, sometimes they come in fuzzy so I don’t know if they are real or not.  I just didn’t know.”  A.j. snapped.  Brian backed up a bit.  Kari then grabbed his arm.

“Come now Brian.  I will take you to your cousin.”  She whispered.  She began to gently pull him along the hallway, with the others right behind them.  As they went, Kari used some sort of a walking stick to avoid hitting objects.

“I’m guessing yours also comes and goes.”  Brian said.  Kari shook her head.

“No.  I can summon it whenever I need it.  Yet, it takes a lot of energy to do, and I am not strong enough yet.  Almost child like in a sense.”  She replied.  Brian didn’t say anything else.  Kari then stopped at a locked doorway.  It had some kind of a scanner system.

“This must be it.”  Brian said to himself.  Kari began to feel along the wall and was become frustrated.

“B-Rok, be a dear and place my hand on the red area.”  She asked.  He smiled, not believing that she had remembered his nickname all these years.  He grabbed her wrist and placed her hand onto the red area of the wall as she had asked.  The area began to glow and made a humming noise.

“Scanning complete.  Welcome back Kari.”  The computer rang.  The door quickly opened and the lights inside came on.  Brian peered in to see a large concert slab with what seemed to be a large glass box inside.  He could clearly see that there was a person there.  He was a little afraid to enter.

“Go on.  He would have wanted you to.”  Said Nick.  Brian looked around at all of the others, suddenly wishing that he were not so different.  He took a deep breath and began to walk toward the slab.  He then turned around when he saw no one was following.

“What’s wrong?”  He asked.

“This is something private.  You need to do this alone.”  Said Howie.  Brian looked down at the floor.  They were right again.  He began to walk forward again.  Behind him, he could hear the door shutting.  When he was only a few inches from it, he began to read the inscription on the concrete area.

“No one is truly gone until the world has cease to be.  This warrior will be ready to rise and fight once more.  Live for honor, die for others.”  He said to himself.  He stood up once more and peered inside the glass box.  Kevin would have been thirty-five when he was killed.  He still look the same as the day Brian last saw him, with the exception of the white streak of hair going down his head. His body was clothed in what looked like some strange military outfit.  In his hands were two objects, a silver dagger in the right, and a small photograph of them all before a concert in the other.  There was another inscription on the daggers blade.  Brian looked closely to see if he could read it.

“For my rescuer Kevin.  You did not die in vain. Love Kari.”  He whispered.  Tears began to fall don the sides of his face.  For some reason, this is the way he always thought Kevin would leave this world.  Protecting others without any thought of his own safety.

“I’m back now.  I’m here to fight for you.”  He said with pride.  Suddenly, the lights began to flicker.  Brian turned around to see a transparent image there.  It began to take shape and soon looked exactly like Kevin.  The image looked serious and was holding some sort of a weapon.

“Oh my god, it’s a ghost!”  Brian yelled.  Before he could move, the image began to speak.

If you are witnessing this, I have pasted on and am now gone from this life.  I assure everyone that no matter what, I fought a hard fight.  This is my last will and testament for all that are left.  For the three remaining, I grant you all of my artillery and vehicles.  I also am making the next it line the new leader.  Howie, use this job wisely.  You have the smarts and the strength to achieve victory in the future.  To my darling little Kari, I give you one thing.  My pendent of the underground crest.  This pendent symbolizes all that is good and true in this world.  I want you to protect it and I know I will see it again someday.  Finally, to my dear lost cousin.  If you are ever to return before I am gone get joy will be felt through the entire world.  Yet, if we do not find you in time, remember this.  We never gave up looking or you.  To you, Brian, I give to you an invention that no one else knows of.  It is called the Control.  It will give you the ability to become untouchable by the enemy.  You are the new guardian of this object and only use it in dire need.  The others will be affected by it.”  The figure gave a moment’s pause.

Each and everyone of you have been a huge part of my life.  Never forget that.  When the rest of our families were murdered, I never thought we would get this far.  I am very proud of this family.  This is Kevin Scott Richardson, the Black Hawk, signing off.  Remember our code always.  Live for honor, Die for others.”  With that, Kevin’s figure disappeared, leaving Brian speechless.  He just stood there staring at his cousin’s body, as if he would suddenly come back to life and tell him this is all one big joke.  Just one big, unfunny, joke.  Yet, it never came.

“Why?  Why did you have to leave?  I never even got to say goodbye.”  Brian cried.  The tears came quickly down his cheeks and fell upon his shirt.

“He knew that it as his time.”  A voice said behind him.  Brian turned around to see Kari standing there.

“Oh, I didn’t hear the door open again.”  Brian answered, wiping the tears away.  He then looked into Kari’s dark eye sockets and remembered that being seen was no longer a problem.

“No need to hide your emotions about this.  I think you also forgot that I can see you in my mind.”  She said calmly.  She was right about him forgetting that bit of information.  Brian turned and looked at his fallen comrade.

“What did he mean by that will?  Why did he call himself the Black Hawk?”  He asked.  Kari grabbed him by the arm and began to lead him out of the room.  As they left it behind, they could hear the doorway slam shut once more.

“His belongings could go to no one else.  Our families were murdered the first day the invaders came.  My mom, my dad, my sisters, everyone except for Aaron and Nick.  No one was safe that day, but somehow we survived.”  She answered.  Brian looked to the floor.

“My parents and Harold are gone?  Murdered?”  He said with shock.

“Yes.  I’m sorry to tell you this, but they were some of the first few victims.  Nothing could be done for them.”  She said.  Brian said nothing.  “As for your question about his other name, it was his code name.  After the underground got started, we were all give code names incase the invaders tried to find us.  So instead of them looking for a man named Kevin, they were looking for a man named Black Hawk.” She explained.  She looked over at him.  “I guess I better tell you them so you don’t get confused.  Howie is Gold Eagle, A.j. is Snake Eyes, Aaron is Black Bear, Nick is Silver Fox, and mine is Swift Wolf.  I even gave you one, just in case.”  She said.

“Yeah, and what would that be?”  He asked.  Kari gave a little smile.

“Dragon Heart.”  She answered.  Brian was a little surprise but smiled at her.  He was so use to looking at a young teenage girl.  Now, she had changed into a woman in her thirties.  Yet, her childlike attitude on life and her smile were a few things that would never change.  Then something dawned on him.  Though he didn’t know it, Kari had been waiting this long to see him again.  It must have felt like an eternity to her.  He wished the he could have been there for her.  For the rest of the team.  The feeling of guilt began to set in.

“Kari, I don’t know what is going on, but I just want to say I’m sorry.”  He suddenly said.  Kari stopped where she was.  She didn’t even turn her head toward his voice.

“Why are you sorry?  This is something you couldn’t control.  The others may not believe that you know nothing about his, but I do.  I can feel it.”  She said softly.

“Please, explain everything to me.  Tell me what no one else has.  What as happened to the world since I’ve been gone?”  He said, taking her by the shoulders.  She had no emotion on her face.

“I am not the one to tell you for I don’t know half of it.  You will have to ask A.j..  He is the only one that can remember almost everything.  I’m not to sure why, but it’s like he has a video camera in his head playing back everything.”  She answered.  Brian gave a little laugh.

“Oh yeah, great idea!  I’ll ask him and two seconds later I’ll have a fist in my face.  No way!  I’m not asking him.”  Brian almost yelled.  Kari let out a sigh and began to walk again.

“Then you’ll never know.”  She said in a shrug.  She began to lead him down a brightly lit area of the building.  Down there were seven different rooms.  Brian looked around in a bit of confusion.

“Where are we now?”  He asked.

“This is the living quarters.  Each person here has their own room.”  She explained.  Brian was still a bit confused.

“But, there are seven rooms here and only five of you.  I know one could have been Kevin’s, but I don’t think the other one is for guests.” He said while gesturing to both of them.   Kari turned and pointed to the first room.

“That room is where Kevin use to sleep.  Now his daughter, Sydney, lives there.  She felt she wanted to be closer to her father.”  Kari told.  Brian’s eyes widened.

“Daughter?  I have a niece?”  He said with his jaw dropped.

“Yes.  She is 18 now.”  She smiled.  She then pointed to the second room.  “And that is where Thomas sleeps.”  Brian looked at Kari from the corner of his eyes.

“Let me guess.  He is Howie, or A.j.’s son right?”  He joked.  Kari shook her head.

“No.  Thomas is my son.”  She answered with pride.  Brian was shocked.  He would have never guessed that Kari would have children at this time.

“Your son?  You have been married?”  He babbled.

“Yes.  I was married a few years after the blast blinded me.  He was a kind, gentle man.  You would have liked him.  Thomas was born ten years ago.  After his father was captured.”  She said with a hint of sadness.  “Kristen was taken with them.  She was all Sydney had left.  Howie, A.j. and Nick also have children, but they were taken to a different area of the city.  We have no way to contact them.”  She said as a few tears fell down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry.”  Brian said, placing a hand on her shoulder. She pulled away.

“Stop saying that!  None of this is your fault.  No one could have ever known that all of this was happening.  It’s not like you left us behind.”  She said, wiping the tears away.  The last sentence hit Brian like a ton of bricks.  He knew that he was in fact going to leave them behind.  Maybe start a new life and quit the whole fame issue.

“Yeah, well, I’m here now.  I’m never ever leaving you guys behind again.”  He said.  He gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“Now that brings back memories.”  She smiled.  She than began to type in something on a keypad next to the doorway.  The door slide open to reveal a medium sized bedroom.  It was very nice and neat with only a few things left on the floor.

“You’ll be staying in Tommy’s room.  Don’t worry about him because he is bunking with Aaron for the time being.”  She said as both of them walked in.  Brian began to look at the many pictures of people and things on the wall.  There were many of him and his buddies and many he didn’t know.  There was even a certificate from the day Thomas was born.  

“February 20th, 2012.  Thomas Scott Carter.  I made sure that we kept my last name.”  Kari chuckled a bit.  The name looked very familiar.

“Who was he named after?”  Brian asked.  Kari smiled even wider.

“Brian, what is your and Kevin’s middle names?”  She answered.  Brian didn’t even think about that.

“Thomas and Scott.”  He said with no emotion.  Kari nodded.

“There’s your answer.”  She said as she made her way back toward the door.  “You need your rest now.  I’ll have either Tommy or Sydney bring you some fresh clothes.”  She replied.  Brian gave a nod and sat down on the bed.

“Thanks.” He answered.  She turned to leave, when she turned back again.

“To get back into this room, type the name Thomas onto the keypad.  Have a nice nap B-Rok.”  She said.  With that, the door closed.  Brian listened as her footsteps faded away.  He lay down upon the bed and stared up at the ceiling.  This was all happening to fast for him.  Just to fall asleep and wake up to find that your family is gone and your best friends are fighting a war was hard enough.  The fact that he wished was that he knew everything that was happening was hurting him even more. He was more confused now than he ever was in his whole life.  As he lay there, pondering his thoughts, he didn’t even notice when he fell fast asleep.

He awoke with a start from a nightmare a few hours later.  At first he didn’t know where he was a started to panic.  Then it all started to come back to him.  He then realized that he wasn’t the only one in the room.  He turned to see a young boy standing near the doorway.

“Hello.”  The boy said with a smile.  He was a short kid, maybe about 5’0 and was very thin.  His hair was a dirty blond and his eyes were a startling blue with silver specks.  He looked much older than he really was.

“Um, hi.”  Brian said.  The boy only approached him and held out an open hand.

“My name is Thomas.  My mom and friends call me Tommy.”  He said cheerfully.  Brian grabbed his hand and shook it.

“I’m Brian.”  He answered.  Thomas nodded.

“Yes, I know.  Mom has been talking about you ever since I can remember.”  He replied.  Thomas then picked up some clothes that had been left in the room while Brian slept.

“Sydney left these for you.  You might want to change into them, seeing that you’re other ones are dirty.”  He said.  Thomas tossed them to Brian and left the room.  Brian gave a little smile to himself.  Kari’s son was exactly like her, from the looks to the kindness.  And yet, something gave him a heavy heart.  Thomas and all of the other children born after he went missing knew only war and terror.  This terrible feeling was gnawing at him as he changed into the new clothes.  That’s when the door opened once more.  It was Howie.

“Well, I’m glad to see you are awake.  Come now, I will show you the rest of the base.”  He said, gesturing out of the room with his hand.  Brian walked out and began to walk with Howie down the hallway once more.

“What else is there to see?  This is a small building and I don’t think anymore can fit in here.”  Brian said with one eyebrow raised.  Howie let out a laugh.

“Your ignorance is humorous.  Things aren’t always what they seem down here.”  He answered.  Brian opened his mouth to ask another question, but quickly closed it once more.  They walked on until they reached the end of a different hall and what seemed to be a dead end.

“Um, Howie?  I think being down here has made you a bit insane.”  Brian said.  Howie didn’t turn around.  He began to press the steel wall in a certain pattern.  Suddenly, the wall seemed to melt away revealing a whole other section.

“These are great security.  If someone or something were to break in down here, we could easily hide out and plan surprise attacks.”  Howie explained.  They began to walk again.  Brian could hear voices echoing off the metal walls.  Suddenly, they both stopped.

“This is our hospital ward.  Kari works here when she is not in the control center.  She should be here now.”  Howie said as he opened the door.

“Whoa.”  Brian whispered.  Inside was an enormous room with several beds lining the walls.  There were people moving back and forth through them, tending to those in need.  Brian quickly spotted Kari.  “I’ll be back alright?”  He said to Howie.  Howie nodded.

“Go ahead.  I have some business to tend to here anyways.”  He answered.  Brian made his way over to Kari.  He was about to grab her shoulder when she turned around.

“Trying to surprise me?”  She laughed.

“Of course!  Your sense of humor hasn’t changed has it?”  He said.  Kari blushed a little bit.

“No.  I’m just glad to have the old jokes again.  Nick hasn’t done anything stupid ever since you disappeared.”  She said.  She began to tend to a young girl in the bed beside her.  The girl had a bandage around her head and her arm in a cast.

“Hi there.”  Brian smiled at the girl.  She gave him a lighthearted smile back.

“I work here in the children’s ward when I’m not at the base.”  She said.  She then reached into her pocket and pulled out a pair of sunglasses.  Brian watched as she put them on and began to work again.

“Why did you just do that?”  He asked.

“Do what?”  She replied.  Brian tapped the sunglasses.

“Put these on.”  He said.  Kari let out a small sigh.

“I wear these whenever I sense that any of the children are frightened.  It keeps them from seeing the empty area where my eyes were.  I also use this.”  She answered, holding up a walking stick.

“But I thought you could see things in your head.”  Brian said, with a bit of confusion.  Kari set it down once more.

“I don’t like to use it very much.  It takes to much energy out of me and I would rather put that into my job.”  She explained.  She began to write something down onto a sheet of paper.  She then picked up her walking stick and began to walk to the next area.

“I didn’t know this place would be so big.  Why can’t they find you down here?”  He asked again.  Kari stopped and turned to him.

“This building is guarded by a force field type of system.  I’m not quite sure how it works but it is very effective.  It seems the invaders are not able to see us or sense where we are when we are here.”  She answered.  Brian could tell that she was beginning to get a little nervous.

”I’m sorry for asking so many questions.  I’m just overwhelmed by all of this.”  He said, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“It’s very understandable.”  She said as she began to write on the clipboard again.  “I see that you’ve met Tommy.  Did he greet you with respect?”  She asked.  Brian chuckled a little bit.

“Oh yes.  He is quite the gentleman for his age.  He reminds me so much of his mother and how polite she was.”  He smiled.  Kari would have rolled her eyes at him if she could.

“Shut up!  I was only sixteen, give me a little break.  It’s called being a teenager.”  She laughed, playfully pushing him.

“Oh, is that what you want to call it?  I thought it was the phase where you whined a lot and thought you owned the bus.”  Brian answered with a devilish look on his face.  He was enjoying this.

“Well, I have to get back to work.  Howie is coming back to give you the rest of the tour.”  She said.  Brian turned around and sure enough Howie was coming through the crowd of workers, waving a hand in the air.  Brian turned back and gave Kari a hug.

“I’ll see you later.”  He said.  He than walked over to Howie, who had a concerned look on his face.

“Come along.  We have much more to see.”  He said with no emotion.  Brian had a sense that something wasn’t right.

“Is there something wrong?”  Brian asked as they walked out of the hospital.  Howie shook his head slightly.

“Just a little mishap.  Nothing anyone but the captain needs to worry about.”  He answered, his voice softening a little bit.  They didn’t say anything the rest of the way to the stock area.  When inside, Brian spotted A.j. and Aaron, who were surveying the other workers as they were lifting huge crates to a storage area.

“Brian!”  Aaron called as he walked over.  His hands were a bit dirty so they didn’t bother shaking hands.  Brian was amazed that the last time he had seen the man before him, he was a fourteen year old boy.  Even though he still had the light blond hair and the mischievous smile, he seemed like a complete stranger.

“Is everything on schedule in here today?”  Howie asked.  A.j. ran over with his written information when he heard that question.

“The storage of electronics was a bit damaged because the workers dropped it.  Other than that, everything was in fine condition.  Also, the shipment from the Taji underground clan is a bit behind but it should arrive any day now.”  He answered.  Howie gave a nod.

“Good.  Has the Menaga shipment come?”  He asked.  A.j. began to page through with Aaron looking over his shoulder.

“Yes, it just came today.”  Said Aaron.  Brian watched them with a certain curiosity.  He didn’t really know what they were talking about, but it was still very interesting.

“Well, it’s best I’d let you go back to your work.  I see you guys later.”  Howie smiled.  Aaron and A.j. gave a little wave and began to walk away.  Suddenly, Aaron took a giant leap and seemed to fly through the air.  Brian’s jaw dropped at the very site of it.  He looked around to see if anyone else had seen it.  It didn’t look like it.

“Brian, are you coming?”  He heard Howie call from the door.  He quickly turned and ran to him.  They proceeded on through the halls.

“What was that?  That can’t be normal!”  Brian said.  Howie gave a little chuckle.

“We told you yesterday my friend.  That is just an after effect of the blast.  You’ll get use to see that.”  He explained.  They were about to head back to the main control area when suddenly, red lights went on and a siren started up.  Both of them gasped in surprise.

“What’s that?”  Brian yelled, covering his ears from the noise.  

“Security breach, come on!”  Howie said as he began to run.  For an old man, he sure was a lot faster than Brian.  They made it back to the control rooms as armed guards passed them.  That’s when Brian spotted Nick.  He was dressed in what looked like an army uniform.  He stopped in front of Howie and saluted.

“What’s the situation?”  Howie asked sternly.

“The invaders are attacking the central base.  The controls here are in no harm, as are the civilians.  Still, we have to ward them off.”  Nick answered as more troops passed them.

“Go to it General.”  Howie said.  With that, Nick ran off with his troops, ready for the fight.  Brian couldn’t believe that he was witnessing this.  Howie than turned to him.

“You have better go back to your room until it is safe.  Who knows what could happen.  Sydney!”  He yelled.  Before anymore words were exchanged, a young woman appeared next to him.  Her stunning green eyes and dark hair set Brian’s emotions into a tailspin.  He felt that he was looking at a female double of Kevin.

“Yes Uncle Howie?”  She said.

“Take Brian to his room.  Then proceed to yours until further notice.  Make sure Tommy does this as well.”  Howie ordered.  Sydney gave a little nod and took Brian by the wrist.  She led him through the crowded hallways.

“This hasn’t happened for a very long time.  I wonder what triggered them.”  Sydney said to herself.  They finally made it back to the bedroom area when Sydney let him go.  Brian couldn’t help but look at her.

“Tommy!  Are you in there?”  She called as she looked into another room.  A soft voice told both of them that there was defiantly someone in there.  Sydney turned back to Brian.

“I have heard so much about you.  That you are my only surviving family.”  She said as she opened the door to her own room.

“Yes, I guess I am.”  He answered.  There was a moment’s pause.  “You look so much like your father.”  He smiled.  She smiled and gave a little laugh.

“Everyone tells me that.  They even say I got his singing ability.”  She said.  She than stopped and looked to the ground.  She looked very sad.  Brian put a hand on her cheek.

“Your father, my cousin, was a great man.  We are all blessed to have known him and the both of us are privileged to share the same blood.”  He said softly.  She looked up at him with a certain shock.  Without saying a word, she went into her room.  Brian watched as the door closed behind her before moving on to his own room.  He typed in the name Thomas and the door swished open.  The second he stepped in, the door closed.  He sat down on the bed and ran a hand through his hair.

I have to protect her.  She is family, it is my duty. ”  He said to himself.  A sudden thump made him jump and shattered his thoughts.  He looked up see a strange creature looking back.  It was short and green with red blood on its body.  It had black claws and teeth that stuck out from its mouth.  From its head to its long, scaly tail, it had black spikes.  Its eyes were huge and dark green.   It seemed to be fatally injured, but still reached out to him.

“Whoa!”  Brian screamed.  He stood up on the bed and backed up to the wall.  The creature came closer.  It reached out its blood soaked claws and moaned.  “Sydney!  Thomas!  Anyone!”  He yelled.  

Brian.”  It hissed.  Brian froze.  He couldn’t believe that this thing knew his name.  It came closer.

Please Brian, I am not what I seem.  Please help me!”  It gasped.  Brian didn’t move from where he stood.  “Please!  The enemy is not on the outside, it’s here!  Don’t trust anyone.  Don’t think I am the enemy, please Brian!  Help me!  You know me!”  It let out a loud gasp and fell to the ground.  It didn’t move as the door to the room opened once more.  There stood Kari, Howie, and A.j.”  The all looked at Brian and then at the creature.  A.j. gave a sigh and shook his head.

“Not again!”  He said.  It approached the creature and knelt down.  He was checking to see if it was still alive.  Kari walked over quickly and helped Brian down from the bed.  He couldn’t take his eyes off the creature.

“What is that thing?”  He asked.

“It’s a Kintus Rebarius.  We call them sky rats.  This one here is a prisoner that must have broken free.  He maybe the only one, but we don’t know what he is capable of.”  Kari explained.

“It’s alive.  Let’s get it back to its cage.”  A.j. said as he picked it up.  Brian couldn’t help but feel bad for it.

“It spoke to me.  It even knew my name and said that he wasn’t what he seemed.”  Brian said.  A.j. stopped where he was and turned to Brian.

“This thing is a liar.  Don’t ever trust the prisoners.”  He said coldly.  Before Brian could say anything, he left the room.

“He is right Brian.  The prisoners can’t be trusted.”  Howie said.  Him and Kari turned to leave.
“It’s best to stay here.  The problem with the attack has not been settled and the area is not safe for you yet.”  Howie called.  The door shut as they left.  Brian looked back at the red puddle left behind.  Then the thought dawned on him.

“Wait a minute, why would a creature like that bleed like a human?”

The next day was few of activities.  To everyone else, everything had returned to normal.  Yet, for Brian, everything was far from.  He was still adjusting to this new life and trying to get the hang of many things.  Also, the memory of the visit the night before still lingered in his mind.

“Kari, can I ask you something?”  He said while watching her care for a young boy.

“Alright, I’m listening.”  She answered.  He let out a sigh and waited for her to finish.  Then he pulled her out of earshot from the patients.

“I want to know more about that alien thing that was in my room last night.”  He said softly.  Kari’s face showed no emotion.

“I knew you were going to ask about that.  Have a seat, I’ll tell you what I know.”  She said, motioning to the chair nearby.  Brian helped Kari to a chair and then sat down himself.

“Alright, tell me.”  He said.  Kari took a deep breath.

“That sky rat has been here ever since the accident.  In fact, he was found next to Kevin’s body a few hours later.  That thing stands accused of Kevin’s death.”  She explained.  Brian let out a gasp.

“But how?  Why did it know my name?  Why did I get the feeling I really knew it?” he hissed.  Kari shook her head.

“I really don’t know.  I’m not aware if it has any ability to manipulate ones mind.”  She answered, sounding flustered.  She began to feel the brail markings across her charts in her hands.

“Take me to it.  I want to see it again.”  Brian said.  Kari stopped what she was doing.

“You ought to know that I cannot leave my job at this point.  But I can see that Nick is entering the room.”  She said quickly.  Brian turned around to see that in fact, Nick had just come into the hospital.

“Ah, Brian!  Bothering Kari at work I see?”  Nick laughed, clapping a hand onto Brian’s back.

“Brian would like to see the prisoner that was in his bedroom last night.”  Kari said promptly.  Nick expression didn’t change.

“Why does that not surprise me?”  He asked.

“What, that I want to see it again?”  Brian asked.  Nick laughed again.

“No, not at all.  I’m not surprise to see that Kari snitched on you before you even opened your mouth.”  He answered.  Kari gave a little scoff.

“Of course.”  Brian said.  Nick then cleared his throat.

“We’d better return you to your work then.  Good day to you Madame.”  He said, almost sounding serious.  Kari gave a smile.

“As well as you General.  I’ll talk to you later B-Rok.”  She said as she walked away.  Nick then began to lead Brian out of the room and down the corridors.

“I can’t imagine your reaction when you found him in your room.  Usually he isn’t like that.”  Nick said.  Brian raised an eyebrow to him.

“Him?  You make it sound as if it were human.”  Brian said with confusion.  Nick stopped and began typing in a code for a nearby doorway.  Brian had never seen this area before.  The door opened and they walked in.  Brian’s jaw dropped to see how many cells there were.  Some contained people, other contained different looking creatures.

“Welcome to the Rock.”  Nick said.  There were no bars on the cells, just what looked like clear plastic wrap.  Whatever is was seemed to be doing the job.

“Wow.  What are they all in for?”  Brian asked as they passed many different cells and eyes glaring at them.

“Oh, some bad things and some really bad things.  We have them for theft on up to murder.  We even have a few intergalactic spies.”  Nick explained.  Brian watched as the armed guards marched through the halls.  Suddenly, one of them stopped before them.  Nick and the guard saluted.

“General, what brings you here?”  The guard asked.

“My friend here would like to have another look at the sky rat.  Nothing serious.”  Nick said.  The guard gave a nod.

“The prisoner is back in its cell.  You will find him down this corridor.”  The guard answered.

“Thank you.  Return to duty soldier.”  Nick ordered.  They both saluted once more.

“Yes sir!”  The guard yelled before setting off again.  Brian gave a little snicker.  Nick turned to him.

“What was that for?”  He asked.  Brian just smiled.

“Oh nothing.  It’s just that I have never seen you as the military type.  I thought you might have been working in stocking like A.j. and Aaron.”  He answered.  Nick gave a little smirk as he put his hand through his graying hair.

“Yeah right, like I would be working the same ranks as my little brother?  Dream on.”  He said.  They began to walk down the corridor once more until Nick pointed to a nearby cell.  Brian looked to see the exact same creature from the night before.  It was bandaged up and seemed to be alright.  It was sitting in a corner away from the front of the shield.  It looked very unhappy.

“This is him.”  Nick said.  Brian watched as the creature lifted its head in surprise that it had visitors.  Its eye’s went from Nick, to Brian.  Then, it slowly stood up and approached the shield.  Its eye’s watering as if to be filled with tears.

“He looks so sad.  Does he actually have feelings?”  Brian asked, gazing at it as it came near.

“Yes, it does feel, like us.  It also appears that the only language it knows is English.  He speaks quite intelligently and is very articulate.  He has told me that he was once a great Captain.  It’s almost like he doesn’t know what he stands accused of.”  Nick said.  Brian turned and look at him.

“What is he accused of?”  He asked.

“Killing Kevin for the sake of the invaders.  He was found guilty after the troops found him near Kevin’s body.”  He answered.  Brian gave a little whistle.

“That is a hefty crime for something so small and so smart.”  Brian said.  He turned back to see that the creature was still looking at him.

“Yes, no one can believe it.  He is so friendly to the guards and they even let him out sometimes.  On chains and watched of course.  The children love him.  They call him Rufus, but he was decided to call himself Hawk.  He loves everyone around here.  Yet, there is one thing that sparks my curiosity.”  Nick said, putting a hand to his chin.

“What’s that?”  Brian asked.

“Well, he never wants to go anywhere near A.j.’s quarters.  Whenever we come near, he try’s to run away.”  He explained.

“Huh, I wonder why he would do that?”  Brian said to himself.  The creature appeared to be smiling and pointing to the far wall.  Brian looked to see a map on it.  On a closer look, he saw that Australia was circled.

“For something so smart, he sure acts like a nutcase.”  Brian chuckled.  Nick looked over at the map.

“Yes, well, no one has understood why he has that.”  He said shaking his head.  He then looked down at what seemed to be a wrist watch.  “I’d better get back to the base.  Come Brian,  I think it’s time to leave.”  He said.  He gave Hawk a little wave and began to walk back down the corridor.  Brian started after him until something made him stop.  He turned and looked back at Hawks cell.  He gasped to see that this creature was giving him a familiar three fingered sign.  Brian didn’t know where he had seen it before.

“Brian, are you coming?”  Nick called.  Brian took one last look to see that the creature was gone.
“Yes!”  He yelled.  He started down the corridor, wondering what he really saw.  Better yet, who he really saw.

Later that day, Brian decided to go exploring on his own.  He hated the fact that everyone, with the exception of Sydney and Tommy, were treating him like a child.  In a sense, he really was.

“What am I going to do?  I have to get back to my time.”  He said to himself as he walked past the stocking area.  Suddenly, someone coming out crashed into him and they both fell to the floor.  Boxes and different items scattered throughout the hall.

“Ow!  Why don’t you watch where you’re going?”  The person snapped.  Brian looked up to see that is was A.j.  He stood up and held a hand out to his old friend.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t see you coming.”  Brian said apologetically.  A.j. refused the help and stood up by himself.

“Oh, there’s a shocker.”  He said sarcastically.  He began to pick up the boxes.

“A.j., we need to talk.”  Brian said with a bit of anger in his voice.  A.j. gave him an annoyed look.

“It can wait.”  He hissed.  He tried to go back to his work, but Brian stopped him.

“No!  You are going to stay here and listen to me, Alexander James!  I may not look the part anymore, but I am still older than you and they always say obey your elders!”  He almost yelled.  A.j. looked shocked.  He didn’t even know that Brian could get that angry.  He finally rolled his eyes and sighed.

“Fine, I’ll stay.  What do you want?”  He asked.  Brian stepped back a little.

“That’s better.  Now, why are you being so crass toward me?  What the heck did I do wrong?”  He asked.  At first A.j. didn’t show any emotion.  Then, his outer exterior seemed to break away and his true feelings came through.

“You left us behind Brian!  Why did you leave?  We were supposed to all be friends and business partners and one morning, you’re gone!  Your family looked for you everywhere, Kari too.  They were crushed to find nothing.  Then the invasion happened and you still didn't return.  You should have been there Brian!  Why did you leave?”  He said.  Brian swore that he even saw tears come to A.j.’s eyes.
“I never left you.  I didn’t even know I was gone.  I went to sleep one night and I woke up to find myself here.  Whatever happened has pasted and we can never change it.  I really want us to be buds again, like this has never happned at all.”  Brian said, putting a hand on A.j.’s shoulder.  A.j. seemed a little more mellow.
“It’s been a long time, old friend.”  A.j. said.  Brian gave a chuckle.

“Well, yeah, it’s been twenty years to you.  I mean, look at you!  You are a forty year old man and you still work?”  He said playfully.  A.j. cracked a smile.

“This old Bone learned a few new tricks.”  He said.
“Sounds like you got a few of them after Kevin died.”  Brian said.

“Yeah, being able to see what is coming can be such a pain.  Especially this one that keeps happening.  It’s still really fuzzy, but the visions are become clearer.”  He said.  Brian raised both eyebrows.

“Visions?  What kind of visions?”  He asked.  A.j. backed up a bit.

“Never mind what I said.  Listen, I have to get back to work, I’ll see you at dinner time.”  He said.  Before Brian could say anything, A.j. walked back into the stock area.  Brian knew that he was hiding something, because he had left all of the boxes he dropped behind.

That night, Brian was awkwardly quiet as they all sat around to their nightly meal.  This was the one time of the day where everyone felt somewhat normal again.  Kind of like one huge happy family at a holiday meal.  Finally, as they began to clear things away, Brian pulled A.j. aside.

“Tell me now.  What did you see?”  He asked.  A.j. struggled to get loose from Brian’s hold but quickly gave up.

“I really don’t want to tell you.  I don’t want to get your hopes up.”  He said.  Brian let his arm go and stepped back.

“Hopes up?  Now you have to tell me.”  Brian ordered.  A.j. looked around to make sure that no one was listening.

“They aren’t very good, but I’ll tell you what I’ve seen.  Something among us is going to return to glory.  I keep seeing some kind person rising to the level of a King or something.  They don’t look human, but they don’t look alien either.  Then the image changes to a cell in our prison ward and one of our prisoners attacking a human.  I don’t know what all of this means, but it’s doesn’t look good.”  A.j. explained with a hush voice.  Brian gasped and put a hand over his mouth.

“Did you say that a prisoner is attacking a human?”  He asked.  A.j. nodded.  Brian gasped again.
 “A.j., that one prisoner, the sky rat!  He keeps reaching out to me!  I think he has other motives.”  He said through clinched teeth.
“No way!  Stay away from him, you hear me!  Stay away from him!”  A.j. said sternly.  Suddenly, Howie came back in the room.  He looked over at A.j. and Brian and smiled.

“I’m glad to see you two getting along again.”  He said.
“Yeah, right.  I have to get back to the stock area.  Aaron told me a large shipment just came in.  I will see both of you later.”  A.j. said as he dodged out of the room.  Brian stood there dumbfounded.

“What did you two have to talk about?”  Howie asked.  Brian opened his month but than closed it.  He knew he really shouldn’t talk about A.j.’s vision.  He already felt like a child in this new world, there was no sense in making matters worse.

“Oh nothing, just catching up.”  He said with a smile.  Howie just chuckled.

“That’s good.  No use making old friends into new enemies.”  He said.  Brian just shrugged and began to leave the room.  “And where are you off to?”  Howie asked.  Brian didn’t turn around.

“I’m going to pay someone dear a visit.  You know, just to clear my head.” He answered.  Before Howie could ask who, Brian left the room.

“I can’t do this!  Why was I sent here?  It’s all too much!”  Brian cried.  Of course, he would get no answer.  He looked up at the body of his dead cousin.  He didn’t know weather to feel anger or sadness.

“Was this some kind of ploy to show my mistake?  Did I do something wrong?  I just need to know.”  He said softly.  Once again, no answer.  He let out a sigh and approached the crypt.

“I wish you could be here Kevin. Why did that blast have to kill you?  Your daughter needs you.  I need you.”  He said as a tear fell down his cheek.  This whole thing was just to confusing for Brian.  

“I have to leave you now.  I have to speak to someone that may hold the answers to why I’m here.  Maybe he will tell me why he killed you.”  He said with his hands into fists.  He then charged out of the room, with no answer.

Brian walked the halls of the prison trying to find his way to the cell he needed to be.  Suddenly, one of the guards spotted him and made him stop.

“Halt!”  He yelled.  Brian stopped dead in his tracks.

“Please, I need to speak to one of your prisoners.  It’s urgent.”  He said sternly.  The guard still wouldn’t let him pass.

“No one sees any prisoner without orders.  Now get out of here before I force you out!”  The guard ordered.  Brian stood his ground.

“You don’t know who you are talking to!  Now, let me speak to the prisoner!”  He said with anger.  That’s when the guard he had seen earlier came running up to them.

“Whoa, Leo, it’s alright!  He is Captain Dorough and General Carter’s friend.  He can see whom ever he wants.”  He said.  The guard named Leo seemed annoyed, but followed the orders.

“Yes sir!”  He yelled as he began to walk away.  The other guard stopped him again.

“Oh, and soldier...tell the others!  I don’t want any problems again, you hear me?”  He said.  Leo gave a nod and went one his way.  The guard turned back to Brian.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that.  Allow me to introduce myself.  I am Commander Alrick.  My friends here call me Ian.”  He said as he held a hand out.  Brian shook it and smiled.

“Thank you for your help, but I need to speak to someone here.”  He said.
 Ian gave a nod.

“I kind of figured you would be back.  It seems that you have made friends with Hawk.”  He laughed.  Brian shrugged.

“Well, there are a few unanswered questions that only he has the solutions to.”  He answered.  With that, Ian led Brian through the halls and to a special room apart from the cells.  Brian looked around at the clear wall that broke the room into two.

“This is our visitor room.  Normally we wouldn’t allow anyone to talk with a convicted murderer, but because you have ties to the big guys around here we’ll let this one slide.”  Ian said as he activated the lights.  Brian sat down on one of the chairs.

“Just don’t tell Nick or Howie I was here. It’s bad enough that they are treating me like they are my parents.”  Brian said.  Ian continued to press buttons on the far wall.

“They have the right to.  Everyone here, in this section of the underground, are younger than our Captain.  It is the law to follow orders from elders.”  He explained.  

“In my time, Nick was five years younger than me.”  Brian scoffed.  Ian let out a laugh.

“As you say so.”  He said.  He pressed one final button and turned back to Brian.  “The prisoner will be entering in just one minute.  If there are any problems, there will be a guard posted outside the door.  Just wave him in when you are ready to leave.”  He said.  Brian watched as he left the room.  He could see another guard stop outside the door.

“O.k., let’s do this.”  Brian whispered to himself.  At that moment, there was a soft whoosh noise from the wall on the other side.  Brian looked up to see an opening with two people coming through.  It was a guard leading Hawk in with a leash of chains.  The guard sat him down and clipped the creature’s arms to the chair.  It didn’t try to struggle.  It just watched the guard with attentive eyes.

“You have fifteen minutes.  I don’t care who you are, you get the same limits as everyone.”  The guard glared.  Without any protest, the guard left the room, but stayed outside the door in the opposite room.  Brian looked directly in the creatures eyes.  He seemed to be amused by this.

“You know why I’m here, don’t you?”  He asked it.  The creature didn't break the eye contact.

“I am no mind reader.  I cannot tell you what you are thinking.”  It replied.  Brian was taken aback by how educated it sounded.  

“I want to know why you are doing this to me.  Why did you seek me out last night?”  He asked with frustration.  The creature clicked two of his claws on his right hand together.  The sounds make Brian cringe.

“I needed your help.  I was badly hurt and had to find someone to help me.”  It answered.  Brian shook his head.

“No, that’s not your reason!  You know you killed someone close to me and were coming back for me, weren’t you?”  He roared.  Where eyebrows were suppose to be on the creature dropped.

“I would never do such a thing.  I never hurt K…..K….the captain.  And I would never hurt you.  You are my only hope.”  It said.  Brian ran a hand through his hair.

“I don’t understand.”  He said.  

“I am the only one that truly knows what happened that night.  Everything!”  It said.  Brian looked up quickly.

“You do?  Please tell me, I need to know.”  He said.  The creature looked from the door in his room to the door in Brian’s as if to check if the guards were listening.  He then pulled himself forward just a bit.

“Brian, I first want to instate that you must keep an open mind and don’t judge.  I also don’t want you to see me as some weird intergalactic creature.  My name is Hawk, and am as alive as yourself..”  It said softly.

“Alright, I promise.  Proceed.”  Brian answered.

“Now, Brian, the invaders had attacked this very base that night.  They were killing everyone in sight, yet somehow I got away.  I ran as fast as I could to try a throw them off, but it didn’t work.  Suddenly, I saw one of my own in danger of being injured or killed.  I threw myself at them and they left me to attack others.  I watched at a distance as they attacked your fleet.  That’s when I saw him.  The dark haired one.  He was trying to rescue a young woman when a blast struck them.  At that same moment, a blast threw me in that direction.”  He explained.  Brian listened with both curiosity and anger.

“Wait a minute.  You watched Kevin die?”  Brian asked in horror.  Hawk stopped and gave Brian the what-an-idiot look.

“Die?  Brian, nobody died that night.”  He said.  Brian’s jaw dropped.

“But, they all told me he died!  I saw his body, his casket!”  He exclaimed.  He then stopped once again.  “Wait a second.  I never told you my name was Brian.”  That is when the guard came back in.

“Time’s up.  I have to get him back to his cell.”  He said.  Brian looked around for a clock of some sort.

“Wait!  I know it hasn’t been fifteen minutes.”  He said.  The guard didn’t stop putting the chains back onto Hawks wrists.

“Orders from the higher ranks in the underground.”  He answered.  He began to lead Hawk out of the room when he began to struggle for the first time.

“Let me go, I’m not finished!”  He yelled.  He then tried to turn and face Brian.  “Things aren’t what they seem!  You are the only one that holds to key to break that!  They know it, Brian Thomas Littrell!  Save the others before he gets you!”  

“Wait!  Brian yelled, but it was too late.  The door snapped shut as the guard led Hawk out.

Brian walked the hallways trying to fully comprehend this new experience.  His mind was wandering with more questions than answers.  Why had Hawk known his name?  He never told this prisoner his first name, let alone his middle and last name.  What wasn’t he telling him?  He thought of going back to his room, but then made a detour to the hospital area.  He was surprised to see that Kari was still here.  He came up behind her and tugged on her glasses.  She flinched and turned around.

“Who’s there?”  She said.  She began to feel around with her hands.  Brian grabbed on to one of them.

“It’s alright, it’s just me.”  He answered.  Kari put a hand near her neck let out a gasp.  She than playfully smacked Brian in the arm.

“You are worse than Tommy, I swear!”  She smiled.  She than paused for a little bit, kind of in a trance.

“Um…What are you doing?”  Brian asked.  Kari let off a soft chuckle.

“Just scanning the room to make sure it’s alright.”  She answered.  Brian was about to ask her why, but got his answer.  She pulled her sunglasses off and placed them into her pocket.  Brian guessed that some of the adults here didn’t like the dark socket thing either.

“I have to talk to you.  Alone.”  He said.  Kari’s smile disappeared and the look of confusion replaced it.

“What about?”  She asked.  This time he didn’t answer.  He took her hand once more and led her out to the hallway.  He than checked to make sure that no one was coming.

“I went to see him again.”  He said.  Kari’s expression didn’t change.

“See who again?  What’s going on?”  She asked with a bit of concern.

“That creature they call Hawk.  I had to ask him about the night of Kevin’s death.  I got the answer that I never would have expected.”  He explained.  Kari’s eyebrows rose up.  With concern, or fear, Brian didn’t really know.

“He is the reason why Kevin is dead!  He just wants to gain your trust and kill you too!  For god’s sake, he is already liked by most of the guard!  He'll be able to get away with another murder, easy!”  Kari yelled.  Brian clamped a hand over her mouth.

“Quiet down!  You don’t want to send the whole ward into a panic, do you?”  He hissed.  She shook her head and Brian let his hand fall to side.

“You know why I don’t like this.  That thing is on the same side as the invaders.  He could even lead them to another attack someday.”  She said with worry.

“Wait, there’s more.”  Brian said.
“How could there be more?  What is this thing telling you?”  Kari gasped.

“He told me that no one died that night.  Kari, how can Kevin be dead if no one died that night?”  He asked her.  Kari fell silent.  She couldn’t believe the news that she had just heard.  Finally, she let out a sigh.

“How could no one have dead that night?  I was there Brian!  I was a witness.  I saw everything.”  She said, with a bit of anger.

“But answer me this...did you actually see Kevin die, or was it after the blast took your sight?”  He asked.  Once again, she fell silent.  She looked as though she were deep in thought.  Like she was trying to recover something from her past.

“I couldn't help what happened.  The guards had to tell me that Kevin was gone.”  She whispered.  Suddenly, her knees buckled and she started to fall.  Brian caught her in mid air.

“Whoa, take it easy!”  He said.  He slowly lowered her to the floor where she began to sob.

“That night was horrible Brian!  We lost everything that we held sacred and loved!”  She cried.  Brian held onto her tight.

“I know, I know.”  He whispered into her ear.  Kari placed a hand near her empty eye sockets.

“After the blast, I could feel Kevin move away from me.  I began to panic when I couldn’t feel him again.  When the others found my, they said that my face was covered in blood.  They are still amazed that I have no scars from the accident.  They then told me that Kevin was kill and by that creature.  Now, I don’t even know what is true.”  She said.  She began to sob even harder as the memories came back.

“Stop, don’t think about that.  That was years ago.  You have your son now, and he loves you no matter what you look like.”  Brian said, trying to calm her down.  She suddenly stopped.

“Tommy, my one and only.  Please, don’t tell him what you have heard.  Sydney either.  I don’t want you giving them false hopes.”  She said, tears still streaming down her face.  Brian helped her to her feet.  She took three deeps breathes and calmed herself down.

“I promise.  Neither of them will know until I figure out what is going on.”  He said softly.

“Thank you.  You are truly an angel sent from heaven.”  Kari answered sincerely.  Brian blushed a little bit.

“Come on now; let’s go back to the base.”  He said.  Yet, Kari shook her head.

“No, I have to finish up down here.  You go on; I’ll meet up with you later.”  She said, wiping away the extra tears.  Before going back in, she placed the sunglasses back over where her eyes should have been.

“I’ll be seeing you.”  Said Brian as she left him.  He began down the hall back to the base.  Then, without warning, Aaron came running down the hall.  Brian was surprised by this and jumped back to avoid being trampled.

“Hey!”  He groaned.  Suddenly, Aaron came to an abrupt halt right in front of him.

“Brian, thank god I found you!  Come quick, something has happened to that sky rat!”  He said quickly.  Before Brian could analysis the situation, Aaron went sprinting down the hall, with Brian following on his tail.  Aaron led him to the main prison area where guards and civilians had gathered in a circle.  Brian could see A.j. and Howie on the outside of the circle and approached them.

“What’s going on here?”  He asked.  Both of the men turned in surprise.

“Brian, I didn’t even know you were there.”  A.j. said.

“That sky rat that broke into your room last night was horribly beaten.”  Howie said.  Brian’s jaw dropped at this news.

“Beaten?  By who?”  He asked.

“That is what we are here to figure out.  The medics are still working on repairing the damage.”  He explained.

“But he is a prisoner.  Why do they help him?”  Brian asked.

“You seem to forget that we do not kill in the underground.  There is no death penalty and there is no torture.  If someone is hurt, let them be the innocent or the guilty, they are helped in everyway, shape or form.”  A.j. answered.  Brian wasn't paying any attention to the discussion anymore.  He watched as the medics placed Hawk onto a stretcher and began to make their way through the crowd.

“Stand aside people; there is nothing to see here anymore!”  They yelled.  They brushed past Brian and he got a good look at Hawk’s injuries.  It looked like he had been whipped with something, and then punched.  He was not awake to see the look of confusion in Brian’s eyes.  That is when he noticed something else.

“Guys, where’s Nick?”  He asked.  They all looked at each other.

“I haven’t seen him since after dinner.”  Aaron shrugged.  The other two nodded in agreement.  Brian eyes went wide.

“Dude’s, you don’t think Nick had a hand in this, do you?”  He asked again.  The other three gave a shutter.

“No, it can’t be him!  He is the general, he wouldn’t do this.”  Said Howie.  He paused for just a moment.  “Would he?"  

It was the next day and everyone was becoming worried.  None of them had seen Nick since the day before and didn’t have a clue where he was.

“Alright, where was the last place anyone saw him?”  Asked Howie at breakfast.  Everyone looked at each other.

“I saw him the day before.  He took me to see someone.”  Brian said as he stood up.  Howie raised an eyebrow.

“Oh?  And who did you have to see?”  He asked.  Brian gave a nervous twitch.  He knew he would be in trouble if he told Howie the truth.

“I don’t see what this has to do with Nick.”  Said Sydney, who sat in between A.j. and Tommy.  Brian breathed a sigh of relief.

“Thank you Sydney.  Anyway, we’ll send some of our guards to search for him.  When we find him, he will be questioned about the night before.”  Said Howie.  Everyone else stood up and began to leave for their jobs.

“Brian?”  A small voice said.  Brian turned to see Sydney and Tommy standing there.

“Oh, hi.”  He answered.  Tommy cleared his throat.

“Is it really true that you can from the past?”  He asked.  Brian was a little taken aback by this question.  He really didn’t know how to answer it.

“Yes.  Yes I am.”  He said a hint of sadness in his voice.  Sydney moved in a bit closer.

“You aren’t my dad’s brother, yet you somehow have his eyes.”  She said.  Brian gave a little chuckle.

“Now, I know you two didn’t stop me because you wanted to look at my eyes.  What’s up?”  He asked.  Now, both of the children looked nervous.

“We just want to know if you could do us a favor.”  Tommy said, not even looking Brian in the eye.

“Anything, what is it?”  Brian said.  He really wanted to leave at this point.

“When you go back to the past, we want you to take us with you.”  Said Sydney.  Brian lowered both of his eyebrows.

“What?  What about your parents?”  He asked without thinking.

“Well, I don’t have any and I would like to see my dad again.  I miss him.  And Tommy wants to see his mother before she was blinded.”  Sydney explained.  Brian sighed and shook his head.

“Kids, you know I can’t do that.  I don’t even know how to get back.  Even if I did, I couldn’t take you with me.  Syd, it was two years before you were born.  And you, Tommy, your mother was only sixteen.  Think of how they would react to something like this.  They won’t know who you are.”  Brian answered with sympathy.  Both children looked very hurt.  Sydney took Tommy by the shoulders and began to lead him out of the room.

“We have to go to our lessons now.”  She said, her voice cracking a bit.  Before Brian could say anything, they both were gone.  He then fell back into a chair and punched the table with frustration.

“God, why did you send me here?  What have I done to displease you so much?  Why are you making this so hard for me?”  He asked, looking up at the ceiling.  He wanted answers that he couldn’t have so badly, he could taste them.

“Why me?”  He whispered.  He then stood up and started for the only person he knew he could talk to.

He walked down to the hospital area and looked around the busy room.  He couldn’t see Kari, but a familiar click of a walking stick on the ground led him right too her.

“Brian, what are you doing here?”  She asked before he got one word out.  He opened his mouth to tell her the story, but then stopped himself.  It was too early to be getting her upset about something that didn’t seem that big.  

“Nothing, I just wanted to say hi.  This place is very boring, seeing that I don’t really have a job.”  He lied.  He felt a little twinge of guilt.

“Yeah right.  I know why you are here.”  She said.  Brian jumped back a bit.

”You do?  How?  I thought you couldn’t read minds.”  He said, worried that she really did know.

“I can’t read minds!  I just know you very well.  You came down here to see how Hawk is doing, didn’t you?”  She said.  Brian finally started to breathe again.

“Yeah, that is exactly why I came down here.  Are you sure you can’t read minds?”  He said with a smile.  He was pretty darn glad that she couldn’t at this point.

“I’m pretty sure.  Now, come on, I’ll take you to him.”  She said.  She took his hand and guided him through the crowd until they reached a separate room.  Kari then turned to Brian.

“Can you please put my hand on the keypad?  I can’t use my powers right now, so I have to use the brail on the keys.”  She said.  Brian let go of her hand and put it up to the keypad.  She quickly typed in the code and the door opened with a soft whoosh noise.  Brian guessed that this might be the place where they treat the criminals.  Every single person or being was held down by restraints on their ankles and wrists.  Brian could clearly see Hawk in one of the beds in the back corner.

“He is doing better than he was last night.”  Kari explained as they approached the bed.  “Who ever did this to him was very cruel.  The doctors even found pieces of metal in his back.  They also found this.”  She held out something in her hand.  Brian took it and gave it a closer look.

“It looks almost like some sort of microchip.”  Brian exclaimed.  Kari gave a nod.

“That is what the doctors said.”  She answered.  Suddenly, something dawned on Brian.

“Shouldn’t they be testing this?  I mean, what happened is a crime down here, right?”  He said with concern.  Kari put a hand on his arm.

“It’s alright, it’s already been done.  They even made a copy of it for further investigation.”  She reassured him.  He looked down at Hawks sleeping body.  He had a cast on his right arm.  It looked a little strange to Brian because all that could be seen was Hawk’s claws poking out of the end.
“His arm was broken in three places.  Had to put screws into his arm to help it heal.  Yet, it doesn’t really help that we have to tie his arm to the bed.”  Kari said.  Brian taped Hawk on the shoulder, but he didn’t wake up.

“Wow, he must really be out.”  He said.

“It is a standard that we give a mild sedative to all of the high risk criminal patients.  It’s much safer to the patients and workers that way.”  She answered.  Brian could tell in her voice that she didn’t really like that rule all too much.

“When will he be released?”  He asked again.  Kari began to feel around at the end of the bed and soon grabbed a chart.  She scrolled her fingers across it until she found when she needed.
“Right after the second guard change in the prison.”  She answered.  Brian looked back at Hawks sleeping form.

“I’ll talk to him then.  He still has the answers I need.”  He said under his breath.  He looked over to check if Kari had heard him.  It didn’t look like she did.

“Say, I do have a job for you.”  She said a little at random.

“What’s that?”  He asked.  She began to scroll her fingers across the chart once more.

“They need someone to go up and prep his cell for him.  Can’t have him doing anymore damage to that arm, now can we.”  She said.  Brian gave a smile.

“Hey, sounds like the job for me.  When do I start?”  He said.  Kari then reached into her pocket and pulled out a card.

“You can go right now.  Use this card to get in and tell the guards that the Generals sister sent you.  You should have no problems.”  She said.  Brian took the card form her and began to leave the room.

“I will be back later.”  He called.  Kari gave a wave before Brian disappeared from the room.

Brian gazed around as he entered the small cell belonging to the sky rat.  He didn’t know whoever wrote that chart was kidding.  The cell was just as empty as it had been the first time he saw it.

“Alright, it’s official.  They think that I am a complete idiot.”  He said to himself.  He began to search around the room for any objects that Hawk may hurt himself on.

“This is stupid.”  He said as he looked under the small bed.  He stood up once more and shook his head.

“I feel like a dang fool.”  He thought to himself.  He looked over at the map that hung upon the wall.  Once again, Australia was circled in black ink.  Brian now noticed that there was a small dot in red ink right in the middle of it.

“What the?”  Brian said with curiosity.  He went in for a closer look.  He gasped at what he found.

“No way, no freaking way!”  He said in shock.  Next to the small dot was the name of a city...Sydney.  Suddenly, something told him to look under the bed again.  He got down on his hands and knees and looked again.  Once again, there was nothing.  That is when he reached underneath and found a small cut in the mattress.  He reached inside and felt around.  His hand closed around on object and slowly pulled it out.  He pulled his hand back and stood up once more.  He looked down at his hand and saw that he had grabbed several pictures.

“Why would he need these?” Brian asked.  All of them were very dirty, so he wiped them off on his shirt.  He then looked at them once more.  His eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped at what he saw.

“No!  This can’t be right, it can’t!”  He exclaimed.  One picture had Kari at thirteen with Nick when she first came to meet them after the adoption went through.  Another one showed him, Kevin and the others right before one of their concerts.  Another showed Kevin’s parents and brother.  Finally, Brian gazed at the last one and nearly lost it.  It was him and Kevin standing side by side and a family function.  Brian felt as though the world was falling around him, yet at the same time, things were coming together like a puzzle.  Brian looked at the map again, but didn’t say anything.  He then ran out of the room and looked at the title outside the cell.  He read it out loud to himself.

“Kintus Rebarius.”  He said.  Everything began to make sense to him.

“Oh my god.”  He said as he breathed hard.  The mystery was over, now what was he going to do about it?

Brian ran with all of his might back up the hospital area.  The workers and patients watched him run by and murmured different comments under their breath.  He went directly to the prisoner’s area and flung the door open.  He gasped in surprise at what he saw.

“Hawk!  Where’s Hawk?”  He almost yelled.  Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder and gave a jump.  He turned around to see Kari.

“Brian, what has gotten into you?  You know you shouldn’t go running through a place like this!”  She said sternly.  Brian pulled away from her hand.

“Where’s Hawk?”  He asked, his breath a little short from running.  Kari cleared her throat a bit.

“I put him the recovery room so the medication would wear off.  Why, is there something wrong?”  She asked.  Brian bit his lip.  He couldn’t tell her what he knew, it would only cause a panic.  Yet, he really hated lying to her.

“No, nothing is wrong.  The guards found something and want me to question him.”  He said through his teeth.  He stood there for a second to see if Kari believed him or not.  Suddenly, without warning, a medical tray flew up and hit Brian in the arm.  It surprised him so badly that he jumped about an inch off the ground.

“What the heck was that?”  He asked as he picked the tray up from the floor.  Kari gave a little shrug.

“We aren’t sure.  Things have been doing that all morning.  Now come on, he should be coherent by now.”  She said.  Brian took one last look at the tray before setting it down and following her.  She took him to a small room that wasn’t guarded and didn’t look any different than the bedrooms.  Inside was a small bed containing the weak body of Hawk.  Kari hit the light in the room.  Though it was very dim, Hawk put a hand up near his eyes in discomfort.

“Don’t stay too long.  They will be checking in on him in about an hour.”  Kari said.  Brian nodded as she walked out and closed the door behind her.  He then turned his attention back to Hawk.  Hawk’s eyes seemed to be out of focus and were trying to make out who had stepped in the room.

“Can you please state your name?  I’m still a bit groggy from the sedative and can’t see very well.”  He said in a soft voice.  Brian’s whole body tensed up.  Everything he had gone through all came down to these moments.

“You know who I am.”  Brian said while moving a bit closer.  Hawk gave a weak smile.

“Brian, I didn’t expect you to come.  I guess I really do have a new friend.”  He said, his voice a little stronger.

“Or maybe just an old one.”  Brian said, coming closer still.  Hawk’s smile left his face.

“What do you mean?”  He asked.  Brian could tell that the sedative was effecting his thinking process a little bit.

“I know who you are.  Those clues were just so huge that I don’t know why I didn’t figure it out before.  That is, until I found these.”  Brian said quickly.  He threw the pictures down onto the bed.  Since his arms were no longer tied, Hawk reached down and picked them up.  He looked at them carefully.

“Yes, my memories.”  He said at a whisper.

“Not only those.  The map in your cell marked the city of Sydney.  You also knew my entire name before I even told you what my first initial was.  Now, remember back to that first day?  What you and the others had told me?”  Brian said, his voice growing louder and more anxious.  Hawk couldn’t say anything.  He just nodded.

“Nothing is what is seems!  That is what you told me.  Kintus Rebarius, a sky rat named Hawk.  You should go by your really name and ambitions.” Brian said.  He paused for a moment to catch his breath.  “Kevin Scott Richardson.  The man who wanted to fly among the clouds with the Blue Angels.  The man that was called Black Hawk.”  There was another pause.  Brian and Hawk both stared at each other.  Suddenly Hawk began to sit up.

“You have no idea how long I’ve waited for someone to call me that again.  I knew you were smarter than you look.”  Hawk, Kevin said.  A tear came down one of his cheeks.  Brian couldn’t feel anything for the time being.  He was just in a little bit of shock.

“How did this happen Kev?  Everyone thinks you are dead!”  He exclaimed.  Kevin looked down at one of his claws.

“I have lived like this for a long time.  I don’t even remember what I look like.  I think you would agree I would have been better off dead.”  He said sadly.

“Why are you like this?  I mean, that isn’t normal.”  Brian said, trying to get Kevin’s mind off of death.  He let out a sigh with a wince from the pain.

“The day we were attacked, was the day I found out that someone on the inside was in Allie with the invaders.  I was going to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak.  Yet, I didn’t know that the invaders were able to do one thing.  It is called a soul transfer.  That is where they take the soul out of one being and place it into another.  That is what the blast did.  Yet, there was a problem.  I am not supposed to remember who I am.  I’m guessing that my memory stayed intact when Kari took some of the force.  To this day, I feel terrible that it took away her sight.  The last thing I remember from that night is a figure standing over me, laughing.  When I woke up the next day, I was like this.”  He explained with an odd sense of relief.

“Wow.  This is like the movies.”  Brian said, shaking his head.

“I wish.  I know my beautiful little girl has had to grow up without me.  Just the thought of seeing her face again keeps me going.”  Kevin said while he tried to stand up.  Brian caught him just before he fell.

“Who did this to you?  Try and remember.”  Brian said softly as he helped Kevin to his feet.  Kevin put one or his clawed hand to his head as if to be in pain.

“I’m afraid I can’t do that.”  He answered.

“Why not?  We have to bring justice!”  Brian exclaimed.

“After I woke up, I tried to tell everyone who I was and who the enemy was.  Yet, it was all in vain.  That person must have put something in this body that barred me from saying my own name.  If I tried, pain would go through my body.  He also did something else so terrible I don’t believe he has a soul.”  Kevin said as he ripped an I.V. from his arm.

“What did he do?  What could be so terrible?”  Brian asked with a mix of curiosity and disgust.

“It kept me from seeing my daughter.  Every single time I got nearby, whatever they put inside this body made me run away.  My mind and heart wanted to stay so badly, but my body wouldn’t let me.  I haven’t seen my Sydney for almost 15 years.  All of those milestones are gone, all of those birthdays I have missed.”  He said with both anger and sadness.

“She is 18 now.  She looks just like you.  Right down to the black hair and green eyes.”  Brian said, trying to cheer Kevin up.

“My wife always said that about our Sydney.  Now she is gone too.  Syd has had to grow up without either of us.”  He answered.

“We have to bring justice for all of this!  You can tell me.  Just say who did it and I will take you to your daughter.”  Brian promised.  Kevin looked up at him with his now huge green eyes.

“I told you, I can’t.  They implanted some kind of chip in my back that causes pain when I try.  I’m really sorry.”  He replied.  Suddenly, a thought dawned on Brian.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out the chip Kari had given to him.

“You mean this chip?”  He said.  Kevin looked over and saw what was in Brian’s hand.  A smile splashed across Kevin’s face, displayed rows of jagged but sharp teeth.

“How did you get that?”  He asked with a bit of concern.

“One of the doctors found it while you were in surgery.  Now you won’t have anymore pain.”  Brian said, his hopes growing with each second.  Kevin whispered something under his breath and appeared to be bracing himself.  He smiled when nothing happened.

“I can’t believe it.  I can say my own name!”  He said with enthusiasm.  Suddenly, his smile disappeared.  He looked very serious.  “Brian, you do realize that if I tell you that the war will become more intense?”  Brian gave a nod.

“I don’t care, I will fight to the death!  After we get you back into your body, we can get who ever has caused this pain.”  He said through his teeth.  Kevin took a breath.

“His name is…his name is…”  Kevin stuttered.  Suddenly, there was a extremely loud crash just outside the door.  Both of them jumped with surprise.  They then both looked each other in the eye.

“What the heck was that?”  They both asked in unison.  Brian then ran over to the door and opened it just a crack.  He was amazed at what he saw.

"Looks like an earthquake hit out there!"  Everything is knocked down or tipped over.  People were running around, trying to bring things back into order.  That is when Brian realized something.  There was no one near the room they were in.  On second inspection, he saw that there wasn’t even anyone near that area.  He forgot about the question he had asked before.  Brian knew what had to be done.  He left the door and returned to Kevin.

“I know that look in your eyes.  What are you thinking?”  Kevin said with a bit of fear.

“Come on, I’m getting you out of here!”  He said.  Before Kevin could even comprehend what Brian had said, Brian picked him up and started out of the door.  It was a wonder that no one saw them.  There was such chaos everywhere.  Brian dodged out of the hospital area and ran down the halls.  He had never run so fast in his life.  Meanwhile, Kevin had no idea where he was being taken.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Brian stopped.  He was gasping for air as he put Kevin back on his two feet.  He took a look around to try and figure out where he was.

“Brian?  Why have you brought me here?  What is this place?”  He said.  Brian still couldn’t breathe very well, but gained his voice back.  He took a few deep breathes before answering.

“Where you need to be.”  He said.  Kevin couldn’t help but be confused.  Brian then looked up and placed his hand on a red panel on the wall.  It took a minute to scan before the door opened.  Kevin backed up with shock at what he saw.

“My body! But how?  I thought that it had been buried all these years!”  He said as he approached his tomb.  Tears came to his eyes.  This was the first time he had been truly happy in over fifteen years.

“They thought that they could bring you back to life in the near future.  I guess the future is now.”  Brian said, regaining his footing from the run.  Kevin placed his only good claw against the glass, as if to be looking at a museum attraction.  He then looked down at himself.

“Brian, you have to get me back in there!  It is our only hope!”  He said with excitement.  Behind them, the door snapped shut.

“I don’t know how!  I thought you did!”  Brian said with a little hint of frustrating.  Kevin began to pace back and forth, deep in his thoughts.  Suddenly, he looked at his very dead body once more.  

“I’ve got it!  The invaders used a dagger like instrument to do it!  They poked the sharp end of the dagger into the neck of the opposite person and make the other one hold onto the handle.  But, I don’t think they ever found the devise that night.”  He said, still pacing back and forth.  Brian opened the door once more to make sure no one was coming.

“Wait a minute, didn’t you say it looked like a dagger?”  Brian asked, who had just begun to listen.

“Yes, kind of like one of those that my dad use to have and you use to try and break into the case to play with it.”  Kevin replied.  Brian rushed over and looked down into the glass coffin.  There he saw the silver dagger in the right hand.  His heart soared when he saw this.

“Kevin, look!  Is that what you saw that night?”  He said, pointing to the dagger.  Kevin looked down and let out a gasp.

“My god!  How did she find it?”  He exclaimed.  He could barely hold in his excitement.

“All we need to do is open the lid.”  Brian said.  He began to push against the top of the coffin with all of the strength he had.  None the less, the lid didn’t move an inch.  He gave a moment’s pause to wipe the sweat from his brow before beginning again.

“Here, let me help.”  Kevin said.  He began to push with his only good arm.  After a few seconds, the lid began to move to the side.  Both of them gave one final shove before backing off again.

“I could have done it.”  Brian said with a bit of embarrassment.

“Let’s not get into that right now get the dagger.”  Kevin ordered.  Brian could tell that Kevin was getting back into his captain mode.  He pulled the dagger from the cold dead fingers.  The feeling of this sent chills down Brian's spine as he handed the blade to Kevin.

“Now what?”  Brian asked, trying to get rid of the creepy feeling.  Kevin looked the dagger over.

“I think I can activate it.  I just have to remember the code he used.  Give me a few minutes.”  He answered.  Brian watched carefully as Kevin pressed buttons along the handle.

SOMEONE HELP ME!!!!”  Brian heard suddenly.  It burned through his head as if it were on fire.  He fell to the ground in pain.

“Brian!  What’s wrong?”  Kevin said as he rushed over in concern.  Brian was panting like a dog.

“I don’t know.  Didn’t you hear it?”  He asked in panic.

“Hear what?  Brian, what is going on?”  Kevin almost yelled into his ear.  Brian tried to stand up when it came again.

HELP ME!  I’M TRAPPED!  GET ME OUT OF THIS PLACE!! ”  It screamed.  Brian could tell it was the voice of a man, but he didn’t know where it coming from, or even why he could hear it.

“It’s someone crying for help.”  He stuttered.  Kevin helped Brian to his feet the best he could.  Brian was bathed in the layer of sweat.  He felt a mixer of confusion and wonder.  He waited for a second to see if it would come back.  He let out a breathe when it didn’t return.

“Are you going to be alright?”  Kevin asked.  Brian gave a nod.

“I’ll be fine.  Whatever it was is gone now.  We have to get back to our first task.”  He said, wiping he face off on his shirt.  Kevin agreed and turned his attention back to the dagger in his hand.

“I think I have the code.  Just one last button should do it.”  He said as he typed in the code.  With the final press, the dagger began to tremble and give off an eerie blue glow.  It then lifted itself out of Kevin’s hand and began to float in the air.

“What do we do now?”  Brian asked.  Kevin held up his good hand to quiet Brian.  Brian could tell that many more memories were coming back to him.  He watched in silence as Kevin approached the dagger.

“Hawk requests a soul transfer of the sky rat into the body of Kevin Scott Richardson.”  He said.  The dagger began to glow yellow now.  It seemed to be processing this information.  Behind them, the same glow completely surrounded Kevin’s body as it began to rise from it’s coffin.  Neither of them had any idea of who, or even what was controlling it.

“Soul transfer commencing in ten seconds.”  A voice boomed.  Brian wondered if anyone else could hear the commotion going on.  Still, Kevin placed a hand around the handle of the dagger as his body came close.  He placed the tip into his body’s neck.

“Soul transfer commencing now.”  The voice boomed once more.  Suddenly, a bright blinding light filled the room.  Brian couldn’t see anything that was going on, and was forced to cover his own eyes to avoid being blinded.  A few seconds later, the light disappeared as fast as it had come.

“Ouch.”  Brian whispered.  He tried to open his eyes, but saw nothing but dots.  He closed them once more and began to rub them.

“Man!  I hate it when this happens.”  He growled under his breath.  He tried to open his eyes once more and all of the dots had left.  In the middle of the room, Brian could see a tall figure standing.  Brian knew who it was in an instant.

“It worked!  My god Kev, it worked!”  Brian said, suddenly overcome with emotions.  Kevin smiled and let the dagger drop to his feet.  It was good that he did because Brian grabbed him into a hug.

“Yes it worked.  I’m me again!  I have my body and family back all in one day.”  Kevin said, trying to hold back tears of joy.  They finally let go and looked down at the body Kevin had left behind.  It was now limp and cold.

“What do we do with him?”  Brian asked.  Kevin knelt down and just stared at the form.

“He will receive a proper funeral.  After all, he was too once a living being.  He was just forced out in his prime.”  He said with such honor.  He then looked down to see that he was still holding the picture that he had been entombed with.  He took one final look at it and placed it into his pocket.

“We have to go show the others!  I mean, now the team is all back together once more!”  Brian said with a big smile.  He was about to open the door when Kevin stopped him.

“Wait!  The enemy is still at large around here!  I can’t just go walking around here without putting others in danger.”  He said.  Brian could see the seriousness in his voice.

“Fine, let me just check to see if anyone is coming.  If there isn’t, you are going to follow me to the resting quarters.  And I will not take no for an answer.”  He answered.  Kevin released Brian from his grasp.  He turned back around and opened the door once more.

“Allow me.”  Kevin said.  Brian stood to the side as Kevin slowly poked his head out.  He then drew it back in quickly.  His eyes showed a twinge of fear.

“What?  What’s going on?”  Brian asked. Kevin placed a finger to his lips to make Brian be quiet.

“He is out there!  The enemy and traitor is there!  You must go now!  I will be safe in here.”  He whispered.  Brian had no time to ask any more questions.  Kevin pushed him out of the door and it shut behind him.  Brian looked down one side of the corridor.  He was surprised to see no one.

“What the heck is he talking about?”  Brian laughed to himself.  Suddenly, he felt a hand upon his shoulder and he turned around in shock.  His eyes widened when he saw who it was.

“Oh my god, it’s you!” he gasped.  The figure gave a hearty laugh.

“Who else would it be?”  Said Howie.  Thoughts flashed through Brian’s mind.  Kevin must have made a mistake.  “What are you doing down here Brian?  I thought you were in the prison area.”  Howie added.  Brian had to come up with an excuse and fast.

“I finished with my job over there.  I just came here to have a little chat with my cousin.”  He said.  This just had to work.  It wasn’t really a lie, just bending the truth a bit.  Howie smiled and nodded.

“Of course.  I did the same thing when Caroline died.  It isn’t much, but every little bit of time you spend with them counts.”  He said with a heavy heart.  Brian looked him straight in the eyes.

“Howie, was there anyone else with you just a bit ago?”  He asked.  He knew it was a dumb question, but he couldn’t help himself.

“Why, yes.”  Howie answered.  This surprised Brian.
“Who were you with?  I’m afraid that those walls block out voices.”  He asked again.  He had to know.

“Well, I was just with Thomas and A.j..  As part of Tommy’s lesson plan, he had to shadow A.j. for the day.  Why do you ask?”  Howie said with curiosity.  Brian shook his head.

“No reason.  Just wondering.”  He said.  Howie just shrugged and gave a small laugh.

“Well, I’d best be off.  I have a lot more of the underground to survey.  Would you like to come along?  Or do you need to get back to the prison?”  He asked.  

“I think I’ll head to the hospital area instead.  Kari is waiting for a report back on Hawk’s room.  I’ll see you later, o.k.?”  He lied.  Howie nodded and started on his way.  When he was out of sight, Brian finally was able to breathe.

“I knew it!  It was A.j. this whole entire time!  To think I trusted him!”  He snarled.  His hands were clinched so tightly that his palms began to ache.  He knew he should have gone back to Kevin, but he remembered the promise he had made.  He started off toward what he thought was the school area.

“Gotta find her!”  Brian said to himself.  He could hear children’s voices off in the distance.  He began to slow down a bit, trying to calm himself as he neared the room.

Renold, Lilo!  Sit down and pay attention!”  He could hear an older voice shout.  He drew even closer.  His heart raced as he peeked around the corner.  Inside, he could see several children between the ages of 5 and 18.  In the front of the room was a tall, middle aged woman.

“Now, who can tell me what year that the Great War was?”  She asked.  Brian was amazed when what looked like a 7 year old boy raised his hand and stood up.

“The Great War was fought in the year 2007.  Many were wounded, one was killed.” He said.  Brian had no idea if this was the right answer.  The older woman just smiled.

“Correct!  Thank you Billy!  You may be seated.”  She answered.  Billy’s smiled glowed with pride.

“You’re welcome Mrs. Keene!”  He said as he took his seat.  Brian finally gathered up enough courage and knocked the doorframe.  Everyone turned and looked at him.  He could feel his face turn red.

“Yes, may I help you sir?”  Asked Mrs. Keene.  He could hear some of the children whispering behind their hands.  He heard someone giggle a little bit.  He cleared his throat a bit.

“I am looking for Sydney Richardson.” He said.  That is when he saw her.  She was off by herself in a corner with a book in her hands.

“Is there a message you would like to give her?”  Mrs. Keene asked once more.  Sydney stood up with a puzzled look on her face.

“No, she needs to come with me.  There is a job that only she can do.”  He answered.  At this time Sydney had made her way through the crowded room and stood before Brian.

“It’s alright Mrs. Keene.  You said yourself that you didn’t need help today.”  She said without turning away.  She gave a small smile to Brian.

“Well, alright.  We shall see you later than.”  Mrs. Keene said with a happy tone.  She then returned to her teacher job as Sydney and Brian left the room.  Now, she looked more concerned than ever.

“What is the meaning of this?  Is there something wrong, has the Captain sent for me?”  She asked.  Brian didn’t know how to answer these questions without upsetting Sydney.  She couldn’t know the truth until they reached the destination.

“No Syd.  Nothing is wrong.  There is just someone who would like to have a talk with you.”  He said softly.  Sydney looked ever more puzzled than before.

“What on earth would they need to speak to me about?  I haven’t done anything wrong.  Unless Tommy had something to do with it.  He is always doing something stupid.”  She said.  Brian had to hold back a snicker.  He couldn’t imagine Tommy doing something like that.

“No, it’s not about Tommy.  They…want to speak to you about your father.”  He said.  Sydney didn’t say anything.  Suddenly, the pain from earlier pulsed through Brian’s head.  It wasn’t as intense as before, but it still hurt really badly.

SOMEBODY HELP ME!  GET ME OUT OF HERE!”  The voice screeched.  Brian was knocked down to his knees.  Sydney grabbed him under one arm and tried to help him up.

“Brian!  Are you alright?  What happened?”  She asked.  Brian slowly got to his feet.  His face was covered in sweat once again.

“I’m alright.  I don’t know what is going on right now, but I’ll be fine.”  He said once he gained his bearings.  He wiped his face of on his shirt. And started to walk again.

“Brian if you are getting sick, I think you ought to go see one of the nurses in the hospital.”  Sydney said with worry.  Brian shook his head.

“No, I’ll be alright.  I’ll figure out what it was later.  Right now, I need to get you to where you need to be.”  He said.  They walked in silence the rest of the way there.  Sydney’s eyebrows dropped when Brian stopped in front of the tomb.

“What are we doing here?  I thought I was speaking to someone about my father.”  She said with a bit of anger.  Brian placed his hand upon the panel and it began to scan.

“You are.  They are in here.”  He said as the scan completed.  Then, without warning, he rushed behind Sydney and covered her eyes as the door opened.  She screamed in surprise.

“What are you doing?”  She said through her teeth.  Brian could see Kevin standing there, looking as confused as Sydney.  He slowly led her into the room.

“I want it to be a surprise.”  He said giving a wink to Kevin.  This wasn’t helping Sydney at all.

“Is this your idea of a joke?  I’m not a child anymore, I’m 18 years old!  I have no time for such foolish behavior!”  She yelled.  Brian stopped about a foot from Kevin.

“Sydney Richardson.”  Brian said.  Kevin’s eyes went wide.  “May I introduce to you Kevin Richardson.”  He smiled and let go of Sydney.  She opened her eyes and let out a chocked noise.  She placed both hands over her mouth.  Kevin reached up and placed a hand on her cheek.

“Can it be?  Is this really my baby girl?”  He whispered.  Sydney let out a loud sob.

“Daddy!”  She cried.  She wrapped her arms around him, never intending on letting go.  She cried harder than anytime she could remember.  Kevin put a hand through her jet black hair.

“My little girl, oh my little Syd.  I have missed you so much!  I will never leave you behind, ever!  I love you so much!”  He said as he held her tight.  This whole scene was so beautiful.

“I kept my promise.  I brought you your daughter.”  He said.  Kevin looked over at Brian.

“Thank you, she is my world.  Now, I’m back and I swear to protect until my real dying day.”  He said as he loosed the hold on his daughter.  Sydney turned around and looked at Brian.  She wiped some of the tears from her face.

“Thank you!  Kari was right, you really are an angel sent from heaven.”  She said.  Brian could feel himself blush.

“I’m doing what is right.”  He said.  Sydney turned her attention back to Kevin.

“Where were you Dad?  Where have you been all these years?”  She asked.  Kevin looked up at Brian.  Both of them thought it was best the she didn’t know about the soul transfer.

“I know who did it Kevin.  This was all A.j.’s doing!  I don’t know why he did it, but I’m going to find out.”  Brian growled.  Kevin looked back over at his cousin.  This time, with much concern.

“Brian, why are you talking about A.j.?”  He asked.  This question came as a shock to Brian.

“Kevin, I know he did this!  Howie said that just before I came out that he was talking to A.j..  All of the signs were there!  He did all of this!”  He hissed.  Kevin put a hand up to make Brian stop.

“Brian, A.j. didn’t do this.”  He said.  Brian’s jaw dropped.

“You mean…it was…”  he sputtered.  Kevin nodded.

“Yes, it was…”  he started.  Suddenly loud bang come from behind them.  Brian realized at that second the he had forgotten to close the door.  The all turned to see a dark figure standing there.  Behind it, a whole fleet of armed guards.  They were trapped, and now they were probably dead meat.

“So, he is up here.  I kind of figured he would be.  Although I thought that beating last night did him in.”  Howie said, his voice menacing.  The other three looked on in horror.

“Howie?  How could it be you?”  Brian said in shock.  This was the last person he ever thought would do such a thing.  Howie just laughed.

“The one you call Howie is no more!  I am Irope, destroyer of worlds!”  He said with pride.  He then lifted his arm up and snapped his fingers.  From behind him they could see the guards dragging four other people forward.  The guards throw all of them to the ground just in front of Irope.  Brian could now see it was Aaron, A.j., Tommy, and Kari.

“What’s going on?”  Tommy yelled as he fell to the floor.  The other three ran over to help them up.  Kari's walking stick had been taken from her and was broken in two.

“Howie, why are you doing this?”  She asked as Brian pulled her up.  He looked up at Irope with eyes that could kill.

“That isn’t Howie anymore.  Howie is dead.”  He said.  Kari’s expression went from anger to terror.  They all turned their attention back to the one they once considered a friend.

“I hope you like this room, because this is where you are going to live and die from now on!”  Irope sneered.  Suddenly, Brian heard the voice from earlier.  This time, it didn’t hurt and sounded as if someone was just speaking to him normally.

Someone please help me!  I’m trapped in here! ”  It rang.  Brian had no idea where it was coming from.  That is when another voice entered the round.

Brian, whatever you do, don’t let him enter your mind.  Howie’s body can control minds.  I know you can hear me.”  It said.  Brian turned his head to see Kevin nod.

“Goodbye my enemies!  I hope you have a pleasant death!”  Irope bellowed.  He took a step backwards and the door slammed shut.  A.j. then ran over and started to punch it.  Even with the force, the door wouldn’t open.

“It’s no use, the system to the door is locked.  We’ll never get out.”  Said Aaron.  All of them were very confused.  Suddenly, something dawned on A.j.  He slowly turned around and gawked at Kevin.

“Oh my god!  You’re alive!”  He exclaimed.  Kari also looked up.  Brian could tell that she was searching for the image.  Her jaw dropped as the face formed in her mind.

“Kevin!  Oh Kevin!”  She hurried over and wrapped her arms around him.  He held her just as tight as he had held his daughter.

“I’ve missed you to Shorty.  You took such good care of me when I was hurt.  For that, I am in your debt.”  He said.  Brian couldn’t say anything.  He had started this whole thing and gotten all of them trapped in this tiny room.  He looked around at everyone here.  He then realized that someone was missing.

“Guys, where’s Nick?”  He asked.  Everyone looked at each other.  Nick still hadn’t been found from the night before.  No one knew where he had gone.  Now they were almost certain that something had happened.

“Oh god, that person must have killed him!”  Said Aaron.  This sent Kari back into turmoil.

“No!  It can’t be true.”  She cried.  Brian put a hand on her shoulder.

“I’m afraid that is just might be.”  He said sadly.  His heart sunk like a rock in the ocean.  He didn’t want to lose his best friend, but was afraid that he already did.  He then looked up at Kevin.

“How did you do that?”  He asked.  Kevin looked at him with eyebrows down.  Clearly, he didn’t know what Brian was talking about.

“What did I do?”  He asked.

“You told me not to allow Irope to enter my mind.  You didn’t say it out loud, but I heard you in my head.”  He said.  At this point, everyone was staring at him.  None of them knew what to say.

“Brian!  Do you know what you are saying?”  A.j. exclaimed.  Brian shook his head.  A.j. seized him by the shoulders.

“Let go of me!  What is going on here?”  Brian asked, becoming a little scared.  A.j. had a pretty big smile on his face for someone that was going to die.

“Brian, you can read people minds!  You have a gift along with the rest of us!”  He said.  Brian didn’t know what to say.  He looked at the others.  Not one of them said a word.  They all looked as excited as A.j.
“You’re not serious, are you?”  Brian said.  This had to be one very bad joke.  “We’re stuck in here, waiting to die and you are excited about something that might not be true?”  He said with anger.  A.j. didn’t let him go.

“I saw this in one of my visions.  I saw someone that could read thoughts help us escape from death.  Now I know that it is you!”  He said.  Brian broke from his grasp.  He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  That is when the voice from earlier came back.

HELP!  SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP!!”  It said.  Brian could tell that it was weaker than ever.

“It’s back again!  It’s not as strong, but still here.”  He said.  He then remembered that no one else knew about the voice except for Kevin.  He listened again.  The voice didn’t come back.

“Who are you hearing?”  Asked Aaron.  Brian shrugged and shook his head.

“I don’t know.  I can’t connect the voice with a face.  All I know is that they need help and need it bad.”  He answered.  

“Have you ever talked back?”  Asked Tommy, who stood by his mothers said, trying to keep her calm.  Brian felt like a fool for not thinking of that before.

“I haven’t tried that yet.  Thanks Tommy.”  Brian said.  Tommy just gave him a modest look.  Brian took a deep breath and looked around.  He had no idea how he was suppose to do this.  This was all too crazy.

“Alright, here goes.”  He said.  He closed his eyes and began to concentrate.  He felt so stupid because he didn’t know what he was doing.  Yet, he didn’t want to be responsible for their deaths.  Suddenly, he felt something.  He didn’t know what it was, it was just one of those things when you know it is right.

Hello?  Is there anyone out there?”  He thought.  He didn’t really think that anyone could actually call back.  He couldn’t believe it when something actually came back.

I’m here!  Where are you?  Please help me! ”  It said.  Brian was shocked because this was a completely different voice than before.

“What’s going on Brian?”  Asked Kari.  He turned to look at her.

“I’ve got someone.  They are in danger.”  He answered.  The person didn’t speak again.

“Ask them where they are.  Maybe there is some way we could help.”  Said A.j.  Brian nodded and closed his eyes once more.

Do you know where you are?  Can you please tell me? ”  He asked.  He waited a few seconds for the response.

I’m somewhere in the walls.  I can hear voices all around me.”  It said.  Brian gasped at the final sentence.  Everyone looked on in awe.

“Well, what did they say?”  Asked. Aaron.

“They said that they are in the wall.  Also, that they can hear the voice of their sister.”  He answered.  Everyone knew right away who it had to be.

“It’s Nick!  You found Nick!  Now we just have to get him out.”  Said Kevin.  Suddenly, without any warning, he fell to the floor.  He was clutching his head, seeming to be in pain.  Everyone but Brian knew what was happening.  Kevin was receiving his gift.  What it was, they had no idea.

“Dad!  What is it?”  Sydney cried.  Aaron and A.j. ran over and pulled him up.  He was gasping for air.

“Back up guys, I think he had an attack or something.”  Said A.j. everyone took a few steps backwards.  Kevin then lifted his arm and pointed to the wall.  He didn’t even notice that his nose was bleeding.

“He’s right there, get him out.”  He whispered.  Brian and Kari went over to inspect the area that was pointed out.  It was nothing but a sheet of solid steel.  There was no way to get inside.  Brian groaned and put a hand through his hair in frustration.

“How the heck are we supposed to get him out?  There isn’t any door here.”  He said.  Everyone thought for a moment.  That is when Sydney cleared her throat.

“I know a way.”  She said.  She walked over and began to feel along the floor.  She then pulled up a tiny section in the corner.  Under it was a small button, about the size of a pencil eraser.  She pressed it and a trap door opened up in the middle of the room. She then closed the panel once more.  Everyone was amazed.

“Sydney, how did you know that was there?”  Asked Kevin as he placed a hand on her shoulder.

“I built it when I was fifteen.  It leads from here to my room.  I thought it might be useful during those nights I couldn’t sleep.”  She said.  Kevin smiled at her.

“I guess genius runs in this family.”  He said with pride.  Aaron jumped into the trap door first and helped Kari and Tommy.  Then A.j., Brian, Sydney and finally Kevin.  Sydney opened another panel containing a button and pressed it to shut the door.  Inside, lights came on to show a tunnel.  The sides were made of scrap metal from the shipment are, and the ceiling and floor was nothing but dirt.  Truly the work of a master craftsman.

“Wow.  Remind me to ask her for help in shop class.”  Tommy said.  They began to make their way through the tunnel with Kevin leading the way.  The pain in his head a ceased, but his nose still bled a bit.  He then stopped and pointed upward.

“He is up there.”  He said.  Without anymore words, they all began to dig away at the ceiling.

We’re here.  We’re going to get you out.”  Brian thought.  He hoped to god that they weren’t to late.  Finally, the relief he needed came.

Thank you!  Whoever you are, thank you!”  Nick ‘said’.  The others dug as fast as they possibly could with Brian maintaining contact.  Suddenly, A.j. grabbed onto an object.  He pulled down to find that he had found a boot.

“Nick!  Answer us!”  Aaron yelled.  There was no answer.  Everyone was on edge.

Nick, are you still there?”  Brian called.  There was silence for a moment.

Something’s happening!  Something just ate my boot and is playing tricks with my ears!  It sounds just like A.j.”  Nick answered.  Brian couldn’t stifle a snicker.  Everyone looked at him.

“What?  Is he alright?”  Asked Kari.  Brian nodded.

“Yeah.  He thinks something that sounds like A.j. just ate his boot.”  He said, trying to hold back laughter.  He knew that this was the wrong time, but it was just so funny.  A.j. looked at the boot in his hand and back up at the hole.

“It is me you doofus!  Now just hang on, we’re getting you out of there!”  He yelled.  All of them began to dig even harder.  Finally, Kevin was able to go up through the hole and pull Nick out.  He was very weak and very dirty.  In fact, he looked much older than he did the day he found Brian.

“Thank you!  I don’t know how you found me!  Howie had the guards beat me and put me here.  He said all Generals must be punished.”  He said.  He was too weak to walk, so he had Kevin and Aaron support him.

“We know, Howie is gone now.  We just have to get out of here and off the base.”  Said Brian.  He didn’t bother telling Nick that it had been him talking to him in his head.  This wasn’t a good time.

“Let’s go.  It isn’t far from here.”  Sydney said.  With that, they began on there way to safety.  They didn’t know if they would make it out of here.  They just had to hope and pray that they got out alive.  

They walked one in silence until they reach what they thought was a dead end.  Once again, Sydney opened another panel and pressed a button.  The ceiling slid away and they began to climb out.  After helping Nick out, the door closed once again.

“What are we going to do?  The safety of this whole base is in jeopardy.”  Said Kari as she sat down.  Everyone seemed at a loss for words.  They were trapped.

“First things first, we have to tend to the injured.”  Kevin said.  He knelt down and started to look at Nick’s hurt leg.  He had been beaten very badly.  Brian’s mind was racing.

”Nick, how did you know to call out like that?  You were yelling so loudly, you knocked me down a few times.”  He said.  Nick looked up at Brian with confusion.

“Calling out?  Brian, I was knocked out most of the time.  I woke up when I heard you in my head.”  He answered.  Brian looked shocked.  Nick gave a wince as Kevin began to wrap his leg with some pieces of cloth.

“Well if it wasn’t you, who was it?”  He asked softly.  Tension was filling the room.  They had to find a way out of here and fast.  Nick’s leg was now finished and he was already walking on it again.

”Sydney, was there anywhere else that those tunnels went?”  Asked Aaron.  Sydney nodded in silence.

“They now go throughout the entire base.  I built the rest of them a month ago.”  She answered.  She opened the trap door once more.  Suddenly, the voice Brian had heard earlier returned.

“SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME!”  It yelled.  Brian stopped where he was and was trying to find it again.

“It’s back.  Whoever was calling to me just called again.”  He said.  Everyone stopped what they were doing.  Brian knew what he had to do.  He tried to answer the persons cry

“I’m here!  Who are you?”  He asked.  He gave a moment’s pause.  There was no return answer.  Everyone looked a little scared.

“This is getting way to weird.  I want to know why this is all happening now.”  Said Kari.  Brian let out a moan of frustration.

”We have someone calling for help.  The least thing we should do is get them and take them with us.”  He said.  He sent out another message.  His efforts were in vain.  Everyone looked on, waiting for the results.

“Nothing.  They are gone again.”  He said.  Everyone around him looked very disappointed.

“Well, we better get going.  We are sitting ducks in this room.”  Said Kevin.  Sydney was the first to jump back down into the shaft as the others followed.  She closed the door and opened another passageway.

“Follow me.”  She said.  They began to walk quickly through the tunnels.  The silence was quite unnerving to the captives as they marched on, not knowing where they were going.

“He is going to hurt someone.  I can’t see who, but he just is.”  A.j. suddenly said.  No one took notice of these words.  They just kept going.  Tommy was having the mostly difficulty because of his age.  He was growing very tired and was falling behind.  Brian kept to his side to make sure that he wasn’t left behind.

“Another doorway is just up this ridge.”  Sydney said.  Everyone nodded.

“HELP ME!  I’M TRAPPED!”  The voice rang in Brian’s head.  Brian stopped really quickly.

“Guys, it’s back!”  He yelled.  Everyone stopped and turned to look at him.  Brian began to concentrate.

“We’re here.  Tell us where you are.”  He said.  The voice didn’t answer.  But this time was different.  This time he picked up the thoughts of another person.  Someone that was nearby

“Recruit Jenkins reporting for duty Commander Alrick.”  It said.  Brian was overcome with confusion.  It broke him from his concentration and the voices faded away.

“What is it?  Did they answer?”  Asked Aaron.  Brian shook his head.

“I read another person’s thoughts.  The one contacting me is Commander Alrick.”  He said.  Nick gasped at this information.

“Ian Alrick?  He is a good friend of mine.  Why would he be calling out in distress?”  He asked.  Brian shrugged.

“I tried to find out, but he won’t answer back.”  He answered.  Nick ran a hand through his hair.

“We have to find him and find out what is going on.  I have a feeling that he knows more about that Irope thing than any of us ever will.”  He said.  He started to walk again, but then stopped once more.
“We have no idea where this guy is, do we?”  He said.  Everyone shook their heads.  Nick then turned to Kevin and Kari.

“This is where you two come in.  You have to search around and find Commander Alrick.  It could be our last chance to get out of this whole thing alive.”  He practically begged.  Kevin looked over at Kari.

“I guess we really don’t have any choice.”  He said.  Both of them closed there eyes and seemed distant from the others.  Both of them searched the many halls of the underground, but came up with nothing.

“I can’t find anything.  I’m not strong enough.”  Kari said.  Suddenly, Kevin grabbed her hand.  Both of them gave a shutter and opened their eyes.  Their eyes, or lack of them, seemed to be glowing.  The light faded and both returned to normal.

“What the heck just happened?”  Asked Brian.  Both of them shook off a little bit before gaining their posture.

“We found him.  He is in the prison by my old cell.”  Kevin said.  No one questioned them.  With Sydney leading the way, they ran down the tunnels trying to find the entrance to the prison.

“The doorway should be just along this hall.”  She said.  She felt along the wall until she found a switch.  She flipped it and looked up as the door opened.  She began to climb out and make sure that the coast was clear.

“This is insane.  Why did all of this happen to me?”  Brian asked himself.  He wanted to go back to his time so badly at this point that he could almost taste it.  He wanted everything to be back to the way it was.  He didn’t want to be fighting for his life.

“All clear.”  Sydney whispered down.  One by one, they emerged from the tunnels.  They all looked around at where they were.  They discovered that they were a few feet from the guard station.  Fortunately, there was no one there at the time.

“Talk about your twist of fate.”  Nick said.  They traveled down the halls without anyone bothering them.  In fact, they were fairly empty because it was time for the guards to be changing their positions.  Prisoners watched them at they ran by.  Some of them thought the group was escaping and cheered them on

“Just a little further.”  Aaron said.  That is when they saw him.  He was standing just outside Kevin’s old cell with a clipboard taking notes or something.  He turned to see the group running at him.  His eyes widened with shock.

“Stop!  I order you all to stop!”  He yelled.  They all obeyed the orders.  He walked up to them looking very angry.

“What do you think you are doing?  This is not the place for rough housing!”  He said, gritting his teeth.  That is when he saw who it really was.  His jaw dropped when he saw Nick and Kevin.

“General Carter?”  He asked.  Nick gave a nod.  Commander Alricks eyes shifted back to Kevin.

“Captain Richardson!  But…you are…supposed to be…”  he sputtered.

“Dead?”  Kevin finished.  Commander Alrick looked like he had just seen a ghost.  Brian then approached him.

“Why are you calling out that you are trapped?”  He asked.  Commander Alrick’s expression went from shock to disbelief.

“Calling out?  What on earth are you talking about?  I’ve been here trying to figure this case out!”  He said, backing up just a little bit.  Brian grabbed him on the shoulder.

“What do you know about Captain Dorough?”  He asked.  Alrick looked around at the others.  He knew he was surrounded.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.  Why, is there something wrong with him?”  He said, struggling to get away.  That is when the voice returned once more.

“I’M HERE!  GET ME OUT!”  It rang.  It was louder than Brian had ever heard it before.  He looked straight into Commander Alricks eyes.

“It’s you.  You are the one calling out.”  He said.  The Commander finally pulled away.

“Why are you doing this Ian?”  Asked Aaron.  Ian didn’t answer for a moment.  He was trying to decide whether to call in backup, or just sit here and take it.

“I have done nothing!  Why don’t you asked Bone over there?  Maybe he’s seen something.”  He snapped.  Everyone let out a gasp.  Kari covered her mouth and A.j. removed his trademark sunglasses.

“Commander, what did you just call me?”  He asked.  The Commander turned and looked at him.

“I called you Bone.  Why, isn’t that what everyone around here calls you?”  He answered.

“Yeah, but only my close friends know that nickname.”  A.j. said softly.  Now, everyone was confused.  No one knew that anyone else had known about A.j.’s nickname.  Unless…

“Things aren’t as they seem.”  Brian said to himself.  He went up to Commander Alrick until his nose was almost toughing his face.  He stared him down.

“Brian, now what are you doing?”  Asked Nick.  Brian didn’t answer him.

“I know that you are someone else.  Let that true person come out!  You may not remember who you truly are, but you have to try!”  He yelled.  Ian Alrick didn’t move.

“I have no idea what you are talking about.”  He said.  Brian stood his ground.

“Let them out Commander.  You know that there is someone else here.  Let them free!”  He thought.  Ian grabbed his head.

“Get out of my mind!  Get out!”  He hissed.  No one around had the slightest idea what was happening.

“You have those memories!  Now let them free!”  Brian shouted.  He began to back up a little bit.  Ian was still holding his head, seeming to be in pain.  Suddenly, he fell to his knees.  He was gasping for air.

“No!  Stop the pain!  No!”  He screamed.  To everyone’s surprise, no other guards came to his aid.  It looked like he was fighting a force from within.  Trying to keep it from coming out.  His face looked flush and his muscles growing very weak.

“Don’t fight it anymore.  Let the real you come.”  Brian thought softly.  Ian’s hands began to move away from his head.  His expression softened and his eyes shut.  He looked a little like a rag doll.

“What did you do to him?”  Asked Tommy.  Brian just smiled.

“I just allowed the real him to return for the first time in many years.”  He answered.  They all watched as Ian’s eyes opened once more.  Right before everyone, his eyes changed from a light blue to a dark brown.  He let out a long sigh and began to stand up.

“Commander, are you alright?”  Asked Nick.  He was always very concerned about his troops.  The Commander didn’t look at him.

“What does he not answer?”  Said Sydney.  The smile never left Brian’s face.

“There is no Ian Alrick.  He has never existed.”  He said.  Everyone looked at each other with a cockeyed glance.

“Brian, I think you have lost it.”  Kari said.  Brian just shook his head and walked up to The Commander.

“Welcome back, second in command.”  He said.  The Commander looked over at him.

“Howie D. is back and ready for action!”  He said.  Kari put a hand over her mouth to hold back a gasp.  Everyone else looked unphased.  From what had happened throughout the day, no one else was shocked that something like this had gone on.

“I cannot believe that you, of all people, saved me from that prison.”  Howie said, touching his own face.

“Welcome back.”  Said Brian.  Howie smiled.

“I can never thank you enough for freeing me.  I am forever in your debt.”  He said to Brian.  Suddenly, there was a loud screeching noise.  Everyone covered their ears.

“So, thought you could escape me did you?  Guards!  Seize them!”  Irope’s voice boomed throughout the prison area.  Around them, they could hear footsteps running toward them.  They were surrounded.

“What do we do now?”  Asked Sydney.  They were running out of options fast.

“Run for the ships!”  Whispered A.j..  Before anyone else could answer, they all broke into a fast run.  There was no other way that they were going to get to the ships.

“Remember, keep your minds clear!  We don’t want Irope taking us over before we can get there.”  Said Brian.  Neither of them had run so fast in their entire lives.  But, there was a probably.  Tommy was so young and unable to keep up with the adults.

“Help!”  Tommy yelped.  Kevin looked back to see that Tommy was falling behind.  The guards had almost caught up to him.  He slowed himself down and grabbed Tommy around the waist.

“Got you!”  Kevin strained as he held onto the small boy.  They passed several rooms, with citizens looking out to see what all the fuss was about.  They were very surprised to see their former captain and his crew running down the hall like the devil was on their heels.

“Get back into your places!”  The guards barked at them.  The group kept on going.

“Just a little further.”  Yelled Nick.  He began to use his mind to tip things over in the path of the guards.  Objects would go whizzing by the groups heads as they bashed into the guards.

“Watch it!”  Aaron shouted when a chair almost smacked him in the face.  All of their legs were beginning to feel like mush.  Yet, they ran faster still.  Finally, they reached the bay area.  Several ships were lined up and ready to go.

“Move!”  Kevin yelled.  All of them were filled with a burst of adrenaline.  They ran even faster then before.  They spotted the first ship’s ladder and headed right for it.

“Get them you fools!  Don’t let them escape!”  Irope bellowed over the loud speaker.  All of them climbed up the ladder as fast as they could.  By then, they were all growing weak and were out of breath.  Still, they pressed on.

“Aaron, start it up!”  Brian yelled as he pulled the ladder up.  The guards had begun to shoot at them.  Brian tried to close the door, but it became stuck.

“Somebody help me with this thing!”  He said.  Kari ran over and began to pull the door.  Suddenly, one of the blasts came through the opening and hit Kari in the chest.

“Ah!”  She gasped as she fell back.

“Kari!”  Brian said in surprise.  He pulled the remainder of the door shut and rushed over to where she laid.  Meanwhile, Aaron had started the ship up and was getting it up to speed.

“Come on!  Go!”  He urged it on.  Finally, the ship was warmed up enough and he pushed the throttle.  Everyone was thrown forward as he zoomed out of the open cargo door.  The guards were on their tails.

“Aaron, we have to lose them!”  Nick ordered.  Aaron waved a hand at him and began to press buttons on the controls.

“Hang on!”  He told everyone.  The ship gave another jolt as they went into hyper speed.  Behind them, the guards were left in their dust.  Their worries about them were now over.  Now, it was time for the new ones.  Kari was holding the area that she had been shot.  Blood was seeping through her fingers.

“We’ve got to get to the Kitara base.  It’s the nearest place and they will never look for us there.”  Said Howie as he helped Kari.  They covered her wound with torn off clothing.  She was in a lot of pain.

“Mom, are you going to be o.k.?”  Tommy asked with fear in his voice.  Kari just took his hand.

“Yes Thomas, I’ll be fine.”  She answered as she winced in pain.  Aaron continued to drive.

“All of those people we left behind.  There has got to be something we can do.”  Said Kevin.  He knew that everyone that was left back would be in trouble.

“I’m sure nothing is going to happen to them Captain.  He is after us, and only us.”  Said Nick.  Kevin let out a sigh.

“I hope you are right General.  I really do.”  He said.

“We’re almost there.  You might want to radio ahead.”  Said Aaron.  No one was really sure if they should.  But, there was really nothing they could do now.  A.j. picked up the receiver on the right of Aaron and pressed the talk button.

“Kitara base, this is Agent Snake Eyes.  Do you copy Kitara base?”  He spoke into it.  He waited a few seconds.

“Agent Snake Eyes, this is Agent Steel of the Kitara base.  What is your request?”  Someone answered.  A.j. breathed a sigh of relief.

“The Underground base has been invaded.  We need a place to dock and are in desperate of medical assistance.  Requesting permission to enter.”  A.j. said.  Again, another second of silence.

“Permission granted.  There will be a medical team waiting for your arrival.”  Agent Steel answered.  Everyone let out a cheer.  A doorway opened just below the ship and they landed within it.  Aaron turned the ship off and opened the door.

“Send down your injured!”  The people around yelled up.  Brian carefully picked Kari up and carried her down the ladder.  There, he passed her off to the waiting medical staff.  He watched as they ran her to a gurney and rushed her out of the room.  He then felt a tug on his arm.

“Brian, I want to go with them.”  Tommy said to him.  He looked down to see that Tommy was very scared.

“Alright.”  He answered.  He walked over to the nearest person.  “Excuse me, but can you take him to the hospital area.  His mother was just taken there.”  He asked.  The person smiled.

“Certainly sir.  Some with me.”  She spoke.  Tommy took her hand and she led him out of the room.  Another man walked up to Kevin and shook his hand

“Captain Richardson, we are absolutely surprised to see you.  We caught word that you had been killed fifteen years ago.”  The bases captain said to Kevin.

“We shall explain that later Captain Huntzicker.  Our base has been taken over by an invader leader by the name of Irope.  We need your help in defeating him, but for now we just need a place to stay while we plan an attack.”  He answered.  The other captain nodded.

“Yes, of course.  If you would all follow me.”  He said.  He led them to through their base to where they were going to be staying.  They could hear other people talking around them with both wonder and fear.

“I hope they we’re followed.  That would be terrible!”  A man in his mid twenties said.  Brian looked over at him and he stopped talking.  Others around him were speaking in different languages.  He could pick up some French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, and what he thought was Chinese.  The walked in a huge room at the end of a hallway.

“You will stay here for the time being.”  Captain Huntzicker said.  They looked around at the beds that were against the wall.

“This will be fine Captain.  Thank you.”  Said Nick.  The Captain nodded.

“Now, if Captain Richardson and the General will come with me.  We will discuss the details of the invasion with you.”  He said.  Kevin and Nick both followed him out of the room.  Everyone else sat down on the beds.  Brian put his head in his hands.  He had never felt so worn out.

“Why is this happening?”  He said to himself.  He then saw that someone had stepped in front of him.  He looked up to see Sydney.

“Brian, is there something wrong?”  She asked as she sat next to him.  He let out a sigh.

“I can’t help but think that this is all my fault.  All of this trouble started after I came back.  I don’t know why I was sent here and why this is happening to me.  I just want to go home.”  He said.  Sydney listened attentively.

“This isn’t your fault.  In fact, you saved our lives.  If you hadn’t had come, we would have never found my father and figured out that Howie wasn’t Howie.  You are a hero.”  She explained.  He looked up her again.

“A hero?”  He said.  She nodded.

“You saved us all.  You are more of a hero than those drawings the Thomas reads about.”  She answered.  Brian perked up a little bit.

“Thank you Syd.  That helped a bunch.”  He smiled.  That is when a person in white entered the room.

“You are Mrs. Carter’s group, No?”  He asked with a heavy French accent.  Everyone got up from where they were sitting.

“How is she?  Is she going to be alright?”  asked Howie.  The doctor lower his head.  Everyone knew that this was a bad sign.

“The blast was a deadly one.  I’m afraid she isn’t going to live.”  He answered.  Everyone was just blown away.  Sydney began to cry.

“No, she has to live!”  Aaron said.  The doctor shook his head.

“I can take you to her.”  He said.  They all followed him to the hospital area.  This place was much larger than the one at their base. The doctor took them to a smaller room.  There lay Kari with Tommy by her side.  She was hooked up to all kinds of machines.

“Kari, we’re here.”  Brian said as he sat beside her.  She opened her eyes and gave a weak smile.  Her sockets looked darker than ever.

“Brian.”  She whispered.  She was too weak to smile.

“We’re all here Kari.  You have to make it.”  Said A.j..  He had a tear running down his cheek.  Kari let out a gasp.

“Brian, I have always loved you.  Never forget that.  I love you and that is the way it will always be.”  She said weakly.  Her breathing was becoming short and labored.

“Mommy.”  Tommy sobbed.  Brian’s heart hurt to see such sadness.

“You’re going to be fine Kari.  Just hold on.”  He said.  His voice had begun to crack.

“No.  My time here is finished.  I must go.”  She said.  Her breathing became softer.

“No, sister!”  Aaron cried.  Kari’s eyes began to shut.

“I love you all.  Goodbye.”  She whispered.  She let out a final gasp and then, silence.  Brian looked up at the heart monitor.  Kari’s heart had stopped beating.

“No, Mommy!  Come back!”  Tommy cried as he hugged her.  It was too late.  Brian reached up and carefully shut her eyes all of the way.  He then put a hand on Tommy’s shoulder.

“If there is any justice in this world, she is with her family now.”  He said before breaking down in tears.  There was nothing they could do now.  Kari was dead.  And this time, there was no coming back.

Kari was laid to rest the next day.  Because of the circumstances, her body could not be buried.  Instead, it would be placed in the same manner as Kevin’s was.  She then would be shipped back to the Underground when things were safe.  Everyone from the Underground base was very quiet and upset.  It was even enough to make the grown men cry.  It was even worse for Tommy.  He was now an orphan.  He mostly kept by Brian that day.  He even at the funeral, he stuck to his side.

“Now, is there anyone that would like to come forward and say a few words?”  The priest asked.  Everyone was silent for a moment.  They all gazed at the glass coffin that held Kari.  None of them thought this was real.  Nick then stood up and approached the front.

“Kari was the most loving person that any of us could have known.  Each and every one of us was blessed to have been in her presences.  She loved everything that she came across.  Especially her son.  Although we were not blood, she was my family.  I’ll miss you little sister.  You were taken before you were ready.  In her words; keep your head to the stars for the solution lies there.  Remember those, for they are words to live by.  Goodbye and I’ll see you on the other side little sister.”  He said as tears streamed down his face.  Thomas had his head in his lap to hold back the loud sobbing.

“Anyone else?”  The priest asked.  Brian immediately stood up and walked up to the alter.  He turned and looked at everyone.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.  He cleared his throat and let out a sigh.

“She was and still is one of the greatest friends I have ever had.  She was the little sister that I never had.  I also always knew that she had this little crush on me when she was a teenager.  I now know that those are the things I will always remember about her.  Kari is very much alive in all of us.  Those few days that I was able to spend with her after my return will never leave my mind.  She lived for love and never hated.  Her love for music was another thing that set her apart from many others.  She lived for the music and always enjoyed.  So, if they will, I ask my band mates to come forward.”  He said.  The guys all looked at each other as they came forward.

“What is this?”  Howie whispered.

“Show me the meaning, on three.”  Brian said.  They had now idea how this was going to turn out.  Howie didn’t have the same voice, but it was high enough.  Still, it had been many years.

“Ready?  One, two three.”  Brian counted.  They began to snap the first part.
“Show me the meaning of being lonely.”  They began.  It sounded beautiful.

“So many words for the broken heart
It’s hard to see in a crimson love
So hard to breathe, walk with me and maybe”
“Night’s of lights so soon become
Wild and free I can feel the sun
Your every wish will be done they tell me”
“Show me the meaning of being lonely
Is this the feeling I need to walk with
Tell me why I can’t be there where you are
There’s something missing in my heart”
“Life goes on as it never ends
Eyes of stone observe the trends
They never stay forever gazing for me
“Guilty roads to an endless love
There’s no control are you with me now
Your ever wish will be done so tell me”
“Show me the meaning of being lonely
Is this the feeling I need to walk with
Tell me why I can’t be there where you are
There’s something missing in my heart”
“There’s no where to run I have no where to go
Surrender my heart body and soul”
How can it be you’re asking me to feel things you never show?”
They continued until the song was finish.  They had never sung so wonderfully in their lives.  When they finished, they all turned and looked at the coffin.

“That one was all for you.  Goodbye Swift Wolf.  You gave me the name of Dragon Heart, and I will prove that I earned it.”  Brian whispered.  They returned to their seats as the priest gave the his last words.  The funeral had ended.  They began to leave when Tommy ran back to the coffin.

“No!  Come back Mom, please come back!  I need you.”  He sobbed.  Brian pulled the boy away slightly and brought him into his arms.

“She knows.  She is right here.”  He said to him.  Tommy looked Brian straight in the eyes.

“She isn’t here because she is dead!  I don’t want to be alone.”  He cried.  Brian held him tight.

“You aren’t alone.  She isn’t gone forever.  I can feel her all around us.  She never left us.”  He said.

“Really?  You can feel her?”  He asked.

“Yes.  A person never really dies if you have them in your heart.  If you look with your heart instead of your eyes, you can feel her.”  Brian explained.  Tommy let out a choked sob and closed his eyes.  He then opened them again.

“I can feel it!  She is right next to me.”  He said with a bit of happiness.

“She is your guardian angel.  She will never leave you, so you will never be alone.  But she can’t do the things she use to.  You’ll need someone to take care of you.”  He said.  Tommy chewed his lip.

“I want it to be you Uncle Brian.”  He said as he clutched Brian tighter.  Brian knew that this was coming.  He knew the answer.

“I will take care of you the best I can.  I promise.”  He said.  He then stood up once more and took the boy by the hand.  As he led Tommy out of the room, he sent a message with his mind to Kari.  He knew that she couldn’t hear it, but he felt she could.

“Irope will die tonight.  I will see to it.”  He thought bitterly.  He felt a tug on his arm.

“Are you coming Uncle Brian?”  Tommy asked.  Brian smiled at him.

“Yeah.  I’m coming.”  He said.  With that, they left the room.  Kari watched as they did so.  Though they could not see her, she heard every word that Brian had thought.  She would be there the whole way.

“I’m here Thomas.  I will never leave your side.”  Her whisper sounding like wind.  She wished that they could see her now.  Her blue and silver eyes glittered in the lights.

“Protect him Brian.  I’m watching you.”  She smiled.  In those moments, she faded away, leaving the room completely empty.

Later that same night, the five men of the group met with the general and captain of the Kitara underground to talk out strategies for a full fledged attack.  All of their hearts were heavy and they had to keep their thoughts away from the death.

“I say we strike after midnight.  It will be a surprise attack.”  Said Nick.  A few of them shook their heads.

“Our troops aren’t equipped like yours were.  We don’t have the proper night seeking equipment.”  Said Captain Huntzicker.  Nick snapped his fingers in frustration.

“Well, we will have to attack them from the ground.  The ships will be too easy of targets.  They can’t get us if they can’t find us.”  Said Kevin.  This sounded like a good idea.

“That would put them into a more vulnerable place.  The invaders are not very good with ground attacks.  Not good at all.  Especially their leaders.”  Said General Wendt.  She was the only female General that any of them had known.

“Irope is a very powerful being.  He can control anyone’s minds to make them think what he wants them to.  How on earth do we fight that?”  Asked Howie.  Everyone stopped what they were doing.  They all knew that this was a very dangerous factor.  They couldn’t have their troops turning on them.

“That is an excellent question.  I’m not sure if any of us have an answer to that.”  Answer Captain Huntzicker.  Suddenly Brian, who had been sitting back and watching the whole thing, stood up.

“Hang on!”  He exclaimed.  He then pointed to Kevin.  “Your will told me that you invented something that would keep us safe from harm.  Why don’t we just use that?”  He asked.  Everyone was stunned.  No one but he and Kevin knew about the devise.

“I’m not even sure that is works.  I built it just before I went into that exile.”  He answered.  He also hadn’t told anyone else at the new base about him being Hawk the sky rat.

“Where is it?  We can test it now with the attack!”  Said A.j..  Kevin backed up just a little bit.

“No, I can’t risk it.  A malfunction could kill more than the attack itself.  We don’t need to lose anymore lives.”  He said.  

“Captain Richardson that is a risk that we are going to have to take.  This matter is bigger than any of us.  We need to see your invention.”  General Wendt spoke up.  Kevin looked defeated.

“Fine, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you.”  He said.  He reached inside of his pocket and pulled out what looked like a remote.

“What on earth is that?”  Asked Howie.

“I didn’t want this to fall into the wrong hands.  So, I installed a safety devise.  The Control would hide in the hand of the person I picked, only to be called when it is needed.  The person would not know that they had it.”  He answered.  He pressed the button on it.  That is when Nick’s arm shot up and his hand opened palm up.

“Ow!  That really hurts!”  He yelped.  They watched as a ball of light exited the palm of his hand.  It flew right over to Kevin and stopped before him.  Nick looked back at his hand to make sure that it wasn’t damaged.

“You left that to me, and yet you put it in Nick’s hand.”  Brian said.  Kevin was pressing more buttons.
“I was going to do a transfer, but you found out before I got the chance to.”  He said in a hurry.  The ball was now glowing orange.  “It’s in neutral zone now.  It shouldn’t do anything until we need it.”  He said.

“Remarkable.  You are truly a genius Captain Richardson.”  Said General Wendt.  Kevin blushed a little bit.

“So, it is settled.  We attack at daybreak.  We will be using this invention to try and get to the Underground base without any fatalities.  This meeting is dismissed.”  Said Captain Huntzicker.  Everyone left the room more stressed out than before.

“When I get my hands on Irope, he is going to wish he hadn’t landed on this planet.”  Said A.j..  He punched a fist into his hand.  Kevin stopped right in front of them and looked stern.

“I want you all to keep your minds on the mission at hand.  This is not a mission of revenge.  This is a mission of defending our home.”  He said, his eyebrows lowered.

“Then what is it then?  He killed one our own.  I say we do the same thing that he did to her!”  Nick growled.  Brian’s mind flew back to that morning and the funeral.  His heart ached from the grief.

“I know you want to.  Believe me, I want a piece of him for what he did.  But, the revenge will cloud our minds.  I have my daughter to think about and I don’t want to do anything stupid for her sake.”  Kevin said calmly.

“Well, I can’t very well see my daughter, now can I?  Remember, she was taken from me!”  Nick hissed.  Brian had never seen him so angry.  All of this seemed to be hitting Howie and A.j. too.  Neither of them had seen their children in so many years because of the war.

“Nick, you know it was a hard time.  There was nothing that could be done.”  Howie said as he nervously chewed on his lip.  Nick groaned in angry and just walked off.  Brian went to follow him, but A.j. held him back.

“Don’t.  He is hurting inside.  It’s best that we left him alone.”  He said softly.  Brian stopped where he was and watched him friend disappear down the hallway.
“I swear, he is a ticking time bomb sometimes.  You never know what is going to do.”  Said Howie.  They began to walk once more.

“The love of a child is more than anything.  Whether it is the love of your own child, or even a sibling, it’s all wonderful.  He feels that he lost everything.”  Said Kevin.  Brian looked over at his cousin.  What he had said was right.  He now had the love of a little boy that had never known him until now.  It felt like the world belonged to such a small child.

“He will come around.  He is in grief right now, as well as the rest of us.”  Brian said as he put his hands into his pockets.  When they entered their bunk area, Nick wasn’t there.  Sydney and Tommy were there waiting for the guys to return.

“Well?”  Sydney asked as they came in.

“We attack at daybreak.  I want you to remain here with Tommy until it is safe for us to return home again.”  Kevin said to her.  She looked like she was getting up the guts to say something.

“Daddy, I want to fight.”  She said.  Kevin looked at his daughter with concern.

”Sweetie, I don’t want you out there.  You haven’t had the military training and I don’t want to have to worry about you.”  He answered.  Sydney looked insulted.

“Dad, I can do it.  I’m eighteen now and I’ve watched some of the troops and trained a little bit.  I want to help.”  She said.  No one else was going to jump in on this.  They knew that teenage girls were not a force to be denied.

“The answer is no.  I don’t want to have to fight about this.  The answer will always be no.”  Kevin said.  Sydney looked very hurt, but didn’t say anything.  She just returned to her bunk in silence.  She was defeated.  Kevin sat down on his with Brian nearby.

“Her mother was a military woman.  She just wants to follow those footsteps.”  Kevin explained.  Brian looked back over at Sydney.

“I guess everyone isn’t having the best day.”  He said.  Kevin didn’t really react.

“No, I’m afraid we aren’t.  But with every downfall, there has to be something that lifts us up once more.”  He said.  Brian nodded at this.  He then walked over to where Tommy was.

“Hey big guy.  You feeling o.k.?”  He asked.  The boy gave a little nod.

”Yeah, I’m fine.  It still hurts though.”  He said.  Brian sat down next to the ten year old.

“I know and it’s going to hurt for a while.  Soon, you will realize that she died to protect you.  That is a very noble thing to give.”  He said.  Tommy looked over at him.

“When you said that you would take care of me, did you mean it?”  He asked.  Brian gave him a smile.

“Of course I did.”  He answered.  Tommy looked down at his shoes.

“Even if you go back to your time?”  He asked.  Brian opened his mouth to say something, but then shut it.  He wasn’t really sure how to answer that.  He hadn’t really thought about what he would do with the boy if he could get back to his time.

“Yes.  I would take you with me.  I could never leave you behind to be alone.”  He said.  Brian felt the twinge of guilt that he battled the entire time he was here.  He wasn’t sure that he was telling the truth, or lying.

“Really?  You mean it?”  Tommy asked.  Brian put on a nervous smile.  

“I really mean it.”  He said.  If was the first time Tommy looked very happy.  Brian wished he hadn’t answered that.  He didn’t even know if he was going to survive the battle, let alone get back to his time.  Brian then carefully climbed onto the top bunk above Tommy.  He felt very tired.  The day had taken so much out of him.  Around him, he could hear the guys settling in to try and sleep.  The tension of the next day was high.

“Uncle Brian?”  He heard.  Brian opened his eyes and saw Tommy looking at him.

“Yeah?”  Brian asked sleepily.

“Can I sleep with you?  I’m too scared to sleep alone.”  He said.  Brian didn’t even have to think about the answer.

“Sure kid.  Climb on up.”  He said.  Tommy smiled and climbed up next to Brian.  It felt a little weird, but almost like Tommy was his own son.

“Tell me what my mom was like when she was younger.”  He said.  Brian gave a chuckle.

“Oh, she was a little pistol.  She was just like Nick when it came to pulling pranks on people.  Did anyone ever tell you about the cotton balls she once put into Howie’s nose?”  He said.  Tommy shook his head lazily.

“No.”  Answered Tommy.  Brian let out another chuckle.

“She put some cotton balls up Howie’s nose to stop him from snoring.  Instead of doing that, he sucked one in and swallowed it.  She never got over that one.”  Brian said.  Tommy let out a snicker.

“And she always tried to punish me for being like that.”  He said.  Brian smiled.  Such wonderful memories.  Unfortunately, that is all they were now.  It was a sad fact.

“Well, you better try and get some sleep kid.  Tomorrow is going to be the day that changes your life.”  Brian whispered.

“But I’m not sleepy.”  Tommy yawned.

“Yes you are.”  Brian answered.  Tommy snuggled against the pillow.

“Alright.  Goodnight Daddy Brian.”  He said.  Brian was shocked at what Tommy had just called him.  He had never seen himself as a father.  But for some reason, it all seemed right.  Brian put an arm around the boy and kissed him on the head.

“Goodnight Thomas Scott Carter.  At daybreak, you will be a free kid for the first time in your life.”  Brian said softly as he drifted into a dreamless sleep.

Brian was awakened by a plinking noise a few hours later.  At first, he wasn’t sure were it was coming from, he saw Nick approaching him.

“Brian, get up!  We’re under attack!”  He ordered.  Brian’s eye snapped all the way open at the second.  He looked down to see that Tommy was still asleep.

“Tommy, get up!  We’ve got an emergency!”  Brian said as he shook the small boy.  He let out a groan and slowly opened his eyes.

“What?  What’s going on?”  He asked.  The plinking noise had grown even louder.  Brian helped Tommy down from the bed and jumped down.

“I don’t know Tommy.  But it is something big.”  He answered.  Tommy heard the sound and became scared.

”They’re coming Daddy Brian!  The ones that took Mom!”  He began to cry.  Brian help him put on some shoes.

“Thomas, listen to me.  I have to go help them win the fight.  You have to stay here with Sydney.  She will take you to where it is safe.”  Brian explained.  The boy cried even harder.

“No, you have to stay with me Daddy Brian!  I don’t want to lose you too!”  He sobbed as he clung to Brian.  He felt like his heart was in a vise.

“I’ll be back.  I promise.  And when I do come back, you will be a free kid.  You’ve lived ten years and have never seen peace.  I will bring you that.  I promise.”  He said.  Tommy hugged him even harder.

“You better come back.  I have your word.”  He said.  That is when Sydney ran over and took Tommy by the arm.

“Come on Tommy, you have to come with me.”  She said.  She held onto his arm and they both ran from the room.  Brian grabbed his shoes and quickly put them on.
“I won’t break that promise Tommy.  I swear it.”  He said to himself as he joined up with the others.  All of them looked as tense as the next.  Kevin motioned a hand out of the door.

“Let’s go!  They are getting the troops together.”  Kevin said.  All of them ran from the room as fast as their legs could take them.  They ran all the way to the base’s docking area.  There, General Shana Wendt stood in front of a large army.  Nick went over by her side.

“This is it troops!  We charge we the door is opened.  Take no prisoners!”  General Wendt yelled.  Brian should have never guessed that a woman could lead troops like no one he had seen.  Brian could feel someone tap on his shoulder.  He turned around to see Howie.  He was holding two huge guns.

“Take this.  You’ll need it.”  He said.  Brian took the gun and looked it over.  It wasn’t like the guns in his time.  It had a flat shaft, not nearly big enough for a bullet.  It looked more like something from a cheesy science fiction movie.  He looked it over.  He wasn’t really sure how to use it.

“Generals!  The Control will be activated from this point on.  If it works, we should not be harmed.”  Kevin yelled.  He pulled The Control from a case on his side.  It was still glowing orange.

“Captain, I thought it hadn’t been tested yet.”  Aaron said.  Kevin nodded.
“Well, it’s going to be tested now.”  He said through his teeth.  He held the devise with both hands and twisted it.  It started to glow a light blue.

“Activate!”  He said to it.  Within seconds, the blue glow was sent through the crowd.  Brian felt it hit him with its warmth.  He didn’t know what was going to happen.  He just braced himself for anything.  Yet, that anything never came.

“It works!  Open the doors!”  A.j. yelled.  General Wendt went over and punched a button on the side.  Immediately, the door flung open to reveal the night sky.

“Charge!”  Nick screamed.  The entire army surged forward into the night.  Brian was pushed forward and out of the door.  The cool night air took his breath away.  He hadn’t been outside for so many days.  There was movement everywhere he looked.  Gunshots filled the night air.  He could hear the cries of the people that were trapped above ground.

“Brian!  Go!”  He could hear Kevin yell.  He turned around, but couldn’t find his cousin in the chaos.  That is when he saw it.  For the first time, he laid eyes on an invader.

“Oh god.”  He gasped.  These creatures were what you would find in a horror movie.  Its eyes were huge and green; its mouth had sharp teeth.  Its arms were much longer than its legs, which were bent backwards like an animal.  It was a very frightening creature.  Brian was in a daze until he realized that he had been spotted.  It had begun to charge at him.

“Not tonight!”  Brian screamed as he pulled the trigger.  The gun let out a beam of light.  The invader had no time to get out of the way.  The light hit him square in the chest.  It let out a loud screech as it disappeared into thin air.  Brian looked down at his gun.

“Wow, that’s pretty good.”  He thought to himself.  He pressed on into the night.  These creatures were all around him.  He could feel the angry towards them rise in his body.  These are the beings that had caused his friends suffering and killed his family.  He couldn’t feel anything but hatred.

“Die you murdering scum!”  He yelled as he shot another one down.  Suddenly, he was hit from behind.  One of the invaders began to slash at him with its massive claws.  But, a something wonderful happened.  The glow that had hit earlier before he went out surrounded his entire body, protecting him from any harm.

“I guess The Control works.”  He said to himself as he shot the creature.  He ran further away from the base.

“Help me!”  A cry came through night.  Brian ran in the direction of the voice.  It was very hard to see, but an invader had cornered a young girl in one of the alleys.  He ran as fast as he could and punched it in the back.

“Hey!  Pick on someone your own size!”  He yelled.  The creature turned its attention from the girl and attacked Brian.  He tried to shoot the creature, but it swiped it away in one swing.

“No!  He cried as it flew in the air.  He made a run for it, but he was knocked down by a punch.  He gasped for air as he hit the ground.

“No, help!”  The girl screamed as the creature turned on her again.  Brian quickly got back up and began to punch it in the head.  Anything to get this animal away from the girl.  He swept the ground with his leg to knock the creature down from its weak legs.

“Your kind killed mine.  Now you will pay.”  Brian hissed as he ran for his gun.  He was stopped suddenly when the creature grabbed his leg.  He was just inches away from his gun, but couldn’t reach it.  He began to kick it in the hand.

“Let me go!”  He screamed at it.  He gave it one final kick and broke free from its grasp.  He grabbed his gun a turned it onto the creature.  It had no time to react when Brian pulled the trigger.  More screams filled the air as the creature died and disappeared.  The little girl was crying as Brian approached her.

“Are you hurt?”  He asked.  The young girl looked him in the eye.

“You saved my life.  I am forever in your debt.”  She said.  Brian gasped as he saw her face.

“Kari?  Is that you?”  He asked.  The girl’s emotions didn’t change.

“I am no one.”  She answered.  Brian was even more confused than before.  The commotion around him made it even harder to comprehend what she had said.

“Why are you here?  Who are you” he asked again.  The girl just smiled.

“You are a hero.  Go and fight!  Free us tonight!”  She yelled.  Brian didn’t know what to say.  Suddenly, she was gone.  Brian blinked twice, not believing what he had just seen.  Yet, he had no time to think about it.  He had to move.  He had to find the leader of the attack.

“You’re welcome.”  He whispered as he ran from the ally to join back up with the troops.  The humans were clearly winning this battle as the screams became more distant.

“Dragon Heart.  What is your status?”  A voice in his head asked.  He almost stopped running, but kept going.

“I haven’t found Irope yet Silver Fox.  Status of the team?”  He thought as he blasted three more invaders.

“I have been contacting them through our communicators.  They are all fine.  Black Hawks invention works to a T.”  Nick answered.  Brian continued on without stopping.

“Good.  I will contact you when I reach my goal.  Dragon Heart over and out.”  Brian thought.  His mind floated back to the moment he saw Kevin’s body in its crypt.  The words on the tomb came back to him.  Live for honor, die for others.

“I’m coming!”  Brian growled to himself.  Suddenly, he spotted him.  He was standing upon the ruins of a building.

“Go my children!  Those puny humans are no match for your strength!”  Irope yelled to his troops.  More of those creatures went forward into the darkness.  Brian dodged behind a crumbled brick wall.  His heart was filled with nothing but the lust for revenge.

“Gotcha.”  Brian thought to himself.  He carefully began to move from one hiding spot to another.  He never took his eyes off Irope.  He could see the sinister smile he had upon his face.

“Go now!  Do my bidding!  Humans are worthless beings!”  He ordered his army of invaders.  It was amazing to watch because this was Howie’s body with such words coming from his mouth.  Brian kept going.  He prayed that he wouldn’t be found.  He felt the fear and hate that he had never felt before.  He didn’t remember the last time he has wanted something so badly that he could almost taste it.

“Gotta keep going.  Gotta get to him.”  He told himself as he drew even closer to the form.  He felt his heart racing.

“Kill them!  Kill them!”  Irope screamed into the night sky.  Brian drew closer still.  He was almost there.  The battle would be over if he killed the leader.  The suffering would be over.

“This one is for you Kari.”  He said to himself.  He began to charge at Irope.  This was a poor decision.  Before he could get close enough, he was struck down by a blunt object.  He fell to the ground knocked out cold.  The screeching laughs of Irope pierced the night air.

“Your highness, the human is waking.”  A voice from far away said.  Brian knew that he was in trouble.  He could remember that he had been hit with something.  He slowly opened his eyes to a bright light.  Around him were the creatures that he had been fighting earlier.  They had these objects that Brian guessed were guns.

“Thank you for the information sqweeb.  Back in your line!”  He heard Irope order.  He tried to move, but found that he had been tied to a metal chair with chains and locks.  Brian’s head fell forward a bit.  He continued looking at the floor when he saw a pair of shoes before him.

“Look at me you filthy human.”  He hissed.  Brian refused to look up.  “When Irope gives an order, you follow!”  He yelled.  He grabbed Brian by the hair and forced his head up.

“What have you done with the others?”  Brian gasped.  Irope snickered.

“You humans thought that you could win a battle against us?  They retreated long ago.  No matter, we have what we wanted.”  He answered.  Brian’s thoughts flickered back to the beginning.  The attacks on the base when he had just arrived.  It was all to get him.

“What do you need me for?”  He asked.  Irope let go of Brian’s hair.  Brian couldn’t help but wonder what this creature really look like without Howie’s body.

“You are the link to the past.  We know that you came from the year 2002 and we need to get there.”  He answered, circling where Brian was tied up.  The others around him looked very excited.

“Why do you need to get there?”  Brian asked, truly worried at what they were planning.

“Your friends are the ones who have defeated our kind for so long.  We thought that they would be weakened by the so called death of their leader, but no!  They continued to fight harder than before!  Even with me in this body, they could not be beaten.”  Irope growled.

“You didn’t answer my question you slime ball!”  Brian yelled.  Irope swung around and punched Brian in the face.

“Don’t talk back to me, you filthy being!”  He screeched.  The crowd around them made noises of amusement.  Brian look back up, his lip bleeding.  “You are going to help get there and kill your group!”  He laughed.  Brian’s jaw dropped.

“I don’t know how to get back!  Either way, I would never help you!”  He said through his teeth.  Irope approached them until they were nose to nose.

“You will do whatever I order, or you will die.”  He said, his hot breath hitting Brian.  Brian kept his emotions from showing.

“I would rather die then do anything for you.”  He said softly.  Irope was growing even more frustrated with Brian.  He punched him across the face once more.

“I’ll have you know that my kind aren’t against the whole thought of torture.  If you don’t help us, you will suffer a death that no one on this miserable planet could ever think up.”  Irope said.  Brian looked up once more.  The punch had produced a cut down his cheek.

“Bring it on.”  He smiled.  Irope let out a roar of anger.

“Sqweebs!  Let us go now.  It will give this human time to think his fate.”  He ordered.  He then turned back to Brian.  “The choice is yours.  Kill your friends in the past, or die here like the dog you are!”  He snapped.  Irope then turned and stormed out of the room, his followers close behind.  The door snapped shut, leaving Brian in the dimly lit room.

“No, why is this happening?”  Brian asked himself as he began to struggle against the chains.  It was no use, he could break free.

“I have failed my group.  Now, we’re all going to die because of my mistake.”  He said to himself.  He had never felt so angry with himself in his entire life.  He looked up at the ceiling as if someone were there.

“I get it now; I am not supposed to leave!  Why do you still keep me here?  Is there a lesson that I need to learn through this?  If there is, wouldn’t it be better just to tell me?”  He asked.  He wanted the answer so badly, but knew it wouldn’t come.  The cuts on his lip and cheek were still bleeding.

“Let me go from this!  I promise to stay.”  He yelled.  He began to struggle again, even though it was helpless.

“Help me!  Guys, they’ve got me, help!”  He screamed in his head.  He prayed that someone could hear him.  He hoped that there was no limit on his mind.  His heart sank when he got no answer.

“Somebody help me!  This is Brian Thomas Littrell!  Code name Dragon Heart of the Underground base!  I require assistance!”  He thought again.  If he couldn’t reach his group, he had to find someone else.  He pulled in vain at the chains on his arms.

“I will not be beaten this easily.”  He said to himself as he pulled harder.  Suddenly, he was overcome with a calm feeling.  As if someone had just taken the fear from his heart and replaced it with happiness.

“What?”  He asked out loud.  There was an overwhelming feeling that he was not the only one in the room.

“No fear, just bravery.”  A voice whispered into his ear.  He looked to his side to find no one.  All he could feel was a faint brushing against his skin.  Like someone was tickling his arm with a feather.  Just the fact that it was there brought warmth and calm to Brian’s mind.

“Who are you?  Where are you?”  He asked.  He wasn’t sure if the voice was coming from inside his head or from his surroundings.  He felt a hand brush against his face.

“You are healed.”  It said, sounding just like the wind.  Sure enough, the pain in his lip and cheek had disappeared.  The blood that had dripped onto his shirt and pants had gone.

“Who are you?”  He asked again.  The bodiless voice would not answer that question.  Suddenly, he felt the chains that held him to the chair become loose and they soon fell from him.  He pulled his arms up and rubbed where the chains had been.

“Thank you.”  He said with great gratitude.  He felt the spirit all around him.  It filled the room from top to bottom.  He then felt the reality of his situation set in.  He stood up from the chair and looked from left to right.

“Now, I just need to get out of here.”  He said.  He felt the spirit brush past him once more.  He then heard a soft tinking noise, like someone was hitting against the metal door.  His first thought was that the spirit was going to open the front door.  Suddenly, one of the tiles from the ceiling gently floated down in front of his feet.  He looked up to see room for him to crawl through.

“A vent?  Are you sure about this?”  He said with skepticism.

“The door is not safe.  It’s safer through here.”  It answered.  Brian began to feel something pulling at his shirt.  It was very strong and refused to let go at any cost.  Before he knew what was going on, his feet came off of the floor, as if he was being given a boost up to the escape.  He pulled himself into the narrow passageway and onto his knees.  After entering, the bodiless spirit sealed the tile back into place.  Brian then felt the spirit come up in front of him.

“Thank you for saving my life, but who are you?”  He asked for the last time.  He heard the spirit giggle.

“I am just paying a debt that will never be complete.”  It whispered.  Brian’s eyes went wide.

“No, it can’t be.”  He said to himself.  He then felt something press against his cheek, like a light kiss.

“Be there for my son.  I’m counting on you.”  It said.  Before Brian could say anything else, the feeling of having someone there disappeared.  Yet, the happiness could not be lifted from his heart.  He knew exactly was had gone on.

“My guardian angel.”  He smiled as he began to crawl through the vents.  He had to make sure that he kept as quiet as possible.  He didn’t know if he were passing through rooms that contained enemies.  He just knew that he needed to get out and back to base.  He had to let the others know that he was alive.

“I’m coming guys, I’m coming.”  He said to himself as he pressed on.  He also had to try and do his best to keep him mind clear so that Irope couldn’t sense him.  The steel felt so very cold against his hot skin.  The area’s that were wounded still tingled from his angels touch.  He pulled himself silently through the vents as skillfully as a cat.

“Where are you?”  He whispered out loud as he came upon an open area.  He looked down through the grates to see another prison room.  This one was filled with humans.  Brian could tell that they had been there for a very long time.  They were all very thin and dirty.  The men had long beards and they all had very greasy hair.  Each were dressed in what looked like simple scraps.  No one was smiling.  He could hear a few of them sobbing into their hands.  This whole scene just broke his heart into two.

“Psst!” He hissed down.  Only one person looked up.  A teenage boy, maybe about fifteen.

“Who’s there?  Oh god, please let there be someone there.”  The boy whispered back.  Brian was about to answer when one of the adults grabbed the boy.

“You are imagining things.  Those invaders are just messing with your mind.”  The woman said in a shrilly voice.  By now, everyone had looked up with their haggard faces.

“I’m not imagining things!  Someone just whispered to me from the vent!”  He said, pulling away.  The woman just scoffed.  Brian bit his lip and summed up some courage to call out again.

“He isn’t imagining anything.  I’m up here.”  He said down to them.  All of them looked up at the vent with fear in their eyes

“No!  They have come for us, we are next!”  One of them yelled.  They all began to panic.  Brian had no choice but to punch the vent down to let them see his face.

“Stop!  I’m here to help.”  He said as the vent grate clattered to the floor.  All of the people gasped when they saw Brian’s face.

“Another human!  Thank the heavens!  We thought you were one of Irope’s boys.”  Said an old man.  Brian carefully crawled forward and slowly made his way out of the opening.  He dropped down in the middle of the crowd.  None of them knew what to make of this man that had just come to them.

“Where did you come from?”  One of the people in the back yelled up.  Brian turned in the direction the voice had come.

“I’m from the Underground.  My name is Brian.  I’m trying to get back to the Kitara base to let them know I am safe.”  He explained.  The people began to whisper among themselves.  Slowly, they pushed another younger man forward.

“I am the captain here, the names Havier Lucas Kinkle. We are all from the Juda base far from here.  We were captured about a year ago.  We are the last survivors from our base.  Now, we know that we will be safe with you here, Brian Littrell.”  He said with happiness.

“How do you know my last name?”  Brian said with shock.

“Everyone knows who you are.  The Underground is the highest racking base this planet has and Captain Dorough is head of all areas.  They have told many stories of a lost member of their group that was found.  I never dreamed we would be face to face with you.”  He explained.  Brian was very perplexed by this.  Not only was he important to his friends, an entire planet knew about him.

“Well, here is a news flash.  Captain Richardson is alive and back in action.  He is the one that led the attack on the invaders.  I guess that explains why I’m here.”  Brian said to Havier Lucas.  His eyes widened at the news.

“Captain Kevin Richardson?  Bless the heavens!”  He said loudly.

“Shhh!  You aren’t supposed to know that.  Listen, I can’t get out of here alone, I need to speak with your military leader.”  Brian whispered.  The captain shook his head.

“I’m sorry; our General was killed long ago.  All we have is our three cadets.”  He said sadly.  Brian put a hand on his shoulder.

“That is alright.  Any military is good enough.”  He said.  Havier Lucas look up into Brian’s eyes to see that he was serious.

“They are not experienced, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers.”  He answered.  He turned back to the group of haggard people.

“Cadets!  Come forward!”  He ordered.  The group parted to allow three teenagers to come to the front. Two boys and a girl.  All of them were quite thin, but still had some muscle on them.  They all gave a salute and stood at attention.

“State your names and ages.”  The captain ordered.  One by one, they went up into a salute.

“Roger Dominc Dorough.  Age seventeen.”  The first boy said.  Brian didn’t think he heard the last name right.

“Julia Fransis Dorough.  Age seventeen.”  The girl said, her face as hard as stone.  Brian guessed that the two were twins.

“Grant Connor Carter.  Age sixteen.”  The third boy said.  Brian almost fell over with amazement.

“I can’t believe this!  You are the lost kids.”  He exclaimed.  The three just stood there in silence.  They didn’t understand what he was talking about.

“You know these cadets?  Havier Lucas asked.  Brian turned to him.

“I’ve never met them, but I am friends with their fathers.  Are they from the Underground by any chance?”  He asked.  Havier gave a nod.

“They were sent to our base before Captain Richardson was killed.  General Carter took it very hard to see his son leave him.”  The old captain nodded.  Brian looked back at the three teenagers.

“In order to get you guys out of here, I need your help.  When I defeat Irope, I need you three to guard these people until I return.  Once you are free, I need one of you to go to the Kitara base and let them know I am alive.  Do you understand?”  He explained to them.  Once again, they gave a salute.

“Sir, yes sir!”  They barked.  Others around them put their fingers to their lips, telling them to quiet down.

“Good.  Now, help me up into the vent once more.  The next time you see me, you will all be free.  That is my promise to you.”  He said.  Haiver Lucas motions for the people to come forward.  No matter how weak they were, they began to lift Brian up into the vent once more.  He couldn’t have been more grateful to these people.  He turned around and looked once more into their dark and sunken faces.

“Good Luck.”  Haiver Lucas said softly.  Brian gave a nod and proceeded to close the doorway to the room.  As he crawled away, he couldn’t help getting a mental image of his friends being stuck in some place like this.  Staving and losing hope for the next day.  The pipes twisted and turned as he kept going.  The screams of people were all behind him, their thoughts no longer in his head.  He could tell he was drawing closer to his destination.

“I’m coming for you.”  He whispered to himself as he came upon another door in the vent.  This time, he saw a grand room.  It was filled with many jewels and gold that could have bought the entire world.  He also could see that the invaders were going back and forth, ground the room.

“What is this place?”  Brian said under his breath.  The invaders didn’t hear him.  Brian slowly shifted himself to get a better look.  He then saw a huge throne on the side of the room.  On it sat the evil Irope, watching his people move through the room.  Brian’s couldn’t get the terrible irony of someone so evil taking the body of another who was so kind.  His blood boiled for revenge.  Revenge for his family, revenge for his friends, revenge for the world.

“Kisauna!   La man hev koip jumba jet gamash!”  Irope yelled in his own language.  Brian wished he knew what they were saying.  Suddenly, another invader charged into the room.

“Irope, dail lac uno jet eventa!”  It seemed to yell.  The entire room went into a panic.  The invaders were speaking rapidly and grabbed for their guns.

“Jet eventa?!  La man, gep favtia waseem!”  Irope bellowed at them.  All of his people ran out of the room, leaving Irope to himself.  Brian couldn’t believe it.

“This is too good to be true.”  He thought to himself.  Suddenly, Irope turned his eyes up to the vent door.

“Yoven gow wa?” he spoke.  Brian didn’t say a word.  He kept as still as possible.  Irope continued to stare.  Brian had to do something.  That is when he thought of a plan.  He would carefully tap into Iropes head and find the translations.  He had to know what was going on.  Remaining still, he closed his eyes and let his mind enter Irope’s.  It was becoming much easier.

“Yoven gow wa?”  Irope asked again.  This time, Brian got an image of what he had just said.  Using the power of his own mind, he pulled the language and thoughts into his own head.  He opened his eyes in amazement at what he had just done.  He not only did he understand that language, he was pretty sure he could say it.

“Net vanti fortun!  Yoven gow wa!”  The creature bellowed.  Right away, Brian understood.  *For the last time, who is there?  He let a little smile come to his lips.  He had an upper hand.

“Kel tom opor danada!”  Brian yelled down.  *No one here but me!  He jumped down from where he was hiding, right in front of the evil leader himself.  Irope’s emotions were mixed.  He had a look of shock, and then an eerie sense of pleasure.

“Lou gemp yio de daven?  Lou chece!” *You think you’ve beaten me?  You haven’t!  he laughed as they circled around each other, sizing one another up.

“Que penuta de daven lou.  Que jet eventa de lou.”  *I have beaten you.  I have escaped you.  Brian answered, his teeth grinding together in anger.

“Well then.”  Irope said in English.  “Let the battle begin!”  he yelled out.  The room around them seemed to melt away, bringing them to an entirely different place.  This new place was about the size of the collusium.  The stands were full of invaders cheering on their king.

“Too afraid to fight in private?”  Brian asked sarcastically.  He heard a loud clank behind him.  He turned to see a large gate that had just gone shut.  Inside were hundreds of prisoners.  Some were the ones he had met before.

“I am just taking a page from your filthy history.  If you are going to kill your enemies, might as well do it for sport.”  Irope said happily.  Brian then watched as the ground gave way to a rack full of weapons.  The ones on Irope’s side were of course larger and much more deadly.  The crowd cheered even louder.

“You think this fanfare scares me?  I’ve been to Rio.  Trust me, this is nothing.”  Brian just shrugged.  Suddenly, the crowd went silent.  You could have heard a pin drop.

“Brian Thomas Littrell, you have been found guilty of fighting for the Underground.  Your punishment, death by gladiator fight!”  Irope boomed through the place.  The crowd of invaders once again went crazy.

“Bring it on!”  Brian yelled as he grabbed for a weapon.  Irope just smiled.

“Your first and last opponent, me.”  He sneered.  He then raised his head back to the crowd.  “Let the battle begin!”  The crowd went wild and began to yell once again.  Irope grabbed the largest weapon on the rack and pointed it at Brian.  Brian had begun to circle like a lion picking his meal.

“Never could fight fair, could you?”  He hissed as Irope just stood there with the weapon drawn.

“Of course not.  Kings are above the law.”  He just smiled.  Brian gasped as he saw Irope pull the trigger.  Everything suddenly seemed to be in slow motion.  A larger stream of laser came right at him.  He dove to his right to avoid being killed.  The laser grazed his right arm and he screamed out in pain.  He could feel his skin burning and smell the smoke.

“Gaahh!  He choked out as he hit the ground.  His arm was wounded, but did not bleed.

“Sad, isn’t it?  The enemy always goes for the strong side first.”  Irope smirked.  Brian just grit his teeth and stood back up.

“You forgot one thing.  I’m left handed, not right.”  He growled.  Before Irope could react, Brian ran at him with the sword weapon drawn.  Irope quickly grabbed the same thing and blocked the attack.  The fight was on and the crowd was screaming.  Brian had no idea that he could sword fight, but decided that this was a very bad time to question it.  He leaped and dodged the blows.

“Hold still and your death will be quick!”  Irope cried out as Brian took a swipe at him.  He was blocked and thrown backwards across to the other side of the ring.  He had neglected the fact that this being was much stronger than him.  Brian was weakened, but not finished.  He got up as fast as he could and ran to his weapons rack.  He grabbed a shield for help, but also grabbed something no one else saw.  A secret weapon.

“You’ll have to kill me the hard way you scum!"  Brian laughed.  Irope looked even angrier than before.  He charged at Brian like a bull in Spain.  Brian held out his shield and defected the blow.  Irope hit so hard that Brian could see sparks go flying everywhere.  His arm stabbed with pain, but he ignored it.  He rolled to the side and tried to hit his enemy, but missed.

“You risk your life to save these filthy humans?”  Irope spat.  He lunged at Brian again, only to be met by a sword.  Iropes sword was launched from his hand and was sent flying into the air.

“I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t.”  Brian answered, pointing his sword at Iropes throat.  He didn’t move an inch, for fear the sword would pierce his skin.  The crowd hissed and booed behind him, but Brian took no notice.

“You never were human.  I could smell it on you the day I met you.”  Irope said, gulping at the air.  Brian lowered his eyebrows at this comment.  He even thought for a moment that his heart stopped.

“What did you say?”  Brian said through his teeth, bringing the sword closer to Irope’s exposed throat.  He just smiled at Brian, his eyes flaring.

“How could you not have known you poor boy?  How else do you think you could read my mind?  How else would you have figured out that your captain was that worthless body?”  Iropes thoughts rang in Brian’s head.  He just stood his ground.

“You’re lying!”  Brian yelled out.  Irope just chuckled.

“Oh, am I?”  Irope sneered.  Suddenly, everything around Brian seemed to just vanish.  It was nothing but darkness.  Brian was also shocked to find that the weapons he held were now gone.  He was once again falling into a black hole without knowing where he was going.

“Somebody help me!”  He cried out, but didn’t get anything.  Then, as fast as it came, the darkness was gone.  He was now standing in a pure white room with now windows or doors.  Brian didn’t dare move.

“Irope!  What have you done?”  Brian yelled into the empty room.  He was answered by laugher.

“This is the very depths of your mind.  I am now in control of you.  I guess you forgot about my power.”  Iropes voice boomed.  Brian’s hands became fists at his sides.

“Is this how you win?  You make your victims into nothing so you can handle them?  You coward!”  Brian yelled out.  At that moment, one of the walls of the room flashed with light.  Brian put his hands up in shock and backed up.

“Oh god, this is how I die.”  Brian whispered to himself.  He waited for the final blow, but it never came.  With his eyes closed, he could see colors through his eyelids.  He slowly opened them and saw that one of the walls had become a giant screen.  On it were moments in his life that he could remember.  The day he got his first bike, his first love, him singing on stage.  It all came on in the matter of seconds.  Brian couldn’t believe it.  Suddenly, the pictures that he knew were gone.  Replaced by ones that he didn’t.

“I don’t understand.”  He said as he watched another scene that he didn’t know.  He could see a Victorian house with horse drawn carriages.  The woman that stood in the picture was dressed in a beautiful gown and seemed to be getting ready for something.  She smiled and looked over to a presently unseen person.

“Come now dear, we’ll be late!”  The woman spoke.  The image shifted to show who she was speaking to.  Brian’s jaw dropped when he saw that the other person was him.  He backed up and felt his body hit the other wall.  The image soon melted and was replaced by another.

“What is going on here?  Brian asked himself.  The image was from even earlier in time.  He could pick out what era it was, but knew that is was before the 1700’s.  This time, it was a child that he could see.  The child was him.  He could see that the child was on a large ship sailing on an ocean or sea.  Another older man came into the picture.  He picked the young boy up and held him on his shoulders.

“See that Christopher?  That is a place that is called America.  Who knows what possibilities there are for you.”  The man said.  Soon, that image to disappeared and was soon replaced with a blank screen.  Brian was speechless.  He didn’t know what he had just seen.

“That couldn’t have been me.  I couldn’t have been alive at those times.”  He said shaking his head.  He began to pound on the walls.

“You liar!  You have shown me nothing!  Let me out, let me out!”  He screamed at the top of his lungs.  He punched harder on the walls.  He felt like he was going crazy.  He knew that he if he remained here, he would die.  He just had to get out.

“Coward!  Let me out and I’ll show you human!”  Brian bellowed.  Suddenly, there was a bright flash and Brian felt like he was being awoken from a deep sleep.  He couldn’t have been gone more than two seconds, but it felt like an eternity.  He could feel the weapons in his hands once more and could see the expression of horror on Iropes face.

“You couldn’t have!  No one has ever broken free from that.”  He said, sweat pouring down his face.

“Believe it.”  Brian growled.  Before Irope could say anything more, Brian pulled out the secret weapon from behind his shield.  It was a soul transfer devise.  He plunged it deep into the side of Irope’s throat.  He pressed the buttons in the same order that he had seen Kevin do just two days ago and it glowed that color of blue.

“Brian Littrell requesting the soul transfer of Irope into oblivion.”  He said as Irope struggled.  The dagger like weapon didn’t wait like it had before.  It happened in an instant that it let out a huge blinding flash.  Brian didn’t even try to close his eyes this time.  He watched as Iropes body was thrown into the air and seemed get stuck.  Light was pouring from his eyes, nose and mouth.

“Havier!  Go now!  Get out of here!”  Brian yelled in his head.  He hoped that the message would reach him.  His eyes remained glued to the body in the air.  He saw a small tuft of smoke exit from Iropes mouth and began to circle.  He could hear the muffled screams of Irope.

“Take the all of invaders with him!”  Brian yelled.  The dagger sent out a tidal wave of light into the stadium.  The cries of the crowd were now heard as the devise took their souls from their bodies.  Brian’s eyes watered from the light.  He knew that he was being blinded, but didn’t close them.  The souls of the invaders and their leader began to spin like a tornado in the air.  The sound of their screams and screeching was deafening.  Brian clapped his hands over his ears.  He heard felt a small thud as Iropes body hit the ground.

“Oblivion!  Send them all there!  They took her life, I’m taking theirs!”  Brian shouted over the noise.  He watched as the souls rose into the sky, higher and higher.  The wind from it nearly knocked Brian off of his feet.  With a final flash, the souls zoomed into the sky.  There was a giant boom as they flew off that threw Brian forwards and held him to the ground next to Irope’s empty body.

“It’s over.”  Brian whispered.  He saw the souls go like a shooting star across the sky until he could see them no more.  Around him, the stadium faded away; leave a field of empty bodies of the invaders.  Brian slowly pushed himself up with his good arm and looked around.  The world was safe now.  His heart had never felt so happy in his life.  He then turned to Irope’s body.  The dagger was laying right next to him, the area were it had been jammed was now

“Time to give you back to the person you belong to.”  He said as he hoisted the body onto his shoulders.  At that same moment, a beam of light came through the never clearing clouds.  It was the first time the sun had ever shown through for many years.  Brian felt it’s warmth on his skin.  He had never felt anything so wonderful.  The beam of light grew and grew until the sky was completely blue.  Not a single cloud in the sky.

“Beautiful.”  Brian said, tears coming to his eyes.  He then began to walk in the direction of the base.  He knew that his friends would be waiting for him, ready to begin a new life of freedom and happiness.  He then stopped and looked back into the sky.

“We finally won.”  He said, his voice choked with tears.  With that final word, he walked away from the battle ground a free man.  At last.

Back at the Kitara base, everyone was terribly worried when Brian didn’t return from battle.  The generals and captains had sent out search and rescue teams, but they were unsuccessful.  All those who knew him feared the very worse.

“What are we going to do?  My visions showed that he was a key piece to winning this war.  Now, he’s gone.”  A.j. said in a somber voice.  Tommy hadn’t stopped crying since the troops had returned.

“I know he’s alive.  He’s lived through everything that had happened, why not now?”  He said through his tears.  Sydney drew his closer to try and comfort him.  She felt great sympathy for him.  She had known the heart break of losing a parent.

“We can’t give up!  He’s still out there, I can feel it!”  Nick said through his teeth.  He banged a fist on the table out of frustration.  He pulled back to do it again, but Kevin grabbed his arm in mid swing.

“Get a hold of yourself General Carter!  This is no time for one of your hissy fits.”  He growled.  He then let Nick’s arm go and began circling the table they were sitting at.  His eyes looked as black as his hair.

“Captain, we can send out more troops.  It’s the least we can do for someone that has been lost for many years.”  Aaron said calmly.  Kevin didn’t even look at him.

“I know.  There is only so much one man can do.”  He said in a hushed voice.  Suddenly, Captain Hunzicker ran into the room.

“Captain Richardson!  I have some news!”  He yelled out.  Everyone jumped in surprise at his announcement.

“What is it?”  Asked Howie with a raised eyebrow.  Captain Hunzicker could barely breathe.

“A group of slaves has just reached our base.  They are saying that a young man set them free and killed the leader.”  He coughed out.  Everyone turned and looked at each other.  They didn’t know if he was telling the truth.

“Take me to them, quickly!”  Kevin ordered.  Captain Huntzicker nodded and started off in the other direction.  Everyone from the room was in hot pursuit.

“Please be true, oh god please be true!”  A.j. whispered under his breath as they ran.  They entered the docking bay where all of them came to a screeching halt.  Before them were a group of dirty, starving people.  All of them turned there eyes upward to see the new visitors that had just arrived.

“Will the captain of this unit please come forward?”  Kevin shouted as he caught his breathe.  He watched as a shrunken man stepped out of the crowd.  Kevin couldn’t believe that he was still alive with how thin he looked.

“Captain Lucas of the Juda base.”  He said as he gave a salute.  Kevin and Captain Huntzicker returned it.

“I am sorry with how poorly worded this question is but, where on earth did you people come from?”  Kevin asked.  Captain Lucas couldn’t help but chuckle.

“We have been slaves to the invaders for a long while now.  That is, until one of your friends came and saved us.”  He answered.  Kevin could hear the others holding back a gasp behind him.  Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Tommy clutching his hands tightly around his elbows.  He was so nervous.

“Where is he?  Do you know where he went?”  Kevin said with great urgency.  His heart dropped when Captain Lucas shook his head.

“He ordered us to run right before the end.  We had our military cadets lead us to this very spot.  The only way we knew that he was victorious was because the sun began to shine once again.”  He answered.  This wasn’t exactly what they were looking for.  Kevin ran his fingers through his hair several times.  Suddenly, Nick stepped forward.

“Captain Lucas, I am General Carter.  I am heading the search for Brian Littrell, the man who freed you.  I need you to come with me to answer a few more questions.”  He said, holding out a hand.  Captain Lucas took a step back.

“General Carter?  We have a Cadet Carter here, maybe you know him.”  He said, as he turned around.  He motioned to the boy that had come forward in their conversation with Brian.  Nick’s jaw dropped when he saw the boys face.  Though his gaunt face was very thin from starvation, the features came out strong.

“Is he from your base?”  He asked, barely finding the words.

“No, he and two others were sent to us not to long after the Great War.”  Captain Lucas answered.  He turned again and motioned for the twins.  This time, Howie’s jaw was the one to drop.  Nick slowly approached the blond boy and put his hands on his shoulders.

“Grant?”  He asked with tears in his eyes.  The boy paused with a bit of confusion.  Soon, the hair, the eyes and the basic structure began to look very familiar.  

“Oh my god, you’re my dad!”  He yelled out.  Nick pulled his son into his arms before just breaking down into all out tears.  He hadn’t seen his son for so long.  He couldn’t believe that so much had happened to his own kin.  As this was happening, Howie had already approached the twins.

“My little Julia and Roger.  I never believed I would ever see your faces again.”  He whispered to them.  It didn’t take them as long to know who he was.  Both of them grabbed him.  No one around them knew what to say exactly.  So many good things were happening all at once.

“Brian couldn’t stand the thought of families being apart.”  Sydney said as she watched the touching moments unfold.

“If he can do this, he can do anything!”  Tommy yelled out.  That is when he broke from Sydney’s grasp and began to run at top speed towards the door to the outside.

“Tommy, get back here!”  Aaron shouted, but the little boy just didn’t listen.  He reached the door and grabbed the giant handle.

“Tommy, get back here now!  We don’t know if it’s safe yet!”  A.j. yelled as he ran after him.  He tried to reach him in time, but it was too late.  Tommy dodged out the door.

“My group, help me get him!  The rest of you stay here!”  Kevin ordered the group.

“We’ll be right back, we promise.”  Nick said to Grant.  It was very hard for them, but Howie and Nick broke their grasp from their children and followed the group outside.  They were almost blinded by the rays of the sun the second they stepped out of the door.  They hadn’t seen something like that in almost nineteen years.  It took them all a minute to get their sight back.  A.j. gazed across the open land, searching for the runaway.

“Tommy!  Hey, Tom!  Where did you go?”  He said, taking a few steps forward.  He stopped when he could hear a small cry from not to far away.  He turned to make sure that everyone else had heard it.

“It sounds like it’s coming from over there.”  Aaron said.  All of them took off in that direction.  The cries became louder and they knew they were getting closer.

“There he is!”  Sydney sighed with relief.  There stood Tommy on a small piece of land that was raised up from the ground.  He seemed to be watching the horizon in desperation to find something.

“Brian!  Where are you?”  He yelled with his hands cupped.  He paused each time and tried to hear if anyone called back.  Sydney was the first to reach him.

“Tommy, what are you doing?  You know you’re not supposed to just leave like that.  What were you thinking?”  She said in a stern voice.  Tommy stopped calling out, but didn’t look at the teenage girl.

“Brian brought those kids to my uncles.  If he did that, he would never leave me behind.”  He said his voice cracking.  He yelled out once again.

“Brian would never leave you behind.  He’s just lost again.  If we found him once, we can sure as heck find him again.”  Sydney answered him.  This didn’t seem to work.  Sydney just didn’t know what to do.

“If Brian didn’t leave, why hasn’t he come back?”  Tommy hissed at her.  He called out three more times before stopping to catch his breath.

“Tom.”  A.j. said as he stepped forward.  He walked in front of Tommy and knelt down to his level.  “Your mother would never allow anything to happen to anyone in this group.  She is the one guiding those search groups, and she is the one who is going to bring him back.  She would never leave you alone in this world by taking him away.  Never.”  He said in a calm voice.  The young boy stopped what he was doing that instant.

“Really?”  He asked with hope in his voice.  A.j. gave a nod.

“I’d bet my visions on it.”  He said with a small smile.  The boy was beginning to listen to reason.

“But, what if he didn’t make it?”  He asked.  This was one of those very tough questions.

“Don’t say that because you know he did.  Brian’s out there somewhere.  It’s just a matter of time until he either finds us or we find him.”  A.j. answered.  Everyone watched in awe of how well A.j. could communicate with this child.

“Cross your heart?”  He asked, his piercing blue eyes stabbing into the grown mans.

“And hope to die.”  He answered with no hesitation.  He then straightened back up.  “Come on, let’s go back inside.  I’m actually getting sunburn for the first time in ages.”  He snickered.  The boy cracked a smile.  He stepped down from his rock and began to follow the adult group back inside.

“Good show old boy.”  Howie said to A.j. as they made their way back to the door.  Suddenly, Tommy stopped in his tracks.

“Wait!”  He shouted.  Everyone stopped.  No one knew what this was about.

“Is something wrong?”  Nick asked.  Tommy was silent for a moment.

“Didn’t you hear that?”  He asked, staying as still as possible.  Everyone was quiet.

“What are we listening for?”  Asked Kevin.  Tommy put his fingers to his lips.

“I heard a voice.  It sounded like it was really far away.”  He answered.  Sydney just shook her head.

“You are just imagining things.  If there was a voice, the rest of us would have heard it too.”  She said with a bit of frustration.  That is when Tommy’s voice was heard by all.

“Hello?  Is there anyone out there?”  The voice rang.  Though, it wasn’t as though they had heard it in their ears, but in their heads.

“What the heck was that?”  Howie asked out loud.  No one had an answer for him.  They just stood there.

“Hello?  I can hear you, but where are you?” the voice came again.  No one could think of where is could have been coming from.

“Hang on, I’ll find it.”  Kevin said.  He closed his eyes and began to concentrate.  His eyes then flew open, but his iris and pupils were pure white.  He was searching the waves in which the voice had come.  Suddenly, he let out a choked noise and came back to his own head.  His returning eye color was bright as his eyes were wide.

“It’s him.  I saw him!”  He breathed out.

“Who?  Who did you see?”  Nick asked.  Kevin tried to regain his stature.

“It’s Brian!  He’s isn’t even a mile out!”  He said with joy.  Everyone else began to cheer.

“He’s alive!  Dear god, he’s alive!”  Sydney said as she hugged her dad.

“I can go get him Captain!  All you need to do is point me in the direction.”  Aaron asked with his smile beaming.  Kevin pointed off in the distance to the east.  Aaron gave a nod and with one kick of his foot was airborne.

“I shall return!”  He called down to his friends.  He flew through the air at top speed, trying not to blink as dust hit him in the eyes.  He looked at the ground, hoping to see a sign of life.

“Come on, where are you!”  He said to himself.  He never took his eyes from the broken ground below him.  Suddenly, he spotted a bit of movement.  His heart leaped up into his throat with hope.

“Hey!  Hey you, down there!”  He yelled down.  The thing that was moving stopped and looked up.  It then waved one arm in the air and signaled for Aaron to come down.

“You better be the right person.”  He whispered as he came in for the landing.  As he drew closer, he began to recognize the clothing that Brian had been wearing before leaving for battle.  Aaron’s heart began to beat faster as he landed on his two feet in front of Brian.

“Oh thank god you found me!”  He said with such great happiness.  Aaron couldn’t believe that Brian was standing before him alive.  The only injuries that were present were a few minor scratches and a burn on his arm.  Otherwise that, he looked just fine.

“You are a piece of work, you know that?  What are you, the immortal man?”  Aaron joked.  He didn’t know what to do.

“Not immortal, just darn lucky.”  Brian answered.  Aaron then pulled out a little communicator from his back pocket.

“Black Hawk, this is Black Bear.  Come in Black Hawk!”  He spoke into it.  There was a bit of static before a response.

“Black Bear, this is Black Hawk.  What in your status? Over!”  Kevin’s voice rang through the machine.  Aaron could barely contain his happiness.

“I have Dragon Heart in custody!  Repeat, I have Dragon Heart in custody!  Requesting transport back to base, over!”  He said.  He could see Brian shifting something out of the corner of his eyes.  He turned to see that he was actually holding a person.  Aaron didn’t know how he didn’t see it before.

“Who is that?”  Aaron asked as he waited for a response.

“This is a body that belongs to someone else.  I’m just bringing it back to them.”  He answered with pride.  Brian shifted so that Aaron could see its face.  He jumped back when he realized that it was the body of Irope.

“Black Bear, this is Golden Eagle!  Do you read, over!”  Another voice came.

“Yeah, what’s going on?  Over!”  Aaron answered.

“We have sent a cargo to come and get you.  Consider this ordeal done with.”  Howie’s voice rang.  Brian let out a loud cheer.  He grabbed the communicator from Aaron.

“Golden Eagle, I have something for you!  I’ll see you all back at the base!  This is Swift Wolf, over and out!”  Brian laughed into it.  This was the end of all of the suffering.  Everyone was given what they had wanted.  The invaders were gone, Brian was alive and the group had received the greatest gift of all.  Hope.  Hope that the future was going to be brighter than the sun that beat down on them.  Hope that their children would have the life they were given.  Yet, as Brian watched the small jet come closer to them, a thought was nagging at him.

“How do I go home?”  He asked himself.  He still really did want to go back to his own time.  Maybe he could have prevented any of this pain from happening.  Yet, how could he leave them now?  He’s already done it once, why do it again.  These thoughts plagued him as a ladder fell from the jet.  Two military men came down and helped carry the body of Irope into the plane.  Brian forced the thoughts to the back of his head.  He couldn’t be burdened by them right now.  For now, he just wanted to rest.  His own time would just have to wait.

The base was filled with laughter and joy when the men returned.  Everyone was celebrating their new freedom.  There was music playing and couples dancing about.  It had been so long since they had heard the beautiful melodies without fear that they would be captured.  The group that had been rescued were resting and eating more than their fragile bodies could handle.  Everyone was so happy.

“After nineteen years of invaders, we can finally live in peace.”  Kevin said with a smile on his face.  Brian, who was standing next to him, didn’t know if he felt the same way.  Sure, he was happy that the world was now a safer place because of him, but the thought kept coming to him.

“Kevin, do you think that all of this would have happened if I didn’t disappear?  I mean, one person can change everything.  We’ve shown that today.”  He asked his cousin.  The smile slowly left Kevin’s face.  He looked deep in thought.

“Honestly, I don’t know.  Yet, we don’t know the future either but we never question it.  Why question what has already happened?”  He said.  Brian hadn’t really thought about it.

“But…”  He let out, but Kevin put up his hand.

“Brian, we can’t go on thinking about the what-if’s and should-have-been’s.  It’s not good for the heart or mind.  In your case, your heart can’t take that kind of stress.”  He answered.  Once again, Brian knew that he was totally right about everything.   Before he could say anything else, Sydney came up and pulled Kevin into the crowd of dancers.

“Such a wise man.”  Brian said to himself with a half smile.  He watched Sydney and Kevin as they glided across the floor, seeming to be on air.  It was the perfect father daughter moment.  Suddenly, Brian felt a tug on his arm.  He looked down to see Tommy beaming up at him.

“Come on Daddy Brian!  They want you to give a speech!”  He exclaimed.  He began to pull Brian toward a raised up area in the room.  On it was the Kitara captain and General Wendt.  The both helped Brian onto the platform.

“Good work.  I am sure you will be a great general someday.”  General Wendt said holding out her hand.  Brian shook it briefly.

“May I have your attention please?  Attention!”  Captain Huntzicker called out to the crowd.  The music came to a halt and everyone looked up to the platform.  Brian had never felt so shy in his entire life until this moment.  In the crowd, he could see all of his friends.  Even Howie, who had been returned to his correct body.  Though it did have a few bumps and bruises, he was very grateful.

“Everyone, victory has been handed to us and we have won!”  General Wendt yelled out.  The crowd cheered and clapped.  Captain Huntzicker put his hand up to silence them.

“Yet, we would have not achieved this if it weren’t for one, brave hero.  He was been missing for twenty years, only to turn up just days ago.  His heroics will not go unnoticed and to him, I am granting him the highest award the military and the world could give.  Brian Thomas Littrell, would you please step forward?”  The Captain announced.  Out the corner of his eye, he could see Nick and Kevin come up onto the platform.  Captain Huntzicker handed them both objects that Brian could not see.  Both of them looked very professional.  First, Nick came forward.

“Brian, this award signifies that you are now an honorary general with the top ranks.  You have been the greatest friend that I have ever known, and I am glad to be working by your side once more.  Congratulations buddy.”  Nick said as he placed the silverish metal round Brian’s neck.  He held the award in his hand and read the small inscription on it.  As he looked at it in total amazement, Nick stepped back and allowed Kevin to come forward.

“I too have witness the heroics of this man.  All my life I have known him as a direct member of my family and a true friend.  When he disappeared those many years ago, I thought I would never see him again.  I waited twenty years, but he did return.  When he did, he was told that I was dead.  I tried my hardest to try and tell him that I wasn’t and somehow he believed me.  He released me from the body that I had been imprisoned and returned my daughter to my arms.  I am a great debt to him that I will never be able to repay.  Brian, you’ve done the impossible and freed the entire world.  For that, you have earned the highest rank.”  Kevin spoke.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a black box.

“We love you Brian!”  Brian could hear from the crowd.  He watched as Kevin opened the box and pulled out a gold object.

“Brian, this is called the Underground Coat of Arms.  Not even I have earned this award yet.  This is only given to the people who display all of the traits of a messenger of God.  To you I grant this with great honor.”  He announced.  The crowd went crazy as he placed it around Brian’s neck.  He never felt so proud in his life.  He smiled at everyone that was around.

“I really don’t have anything to say.  Just, thank you.”  He said.  Everyone was still clapping as he stepped down from the platform.  He was then suddenly hit with a flying body as it latched onto him.  He looked down to see Tommy was there.  He just chuckled as he broke that grip.

“Hang on there kiddo.  I still need my circulation in my legs.”  He joked.  He could see the others coming up behind the small boy.

“Congratulations are in order.”  Howie said, holding out his hand.  Brian shook it as A.j. came up beside him.

“Those are some prize honors you got there B-Rok.  You are darn lucky to have them.”  He said with a huge smile on his face.  Brian couldn’t help but feel a great sense in pride for what he had been given.  He felt like he were on cloud nine.

“I couldn’t have done it without any of you.  I mean, we’re a team.  We’ve always been a team and there will be nothing that changes that my aged friends.”  He answered.  Just then, there was something he realized that he needed to do.  He started to walk away when someone grabbed his shoulder.

“Hey, where are you going?  The parties just begun!”  Said Sydney.  He let go of his shoulder so he could turn to face her.

“I just need to go talk to someone in private.  You understand, right?”  He said, looking into her dark brown eyes.  She had to think for a moment before it dawned on her.

“Oh, right.  All right, I guess I will see you in a bit.”  She said.  She waved goodbye and then vanished back into the eager crowd.  He watched her go before setting off again.  It took a little bit of work, but he managed to break off from the crowd of dancers and started down a narrow corridor.  He knew exactly what he needed to do.  Hopefully, they were up to listening.

“It was unbelievable!  He actually turned the entire station into a large gladiator stadium.  He thought that it would be good fun for his people to see a fight.  But I did it.”  He said with enthusiasm.  Of course, his listener couldn’t speak back.  He looked at his once energetic Kari in her glass coffin.  She was going to be brought back to the Underground with them, if they ever returned.  He wished that she could have reacted, but fate had dealt her a difficult hand.  Yet to Brian, she still looked as beautiful as ever.

“I know it was you that healed me.  It couldn’t have been anyone else.”  He said as he sat down next to the resting place.  Once again, there was no answer.

“I just wish I knew why you had to die.  You had lived through everything that had happened to you in these twenty years.  I can’t believe that one blast that blinded you didn’t end your long life.  You were a true survivor.  Why did you have to go now?”  He said softly.  These questions burned in his mind.  They were just so hard to over come.

“For some odd reason, this was much easier when I thought that Kevin was dead.  I knew that he had had a long life and died doing something that he loved.  Yet, you were just an innocent bystander that was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I guess it’s that innocence that really makes the difference.”  He whispered, gazing at her pale face.  He felt a lump begin to grow in his throat.

“Tommy is doing much better.  His still misses you like nothing else, but he has returned to acting like a ten year old boy.  He was clung to me the minute I told him that I would take care of him.  I can’t image losing my mother or father right before my very eyes.  I just hope that he carry’s on your legacy just like the others and I will.  We all love you so much.”  He struggled to get out.  He then took the metals off of his neck and placed them on top of the coffin.

“These really belong to you.  Without you, I would have never been about to achieve these.”  He said.  Suddenly, as the metals left his hand, the room went totally dark.  Brian couldn’t even see his hand in front of his face if he really wanted to.

“Hey, what’s going on here?”  He yelled out.  The whole room had disappeared right in front of his eyes.  He put his hands out and felt around, but could touch nothing.

“What’s happening?”  He screamed.  He started to run as fast as he could, trying to find anything.  Then, without warning, he tripped over an object protruding from the floor.  As he hit the floor, he saw two torches light up before him.  He looked up at them with awe.

“What the?”  He asked himself.  The torches seemed to light up an entirely new area.  The coffin with the metals was now gone.  In its place was a just stone structure.  When Brian slowly moved his eyes upward, he saw that it was a giant Sphinx.

“How strange.”  He said as he pulled himself up.  All around the structure were hundreds of statues of cats.  Any kind of cat a person could think of.  Brian then turned around and couldn’t help but to look down.  The whole area was floating in what appeared to be a sea of stars.  It was like nothing he had ever seen.

“Where am I?”  He asked.  He never though he would get an answer.  At that moment, two glowing green cats eyes appear in front of his face.  He let out a loud scream a quickly stepped back.  The eyes just stared at him.

“Who are you?”  He said with total fear.  A light snicker filled the air.

Welcome Brian.”  As a figure began to appear.  “To my humble home.  It hissed.  Brian felt frozen in his tracks.  He watched as the shapely figure began to emerge from the starry night sky.  It was a tall woman wearing some very odd clothing for this day and age.  She wore a long red skirt with gold trimmed slits down it’s length.  There was a gap between that and the top she wore in the same coloring, just with short sleeves.  Upon her head of black hair was a crown similar to the one he had seen in pictures of Cleopatra.  Yet, out of all of those features, only one struck him the most.  She had the face of a cat and her body was covered in dark brown fur.  She smiled at him with her fangs pointing out from her lips.

“What, what are you?”  He choked out.  He appeared to glide through the air before landing softly in front of him.

“It is not the matter of what, it is who.”  She said in a playful voice.  She was very intriguing to Brian as her walked around him.  Her eyes were the most stunning of them all.

“Well, then who are you?”  he asked.  The cat woman didn’t answer right away.  She just walked over to a giant throne in front of the Sphinx and sat down.

“I have many names, but you may call me Mirage.”  She answered.  She was very poised and proper that Brian could easily overlook the cat part.

“Mirage?  You’re that evil cat lady I learned about in mythology!”  He exclaimed.  Mirage just let out a little chuckle.

“Is that what you humans are saying about me now?  I assure you that I am not evil, and never have been in my life.  It’s just as you had put it.  Just a myth.”  She said with a sly smile.  Brian didn’t want to come any closer.  Many things were flying through his head as this moment and he didn’t know what to do.  Suddenly, Mirage stood up.

“Brian, I bet you are wondering why I have brought you here.”  She said as she approached him.  All Brian could do was nod.  Mirage placed a hand on his cheek as if to be getting a better look at him.  He could feel her sharp claws against his skin.  He was afraid that she might decide to use them.

“Yes, indeed I am.”  He answered, pulling away.  Mirage didn’t seem to mind this.  She let out a soft sigh.

“Brian, this is not the easiest thing to tell you.  You have to understand that I did it for your own good.  It just went a little wrong.”  She said with such worry.  Brian raised an eyebrow in confusion.

“Alright, now you’re going to tell me what went wrong.”  He said, trying to lighten things up.  It didn’t seem to work all that great.  Mirage looked very upset.

“It was my fault that you were sent to the future.  The fact is, I didn’t know that was going to happen.  You were suppose to come to me, but instead you must have fallen into some kind of rip.  You went into that alternate dimension and there was nothing I could do at the time to get you back.”  She explained.  Unfortunalty, Brian didn’t really understand any of it.

“Oh whoa, hang on there!  You mean to tell me that I was put there not because I wanted to leave?”  he asked with fury in his eyes.

“That was only half of the reason.  This is so hard for me to tell you this, but I guess I have to.  Brian, I’m your mother.”  She said.  Brian felt like he had been hit by a bus.  The news just stunned him.  He let out a strangled noise before clearing his throat.

“What?” was all he managed to get out.  Mirage looked deeply into his eyes.

“I am your mother and you are my son.”  She said with sincerity.  Brian felt like his entire head was swimming with thoughts.  He didn’t know whether to believe this being before him or not.  Then again, if he hadn’t believed Hawk, he would have never gotten Kevin back.

“I already have a mother.  She’s down on earth with my brother and father.”  He answered her, trying to keep his cool.  She just smiled lightly at him.

“I know.  She and I are one and the same.”  She said.  Before Brian could answer to that, she transformed herself into a new figure.  She looked exactly like Brian’s mom.  Brian stepped back, shocked by what he was seeing.

“This simply can’t be.  If you are my mother, then Harold would be just like me and I wouldn’t be the only one standing here.”  He snapped.  His anger was hiding his real feelings, but he didn’t really care at this point.

“If you would allow me to explain, it will clear up everything.”  She said as she changed back to her real body.  She then turned and sat back onto her throne.  “Sit dear boy.  This may take a little bit.”  She purred.  A chair suddenly appeared behind Brian and he was forced into it.

“And I want nothing but the truth.  No sugar coating it like some people would.”  He said, never taking his sharp eyes off of Mirages’.

“Of course you will hear the truth.  I would never lie to you even if I had to.”  She cooed.  She then waved a hand in front of her.  What looked like a window appeared where it had been.  In it were several images whizzing by at a very high speed.  Just like that room Brian had been in earlier.

“Wow, that’s kind of cool.”  He let out.  Mirage just chuckled.

“If you allow it, I shall begin.”  She said.  Brian just nodded and looked into the window.  The images had begun to slow down.  “I have lived since the dawn of very time.  There is a God, of course, but he does have many servants to help him in certain areas.  For him, I was the Goddess of the sky’s.  I hold to key to every living thing on earth.  From plants, to animals, to human beings themselves, I am the one who watches them.  If something were to go wrong, I would either fix it or report it to the chief himself.”  She paused for a moment.  Brian watched the images that flared up with wonder.  They were all very beautiful.  “When those beings die and come to heaven, some of them will come to my realm.  Here, I will take care of them while they live in paradise for their eternity.  Yet, with all of the people I help and care for, I was very lonely.  I asked God if there were some way to have a child that would rule my realm with me.  I wanted it so badly, it was all I could thing about.  None the less, God is a very caring man, you probably already knew that.  He granted my request and I am forever grateful to this.  About five-thousand years ago, you were born to me.  It was one of the greatest days that had ever happened.  All of the gods were rejoicing and celebrating the birth of the new prince of the sky’s.  It was such a beautiful day.  You were such a miracle to me and I never wanted to let you go.”  She explained.  She stopped again, as if a memory was very hard.  On the window, Brian could see Mirage holding a small child.  It looked exactly like her, down to the cat features.

“There’s a but in the story, isn’t there?”  he asked.  She quietly nodded.

“Yes, there is.  There is this one rule in the world of the gods.  Every new god or goddess born must spend five-thousand years on earth as a human.  It was the most difficult thing I had to do, giving you up.  I had never felt heart break before then.  I watched as my friend Shadower took you down to Earth.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Shadower turned you human just before he handed you off to a family that could not have children.  You were the greatest gift that they had ever been given.  I remember their faces, such happiness and joy.  All I could feel was sadness, and maybe a little bit of regret.  Do understand I do love you, but I didn’t have any choice.”  She said, her eyes filling with tears.  Brian took her by the hand.

“It’s alright, I do understand.  Yet, how could I have lived so long and no one noticing that the same person was coming back?  I mean, I have looked the same since then.”  He asked.

“Well, there were breaks in between your life times.  That way no one would know.  I watched you grow up as a human many different times.  Each time was a new adventure, a brand new beginning.  It was hard enough to do my job, but now I had something to keep me very occupied.  Then, the time finally came.  Your final lifetime had begun.  You had twenty seven years left of being on earth.  I decided that I would come down this time.  This was the biggest thing I had ever done.  I had to get Shadower to watch over my realm as well as his when I left.  It was not easy to do, but I used magic against a widower and his young son.  They both now think that I am his wife and his mother.  Almost everything that was done was nothing but a big illusion.”  She said, trying to remember all of the details.

“What about my illness?  Was that an illusion?”  Brian asked, still gazing at the pictures.

“No, I’m afraid not.  Your illness was just a sign to me that your body was getting ready to return to the skies.  I just didn’t anticipate that it would happen so early.  Either way, your father insisted that the hole be fixed, even though I knew you couldn’t actually die.  It didn’t matter though, I was there with you and I didn’t have to watch from afar anymore.  I took such pride in you, especially when you met those friends of yours and become American icons.  That was so wonderful, and your voice was just like the angels.  Finally, the last day of your earth sentence came.  Those feelings that you had, the ones that told you that you wanted to leave?  They were just your instincts telling you that it was time.  Your body was suppose to die in your sleep that night.”  She answered.  Brian’s eyes got really big at the last comment.

“Die?  As in dead, finished, not living?”  he stuttered out.

“Yes, and it was going to be blamed on your heart condition.”  Mirage said without a problem.  Brian felt like he was going to fall over.

“But, what about my friends?  I couldn’t leave them like that!”  He yelled.  He couldn’t tell if it was anger, or just plain shock.

“It’s just one of those things with mortal life.  Yet, your body didn’t die that night.  For some strange reason, you were cast into a rip into an alternate dimension.  In that world, everything that could have happened, did happen.  Only it did because you weren’t there.  I was amazed when your friends actually knew something was wrong.  They are very attentive.”  She explained.  Brian thought for a moment.

“Hold on for a minute.  If you are all powerful and stuff, why didn’t you just zap me back?”  he asked.  Of course Mirage had an answer.

“Believe me, I tried.  But when I discovered the problem, something else had gotten in my way.”  She said.  Now Brian had to know.

“What was it?”  he asked.  She just smiled slyly at him.

“Love.  When I first saw that you had been put there, you had already found the girl you call Kari.  In her teenage years, you thought of her as a friend even a sister.  Yet, when I saw you with her when she was older, your heart was telling me a different story.  I know you fell in love with her.  You loved her like you loved your wife.”  She answered.  Brian didn’t know what to say.  He couldn’t comfirm is, but he couldn’t deny it.

“I guess, you have to be telling the truth.”  He said.  The pictures of the window changed once more.  This time, it was something he hadn’t seen before.

“I hope you know understand that I never meant for any of this to happen.  All I wanted was to have my son back with me and to share my kingdom.”  She said in a hushed voice, tears forming once again in her eyes.  “I love you more than anything I have ever known.  I have waited five thousand years to bring you here.  I just hope that you will forgive me.”  Brian looked closely at the image.  It was him as Mirage wanted him to be.  Even with all of the cat features, he could see many of his physical traits in the new body.  He didn’t know what to do.

“Hang on, then how did I get those weird powers down there?  You know, the ones that let me hear peoples thoughts?”  he asked with anxiety.  Mirage felt a bit overwhelmed by all of his questions, but was more than glad to answer them.

“I did that for you and your friends.  I thought that as long as you had them, life would be a whole long easier than what it was.”  She said calmly.  She was beginning to look a little more poised than she had before.  Brian just sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

“I don’t want to be up here with you.  I’m sorry, I just can’t do this.”  He exclaimed as he stood up from his chair, his head pounding with all this new information.

“But, why?  You would be here with me, and be an immortal.”  She asked, touching his shoulder.  He pulled away.

“I don’t want to leave my friends and family.  I don’t want to watch them grieve my death and have them living their lives thinking about me.  It’ll be just too hard.”  He said.  Mirage had almost broken down in tears.

“I know it is your choice, but I just wish you would stay.”  She said.  Brian walked over and hugged her tightly.

“Don’t cry Mom.  I really would like to stay, but you know I can’t.  Not after what I’ve been through.”  He comforted.  Just then, he got what he thought was a brilliant idea.  “Tell you what.  If you allow me to go back, I promise I will live with you here for eternity.  Only if you let me go.”  He said, looking straight into her eyes.  She paused for a moment.

“No, I’ve been away from my home for too long.  I just want things to go back to normal.”  She said.  He could tell that she didn’t want to lose him again.  He understood to the fullest.

“I promise I will come to you when this body dies.  A Littrell never goes back on his word.  Dad always taught me that and I have never forgotten it.  Please, just give it a chance.”  He pleaded.  Mirage wouldn’t look him in the eye.

“That is highly against our orders…”  She stopped for a moment.  “But your request will be granted.  We cannot bring our own back to our word unwillingly.  They must come when they feel it is right.”  Brian felt happiness fill him from head to toe.  Yet, he still felt sorry for Mirage.  She was his mother after all, the only mother he had thought he knew.  He loved her with all of his heart and couldn’t bare to see her unhappy.

“Mom, I want you to stay on Earth with me.  You have been my mother this whole time, why change it now?”  he said.  Mirage didn’t speak.  “And, I want to remember everything that had happened.  I know you higher up folks don’t like people like me remembering things like this.”  He smiled brightly.  Mirage felt a little better.

“Sounds like a prefect deal to me.”  She said with a tiny smile.  She then backed up and raised her hands to the darkened sky.

“Here goes.”  Brian sighed.  Mirage closed her eyes as the world around her silenced at her feet.

“All mighty hands that rule this earth.  So shall his request be written, so shall it be done.  Allow this man to leave in peace and good riddance, until it is his time to join the gods once again.”  She chanted.  Brian felt his feet slip from the earth.  His body was gently falling from Mirages home as she looked down upon him.  He watched her face fade away as he fell through the clouds.

“This isn’t so bad.”  He said to himself.  As he continued on, he felt his eyelids become heavier and heavier.  It felt like someone had tied coins to his eyes.

“No, must stay awake!”  he urged himself, but it was no use.  His eyes snapped shut and his body was placed into a deep slumber.  He couldn’t have known what was going on around him but it was the things that dreams are made of.  The world around him was gone.  It didn’t even dawn on him that he had forgotten to tell Mirage what time he wanted to be placed back into.

Hey buddy, can you hand me that bag?”  A voice in the distance said.  Brian was beginning to wake up from his ordeal.  He could hear some noises in the background, but just couldn’t make out what they were.  His brain hadn’t woken up quite yet.

“Hello?”  He whispered.  He could tell that if anybody was around, they hadn’t heard him.  He tried to open his eyes, but they just wouldn’t.  The effects of Mirage’s magic hadn’t worn off.  He could feel that he was in a bed of some sort, but without his sight he didn’t know where he was.

“Help.”  He choked out, but it still wasn’t loud enough.  Suddenly, he felt a weight come down onto his chest.  The feeling of panic struck him and he instantly snapped his eyes open and shot forward.  To his surprise, his head connected with that of another.  He fell backward, holding his head.  He could feel the weight leave him and heard a loud thud as it fell off the bed.

What the heck is going on up there?”  A voice from behind Brian yelled in a sort of hushed tone.  Brian looked around to see that he was in his normal bunk bed.  He grabbed the curtain that blocked his view and thrust it open.

“It’s you!”  He cried out.  His heart felt like it was flying.  He watched as Kari stood up, rubbing her head.

“Wow, I am never doing that again.”  She said, looking up at him.  He had never been so happy to see her bright blue eyes.

“Kari!  You’re alive!”  He said as he grabbed her into a hug.  She began to struggle against him.

“What?  Of course I’m alive you dolt!  Now, let go of me!  You’re breaking my ribs!”  She said as she tried to break his grip.  Brian didn’t want to let the girl go, until she bit him in the arm.  He drew back as she looked at him with confusion.

“You must think I’m insane.”  He said to her.  She gave a short nod and began to walk towards the back of the bus.

“Oh yeah, I’m getting Kevin.  He’ll judge if you are sick or not.”  She said.  Brian didn’t have time to get out a protest before Kari came back with Kevin.

“Brian, Kari says that you nearly killed her when she woke you up.”  He laughed.  Brian looked at Kevin’s bed head and pajama’s and couldn’t help how young he really did look.  After you’ve seen your friends of the future, you seem to notice this.

“I’m fine, really.  I just had a really weird dream and I thought it was true.”  He tried to explain.  He knew that he was lying right through his teeth, but that no one would believe him either.

“You’re such a drama queen Kari.”  A.j. said as he passed by them to get to his suitcase.  Brian kind of missed his little cocky remarks. 

“What was your dream about Rok?”  Howie asked, peering out of his bunk.  Brian didn’t know if he should tell them.  Sure, they would never believe it.  Yet, it was a terrible risk to his mother and family if someone got a little suspious.

“Nothing.  It was nothing, really.  I don’t even remember it anymore.”  He answered.  Howie just shrugged and returned to what he was doing.  Brian breathed a sigh of relief when no one asked anymore questions.  This had already been hard enough without the interrogation.  He had never felt more at home and happy.

“Oh great, Nick isn’t up yet.”  Kari said.  She reached into her bunk and pulled out a blow horn.  She calmly walked past Brian and popped her hand inside Nick’s bunk.

“You might want to move.  You know what happens.”  She smiled slyly.  Brian pressed himself to the wall and braced for what was coming.  Kari gave the blow horn a sharp toot and only had three seconds to think.  All Brian could see was a bright blue streak go by with a big green one coming after it.  Nick wasn’t very happy with the wake up call.  Brian couldn’t help but chuckle to himself as he grabbed some clothes out of his suitcase.

“Yep, it’s great to be home.” He whispered.  He had gained a new found faith and never wanted to give it up.  Being here with everyone just felt right.  He was back in his own time, and his own life.

That night, Brian had never been so excited for a concert since a long time ago.  He was practically bouncing off of the walls.  He couldn’t even believe that he wanted to give all of this up.  He stood by the back doors, listening to the fans scream and yell.  It was giving him the biggest high he had ever felt.

“Another day, another concert.”  Kevin sighed as he put on his first costume.  No one knew why Brian was acting this way.  Just yesterday, he seemed to hate doing this and wanted it gone.  None of them could figure out why he had such a big change of heart.

“Listen to them!  Aren’t they great?”  Brian said, returning to a chair near the back corner of the dressing room. 

“Brian, they sound like they do any other night.  What has gotten into you?”  Nick laughed.  Brian just smiled at him.

“I guess I thought about what it would be like if none of this had ever happened.”  He said.  Nick raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, and how would that be?”  He asked.  Brian’s smile never faded.

“A living nightmare.  I’d rather be stuck on the road any day than have to go through what I saw.”  He said.  Nick still looked a little confused, but didn’t press on.

“Dudes, you might want to check the fridge back at the bus.  If that old piece of pizza is gone, most likely Brian ate it and it made him all crazy.”  He announced to the entire room.  Kari’s eyes brightened up when she heard this.

“If he did, somebody owns me a twenty!”  She yelled out.  Brian just shook his head.  He knew that no piece of pizza could have done what he had been through.  Still, in the back of his mind, something was bothering him.  He hadn’t stopped thinking about Tommy the whole day.  He wanted to know if the boy was safe, if he understood why he was gone.  He didn’t even want to think about the ten year olds reaction when he never came back.  It just hurt him.  Now that he was looking at Kari, he kept seeing Tommy’s wide eyes and blonde hair flash in his memory.  He didn’t even realize that he was staring at Kari in a trance like state until she looked up at him.

“What?  Do I have something on my face?”  She asked.  Brian suddenly snapped out of his little world and back to reality.

“Uh, no.  I was just wondering if you’ve done anything with your hair.”  He said quickly.  Kari must never know that she was a mother in an alternate universe.  Let alone know that she was a dead mother in an alternate universe.

“Alright guys, five minutes to show!”  Their manager said from the doorway.  Tension began to grow with the anticipation.  Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.  One of the makeup people walked over and opened the door.  Behind it was a man in his mid to late twenties holding a camera.

“Hi, I’m from the newspaper here in town.  Do you think I could get an exclusive shot before the group hits the stage?”  He asked.  The man was very tall, probably the same height as Kevin or Nick.  His dirty blonde hair hung just above his blue eyes.  Brian had a feeling that he had seen this man sometime before, but didn’t know where.

“I don’t see why not.”  Howie said, standing up from his chair.  The man got the whole group together when he spotted Kari by one of the work stations.

“You should be in it too.  After all, you are part of the group right now.”  He smiled.  Kari got this weird smirk on her face as she walked over to join her brother.

“Make sure you get my good side!”  A.j. joked.  Everyone snickered.

“Too bad you don’t have one.”  Kari shot back just as the camera flash went off.  Everyone was blinded for a few seconds from the brightness.

“Thanks guys, this is going to look great on the front page.”  He said.  Nick then looked down at his watch.

“Oh man, we better get out there.”  He said.  All of them began to leave the room when Brian got this weird urge to turn around.  He knew that there was no one else in the room except for the photographer, but this feeling didn’t stop.  He spun around and let out a gasp.  The man with the camera has disappeared without a trace.  He looked around, but there was no sign.

“What?”  Brian asked himself as he walked a little ways back into the room.  He then heard a strange noise under his foot.  He looked down to see the pass that the man had had around his neck.  He picked it up and looked at it.

“He’s going to want this.”  He said as he carried it out of the room, following the others down the hall.  That is when he notices a note poking out of the back of the pass.  He pulled it out and slowly opened it.  The paper seemed really old.

“How odd.”  He said as he continued through the long hallway.  As he began to read it, the sudden realization hit him like a ton of bricks.

Dear Brian,
I know this is going to seem quite a shock to you, but please don’t have a heart attack.  It’s me, Tommy.  It’s been many years since you came and gone and things have been better than ever.  Captain Richardson says that is it just like before the invaders came.  The world is so beautiful and green.  I had never seen a meadow before now.  I am now 28 years old and have a family of my own.  I have a wonderful wife, a daughter names Alicia Karoline, and a son I named after you Brian.  I wish they could have met you, I’m sure glad I did.  I miss you so much, about as much as I miss Mom.  You never said how beautiful she was at her age.  In our new world, we now have the technology to travel to the past, future and even different worlds.  Of course, it was Sydney that invented it.  She is a genius.  General Carter, Uncle Aaron, Captain Dorough, and Uncle A.j. wish the best to you and their younger selves.  A.j. has even found his lost daughter Victoria!  It’s been quite a trip.  I bid you good luck with everything, and I will never forget you.  God’s speed to you Daddy Brian.  God’s speed indeed.
With Love, Sergeant Thomas Scott Carter and family.

Brian thought his eyes were playing tricks on him.  He read the letter over again, without noticing that everyone else was getting strapped in for the beginning song.

“Yo, earth to Brian!  Get over here!”  A.j. yelled.  Brian shook his head hard and looked around.  He didn’t know what to say.  He slowly folded the letter up and placed it into his pocket.  He then climbed up onto his pedestal and was getting buckled in.

“Dude, you need your head checked out.  I think Kari did some damage this morning.”  Nick said as the seconds ticked by.

“No, no, I’m fine now.  Just fine.”  He said.  Brian watched as the lights went out and heard the crowd get louder.  It was deafening.

“Here we go!”  Yelled one of the tech people.  Brian took a deep breath and prepared himself for the raising up.  He kept remembering the words in the letter.

“This one’s for you Tommy.”  He said under his breath.  With that, his body was pushed up through the stage.  No one on earth could have known what was in Brian’s head that night.  Only that he gave the greatest show in his entire life.