"The new drug is ready for proper field testing." Mad Scientist said. He was a hologram speaking to a physical being. The aged figure of The General faced the wheelbound paraplegic genius.
"Use Major Henry to move the first version to the necessary parties. Have it escorted by Foxy." The General said. "They are to observe and report back the direct results to me."
"And what of the second?" Mad Scientist asked, his voice echoed metallically.
"Have Candace deliver it to the distributors. It is time they received their paid products. Tell her I want regular updates."
"Of course General." And the Mad Scientist disappeared leaving the General to his thoughts.
It had more than an hour since he received word from The Specialist about the interference of the Angels. This was troubling news.
The General stood in the midst of the dark, silent room. His mind worked, humming out schemes and plans. He made a mental note to pressure Darya to find the traitor in their pack.
"Our plans will be delayed no longer." The General said.
“General, sorry to disturb you.” A hologram of Shadow said. He replaced the space once taken up by Mad Scientist.
“Report.” The General said.
“My agents went after the head of the Godwin family but they report he has been relocated, most likely by the Angels.”
“Damn.” The General said, punching the wall with gritted teeth. “Any other leads on the Obsidian crystal?”
“None. Should I pursue the Godwins further?”
“...No. Refocus your attention on arming our forces.”
“Mr. Godwin, do you understand?” Phoenix asked. His red shades faced the queried expression of Mr. Chinoso Godwin who was still puzzling what had occurred within the last hour.
“I’m sorry, simply taking it all in. Once more thank you for saving my family.” Chinoso responded. The room was lit by several light sources except the curtains were drawn. The air smelt of fresh furniture. The pair of individuals seemed to be in a sitting room of sorts.
“Just doing my job.” Phoenix said.
“And please, call me Chinoso. When can I see my son?”
“Very soon. We must…”
“Do some talking first, understandable.”
“You are aware of your family heirloom.”
“The object beneath my oil field that produces the oil? Yes I am.”
“Tell me of its history.”
“Not much to tell I’m afraid. Passed down through the years, both the key and the object is shrouded in mystery. My ancestors believed in magic and thought it a gift from the gods. I am of a… different opinion.”
“It is a piece of advanced technology whose power I have not truly tapped into. I tried to have it analysed but… none of the specialists could tell me anything useful except that the object was not of the Earth.”
“The key, I mean necklace, has the power to heal. For generations the family head wore it as an emblem of success and a symbol of power. With it, wounds healed in no time and the wearer never fell sick. They would age gracefully and die peacefully.” Chinoso said. “You said you confiscated both the object and the key?”
“Yes we did.”
“Please, I beg you. My son needs the key to live. He has cancer. My late wife had the same and she sacrificed herself for him. I will do anything you wish. Please. I cannot lose him.”
“You won’t lose me daddy.” Solomon said. He had appeared mysteriously alongside Shade.
Chinoso flew out of his chair, fell on his knees and squeezed Solomon in a tight hug. Solomon replied in full force.
“I am sorry for failing to protect your son. I do not require payment for my services.” Basil said. He had been standing behind Shade, who stood silently observing the room.
“Nonsense. Come here.” Chinoso said. He rose up and hugged Basil, stunning him momentarily.
“Thank you for protecting my son.” Chinoso said.
“But he got shot under my watch. If not for the Angels, he might be lost entirely to us.” Basil said.
“But he isn’t.” Chinoso said.
“Thank you Mr. Basil.” Solomon said.
Chinoso turned, refocusing his gaze on Phoenix.
“Special Agent Phoenix. Thank you. However, my son still requires the necklace.” Chinoso argued.
“Not anymore daddy. The doctors looked me over, they said I am fine and cancer-free.” Solomon said.
“How is that possible?” Chinoso asked in total disbelief.
“One of my teammates healed him.” Phoenix said.
“It’s a miracle.” Chinoso said.
Shade moved towards Phoenix, handing over a sealed envelope with the presidential seal of the American president.
“In this envelope are orders pertaining to our still unfinished deal.” Phoenix said.
“I will do it. Keep the object and key. I’m just glad to have my son back.” Chinoso said.
“What is going on dad?” Solomon asked.
“Life must change son. Some really awful people are hunting us and this kind man has offered to help us hide. However, we must listen to him.” Chinoso said.
The doorbell rang. Phoenix nodded to Shade and she went to answer it.
“It is almost time.” Phoenix said. “I am truly sorry you have to go through all of this.”
“Better safe than sorry.” Chinoso said. Inwardly, he knew he had to stand strong for his son.
“I am Special Agent Kevin with the US Marshals. Special Agent Phoenix I presume?” Kevin said escorted by Shade.
Phoenix handed over the sealed envelope to Kevin and gave him a few minutes to read it.
“I will have my lawyers liquidate and close up my business. Split the money into my swiss accounts.” Chinoso said.
“What about me?” Basil asked.
“You will be paid as agreed upon previously.” Chinoso said.
“Basil, you will return to base with us.” Phoenix said. Basil nodded.
“Presidential orders seem to be in check. I will tell my deputy to get the paperwork started.” Kevin said. “But Mr. Chinoso, you need to sign this.”
“What is it?” Chinoso asked.
“Memorandum of Understanding. It clarifies that you know what you are doing. This affair is to be kept secret. You will be given new identities and must not contact people from your old life. You also cannot return back home. You must maintain regular contact with us.” Kevin said.
“Oh. Of course.” Chinoso said.
Phoenix and Shade moved towards Basil.
“Is this goodbye?” Solomon asked.
“It is.” Phoenix said.
“Thank you Basil for keeping me safe.” Solomon said as he hugged Basil.
“I will see you around kiddo.” Basil said.
“What about Alfred, Ben and Charlotte?” Solomon asked.
“They are all fine.” Phoenix said.
“Tell them goodbye for me.” Solomon said.
“I will.” Phoenix promised.
“And thank Agent Wave for saving me.” Solomon said.
“I will” Phoenix said. “Let’s go.”
The trio of Phoenix, Shade and Basil disappeared into smoke.
“That was freaky.” Kevin said.
“Tell me about it.” Chinoso said.
“Do we have to change names as well?” Solomon asked.
“Just your last name.” Kevin said.
“Let’s call ourselves Gale.” Solomon said.
“Gale it is.” Chinoso said.
“And daddy, I want to study computers.” Solomon said.
“Whatever you want, so long as you promise to work hard at it.” Chinoso said.
“Promise.” Solomon said.
“This will be your new home for a bit. Until we can relocate you to elsewhere.” Kevin said. “You will also have 24 hour security. Anything you need can be delivered directly to this house through one of my agents. Welcome to the Witness Protection Program.”
Back in Area 51
“Nice jump.” Phoenix said.
Shade nodded and walked away. They group was in an office of sorts and Shade walked out the door.
“Why am I here?” Basil asked.
“You’ve been recalled to action.” Phoenix said.
“For what purpose?” Basil asked.
“To fight the biggest threat the world has ever faced.” General Beggingson said as he stepped into the office. “Lieutenant Basil, my name is General Beggingson.”
Basil saluted almost by instinct.
“At ease.” General Beggingson said.
“Here he is.” Phoenix said.
“Have you explained the situation to him Phoenix?” General Beggingson asked.
“Not yet.” Phoenix responded.
“Then this will be a very interesting chat. Follow me Lieutenant.” General Beggingson.
“Yes sir.” Basil said, walking behind the General. “Where are we? If you don’t mind me asking…”
“Area 51.” General Beggingson said to a bewildered Basil. “It’s real son.”
Phoenix walked the other way to the interrogation room. He had ordered his team to capture any leftovers from the failed invasion attempt of the boarding school and now he was going to see the fruits of their labor.
Interrogation room, Area 51
“I got little.” Shade said.
“Go.” Phoenix said. They were both seated in front of a passed out inmate who was being hauled away by guards.
“As we suspected, Skull Reich employed the local terrorist group to kidnap Solomon. They were fully financed and given high-end weaponry. They were promised something more should they succeed.” Shade explained.
“Promised what?” Phoenix asked.
“A bioweapon that turns people to mindless sheeps.” Shade said. This worried Phoenix greatly, it meant Mad Scientist had perfected his Zombot serum.
“One more thing. The Skull Reich representative that negotiated the deal was very different. From the visions he seemed metahuman almost. They called him the Specialist and they feared him very much. It looked like he could manipulate the movement of bullets already in motion. The perfect sniper.” Shade said.
This was grave news indeed.
“Tania, compile the necessary data and send it to Dr. Anna to be analyzed.” Phoenix said mentally.
“Understood.” Tania responded.
“Go and check on Chloe, I will meet you there.” Phoenix said. Shade nodded and walked away.
A few moments later…
“Fire!” Alfred, Ben and Charlotte shouted in joyous unison.
The trio had been locked in a containment room in the base and Phoenix had just unlocked the door.
“Cubs. Address me as Phoenix.” Phoenix said.
“Is Wave okay?” Charlotte asked.
“She will recover.” Phoenix said.
“So, what’s the score?” Alfred asked.
“The Godwins are under witness protection now. The artifact and key are secured. You all performed your mission very well.” Phoenix said.
“What happened to you?” Ben asked.
“I don’t know.” Phoenix said as his eyes swept across the concerned faces of his students. “One moment I was an aged man and the next I was a youngin like you lot with fire everywhere.”
“Talk about irony eh?” Charlotte said.
“The world must believe Fire is dead.” Phoenix said.
“Why?” Alfred asked.
“I am fighting an organization worse than anything I’ve ever faced before. Even with all this new power and my team, this organization threatens to completely eradicate our way of life.” Phoenix said.
“How bad are we talking?” Alfred asked.
“Bad.” Phoenix said. The room fell silent.
“You have our help in whatever way we can help.” Ben said.
“I will still require it in the future. Trust no one else, Skull Reich is everywhere.” Phoenix said.
“You got it.” Charlotte said.
“So… how do we get out of here? Where is here?” Alfred asked.
“You will be escorted out.” Phoenix said. “Ben, where do you think this is?”
“Underground military facility in the US. Probably in a desert. Wacky guess, Area 51.” Ben said.
“You have your answer.” Phoenix said.
“WOAH!” All three teens shouted.
“Are aliens real?” Alfred asked.
“Some other day. Goodbye cubs.” Phoenix said.
“Goodbye Phoenix.” They all replied.
Phoenix calmly walked away.
Medical bay, Area 51
Now, the entire team was huddled around Wave's bed. Phoenix, Quake, Shade, Aviator, Spectrum, Dr. Wong, Lt Col Colin and Dr. Anna found comfort in each other's company.
"The cover story for the School invasion is out. And the artifacts are secured in the same vault housing GM-X." Lt Col Colin said.
"More alien artifacts, my scientific inquiry is peaked." Dr. Anna said.
"I need analysis done on Wave. We need to understand what happened..." Phoenix asked.
"Results should be in soon." Dr. Wong said.
Quake sat by Wave’s head. He wore a grim, concerned expression upon his face. His out of character silence bore heavily into the room’s psyche.
“Congratulations on the promotion Colin.” Phoenix said.
“It was required for my new position as pseudo military head of Area 51 under General Beggingson while he focuses on setting up Department X.” Lt Col Colin explained.
“Department X, weird name.” Spectrum said.
“Also known as The Sentinel.” Lt Col Colin said.
“I heard Captain Hugh got a promotion as well.” Aviator said.
“All the better to facilitate development of Department X.” Lt Col Colin said.
Phoenix wondered if this was the state he was in after his battle with Avenger. Everyone watching him intensly for sign of recovery.
Vault housing alien artifacts, Area 51
“What a rock.” Adna said. She looked intently at the Obsidian crystal protected by invisible layers of security surrounded by dozens of other white-coated lab scientists.
“Indeed. To think the Angels were able to retrieve it for future study.” A scientist said as he passed a scanner above the crystal.
“Simply remarkable.” Adna noted.
“You must be new.” The scientist said.
“Just transferred from one of the other alternate Area 51 bases.” Adna said.
“Well, aliens are real and it is our job to figure out their technology for humanity’s sake.” The scientist said.
“Of course.” Adna said. “And this base is the home of the Angels?”
“In a manner of speaking.” The other scientist said.
Adna nodded and walked away.
Moments later, Adna’s room, Area 51
“It is I my lady Darya. I report with wonderful news.” Adna said whilst kneeling on a knee.
She spoke to a seated hologram of Darya.
“Report Adna.” Darya said.
“I have successfully penetrated Area 51.”
“But that isn’t all my lady. Aliens are real.”
“I see... That changes nothing in our plans.” Darya said very nonchalantly.
“And even bigger my lady. The Angels are hiding in Area 51.” Adna said. That caught Darya’s fleeting attention.
“Are you sure?” Darya asked.
“Yet to verify for myself my lady, I will soon.” Adna said with glee.
“You report directly and only to me, understand?” Darya said.
“Of course my lady. My loyalty is to you and you alone.” Adna said.
“Excellent. Send me all that you have.” Darya said.
“Yes my lady. And it can be confirmed that the Angels have the Obsidian crystal as well.” Adna said.
“I see.” Darya said. “Keep me posted.” And the feed was cut.
Darya was alone in the clouds. She flew her stealth aircraft through national defenses and over vast oceans. All this to allow her room to think.
“My plans are slowly coming together at last.” Darya said. Explains why the tracking revealed nothing. The Angels hide in one of the most secretive location on the surface of Earth. But soon…
Back to Wave, Area 51
Her vision was a blur of blue. She was trapped in a very vivid dream of being drowned by water but never dying. A voice rumbled all through… saying “Help.”
A raging fireball races towards me. I close my eyes anticipating the end.
I wake from the nightmare, sweat dribbles down my face to my naked torso and onto the sheet covering the bed. My body shivers, shaken by the unseen hormonal force of adrenaline. I look about, reaffirming that I still lay on the bed I share with my wife. She is right there, her red hair covering her face in a beautiful mess.
Vibration. I spin to the distraction. My phone. The contact reads "Boss". I rise from my bed grudgingly, grasping at the phone and walking towards the balcony. I swing my bathrobe on and slide the door open, sunlight pours in. A beautiful sunrise.
"Morning boss." I say into the phone.
"Dr. John, hope I didn't wake you."
"I was already up." I lie. He is a nice guy but possess no concept of time.
"Good man. I called with some good news. You don't need to go on the flight."
"Oh." My interest piqued. "What changed?"
"The company representatives were able to close the deal."
"Ah! I see. That is very good news."
"All thanks to Jack. He led the transactions in your stead."
Jack, of course. Climbing the corporate ladder. "No worries boss. I still want to complete the journey. I will take the chopper instead and meet up with the delegates. And besides, I will be taking my son to the airport."
"Oh, for his school field trip right?"
"To China, indeed."
"You are truly a good man John. I will tell your secretary to do the necessary preparations."
"Thank you boss." I drop the call. The day is starting and so must I.
I head to the bathroom to begin my morning rituals. The radio switches on as it detects my presence.
"Good Morning Atlanta. Another beautiful day forecasted." The host drowns on.
I turn on the shower. Horrid images from the nightmare flashes through my mind. The vividity of it all, mind blowing. I stood in the midst of the busy airport whilst a fireball raced towards me. Zack, my son, seemed to lead the charge of flames as he propelled towards me.
I snap back to reality, stepping underneath the shower head. The pulsating water rejuvenates my mind in preparation for the long day ahead. For a short while I am alone with my thoughts.
The bathroom door creaks, alerting me to a disturbance of my presence.
"Honey, what would you like for breakfast?" My wife, Danaka, asks.
"Eggs hun." I reply.
"Yes. What about Zack?"
"Already up. He beat you to the breakfast table. He is very excited about the school trip."
"One week away from parents will do that for any child."
"We can hire a babysitter for Haley. Have some alone time for ourselves."
"I love the sound of that."
"Of course you do." She responded. She shut the door, I imagine, smiling.
Once more alone with my thoughts. My memory runs backwards, replaying a previous phone call conversion I had with a military higher up.
"Dr. John, think about what we are asking."
"I am. The production of new weapons of mass destruction as an excuse for a secret war. It is all too similar to the last project you asked me to undertake."
"The Iraq war was different."
"In what way? You claim some low life terrorist possess weapons of mass destruction and yet have no proof."
"The bombings of the embassies..."
"Tragic, yes. However, gives no reason to want to retaliate and reignite war in the region."
"This conversation is over Major Colin. Don't call me back, my response remains unchanged."
I snap back to reality, turn off the shower and head out.
The bed is already made and my clothes lays in an organized heap on top of the sheets. The perks of marrying a doctor, they were always neat. All of a sudden it dawns on me, the clothes on the bed are the exact same in my nightmare. Deja Vu.
"Danaka, what about my other clothes?" I shout.
"In the laundry John." She replies.
Damn it. I stare at the strange assortment of clothes. It freaks me out until I realize that it's illogical for me to fear wearing the same clothing that, by mere coincide, appeared in my nightmare.
Ready. My clothes packed neatly into my travel bag. The same bag I saw in my nightmare. This is getting weird.
"Here comes Mr latey pants." Danaka shouted.
"Not late yet, still on schedule." I retort.
I freeze. Across the dining table sits my son. He is wearing the exact same clothes as in my dream, even did his hair the same.
"Did I spill something on my shirt again Dad?" Zack asks, puzzling over his shirt.
I snap back to reality. "What?"
"Honey, are you feeling well?" Danaka says, placing her hand on my forehead.
"No Zack and I am fine honey. I just remembered something..." I say. Although my head is still running through loops, attempting to process what is going on. Things are getting bizarre.
"The food is yummy mommy. So so yummy." says Haley, my three year old daughter.
"It smells great." I say, giving Danaka a quick kiss to re-assure her that I'm fine.
"Let me take a picture." Zack says. He already has his smart phone up and positioned.
"No phones on the table young man." Danaka says.
I smile as I sit down.
"Here you go hun." Danaka says, laying a steaming plate of bacon and omelets.
"Yum." I say. Cutlery at the ready, I dig in.
"So Zack, who's all going on your trip?" I ask.
"About a dozen of us." Zack responds.
"Is Mandy going?" Danaka asks, tauntingly.
"I don't like her Mom." Zack says, stuffing his mouth with more food.
I chuckle. "Do you have everything?" I ask.
"Passport, money, clothes, etc all packed." Danaka says.
"Make sure to give the money directly to your teacher." I say.
"Ms. Hollie and Mr. Bill are coming with us." Zack says in an excited tone.
The clock struck nine and released a resounding sound.
"It's nine. Three hours till your flight sweetheart. Hurry your breakfast up or you'll be late." Danaka says.
"I know Mom." Zack says.
"I'm finished. Delicious hun, thanks." I say, getting up.
"Daddy daddy!" Haley shouts in joy, waving her hands excitedly. I pick her up from her chair.
"Hello Haley, how was your night?" I say.
"Good. Grover kept waking me." Haley responds. Grover, the family pup, was a very energetic dog.
I smile at Haley.
"I'm ready." Says Zack.
"Have fun Zack. Call me when you land in Chicago." Danaka says, hugging him.
"Bye Zack." Haley says. I pass over Haley to Danaka.
"Grab your bags and we will be off." I say to Zack.
Eleven o'clock. Morning traffic was slow.
"Will I miss my flight?" Zack asks, anxiously. His favorite song, run boy run, plays on the radio.
"No Zack. We are pretty close. Ten minutes tops, plenty of time." I respond.
11.30am - Half an hour later.
"You made it young man." Ms. Hollie, Zack's teacher says.
"Close call." I say. Zack and I are both out of breath.
"Thank you Dr. John." Ms. Hollie says, smiling.
"Now Zack. I want you to have fun but listen to your teachers." I say.
"Don't worry Dad, I will call you when we land." Zack says. He was trying to look cool in front of his teacher.
"Alright champ." I say, giving him a hug.
"Let's go catch up with Mr. Bill and the others." Ms. Hollie says.
They walked off into the chaos of the airport.
I stand for five minutes, tracking their movements until I couldn't anymore. No explosion. The nightmare was just that, a bad dream.
I return to my car.
The highway was less congested but still slow. A phone call rang throughout the car, I answered it with Bluetooth speakers activated.
"Did he make it to his flight?" A concerned Danaka asked.
"Have some faith." I respond, my voice echoing into the car.
"I do." Danaka says.
"I am driving to the heliport now. Traffic is slow."
"Mommy Mommy, the bad man is on TV again!" I hear Haley's voice.
"What bad... oh no." Danaka says.
"Honey, talk to me."
"It's him. It's Avenger. He's on TV again."
I switch on my radio and I hear his voice...
"Your power pales to our justice. Your wings, we will cripple. Brick by brick, we will tear your infrastructure down."
"Oh god. Honey, it's the Airport. The Airport is on TV!"
"What?!" I shout. My heart sinks. No...
Another call is coming through, Zack's number.
"Zack's calling, I will combine the calls."
"Your mom and I, we are here Zack."
"I love you all..." Zack says, cut by a boom and static.
I witness the explosion in my rearview mirror, the shockwave rattles all the cars violently.
All cars stop, I step out to witness a fireball replacing where the airport, with my son, once stood. I hear sobbing, Danaka is sobbing badly into the phone. I end the call. I punch in a sequence of numbers rapidly, tears streaming down my face as I do so and make the call. The last images of my son flash through my mind.
"This is Major Colin."
"I will do it." I say, sobbing silently. "They must pay."