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  1. #16
    Alpha Flight

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    Default Chapter 12

    Chapter 12:
    Coming Apart, Part 3
    "Shell Game"
    "It's dangerous to underestimate them."
    They stood around the command center. Lodged in the heart of the living fortress, the command center was the hub of Aerie's nervous system. Thick cables of organic metal snaked all over the cavernous space, pulsing with life. A thousand screens lined the domed walls, relaying what Aerie saw with her thousand eyes.
    "You worry too much, Aqua, they are but children, " Margaret murmured, watching the glowing form of Guardian on a video screen, as he moved stealthily through the bowels of the ship, "to think that they could fool one who has lived as long as I."
    The vampire shifted her gaze to another screen, where the three Alphan defectors sparred with two of Margaret's Jeune Filles. "Especially that girl Solstice, " she continued, smiling, "her voice, her scent, her entire body practically dripped with deceit... an amusing child."
    At the sight of the older woman's ivory fangs, Aqua shivered. Mutants were one thing, but the undead were another entirely. The woman was unnatural! And yet, the really awful thing about it was, Aqua was sure that Margaret knew exactly how she felt, and remained silent. Creepy.
    "The decision to bring the Alphans into Aerie was mine, Aqua, and I will not be questioned. I lead the Sisterhood."
    The Vamp stood at the hub of the command sphere. Clad in oiled black leather, she seemed almost anachronistic, a relic of an era filled with casual hate and fossil fuels. Surrounded by the gleaming innards of Aerie, the soft light flattered her age-ravaged features. In this light, you could almost see the beauty that she once possessed; the deadly, poisonous beauty of a black mamba.
    Even though the Vamp's tone was mild, Aqua jerked as if slapped. "I... I was just making an idle comment..."
    "Aerie, attend," the Vamp said, completely ignoring the sputtering mercenary.
    I am here, Mistress.
    The voice of Aerie came from everywhere and nowhere, issuing from a hundred mouths. Soft and low, yet, curiously devoid of any hint of animation. Like a ghost whispering in your ear.
    "Where is the Alphan ship?"
    12000 meters and closing, ETA 14.23 minutes.
    The main screen, which dominated the room, lit up with an image of the Alpha omnijet. The ship looked very much like an insect, a bee, buzzing sleepily, anesthetized by the cold of the late fall afternoon.
    Sensors detect 14 anomalous life forms on board. Do you wish me to deploy my secondary defenses?
    "Affirmative."
    Secondary defense grid activated. Arsenal to full power in 1.07 minutes.
    "14? They're a bit cramped aren't they?" Aqua said.
    " Mmmm. Lovely little sardines in a pretty flying can." Margaret murmured.
    "All goes according to plan." The Vamp said, "Aqua, finish Kodiak. Margaret, the girls are yours, if you cannot turn them, kill them. Yougo, wherever you are, I know you're listening, Guardian is yours."
    Arsenal at full power. Aerie stands ready.
    "Go. First we destroy Alpha Flight," The Vamp continued, "then we make all of Canada safe for mutant kind.".
    ____________
    "You think this is a mistake."
    The decor of Director H's offices fit the woman's personality exactly, Eugene Judd, Head of Development and Deployment, thought as he waited for her to sit down.. Filled with pictures of her children, teammates and friends, it should have looked homey and unprofessional; yet, it didn't. The room looked soft and inviting, but there was a sense of the steel that was almost palpable. A hidden strength that demanded respect.
    "I dunno," He said. "It feels too risky, there has to be some other way of pullin' the Sisterhood's fangs, eh?"
    "Covert Ops and Epsilon Black have been trying to infiltrate the Sisterhood for months now," Heather Judd, Director of Department H, replied, staring at her husband's back, "ever since we got wind of the Sisterhood's plans to extend their operations into Canada. Our guys have had absolutely no success."
    "That's what I mean," Puck argued, staring at the storm clouds gathering outside, "those agents are trained to be undetectable, trained to deflect suspicion, yet they failed. Neither Sarah nor Stella has had that sort of training, and even Bernie wasn't good enough at it to be brought to the Black."
    "Which is why we had to have Kara "influence" them, at least temporarily," she answered, "the low levels of pheromones weren't enough to turn them purple, but were enough inhibit their personal reservations about the Sisterhood enough to make the defections real. The pheromones should have been degraded by their bodies' systems by now, and they should have regained their senses."
    "No, the plan is sound enough," Puck said, "but... there's still somethin' wrong, I can't put my finger on in exactly, but my butt's been saved too many times by my instincts for me to question them now. And my instincts are tellin' me something's fishy."
    "MacReady?"
    "That's part of it." He said, turning around to take a seat facing her, "we have reasons to doubt the guy's loyalties, yet we send him to lead the mission?"
    "MacReady was and still is one of our best field agents," Heather replied, "and since his escape from the Sisterhood, he's shown no signs of being compromised..."
    "But we still aren't 100 percent sure, hence this little test." Puck finished for her. "Still one helluva risk to take, with all those new kids depending on him."
    "There are enough veterans in the mission to neutralize MacReady, if the need arises. And we do need to be absolutely certain about him. He's the best man for Vancouver, Eugene."
    "Too many variables, my heart," he replied, frowning, "MacReady, the pheromones, the fact that we know nothing about this flying base's defenses. There are just too many ways this could go wrong, eh?"
    "I made my decision days ago, my love," Director H answered grimly, "lets just hope I have no cause to regret it."
    ____________________
    "Holy crud. We're doomed."
    Crowded around the cockpit of the omnijet, Alpha Flight, Canada's premiere super hero team stared in shocked amazement at the sight which filled the viewscreen.
    It hung over the tundra a hundred miles inland of Hudson Bay in the Northwest Territories. A huge disk of dull gold, a couple of kilometers in diameter, it pulsed slowly in the cold afternoon light. A huge umbilical anchored the ship to the arctic ground below. Swarming around the ship, hundreds of flying golden irregularly cone shaped constructs flew in a tightly woven defensive net..
    "Thanks, JJ, that's why I love working with you," Laura Dean murmured, an exasperated look on her face, "you're such a little ray of sunshine."
    "Can't say I blame him though, honey," Albert Louis said. "That's one big sucker out there."
    "Well within the tolerances of our outlined plan of action," Todd MacReady answered. "We are three minutes to intercept, we will begin preparations for breach. Commander Province, final instructions to your team. Pathway, Feedback, take your positions."
    With a curt nod, Province motioned Box and Whitehawk to follow him to the cargo bay. He surveyed the assembled breach team with a practiced eye. Bellfrey and the two Alphans he'd already seen in battle situations. He knew he could depend on them implicitly. Even the young Barnacle had a good head on his shoulders for one so young. As for the rest, the six remaining team members were products of the Gamma training program. They represented a formidable array of parabilities, and he'd watched them in the simulations, had a hand in training most of them. They were good, but untested in a battle situation, they would bear watching.
    "People, we are three minutes to intercept." Province began, as he activated the aft debriefing screen. "I'm going to give you your first look at the target."
    "Don't nobody faint, now... " Box quipped.
    A collective gasp arose involuntarily from the assembled youngsters.
    "Ai-ya!" Basil Hume, Ta Hei Fung, whispered, almond eyes gone wide.
    "Its... Huge..." As Stromfront, Kellie Baxter usually put up a tough facade, but the hand she put up to adjust her shades trembled a little.
    Adam McCafferty, aka Hat Trick, just stared at the image with a look of grim determination, jaw clenched..
    "Once were within range, we will initiate breach," Province continued. "Remember the objectives of the mission, we need to get past the defense perimeter, enter the fortress, locate the infiltrator team, disable the fortress, then leave. In that order. Capturing members of the Sisterhood is not a priority. I will not tolerate any grandstanding. Any questions?"
    "What does it look like?" Soda Stevens, whispered. "My senses can't register screen images..." Shock Socket was born without eyes, instead, the pale flesh covered a pair of mutated sensory organs which processed a whole different set of wavelengths.
    "Big. A jellyfish the size of a city block," Lisle Cartwright, usually as bubbly and garrulous as her codename Cacophony, answered meekly, "with, like, fleas buzzing around it..."
    "I'm getting some strange readings off that ship, sir," Disruptor said, the highly polished surface of his helmet contrasting sharply with his coal-black skin, "its almost as if the thing had a nervous system of its own..."
    "That's an interesting observation, it might come in useful later. Just keep scanning and inform me if anything changes, all right?" Province responded, "anything else to add?"
    The group remained silent.
    "Good," He looked at his watch "Intercept in one minute ten seconds, people. Good Luck, everyone."
    ____________________
    Interlude:
    Golden bars of late morning sunlight served only to highlight the perfection of the young woman who lay naked on the bed, asleep. Flawless skin, pale with that faint undertone of pink that spoke of rich vibrant life. Beautiful blond hair falling in waves of molten light, and a face to make men weep. Which was, of course, the point. Anne loved making men cry.
    Lionel broke from his contemplation of his cousin to stare outside at the breathtaking vistas which surrounded this remote part of the Yukon. A beautiful prison, he thought, but a prison nonetheless.
    A sedate cough made him turn abruptly in alarm, to stare dumbfounded at the strangely familiar young woman who stood in the log cabin's living room.
    "Hello, Mr. Jeffries," she said.
    "Who... are you? How did you get... the Epsilon guards... what?..."
    "My name is Veronique, Lionel. Veronique Monroe. My friends call me Roni. May i call you Lionel?" She smiled, a small, tight smile, hand outstretched for a handshake, "We have much to talk about, but not here. Would you and Ms. Jeffries care for a little ocean cruise?"
    Lionel found himself smiling.
    ____________________
    30 seconds to intercept.
    "Do you really think this is going to work?"
    Feedback smiled at the familiar worried look on Laura Dean's face. She did look pretty vulnerable, standing on the upper surface of the ominjet like a hood ornament, Prometheus-issue Magna-boots anchoring her to the hull.
    "Well, there's only one way to find out," he said, smiling.
    "Remember to hunker down when we translate, you two. The acceleration kicks up a lotta wind shear." MacReady voice was tinny over the radio.
    The young couple exchanged a look. Albert Louis gave Laura a hand shimmy and a double thumbs up. Relax, we can handle him if we need to.
    "Intercept in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1..."
    Laura Dean opens a gate.
    ____________________
    Bernadette Tessier shifts into ultraviolet, and the vampires scream. Margaret drops the unconscious Starlight and rips through one of the training room's metal walls as if they were made of paper, closely followed by two of her minions, The Jeune Fille known as Sarah screams, but Wildheart grimly pins her down, until the young woman's form begins first to smolder, then crumbles to ash.
    Solstice shifts back to human and drops next to the slumped form of Stella Langkowski.
    "Is she?" Sabra asks.
    "Alive, just stunned," Bernadette answers, as Starlight begins to cough.
    "The we better find Ram and Abe," Sabra says, "if the Sisterhood is on to us, our only chance is to get everyone together. None of us can take then alone."
    ____________________
    Intruder Alert. Third quadrant, swarm deployed.
    "What? Onscreen."
    The Vamp's features tighten with irritation as the main screen lights up with the image of the lone Alphan ominjet.
    "No matter, the swarm defenses is more than enough to take care one..."
    Her voice trails off and her eyes narrow as a figure standing on the top of the jet raises its hands.
    "Aerie, magnify."
    The screen fills with the face of a young black girl, slim in her white and purple uniform, her eyes glowing faintly. The Vamps eyes widen as she recognition hits her.
    "No..."
    The sky around the Alphan omnijet blooms with interdimensional gates, their edges sizzling with shimmering bands of energy. From somehere else, hundreds of figures clad in crimson and black spill out into the sky.
    "The Epsilons!"
    The sky around Aerie is suddenly hectic with activity, as squadrons of flying Epsilons engage her defenses. Hover platforms bearing plasma cannons cut swaths through Aerie's defense swarm.
    Amidst the chaos, Laura Dean opens a gate, and the omnijet disappears from the fray.
    ____________________
    GV2 shifts to a random blast pattern, hoping to tag Yougo Girl with a lucky shot. In the open, the fight would have been over, but the cramped and twisting corridors of Aerie have cut down whatever advantage his flight capabilities had.
    The young girl's nano-speed made her a dangerous opponent, she had managed to vibrate past his EM shields earlier, and only a well timed graviton pulse had kept her from slicing his head off.
    A warning klaxon split the air.
    Aerie is under assault. Third quadrant.
    Yougo girl hesitated for a just split second, but it was just enough time for a plasma blast to throw her across the corridor. Before he could do anything, the limp form blurred, then disappeared through the floor.
    "Ram, can you read?"
    "Copy, Wildheart. Looks like the breach is initiated, you guys ok?"
    " We're fine. Rendezvous with Abe in twenty?"
    "Make it five, I don't think the fight will last that long see you guys there."
    ____________________
    "C'mon, Rene! we've got to get into this thing!"
    "I'm goin as fast as I can!"
    Barnacle's armored fists move faster, enlarging the crater on Aerie's surface. He grimly ignored the sounds of battle around him, as the rest of the team worked feverishly to keep fortresses defenses away.
    Box and Ta Hei Fong hovered in the air above him, wind blasts and projectiles keeping the flying swarm at bay. Bellfrey swooped amidst the flying drones, deftly avoiding the blasts of heat energy that issued from them, savagely slashing them with his talons. Whitehawk sowed more chaos in his gyrfalcon form.
    A small hurricane of activity surrounded the slim form of Kylie Baxter as she unleashed the psycho kinetic energy which earned her the name Storm Front. Province's razor sharp shield forms cut the hulking insectoid surface drones in half, while not far away Cacophony's sonic attack stunned them into immobility.
    "How much longer, Barnacle?"
    Rene mumbled a half intelligible reply, he had no idea how thick Aerie's outer hull was...
    "That's enough, Rene." Commander Province shouted, "All right, people, by the numbers, go!"
    Hat Trick, was first. Adam McCafferty laid both his hands near the crater's rim as his powers leached the heat from Aerie's hull, freezing the organic metal.
    Then Box launched a set of explosive projectiles, timed to explode one after the other and breach the now brittle hull. The frozen metal buckled under the strain, but no opening to the inside appeared.
    Bellfrey swooped down, issuing series of high pitched sounds, "I can sense the open space under the hull, its only a few inches more..."
    "Then all we need to do is punch through," JJ said, "Sir?"
    "By all means, Box, carry on." Commander Province answered.
    And with that, Box aimed his armored form at the crater and dived.
    ____________________
    Abe Reilly stared at the tiny transmitter, smaller than his thumbnail, it looked harmless. Which it was, essentially, all it would do when he crushed it was make a tiny spark. He took a deep breath, the smell of his own sweat filled the cramped airtight cell where he was kept. The oxygen blowhole had fallen silent hours ago, it seemed.
    "Gettin' scared, big guy?"
    He could imagine the smile on Aqua's face.
    "Dont worry, I wont let you suffocate to death..."
    Slowly, water began to drip from the walls of his cell.
    "I'd rather drown you myself."
    Abe stared at the transmitter. Pumped up, his sweat became very flammable, usually, it was harmless, reacting with the air and giving him that glowing aura when he fought. He had been kept in the cell fro a long time, it reeked of his sweat.
    With a sigh, Abe closed his eyes, pinched his nose, and crushed the transmitter between his forefinger and thumb.
    The explosion was very, very loud.
    Aerie started screaming.

  2. #17
    Administrator Department H
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    Default Re: Second Flight Stories

    Quote Originally Posted by Barnacle13
    Ben If you'd rather have these elsewhere let me know and I'll post them there. I know the plan is to rejuvenate the old Second Flight Site possibly, but I don't want to end up losing this stuff, so here it is in a format we can always recapture.

    Tom
    Man Tom, this is grand. I'd love to have the time to get this all up in a special site, but at the moment I'm lucky to find the time to sleep Some day...honest, if Johnny Cannuck doesn't get to it first

    Ben

  3. #18
    Alpha Flight

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    Default

    Bump!!!!
    "Well, the only person talking about love today is the preacher. And it seems noboday gets just all the learning but the teacher."

    The Temptations "Ball of Confusion"

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